Unfortunately, the human body withers and dies… but not in games! In video games you respawn to carry on fighting, so before we unfortunately face the real life chopping block, let’s take a look at 50 games to play before you die!
1. Ratchet and Clank (2002)
This classic 3D platformer boasts two great protagonists, some challenging gameplay, a brilliant roster of weapons and a kick-ass story to boot. It’s a game for kids and adults alike and with deep themes of consumerism and strong character arcs. It’s really no surprise the series is still alive today, but nothing quite tops this PS2 original.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
In all honesty, any Elder Scrolls title could make this list with their vast open worlds, spectacular combat, and the massive amounts of content within. However, none are quite as accessible or as famous as the fifth instalment, Skyrim, which sees dragons return to Tamriel and the mysterious Dragonborn emerge.
3. BioShock Infinite
It was a tough call between BioShock and BioShock Infinite. The first game is honestly great, but Infinite takes everything the first game did right and multiplies it tenfold. The combat, the story and the gameplay keep you wanting more, and if that ends up not being enough the Burial at Sea DLC will surely satisfy that craving.
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I could’ve put multiple Call of Duty games on this list, however none are quite as good or as controversial as MW2. You want a great story? This has it. You want a multiplayer filled with overpowered guns? This has it. You want a fun co-op experience? This has it. You want to kill Shepherd for everything he did? Me too.
5. Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time
I’m strictly trying to stay to one game per franchise for this list, but couldn’t resist putting this title in here. A Crack in Time takes everything good from the original trilogy of games and builds on it massively — creating a better and more cinematic story.
6. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
For me, this game is easily the best in its franchise. Everything good from the previous games is used again and everything that needed improving is massively improved upon. Not only does the game look stunning but it also feels stunning to play. If you’ve played the previous games the story will really hit home, and if not then you’ve still got a fun treasure hunting adventure ahead of you.
7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
You could pick up any of the Smash Bros. games and with a couple of friends you’ll always have a great time. However, in a fighting game like this you are always going to want the best fighting and fluid gameplay as well as the largest charter roster. Ultimate has all three in spades and whether it’s online or in the same room you’ll always be having a great time.
8. Goldeneye 007
I have only had a limited amount of time with this N64 game but enjoyed every moment of it. The gameplay is smooth and to all intents and purposes is everything a first person shooter should be. This game laid the groundwork for the most popular first-person shooters today, so if you can get your hands on this, it’s definitely worth exploring one of the best classic multiplayer experiences in gaming.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda series has so many legendary titles that you could easily make a list just for this series alone. I have chosen Breath of the Wild as this is the game I have personally spent the most time with, and had the most fun playing. The visuals and story are great, and I really enjoyed the evolution of gameplay from the more classic Zelda experiences.
10. The Sims 3
The Sims is an incredibly unique experience no matter what game you choose to play; there really is nothing else quite like it. I have chosen Sims 3 as I believe that this game overall has the best variety for a Sims game, as well as having some great expansion packs and an amazing mod community for the PC. It’s not a game you tend to play for weeks and weeks on end but is a welcome break when you’ve been playing some more stressful titles.
11. Halo: Reach
I have mainly been a PlayStation player for years, however recently I did manage to save myself enough money to buy a great PC. One of my first buys was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I was honestly blown away by Halo: Reach in terms of its story, gameplay and visuals. The story reminded me heavily of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in how beautifully written it is as well as the story in general. This is honestly one of the best first-person shooter stories I have ever played.
12. Batman: Arkham City
I’ve never gotten on that well with the Arkham titles as I’m not exceptionally good at them, however this game stands out. The story is great and as per usual has a great group of villains to fight against. The gameplay is also solid even though I’m bad at it, and continues to encourage the stealth mechanics of the first game. There is a tonne of side content and even just zipping around Arkham City as Batman is honestly a great experience.
13. Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
We now turn to Marvel, and I really didn’t expect them to deliver the truly amazing experience that is Spider-Man. Web-slinging around New York alone is addictive enough, but when you add in the touching narrative, the combat, the collectibles and all the other side content, you truly see how hard Insomniac worked on this game. It’s not a game you need to go back to after you’ve completed it, however it is still something that should be experienced by any superhero fan.
14. The Simpsons: Hit and Run
The classic to end all classics. The Simpsons: Hit and Run is simply a game of legendary status. You can play as all your favourite characters from the TV show, with some great gameplay too. It even features a good enough story for the time of release. You don’t tend to get too many good movie or TV tie-in titles today, but this game nailed it in every way and will forever be remembered as the ultimate Simpsons experience.
15. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
I teared up when I loaded up the first level of the remastered first game. The first Spyro The Dragon game on the PS1 holds so many childhood memories for me, and to see this universe remastered almost 20 years on truly spoke to me. The entire trilogy is amazing and deserves all the love it gets. A tip: If you played the original, then switch the music to the original soundtrack for extra nostalgia.
16. Grand Theft Auto V
I could’ve said GTA III or the even more liked San Andreas, however nothing quite hits like GTA V. The Grand Theft Auto series has always had some ridiculous characters but GTA V took this to a whole new level, and as much as it can be a bit of a mess, it’s some of the most fun you’ll have in gaming. The online is even more ridiculous, with genuinely endless content and with friends it is one of the best multiplayer games out there.
Whether it’s vanilla or modded, Minecraft never ceases to innovate as it gives you the tools to do whatever you like. The only limit is your imagination. The game is renowned for being arguably the best of all time and as much as I disagree in some respects, I can honestly see why people think this. There are many clones of this game, but none can capture the wholesomeness of the original title. I don’t think any game ever will again.
18. The Last of Us
Naughty Dog had no right to make a game as fantastic as The Last of Us. The story is so grounded and heart-breaking it makes players realise maybe they don’t want the zombie apocalypse to happen. Boasting great visuals, an even better narrative, and deeply complex characters, this is a story that will have you on edge from start to finish. Just don’t expect a happy ending.
19. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 1 and 2 were both good games in their own right, but I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for what CD Projekt Red gave us in 2015. This game is one of the best RPGs ever to hit the gaming market with stunning visuals and even better gameplay mechanics. The game never gets old and is endlessly replayable even after you’ve finished the main story and the great DLCs — so get ready to spend weeks of your life with this title!
20. God of War (2018)
Back when God of War was announced for the PS4, with a 2018 release date, I don’t think anyone was quite expecting it. I also don’t think anyone was expecting the series to make such a drastic change in direction. Leaving the world of Greek mythology behind, we found ourselves in the lands of the Norse mythos with Kratos and his son Atreus going on a journey to scatter Atreus’s mother’s ashes. The game explores the theme of family heavily, as we see the relationship between father and son grow. It’s a great narrative with some stellar gameplay.
This is one for the multiplayer fans. Overwatch released in 2016 and was an instant classic. A team-based first-person shooter with many different playable characters all with unique weapons and abilities and even backstories. The game is also really accessible as you do not need to be the best to win or even have a good time because teamwork is the most important thing in Overwatch.
22. Dark Souls
This is another franchise that I’m honestly really not good at, but I can really appreciate how amazing it is for its target audience and I believe it is a series that everyone should try. Even if they don’t get all the way through it, you can’t help but appreciate the design. The series is renowned for its difficulty but also for its brilliant gameplay. There’s nothing quite like Dark Souls, so just be prepared to die… a lot.
23. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The Animal Crossing games have mostly eluded me, but watching my girlfriend play the newest title in the series and seeing how relaxed and enjoyable it is has made it find a spot on this list. It’s quite literally the opposite to the Dark Souls games, as it is easy going and just wants the player to make their island their own. There’s no time limit and no death, just pure enjoyment for this niche little series.
24. Super Mario Galaxy
There are many 3D Super Mario games that could’ve got onto this list, for example Super Mario 64, Super Mario Odyssey or even the sequel to this title. However none of the others really hit home for me as much as this one did. The story is simple but great, the enemies are varied, and the level design is flawless. This truly captures the perfect 3D Mario experience.
I only got around to playing this series properly for the first time in 2020, and I’ve got to say I was so impressed. The gameplay is stellar with a good story, although that isn’t what the game focuses on. One of the most impressive parts of Borderlands is its visuals and how well it fits the crazy violent world of Pandora. I haven’t moved past this first title yet but if they are anything as good as the first, I can’t wait to get back on the hunt for the vault.
26. The Stanley Parable
This game is honestly super weird but such an intriguing concept. In Layman’s terms, there is a narrator telling you what to do and where to go but you don’t have to obey what he says. You can choose to obey sometimes, all the time or not at all. The game is all about trial and error as well as the consequences of the choices you make. The game is also really replayable, as you can go back and see what happens if you make different choices. This game, at its core, really is the definition of the butterfly effect.
This is the only game I have ever given a 10/10. The game is perfection. You have one objective given to you at the start and then you start your journey. The game is stunningly beautiful and honestly makes you really think about life by the end. The multiplayer aspect is also incredibly unique and only adds to the experience.
