The Most Iconic Game Releases

It’s hard to define what makes a game’s release “iconic,” but in our eyes, it’s games that have performed well on release, games that are well-loved by the audience, and games that have left a true mark on the gaming world.

These are some of the most iconic game releases in history.

25. Helldivers 2

Explosion in Helldivers 2
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment.

Helldivers 2 was a long-awaited sequel to the first game, and it was a huge success. Many people have picked this game up, even people who aren’t a fan of chaotic shooters. However, if you’ve been wanting to fight away mutants and monsters with your pals, this is the perfect time to do just that. You can get stuck into Helldivers 2 single-player or with friends, all in the name of Democracy. 

What more could you want?

24. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 Remake on PC
Image Credit: Capcom.

The Resident Evil series was already a big hit when Resident Evil 4 came out. However, Resident Evil 4 is considered one of, if not the best iteration in the franchise. It’s not hard to see why, either. This game completely changed the flow of the survival horror category, with the games taking a dramatic turn in camera movement, fast-paced action, and a juicy story that gripped many zombie fans.

23. Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero 3
Image Credit: Neversoft.

Who doesn’t love Guitar Hero? Guitar Hero stands as one of the best rhythm and music games of all time, with people continuing to play the game through a freeware program called Clone Hero. This allows people to make their own levels and try to become real guitar heroes.

Guitar Hero has had many iterations throughout the years, appearing on a multitude of consoles. This game was great for many reasons. Not only did it include iconic songs from all genres, but it united people in a competitive nature, allowing them to see who was the best at hitting notes.

22. Pong

Pong gameplay
Image Credit: Atari.

Pong was revolutionary for its time and has gone on to be the basis of many brick-breaker games that have been released over the years. Although some may think it’s too simple to be enjoyable, many find it to be a mind-blowing expansion of technology. 

While technology has significantly advanced since then, Pong was a fantastic game when it was released and introduced plenty of people to the world of gaming.

21. Tomb Raider Remastered

Lara Croft running into a cave in Tomb Raider 2
Image Credit: Aspyr.

Tomb Raider was already a well-loved franchise, with the original trilogy being among the best in the series. Fans were incredibly excited for the release when the remastered collection was announced. Not only was it a huge hit when it was released, but it also brought new fans to the games.

We can only hope they’ll remaster more of the games in the franchise.

20. Tekken 8

Paul and Law together in Tekken 8
Image Credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment.

Tekken fans had to wait nine years for a new Tekken game to be released, with some fans still actively playing Tekken 7. However, when Tekken 8 was released, it was a game-changer for fans everywhere.

With the Heat system being added and basic combo accessibility being improved, the franchise became even more accessible for new and returning players. Additionally, the game is now cross-platform, which is huge for Tekken! 

19. Persona 5

Persona 5 Royal
Photo Credits: Atlus, P Studio, SEGA of America

Persona is a well-loved franchise by many, and Persona 5 has become the highlight of the franchise for a lot of people. After Persona 5 was released, fans were then spoilt further with the release of Persona 5 Royal. The game oozes style with the character’s costumes and a fantastic soundtrack to boot. If you’ve been looking to get into the Persona games, make it the one you start with.

18. Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Chadley
Image Credit: Square Enix.

Where to even begin with the Final Fantasy 7 Remake?

Final Fantasy fans have been waiting for this day for so long, and when it was finally announced, people could barely contain their excitement. Seeing the spikey-haired Cloud Strife and the gorgeous One Winged Angel was gift enough, but the gameplay was so in-depth and worth every cent.

Even though the game is split up into segments and they start off as PlayStation exclusives, you won’t regret forking over your cash for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

17. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Mii Brawler Fight in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Fighting game fans have an intense love for Super Smash Bros, and their love is understandable, really. Who doesn’t want to see Kirby send Kazuya into space? Fun for all ages, you don’t have to be a pro to get stuck into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It can bring out your competitive side, but what fighting game doesn’t?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had some of the best hype when it came to roster announcements. Fans would be waiting in chat rooms on YouTube for hours, theorizing who could possibly be announced next. Fans had meetups and would cheer in front of the screen when characters were announced for the game. 

