Welcome to 2020! Whilst there might be a tidal wave of new changes coming over the horizon like the upcoming console generation, it's also a year where a number of notable and revolutionary games will be celebrating their birthdays. We've taken the liberty of digging through 40 long years of dates for you to celebrate them - from modern masterpieces to ancient relics. Time certainly flies when you're having fun!
2015 - 5th Anniversary
Dying Light - January 28 - Amongst a sea of open-world games it was easy to brush off Dying Light as yet another, except now there's a pack of zombies running around and you're an acrobat. In truth, however, Techland crafted a title that stood out from the crowd thanks to the thrilling kinetic energy of blending Dead Island and Mirror's Edge together.
Life is Strange - October 20 - It's certainly easy to mock Life is Strange on first glance since it looked like another Telltale choice-driven narrative game with a cool time-rewinding ability and a bunch of hipster teenagers addicted to saying the word "hella". Peer more closely and you'll find an unforgettable cast of characters in a moving narrative that touches on difficult topics that few still dare to tread.
Bloodborne - March 24 US / March 27 UK - FromSoftware had quite a lot to live up to after Dark Souls II disappointed some but, fortunately, Bloodborne exceeded all expectations and then some. Switching to a focus on Eldritch horror with a snappier dodge, cool weapon combos, phenomenal music and stunning art made it one of the best games you could possibly hope to battle through on your PlayStation 4.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - May 19 - One genre that spread like wildfire in the last decade was open-world games, and there aren't many games that can better The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. There's a complicated mix of perfectly executed elements which ensures the quality remains top-notch throughout the experience, but which one shines through is up to you.
Rocket League - July 7 - "Football with Cars" sounds silly when you think about it, but after gaining a ton of attention and even an esports scene, they're clearly a perfect fit. Fun for anyone from footballers and racing car drivers through to people who haven't even gotten their license yet, Rocket League's staggering popularity endures to this day with no end in sight.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - September 1 - Sure there's a lot of repeated missions. Sure the mediocre story randomly cuts off near the end. Sure Big Boss barely talks, and when he does it's nowhere close to his charismatic Snake Eater days. Despite all these faults though, there's simply no doubt that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the best stealth games ever made. With a positive attitude and encouragement toward systemic gameplay, Kojima's final title still stands tall in regards to player creativity and freedom.
2010 - 10th Anniversary
Heavy Rain - February 23 US / February 24 Europe / February 26 UK - There aren't many developers that can claim that they successfully married the freedom of choice in games with the fixed narratives of films. David Cage can since he hit it out of the park with Heavy Rain; a noir cinematic thriller where you control several characters within a branching story as they dealt with the Origami Killer. There were no game overs to be found here either - screw up and everything carries on, adding to those tense and somewhat hilarious quick-time events.
Alan Wake - May 14 - Remedy has always managed to stand out from the triple-A crowd with their unique spin on traditional genres, and Alan Wake is no exception. This psychological action thriller works because of the overbearing atmosphere of Bright Falls, how the eponymous character is experiencing his own horror novel coming to life, and the nerve-wracking blend of invincible creatures who only become vulnerable when exposed to light.
Red Dead Redemption - May 18 US / May 21 PAL - After spending hours getting drunk, shooting people's hats off and tying them to train tracks in this epic cowboy sandbox you would hardly think that there could be such a devastating turn of events ahead for John Marston. The detailed open-world of New Austin and Mexico might be breathtaking to explore, but even the toughest gunslingers have to admit they teared up at the ending after all the good times.
Halo: Reach - December 3 - It's usually customary to save the absolute best thing for last, and that was no different for Bungie. Their final take on the franchise that crafted their legacy stands out as a terrific first-person shooter and remains as one of the brightest jewels in Halo's crown. Even after a decade, the multiplayer is still fun and fresh, as is the devastating tale of Noble Team.
Fallout: New Vegas - October 19 US / October 22 Europe - Fallout 3 may have been successful, but it definitely left an itch to be scratched amongst fans of its classic predecessors. Fortunately, Obsidian was there to save the day with New Vegas; a superior game made by some of the original devs that featured a stronger emphasis on writing, role-playing, and quest detail that made it a joy to play, but only if you could get past the bugs - both the technical sort and the ones that try to kill you.
Super Meat Boy - (Xbox 360) October 20 / (PC) November 30 - Harkening back to the good ol' days of ridiculously challenging platformers, Super Meat Boy stood out in the growing wave of indie titles heading to console. That's because of a bunch of smart design choices like the bite-sized levels and instant respawn that mostly limited the frustration and kicked the adrenaline up for every tough jump.
Call of Duty: Black Ops - November 9 - Of all the excellent shooters to come out in 2010 none were as explosive as Black Ops, which took only six weeks to gross over a billion dollars. Treyarch arguably improved the franchise in almost every way from the powerful weapons to the stellar maps like Nuketown. And that's not even mentioning the now-famous Zombies mode and the gripping campaign.
2005 - 15th Anniversary
Resident Evil 4 - (Gamecube) January 11 US / March 18 PAL / (PS2) October 25 US / November 4 PAL - Credited with setting the groundwork for future third-person shooters, Resident Evil 4 reinvented the franchise to deliver an action-packed thrill ride packed with tension. That's due to a lot of smart decisions, from how Leon controls to the expanded environments, letting even more nightmarish enemies run at you. Let's not forget the dynamic difficulty setting either, which made the game harder or easier depending on your skills.
Forza Motorsport - May 3 US / May 13 Europe - With Gran Turismo eating up all the track, Microsoft knew they needed an answer for the Xbox. That came with Forza Motorsport, which revved up dust in the competition's eye with highly realistic physics and the simple addition of online multiplayer.
