Sections

The 15 Best Games Since 2000, Number 1: Dark Souls

Praise the Sun!

Retrospective by Kat Bailey, .

This concludes our daily countdown of the 15 Best Games Since 2000. Want to read the rest? Check out the rest of the entries here.

Kat Bailey Senior Editor

"Dying matters," FTL co-creator Matthew Davis says in a 2012 interview for the book Anything But Sports: The Making of FTL. As his partner Justin Ma subsequently points out, it brings with it a sense of impending doom that naturally raises the stakes when making an important decision. Few games understand this better than Dark Souls, one of the most impactful games of the past fifteen years.

Davis and Ma were speaking in regards to roguelikes, where death is famously permanent. That is not the case in Dark Souls, but it still has some pretty major consequences, among other things removing your humanity and forcing you to recover lost currency. That approach has put it at odds with the conventional wisdom of modern game development, which is to make an experience as accessible and pleasurable as possible. You might call it the anti-Triple A.

Easy as it is to sum Dark Souls up in those terms, though, it also does it a disservice. It is not hard for the sake of being hard. Rather, it is one of the most meticulously crafted games I have ever played. It is a game with such beautifully designed levels that they align almost perfectly in a 3D map viewer. It demands mastery.

Bob put it best when he remarked in another piece, "Every time I return to the world of Lordran, I somehow pick up on something new: a background detail, item description, or mechanical element that managed to escape me in the past—that's incredibly impressive for a game that's already eaten up over 200 hours of my life. For example, this time around, I learned if you somehow lose all of your stamina while on a ladder (an incredibly rare occurrence), your character will fall backwards off of it and comically flail to the ground. It's a tiny, insignificant detail that doesn't affect the game much, but still, something I had no idea could happen in all of my hours with Dark Souls."

One of the easier bosses in Dark Souls, believe it or not.

It's difficult to encapsulate every little element that makes Dark Souls the best game since 2000, so I'll do what most writers do and fall back on describing one particular moment that stands out to me. On my first run through Dark Souls, I came upon a message that had been left by another player: "Don't trust this person. Kill them." The person in question was a corpse-like figure behind bars who greeted me with a chilling, "Yee hee hee!" I killed them immediately and went on my way.

"The feeling that your actions have real consequences, whether in changing the world or simply leading to your death, brings with it that sense of impending doom that Justin Ma described - an almost suffocating terror that can make you afraid to even descend a ladder for fear of what might lie below."

Of course, if you've played Dark Souls, you probably know that the person I killed was the Female Undead Merchant. And once she was gone, she was gone. I cursed the troll who had left that message, but at the same time, I couldn't help appreciating the moment for it was - a true example of so-called 'social gaming.' It also showed in stark terms that actions have consequences in Dark Souls.

The feeling that your actions have real consequences, whether in changing the world or simply leading to your death, brings with it that sense of impending doom that Justin Ma described - an almost suffocating terror that can make you afraid to even descend a ladder for fear of what might lie below. Then you discover a boss, and your terror is heightened still further by an often massive beast whose very footsteps make the ground shudder beneath your feet. Or maybe you suddenly find yourself in a duel to the death with a random guard, nervously aware that you haven't yet spent your souls to upgrade your character.

Of course, none of this would matter if Dark Souls weren't fundamentally a damn fine action game. The pace and weight of the combat is practically perfect, emphasizing a degree of tactical thinking and skill that is rarely found in more combo heavy fare. As alluded to before, this is most apparent in the boss battles, each of which inevitably push your skills to the limit in different ways. But if it's too hard, you can always call in help with the White Sign Soapstone - a clever means by which you can dictate how hard or how easy you want Dark Souls to be.

Aligning with one of Dark Souls's various factions brings with them interesting benefits and drawbacks while serving to shed light on From Software's dark and fascinating world.

The coup de grace is Dark Souls's seamless open world, which dramatically differentiates it from its more linear predecessor. I've heard argument that the more discrete levels of Demon's Souls makes for better design, but I've felt from the beginning that the Souls games were meant to be seamless. Removing the artificial barriers naturally changes your thinking, encouraging you to explore at your own pace. If you can't beat a particular boss, there's always somewhere else to visit. I can't imagine the Souls games anyway else.

There's a great deal more to be said about the combat design in Dark Souls, the way it encourages you to find alternative routes (particularly in the case of the much hated Blighttown), and its in-depth customization, which brings with a drastically different experience in each successive playthrough. I haven't even covered its intense PvP community, which comprises its own subculture. And I feel it's important to note the way that it has evolved over the past four years, with the PC version and fan mods smoothing over many of the original release's technical hiccups.

.In the end, the proof of Dark Souls' impact and staying power is in the often fanatical fan community, many of whom still play Dark Souls to this day. Though it wasn't apparent in 2011, Dark Souls was practically made for the streaming and Youtube boom that would overtake gaming just a couple years later. Even now, its intense challenge and impactful combat makes for compulsive viewing.

At every turn, Dark Souls has defied conventional wisdom, in the process depicting video games at their smartest, their most challenging, and their most communal. It encapsulates all of the positive trends of the past 15 years, from seamless online to sandbox gameplay, and it's an incredibly well-made action game to boot. For all those reasons and more, there is no question in my mind that it is the best game since 2000.

Bob Mackey Senior Writer

The best way to explain how Dark Souls changed my perspective can be found in John Carpenter's comedy/sci-fi/horror classic They Live. In the movie, a blue-collar Joe played by Roddy Piper stumbles upon a pair of magical sunglasses, which reveal the world's true nature: The wealthy elite are hideous aliens, subliminal messages like "OBEY" and "CONSUME" lurk behind billboard advertisements, and humanity is essentially in chains. After this, Piper can't go back to his old life--and that's exactly how I feel about my time with Dark Souls.

