2013 wasn’t just an incredible year for games: it was a turning point with the release of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. These are the games that defined a year full of change.
10. Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider was the beginning of a new era for iconic games protagonist Lara Croft. With a redesigned look and exploration mechanics inspired by more modern adventure games like Uncharted, the rebooted series kicked off in true style with this entry.
The graphics were breathtaking, environments looked gorgeous, and the story it told of Lara’s formative years was wonderfully written. Tomb Raider was a turning point for the franchise, and one that was refreshing in a sea of same-same grizzled male protagonists.
9. Gone Home
It’s rare that an indie game makes such an impact on the games scene, but Gone Home did just that, with a haunting tale of family and loss that elevated the idea (and argument) that video games are also art. Gone Home featured the story of Katie, a woman who returns home after an overseas trip to find her family home empty.
As the story unfolds, players learned more about Katie, and the conflict that took place in her absence. It was one of the games that kickstarted the derogatorily-named ‘walking simulator’ genre, and demonstrated just how powerful video game narratives could be.
8. Pokemon X/Y
Pokémon X and Y marked the start of the sixth generation of Pokémon, and the first time the series ventured into the 3D world. Later titles expanded on this innovation, bringing the world of Pokémon to life in greater depth than ever before. The two titles also introduced Mega Evolution, character customisation, and expanded on existing Pokémon lore.
Pokémon X & Y are incredibly fun, visually impressive, and brought the Pokémon franchise into the modern era. Despite being surpassed by Sun/Moon and Sword/Shield, Pokémon X and Y are still two of the best games of the new Pokémon era.
7. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Nintendo 3DS had an absolutely cracking year in 2013, with nearly every major Nintendo franchise churning out solid hits. A Link Between Worlds was the latest in the Zelda franchise, and featured a puzzle mechanic so unique and well-designed that it became a critically acclaimed hit.
Dungeons in the game could be traversed by ‘merging’ with nearby walls to cross caverns and escape dangers, making for super fun challenges and a genuinely rewarding method of exploration. A Link Between Worlds did something different, and in the modern games landscape, different is great.
6. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Every iteration of Animal Crossing expands on the original game’s formula, making them cuter, more interactive and more engaging with every game. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the cutest Animal Crossing of all (so far) and it built out a range of great new features including the ability to redevelop and manage your town as the mayor. It also introduced dog secretary, Isabelle, who went on to become a major character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was pure bliss when it released, and a highlight of one of the most wholesome video game franchises on the market. If 2020’s New Horizons is half as good as New Leaf, it’ll still be a true gem.
5. Saints Row IV
The Saints Row franchise is flat out ridiculous. An open world game about being the president of the United States is a pretty basic premise, really. But then you add in superpowers, an alien invasion, literal hell and existential crises, and you’ve got a recipe for a balls-to-the-wall insane masterpiece.
Saints Row IV is irreverent, hilarious and totally ridiculous. He’s to hoping that the still-in-development sequel is just as fearless and ambitious.
4. Assassin’s Creed IV
Gamers had wanted a good pirate-themed game for years, and with its fourth instalment, the mainline Assassin’s Creed delivered just that. Edward Kenway’s journey from cutthroat to full-blown Assassin was one wrought with pain and triumph.
Black Flag rejigged the classic Assassin’s Creed formula, tweaking it just enough to feel different while maintaining everything about the previous games that made them fun. It looked stunning, played fantastically and had a great story to boot. All in all, it was an epic and emotional adventure.
3. BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite is simply phenomenal. It tells the tale of Booker and Elizabeth, two people with mysterious pasts who must traverse the hostile ‘utopia’ known as Columbia. It’s a tale of destiny, alternate worlds and magic powers, but it’s also grounded in real world issues like class warfare and racism.
BioShock Infinite is stunning, and features one of the best stories in modern gaming. It also has a shock ending that will leave you thinking about the game for a long time after the story is over.
2. Grand Theft Auto V
In 2019, gamers are still playing Grand Theft Auto V, thanks to its immersive and constantly-updated Online mode. But beyond Online, GTA V was a genuinely stunning game when it first released, and one of the biggest, most detailed open world games on the market.
It capitalised on the classic GTA formula of lying, cheating and stealing, while introducing players to a cast of deeply flawed but relatable characters, each with their own interlocking story. GTA V is violent, over-the-top and often gratuitous — and that’s what made it so great.
1. The Last of Us
The Last of Us was a phenomenal achievement in games, and a masterclass in storytelling. The game was about the post-apocalypse, telling the story of survivors Ellie and Joel as they seek to find a cure to a zombie-like virus and survive against all odds.
Joel and Ellie are flawed, real characters, played to perfection by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. It was cinematic, atmospheric and absolutely breathtaking. The Last of Us is a must play video game, and one that that blew our minds and hearts back in 2013.
Honourable mentions on this list include Sly Cooper sequel Thieves in Time, Injustice: Gods Among Us, The Wolf Among Us, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and so many more fantastic titles besides.
Arguably, 2013 was one of gaming’s biggest years of the decade, and with a games line-up like this, it’s not hard to see why.
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