When we started to look at the best games released over the past decade, 2010 stood out as one incredible year to kick things off. There are some downright classics in the bunch that not only contend with being the best of this past decade but some of the best of all time in their respective genres. So, let’s take a trip back to right before the indie gaming scene exploded and one of the last years for gaming’s seventh generation.
Keep an eye out here for every year’s list of the past decade, including an overall best 100 games of the 2010s.
The 15 Best Games of 2010
15 – Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Developer: Frictional Games | Release Date: September 8th, 2010
There are probably many people saying, “oh yeah, I remember Amnesia,” right about now. When it released, it was a powerhouse, particularly on YouTube, with many personalities playing through the game. One of the powerhouse indie releases of the year, Amnesia still stands as one of the best indie horror games made to date. Since that time Frictional Games has been fairly quiet aside from 2015’s SOMA, but they do have some projects in the works.
14 – StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Release Date: July 27th, 2010 | Game Page
StarCraft fans waited over a decade for the sequel to the original game, which was and still is quite popular almost 20 years later. In some ways, too, StarCraft II was the last big-budget, good classic RTS game released. Unless you were around at the time. When released, StarCraft II burst onto the eSports scene, establishing the foundation for how eSports function today. StarCraft II remains popular to this day, receiving regular updates.
13 – LIMBO
Developer: Playdead | Release Date: July 21st, 2010 | Game Page
Perhaps one of the most important indie platformers that would lead to a revolution in indie games, LIMBO attracted many thanks to its beautiful art. The fact that the game’s description read “Uncertain of his sister’s fate, a boy enters LIMBO” and nothing else likely helped. Ultimately, the game would go on to define terrifying puzzle platformers, strangely gruesome deaths, and a silhouetted art style for years to come. Most importantly, it would pave the way for plenty of other indie platformers to try their hand at things. Just don’t play it if you fear spiders.
12 – Call of Duty: Black Ops
Developer: Treyarch | Release Date: November 9th, 2010
If any entry to Call of Duty stands out, Black Ops tends to be it. While it may not have been as bombastic as the previous year’s Modern Warfare 2, it chose to replace that with one of the few Call of Duty stories that caught players by surprise and drew them into the world. Featuring a unique Vietnam/Cold War time period, a weird conspiracy, and the evolution of 2008’s unique zombie survival mode, Black Ops continues to be a fan favorite in the series. Now, all we need to know is what those numbers actually mean, Mason.
11 – Rock Band 3
Developer: Harmonix | Release Date: October 26th, 2010
There was a time when Guitar Hero and Rock Band ruled the world. That knowing how to play the plastic guitars, and how to play them properly, was considered an important life skill. You could be the king of a party if you turned on Rock Band 3 and got a perfect score on “Fortunate Son.” It was a game that brought players together, encouraged them to live out their inner rock star dream, and party like there was no tomorrow. The height of the rhythm game craze, what happened after wasn’t really Rock Band 3‘s fault. But it was the last party before the end of the plastic guitar phase of rhythm games. It was a hell of a party.
10 – Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Developer: EA DICE | Release Date: March 2nd, 2010
Bringing Battlefield to consoles always seemed like a tough task, but Battlefield: Bad Company would lay down the foundation that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 would perfect. With a shocking amount of environmental destruction mashed together with some really unique maps and large scale encounters, the game quickly took over the franchise as one of the favorites in the series. The fact that it had a humorous campaign, with several silly army rejects thrown into a serious situation, helped quite a bit. This was ultimately a good company to work with.
9 – Metro 2033
Developer: 4A Games | Release Date: March 16th, 2010 | Game Page
Who knew that games based on books could do so well? Combining Russian post-apocalyptic horror with FPS action, Metro 2033 was a surprise hit that put both the book series and the author on the map in places outside of Russia. Oozing atmosphere at every point and managing to tell a rather creepy story, Metro 2033 would go on to become a well-beloved series. It helped that it went on to be remade a few years later, with all the improvements that its sequel brought.
