Is the original list even being updated? That said, I’d like to brainstorm a compressed list. No more than 16 entries, which means that every time you add one, you have to take one out. Yes 16 is arbitrary. I wrote out a number of unique games that I thought exemplified a genre or feeling games give you.
I think sorting processes like these are better than big lists, because you can’t just include your way to mollifying everybody.
Morrowind - Why? It’s a fantastic example of the heights of the open world genre. You’re given directions that tend to be a little vague which adds to the exploration. The main quest involves a lot of digging through lore. There’s freedom through movement, gameplay, and association with factions. Flying / the random falling guy, directions, and a more unique and coherent world make me favor it over the enjoyable Skyrim. I haven’t played Witcher 3, so I’m open to replacement arguments. I love Stalker and Gothic 2, but think Morrowind will probably provide the better experience; you can argue with me here.
Baldur’s Gate 2 **- This is the greatest distillation of the feeling of an open world DnD campaign. There are dozens upon dozens of stories to stumble into, people to meet, people to fight, and wonderfully unique items to find.
Bioshock - I chose Bioshock over System Shock for the setting. Both are great games, but I think Bioshock’s setting is a bit more unique. The analysis of Randianism and its inevitable results are spot on considering things like the Silk Road. And the combination of powers + atmosphere is quite fun. I’m open for arguments about why SS2 is the better experience, but they have to be more than Shodan.
**Deus Ex **- I prefer Thief 2, but Deus Ex had some of the best world design until VTMB. The player had several mechanical and plot choices, and it led to some fascinating emergent play.
Minecraft - I think I’ll get little argument here. This is one of the most immersive and polished procedural games made.
**Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal **- I know I’ll get pushback on this one, but tower defense is a huge genre, and Creeper World 3 perfected its mechanics. You control the land, weaponry, and resource flow in this game, which makes you purely focused on survival, advance, and capture.
**Civ IV **- The polish and grandeur of this game make it an eternal favorite. You may argue that some have better gameplay, but the Leonard Nimoy voiceovers, wonder videos, and classic Civ formula make this a special experience. I can see arguing for CK2 or EU3 here, but I think most will agree that Civ is the more universally pleasing game.
Dark Souls - Never played it, so I can’t argue it shouldn’t be included.
**Planescape Torment **- The plot is amazing and the world is fantastically weird. If there’s limited space you can argue that BG2 can consume this, but it’ll be a tough sell.
Portal - A tight, extremely well-crafted 3d puzzler. Very well written, and all around exceptional.
**Prince of Persia: Sands of Time **- I had an extremely hard time picking out what I thought was the best platformer. I leaned toward PixelJunk Eden, but also favored Grow Home, Fez, and Braid. Prince of Persia has a great mechanic, an unpretentious story, and a lush atmosphere.
Hexcells: Infinite - Hexcells masters the difficulty curve for puzzler games. Just hard enough to make you want to quit, but engaging enough that you keep coming back. It has a great feeling while you’re playing, that makes it like you’re untying a knot.
Diablo II - Originally I had Bastion for this slot, but Diablo II is probably the better of the two. It has incredibly addictive gameplay, massive build variety, was a precursor to WoW, and really defined the Gothic look on the pc for a while. Best of all, it still holds up.
Dota II - I considered others for the high adrenaline position, but Dota II has even more of a adrenaline rush, and an easy to start hard to master gameplay. LoL might be a bit better as a base game, but they kept on adding and adding heroes.
The last two spots I’ll leave open.
One should probably be for an Adventure game; personally I think Dropsy is excellent even above the old Lucas Arts games, but I doubt I’ll find many supporters there. Furthermore, the genre has so many recent entrants I don’t consider myself a capable judge.
The second I’ll leave wide open. Many Genres didn’t make it in. Freespace 2 style space sims. JRPGs, Online shooters, Casual games. Farming sims. MMOs. Games where frogs teach fractions. The list could be expanded to 20, but no more than that.