The hype for this game will never be forgotten, as it shows how gaming can truly unite people.

16. Portal 2

Portal 2
Photo Credit: Valve Corporation

With the first Portal game already being loved by so many and giving us some of the most loveable (and hateable) characters in gaming, it’s no wonder that fans were overjoyed when Portal 2 was released. While Portal was great, Portal 2 was even better. It added to the complex puzzling system of the first game and a slightly homicidal but comedic robot to accompany you on your journey through the game.

15. Fallout 3

A new look
Image Credit: Bethesda

Although not the most loved in the franchise, Fallout 3 gave us a complete rework of the system. Instead of being pixellated graphics with minimal exploration, you now had a huge open world in front of you. Being able to loot and shoot your way to survival, there were some huge decisions to make, with a lot at stake. For its time, Fallout 3 was a revolutionary post-apocalyptic survival game, and the franchise has only gotten better over time.

14. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 by Rockstar Games
Image Credit: Rockstar Games.

With the first game being incredibly loved by many, fans could not wait to see a sequel made by Rockstar. Even people who never thought they’d be in a Western world were wrangling horses, collecting debts, and tackling a guilty conscience. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an absolutely stunning game, with beautiful terrain to explore as well as some of the best character development in a game thus far. It’s certainly revolutionary, and we can only wonder if there will be more to come.

13. Hades

Hades Zagreus
Image Credit: Supergiant Games.

Hades may be an indie game, but it is an absolutely stunning one at that. It’s one that everyone should try at least once, regardless of whether you’re into Greek Mythology or not. It has fast-paced combat, a great upgrade system, and some of the most charming characters that you could ever meet in a game. What’s not to love?

Since the release of Hades, the game has had a hugely dedicated fanbase, which has grown exponentially over the years. Fans are thrilled as a Hades 2 is in development, with early access due to come Q2 in 2024!

12. Final Fantasy Xiv: A Realm Reborn

Zadnor - Final Fantasy XIV
Photo Credit: Square Enix

Although the beginning of Final Fantasy XIV was incredibly rough, it has since transformed into one of the best MMOs of all time. When it was first released, it was a monotonous game that just wasn’t worth playing.

However, by scrapping the entire game and remaking it, they created something magical. Although A Realm Reborn isn’t generally favored by many FFXIV players, they can still admit that the changes between Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn are astronomical. 

11. Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn
Photo Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Horizon Zero Dawn is such a fantastic game, and for years, it remained a PlayStation exclusive. Those on PC now can dive into a world with a strong female protagonist who has to fight for survival against the mechs trying to take over the world.

The graphics in this game are simply stunning, and the combat is fast-paced and thrilling. The game was so successful that it has had one major sequel and a VR game based in the same universe as Horizon.

10. Dark Souls 3

A knowing swan song
Image Credit: Bandai Namco

Although plenty of people out there aren’t a fan of the Soulsborne series, Dark Souls 3 sheds a lot of light onto the franchise and stands as one of, if not the best, games in the Dark Souls series. While Dark Souls was iconic and had a strong fanbase, Dark Souls 3 built on everything that Dark Souls was and made it even better. With heartbreaking references to the first game, beautiful landscapes, and difficult fights, it’s not hard to see why DS3 is so popular today.

As a result of the game performing so well, FromSoftware has been able to go on to create even more fantastic souls-likes, such as Elden Ring and Armored Core VI. We can’t wait to see where their journey goes next.

9. The Sims 2

The Sims 2 Pleasantview Family
Image Credit: Electronic Arts.

Although the franchise is now on its fourth iteration, with the fifth in the works, The Sims 2 is one of the best in the franchise. With comedic cutscenes that added extra flair and drama to the game, it also had some of the most in-depth gameplay in the series. There were stories to uncover, characteristics and personality in the Sims. 

A lot of this has been lost over the years, especially in The Sims 4, so it makes complete sense that there are still a lot of players actively seeking out The Sims 2 to play.