God of War - March 22 US / July 8 EU - This iconic hack and slash action-adventure pits Kratos against the squabbling Greek pantheon but with a phenomenal sense of spectacle. It was exhilarating to see all the elaborate set-pieces through those famous quick-time events in addition to working towards getting a combo high enough to reach the top of Mount Olympus.
Shadow of the Colossus - October 18 US / February 17 2006 EU - Considered to be one of the absolute best games ever made, Shadow of the Colossus shattered the standard design tropes for action-adventure titles. There were only 16 enemies present throughout the entire thing with all of them being enormous colossi that had unique weaknesses to target.
Xbox 360 - November 22 US / December 2 Europe / December 10 Japan - Establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with, Microsoft's Xbox 360 brought us into the HD era of gaming. The internet was at the heart of everything this time, from downloading games to streaming entertainment and bringing game communities together through Xbox Live. It became easier than ever to connect and play with friends in addition to being yelled at by frustrated minors for teabagging them in Halo. Sure the infamous red ring of death caused a few bumps, but there's no denying that the Xbox 360 represented the road ahead for the industry.
2000 - 20th Anniversary
The Sims - (PC) January 31 US / February 11 Europe - Remember when you gathered your action figures and stuffed them into a dollhouse to imagine them living together under one roof? Will Wright remembered, and after the success of Sim City, he and his team at Maxis made The Sims. Sophisticated AI development let you roleplay out someone's entire life from minute details such as how they looked and interacted with everyone to their perfect house.
Crazy Taxi - (Dreamcast) January 24 US / February 25 Europe - If there was a game that summed up Sega's personality at the start of the millennium (aside from Sonic), then Crazy Taxi would be it. After blazing through the arcades this deceptively simple driving game had players pick up passengers and take them on the most dangerous ride of their life to their destination, all for the sake of getting bonus points. Fun, silly and totally in your face, Crazy Taxi was one of the many reasons for why the Dreamcast was so woefully underrated.
Shogun: Total War - (PC) June 13 US / June 16 Europe - Depicting the scale of ancient battles is easier said than done, which is what led to Shogun: Total War becoming a pioneer in the RTS sphere. Creative Assembly managed to demonstrate a masterful authenticity on top of giving you a ton of control over the art and devastation of turn-based warfare.
Deus Ex - June 17 - During the '90s, Looking Glass Studios made some of the best PC games. They sadly went under but luckily this meant Warren Spector could hire them at Ion Storm to make something legendary. In the past it has been called the best PC title ever; Deus Ex prioritised player interaction and role-playing mechanics for an unprecedented level of systemic control that unlocked the shackles of linearity.
Perfect Dark - 22 May US / June 30 Europe - Before they were purchased by Microsoft, golden developers Rare gave us another remarkable ace in the hole with a pseudo-sequel to their outing with James Bond, Perfect Dark. That's partly due to the unprecedented technical achievements they made, such as the huge levels, challenging AI, deep plot and detailed graphics, while the fun multiplayer modes were the cherry on top.
Diablo II - (Windows) June 29 US / June 30 Europe - Building on the critical acclaim of the first game in the series, Diablo II improved the roguelite hack and slash RPG in several ways. The equipment system became deeper to give you more options against the many new hellish creatures, and that was in addition to the added classes, environments and multiplayer focus.
Jet Set Radio - June 29 Japan / October 31 US / November 24 Europe - When you mash a vibrant cell-shaded art style, funky tunes and a whirlwind of kinetic energy together the result can only be Jet Set Radio, the coolest skating game on the Dreamcast. Rebellious in nature and overflowing with personality, this diamond had you skate all over urban areas filled with rails and slopes to paint graffiti whilst dodging a hyperbole amount of law enforcement.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon - October 24 US / November 10 Europe - Before making Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac Games waved goodbye to everyone's favourite purple dragon with Spyro: Year of the Dragon. With the level design and joy of gliding around to explore and find eggs at an all-time high, it's hard to argue that Spyro was this good again until the remake showed up 18 years later.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - April 27 Japan / October 26 US / November 17 Europe -After Ocarina of Time became one of the most acclaimed titles ever made, it's fair to say Eiji Aonuma and the team must've felt the pressure for their next Zelda entry. Fortunately, Majora's Mask was an incredible game that is potentially even better than it's lofty predecessor. Whether that's due to all the cool time-travelling abilities or the twisted world of Termina is up to you.
Shenmue - December 29 1999 Japan / November 8 US / December 1 Europe - Whilst the new millennium signalled the impending doom of the Dreamcast thanks to Sony, that didn't stop Yu Suzuki and Sega AM2 from making the most ambitious game of its time. Shenmue laid the foundation for future open-world titles with an unparalleled focus on obvious and mundane details to depict a resonating look at Japanese culture.
Hitman: Codename 47 - 21 November US / December 1 Europe - Here's a useful tip for the future: if you're ever approached by a bald man wearing a suit or costume with a barcode on the back of his head, RUN! IO Interactive introduced us to the intimidating assassin whose job it was to kill specific targets in whatever way he could with colourful results. Future instalments improved the formula but the basis for a fantastic non-linear and highly reactive stealth experience was established here, along with those amusing ragdoll physics.
PlayStation 2 - March 4 Japan / October 26 US / November 24 Europe - With a whopping 155 million units sold, the PlayStation 2 still reigns as the best selling console of all time after 20 years. Why it managed to thrash the competition is easy to see too, with new additions like the DVD Player and vastly improved graphical power compared to the polygonal days of the late '90s. More than anything else though, it was the games that helped make the system so special. Titles like the earth-shattering Grand Theft Auto series reached stardom whilst Grand Turismo, Jack & Daxter, God of War and Kingdom Hearts became critically acclaimed too.
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