Earlier, our staff broke down the films/TV that helped them navigate 2020, but this time our gaming crew is taking a look at the best video games of 2020.
Though things were understandably different, the gaming industry managed to power through 2020, delivering tons of great games and even two brand new consoles! Once again we’ve tasked those on the gaming side of the site with picking what they consider the best five games of the year. Let’s get to it:
The Last of Us: Part II – Naughty Dog’s follow up to The Last of Us was easily my most anticipated game of the year. The initial title remains one of my all time favorite games/stories around. I’ve played it more than any other game and went into the sequel with high expectations. Expectations that were completely shattered in all the right ways.
It’s an absolutely devastating parable on the destructive nature of revenge. By showing us dueling perspectives we can see the price of revenge from multiple angles and how it can destroy the lives of everyone else around them. Even in that, there’s a message of hope and acceptance. Combined with plenty of great gameplay moments and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 – I’ve never been big into sports games (or sports really), but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Tony Hawk franchise. I have nothing but fond memories of playing the original with my brother when we were younger, passing the controller as we endeavored to top each other’s scores. Even as we grew, we continued playing the ever shifting franchise, but there’s no denying the series grew stale and dated.
An attempt at a sequel, and even a previous attempt as a remaster, were shoddily put together at best. They failed to capture the attention of critics and long-time fans. Thankfully, the remake washes those mistakes away in a glorious return to form. With slick and updated control mechanics, the game manages to balance the nostalgia while making the series feel more fresh than ever.
Star Wars Squadrons – One of my favorite gaming genres are space/flight shooters (Rogue Squadron, Star Fox, etc) and, of course, I’m a massive Star Wars fan. As such, one of the games I’ve been hoping to see made with the franchise license in all the years since it was announced EA would be making games set in the galaxy far, far away.
When Squadrons was announced earlier this year, I was instantly excited and eager to get “inside the cockpit.” The gameplay feels like an excellent blend of full on simulation and the arcade feel of dogfighting titles. While some were disappointed it didn’t lean more one way or the other, I loved the blend. It was easy to get into, yet took time to master, making each encounter feel unique. Now, let’s hope it doesn’t take so long to get a sequel.
Command & Conquer Remastered – I know, it seems cheating to list multiple remastered games on this list, but frankly this year gave us some amazing ones. One of my favorites is definitely Command & Conquer Remastered. My love for C&C (RTS games in general) has been well documented on the site, mostly because it was among the first games I ever played (sitting alongside my Uncle and his computer).
These classic games hold a special place in my heart and they didn’t disappoint with this release. Overseen by the original game developers, the remaster brings the iconic classic and the follow-up, Red Alert, to a new generation of gamers. With solid updates and cheeky self-references, they made the old games feel new. After launching this Summer, I still find myself loading up the games to re-do some of my favorite missions.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Like most of our team (as you’ll soon see), I don’t think I can complete my list without mentioning Animal Crossing: New Horizons. AC was a franchise I’d never really gotten into before, but with the imminent arrival of a lockdown (the first time in March) and seeing the hype from all my friends, I knew I had to give this a shot.
I quickly became obsessed. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I was so thoroughly engrossed in a game to the point I HAD to play it every day. Seriously, I didn’t miss a day for the first couple months and found myself compelled to decorate my island and meet-up with friends. Though I had briefly broken the habit (thanks to The Last of Us Part II) I’ve found the addictive gameplay still has a hold on me as my Stepdaughter has now gotten into it. I mean, I have to keep my island up for when she comes over. You know, to set an example.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Animal Crossing has been my constant companion through the strange year of 2020. It was one of my most anticipated games to launch this year and it didn’t disappoint.
The game at launch was great, but the continued content updates and added features have really rounded out the game, like the addition of diving for sea creatures and Jolly Redd. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll see the implementation of some fun features from previous titles like the Brewster and his Roost and Public Works Projects/Town Ordinances introduced in New Leaf. New features like DIY and crafting have really added to the core gameplay loop in a way that really keeps me engaged.
I’m greatly looking forward to the Toy Day and New Years island festivities after an adorably promising Halloween and Turkey Day. (Fingers crossed the Festive DIYs aren’t too much of a pain to farm from flying balloons!)
Hades – Hades is the perfect combination of Greek/Roman mythology and roguelike gameplay to have me absolutely glued to both my PC and Switch. The game was up for a staggering NINE The Game Awards nominations, only second to The Last of Us Part II (which had 10). Supergiant Games, the studio thatartfully crafted Hades, is known for a strong portfolio of indie titles with Bastion, Pyre and Transistor.
