Right, before I get into the thick of this article, I feel the need to explain its contents. Fact is, neither me or Kyle felt particularly comfortable with ranking these games from 6 to 1. Sounds like a copout, but as such we’ve tackled this with a different format!
We’ll be ranking our top 3, as that’s a little easier for us to confidently manage! The other three titles? They’ll be holding up the end of this article in a separate and non-ranked list! So without further ado let’s get into the good stuff.
3 – Mass Effect 2
Have you ever played a game, and wondered what you’ve been doing all this time? That was Mass Effect 2 for me.
I actually played the first entry in this massive trilogy around it’s original release in 2007 (what a year that was for games right?), and just couldn’t get into it. My 14 year old self just didn’t have the necessary commitment for RPGs. As such, Mass Effect 2 passed me by completely when it released in 2010. Luckily however second hand game stores existed.
One day, a yearish later, I had a little spare cash from selling a few games I’d completed and wasn’t gonna finish again, and I wanted a new one! Mass Effect 2 caught my eye. Since my brief venture with the first game, I’d delved into a few RPGs here and there, with mixed success, so I decided to gamble on Mass Effect 2.
To be clear. I played Mass Effect 2 without finishing Mass Effect 1. Yes I’m that guy.
I’m so glad I did, it’s a game I still love to play now, and almost every year I go through and play the entire trilogy start to finish with a new character, new abilities, and…. Well the exact same choices if I’m honest. I’m well into double digits of completions and I’m still yet to see a renegade play through. I’m a pathological good guy, what can I say?
A well fleshed out supporting cast that only gets stronger with dedicated loyalty missions, along with very deep conversation trees help support the much improved combat system and the larger intrigue of the main story. In fact as a single confined piece, I’d argue Mass Effect 2 offers the most well rounded main campaign of all 3 games. Something about the way it starts, and the early investigations you do, it’s all just laid out brilliantly.
Honestly, I could talk ad nauseam about Mass Effect 2. I love it that much. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the whole trilogy, then first things first, what are you doing? Secondly, don’t feel the need to push through the first game. Mass Effect 2 stands up by itself perfectly.
2 – God of War
Now again I’ve gotta be perfectly honest. Prior to 2018’s GOTY winner, I had zero experience in the God of War franchise. I didn’t own a PS2 or PS3, I know, I know, shame on me right?
However when I saw the trailer at E3 2017, I knew it would be something special. That wasn’t some crystal ball thinking of course, most people were blown away by the new presentation style. Sadly I didn’t own a PS4 when it was released, little slow on the uptake is ol’ Zack.
However when I did get one, God of War was one of the first purchases I made.
It’s actually a slight understatement to say I loved it. In terms of single player games, it might be the closest thing to perfect I’ve ever experienced. With the camera flowing for the entire game experience with no cuts or fadeaways, the step up in presentation over previous titles was truly astounding. Accompanying it was a new perspective as well, with the franchise adopting an over-the-shoulder approach, bringing it up to modern standards.
Even ignoring the many, many, gameplay changes they made, God of War also added a rather beautiful story to it’s arsenal. Now it’s fair to say that the story of the previous games in the franchise was actually quite good, I’ve read most of it now thanks to my mild obsession with 2018’s entry. I think it’s also pertinent that a lot of the finer emotive sections of the overall tale, throughout the first titles, were overshadowed by the gameplay style of those games. Ultra violent and ultra “not-at-all-bothered-about-being-subtle”. This isn’t a bad thing, it gave those games an identity.
However with God of War essentially being a reboot of the series, Santa Monica Studio clearly saw an opportunity to mature the narrative experience a little. Gone is the reckless and impatient Kratos of old, instead we’re treated with an aged version of the man we once knew. A man who’s been through so much, and has seen the outcome of all his rage and power. The other side of this coin is his son Atreus.
Now normally, introducing companion mechanics into an adventure game can be a pain. Either their inclusion makes the gameplay unnecessarily dull, or drag you out of the immersion. The Last Of Us, an amazing game that it was, made Ellie essentially invisible in normal gameplay, enemies would walk right past her or even bump into her without even noticing. With there being no stealth options in God of War, the problem of a companion all but disappears, with Atreus offering unique gameplay interactions, both in combat and exploration. He also adds an interesting opposite to Kratos’ well worn personality.
The story itself is marvelous, and I won’t go into it here, but I make no exaggeration when I say it’s perfection, from start to finish.
God of War sits as my favourite action adventure game ever, by quite a far margin, and I can’t see it being shaken loose from the top of that genre any time soon, except by its sequel. If you own a PS4 and haven’t had the chance to play it yet, do yourself a favour and experience the best single player game of this generation.