If this analogy is lost on you, I'll make it simpler: Discovering From Software's school of design has given me zero tolerance for Video Game Bullshit. These days, if a game scolds me for going the "wrong" way, spends hours walking me through basic actions, or displays a lack of confidence in letting me figure things out for myself, I have no problems cutting it out of my life with no regrets. For so many years, I had convinced myself tolerating these issues was just part and parcel of the video game experience. But when Dark Souls arrived in 2011, it seized me by the lapels and shouted, "No! Video games can be great again!"

Working in the game journalism trenches during Dark Souls' release gave me the chance to witness others not take too kindly to its rebellion. Of course, the persistent "Japan forgot how to make video games" narrative informed a lot of the Dark Souls blowback, but I remember plenty of peers who flat-out refused to believe anyone could possibly like it--after all, how could this even be possible in a world with Skyrim? True, Dark Souls is difficult, but that's mostly a marketing angle; its greatest strength lies in making the player responsible for their actions, and, frankly, we weren't used to that.

If anything, From Software should be credited for giving the last generation the wake-up call it needed. Thanks to HD graphics causing budgets to explode, the PS3 and Xbox 360 era really got off on the wrong foot: games had to be more accessible, safer, and take a highly recognizable form in order to recoup costs. The result? An entire generation of games that barely needed the presence of a player. Dark Souls corrected this misguided course by showing games from a different school of thought could be just as viable, and the lessons learned from its design continue to echo through the years.

Would I still be playing games if Dark Souls didn't exist? Who knows. But if I was, I'm sure they wouldn't be very good.

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 47

Comments on this article are now closed. Thanks for taking part!

  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #1 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    "If this analogy is lost on you, I'll make it simpler: Discovering From Software's school of design has given me zero tolerance for Video Game Bullshit. These days, if a game scolds me for going the "wrong" way, spends hours walking me through basic actions, or displays a lack of confidence in letting me figure things out for myself, I have no problems cutting it out of my life with no regrets. For so many years, I had convinced myself tolerating these issues was just part and parcel of the video game experience. But when Dark Souls arrived in 2011, it seized me by the lapels and shouted, "No! Video games can be great again!"

    Working in the game journalism trenches during Dark Souls' release gave me the chance to witness others not take too kindly to its rebellion. Of course, the persistent "Japan forgot how to make video games" narrative informed a lot of the Dark Souls blowback, but I remember plenty of peers who flat-out refused to believe anyone could possibly like it--after all, how could this even be possible in a world with Skyrim? True, Dark Souls is difficult, but that's mostly a marketing angle; its greatest strength lies in making the player responsible for their actions, and, frankly, we weren't used to that.

    If anything, From Software should be credited for giving the last generation the wake-up call it needed. Thanks to HD graphics causing budgets to explode, the PS3 and Xbox 360 era really got off on the wrong foot: games had to be more accessible, safer, and take a highly recognizable form in order to recoup costs. The result? An entire generation of games that barely needed the presence of a player. Dark Souls corrected this misguided course by showing games from a different school of thought could be just as viable, and the lessons learned from its design continue to echo through the years."


    I have been preaching this upon yonder mount since playing Demon's Souls in 2010. Thank you.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Granbar #2 Granbar 3 years ago
    Just a quick mention that Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition is part of the current Humble Bundle: https://www.humblebundle.com/ :)
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #3 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    I expected Dark Souls to be on the list but not number one. Crazy. One of the few videogames in my entire life that I absolutely hated is considered THE best game of the past 15 years. I'm more than a little confused, but I guess my tastes are probably too weird. My top ten wouldn't look anything like this list.

    My top five would be:

    1. Twilight Princess
    2. Virtua Fighter 5
    3. Kid Icarus: Uprising
    4. Deus Ex Human Rev
    5. Half Life 2

    None of those games were even mentioned in this list lol. If anything, their omissions signify just how truly blessed we are as gamers to keep receiving so many great games year after year. It's why I cringe a little bit everytime Dark Souls fans claim that it brought them back to gaming and other such stuff. The enlightenment talk gets a little too much especially when there are so many great games out there.

    I know why they do it. It's passion. I'm passionate about VF in a lot of the same ways, and I'm guilty of being elitist about it. I talked so much shit about other fighting games after I played VF4 way back when lol. I was pretty obnoxious.

    Anyways, I've made my peace with Dark Souls. Even though I don't agree with it's design parameters or it's rabid fanbase, I cannot deny the impact it's had on the industry. Just like everything was Uncharted, everything is becoming Souls. Hell, Dark Souls is getting credit for stuff it didn't even invent, that's where we're at with the game's reputation.

    As I said in another comment on another article, I don't think Dark Souls is a bad game. I don't really know what it is. For all I know, it could be the game of the decade and I just didn't happen to notice.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for siamesegiant #4 siamesegiant 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Like all of these things the list is totally subjective. I love Dark Souls, it's probably my favourite game ever. But it's totally fine that you don't. I don't think it means that your tastes are weird, just that they don't align with the four or five people who made this list. Personally I was surprised that Half Life 2 didn't make the cut. I hate that game, but it's undeniable how well respected and influential it is.

    You're absolutely right though, we're pretty lucky with the quantity of amazing games that have been released in the last 15 years. Long may it continue!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #5 chaoticBeat 3 years ago
    Great choice for #1, can't wait for Dark Souls 3.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #6 Monkey-Tamer 3 years ago
    The only bad thing about Dark Souls for me was playing something after Dark Souls.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for detten17 #7 detten17 3 years ago
    hmm. I figured as much. I really can't make an argument for/against Dark Souls for no.1 but I'm having a hard time a reason why not; games inspired by Dark Souls, like Bloodborne or that have Dark Souls elements like Shovel knight have grown on me.