28. Kingdom: Two Crowns
Play the game with a friend. Don’t look anything up online. Learn from your mistakes. Do these three things and you will have some of the best hours of gaming you’ve ever had.
29. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (2005)
Whether it’s the prequel era or the original trilogy, this game gives you everything you could ever want from a Star Wars game. From wielding lightsabers, firing blasters or even force choking, this game has it in spades. You get many game modes such as the strategic galactic conquest or instant action (when you’re just looking for a quick game) as well as a campaign based around the 501st Legion of clone troopers. Playing this with a friend will also create many timeless memories.
30. Battlefield 4
The Battlefield franchise is long running and whilst BF4 isn’t unanimously considered the best, I just can’t deny memories I have playing this title. Whether we squaded up and tried hard for the win, or just messed about in Conquest Mode until we were crying with laughter, there was simply never a bad experience for me in this game. It just really works.
31. The Wolf Among Us
I’m not a big fan of Telltale Games titles because of their lack of gameplay, however this game’s story really hooked me and had me constantly wanting to get onto the next episode. The Fables universe is already interesting enough, but this title took these characters and made a perfectly woven story of their own. So even if you don’t like Telltale titles, I’d ultimately recommend giving this one a shot.
32. Far Cry 3
This is easily the pinnacle of the Far Cry series. Engaging story. Great visuals. Epic one-man army action. This game truly defines what a Far Cry title should be and proves this by being known as the best in the series. If you’ve played another title in the series and wasn’t so impressed, I’d recommend giving this one a chance as it is a close to perfect game.
33. Rocket League
I’ve been playing Rocket League since its release and still, to this day, don’t know why it is so addictive. If you had told me before release that I’d fall in love with a game which is basically flying car football then I would’ve laughed in your face, but I can say now hand-on-heart that this is some of the most arcadey style fun you can have in gaming today and it deserves all the love it gets.
34. DOOM (2016)
I had never even heard of the DOOM franchise up until the announcement of this game, so really didn’t understand the hype around it. I then educated myself and came to realise how much of a big deal this reboot actually was and that it could be a great game. Not only was it a great game, but it reinvented the DOOM franchise whilst still keeping to the formula of the original titles.
35. Infamous: Second Son
This one’s a little biased as it was my first game on my PS4. The game suffers from potentially not living up to its predecessor, as well as being a launch title meaning that it has to go out of its way to use any and all new mechanics that came with the PS4 — such as the touchpad. If you can manage to get past those two things, then this game is really solid with an almost X-Men vibe to it. Delsin is also a likeable and mischievous protagonist that you grow to love more and more throughout the game. It’s not the best game on this list but I loved it, and for me it’s a game everyone should try out.
36. Titanfall 2
The original Titanfall was well received, but quickly became boring with repetitive multiplayer gameplay and lack of story (largely due to the fact there is no single player campaign). However, the sequel delivers a much better, more refined multiplayer experience as well as a fully-fledged campaign mode, where you discover the deep relationship between a pilot and their Titan. It wasn’t a game I expected to love but I found myself doing exactly that.
37. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Similarly to the DOOM series, I really didn’t know much about Wolfenstein before the announcement of The New Order. After doing some research I again found out how significant this series was to the gaming industry. I picked up The New Order a while after release and instantly fell in love with the series. The gameplay is brilliant, with a setting perfectly fitting the dark grittiness of the narrative. The game is gruesome and tries to show what life could’ve come to if the Nazis had won World War 2 and had access to more advanced technology.
38. Wii Sports
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “50 games before you die” and he chooses Wii Sports, but hear me out. Wii Sports is one of the most played games of all time, and I can guarantee that at least half the people reading this have at least a few memories of playing this game with your family. That’s why it’s on the list. It was one of the first games, at least for me, that really brought the whole family together to play video games. The Wii would continue to do this throughout its lifespan, but this was the first.
39. Space Invaders
To play current or at least more modern releases is one thing, but to go back and play some of the titles that made gaming a popular industry is another. Space Invaders was one such title. It effectively broke the industry as its popularity grew and even became the game played at one of the first ever official gaming competitions that we now know as E-sports. The gameplay is basic, but there are so many versions that I’m sure you’ll be able to find an aesthetic you like.
40. Super Mario Bros.
Like Space Invaders, this game is a piece of gaming history. There are many versions of the game, so you can take your pick, and they all play out in largely the same fashion. I have never been a massive fan of 2D platformers but I can vouch for these games on any format or platform.