Hades itself is a perfect blend of isometric, hack-and-slash gameplay with roguelike elements. Dying in Hades furthers the story, taking Zagreus to new heights in his journey and in his strength, where he builds up his relationship with key players in the Underworld and Olympus through beautifully written and acted dialogue. I cannot recommend taking a crack at Hades enough. It’s the perfect addition to your Switch and PC libraries.
Spelunky 2 – Another day, another fantastic roguelike. Spelunky 2 is the sequel to the 2008 platforming dungeon-crawler of the same name. The sequel offers a very familiar core gameplay loop with updated graphics and a slew of new features including environment updates, new NPCs and more challenges as you travel down through the moon’s mines in search of Olmec.
Spiritfarer – Spiritfarer is aptly described as a cozy management game about dying and it captured my heart when it first released in August. The game is based on the mythology behind the River Styx in the Greek and Roman Underworld and you take up the mantle as ferrymaster to shuttle spirits to the afterlife. The game is beautifully crafted and somehow broaches the generally uncomfortable topic of death in an emotionally fulfilling journey. I cannot recommend Spiritfarer more.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – Fall Guys brought a lot of lighthearted fun to my multiplayer sessions this year and it has been a blast to see how Mediatonic has planned to keep the game fresh and fun between new and remixed levels, special hammers that can bop you straight to the finish line and more. It’s definitely worth picking up on either PC or PlayStation consoles. 4
Honorable mentions: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Pikmin 3 Deluxe, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
Final Fantasy VII Remake – Going into 2020, Final Fantasy VII Remake was my most highly-anticipated game. I was so ready to jump into the remade Midgar and re-experience one of my all-time favorite games, Final Fantasy VII, in the modern era. The best thing is, it lived up to my expectations beautifully. The characters, voice work, animation, combat mechanics, and the soundtrack were above and beyond what I could’ve imagined. It started off my 2020 on an amazing note and I’m so thankful for all the hard work of Square Enix to make this remake possible. I can’t wait for Part 2!!
Yakuza: Like a Dragon – I love the Yakuza series. I’ve gone on record several times saying that it’s one of the best series in gaming. While I was extremely excited for the next chapter in the Yakuza franchise, Like a Dragon, I had my fair share of trepidations. Could it possibly live up to Ryu Ga Gotoku and SEGA’s past successes? The answer was a resounding yes. With adopting a turn-based RPG approach, including lovable original characters, a vibrant new city, and a captivating story, Yakuza: Like a Dragon became one of my favorite games of 2020. There aren’t many games that could keep me grinding to take my senbei business to number 1.
The Last of Us: Part II – Oh boy…What more can I say about The Last of Us: Part II? Of all the games that released in 2020, this game was the only one that left me emotionally raw. From the moment the game kicked off, you’re sent on this mind-blowing journey for revenge. However, it was the approach to experience the story from different perspectives that sent me on a roller coaster of emotion, as all I wanted was for all parties to survive. It was a story unlike any other game I’ve ever played and likely one that won’t soon be replicated.
Ghost of Tsushima – Without a doubt, Ghost of Tsushima was the most beautiful game of 2020. Not only that, but it also included the cleanest combat system of any game I played throughout this stellar gaming year. Furthermore, the story of Ghost of Tsushima was definitely top notch and definitely one of the best of 2020, featuring stellar performances by both English and Japanese casts. Sucker Punch outdid themselves with this game. It’s a must-play if you haven’t done so already.
Among Us – The now-4 member team at Innersloth absolutely took the world by storm with Among Us in 2020. Gamers, celebrities, casual players, politicians, etc. from all over the world played this game in an effort to find the imposter or eliminate all of the crewmates. I played this highly-addicting game on the regular in 2020, and it produced some of the sweatiest gaming moments of my 2020. For all the experiences and amazing times it delivered, Among Us and the incredible team at Innersloth deserve all the praise.
Honorable Mentions: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Dragonball Z: Kakarot, Hades, Fall Guys
Animal Crossing New Horizons– Before the pandemic, I’d never played (or even heard of) Animal Crossing a day in my life. But as soon as the game launched just as the lockdown was starting, I felt an almost uncontrollable need to dive into this game. I’m all but certain I played the game for 90 straight days. And while my playing has slowed down, I still feel a deep love for this game that surely helped me keep my sanity this year. In fact, I love this game so much I’m trying to hunt down a copy of Animal Crossing New Leaf so I can try an earlier version of the game on my 2DS XL.