    But I do have to say that I have a slight disagreement with the lack of instructions or description of items as refreshing. I can only speak for Bloodborne but that game got much better where upon death the description of certain items was given, there were some things like the beast pellet that have the vaguest of descriptions and for most people go unused. I don't want 20 hour tutorials just a quick description, even on the death loading screen is more than enough.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for guillermojiménez88 #8 guillermojiménez88 3 years ago
    So, no Metroid Prime, TLOZ: Wind Waker, Halo or Gran Turismo? I really must be behind the times, then. I'm suprised to not find any of those on the top 15, let alone all of them.
    Can't argue against MGS3: Snake Eater, Resident Evil 4, Super Mario Galaxy or Burnout 3. The rest I haven't played.Edited August 2015 by guillermojiménez88
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for guillermojiménez88 #9 guillermojiménez88 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by guillermojiménez88
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for guillermojiménez88 #10 guillermojiménez88 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by guillermojiménez88
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for guillermojiménez88 #11 guillermojiménez88 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by guillermojiménez88
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Voncaster #12 Voncaster 3 years ago
    Dark Souls at number one. Awesome. Hopefully we can get weekly Dark Souls articles!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #13 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    Great write-up! I agree wholeheartedly with the points made and the #1 spot.

    Dark Souls was truly a refreshing experience to me. I had gotten an Xbox 360 mostly for XBLA, but my interest in new and big games had mostly faded because of their design priorities. Enter Dark Souls, the first "AA" game in maybe a decade to keep me at the edge of my seat late at night in awe and terror of what I would find next. If I had to point out one thing that makes Dark Souls great, it's the mystery. Both in terms of game mechanics and game world, you could never be sure what to expect, and it constantly surprised you. (Although not having played Demon's Souls certainly elevated that.)Edited August 2015 by hiptanaka
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #14 SuperShinobi 3 years ago
    Bloodborne is the only one in the series I've played properly, so I can't comment on the number one choice. Dark Souls is becoming one of those permanent backlog games for me.

    It's hard / impossible to make a greatest games list like this, but my top 12 would've looked something like this:

    1. The Last of Us
    2. Ikaruga
    3. Gran Turismo 4
    4. Ico
    5. NBA Jam on Fire edition
    6. Call o'Duty MW 1 & 2
    7. Outrun 2
    8. F-Zero GX
    9. Batman Arkham Asylum & City
    10. Virtua Fighter 5
    11. Devil May Cry
    12. Bioshock 1 & Infinite

    Next up would be God of War, Valkyria Chronicles, Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed, Drive Club, Infamous Second Son, Doax 2, Bloodborne, Vampire the Masquerade, Gradius V, Hotline Miami, GTA V, Bulletstorm, Ridge Racer PSP, Dawn of Sorrow, PGR 4, Oblivion, Skies of Arcadia, Okami, Virtua Tennis 3, Mario 3D World, Mario Strikers, Wind Waker HD, Uncharted 2, Sound Shapes, Guacamelee, Journey and Shenmue 2 (1 was a 1999 release in Japan).

    Final edit: and Resogun! Can't believe I almost forgot Resogun.

    Final final edit: SSX and NBA 2K. I have to mention those two series as well, given how much I've played them over the past 15 years. Civ 3-5 also, although 2 remains easily my favorite entry.Edited 9 times. Last edited August 2015 by SuperShinobi
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for floydferrera #15 floydferrera 3 years ago
    Your list made for great reading over the past two weeks. I won't argue with your choices because they were always well explained.

    You have hit a few of my favourites like Red Dead Redemption and Resident Evil 4 while leaving out others like Metroid Prime or - leftfield choice - Journey.

    Looking forward to the next edition one and a half decades from now.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for VotesForCows #16 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    For me, the community is one of the major selling points of the Souls games. People often send congratulatory messages after co-op'ing a tough boss, and I've noticed the latest thing in Bloodborne is some people are dropping shining coins for the beckoner upon defeating a boss! Nice little touches.

    That's even before we get into how amazing the series is mechanically...
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sam-stephens #17 sam-stephens 3 years ago
    Dark Souls at number 1 is certainly surprising (why this one and not Demon's Souls?). Personally, it's not a game I can agree with being on this list. It's just way too obtuse for its own good. The game isn't so much difficult as it's the design working against the player. There's also a metric ton polishing issues and little frustrating details. I can understand people's appreciation for it, but more objectively speaking I can't call it well-designed.

    Overall, one could point out many omissions in a list of just 15 games. Halo seems to be the big one everyone is mentioning and I would agree. There are others that are equally deserving as the games mentioned. Majora's Mask and Portal are the big ones for me. All of this can be forgiven since the list is limited to 15 games, and I think we can all agree far more amazing games than just that have been released since 2000.

    The one thing I can't forgive is the complete lack of any handheld titles. There's not a single one on here. That's pretty shocking to me.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for inkybutt #18 inkybutt 3 years ago
    Gaming sites rated Dark Souls highly on release, but it generally lost GOTY accolades to Skyrim. TES continues to be hugely popular (and I enjoy it a lot), but in 20 years Demon's and Dark Souls will be considered among the "classics" of the gaming canon taught in classrooms.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for kidgorilla #19 kidgorilla 3 years ago
    I am 1000% behind this taking the top spot. If anything, I can't think of any single game in the last decade that's been name-dropped by more developers. For a list like this, that's almost reason enough.

    Though I personally prefer Demon's Souls, I haven't been shy about telling everyone I know how important these games are to the larger video game landscape. Totally satisfied that this is what topped your list
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #20 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    @sam-stephens Kat cited the interconnected world as a reason for Dark Souls topping Demon's Souls. It also feels more kinetic, from the little I've played of Demon's. Ultimately, it's a matter of opinion and what you prefer.

