Bethesda has some great titles, here are all the games ranked!
If you only entered the gaming sphere in the last few years. You may know Bethesda as the company floundering under the spotlight. The one that took the Fallout franchise and practically buried it themselves. A company synonymous with game crashing bugs. Online multiplayer controversies and more re-releases of Skyrim than we care to mention.
Though this is indeed the same company that have, and still actively do, produce blockbuster games. Doom: Eternal being the latest in a line of successful releases. Though it seems that the bad press the company has garnered in last few years has somewhat sullied their reputation. Todd Howard has a lot to answer for in that department.
Though we thought we would take it upon ourselves to dive deep. To get a full picture of all their work. Giving you the chance to make an informed decision about whether they deserve a pass on previous slip ups.
So we are looking at the whole catalogue of games made by Bethesda in the last two decades. Ranking them from best to worst. Also just some housekeeping. We will only be including mainstream console releases, only one version of said game, no re-masters or re-releases and we are not including any titles before 2000. Sorry Daggerfall. Also, this will be a list of all games published by Bethesda. Not necessarily made by them. Just to be crystal clear.
44 – Family Card Games Fun Pack
With these kind of lists, it can often be difficult awarding the wooden spoon. Though the worst game by a country mile is Family card games fun pack. Although next to nothing is known about the games development. It was only Bethesda’s second console title. So perhaps a chance to dip their toes in the water after a long time developing for PC. Either way, it’s a card game. It belongs right here at the bottom.
43 – Skip Barber Racing
This game finds it in this spot by default. Mainly due to little to no information being available about the title. However, what can be assumed is that it was a licensed racing title that borrowed assets from their other racing venture, IHRA drag racing. Though I can confidently say with no evidence. It was still better than a card game at least.
42 – Breeder’s Cup: Word Thoroughbred Championship
That’s right, a game about horses. We’ve all seen these budget titles on shelves at thrift stores. Though it’s shocking to see Bethesda’s name linked to one. The game isn’t even a good representation for the genre. It offers no customisation options, a lifeless, repetitive career mode and little else to keep you interested. Even if you are a horse betting enthusiast, stay clear.
41 – PBA Tour Bowling 2001
When it comes to bowling related games, I can name the same other title that most people can. That being Wii Sports. Other than that I draw a blank. Though with reference to Wii Sports bowling, i really had fun with it. Though the fun was through the physical peripherals of the Wii. So with PBA tour bowling, as much as it is a competent and well handled bowling game. It begs the question. Outside of real bowling aficionados, is there really any need or desire for a licenced bowling title? Unless I can make my bowler into an 80’s porn star caricature, then it’s a hard pass.
40 – Rogue Warrior
A game from the seventh generation of gaming somehow finds itself this low. How? Well this title was laughably short, full of expletives, poorly made, had glitches aplenty, a broken combat system and next to no multiplayer function. It was a tasteless game that should have never been produced and aptly finds itself amongst the titles touted for worst games of all time.
Also, if you want to see some excellent coverage of this title. Check out Triple jump stars Ben Potter and Peter Austin’s coverage of Rogue Warrior on their flagship show, Worst Games Ever.
39 – Star Trek: Encounters
We now enter the realm of licenced games and believe us. We will be making a number of similar entries. This one is the worst of the bunch though. It delivers a game that lacks any real tangible link to Star Trek. Events that don’t work with the Canon plot emerge regularly. The game play is weak. Plus William Shatner, who inexplicably was convinced to lend his voice to the project even sounds uninterested. Delivering lack lustre lines throughout.
38 – Star Trek: Conquest
What do you do when something is critically panned? You make more of course. This title would do more of what the previous game on the list would. Take the Star Trek name and run it through the mud. All the while providing glitches and low quality graphics. The only reason why this one places above the other is simply due to its slightly better game play assets. It’s clearly inspired by Fire Emblem but without the refinement or execution to be considered truly fun.
