We’re listing the ten Games of the Decade. These are the ten PlayStation titles released over the past ten years that we believe have left a historic mark on the industry. Whether it’s Destiny's impact on the Games as a Service space or Journey’s innovative approach to online connectivity, these are the releases that the industry will be referencing well into 2020 and beyond.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt represented a massive step forward for developer CD Projekt Red. Its predecessor, The Witcher 2, was a great role-playing game in its own right, but the Polish studio's ambition had not been sated. In the years that followed the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2011, there was a gap in the market for another huge fantasy RPG, especially when current-gen consoles arrived in 2013. And, with genre veteran BioWare unable to fully capitalise on this opportunity with the somewhat divisive Dragon Age: Inquisition in 2014, the stage was well and truly set for the return of the White Wolf.
When it launched in May 2015, The Witcher 3 felt like a bit of a revelation. It was met with near universal praise and has gone on to sell over 20 million copies, cementing its place as one of the most highly rated and commercially successful RPGs ever made. But its legacy stretches beyond praise and profit -- it still stands as one of the most masterfully crafted games of the decade.
It's the title's writing that really cements The Witcher 3's place as the current king of RPGs. The overall quality of dialogue is genuinely outstanding given the sheer scale of the 100 hour adventure, and it's through these spoken words that the game is able to sell its world, characters, and story. This is a fantasy setting that's crawling with gruesome monsters and magic, yet the writing keeps everything grounded in a darkly humoured, thoroughly engrossing way. Again, it's masterful.
It's one thing to release a gigantic RPG, but it's another thing entirely to support it in the way that CD Projekt Red did. Once the game was released, the studio set about adding free DLC quests alongside regular updates that brought notable gameplay improvements. To anyone who hadn't been keeping up with the developer's previous work, it was immediately clear that CD Projekt Red cared a great deal about keeping players happy, and in 2015, this was a touch uncommon. At that point, the generation was deep into the controversy that still surrounds microtransactions and other shady business practices, but the Polish outfit had just delivered an incredible single player experience, and now it was adding to it without asking for a single penny more.
And then came the expansions. Both Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine are simply phenomenal. Judged as standalone releases, they already outclass countless full price games -- but when taken as part of The Witcher 3, they catapult the adventure well beyond the reaches of its peers. Hearts of Stone arguably features the best writing and storytelling in the entire saga, and for our money, it boasts two of the most brilliant characters of this generation in the devilish Gaunter O'Dimm and the deeply flawed Olgeird von Everec. Meanwhile, Blood and Wine could have launched as a semi-sequel and no one would have batted an eye -- it's just that good on every level.
There's no question that The Witcher 3 raised the bar. These kinds of games are few and far between -- titles that push an entire genre forward and alter all future expectations. An undisputed high point in a decade that's given us so many great games.
What do you make of The Witcher 3? Dare we ask how many hours you've spent playing it? Choose either steel or silver in the comments section below.