    I don't understand what you mean by the design working against the player, though. I didn't get that at all from Dark Souls. I felt it pushed me to explore the game mechanics. Sometimes it taught me lessons the hard way (I struck the first merchant, forcing me to kill him. Couldn't get arrows until much later), but it also gave me a consolation prize (Uchigatana) and later I would utilize the new knowledge to approach things in a better way (the trapped pyromancer).Edited August 2015 by hiptanaka
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Frosty840 #21 Frosty840 3 years ago
    @NiceGuyNeon There's a particular design principle behind Dark Souls that can trip a lot of people up.
    While there's obviously a focus on dying a lot, the core of that experience is to force you to learn from your mistakes. The game isn't just killing you, it's giving you the opportunity to see what killed you and to work out *why* you died.
    If you die to a guy slamming a hammer into your face when you walk around a corner, you have the opportunity to learn about ambushes; if you die to poison you have the opportunity to learn about antidotes and poison resistance; if you die to a boss you have the opportunity to learn humility, turn human and seek help from other players and perhaps decide to offer the same help back to other players in your turn; if you activate bloodstains and watch how other players died you get the opportunity to learn something more about the game than simply what you can experience for yourself. If you constantly get toxic'd to death by those filthy dart-firing motherf***ers in Blighttown, you get the opportunity to go and read the wiki-guides other players have built and discover that eating a turd will poison you with a less-toxic form of toxic poisoning, effectively immunising you from the darts' poison, and letting you run up to those idiots with impunity and give yourself the satisfaction of splattering their faces across the nearest wall.
    Why, yes, I am still bitter about Blighttown. How did you know?

    Dark Souls is (in part) built around first humbling the player, but then allowing them to return from being humbled and gain victory back over the game through both the player's own efforts and the efforts of the community.
    Being humbled, learning from the game, joining the community and learning about the game are all built into the game's design at a surprisingly deep level, but if you're not open to the idea of interacting with the game on all of those levels you can just get to a point where Dark Souls is an awful game that's murdering you without (you think) telling you why.

    It's definitely worth another look.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #22 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    @Frosty840 I would even say the community aspect is overstated. Some people say Dark Souls is supposed to be played with the help of a FAQ, but that's merely one way to play it. As you say, if one is willing to experiment with the game mechanics and items (and sometimes just try harder, 20x in a row), there will be a way forward.

    I'm not saying people who play it as a community are doing it wrong, just that for me, much of the game's charm is its mystery, and on the flip side, discovery.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Avante #23 Avante 3 years ago
    While I don't disagree with Dark Souls being No. 1, I've gotta say it irks me a bit when I hear people talk about how revolutionary it was, when most of its revolutionary aspects were already present a couple years earlier in Demon's Souls.

    If I'm being objective, I'll admit that Dark Souls is probably the better game; the combat was slightly improved, and the Estus flask system was vastly superior to the tedious herb management of the first game. And the interconnected world was probably more compelling than the original hub system.

    At the time of Demon's Souls release, though, there was truly nothing else like it, and it was one of the greatest gaming experiences of my life. I realize not as many people played it, so you might say it wasn't as impactful (this was also probably part of its appeal). But I think it will always be my favorite, and I wish it would get the credit it deserves.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Frosty840 #24 Frosty840 3 years ago
    @hiptanaka I both agree and disagree with your point. There is definitely an intent in Dark Souls to create a community of players around the game who go in as rookies, learn about the game both inside the game (through going human and being shepherded through areas by more experienced players) and outside (by joining forums and discussing tactics and strategies with other players), build their own knowledge, and pass that knowledge and experience through to new players (again) both ingame and out.
    In practice people just end up reading the wiki, getting punted through the game by slightly impatient "enablers" who're there to win, not to teach, and watching EpicNameBro's lore videos, but the intent of community-building was definitely there, even if gamers and/or the Internet aren't built to let that community exist as one imagines it was envisaged...Edited August 2015 by Frosty840
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #25 KaiserWarrior 3 years ago
    I really, really enjoy the Souls games, particularly Dark Souls onward. They're the Metroid sequels that never were, in their own way, and they give me a lot of the same feeling that Metroid does -- just, y'know, harder. Not nearly as hard as they get hyped up as being, but still fairly challenging, in that old-school Castlevania-and-Ninja-Gaiden sort of way. They punish mindless rushing, but reward thoughtful advance and a smidgen of memorization. They demand that you invest something in the video game that you're playing, and they're perfectly content to let you fail until you do that.

    FROM Software still has guts, which is a hell of a lot more than 90% of video game developers these days.

    And the thing is, they've been doing it for a long time! I'm always a little sad when I realize that the Souls games have very much overshadowed FROM's former mainstay, Armored Core, and how the runaway popularity of Souls (and Souls-in-everything-but-name Bloodborne) has pretty much guaranteed that AC will be on the backburner for a long time to come. But it's plain to see that the seeds for the ideas that make up Souls were laid down even back at the turn of the millenium; FROM always had an eye for consistent worlds. Armored Core 2 has the Arena where all of the Ravens fight each other and jockey for ranking, but you'll also occasionally run into other Ravens while doing missions -- such is the life of mercenaries. But if you do meet and kill another Raven while out on a mission, the world is consistent -- they are dead, and as such they drop out of the Arena rankings, and a fresh new face slots in at Rank 50 to take their place.

    Similarly with the subtle storytelling. The AC games are rarely ever explicit in their plot revelations; you're left to piece together the big picture from the contents of mission briefings, the events that take place in the missions themselves, the descriptions of opponents in the Arena and the messages exchanged back and forth through the Mail system and over the radio. FROM would carry these elements forward into Souls, and they are a large part of what makes the Souls games what they are.

