For a new generation to begin, first another must end. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X now out in the wild, all eyes are turning towards future horizons. But before we all become fixated on what will be Big in 2021 and beyond, GamesRadar+ wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on an incredible seven years of interactive entertainment. As our way of waving goodbye to the PS4 and Xbox One, we have put together a celebration of the 100 best games of the generation.
For GamesRadar’s 100 games of the generation list, we’ve selected what we believe to be the very best of the PS4 and Xbox One era. The games that pushed storytelling and design forward, the titles that best explored our growing infatuation with always-online and live service experiences, and the releases that truly paved the way to future evolution and iteration. Hell, some of the picks were just so much fun we’re still thinking about them seven years later.
We will be exploring how key genres have changed and evolved through the PS4 and Xbox One generation in the coming days, so be sure to look out for those features on GamesRadar+ for some additional exploration of the generation, and a few honourable mentions that didn’t make the final list. As the Nintendo Switch defies the typical generation divide – launching in 2017 and showing no signs of slowing down now – please be sure to check out our best Switch games article for the highlights of that particular console so far. For now, you’ll want to read on for our pick of the 100 best games of the generation, as chosen by the GamesRadar+ editorial team.
The 100 best games of the generation: 100-71
100. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Year: 2015 | Developer: Dennaton Games
Hotline Miami 2 (opens in new tab) takes real delight in dragging players through a gauntlet of violence and viscera. Twin-stick destruction set to a thunderous techno beat, Hotline Miami built upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. It increased the challenge in each of its blood-stained sandboxes, improved enemy AI, and expanded the number of ways your character could leave a trail of mess and murder behind them. Wrong Number is a creative, indulgent, and hypnotic puzzle game that’s lost none of its appeal in the years since its release.
99. Kingdom Hearts 3
Year: 2019 | Developer: Square Enix
It might have taken little over a decade, but we finally received the conclusion to the Xehanort saga when Kingdom Hearts 3 arrived in 2019. We received some of the most varied and delightfully beautiful Disney and Pixar worlds seen in the series to date, as well as an excellent overhaul of the combat systems and a raft of key quality of life improvements to just about everything else. Kingdom Hearts 3 is a finale full of heart and charm, delivering where and when it truly mattered.
Year: 2013 | Developer: Housemarque
As the unexpected highlight of the PS4 launch line-up, Resogun is a devilishly simple-but-rewarding arcade throwback that still delights seven years after release. Primarily designed to show off the PS4’s impressive particle effects, the game revolves around you shooting down alien spaceships and trying to save the green men you find in road signs. And yet, the clarity of the concept meant developer Housemarque could focus on wowing with eye-weakening effects and moreish action. A treat of an increasingly rare type of twin-stick shooter.
97. Until Dawn
Year: 2015 | Developer: Supermassive Games
If you’ve ever watched a film that falls into the slasher genre, there’s a good chance that you’ve spent some time criticizing the decisions teenagers make when facing an unstoppable assailant. Until Dawn gave us the opportunity to put our better sense of judgement to the test, attempting to guide eight characters out of a nightmare on Blackwood Mountain. Choices are made on instinct, the consequences far reaching; a strict auto-save system ensuring that your mistakes follow you all the way to the credits.
96. Fallout 4
Year: 2015 | Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Bethesda Game Studios’ biggest and boldest role-playing title to date thoroughly delivers on its promise of a wasteland worth wanderin’ in, as post-apocalyptic Boston proves a delight to explore. Not only that, but Fallout 4‘s unravelling central narrative opens with a nuclear bang and ends however you want it to, with the studio’s patented penchant for player choice more integral to the experience than ever. Throw in its excellent Far Harbour and Nuka-World expansions, and you have yourself a true RPG treat.
95. Telling Lies
Year: 2019 | Developer: Sam Barlow
Telling Lies (opens in new tab) is a subversive thriller that plays out through stored video segments on a desktop computer. With a stolen hard drive in your possession, a central mystery surrounding the NSA that needs to be solved, and hundreds of recorded entries that can be reviewed so you can piece together a timeline of events and interactions, Sam Barlow’s sophomore effort is a unique piece of interactive fiction that highlights the strengths of video games as a platform for smart storytelling.