37 – Wheelspin
Remember the sci-fi racer with terrible handling that everyone loved. Yeah Wipeout. Well, Wheelspin is a title that aimed to be the next big futuristic racer. However in its attempt, skids off the tracks in a giant ball of flames. Which is exactly what you will be doing constantly if you choose to play it. The motion controls for the Wii make this one nearly impossible to control. So can you use the d-pad? Don’t be so silly. What a preposterous suggestion. Do yourself a favour. Don’t buy this one.
36 – Puzznic
If we were referring to the original game made in the eighties for the NES. Then we would be referring to one of the best puzzle games of its era. However the Playstation port made through Bethesda falls very short of the originals lofty standards. The port offers a slap dash version of the original with no options menu, no music throughout game play, plus the general programming to fit the platform is lazy. If you want to experience this game as its peak, invest in the NES version.
35 – Pirates Of The Caribbean
Just a disclaimer. This game probably deserves to bump up a few spots based on the quality alone. However, the reason that it finds itself lower on the list is due to the cash grabbing antics of Bethesda. This title was set to be a follow up to previously made pirate title Sea Dogs. However, due to the release of Disney hit, Pirates Of The Caribbean. Bethesda would stick the name onto a game with no link to the franchise other than the location the game takes place being named The Black Pearl. Rather shady business from the boys and girls at Bethesda.
34 – Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow
You might have realised that there is a trend to how Bethesda handle licensed games. Make a bad one, then really kill any remaining fan following with another awful tie in game. This one is clearly in the same vain as the likes of Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings tie in games. It offers a co-op supported third person adventure. However, despite producing a story line that is respectful of the licence. The game play falls flat. It has a number of redeeming qualities. However lacks the core mechanics needed to succeed.
33 – Echelon
This sees Bethesda’s only attempt at a realistic flight simulator. With a science fiction theme. This title aimed to offer something for both seekers of realistic physics and fun sci-fi story. The game sadly offers neither. Game play is mediocre at best, with a weak story line. Plus the game is host to several typos and an unintelligent AI. It’s saving grace is great graphics within that era of gaming. Though sadly, this one was style over substance exemplified.
32 – The IRHA Drag Racing Series
These games by and large, do not progress tremendously in terms of content or style throughout their run. So they are all getting lumped into one big package deal. Sorry if you’re a massive fan of the series. Though if you are, ask yourself why that is. The series would produce five unique titles between 2000 through to 2006. The initial title in the series would offer a fair drag racing experience for the time. Though by the fourth instalment, the franchise was dated, under performing and bowed out without any grace with a fifth instalment that was truly laughable.
31 – Ducati Moto
One of the two DS titles Bethesda produced. Ducati Moto was actually arguably their best attempt at a racing game. Although nothing spectacular, this title produced reasonable graphics for the platform. Had decent game play, varied modes for play, an upgrade system and a good number of tracks. It didn’t set the gaming world alight. Though as far as handheld racing games go, this was a fair attempt.
30 – Star Trek: Tactical Assault
Then immediately after the first DS title, comes the second Bethesda DS outing. Yet another Star Trek licenced game. Thankfully this one fared a little bit better. It offers a solid handheld tactical space battling game. Two lengthy campaigns and other game modes. Although not a quintessential Star Trek experience. It was a decent outing to take on the go. The only major failure was the lack of use for licenced characters. I mean if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
29 – Fallout 76
The Fallout series makes its first appearance and it comes as no surprise that Fallout 76 finds itself this low. Thanks to a series of public mishaps from Bethesda throughout pre-launch. A buggy and broken launch. Then a series of subsequent mishaps there after. Including one as recent as last month, with players purposefully crashing servers to gain rare armour. Fallout 76 as a concept was already on shaky ground entering the MMORPG genre. So producing a buggy, unbalanced and hollow Fallout title was a real kick in the teeth to long time fans. Long story short it just didn’t work out at all.
28 – Gromada
Coming from the end of the top down retro RPG era came Gromada. A game that took a look at Interplay’s style and tries it’s hardest to replicate it. Though this game has excellent visuals for the time and respectably cohesive game play. It lacks that gripping narrative that these games live and die by. The game aims to fill the void with mindless action and special effects. For some this may be enough to give this one a try. Though for many, this game was a shallow experience.