    Simply put, FROM is one of the best video game developers of this millenium. And they did it all largely without succumbing to the pitfalls that all of the other major developers have.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #26 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    @Frosty840 Sure, the intent to support community building was probably there, but taking part in it is optional. Someone must be first to discover each individual part of the game, so one can opt out of cooperation and chose to discover everything by him-/herself. That intent is also pretty clear in that summoning helpers, invading others, and even getting invaded are all optional.

    The number of ways Dark Souls can be played is fascinating in itself. I never really touched PvP, for example, but I understand it's a huge part of the game for some to optimize builds, etc.Edited August 2015 by hiptanaka
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #27 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by hiptanaka
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #28 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by hiptanaka
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for hiptanaka #29 hiptanaka 3 years ago
    @jae-illcho13 I think I would love Monster Hunter if it didn't have the grindy material mining.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sylvan #30 sylvan 3 years ago
    @guillermojiménez88 Couldn't agree more. IMHO all of those games you mentioned deserve a spot. Even without making the cut for the top 15 Wind Waker, Prime, and Halo are definitely in the top 20.

    Still a great list. I think I might swap out WoW and Cave Story for a couple of those games I mentioned above, but agree with most of it. I love Dark Souls as number one. Great choice.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sylvan #31 sylvan 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by sylvan
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sylvan #32 sylvan 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by sylvan
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #33 Kat.Bailey 3 years ago
    @Sylvan Wind Waker is half of a good game. Prime and Halo: CE haven't aged well.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sylvan #34 sylvan 3 years ago
    @Kat.Bailey I see what you mean about Halo and Metroid Prime not aging well. Still those games are among the most memorable to me b/c they were very polished and a lot of fun to play. Certainly high quality titles at the time of their release. At least near the top of the heap over the last 15 years.

    I'm assuming you're pointing out how short Wind Waker was for a LOZ game. This is true, but I still loved it and it kept me hanging with Nintendo through the 6th gen.Edited August 2015 by sylvan
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for guillermojiménez88 #35 guillermojiménez88 3 years ago
    @Kat.Bailey To be honest, while I love Wind Waker, I prefer Twilight Princess. I mentioned WW because it seems to be the best-regarded Zelda of the century and the one with the most chance to land on a list like this. But I still think TP is a masterpiece, and a better Ocarina that OoT, at least in the Gamecube.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #36 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    Dark Souls is the perfect choice for #1! There is no higher quality game in the last 15 years, period. It's also an incredibly influential game, and for very good reason. Wonderful choice.

    Overall this has been a good list. The biggest omission is easily Bayonetta. It's definitely still the best action game ever made, and really deserved to be on this list, high up too. Another omission is not putting any of the fantastic visual novels that have come in the last 15 years: Phoenix Wright, Ghost Trick, 999, Virtue's Last Reward, or Dangan Ronpa. One of those (probably Ghost Trick or VLR) should have represented on the list.

    I actually wouldn't change much about your list. I would probably remove Burnout, League of Legends, Bioshock, Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto 3, and World of Warcraft. And replace them like so:

    1. Dark Souls
    2. Persona 4
    3. Bayonetta
    4. Shadow of the Colossus
    5. Metal Gear Solid 3
    6. Silent Hill 2
    7. Ghost Trick
    8. Cave Story
    9. Resident Evil 4
    10. Minecraft
    11. Nier
    12. Ikaruga
    13. Legend of Zelda: Windwaker
    14. Katamary Damacy
    15. Super Mario Galaxy

    Speaking for myself, I'm really glad you omitted the following games: Halo, Mass Effect, Half Life 2. These games, while certainly decent, are a bit overrated and don't hold up super well. Personally I would not have put any first person games on the list, but if you absolutely had to then I think Bioshock was the right choice. Either that or Portal.

    Stuff like this is why I keep coming back to this site. I was a bit worried when you were publishing the 10-8 choices but every choice after that has been solid. Overall, great list!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Voncaster #37 Voncaster 3 years ago
    @sam-stephens Agreed. For me Demon's Souls > Dark Souls.

    The backtracking and lack of fast travel, until the end of the game, hurt Dark Souls for me. Additionally, the nexus of Demon's Souls is more compelling and has more personality for me than the scattered NPCs of Dark Souls. I note that From returned to a central area with Dark Souls II, and the upgrade woman clearly takes influence from the Maiden in Black.

    I think Demon's being only PS3 and not XBOX 360 or Steam hurts its exposure. But its the better game in my mind. Of the souls games, Dark Souls is the one I'm least likely to revisit. I respect Dark Souls, but I don't enjoy it much.Edited August 2015 by Voncaster
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #38 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by Kuni-Nino
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #39 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @guillermojiménez88 Twilight Princess is the most well-regarded of the 3D Zeldas. Check the metacritic and its sales. The game is the formula perfected and is known of having the best dungeons in the series. Wind Waker has its fans but the consensus around the game is that it's too easy and too short.

    If there had to be a Zelda on the list, it would have to be Twilight. Skyward Sword is really close, but Twilight beats it out for me. Those dungeons are masterpieces of game design.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #40 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Personally I prefer Windwaker, but they are both great games.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sam-stephens #41 sam-stephens 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino
    I agree with Twilight Princess being better than Wind Waker. It's not a big difference or anything. I love all the Zeldas near-equally (well... except The Adventure of Link). Personally I like Skyward Sword just a little bit more than both: the way it rebuilds the entire Zelda experience from the ground up with motion/pointer controls, the clever navigational tools, the meat and potatoes streamlining a la Metroid Prime 3, and the overall creativity on display. It would be my obligatory Zelda entry on this list if Phantom Hourglass didn't exist.Edited August 2015 by sam-stephens
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #42 Kat.Bailey 3 years ago
    @NiceGuyNeon I respectfully disagree with the assertion that Metroid Prime is Super Metroid in 3D. It's similar from a structural standpoint, but Super Metroid never resorted to the color-coded gimmickry of Prime, and it flows much more elegantly. At its heart, Metroid Prime wants to pair a triple-A shooter with the mechanics of Metroid, and it is successful in that regard. But as its graphics have faded, its seams have begun to show.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sylvan #43 sylvan 3 years ago
    @NiceGuyNeon Hehe. I like to see that a simple comment about some Gamecube titles evolved into a little sidebar conversation on the age old comparison of Super Metroid and Metroid Prime. Super Metroid is by far the superior game as far as I'm concerned. I replay it regularly and pretty much exclusively on the SNES the way God intended.

