90 Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
RELEASED 1996 | LAST POSITION New entry
Andy: The fusion of fascinating real-world history and a compelling occult murder mystery makes for a brilliantly twisting plot that takes you from Ireland to Syria. Witty hero George Stobbart is endearingly goofy, and showing every single person he meets the contents of his pockets—including a disgustingly moist tissue—is a joke that never gets old. It’s a game that keeps me coming back.
89 Cities: Skylines
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 40
Tyler: This is the best modern city builder, and a direct response to the flub that was SimCity . Colossal Order and Paradox embraced the modding community, setting up an attractive, refined ecosystem for urban planning hobbyists that will likely be the baseline for years to come.
Shaun: The beginning of a new project in Cities: Skylines is a meditative, easygoing process: some light dabs of Industrial and Residential here, a bit of Commercial there, maybe a lovely main street by the water. Being a civic deity isn’t so bad after all! But then the traffic piles up, the rivers fill with waste, the citizens turn rogue and that prison you built next to a school proves quite the cunning plan. Presiding over your personal dystopia has always been a PC-oriented pleasure, and we have Skylines to thank for having a nigh-perfect way to do that again.
88 Europa Universalis IV
RELEASED 2013 | LAST POSITION New entry
Angus: This world-conquering sim marks the point where usability got some of the attention Paradox usually reserves for complexity. By tweaking the barrier to entry, the studio invited grand strategy converts from the more focused Crusader Kings 2 to expand their horizons by colonising the early modern world. Few games let you found the British Empire on one run and fight as Incans the next. EU4 is the best of them.
87 Fallout: New Vegas
RELEASED 2010 | LAST POSITION 10
Shaun: To an increasingly loud minority, it’s the best modern Fallout. It’s not hard to understand why: Obsidian’s take on the formula focused on all the best parts of classic Fallout—the weirdness, the substantial narrative branching paths, the humour—and made good on a promise that Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 struggled to deliver. It also lacked the hammy grandiosity of the other two games. There’s less dissonance between the urgency of the main story and your optional dalliances with Deathclaw extermination, and you have a lot more agency when it comes to how that bigger picture resolves.
Phil: It is just set in a big desert, though, isn’t it? At least Fallout 4 ’s got a few green patches.
Samuel: I like New Vegas ’s diverging main quest, but it’s become the Fallout it’s cool to be seen liking. I prefer the worlds of the other games.
86 Unreal Tournament 2K4
RELEASED 2004 | LAST POSITION 67
Tyler: A joyous test of speed and reflexes with one of the best FPS guns ever. The whole series is great, but this is the one we play most today—and we’ve had some heated instagib duels in the office, bounding around each other and clicking for kills with only milliseconds between a gib and a miss. It hasn’t gotten old yet. UT is extensively customisable and host to tons of usermade maps, and along with the Quake series it still stands as one of the few brilliant, still easily playable arena shooters in existence. Even as the concept reemerges—in the new Doom, for instance—UT2K4 and its predecessors remain some of the best options.
Evan: Quake III is the purer FPS, but in terms of art, maps, guns, and mechanics as a whole, UT2K4 is the peak that arena FPS achieved, the sum of all its good ideas that began in the late ’90s.
85 Path of Exile
RELEASED 2013 | LAST POSITION New entry
Steven: It’s hard not to see this as a spiritual successor to Diablo II . They share a similarly dour tone, but where Diablo II is fading away, Path of Exile is getting better every month. Each ‘season’ revamps the basic formula with exciting twists that have spawned an entire community hungry for the challenge of rolling new characters. That too is exciting, as Path of Exile ’s progression system is like Final Fantasy X ’s sphere grid, only crazy in size. It’s huge!
84 Company of Heroes
RELEASED 2006 | LAST POSITION New entry
Tom S: Every year I return to the small European towns of the Western Front to battle the panzers and halftracks of the Axis vanguard, and still find myself rewarded with close-fought and intense real-time scraps. The clever use of terrain and cover creates tactical intrigue that refuses to fade with age. The earthy explosions and top class sound design make it one of the punchiest and most satisfying strategy games ever.
RELEASED 2005 | LAST POSITION No change
Tom M: The reason fans like me are so hyped for Psychonauts 2 is because the first was truly fantastic. It’s a 3D platformer with a unique setting and a fantastic sense of humour. It wasn’t afraid to do weird things with plot, personality, and even level design, and that fearlessness is one of the main reasons people are still talking about the Milkman level 11 years later. It’s one of Double Fine’s best games.
82 Euro Truck Simulator 2
RELEASED 2012 | LAST POSITION 85
Phil: Drive around a condensed Europe, delivering goods and trying not fall asleep on the M6. This isn’t about drama in the traditional sense. Those 16 tonnes of packaged foods probably will make it to Düsseldorf on time, even taking into account a brief stop to refuel. Instead, Euro Truck is about maintaining a delicate balance between relaxation and efficiency. Travelling Europe’s roads feels atmospheric and calming, especially at night. But it’s also easy to slip into complacency, increasing the risk of incurring fines for speeding, running red lights or crashing into other vehicles. Despite the absence of action, Euro Truck has a huge, passionate community—from modders, to the DJs who fill its internet radio stations with dedications, requests and Europop.
Andy: Euro Truck Simulator 2 is therapy. Rumbling along the grey, featureless roads of Europe, listening to the rain tapping at the window, the swish of the wipers, it’s absolutely hypnotic. Which makes the moments where something exciting happens—which is whenever anything happens—even more powerful. A hot air balloon. A waterfall. A ship sailing past. And then it’s back to the road. The tranquillity of endless asphalt, where your only worry is getting that yoghurt to Aberdeen in time. Most vehicle simulators are rough and poorly made, this one is a fun, polished, and occasionally beautiful game.
81 TowerFall Ascension
RELEASED 2014 | LAST POSITION 51
Tom M: As a local multiplayer game, it provides the quintessential couch experience, with easy-to-learn but hard-to-master controls, quick rounds, and a heaping helping of chaos. There are still so many little intricacies to Towerfall’s controls that I know I haven’t mastered, despite wanting to play it every time I have friends over. None of its peers has managed to match its exhilaration, although many have tried.