Dishonored may not be Bethesda’s most well-known series, however it is an incredible game nonetheless. Corvo’s story is a real tragedy and the game does a really good job of making it seem like you’re in a hopeless situation, especially when you must get through so many enemies with little to no help. The stealth mechanics are great, but it also doesn’t fail you when you alert a guard and allows you to ‘go loud’ if necessary.
42. Portal 2
I only have a limited experience with this series but it’s an absolute classic that everyone should play. I’ve chosen the second game as this is the title I personally have spent more time with, and feel is slightly more refined. The puzzles in both games are really challenging at times, and the game never holds your hand. It allows you to experiment and figure it out for yourself, which I think is incredibly important. Some puzzle games will be very quick to give you hints (or the answer entirely) after a few minutes, but this game really forces your brain to work hard and I commend it for that.
43. The Last of Us Part 2
This game got some of the most unfair hate I’ve ever seen. The Last of Us Part 2 takes everything great about the first game and expands on every mechanic. The story is definitely controversial to some extent, but tells a really deep narrative about forgiveness and revenge that I have never really experienced in another game. The lack of multiplayer is disappointing but somewhat understandable, as Naughty Dog were clearly focusing on the narrative, so there’s every chance a multiplayer could’ve been lacking.
44. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (2017)
At launch this game was a mess, but now all the problems with it have been largely fixed. The game has a wide variety of maps and modes, from 64 player assault maps to a dedicated Starfighter mode, that really make you feel like you’re fighting across the entire Star Wars saga.
45. Mario Kart 8
I loved Mario Kart Wii and had endless hours of fun on it, however Mario Kart 8 takes it up to an entirely new level for me. It’s the ultimate Mario Kart experience taking everything that was great about previous entries and culminating it here. You’ve got the average races, but also a variety of party modes and time trials. If this isn’t enough, you can always take your kart online and race against people all around the world. This game has everything you will ever need from a Mario Kart title and honestly if they never made a new one, I wouldn’t be that disappointed.
46. Tomb Raider (2013)
After playing the entire trilogy of new Tomb Raider games I must admit I feel they get worse as they go along. This doesn’t mean that the two sequels are particularly bad, but that the first title was simply incredible. You play as Lara Croft on her first real adventure before becoming the Tomb Raider she’s known to be. It’s a real gritty, somewhat disturbing, narrative. It’s absolutely brutal, and even though it has some of the classic fantastical elements the franchise is known for, it really brings the series to a much more grounded and more relatable level.
47. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This is another insanely fun multiplayer experience… and by fun, I mean stressful. The basic premise is that one person has to defuse a bomb, whilst the other explains to them how to do so. The first few levels are easy enough but when you get past those you will be blown up many, many times. But that’s all a part of the fun, right? … Right?
48. Stardew Valley
If you’re looking for a relaxing experience, look no further than Stardew Valley. Whether it’s farming, fishing, or exploring, you will never be particularly stressed in this world. God forbid, but if you get bored of the gameplay you can spice it up by bringing a friend in and building up a new world together. This isn’t a game I’ve spent loads of time with, but it’s a fun title to have on your Switch when you’re travelling from place to place.
49. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
I don’t think I can count the amount of memories I have from playing this game as a kid. It’s a Lego game so it’s incredibly simple, but also incredibly fun. There was always something more enticing about Lego Star Wars than any other Lego game, for me. The Lego Skywalker Saga is of course coming out very soon to add Episodes 7, 8 and 9 which can only make this title even better. Although be wary of the heartbreak that comes from playing through Episode 3 with a friend!
This was originally going to be Tetris 99 however I thought about it and I think the best way to end this list is on a very classic note. I think as gamers we tend to forget where all this started, and it was old arcade games like Tetris, Space Invaders and even Pong. These legends allow us to have the frankly amazing cinematic level titles that get released today. So if you’ve never played Tetris, go and give it a try and enjoy one of the games that started it all.
So, there you have it. 50 games that I personally think every gamer should play before they die. I’m sure that not everyone will agree, and I’m definitely sure as soon as this is published I’m going to think of more titles that should have been in this list — but that’s a list for another time.
Sometimes we use affiliate links in our media. All links support the site and help keep food on the table and servers running. We will keep an updated list of affiliates on each article. Humble Store, GameNerdz.com, Amazon. If you like what we do, shop through our link and help support the site.
For the latest in gaming and entertainment, be sure to like Back to the Gaming on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also support us via Patreon, which allows us to create better content for our audience.