    Anyways, Wind Waker was a refreshing little gem that proved to us tried and true LTTP and OOT fans that some changes to design and style to our favorite franchise could be a wonderful thing.

    Adding or removing from US Gamer's top 15 is really just splitting hairs to me. I respect all of the choices. There were just a couple of great games that I thought needed a shout out.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by sylvan
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Ffordesoon #44 Ffordesoon 3 years ago
    Mackey says it best. There are many games I've played in the last fifteen years I'd consider great, but only one has spoiled every game since for me (including, it must be said, Dark Souls 2), and that game is Dark Souls. Demon's is arguably more important for being the first in the series, DS2 arguably has a better character progression system, and Bloodborne is more tightly designed, but none of them feel quite as miraculous and singular as Dark Souls.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #45 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Sylvan I have to agree totally about Super Metroid vs Metroid Prime. Super Metroid is by far the superior game, but that's mainly because Super Metroid is superior to just about every game. And if this was an all-time top 15 list, I have no doubt Super Metroid would be very high on it. It's that good.

    Metroid Prime is a very good game too. It's mainly good for taking the substance of Super Metroid and making it work in a 3D environment, which was a very mean feat when it first came out. That should not have worked as well as it did, and for that Metroid Prime deserves praise. But as well as it works, it is just not as inspired, not as tightly designed, not as full of brilliance as Super Metroid. Like I said, Metroid Prime is a very good, but it's not a masterpiece. You could certainly make an argument for it to be in this list, but I don't think you can call it a huge omission.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #46 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    Metroid Prime is being dissed here? That's surprising considering the love a lot of people have for MP1. Kat makes an interesting point about how losing some of its visual artistry has resulted in a less compelling game. I wish I could defend it, but I haven't played MP1 in over a decade. When I played it, my mind was blown away and I have never gone back. I wonder what my reaction would be now.

    Admittedly, I'm not the biggest Super Metroid fan. I like the game a lot. It's great. I just don't think it warrants the pedestal a lot of fans put it on. I've always considered MP1 and Zero Mission to be a notch above Super. Kind of like Super is a 9/10 and MP1 and Zero are both 10/10. Those are my thoughts on matter.

    Anyways, regarding the Zelda talk, I'm glad to see more Twilight Princess fans. For whatever reason, there's a loud thought out there that the game was some sort of failure when it's actually awesome. I love all the Zeldas and Twilight is phenomenal.Edited August 2015 by Kuni-Nino
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for RorschachCCCLX #47 RorschachCCCLX 3 years ago
    I want to say I disagree, but the fact is I've sworn never to play a single second of any "Souls" game because I have no wish to snap my console in half and eat it in a fit of impotent rage. Its a sign to me that my days of being a "hardcore" gamer are over and done. In my prime I'd take on the likes of Ninja Gaiden (both 8-bit and Xbox) and savor the challenge. My reflexes, like my old bones, have softened.
    The closest I come these days is going after S ranks in Ground Zeroes.

    by in large, I've enjoyed the list, each entry doing a great job of explaining both its inclusion in the list and placement therein. Great feature.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for kidgorilla #48 kidgorilla 3 years ago
    Aaaaaaaand I just started another Demon's Souls run.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Bauul #49 Bauul 3 years ago
    @RorschachCCCLX Honestly, it's not really as controller-breakingly frustrating as its reputation. My first play through was 60 hours and I only found myself getting angry once, and that's mostly because I was very drunk at the time.

    Interestingly, reaction speed is not a factor in DS at all (although it is more so in Bloodborne). Really the games are relatively slow paced for an action game. In fact being slow and methodical is one of the best ways to survive. It's trying to be quick and reckless that will get you killed. In fact, it's doing something stupid like this (i.e. you're greedy, or you rush, or you stop paying attention), which is when the game punishes you. 95% of deaths are followed by this acute feeling of "why did I do that? That was stupid of me!", which is a wonderful motivator to have another go and NOT do something stupid the second time.Edited August 2015 by Bauul
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for docexe #50 docexe 3 years ago
    I have played Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls II, but haven’t played Dark Souls itself. Maybe I will play it in the future, but first I want to actually finish Dark Souls II. I knew Dark Souls or another game from the Souls series was going to be on this list, although I didn’t expect it to be this high. But after Snake Eater got second place it seemed unlikely other game would take first.

    I’m not sure if I would give it the accolade to the best game since 2000, but I understand why the series as a whole receives so many ovations and I do think it provides a breath of fresh air among the conventional design in AAA games. I certainly like their challenging and though as nails but ultimately fair nature, the feeling of satisfaction after being victorious in a particularly though encounter, and the way the storyline is conveyed through so many different ways, from the environment itself to the descriptions in the items. I also love their beautiful yet eerie environments and the atmosphere of dread they convey. That being said, I think the games are not for everyone, as their obtuse design might prove just too frustrating for some people. They also tend to suffer from some annoying technical hiccups.

