2013 is the last year of the seventh generation, with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releasing during the holiday season. With that, we got the final games of that generation, attempting to push those consoles to their limits. More than those swan songs, 2013 had breakout indie hits, reboots of big franchises, and, in one series, what the developers hoped wouldn’t be their last game (it wasn’t). No generation eight launch titles made the list, however, but the next few years show the current generation eventually got into a good groove.
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 2013
15 – Rogue Legacy
Developer: Cellar Door Games | Release Date: June 27th, 2013
What sort of legacy will you leave behind? The answer, apparently, is a rogue one. Rogue Legacy combined platforming, roguelite elements, and action with one rather goofy twist. Every time you died, your child would take your place, and this child had different randomized conditions. There’s some hilarity in your giant son stomping about getting revenge for his dearly departed dad. Enough hilarity for people to remember the game well.
14 – Saints Row IV
Developer: Volition | Release Date: August 20th, 2013
How do you top the absurdity of Saints Row: The Third? Why, you go to space, of course. After aliens destroy Earth, the Saints find themselves trapped in a computer simulation and break it to get superpowers. Now isn’t that just a lovely little surprise? With more celebrity cameos, such as Keith David and Roddy Piper, more absurd weaponry, and a button that does nothing but make you have sex with your fellow crew. What more can you want?
13 – Tomb Raider
Developer: Crystal Dynamics | Release Date: March 5th, 2013
Rebooting a franchise is hard. Rebooting a franchise as beloved as Tomb Raider is even harder. And yet, somehow, it was done. By turning Lara Croft into a young survivor trapped on an island after a shipwreck, it changed Tomb Raider in a fundamental and exciting way. It helps that it also took full advantage of the changes to third-person shooting and metroidvania-styled exploration. Even if Lara hated tombs, we loved Tomb Raider.
12 – Pokemon X and Y
Developer: Game Freak | Release Date: October 12th, 2013 | Game Page
In what may have been the biggest change to the Pokemon series since it first came out, Pokemon X and Y did something many people considered insane: it made the series 3D. This may sound minor, but its obvious a lot of work had to be put into each creature and environment. Combine this with fun new Pokemon, a world based off of France, and one of the few surprisingly captivating Pokemon stories, and you got a recipe for a solid entry to the series.
11 – Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Developer: Techland | Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Call of Juarez was a series in trouble. Following two games that were good, if not really selling great and the absolutely terrible The Cartel, the series needed a savior. That savior was Gunslinger. Taking a cue from Bastion, Gunslinger set you in a world with a narrator. The catch? This narrator was unreliable, and the world would change depending on his whims. Also giving players fast-paced, Wild West shooting and lovely visuals for a budget game, and Gunslinger easily became the best in the series.
10 – Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Release Date: April 30th, 2013
Far Cry 3 was a solid open-world FPS that would alter many Ubisoft games for years to come. Blood Dragon soaked it in neon and gave it a fun ’80s vibe. Perhaps the start of the ’80s appreciation games, this standalone expansion was a small slice of Far Cry 3 with a super unique flavor that made it easy to digest. If you ever wanted to hunt giant biomechanical lizards with a neon bow, this is the place to do it.
9 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengerance
Developer: PlatinumGames | Release Date: February 19th, 2013
While we may still have no clue what “Revengerance” actually means, we do know that Metal Gear Rising: Revengerance is one of the best character action games made. Taking all the absurd of the Metal Gear universe and ratcheting it up to 11, you’ll be performing crazy moves while cutting enemies into little chunks. With insane action, even more insane bosses, and a fifteen-minute cutsecene about memes, Metal Gear Rising is one for all Metal Gear fans.
8 – Metro: Last Light
Developer: 4A Games | Release Date: May 14th, 2013 | Game Page
If Metro 2033 kickstarted the Metro franchise into something unique, Metro: Last Light is the game that really caught people’s attention. With improved mechanics all around, Last Light continued the story of Artyom and his efforts to save the Metro in an interesting way: by revealing he was wrong the entire time. Now the hero has to deal with the fact that he made a horrible mistake while shooting Nazis, which anyone can easily get behind. This is a sequel for the fans
7 – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Developer: Ubisoft | Release Date: October 29th, 2013
The Assassin’s Creed series had, once again, been in not the best place. How did they solve this issue? Pirates. It turns out letting you sail the open seas and letting you gather together a pirate crew to commit ship-to-ship combat is the golden ticket. While the regular assassin stuff may have been okay, if forgettable, Black Flag really excelled with the ship exploration and combat. Considering this was over half the game, that was a very good thing, and it made it stand out among other entries in the series.
6 – Fire Emblem Awakening
Developer: Intelligent Systems | Release Date: February 4th, 2013
What do you do when you’re told you’re not getting another entry to one of the best series? You make it the best entry to the series and change that line of thought. Originally meant to be the swan song for the Fire Emblem series, Awakening was so good it not only blew every other entry out of the water sales-wise but also saved the franchise and made Nintendo double back on getting rid of it.
Our 5 Best Games of 2013
5 – Bioshock Infinite
Developer: Irrational Games | Release Date: March 26th, 2013
Taking the famous underwater FPS series and bringing it to the clouds was certainly unique. Bioshock Infinite told a highly political tale about the dangers of American Exceptionalism, Nationalism, and many other subjects. Combine this with multiple timelines, an impressive sci-fi twist, and fast-paced action gameplay that involved using zip-lines to their full potential, and you had a first-person shooter that many came to love and remember.
4 – Grand Theft Auto V
Developer: Rockstar Games | Release Date: September 17th, 2013 | Game Page
The always-popular Grand Theft Auto series made a splash with V, which has gone on to become one of the bestselling video games of all time. Letting you switch between three characters at any time, you could find yourself going on bank heists, fun rampages, fleeing from the cops, and participating in all sorts of goofy minigames. It also shipped with an expansive, almost MMO-like, multiplayer offering, giving you even more to do with the game. There’s a reason Grand Theft Auto V is one of the bestsellers.
3 – The Stanley Parable
Developer: Galactic Cafe | Release Date: October 17th, 2013
Are we even allowed to make choices in games or is everything pre-determined? Even the choices we can make are all planned for by a storyteller. Questioning this concept in one of the most hilarious ways, The Stanly Parable may not have had much gameplay, but it did have one of the most hilarious narrators in gaming and tied it together with a surprisingly thought-provoking plot that took shots at the game industry at any chance it could. Worth it just for the humor alone.
2 – Papers, Please
Developer: Lucas Pope | Release Date: August 8th, 2013
Running a little border checkpoint doesn’t exactly sound like the most fun of games. However, Papers, Please manages to be one of the most compelling experiences. What starts as simply checking to see if passports match, you’re soon scanning for bombs, dealing with bribes, trying to make enough to feed your sick family, and trying to pretend the country you’re letting people into is as glorious as claimed. It’s captivating and quickly became a favorite for players looking for something a little different.
1 – The Last of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog | Release Date: June 14th, 2013
When we heard Naughty Dog was taking a break from Uncharted, this isn’t what most of us expected. Uncharted was a goofy action movie nonsense. The Last of Us is a depressing post-apocalyptic story of people just trying to survive. Joel’s trip to escort Ellie across an infected America in the hopes of finding a cure for the monstrous plague is one hell of a trip, and easily one of the most disturbing and emotional stories put on the format. When you also consider it has interesting stealth gameplay, dramatic firefights, and a surprisingly robust multiplayer option, then it’s not hard to see why The Last of Us is so beloved. Just try not to cry like most people do.