8. Diablo II

diablo 2 classic
Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo II is one of the best games in the franchise. It was so loved that they remastered it, and the game still has a very active player base today. At least 50,000 people still play Diablo 2, and this game helped mold the franchise into what it is today. 

Although the storyline is linear and easy to complete once you’ve got enough strength, players say that the game is still replayable, even after completing all there is to do. A lot of the time, the same can’t be said for Diablo 4, but we can only hope it improves from here.

7. Half-life 2

Half Life 2 Gravity Gun
Image Credit: Valve.

Valve has made some truly amazing games over the years, and Half-Life 2 remains one of their most timeless creations. Although the graphics are dated, the gameplay is still a lot of fun. Being able to challenge yourself to only throw objects to kill enemies is a lot of fun. 

When Half-Life finally received another sequel, it was obvious that fans were overjoyed. It’s just a shame that Half-Life: Alyx is a VR-only game.

6. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Lara jumping a large gap in Rise of the Tomb Raider
Image Credit: Square Enix.

Tomb Raider as a franchise has been rebooted a multitude of times, giving her different eras throughout the years. While the Survivor era has been award-winning and some of the best Tomb Raider games in the franchise, Rise of the Tomb Raider took everything that Tomb Raider (2013) was and built on it to turn it into something fantastic. 

The game’s graphics are phenomenal, and the storytelling is gripping, alongside some fantastic survival elements and combat. What’s not to love?

5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Link fighting a spider in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Ocarina of Time is one of the most beloved Zelda games ever. Even though the graphics are obviously dated now, it was a game that truly showcased what the Nintendo 64 was all about. For its time, the graphics were fantastic, and the gameplay was unique and exciting. Playing the Ocarina to unlock new areas and complete puzzles was a tonne of fun.

At the end of it all, the combat and boss fights give it that tense factor, and once it’s all said and done, your heart will be broken by the shocking twists and turns in the story.

4. Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 is an atmosphere masterpiece for the horror genre
Photo Credit: Konami

Silent Hill has become one of the most famous survival horror franchises, and Silent Hill 2 is the peak of it all. Getting to see Pyramid Head in all his glory (and horror.) The beginning wastes no time in having you run for your life away from terrifying monsters while using radio signals to guide you. The game will have your blood pumping in no time.

Silent Hill 2 was one of the best games to come out on PlayStation 2 and showcased what the hardware could handle. The graphics for its time were revolutionary and made the game that bit scarier.

3. Journey

Journey Adventure Game on PC
Image Credit: Annapurna Interactive

Being released on PlayStation 3, Journey is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking indie games that you could possibly play. It has since become far more accessible, but if you’ve been looking for a relaxing puzzler, Journey is it. The game won countless awards for the best game, best music, and best narrative.

If that isn’t enough to make you want to play it, I don’t know what is! Journey is truly one of the most stunning games you can play, and it serves as a great release and distraction from reality.

2. Papers, Please

papers please dystopian worlds
Image Credit: Lucas Pope

Snapping straight back into reality from Journey, you have one of the most dystopian games out there. Feeling far too dystopian, your name is drawn in the labor lottery, and you have to report to the Ministry of Admission. During your time there, you see many forgeries, people begging for entry, and even terrorist attacks.

Although it’s an indie game, it cuts deep and leaves you stunned when you least expect it. When you think things will finally get better, they don’t. Instead, they just get worse and worse.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Is the Most Critically Acclaimed Nintendo Switch Exclusive
Photo Credit: Nintendo

Originally released on the WiiU, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most visually striking games you could play. Whether you’re a fan of combat or you simply want to explore Hyrule and forage items, there is so much to do in this game. There are tens, if not hundreds, of hours to be had in Breath of the Wild. 

Once you’ve completed it, you can dive into its beloved sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

These have been some of the most iconic game releases of all time. These games have left their mark on the gaming world in some way or another, and most continue to have dedicated fanbases even today. 

What game release was the most iconic for you?

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Written by Amy Eastland

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