Persona 5 (Royal)– Funny story about this game. Like Animal Crossing I’d never played a Persona game in my life, until I saw a Funko pop of one of the characters and got curious as to what it was all about. I’m still early in the game but this has been one of the highlights of the last month for me. It’s like playing out an anime series, while also tackling some really deep philosophical issues (seriously, you could hold an entire seminar on some of the topics broached in this game).
Animal Crossing New Horizons – I’ve played only one other Animal Crossing game before this and it was AC: New Leaf, I played for maybe 1 or 2 hours and never touched it again. Then along comes New Horizons for the Switch, little did I know 1 week later it would become one of my most important games of 2020.
After our lockdown (if you can call it that) I spent hours playing this game, I had finally learned most of the in’s and out’s of the game. Meeting the villagers, building homes, fishing, gardening, crafting, visiting friends islands, this game was the perfect distraction for 2020. Best part is there’s no real endgame to it, keep your island clean, be nice to the villagers, work on your home and make things look pretty and most importantly … enjoy yourself.
Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate – This year has been very tough, but one game has been there to help take our minds off this horrible pandemic is MK11. Taking our frustrations out, playing against people online, hell even customizing our characters…this game has meant a lot to me this year. Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Edition is a perfect way to kick off this new generation of gaming. With a huge amount of content, amazing visuals, and a pretty cheap price. If you like fighting games and want to see more gore than any horror film has to offer, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Edition is the perfect choice for you.
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War – Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War does a great job at making the jump to next-gen. With amazing visuals, ridiculous frame rates, ray tracing, and enhanced visuals. This is a stellar experience for any gamer wanting to play an immersive first-person title. The addition of DualSense support even makes the Call of Duty experience feel much more realistic using the adaptive trigger features added to the game.
What holds Cold War back from being one of the best Call of Duty’s in years is the flat feeling multiplayer has compared to Zombies and the Campaign mode. I know there is more coming over the next few months but I can’t help but feel that right out of the gate Modern Warfare had a bit more of a fast-paced, well-rounded multiplayer mode than that of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War.
I also hope that soon the cheating online will be non-existent so all can enjoy the mode. With that said, this doesn’t take away from what is great about Black Ops: Cold War, Zombies are back and better than ever and the campaign is pretty spectacular. This is a definite buy for any COD Fan and is a must-buy this holiday season.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Assassin’s Creed has made a lot of changes over these last 13 to 14 years since it was first created. Though I had my doubts about the series, Ubisoft has worked very hard to bring the game back to its roots and make it one of the best action-RPGs on store shelves. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is by far the best game I have played in the series.
Of course, I’ve been lucky enough to play the game on PS5 and what a great experience it has been so far. The 3D audio, unbelievable graphics, and amazing 4K 60fps visuals. This game is by far one of the best next gen games to own!
Every aspect of this game has made me completely obsessed with this amazing world. With next-gen consoles coming out this week, this is a game YOU MUST PLAY on these next-gen consoles and is a MUST BUY for the holiday season!
DOOM Eternal – For years, DOOM has been the step for a lot of other fps titles. The Doom Slayer this year took a new mantle as one of the most gore filled titles of 2020. DOOM Eternal is something pretty special, not only did we get a fantastic game with an amazing story, we got one of the best DOOM titles ever made.
This is by far the best FPS title I have played in recent years and is at the top of my list for Game of The Year. The love that iD software has poured into DOOM Eternal is something like I have never seen before from any dev team out there. iD and Bethesda truly love the DOOM franchise but love their fans more and DOOM Eternal is the perfect example of that.
Ghost of Tsushima – So…as Sucker Punch says in their summary of the game, The year is 1274. Samurai warriors are the legendary defenders of Japan—until the fearsome Mongol Empire invades the island of Tsushima, wreaking havoc and conquering the local population. As one of the last surviving samurai, you rise from the ashes to fight back. But honorable tactics won’t lead you to victory. You must move beyond your samurai traditions to forge a new way of fighting—the way of the Ghost—as you wage an unconventional war for the freedom of Japan.
To put it simply, I was shocked when I started playing this game. The breathtaking backdrops, amazing story, and overall tale of a man doing everything he can to save his homeland just really shook me. Jin Sakai is one of the greatest characters ever created for the Playstation platform! I can’t wait and can only hope there will be more in the series in the next few years!
It was hard to keep up with the wealth of great games that came out last year (many of which provided a much needed distraction from the world), and it looks like 2021 is similarly stacked. Which games were your favorites for the year?