The best Arkane games offer the unique experience you’d expect from Arkane Studios. They are immersive sims that make you feel like you’re living in these bizarre and vibrant worlds and actively affecting them. We’ve gathered and ranked titles that really show off Arkane’s unique and innovative take on game mechanics and how they can tie into the narrative. We didn’t just look at review scores when compiling this list but thought long and hard about how these games redefine genres and challenge expectations. To rank the best Arkane games you have to consider how the games exist in history, if they stand the test of time and their overall impact on the industry.
Some games didn’t make this list, like 2002’s Arx Fatalis, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, as the latter two were co-developed with MachineGames. But if you love sneaking up behind an NPC while he complains about his job and says something you’ll need to sneak through his world, well then we’ve got a list for you. Here are the best Arkane games.
5. Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider
Year released: 2017
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Death of the Outsider is an expansion for Dishonored 2 but gets a mention here in our best Arkahas it’s a standalone game in its own right. While it pared back a lot of the systems that made Dishonored so special, it gave fans a new perspective on the strange world of the series and the mysterious character of The Outsider, and provided some narrative closure by tying up some of the story’s loose ends. Players take on the role of Dreadful Wale ship captain Billie Lurk and hunt down The Outsider with the intent of killing him, but things quickly get complicated with the involvement of a criminal gang called The Eyeless and a cult called the Envisioned.
Year released: 2012
Available on: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC
Dishonored introduced us to the royal bodyguard turned assassin Corvo Attano and the city of Dunwall, a steampunk setting full of machinery and rat plagues. Arkane Studios gifted players not only with Attano’s supernatural abilities and gadgets but designed the gameplay to specifically encourage players to experiment and exploit the different systems. That just made Corvo’s powers, like possessing enemies or seeing through walls, feel even more badass, and the game made sure to give you some narrative choice too, with a chaos ranking system that changes how NPCs react to you and influence the final ending of the game. It is possible to complete the game without killing anyone, but if you manage it, you’re a better person than I am.
Year released: 2017
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Not to be confused with 2006’s Prey developed by Human Head Studios, Prey shares the name and an alien presence with that title, but everything else feels utterly original. It’s set aboard the space station Talos, a once-elegant outpost now infested with a race of aliens called the Typhon, whose powers include disguising themselves as seemingly harmless inanimate objects. Never has a roll of toilet paper been so terrifying. Alongside hero Morgan Yu, the star of the show is the GLOO gun that shoots a foam spray that hardens on contact with the air. As well as freezing enemies in place, it’s a tool that can build bridges and stepping stones, seal hull breaches, put out fires, and stop malfunctioning equipment from electrocuting you. Alongside your more traditional weapons and neuromods that upgrade your abilities, the GLOO gun makes Talos your playground as you race around hunting aliens and figuring out what the hell happened.
Year released: 2021
Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and PC
When Deathloop was first revealed it could have been mistaken for another stylish shooter in a genre full of them. It soon transpired, like the threads of a murder mystery novel, that this was something very different. There is plenty of shooting, but there are also time loops, secrets, and characters that feel as real as the family you’re ignoring to squeeze in just one more game. You start out as Colt, once the head of security for the island of Blackreef, a place where the same day is repeated over and over, granting its inhabitants a consequence-free version of immortality. You’re tasked with resetting it by killing its most notable inhabitants, the Visionaries, and when you do you can claim their powers (fueled by sci-fi-looking ‘slabs’) and their weapons. The catch is that Colt’s nemesis Julianna will try and hunt him down, and she’s more than just a smart AI NPC. In a neat twist, you can also play as Julianna, which allows you to go into other player’s games to hunt their versions of Colt, ranking up and unlocking new perks as you rack up the kills. It’s sort of genius and a strong contender for 2021’s game of the year.
1. Dishonored 2
Year released: November 2016
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Dishonored 2 managed to outdo its predecessor by hanging on to the mechanics and the intricately woven world of the original, and then giving us not one but two main characters to choose between. You could play as Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin, the same Emily we restored to the throne in Dishonored. Offering different supernatural abilities, the two characters gave players a way to craft their own experience in a game that already gave them a huge amount of choice – stealth the whole thing without a single murder, kill everyone on sight, or somewhere in between – but allowed all types of assassins to marvel at intricate setups like Jindosh’s Clockwork Mansion – an automated deathtrap – or Aramis Stilton’s Manor – a grand home infected with the occult practices that took place there. Dishonored was a true Arkane masterpiece, and even as we’re joyously playing Deathloop we’re hoping for news of a Dishonored 3.