TAG Mount Rushmore – Action-Adventure, “Greatness Awaits” Age

Introducing TAG Mount Rushmore

TAG Mount Rushmore is about covering our favorite games across different video game eras and genres!

 

In this edition, we are celebrating the masterpieces from the last generation while we usher in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Specifically, we are looking at the best action-adventure games from Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. We call this era the “Greatness Awaits” Era. Often one of a console’s more popular genres, action-adventure games typically feature a protagonist as he or she navigates through an enthralling story. 

 

We surveyed a handful of Average Gamers from our Discord channel and scored the results. Join us as we go through the top four action-adventure games with Yoshyaes’ and Flash’s opinion on each entry.

God of War

1) The Last of Us Part II

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Release: June 2020

TLOU2

The Last of Us was a masterpiece by every definition you can find. Impressively, there are many, including the Two Average Gamers, who believe the sequel did the unthinkable – surpass the first. If, somehow, you haven’t played this game and haven’t seen the rampant amount of leaked spoilers, do yourself a favor and pick this up. Today. 

The Last of Us Part II picks up on some unanswered questions from the first. It presents a world suffering from an infectious outbreak (sound familiar?) and how it affects all those surviving in it. 

Yoshyaes Rank: 1st

TLoU Part 2 is one of the few games that I’ve actually completed end to end in the last decade. From the moment I started the game, I was engrossed in the story, character development, and tense combat.

What makes this game so incredible is the way the developers are able to make the player question right and wrong. Good and evil blend so well as you learn more about the game’s protagonists. By the end of the game, I’ve developed a strong sense of empathy for Abby, and a world of conflict surrounding Ellie.

Additionally, the 1v1 encounters feel so heavy that I’d sometimes need to get up and take a break. Actually, this applied to the horde moments as well! Thankfully, the devs left room for safe exploration in between the life-threatening scenarios that you find yourself in.

I had high expectations for Part 2, and Naughty Dog definitely lived up to the expectations!

Flash Rank: 1st

When the release of The Last of Us Part II started to near, I purposely avoided any and all media related to it. I skipped trailers, I didn’t read articles, I exited conversations. After having Avengers: End Game spoiled via a random spam comment on an Apex Legends stream, I was on guard. Sad, I know. 

So the things that everyone was upset about were experienced fairly organically for me. I am purposely being vague, but this game is what video games should aspire to be. A rollercoaster doesn’t quite capture my feelings when I think back to how I wanted the game to go with each passing chapter. With respect to an innocent reader who still wants to play the game, I’ll leave it at that. 

One thing I can add is I can’t wait for the multiplayer mode, Factions, to be released. TLOU 1 Factions remains my favorite multiplayer video game experience of all time. If the single-player can be eclipsed for the single-player, and it was, I’m ready for the multiplayer.

2) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release: March 2017

Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild takes the monsters, puzzles, and classic items from the Zelda series and adds a beautiful world filled with discoverable surprises. The game received several perfect scores from many of the top publications, with reviewers praising the art and level design on this illustrious title.

Breath of the Wild leans heavily into the open-world genre. The map is enormous and you’re free to take Link into various environments that take advantage of numerous movement options.

As expected, you’ll need to take out Ganon in the endgame. Before you get there, BotW tasks you with defeating four Divine Beasts. Link gains new abilities, recipes, and equipment as you dive into the first Zelda title on the Switch!

Yoshyaes Rank: 3rd

It’s tough to describe the feeling I had playing through the first hour of Breath of the Wild. The opening scene had the typical Zelda mystery magic, but stepping out of the cave felt like a breath of fresh air (see what I did there?)!

Aside from the incredible visuals, this game has the type of gameplay mechanics that generously rewards player creativity. As shown by the BotW masters, Link is able to move and battle like never before using many techniques that you wouldn’t expect!

What’s more, the game can be play in bit-sized chunks, perfect for a large-scale RPG on-the-go. I’ve found myself gathering resources for recipes for many hours without even thinking about the main story missions.

Breath of the Wild is a must-play for any fans of Zelda games, especially if open-world exploration is your thing!

Flash Rank: 4th

I have to admit. I have not beaten this game. And yet, I still am ranking it in my top 4 of the “Greatness Awaits” Era. Let me tell you why.

Breath of the Wild was acclaimed as a masterpiece from the start. This shouldn’t be too surprising as Zelda games have always been stellar. However, Breath of the Wild upped the ante to limits most didn’t think were possible. The open-world is captivating and filled with challenges, puzzles, and sheer beauty. 

With just enough RPG elements you’d want in a deep action-adventure game, Breath of the Wild introduces crafting and cooking to the franchise. The difficulty of the game is a bit higher than other entries in the series. However, with more difficulty comes more reward when you are able to overcome your hurdles!

3) The Last of Us

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Release: June 2013

The Last of Us

We’ve all seen zombie movies and thought about what we’d do in the apocalyptic scenario. It’s no surprise that the game that led to our number 1 title popped up on the list of best “Greatness Awaits” era action-adventure games!