    On the topic of this list itself on the whole, I’m a bit sad that some excellent games of this period were not included (Majora’s Mask or any of the other Zelda games released after 2000, Bayonetta, Metroid Prime, Super Smash. Bros. Melee or Wii U, Silent Hill 2 or 3, F-Zero GX, Okami, Mega Man 9, Portal and Portal 2, Half Life 2, Journey, Geometry Wars, Street Fighter IV, Devil May Cry 3, Batman Arkham Asylum, Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami, etc., etc.), but as I was saying, there have actually been several great games in the past 15 years. It’s curious, while there might be a lot of things to complaint and criticize about the state of the gaming industry in the past few years, thankfully, we have not been deprived of great experiences in the past decade and a half.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Mega_Matt #51 Mega_Matt 3 years ago
    Can't say I disagree with this choice. I consider myself an experienced Soulsman now, but my first trip through Lordran was unlike anything I had played before. Aside from the praise I heard Dark Souls getting from sites like 1up, I went in completely blind. I hadn't played Demon's Souls at the time so I didn't know what I was getting into. It was extremely difficult, but that wasn't why I liked it. The gameplay was so satisfying in a way I wasn't used to. Learning how to play Dark Souls took longer than any game I can think of. That's not a bad thing though. Knowing when to attack, when to block, and when to roll all have to be carefully considered actions and it's extremely rewarding when you get it. Dark Souls really made an impression on me.

    Anyways, I don't know if I can add much to what many people have already said about the game in many places. It's not only one of the best games of the past 15 years, in my mind, it's one of the best ever. Praise the sun!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #52 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    You know, looking past this list, the only one I don't see that I would call mandatory is Spelunky, Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne, and Legend of Grimrock 2 (since DS1 kinda covers for DeS). That is an extremely strong list.

    Also it got me to playing Cave Story+ which has sat in my backlog since 2011. :P
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Tylaris #53 Tylaris 3 years ago
    Am I missing something here? I have no intention to troll this game here, but how does a game with so many fundamental flaws in it's design while very deficient compared to some more robust games, such as Deus Ex or recently Wild Hunt, receive so much blind praise?
    First...game play. Poor controls, where it takes more than half a second to register your input, very clumsy user interface that with substandard animations makes combat very clunky. Enemy AI comes with great variety of different move sets, but it is also remarkably stupid and exploitable...shooting blindly at walls/objects without moving to a better position, attacks passing through objects and some don't even responding to proximity detection when you're engaged with their allies. Poor combat sounds. The worst part is amount of grinding in this game...grind enemies to gain experience, grind enemies to gain crafting materials, grind enemies for souls as currency to upgrade weapons&armor, grind enemies for souls to learn spells and buy equipment, grind the same enemies after dying, grind, grind, over and over...it is tedious beyond belief and difficult for all the wrong reasons. Boss enemies are completely over designed, leading to comical situations such as slashing at ankles of something the size of a mountain and killing it in a few hits and I-frames allowing you to completely cheese the AI. Extremely poor archery and unimaginative magic system. Very poor camera, flawed hit boxes and broken lock-on system that at times can induce seizure. It is a trial/error run of the worst kind filled with poor design choices that are completely unnecessary and redundant. Games with well designed difficulty system challenge player skill and ability to adapt, to think outside the box, to experiment with different tactics...Dark Souls tests player's patience, more than anything else.
    Story( if you could call it that) is convoluted, horribly paced and completely directionless for the majority of the games, and what little dialogue there is, is done through characters who laugh maniacally for no reason at the end of their, usually nonsensical speech patterns. But it's vague and mystical, like a poor offspring of Poe and Baudelaire, so most people mistake this with "depth". Most don't even HAVE lip sync or facial animations of any kind and are poorly voiced. Lore/Story is filled with so many plot holes and the ending leaves exactly the same impression as the game, no sense of resolution or purpose behind it...simply everything in the game is designed over the top to impress, but falls apart under any serious scrutiny.
    World is lifeless with very poor sound design,unimpressive visuals and no weather system of any kind and without even background music...a lifeless theme park of dungeons/forests/etc filled with nothing but monsters that fails to create any sense of immersion. Compare this to games such as Gothic, almost a decade before this game.
    It has a very crude and basic rpg stat system, that fails at it's most fundamental function...to deliver strong sense of progression and offer variety of builds, based on it. Now place it in comparison with something like Arcanum and how much it falls behind.
    Of course there are positives as well, such as variety of play styles based on weapoons, psychological tension, atmosphere, etc...but overall Dark Souls is a very flawed and mediocre game, at best, that provides very limited experience and offers no positive innovation.
    I'll never understand blind, fanatical obsession that some people have with this game.Edited September 2015 by Tylaris
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Bauul #54 Bauul 2 years ago
    @Tylaris Ok, so perhaps a little late to reply to this, but what the hell, here goes nothing:

    First...game play. Poor controls, where it takes more than half a second to register your input,
    Many games suffer input lag, but Dark Souls isn't one of them, at least I've never heard anyone complain about it. Or do you mean the wind-up time of some attacks? That's very deliberate to stop you spamming them, and is no different to most games.

    very clumsy user interface
    Can't argue there, the UI is rather archaic.

    that with substandard animations makes combat very clunky.
    I'm not sure how the UI affects combat, but the animations I always thought were spot on. Readable and clear, and not too flashy or over the top. If they'd made the animation too complex it would have undermined the tactical nature of being able to read the AI.

    Enemy AI comes with great variety of different move sets, but it is also remarkably stupid and exploitable...shooting blindly at walls/objects without moving to a better position, attacks passing through objects and some don't even responding to proximity detection when you're engaged with their allies.
    All deliberate. The enemy AI isn't meant to be realistic, it's meant to offer you a challenge you can experiment with, learn, predict and finally overcome. Dark Souls is almost a puzzle game when it comes to enemies: timing, prioritization and positioning are the ingredients of the challenge, not clever AI.

    Poor combat sounds.
    I liked the sounds, but each to their own.

