60. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Released 2011 | Last position 49
Fraser: Skyrim is the forever game, nearly a decade old now and still kicking around. It is very large and very good, but it’s really stayed relevant because of the incalculable number of mods that its hard-working community has churned out. Whole new games have been built out of it, along with a slew of improvements that you shouldn’t start your journey without.
Jody: Now that expansion-sized mods like Legacy of the Dragonborn are exploring the Special Edition's possibilities, Skyrim feels reborn.
Chris: I still think Oblivion is a better game, but Skyrim does the two most important things right. It lets me be whoever I want and doesn't care if I completely ignore the main storyline. I can pick a direction and enjoy however much or little of the official quests I want. I don't have to be the Dragonborn, I can just explore, fight, interact, and come up with my own personal goals and story. It's not the most finely crafted RPG out there, but the absolute freedom it gives players to build their own character and history is worth the rough edges. Ask someone about their favorite part of the Witcher 3 and they'll tell you about their favorite quest. Ask a Skyrim player, and they'll tell you about the unique character they created and the story they came up with.
59. Caves of Qud
Released 2015 | Last position 40
Steven: A dark horse if there ever was one, Caves of Qud is the best RPG you're not playing. It's like Dwarf Fortress, except much less daunting and centered on a strange, alien world with some of my favorite writing in games. Each time you play, whole cultural histories are randomly generated for you to learn about as you pick through the dilapidated ruins of Qud's lost civilizations. It's a cerebral, ambitious, and impressive RPG with a humble ASCII-like art style.
58. STALKER: Call of Pripyat
Released 2010 | Last position 58
Chris: You'll probably want to mod the hell out of it. But even in its vanilla form, it's unmatched in the sense of dread it provides. Most games turn you into a superhero, but Stalker never lets you forget you're mortal and that an unceremonious death can happen at any second.
Phil: Tense and dark and foreboding, Stalker is a masterclass in player disempowerment. Between the bandits, the monsters, and the anomalies, it's clear that its open world has no care for your survival. Stalker refuses to let you get comfortable, and that makes it just as oppressive and scary as the most tightly plotted horror game.
Released 2018 | Last position 57
Fraser: Urban fantasy with a dash of BioWare's companions and consequences, Unavowed feels like a reimagining of classic point-and-click adventures. It's steeped in puzzles—most expertly woven into the story—and handsome pixel art, but it also offers more freedom to chart the course of your adventure, giving you authorship over the story.
Phil: I've loved Wadjet Eye's games since the first in the Blackwell series, but Unavowed is on another level. It's exceptionally clever: a party-based point-and-click that lets you develop real attachment to its cast of eccentric characters, and offers up plenty of twists on the many cliches of supernatural fiction.
Released 2017 | Last position New entry
Jody: A spooky space station game in which you play Prop Hunt, where any medkit could be a spider-monster while you have a glue gun and Nerf darts. It's not just another space station game. It's the ultimate. Arkane didn't remake Prey, they made System Shock 3 and called it Prey.
Phil: One of Prey's biggest achievements is making Talos I feel like an actual, coherent place. Sure, it's built out of a series of segmented levels with loading screens between them, but the fact you have multiple routes to each area—one of which simply involves leaving the station and floating off to a different hatch—gives it a real presence. Prey's actual biggest achievement, though, is more monumental entirely: it has a crafting system that's good.
Released 2019 | Last position New entry
James: You can play Session with classic Skate controls. Cool and fine. Or, if you're a maniac like me, you can control each foot with a stick and turn on manual catching and kick strength and spin power to make Session into a skateboard QWOP. It makes a single flatland, crawling kickflip a pretty big accomplishment, and I'll never be a good virtual skater. But like the early '00s, I'm watching the best of the best begin to emerge from the virtual scene, with players like JAHDexe making legit, unique skate videos. There's even a Session collective, Dizzy Skateboarding Co., highlighting the cream of the crop in montages that take me back to the best Girl's Yeah Right or Zero's Misled Youth.
54. Resident Evil 2
Released 2019 | Last position 29
Robin: I never even played the original Resi 2, and I still adored this remake. It absolutely stands up on its merits as just a fantastic bit of survival horror. It’s such a pleasure picking your way through its intricate maps—solving puzzles, finding secrets, and trying not to get eaten. Controversial opinion, though: I could’ve done without Mr X. He’s too mechanical to be scary, but enough of an obstacle to be frustrating. I just wanted to poke around at my leisure.
Andy K: Remakes don’t get much better than this. Not only does it remain true to the spirit of the original, but it remixes and modernises it too. Stepping into the RPD building, you get the same feeling you did back in the PlayStation era. A mix of awe and fear, as you wonder what darkness lurks in the corners of this beautiful old building. But with modern textures, lighting, and shadows—not to mention a shift to full 3D—the atmosphere of the place is radically heightened. This is the game you know and love at its core, but with a fresh spin on almost everything, and a much scarier Tyrant. It’s the best Resi in years, rooted in the past, but looking to the future as well.
Released 2018 | Last position 53
Tyler Wilde: I find Dusk ugly compared to other recent FPS throwbacks like Amid Evil and Ion Fury, but having been a Quake fan, I get the nostalgia. And it plays just right if you're fond of the classics: you move like you're on ice skates and shoot like you're playing a clicker game.
Tom: Even the reload animations are fun in this fond reflection of old-school shooters. You don't even have hands, but you can still spin your floating twin shotguns to magically put new shells into the barrel. The levels travel between B-movie genres, and are actually funny. I've never thought of level design as a medium for humour, but when I go down a tunnel and suddenly fight a giant alligator for no reason, I can't help but laugh.
52. Stardew Valley
Released 2016 | Last position 52
Rachel Watts: Stardew Valley is a pocket of calm, especially in these trying times. The slice-of-life sim lets you lead the life of a farmer. You can build any type of farm you like, from a profitable vegetable empire to a cosy barn with a few flower patches. Being plonked on a huge empty lot might seem a little daunting, but once you settle in the seasons will fly by. Seeing the money roll in from your epic shipment of green beans after nurturing them for 10 straight days is a feeling like no other.
When you want a break from your farming life, you can wander around Pelican Town befriending its residents. Getting to know the community and the learning about the underlying magic of the town always gives you more to discover. Stardew Valley is both a blessing and a curse. It's a peaceful game, but it will make your heart ache for the tranquility of the countryside.
Fraser: I get to live out the fantasy of not killing every plant I try to grow and the fantasy of having a thriving social life. Highly recommended for plant-killing hermits.
51. Path of Exile
Released 2013 | Last position 50
Steven: Quarterly expansions continue to reinvent the base game in strange, exciting new ways. Its current expansion, for example, lets you tend a garden by planting seeds that grow monsters for you to kill for loot. It's so weird, but I love how consistently Path of Exile makes clicking on things until they die fun. I've only scraped the surface of its more complex systems and endgame, and frequent updates and improvements have kept it from aging. This is still the king of ARPGs.
Tom: It's astonishing how much you get for free in this game. Purchases are mainly tied to glitzy exotics, but you still have access to the full depth of Path of Exile's RPG systems. If you think the vast, sprawling skill board is daunting, wait until you get into the intricacies of combining weapons on your items to create deadly or hilarious combinations.