27 – Magic And Mayhem 2: The Art Of Magic
Speaking of nineties RPG’s. Magic and Mayhem 2 is next up. This title is a fantasy based adventure where you take control of a wizard in a battle with other sorcerers. Not exactly groundbreaking. Though it does allow players to play in real time and has a fantastic spell casting system. Especially for the time of release. The game seems clumsy in areas. Especially with the UI and in game camera being irritatingly obtuse. Why it’s better than the previous entry is simple. At least it tries to be something, even if that something isn’t a massive triumph.
26 – Hunted : The Demon’s Forge
In comedy, jokes can be funny and the audience don’t laugh. Usually that’s down to the delivery. For Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. It’s very much the same problem. The concept of this game is sound. It’s the execution that let’s it down. Game play is very much derived from the Gears of War mechanics of cover shooting and puts a lot of focus on a cooperative experience. Which I for one, love to see. Plus a wonderful art style not unlike the Divinity series. However, with technical hiccups aplenty and a very linear structure. It’s one Bethesda IP that is perhaps best left in the past.
25 – Star Trek: Legacy
OK, last one. I promise. Though as far as Star Trek experiences go. This one is truly one of the best around. Legacy does what the other titles failed to achieve. Deliver a great narrative that’s true to the subject matter, whilst making a fun game. The story does well to tie all generations of the show together. All the while, allowing players to take advantage of a intricate and strategically adept space dog fighting scenarios. The game also looks fantastic and hosts a full cast of genuine voice actors from the series. For all you trekkies out there. Ditch the rest and go with the best.
24 – Wet
This is the turning point with Bethesda IP’s. Here marks games that have more good than bad attributes. Yes Wet has some shaky graphical issues. Though it more than makes up for it with excellent gun play, a serviceable story and a brilliant soundtrack. This game is non stop, relentless action. Which can get exhausting at times. Though for the most part, it’s a great game. Dare I say, an underrated gem?
23 – Brink
If you’re looking for an FPS with all the components to be amazing. Yet one that falls short due to unpolished game play, technical issues and a somewhat unfinished feel. Then Brink fits the bill. Though why are you actively looking for such a game? Despite decent critical reception, fun game play and a great art direction. This title would not retain its initial fan base. Meaning you can find this one in the bargain bin these days. Though as far as bargain bin buys go. This one won’t disgrace your shelves.
22 – Rage 2
Was it as good as the original. Yes. Was it a competent and fun FPS. On a base level, yes. Though the sins of Rage 2 are simple. It provides much of the originals drawing factors. Though fixes none of the drawbacks. The story is uninspired. Side missions are pointless additions. Plus, there is little to no reason to return if you ever do manage to plough through this one. I’m not condemning this one. It’s far from horrible. Though it’s not much of a progression from the first title. Much like the first title. Promises lots, delivers some.
21 – The Elder Scrolls Online
Although this game improved a tremendous amount in recent years, initially this title was far off the pace of The Elder Scrolls as a franchise. What can be praised about this title is that the graphical feel of Skyrim translated extremely well. Meaning that exploring this title can offer grand and rewarding views. Though where the title failed to deliver was on the MMORPG aspect. It seemed that Bethesda focused on the conventional Elder Scrolls individual story approach, rather than taking notes from more established massively multiplayer examples. This multiplayer vs single player balance has since been addressed. Though even with this, the game still feels like a lesser version of better MMORPG’s out there.
20 – Sea Dogs
The initial pirate adventure produced by Bethesda. This one mixes role playing with strategic sea battles. Serving similar assets to Bethesda made Elder Scrolls outing from years before, Daggerfall. Right down to the fact that you begin the game as a released prisoner. The Bethesda calling card. The game can look rather sparse and unfinished. Though this is merely a sign of the times. If you give this one a few passes down to its age, you will have a great time on the high seas.
