Mandatory Top 10 of the 2010s: The Best Single-Player Video Games of the Decade
Gaming has trended more toward connected experiences over the years, be it through cooperative online titles or multiplayer experiences. However, there are still fantastic titles that are narrative-based and can be played solo. The best single-player video games are memorable adventures that leave an impact on the player long after the credits have rolled. As the decade comes to a close, Mandatory took a look at the 10 best single-player video games of the decade. While some of these games have multiplayer modes as a secondary option, we are exclusively grading them on their campaigns, which are the main draw for each of the titles.
Cover Photo: Square Enix
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10. 'Batman: Arkham City'
We've received a lot of great media this decade, but the Dark Knight really shined in the realm of video games. All four of the Arkham games that have released have been stellar, but 2011's Arkham City was its brightest moment. It built upon the great stealth and combat systems found in Arkham Asylum and gave players a huge environment to use them in. With plenty of secrets and collectibles to find, it's one of the most rewarding comic book games ever created and the best Batman title.
Photo: Warner Bros. Interactive
9. 'God of War'
While God of War was one of the biggest titles for the PlayStation 2 and 3, it seemed like its time on top of the gaming mountaintop had passed. However, Sony Santa Monica's brilliant reboot of the series on PlayStation 4 took it to new heights. Gone was the wild hack-and-slash gameplay, replaced with a much more measured combat system that felt more rewarding. Throw in an excellent story about fatherhood and the series' signature grandiose moments, and you had the best PlayStation 4 exclusive to release during this decade.
Photo: Sony Santa Monica
8. 'Grand Theft Auto V'
While its online component has kept the game constantly updated, the campaign of Grand Theft Auto V remains the most special aspect of the open-world title. It was highly ambitious as it has not one but three playable characters. Each of their adventures brings a vastly different adventure but they all intersect in a meaningful way. It's a masterclass in storytelling and one of the coolest experiences in gaming. That's why it continues to top sales charts to this day.
Photo: Rockstar Studios
7. 'Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain'
Hideo Kojima will go down as one of gaming's greatest creatives and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is his last entry in the series he is best known for. It's a fitting end for Metal Gear as it gives new depth to one of Metal Gear's most interesting villains, Big Boss. Players get to learn his tragic backstory and the game's twist ending is one for the ages. It's also the best-playing stealth game ever made.
6. 'NieR: Automata'
If any one game took the entire medium to new heights this decade it was Yoko Taro and PlatinumGames' NieR: Automata. The successor to a Japanese action RPG that most gamers skipped, Automata wound up surprising millions of players old and new. With its unique narrative construction and an ending twist that could only be done in gaming, it examines what it means to play a game and how players are connected through media. Beyond its stellar story, it also blends PlatinumGames' action prowess as the combat is a real standout and fun to play. From purely an artistic standpoint, it's the most important game to be released this decade. It's an essential must-play for anyone with a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC.
Photo: Square Enix
5. 'Red Dead Redemption 2'
Rockstar has a reputation for creating epic open worlds and Red Dead Redemption 2 is their best one yet. This Western adventure gives unparalleled freedom to the player as they can choose to live Arthur Morgan's life however they wish. Being a man of honor or on the run is up to them, and the story it winds up telling is an impactful one as it takes that freedom away from them at a key moment.
Photo: Rockstar Studios
4. 'Super Mario Odyssey'
Nobody else makes games that are quite as fun as Nintendo. They have a special charm and sense of whimsy to them. No other title exemplifies this better than Super Mario Odyssey. The Switch title has hundreds of moons to collect and each one will put a smile on the player's face. Filled with personality and great platforming fun, this title is a masterpiece.
3. 'The Last of Us'
Naughty Dog had a highly successful decade by releasing several Uncharted sequels. However, their best game was an original property called The Last of Us. Set in a post-apocalyptic world with people infected by a terrible virus that turns them into horrible creatures, it follows the unexpected pairing of Joel and Ellie. Despite clashing heads early and often, the two bond as the player watches their adventure unfold. It ends in a tense, uncomfortable manner that makes a statement on humanity, and players can't wait to see what is next in the 2020 sequel.
Photo: Naughty Dog
2. 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild'
Nintendo generally subscribes to a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. However, it took a drastically different approach on The Legend of Zelda with Breath of the Wild. Gone was the structured dungeon layouts, replaced by a more open-ended game full of exploration. In fact, players are able to beat the game in mere minutes if they are good enough. However, the title's survival and world building elements are unmatched and it is truly an adventure for the ages. It's a game that you can sink over 100 hours into and still find more surprises.
The lone indie game to make the list, Undertale is one of the best stories in all of gaming. It's a fantastic twist on role-playing game tropes as players focus on avoiding the attacks of enemies and eventually befriending them rather than attacking. This is all optional, though, as the branching story can either see the player become a pacifist or a blood-thirsty killer. With some of the most memorable characters in all of gaming, Toby Fox's masterpiece will be celebrated for decades to come.
Photo: Toby Fox