94. The Evil Within
Year: 2014 | Developer: Tango Gameworks
When The Evil Within arrived in 2014, it felt like an overt reproach to the direction that the survival horror genre was taking. The debut game from Tango Gameworks, founded by one of the principle visionaries of the Resident Evil franchise, Shinji Mikami, never failed to elicit a reaction. Gorgeous and gruesome in equal measure, The Evil Within walked a tight line between smart and subversive in its attempt to keep us on the edge of our seats through some of the most twisted landscapes of the generation.
Year: 2016 | Developer: Superhot Team
Just as so many developers were attempting to speed up the first-person shooter, Superhot Team saw the potential in slowing it down to a standstill. Superhot introduced an innovative mechanic, where time only moved as you did – the result of which was part shooter and part puzzle game. Between its stark visual style and wholly original take on its genre, Superhot is a power fantasy few shooters have ever been able to deliver so convincingly.
92. Dead Cells
Year: 2019 | Developer: Motion Twin
This demanding 2D platformer is a genius mix of Metroidvania and roguelite that expertly shows off the best of both worlds. Dead Cell‘s stages get progressively more difficult as you stumble upon a seemingly impossible collection of weapons with randomly assigned bonuses, which means you’re never attacking (or dying) the same way. This constant shakeup makes permadeath far less scary than most other games, since you can run back and approach something as if you’ve just discovered it with fresh eyes.
91. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Year: 2014 | Developer: BioWare
The third installment in the Dragon Age series took the franchise to new heights in an expansive open-world that puts the player at the heart of a sprawling adventure they can shape. Dragon Age: Inquisition pulls you into the richly detailed landscapes of Thedas, filled with its own lore and immersive world-building. With some of the best character-driven narratives in games, BioWare shows off its writing chops with fleshed-out, memorable companions, opportunities for romance, and a gripping storyline that all come together to deliver an absorbing experience.
Year: 2015 | Developer: Frictional Games
While Soma is mainly a sci-fi horror game about trying to escape a creepy underwater base, it’s core concepts – of identity and what makes you, you – expand in horrific ways. There are worse things here than monsters; why do robots think they’re human, for example? The narrative explores identity, in a setting where it can be copied and transferred as easily as moving files between folders. It’s a thought experiment on the themes of digital consciousness, that lead to abhorrent conclusions – upsetting in a way that lingers long after it ends.
89. Slay the Spire
Year: 2019 | Developer: Mega Crit Games
In hindsight, card games and RPGs were always destined for each other, but this generation saw Slay the Spire truly showcase just how awesome a blend such a hybrid could be. Marrying rogue-like dungeon crawling with card-based combat, Mega Crit Games’ debut title presented a fascinating, endlessly entertaining taste of what could be achieved by thinking outside the genre box, and we’re still playing Slay the Spire to this day as a result.
88. Tetris Effect
Year: 2018 | Developer: Resonair
Tetris is timeless. That’s a truth that was ultimately confirmed in Tetris Effect. The tile-matching formula is as capable of arresting the attention today as it was three decades ago, though the 2018 release is able to elevate the core play to another level entirely with its hypnotic audio, startling visual design, and sublime elevation of conventional puzzle design. Tetris Effect manages to channel its challenge through a series of stages that feel astronomical, creating an experience that sticks with you long after the last tetriminos slot into place.
87. Batman: Arkham Knight
Year: 2015 | Developer: Rocksteady
Batman: Arkham Knight is a lesson in how to end a game series as strongly as it started. It improves upon the groundbreaking combat of its predecessors, opens up the world even further with a painstakingly detailed rendition of Gotham City, and drops you into the damn Batmobile – a decision that speaks for itself. Add to all of that a collection of Gotham’s supervillains and Batman’s closest allies, and you’ve got a game that feels great, looks great, and quite simply, is great.