19 – Wolfenstien: Youngblood
You may be slightly taken aback with a Wolfenstien title featuring so early. Though Youngblood is in its own league of mediocrity. This game has assets that make it familiar to past titles. Though were it falls flat is the tacked on story line. It feels like an unnecessary direction to take. Plus the game play offers nothing new from previous, more refined titles. It’s a fine game, just simply unneeded. It just seems like a cash grab effort made by Bethesda in a testing time. If you need to scratch a Wolfenstien related itch, this game will do that in a pinch. Though ultimately it feel more like a chore to push through.
18 – Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth
This is probably the worst commercially received game on the list here. It absolutely bombed to the displeasure of Bethesda. Though it was a genuinely decent title. With a challenging difficulty, unique sanity system and great horror aspects that deliver a great Atmospheric feel. Plus the narrative detail that honours the literature it is based upon. It’s a game that was perhaps done dirty through its release coinciding with a busy period within gaming history. This game is far better than its sales record indicates. The words ‘surprisingly good’ even spring to mind.
17 – Rage
Rage is a little bit of Doom, some of Mad Max and just a dash of Borderlands. Though through this mix of inspirations and no unique ideas. This game promises more than it can deliver. The game play is fast paced with RPG elements and tightly controlled. Though it all just feels lifeless. Despite all the over the top action, it’s all too easy to feel disengaged. A well crafted game that just lacks a personality.
16 – Prey
This science orientated Bioshock meets Dishonored title, Prey, perhaps goes down as one of the more underrated titles in this list. Where it excels is in its problem solving aspects but also has a uniquely open environment constructed with the same care as those throughout the Dishonored series. Making sure game play is balanced and all means to succeed are balanced and realistic. Though the combat and pacing fall short of the mark. Plus the survival aspect of Bioshock that the developer have so desperately tried to replicate just seems cheap. Like an afterthought. It’s still a great game. Though had the potential to be so much more.
15 – The Evil Within
Regarded by many as the game Resident Evil 5 could have been. You play as admittedly lifeless character Sebastian Castellanos. You navigate a rather standard and somewhat lifeless story line. However, where this game Earns its kudos is through the survival horror game play. The mix of nightmarish creatures with very realistic combat options leaves the player vulnerable. Then continues this trend throughout, as a good survival horror should. Along with stealth options, a gruesome art style and brutally challenging game play. The Evil Within packs a punch, even if the story doesn’t bother to throw one.
14 – Dishonored 2
Borne from the most iconic stealth game of the 7th gen. Dishonored 2 aimed to take all the innovative ideas of the original and expand with new hardware to play with. To some extent it does this. A new upgrade system was appreciated, two character sets to play with adds replayability and more unique powers were fun to play with. However the game play felt more closed in terms of approaches to succeed. An aspect that the first game thrived on. For that reason, the lacklustre story of the initial title is overlooked. Whilst the sequel cannot pave the cracks. It’s still a wonderful stealth adventure. Just not anywhere near as brilliant as the first.
13 – Fallout 4
How do you live up to the hype generated after creating an iconic post-apocalyptic masterpiece. Well, it seems you don’t really. Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For Bethesda to shoot for the moon and end up among the Stars is essentially Fallout 4 in a nutshell. The narrative is initially intriguing, though lacks that killer punch as it progresses. Plus the side quests aren’t all that memorable, ranging from quite good to procedurally generated. Though on the plus side. Game mechanics are familiar and tighter than ever. The settlement builder offers something new to the series. Plus DLC, hardcore mode and mod capacities on console all have been great additions. Is it the worst modern day conventional Fallout? In our opinion yes, but that isn’t by any means an insult. Though if you want the Ultimate Fallout experience. I’d start elsewhere.
12 – The Evil Within 2
The sequel to The Evil Within does exactly what a sequel should do. It offers more of the same but a new coat of polish. The same respectful approach to survival horror rules mean more tense, atmospheric and brutal game play. Stealth is still championed if you wish to sneak your way through. Plus the monsters wouldn’t look out of place in an intense fever dream. Sadly the title misses a chance to offer a quality narrative once again. Another flat story and empty protagonist stops this one being an instant classic. Though the step up to the 8th gen makes this one a step above the original.
