One of the problems with attempting to curate a list of the best games ever made is the vast difference between modern games and those made as little as 20 years ago. It's possible to single out Chrono Trigger and Super Mario Bros. as being objectively great even today, but when you start going into the weeds of the 1970s and 1980s, it becomes exponentially more difficult. As a result, many publications opt to rank games by their impact on the medium, inevitably crowning Super Mario Bros. as the most significant game ever made. This is not one of those lists.
Rather, we're going back fifteen years to find the best games since 2000, a task made more manageable by the fact that PlayStation 2 games have more in common with modern games than, say, Defender. We're very deliberately looking for the "best" games rather than the most "impactful," though the two tend to go hand-in-hand, free-to-play mobile games notwithstanding. We're also ranking them, because it's more fun that way.
We nominated games from a broad cross-section of platforms, helping to paint a picture of a medium that has evolved considerably over the past fifteen years, bringing with it trends like sandbox gameplay and free-to-play, though there are plenty of "traditional" games in there as well. Every game on this list is great in some particularly significant way, and thus deserving of being recognized on this list.
How did we arrive at this list?
Fisticuffs. In all seriousness, though, each member of USgamer's staff came at this project from a very different perspective. We each initially submitted a list of 15 nominations apiece, with some 50 games making the initial list. Seventeen of them had at least two nominations, and seven of them had three or more nominations. Games with three nominations automatically made the list in the first round.
After two more rounds of nominations and voting, we had our initial ten. Staffers were then invited to submit one game they felt absolutely had to be on the list, giving us a list of fifteen. One game was ultimately subbed out after some discussion among the staff, but otherwise the list held firm after the process was complete.
With our list complete, we conducted three more rounds of voting to find out 5-1, 10-6, and 15-11. The list you see here is the product of that rather exhaustive process. Now, without further ado, here is our complete list of the fifteen best games since 2000.