86. Rock Band 4
Year: 2015 | Developer: Harmonix
Three years after the third installment in the series, Rock Band 4 returned with all of the knowledge and backward compatibility necessary to make it a proper sequel. Use your Xbox 360 drumset, play songs you downloaded on your PS4 – it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re jamming, man. There’s nothing groundbreaking about its presentation, but the fact that Rock Band 4 unifies eight years of console generations is itself worth celebrating. And besides, the available tracks are pretty killer too.
85. Tales from the Borderlands
Year: 2014 | Developer: Telltale Games
Achieving comedy in video games is hard. Really hard. For Tales from the Borderlands (opens in new tab) to manage a laugh-a-minute rhythm from the get-go, then, is nothing short of astounding. Telltale’s unexpected point-and-click spin-off to the Borderlands series plays like an R-rated interactive sitcom, but its story also brings a disarming layer of emotional depth to Gearbox’s sci-fi franchise. While we’re unlikely to ever see a second season, part of Tales’ brilliance is its timeless replayability: we won’t be forgetting Rhys and Fiona’s adventures anytime soon.
84. OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood
Year: 2015 | Developer: Roll7
While Activision and EA struggled to match their previous skateboard highs, Roll7 kickflipped its way to skating greatness with OlliOlli2. An early PS4 highlight, it captures the feeling of the best skateboarding games, where you build a rhythm and find a zen-like flow in the tricks, grinds, and manuals. OlliOlli2 mixes demanding systems with airtight level design that makes figuring out how to combo an entire level a masochistic obsession. But, you know, in a good way.
83. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Year: 2015 | Developer: Kojima Productions
Despite launching under a cloud of controversy, Metal Gear Solid 5 is surprisingly self-assured. The Phantom Pain takes the concept of player agency as the bare minimum baseline for every aspect of its design, not the aspirational endgame. Its protracted narrative might not appear structurally sound under a more critical eye, but Hideo Kojima’s parting opus for Snake is every bit as brilliant as you’d expect from the biggest and most ambitious Metal Gear Solid game to date.
82. A Short Hike
Year: 2019 | Developer: adamgryu
A Short Hike is pure loveliness wrapped up in a 3D adventure. You explore the delightful, peaceful setting of Hawk Peak Provincial Park in any way you wish as you travel to reach the summit. Delivering a relaxing, charming adventure that presents you with so much freedom to explore at your own pace, the island setting is brought to life with a host of humorous characters. It’s a fantastic little indie number to unwind in, with a wonderful soundtrack to boot.
81. XCOM 2
Year: 2016 | Developer: Firaxis Games
XCOM 2 finds success in its ability to gamify stress, leveraging increasing tension and fear of failure to create an experience quite unlike any other. It’s a true masterclass in strategy design, pushing you to consider each and everyone of your decisions as you march your favorite troops through urban battlefields where one wrong move (or one bad dice roll) can be the difference between not only success and failure, but life and death. Turn-based tactics has never looked, felt, and played so good on consoles.
80. Battlefield 1
Year: 2016 | Developer: Dice
The last generation of Battlefield games have been more miss than hit, but Battlefield 1 (opens in new tab) was an experiment that ended up paying off for longtime series developer DICE. Decked in a rich, alt-history aesthetic, its multiplayer brought outlandish scale to WW1 in the form of behemoths – giant vehicles that could turn the tide of any conflict. Throw in an excellent, globe-trotting anthology of a campaign, and Battlefield 1’s pivot back to the past marked another pinnacle for the esteemed shooter series.
79. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Year: 2013 | Developer: Traveller’s Tales
With the makings for a perfect pairing, Lego Marvel Superheroes proved the power of the brick in the world of video games with a joyously entertaining take on the iconic Marvel Universe. Packed full of Lego’s trademark humor, in a wonderfully crafted and detailed recreation of Manhattan and Marvel landmarks in Lego form, the adventure delivered an original story with all of the iconic super villains and superheroes. Inventive, creative, and full of references that will make any Marvel fan’s heart soar – it’s a pure delight.