11 – Wolfenstein – The New Colossus
When you weigh up all the Wolfenstein titles, it truly is hard to distinguish their worth alongside one another. They all offer a frantic and action packed Nazi killing romp. However, despite the brilliant gun play and narrative that continues the wonderfully awful idea of alternative world war events. The New Colossus just feels less fresh and punchy as the previous titles. Would I say miss it? No not at all. It’s still a brilliant Wolfenstein essential so pick it up.
10 – Wolfenstein: The New Order
The first crack at the iconic Nazi shooter for Bethesda. Many believed that there wasn’t a chance that Bethesda could deliver on the nostalgia from previous titles. It was assumed they would meet the same mediocre end as Activision did in 2009. However, this title was a able to be the breath of fresh air the series needed. Plus arguably the whole FPS genre. Weapon options were fantastic, the story was compelling, characters were well written and voiced. Plus the game offers some great stealth mechanics for those that are so inclined.
9 – Fallout 3
I might get in trouble for this one. Fallout 3 is a Bethesda made classic, that’s a given. The main narrative where you hunt down Liam Neeson who is your father was a worthy story to a great title. The vats system was a wonderful blend of the Interplay turn based style with more modern real time gun play. Plus there are a number of truly iconic side quests such as Oasis or Tenpenny Tower. The only pitfalls when placed in comparison to other titles is how empty and limiting it is. Yes it is a wasteland but the density of interesting landmarks and encounters is just a little off the mark. Not to mention that the story and quest decisions do feel rather linear. Usually with two juxtaposing options to choose from. It’s still an essential Fallout experience. Just one that doesn’t shine quite as bright as others.
8 – Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
The Old Blood admittedly doesn’t do much different from The New Order. Mostly because there is only a year between the two titles. However, what it does do is offer two unique campaigns that are fantastic. There are no lulls in the action. It’s non stop action that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It brings us back to the events that won the war for the Nazi army in 1946. The ending is bleak yet brilliant. Plus the game play that made the precious title so great is only slightly tweaked for the better. Giving a definitive Wolfenstein experience. The downfall of this one is down to its more linear structure. Although this is necessary due to how its presented. It can sometimes feel that you are on rails. Though if you’re in the mood to off some Nazis. Then this is the wholesome and more back to it’s roots Wolfenstein experience that you need.
7 – Dishonored
Never since Thief made way back in the nineties had we seen such a well crafted stealth game. Yes, there was MGS and other well crafted attempts. Though Dishonored is a masterclass in game design. This title admittedly has a very basic story and a relatively basic art style for its time. However that’s where the criticism stops. The game play, level design, powers and upgrades all culminate to give a truly phenomenal stealth experience. Plus the openness of levels and ample play style accommodation is remarkable. This is evident when you take stock of the various pathways just to get from A to B. Mouse holes, sewers, rooftops or perhaps just fighting your way through the front door. It’s a tremendously versatile game. If you want a more in depth look at this title’s game design. Check out this deep dive right here.
6 – Doom
What can you say about the modern reboot of Doom. Well firstly, it’s a god dammed blood bath in the best way possible. The action is high octane from start to end, taking what made the original trilogy so iconic. Then bringing it into 2016 beautifully. The game forces you to keep moving. To stop crushing skulls and firing bullets is basically surrendering. The controls, power ups, weapons and brutal animations all add to the frantic maniacal fun. It’s gun play isn’t unlike what Unreal Tournament would be in this age of gaming. Though with Demons, more gore and no tactics involved other than firing at will. Through this, it maintains its arcade style whilst blending it with modern FPS tropes. A classic FPS that redefines the genre and is well worth your time.