8 – Halo: Reach
Developer: Bungie | Release Date: September 14th, 2010
A game so beloved, it just came out a second time right before we started voting. The final Halo game developed by Bungie, Halo: Reach would tell the story of the doomed Reach and the events before the first game. It featured a single-player campaign polished to a shine and assuring that Bungie would be leaving the franchise with one more fantastic shooter. It also helped that it came with a massively enjoyable multiplayer suite, an extensive Forge map editor, and one of the best endings ever seen in a video game. Now’s the best time to give it another go, with the new PC release.
7 – Super Meat Boy
Developer: Team Meat | Release Date: October 20th, 2010
Another 2010 indie game that would go on to serve as an inspiration to many, Super Meat Boy is the perfect speed platformer. From wall jumps to crazy traps, needing to duck and weave your way around each level in Meat Boy’s quest to save his girlfriend was a delight. Perhaps what made it most memorable is that, upon completing a level, you got to see every attempt you made play out simultaneously. It made the success all the more memorable when you got to see it next to all the failures.
6 – Fallout: New Vegas
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment | Release Date: October 19th, 2010
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. However, what happens in Fallout: New Vegas gets remembered for years to come. Obsidian’s attempt at a modern Fallout game, this entry proved to be unique thanks to its captivating story and fantastic characters. From mutated grandmothers to depressed gunslingers, the cast is at its absolute best in a long while. Combine this with the always present joy of blowing someone’s head off in VATS, some dubious moral decisions, and several fantastic expansions, and New Vegas may be Best Vegas.
Our 5 Best Games of 2010
5 – Bayonetta
Developer: PlatinumGames | Release Date: January 5th, 2010 | Game Page
It sure takes a lot to sell a character action game these days. It turns out that Bayonetta has exactly that. From her over-the-top moveset to using her own hair to fight, Bayonetta herself made for a captivating and fantastic central character. Add in a few ridiculous boss fights and set-piece moments, a wide variety of unique enemies, and one of the most catchy soundtracks of 2010, and you have a winner.
4 – Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver
Developer: Game Freak | Release Date: March 14th, 2010 | Game Page
For many people, Pokemon Gold & Silver are the high-point of the franchise. It’s when Pokemon didn’t just seem like a fun one-off idea, but like it could keep going places and getting bigger and better games. So when Nintendo took the time to completely remake these two popular entries with better graphics, people were pleased. Pleased enough that it’s often considered a favorite in the franchise. HeartGold & SoulSilver are both celebrations of the original games, and also their own thing by adding online play and new minigames.
3 – Super Mario Galaxy 2
Developer: Nintendo | Release Date: May 23rd, 2010
It’s hard to top Super Mario Galaxy, the galaxy-spanning platformer favorite from the series. Yet, somehow, Super Mario Galaxy 2 does it with flying colors. In a way, the perfect sequel, taking everything loved about the original and iterating on it with such precision and care while never losing what made the original so great. It’s wonderful to step back into the role of Mario, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 remains one of the best places to do so.
2 – Red Dead Redemption
Developer: Rockstar San Diego | Release Date: May 18th, 2010
At the time it seemed like nothing could surpass Grand Theft Auto IV in terms of a living world. Then came Red Dead Redemption, which did it with such a cowboy flair. The story of John Marston manages to be one of Rockstar’s best. Criminals redeeming themselves is a great subject, and setting it to the slow death of the Wild West and with all sorts of betrayals manages to work wonders. Combined with fun gunplay, great missions, a lovely open world, and goofy multiplayer nonsense, and Red Dead Redemption remains one of the best choices for an open-world adventure.
1 – Mass Effect 2
Developer: BioWare | Release Date: January 26th, 2010 | Game Page
My name is Commander Shephard and this is my favorite game in 2010. Mass Effect was already an insane success, but taking it to the next level did wonders. Set to the background of an unstoppable incoming invasion and a possible suicide mission, Mass Effect 2 didn’t move the story much but instead provided some of the most interesting, likable, and deep characters that the franchise has ever seen. It took the gameplay of the original and made it far less clunky while removing the need to spend excess time in menus. Most importantly, it made it feel like Mass Effect really changed the world, and we got to see many of our choices pay off in satisfying ways. Mass Effect 2 is the kind of game that will stick with players for generations to come.