In order by year of release only:
Red Dead Redemption: One of my favourite games of all time and honestly a very moving one for me. I could spend hours just traversing the map hunting, having shootouts with sheriffs, playing poker or other games, and the online mode was so much fun especially if you had friends to play with. I only recently played through it again and it still holds up, and even more surprising is that the multiplayer does too.
Fallout New Vegas: I hate admitting it but it’s still the only Fallout game I’ve completed (started with 3 but went too far off track with it being my first real RPG and never went back to the main story, never liked 4 and haven’t really given 2 a proper go), but damn do I love New Vegas. Some great companions, a really fun world to explore that always feels alive as it keeps you on your toes with so many different threats, and I felt the story progresses very nicely.
Battlefield Bad Company 2: Quite simply I don’t think there’s anything like it and I haven’t enjoyed any shooter very much since it. Incredible level of building destruction, really well-sized maps for the player numbers involved and some really good maps, good diversity between classes, vig dependency on good teamwork and on interacting with and properly working with your squad, it just felt like it had a perfect balance of nearly everything.
Dark Souls: Again one of my favourite games of all time. Not since ICO did a world made me feel so alone and isolated, so insignificant and small in the grand scheme of things. DkS combat is what it is so no need to go into it, but I loved the world design and the variety of designs, going from places like the forest to the Painted World to Lordran, it’s just beautiful. I feel like the story progresses very smoothly (something DkS2 and 3 fail at doing) and it has some iconic bosses and a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack.
Dishonoured: Dishonoured (I’m spelling it correctly dammit) was my first introduction to Arkane games and I fell in love with this immediately. Something akin to a linear Fallout but with a focus on powers, abilities and stealth. Just a genuinely fun game with a nice range of options to take on a situation. Still am disgusted with myself at having not played 2 yet.
MGSV: Ground Zeroes: For me, a spiritual sequel of sorts to MGS1 and/or MGS3 and Special Missions mixed in. I know there was a lot of fuss made about this when it came out due to its price and the fact it wasn’t a full game but it does really have a lot of content in it. It feels like the perfect Metal Gear sandbox to me. The map is small, naturally, but I felt the design and layout was spot on. It’s been largely forgotten in Kojima’s works but for me it was easily his last hurrah with MGS with a few foreshadowings of what was to come with Konami. The side missions are really fun and challenging in places and I guess with my grievances with MGS3 and Peace Walker from a gameplay and design perspective, this felt like it put it right.
Star Wars: Battlefront: I don’t know what it was with this game but I found it really addictive. I think I loved how arcadey it was, it could be really quick and hectic at times and I loved the majority of modes (still think 2 missed a beat by not including a Heroes v Villains mode thar was the same as the first where you have 3 on each side with everyone else having to work to protect those on your side and killing the other, 2’s mode is still good but it feels like you can be as reckless as you want most of the time).
The Last Guardian: I’m a big fan of Fumito Ueda’s work so the long wait for this was tough. The funny thing was I was still more excited for FF Versus XIII and as time went on and it kept changing and eventually became FFXV under Tabata, we finally got to that E3 where both resurfaced and were actually finally on the horizon. Even though TLG had been absent for far longer and seemed more of an unknown quantity, I was fully confident that TLG would be great while I thought FFXV might end up being a bit of a mess and I feel like that ended up being the case. TLG can still be rough in places but it is a unique game. I feel like if you love pets or animals in general, you’ll like it. It has unique AI, I’ve seen a lot of comments around from people saying they got frustrated at Trico not listening to them and not doing what they wanted, and that all seemed to come from people that treated Trico like any other squadmate or companion: go there and do this. Trico isn’t like that, he reacts differently to enemy encounters and if it gets hurt, he gets hurt and you might need to either physically help him (pulling out a weapon stuck in him) or soothe him and give him time to do what you need. I treated Trico like that throughout the game and never had any issues (apart from one particular notorious area which is tricky no matter what), in fact I found Trico actually helped me figure out different parts by making the move himself. It is just such a genuinely beautiful game for so many reasons. If you have the disc version too, it runs at uncapped ~60FPS on PS5 now too which should fix some of the issues people had with it before.
Breath of The Wild: What do I say? This game made me buy a Switch (much thanks to this trailer). I played it at a time where I just didn’t have the time for games very much, certainly nothing long and anything that wasn’t linear. I was working 2 jobs and 6-7 days a week most weeks and spending 4 hours commuting each day. Even with this being on a system I can play on the bus or train, how could I really get into something like an RPG with a vast world to explore when only getting 20-30 minute bursts of play while travelling or on a break? Yet I still managed to sink nearly 55 hours into it, and it’s the most recent game that I’ve regretted selling because I could have spent hours more in it. I remember reading an article saying it is unique because it respects the player’s time which a lot of games don’t do nowadays. Normally I’d say that sounds like utter garbage, but here I have to say it’s the truth. I’ve never played an RPG before where I felt I could do a bit of exploring or a main mission or a side-quest for 20 or 30 minutes and need to put it down and not feel like I’ve been taken out of the experience when I go back to it again. I could just get sucked into spending so long in this game in a day just roaming, climbing a mountain or horse riding.
Red Dead Redemption 2: I don’t like RDR2 as much as I do the first. I know it’s a prequel so it has limitations with regards to certain story beats and themes but I felt like the general degradation of the West and the move towards “civilisation” in the first game was done a lot better and subtly, in 2 it felt like it was a point that was made too clearly and was too much in your face at times. I feel like the conversation John has with Dutch had more substance to it than the majority of what was in 2. But regardless of my thoughts on all that, RDR2 is still a phenomenal game with a world that feels so organic.
Tetris Effect: Tetris Effect is an amazing audiovisual experience. The soundtrack is incredible and it’s utilised in gameplay transitions so well. I bought this solely on hearsay and I’m so glad I did. Best part is we’re getting an update on PlayStation this summer so there will be even more to enjoy with it.
KH3: ReMind: Cheating a bit here as this is DLC and not a full game but this really made a big difference to KH3 which was a bit underwhelming in the end. Amazing boss battles culminating in what I think is the most difficult and in-depth one in the series, and it gave a much better bridge towards the next game.