1 – Halo: Combat Evolved
Okay, so after my glowing thoughts on why I love God Of War you’ve got to be wondering, why wasn’t it first?
Well God Of War was just one game in an entire franchise, where most of the entries didn’t appeal to me. It was the outlier, not the rule.
Halo? For many years of my life, Halo became more than just a video game to me. See the thing is, before Halo:CE I really didn’t dabble much with shooters. They just didn’t appeal to me.
But Halo captured something within my young mind that I find really hard to explain. But really, in simple terms, it comes down to the story. Before Halo: CE, shooters were fairly… single minded. There wasn’t always a story attached to them, and when there was it regularly wasn’t very good. Half Life of course changed the flow slightly, but as a kid Half Life didn’t appeal to me in the same way. Halo:CE gave me everything that I appreciated about Doom and Quake, and gifted it to me wrapped in a universe and host of characters that I wanted and needed to learn more about.
Some of the moments are still so vivid to me, despite me not playing through the first OG one in years (I have of course played the remaster). Fighting to leave the Pillar Of Autumn, landing on Halo only to find your squad of Marines dead around you. Hearing a firefight the other side of the canyon and walking there to meet Sgt Johnson for the very first time. Discovering the fate of Captain Keyes. Stumbling upon the horror that was The Flood. Finding out what the Halo rings were built to do. Escaping.
All of it. I remember all of it like I was playing it for the first time yesterday. So many mind blowing moments crammed into a campaign, that I honestly would still happily sit down and play even now. Even with all the fantastic video games we’ve had over the years.
Even if you go beyond my nostalgia driven opinions. You had massive vehicular combat, you had expansive level design that encouraged exploration, you had interesting characters, you had a world that was at your feet to discover, you had music that still chills fully grown adults to this day.
Everything that Halo:CE tried, it pulled off and then some. Some of the mechanics haven’t aged so well in 2020, but that’s to be expected. Fact is, Halo kicked off an interest in video games that I never saw coming. It also spawned full blown novels, a TV series, an (admittedly rather rubbish) movie, sequels of consistent quality. All of which I consumed, repeatedly.
In case you can’t tell by my rambling, I like this game. A lot. There’s almost no reason to not play it, especially with the remaster bringing the visuals into the modern age. So if somehow Halo completely passed you by, settle in, ignore some of the aged mechanics, and enjoy one of the greatest First Person Shooters to ever grace consoles.
So there’s my top 3! Now I’m gonna cover the 3 games that I didn’t feel comfortable ranking. I won’t delay any longer so first up!
Pokemon. If there ever was a franchise that made phenomenal amounts of money, and hit phenomenal success without changing their gameplay loop at all. It’s Pokemon.
The road throughout the generations has been rough, not all the games have been good, not all of them have even been average, but one game & generation will forever stand out amongst the rest. At least for me.
The 2nd generation, including Silver, Gold, and Crystal.
Silver was the precise game that I played when I was younger, and it was fantastic. Being one of the first games that I finished I went err… slightly overboard. Not only did I finish it, I also maxed out every single one of my main team at level 100. I don’t recall, but I dread to think about how long it took me.
Curious about my 6? So you should be:
Not a bad team, if I do say so myself. It took a lot of work to obtain and level each of them, which was part of the charm of this particular game.
There was simply so much to do. Not only did you have two regions to explore, you also had 16 gyms to complete, the elite four challenge, a bunch of legendary pokemon to catch, and a rock hard final boss named Red.
Something about the journey captured my young mind, in a similar fashion to that of Halo. It sucked hours of my life away solo, but also introduced me to the gaming community. See whenever my family went on holiday, I’d take my Game Boy. I always met people who played Pokemon. Which would be how I got my Machamp. The comradery that video games develop is now a given, a mainstay throughout all the games I play with my friends, but I didn’t know that then, and I still remember it being genuinely surprising that other people shared my interests and excitement.
Unlike Halo, I don’t recommend playing Silver now. Instead I recommend picking up SoulSilver or HeartGold, the modern day remakes. They’re genuinely great remakes, and add quite a bit to each game. If you get a chance to play them, do. They may be marketed toward children, but in them hides quite a deep and rewarding RPG for those interested enough to find it.
Before Overwatch released, I had a very definitive answer for whenever someone asked me about my favorite multiplayer FPS. Halo 3, always Halo 3.
Blizzard changed everything for me.
They’re pretty well known for quality video games, with Diablo, World Of Warcraft, and Starcraft just a few of the titles under their umbrella. Overwatch brought everything they learned from these titles, adopted modern competitive trends, and unleashed on me the most addictive, satisfying, and infuriating shooter I’ve ever played.