At its core, The Last of Us starts as a story of escorting a teenage girl across the US. Through several traumatic experiences, mixed with moments of serenity, the game’s duo develops a unique bond. 

Ellie and Joel take on infected, Fireflies, and the elements in a fight to save the human race. The game set the gold standard for what a zombie apocalypse game should look like when the developers consider human threats in the mix.

Yoshyaes Rank: N/A

I don’t really play ‘scary’ games, so picking up The Last of Us was a stretch for me. I’m so glad I dove headfirst into this masterpiece of a journey!

Not only was the story filled with gut-wrenching moments that tested the human capacity to survive, but the upgrade system was well-executed to help the characters grow along the way. The game balanced sneaking through infested libraries with hordes of monsters chasing you through the street in such a thoughtful way!

The Last of US also gave us Factions, which might be my most-played online shooter experience on the PS3!

Flash Rank: N/A

Answering “what is your favorite game of all time” is typically difficult. How do I weigh the joy I had playing SNES and N64 growing up against my college days and now my not-so-young-anymore adult years? Either way, answering this question without thinking about Joel and Ellie will be foolish moving forward. 

The Last of Us is a must-play, console-selling experience with, in my opinion, an even better multiplayer mode. I said the game couldn’t be better but then Part II came out which provided smarter AI, additional weaponry, and more threats. The only criticism I’ve heard from this game has touched on the theme or pace of the game. Personally, I prefer a game that plays like a movie without exhaustingly long cutscenes. If this isn’t your cup of tea, I question what type of action-adventure games you like.

Note: I only left Part I off my list in fairness to other games.

4) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
Release: May 2015

The Witcher 3

Fantasy meets Slavonic mythology in The Wither 3: Wild Hunt, putting you in control of a killing machine named Geralt. His daughter has gone missing, and you’ll need to search for her while fending off the Wild Hunt.

One of the things that set Wild Hunt apart from other action RPGs is the use of two swords, each with their own use. The steel sword is excellent for killing humans while the silver sword is more effective for taking down monsters. 

Wild Hunt also has multiple endings, depending on the player’s choices throughout the game. 

Yoshyaes Rank: N/A

I’ve played through the first several hours of Wild Hunt and was impressed by many features:

  • Melee and magic combining in a way that actually feels balanced
  • Side missions at every corner, each with genuine dialogue and tasks that don’t feel empty
  • The number of things to collect, craft, grow, etc. (took me back to the early 2000s when I played some WoW)
  • A surprising number of min-games (horse racing, boxing, cards) that fit well in the fantasy world

Wild Hunt is basically available on every platform at this point, so you can enjoy Geralt’s journey on PC and console!

Flash Rank: N/A

I am sad to admit that I have not played The Witcher 3. Yet!

From everything I’ve heard about the game, it ranks amongst the best games of all time. Not just this genre, not just this era – ever. 

From everything I’ve read and seen, this game has it all. RPG elements, a fantastic story, a likable protagonist, great main and side missions. And you can’t go wrong with the theme.

Blending medieval with mythical has been a formula for success from fellow video games like Skyrim to television series like Game of Thrones. I’ve got beating The Witcher 3 on my list for 2021. Stay tuned!

Honorable Mentions

Now that you know our list, it would only be right to discuss some honorable mentions before we get our very first hate mail.

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Here are some great games that nearly made our list! This had to be our strongest honorable mention list in the history of our Mount Rushmore articles.

  • Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4/PC, 2017) – Aloy was introduced to us as Sony’s new IP and she didn’t let us down. An open world with a gripping story featuring hunting and tracking, mechanical creatures resembling dinosaurs, and other prehistoric monsters. Can’t wait for the sequel to come to PS5!
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4/PS5, 2018) – Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman! This may just be our opinion but no superhero can compete with the joy you get swinging around NYC! The game was darn near flawless.   
  • God of War (PS4, 2018)God of War marked a shift in the series core mechanics. Moving from a hyper fast-paced button-mashing game to a more grounded gritty challenge.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (PC/PS4/XBONE/Stadia, 2018) – Rockstar’s western take on their ever-popular GTA series was given a long-awaited sequel. Red Dead Redemption 2 provides one of the best stories you can find in a video game. Just like its predecessor.    
  • Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS4/PS3,2011) and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4,2016) – It’s crazy to think that a developer could put out two massively successful series under the same genre and with wildly different gameplay. Converse to the slow and gritty nature of The Last of Us, Nathan Drake (Indiana Jones and Lara Croft’s theoretical child) provides a high octane, Hollywood-esque experience as you hunt for treasure. Each also offered fun multiplayer.

How would you build your Mount Rushmore? 

What grade would you give our Mount Rushmore? Would you change any of our selections? Which game was your favorite action-adventure from the “Greatness Awaits” Era? Let us know in the comments!

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