2020 was terrible in many ways, but one of the few positives were the video games launched throughout the year.
Not only did 2020 mark the start of a new console generation with the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, but a fantastic library of launch games was released alongside the new hardware. Not only that, but games on previous generation systems were at their peak across all platforms.
In short, 2020 was a standout year for video games — not just in quality but in breadth.
These are the best games of 2020 (in no particular order).
The Last of Us Part II
Though a loud, vocal minority of the community was displeased with The Last of Us Part II's character switcheroo (we won't spoil it here), there's no denying the importance of this game.
Naughty Dog is one of the industry's best developers, and that is showcased here — from the game's narrative, acting, combat, visuals, and the studio's willingness to take a risk with its story. It's one of the generation's most important games, even if it isn't necessarily an enjoyable experience.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched right when the COVID-19 pandemic started getting really bad in the United States — and for many, this game was one of the few things holding everything together.
Its relaxing tone and focus on friendship and community are important on their own, but during a year when togetherness was missed, Animal Crossing's impact was bolstered even more. Nintendo has done an exceptional job keeping up with this game, so it's no wonder it's already one of the Switch's bestsellers — in record time, no less.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
As one of the best launch games ever, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is exactly what we needed when the PS5 came out.
It's a game with recognizable characters that feels oh-so-good to play, made even better by its tremendous performances and fluid combat. But aside from the obvious highlights, this game does an incredible job of shining a spotlight on people of color — and done so in such a natural way that never feels forced.
While Demon's Souls isn't the most accessible game due to its difficulty, it's one of the best remakes of all time. The care and attention to detail by developer Bluepoint Games proves that not only are they one of the best studios in the field but that the team is comprised of fans of the Souls series.
The remake is full of improvements — not just in a visual sense — but from a quality of life standpoint, and we cannot recommend this game enough.
Ghost of Tsushima
2020 was the year of visually stunning games, and Ghost of Tsushima is a fantastic example of this. Its graphical style is one of the most memorable in years, as is its combat and open-world exploration. This has all the makings of a top-notch first-party PlayStation game.
- Impressive visuals? Check.
- Interesting characters and exceptional performances? Check?
- One of the year's best narratives? Also, check.
While open-world games can feel exhausting, the way Ghost of Tsushima is designed compelling to explore.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
2020 was the year of remakes, and one of the years best was none other than Final Fantasy VII Remake. Though, if we're nitpicky, this game serves almost as a reimagining of the PS One classic — as it changes much of the story elements (which we won't spoil here) and gameplay.
Instead of the familiar turn-based combat from the original, the remake effectively blends real-time action with menu-based mechanics that feel modern and classic at the same time. Aside from that, the Final Fantasy VII Remake has one of the best soundtracks of the year. This game is special in more ways than one.
Each year, it seems that at least one indie game blows people away, and in 2020, that game was Hades. This roguelike RPG sends players through the Underworld as Zagreus, the son of Hades. And while the action combat is what keeps you coming back for more, the story does a lot of heavy lifting, as well.
The narrative unfolds in such a smart way, and even after you meet your inevitable death during a run, the characters always reward you with more bits of story, told through well-written dialogue. This part is key, making it hard to put down.
Who would have thought we'd get another Half-Life game in 2020? Sure, Half-Life: Alyx may not be exactly what players were hoping for since it's only playable in virtual reality, but those who have played it have referred to it as the VR's “killer app.”
It takes place between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 and places you in the shoes of Alyx Vance. It's easily one of the most ambitious games on the platform, not just from a visual and technical standpoint but also from its storytelling. This is a must-play if you own a PC VR unit.
Call of Duty: Warzone
Battle royale games have been done to death, but Call of Duty: Warzone came out and improved upon the foundation set by others in almost every way. One of the reasons Call of Duty is so successful is how it plays and feels, and that carries over to Warzone.
Add in a smart way to respawn by winning a 1v1 fight in the Gulag, the customization in its weapons, the ever-changing and expanding map, tons of contracts scattered throughout the map, and fantastic seasonal events, and you get one of the (if not the) best Battle Royale game ever. Better yet is that it's free.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Much like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Microsoft Flight Simulator brought the community together during a tumultuous year. It allowed us to travel around the world virtually, giving its players a way to see realistic recreations of famous landmarks worldwide.
It's a game that can be relaxing or challenging depending on the level of stimulation you're looking for as you fly to your destinations. Many referred to this game as a standout due to its depiction of real-life locations and exact replicas of famous planes.
Joseph loves Nintendo and horror games. When he's not writing about video games he can usually be found petting his cats and listening to some Progressive Metal. He thinks Meshuggah is tight.