    The worst part is amount of grinding in this game...grind enemies to gain experience, grind enemies to gain crafting materials, grind enemies for souls as currency to upgrade weapons&armor, grind enemies for souls to learn spells and buy equipment, grind the same enemies after dying, grind, grind, over and over...it is tedious beyond belief and difficult for all the wrong reasons.
    You don't have to grind in Dark Souls at all. Genuinely. Grinding will level you up and make the game easier, but you don't have to. Many people have beaten the game without levelling up at all, because at the end of the day it's about your ability to beat the game, and not about stats. I'm not the best player in the world, but I only felt the need to grind a handful of times because I felt underleveled. Mostly you just level up at about the rate you progress through the game.

    Boss enemies are completely over designed, leading to comical situations such as slashing at ankles of something the size of a mountain
    Yeah that's true, death my ankle slashes!

    and killing it in a few hits and I-frames allowing you to completely cheese the AI.
    I-frames aren't cheesing the AI, that's just good timing!

    Extremely poor archery and unimaginative magic system.
    Yeah archery isn't well implemented. It might have been better if they just hadn't had any archery in the game at all. Magic system is fine though, especially after the DLC there was lots of variety to play with.

    Very poor camera,
    I've heard people complain about the camera but I've never understood it myself. It's just like any other third person camera. You move the right stick about and it moves where you put it. What's wrong with that?

    flawed hit boxes
    That's DS2, not DS1. DS1 had great hit boxes.

    and broken lock-on system that at times can induce seizure.
    Then you're locked on to an enemy that's moving about too fast. What would you rather, the lock-on automatically switches off if the game is worried you might be feeling ill? Just turn it off if it isn't working in that particular situation.

    It is a trial/error run of the worst kind filled with poor design choices that are completely unnecessary and redundant.
    I'm not really sure what design choices are unnecessary or redundant. Everything in the game seems pretty well designed to me.

    Games with well designed difficulty system challenge player skill and ability to adapt, to think outside the box, to experiment with different tactics..
    I'd argue that a game that constantly forces you to adapt, think outside the box and experiment with different tactics is merely inconsistent. I'd rather a game develops one, perfect gameplay system, and has you master that. No-one likes turret sections or driving sections for precisely this reason.

    Story( if you could call it that) is convoluted, horribly paced and completely directionless for the majority of the games
    Arguably DS doesn't have a story. It has a premise and a history. Very little actually happens during the game, it's mostly about uncovering what happened in the game's past. So I'm not sure how you describe that as horribly paced and completely directionless. Do you visit old ruins on vacation, wander around for five minutes and then state "the story here is paced horribly. I'm leaving." DS is like an archeological dig, and should be approached as such.

    , and what little dialogue there is, is done through characters who laugh maniacally for no reason at the end of their, usually nonsensical speech patterns.
    I always found all the little laughs at the end of everything quite funny. The nonsensical speech is quite deliberate though, almost everyone you meet is borderline insane.

    Most don't even HAVE lip sync or facial animations of any kind and are poorly voiced.
    Yeah that is a bit clunky on the graphics department, but we put up with it for years in the 90s so I don't mind.

    Lore/Story is filled with so many plot holes
    Again, there isn't really a story to have plot holes. There are some parts of the history that aren't uncoverable, but that's just the nature of history.

    and the ending leaves exactly the same impression as the game, no sense of resolution or purpose behind it
    I had quite the sense of resolution when I condemned the age of fire to history and ruled over the earth as the Dark Lord. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Frampt!

    World is lifeless
    Well, yeah, it's dying. It's kind of meant to be lifeless!

    no weather system of any kind
    Well now we're just being picky. Neither does Half Life 2 but no-one minded there! Plus it's a supernatural location, like Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, it probably doesn't even have weather.

    and without even background music
    The lack of music in some places is deliberate to enhance the effect of the music in the places that do. The sense of relaxation when the Firelink Shrine music kicks in on returning there is heightened by the fact when your up to your eyeballs in muck down in Blighttown there's no music at all.

    It has a very crude and basic rpg stat system, that fails at it's most fundamental function...to deliver strong sense of progression and offer variety of builds, based on it.
    The RPG system is DS is no simpler than something like The Elder Scrolls. And it's insane to say there's no variety in builds, there are literally hundreds of recognised different builds out there when combined with armour and weapon choices. Or were you squashed by a Giant Dad one day and feel hard done by? The legend never dies!

    but overall Dark Souls is a very flawed and mediocre game, at best, that provides very limited experience and offers no positive innovation. No innovation? Let's try a few:
    - Merging online and offline game modes into a single one
    - Using online to allow players to take part in other player's single-player games
    - Invading other player's single player games
    - A constant auto-save feature that basically makes the game a permanent Ironman mode, just you're immortal
    - Losing currency when you die and having to retrieve it
    - The interconnected, vertical level design. No other 3D game even comes close to the physical complexity of the DS world.
    - The limited-use, but infinite re-fill Estus healing mechanic
    - The way enemies respawn when you do, essentially resetting the level without resetting the game world
    - Building a huge amount of lore, but then having the confidence that the player will discover it through exploring the game world, and not needing cutscenes or lots of exposition
    - Creating the first fantasy survival horror game I know I've ever come across.
    - Creating the most solid melee combat system outside of the fighting genre

    That enough for you?

    Obviously the game isn't for everyone, but most of what you described just didn't seem relevant to the game. Like saying Super Meat Boy is bad because you die too easily. Much of what you said is bad about the game is literally what makes it good!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Flashwick #55 Flashwick A year ago
    I want to beat the game with maximum realism, because it's really cool game. For this, I think I need a good pair of headphones and I ordered a review on website, but I want also to ask someone what headphones do you recommend for this game. On the BestReviewBase are really good reviews, because before following their advice I took a Goggles - frankly, they know a lot about what they write.
    Sign in to Reply

Comments

Close