5 – Doom Eternal
It’s splitting hairs between Doom and its sequel to be honest. The original was such a unique and fresh triumph. Though the sequel edges it. It takes that formula and raises the already high bar. Platforming is still an issue like before. Plus the story line is weaker admittedly. Though the trade off is a much more arcade like style. Which if you are completely honest with yourself, is exactly what Doom as a franchise should be. Sound and visuals have improved drastically. With less reliance on that constant red hue throughout. Levels and arenas feel open and natural. Plus the new weapons and enemies are predictably brilliant. Its a Doom made from the ground up after 2016’s success to be faithful to the franchise. So for fans of Doom 2016 exclusively, this may be a change you need to adapt to. Though for long time Doom fans, this one is made with you in mind. A return to form for Bethesda perhaps?
4 – Fallout New Vegas
Is this the most broken and buggy Fallout in existence? You bet. Did we load it up after every crash and keep ploughing on? With a smile on our faces, we did indeed. The reason being that this game is the pinnacle of Fallout. Made as a love letter to those who loved the Interplay classic Fallouts. This title takes the engine of Fallout 3 and gives it a more narrative approach. Quests, factions, amazing DLC, iconic characters, great companions and attention to the lore of the series are all common place in this one. Yes the engine was dated even at time of release and graphics are far from impressive. Though it’s the great attention to detail and the ability to play this game your own way that’s its biggest asset. ‘Role playing game’ has become an empty statement in recent years. Though this title exemplifies how a game can truly allow the player to forge their own experience. It’s the love letter to fallout fans that we all deserved. Bethesda may have been shady and not paid Obsidian their bonus due to a metacritic score just shy of 85. Though we say they earned their bonus and then some.
3 – The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
If you haven’t noticed. The Elder Scrolls series is guaranteed the top spot. Shocker! Though it won’t be the flagship Bethesda title that has spawned multiple re-releases that tops the list. This phenomenal adventure brought The Elder Scrolls into the mainstream of gaming. Those that played Fifa and Call of Duty exclusively were suddenly role playing as mages. Which is essentially this titles biggest achievement. Through the archetypal Bethesda RPG engine, a great story that hooks the player right from the off. More refined combat than previous titles in the series. Plus a mind-boggling amount of content and replayability. This game was the one that brought the open world RPG to the forefront of gaming. The springboard that has moulded so many later titles who followed suit. However, it still falls short of its parent titles. The reason being some lack lustre guild story lines and a main story line that fizzles out disappointingly. Commercially, it’s the winner by a landslide. Though that’s not how we measure success.
2 – The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
For many, Morrowind is a hard game to give time to, especially in the harsher light of 2020. Though if given a pass for its age. This title is a near perfect RPG experience. The map size even back in the early 2000’s was on a scale that would still be acceptable for a triple A title today. The story is phenomenal and well paced. The side quests are excellent and plentiful. Areas are well designed. Sound quality is decent for the era. Though what is most brilliant about this game is the lack of hand holding that has become synonymous with more recent RPG titles. You are free to play your way and have a truly unique and emergent experience.
1 – The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
You mean that game with the AI that has spawned a plethora of memes? You are damn right. That game with graphics that aged like milk and a pathetic combat system? Yes indeed. It tops this list and the reason why is that it has all the bits that made Morrowind iconic. Yet it ups the ante. Brilliant voice acting with the likes of Patrick Stewart, a main quest that is paced and executed beautifully. So many guild quests and random encounters that live long in the memory. Plus a world full of cities that all have a distinct and unique personality and feel. It’s the RPG that has been the benchmark for all the proceeded it. Without this title, there would be no modern Fallout series, no mainstream breakthrough with Skyrim. This is the daddy of all RPG games and we will not be told otherwise.
So that concludes our expansive list on all Bethesda games of the last two decades. What is your favourite game on this list? Where did we miss the mark? Do you think that Bethesda are still at the top of their game, or on the way out? Let us know in the comments. Also if you like lists then check out our list on most wholesome gaming communities. Or perhaps something more design related? In that case check out our UX review of Final Fantasy VII. I’m callum and thank you for reading COG!
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