Borrowing the concept of heroes from games like League Of Legends and DOTA 2, adding in a tight and technically impressive set of FPS mechanics, interesting map design, and unique objectives, Blizzard really struck gold. Add in the consistent updates, new heroes, lore injections, and active community, and Overwatch is a game quite unlike anything else you’ll find on console or PC.
In terms of video games, I’m quite a competitive guy. Which is why the tremendous skill cap on show in Overwatch is fantastic. The competitive mode is where the serious stuff happens, but Overwatch is chock full of modes for people who don’t wanna take things as seriously. Which is part of the beauty. Overwatch is welcoming to all mindsets and playstyles. Yes, the ranked playlists are a different story, encouraging teamwork and communication, but in quick play and Arcade the game is your oyster.
Now I’m not oblivious. Overwatch has been out for 4 years now, which does bring its own problems. The population isn’t what it once was, and the majority of the playerbase is now the more hardcore community, many of them (including me) having logged 1000+ hours into the rather wonderful shooter. Also, content injections have slowed down mightly, with Blizzard shifting its focus onto the upcoming sequel. However the good parts of Overwatch are still undeniable. The satisfaction of perfectly coordinating a group push and overwhelming a team, or landing a flick rocket onto an enemy DPS at the last second, or fighting to a last second win in Overtime… it’s all so damn… good. Does that make sense? When a game is made as well as Overwatch is, a rare feat in and of itself, everything just flows and feels good.
Now be warned. The competitive scene isn’t necessarily friendly sometimes, but it’s certainly rewarding. With a robust ranking system, and a very effective matchmaking system, most games are fairly balanced, with pub-stomps surprisingly rare, especially for a game such as this.
Overwatch is regularly on sale now, so if you’re looking for a multiplayer fix aside from your Battle Royales or COD titles, then I cannot recommend Overwatch enough. It’ll take time to get used to, but it’s certainly worth it.
Now if you were to ask me on the right day, Firewatch might have even been on my top 3. That’s how good this game is.
It’s an indie game, which can be off putting ground for many people. However there are so many gems out there to be discovered, and Firewatch sits somewhere very close to the top of the pile, for good reason.
It’s essentially a walking simulator. There isn’t much active gameplay, you walk around and explore the gorgeously rendered landscape of a national park in Wyoming, while interacting with various objects. You’re a fire lookout, a man who’s become disillusioned with his life and has come looking for an escape. The only other person you’ll talk to is a woman named Delilah, another fire lookout residing in a separate tower.
Firewatch is a beautiful story of a man uncomfortable with the hand he’s been dealt, and his coming to terms with that by way of an unexpected friendship, but wrapped up in a terrifically acted and presented tale of mystery and secrets.
Presentation is important to Firewatch. Somehow the game manages to look gorgeously unrealistic, like a water painting, but still demonstrate a realistic outlook on the landscape of a national park and the life of a fire lookout.
Seriously, words can’t describe how good this game consistently looks. I had one of my own screenshots as my laptop wallpaper for over a year. Firewatch is one of the few examples where the game looks as pretty as the trailers demonstrate, and it proudly showcases it regularly. Of course, visuals are nothing without the supporting systems, and everything is spot on. The voice acting is tremendous, the music is so well suited to the material, and everything that you do as the character works with the game.
Walking Simulators are often left devoid of actual gameplay, but Firewatch does a wonderful job of filling your time. Whether it’s idle conversation over a walkie talkie, or adopting a pet turtle, or even just wandering around, Firewatch finds a way to keep you busy throughout the entire experience.
That last word is the best way to describe Firewatch. It’s an experience, wonderful and often upsetting, it’s an experience. One that everyone should play. It’s a credit to indie games, and it is still something quite unlike anything else I’ve ever played. Play it. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.
That about wraps up my list! I know some of my games weren’t necessarily surprising, but hopefully I’ve given you some insight into the things I like and enjoy.
Here at SeriouslyAverageGamers we pride ourselves on our personality and our unique opinions on video games, and by tackling the 6 games that we personally love and appreciate we saw an opportunity to share some of those opinions!
If you agreed with my opinions, or disagreed, or maybe have an idea about your top 6 list of games, then please let us know in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one.
I’ve been playing video games in some form or another for nearly two decades. My favourite campaign of all time is Halo: Combat Evolved and my favourite multiplayer of all time is Overwatch, with a dash of Halo 3. Huge lover of everything gaming, no matter the platform or source, and I enjoy a story driven campaign like nothing else!