Year: 2017 | Developer: Buried Signal
Gorogoa truly is a work of art. Buried Signal’s imaginative puzzles are brought to life with hand-drawn illustrations and highly detailed panels that effectively pull you into its visual storytelling. Inventive, original, and satisfying, it continues to stand out in the genre as one of the most unique puzzle-based indie adventures to date. Accompanied by a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack, Gorogoa is a delightful blend of point-and-click interactive fiction that offers eye-catching, thought-provoking designs that unfold before you.
Year: 2016 | Developer: Night School Studio
Immensely atmospheric and full of intrigue, Oxenfree takes you on a supernatural adventure you won’t soon forget. With a group of teenagers who are all brilliantly voiced, the story that unfolds is as surprising as it is mysterious, anchored by the added depth of fully realised characters with their own distinct personalities. Proving just how effective the delivery of dialogue can be in storytelling, the way in which you can select dialogue responses to disrupt or change the flow of conversation makes Oxenfree feel more authentic and natural than many of its contemporaries.
76. Mortal Kombat 11
Year: 2019 | Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Mortal Kombat has slowly turned around its reputation as tabloid-courting, edgelord bait to become a defining fighting game of the generation. While Netherrealm’s series was always a better fighter than the controversy suggested, a peerless story mode adds character and heart for the many fighters who are usually trying to rip the aforementioned organ out. Mortal Kombat 11 is the series’ pinnacle, with a hectic story that moves an enjoyable lick and the fist-flinging finding a strong balance between accessibility and strategy make it a standout fighter.
75. Laser League
Year: 2018 | Developer: Roll7
This generation saw a slew of developers create their own virtual sports, from Rocket League’s Soc-car to Pyre’s Rituals – Roll7’s Laser League deserves to be held in the same high esteem. Frantic matches unfold as you and a teammate try to defeat opponents by forcing them into laser barriers. A strong aesthetic mixed with addictive action should have seen it become a breakout hit, but it’s still worth grabbing for its masterful offline multiplayer as well.
74. Ghost of Tsushima
Year: 2019 | Developer: Sucker Punch
Ghost of Tsushima is one of those rare games that makes you feel as if you’re playing in a framed piece of art. When you navigate Sucker Punch’s breathtaking environments, it’s like you’re feeding your soul its necessary nutrients. The combat keeps you on your toes, nature sends you down the right path, and Jin Sakai’s naked bottom is readily available for viewing. Slice down an evil Mongol in one moment, then sit down to write a haiku beside a waterfall in another. Now that’s balance.
Year: 2017 | Developer: Studio MDHR
Taking inspiration from classic ’30s cartoons and paying homage by using traditional hand drawn cel animation and watercolor backgrounds, Cuphead‘s nostalgic style and old school difficulty quickly made it the talk of the town when it first arrived on consoles. It’s original characters, tough boss battles, and upbeat score accompany the nostalgic art style and make Cuphead standout as one of the most eye-catching, innovative, and challenging indie releases of the last generation.
72. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Year: 2016 | Developer: Eidos-Montreal
We may never see the completion of Eidos-Montreal’s planned Deus Ex trilogy, but if Mankind Divided is to be its last entry, it’s not a bad place to end. Taking everything but the black and gold window dressing from Human Revolution and augmenting it for the better, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gave us the perfect power fantasy in Adam Jensen, a God-like supersoldier with an obscene amount of cybernetic enhancements at his disposal. He may not have asked for them, but we’re certainly thankful either way.
71. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Year: 2020 | Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft Montreal was able to deliver its most succinct vision of a rebooted creative endeavour that began in 2017, showcasing Assassin’s Creed’s prowess as an action-RPG. It’s an adventure that isn’t afraid to leave players to their own devices, free to venture across a truly awe-inspiring digital recreation of ninth-century England steeped in mythology, subtle storytelling, and combat encounters designed to smartly emphasise your playstyle preferences. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sets a high benchmark for future iteration.
100 Best Games of the Generation: 100-71