2020 was QUITE a year. The density and weight of events taking place, including the world-stopping virus, made it seem like we crammed two-years’ worth of time into it. That also had some impact on video games, with many, many delays interspersed with some really unexpected successes. Oh, and PS5 and X Series X/S released, some people even managed to buy them!

Let’s take a look at some of the stuff that happened before we get into a list of games that were worth remembering the most from this 2020, in a good way.

The best games of 2020 (and one from 2018, technically)
GameReleasedGenreDeveloperTrailerSale
Cyberpunk 2077 2020-12-10 Action RPG CD Project Red - Read more
Crusader Kings III 2020-09-01 Strategy Paradox Development Studio -60% Read more
Desperados III 2020-06-16 Strategy Mimimi games -74% Read more
Hades 2020-09-17 Indie Supergiant Games -32% Read more
Microsoft Flight Simulator (Microsoft) 2020-08-18 Simulator Microsoft -23% Read more
DOOM Eternal 2020-03-20 Action id Software -48% Read more
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition 2020-08-07 Adventure Guerrilla Games -67% Read more
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout 2020-08-04 Action, Indie, MMO Mediatonic - Read more
Death Stranding 2020-07-14 Action-Adventure KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS -61% Read more
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla 2020-11-10 Action role-playing Ubisoft Montreal & San Francisco -49% Read more
Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) 2020-04-10 jRPG Square Enix - Read more
Ori and the Will of the Wisps 2020-03-11 Action Moon Studios -3% Read more
Half-Life: Alyx 2020-03-01 Action-adventure Valve Corporation - Read more
Among Us 2018-11-16 Party, social deduction Innersloth - Read more
Factorio 2020-08-14 Indie Wube Software LTD. - Read more
F1 2020 | Standard Edition 2020-07-10 Racing, Simulation, Sports Codemasters -55% Read more
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Halo 3) 2020-07-14 Action & Shooter 343 Industries -5% Read more
Spelunky 2 2020-09-29 Platform adventure Mossmouth, Blitworks -5% Read more
Persona 4 Golden 2020-06-13 jRPG Atlus -29% Read more
Wasteland 3 2020-08-28 RPG inXile Entertainment -52% Read more
Deep Rock Galactic 2020-05-13 Indie Ghost Ship Games - Read more
Monster Train 2020-05-21 Strategy, deck-building Shiny Shoe -61% Read more
Huntdown 2020-05-12 Action, Indie Easy Trigger Games -40% Read more
Football Manager 2021 2020-11-24 Sports Sports Interactive -39% Read more
There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension 2020-08-06 Puzzle, Adventure Draw Me A Pixel -10% Read more
Phasmophobia 2020-09-18 Horror Kinetic Games - Read more
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)(NA) 2020-03-20 Social simulation Nintendo EPD -13% Read more
Streets of Rage 4 2020-04-30 Action-adventure DotEmu, Lizardcube -27% Read more
Persona 5 Strikers 2020-02-20 Action, Adventure ATLUS -57% Read more

Among Us

PC
Android
iOS
Release:June… of 2018
Genre:Party, social deduction
DeveloperInnersloth

Still kinda sus

This year feels like it’s been two years long already. On the flipside, a game that’s two years old feels like it only came out in 2020, because of an unexpected boom in popularity. It’s a weird year, ok? Anyway, Among Us in some ways is a perfect game: it has simple, easy-to-understand rules; a clear, entertaining premise; and system requirements low enough you can play it on low-end PCs and even mobile phones.

Among Us - fire

It’s a multiplayer game for up to ten people, playing Crewmates on one of three maps. Everyone has some tasks to perform, mostly maintenance of various systems, but some players are alien impostors trying to sabotage these tasks and, hopefully, kill a few crewmates without being discovered and forcefully ejected out of the map. It’s a game of stealth, mischief, and deduction, endless fun! It’s also cheap, which matters.

Key features
  • Simple, but clear and evocative presentation
  • It would be a horror game, if it wasn’t deliberately silly and cartoonish
  • 2020 gave it another chance in a big way
  • Endless playability

Half-Life: Alyx

PC
Release:March
Genre:First-person shooter
DeveloperValve

3D before HL3

Half-Life: Alyx wasn’t the Half-Life game everybody is waiting for, but it showed how much can be done with VR. People who have the necessary hardware could enjoy a surprising, and fascinating degree of simulation, going so far that people could even juggle items in real-time, or smash the glass in most, if not all, windows. It also gives some screen time to Alyx Vance, which is nice.

The story is set a few years before Half-Life 2 starts, but after Alyx and her father, Eli are captured by the Combine. What follows is best left to discover on your own, if you can focus on the story while the virtual environments are so detailed and tactile. If you have a VR headset, you should absolutely give it a shot, because this game feels like discovering the Gravity Gun for the first time in 2004.

Key features
  • A peak VR experience
  • Prequel to Half-Life 2
  • Great voice acting
  • Detailed physics

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

PC
Xbox One
Xbox Series X/S
Nintendo Switch
Release:March
Genre:Platform-adventure, Metroidvania
DeveloperMoon Studios

Forest of wonders

Ori and the Blind Forest was a charming, and frequently pretty challenging Metroidvania/puzzle platformer and the sequel was eagerly awaited by its fans. It’s nice, then, that Ori and the Will of the Wisps turned out to be at least as good as its predecessor. It’s even more beautiful, the gameplay is tighter and with new interesting maneuvers you unlock to gain access to new areas.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps - game screen

There’s a strong and satisfying Metroidvania element to the new Ori, and as you reach new areas, the story will keep unfolding in front of you, from the moment where Ori and the Blind Forest ended towards the ending you’ll need to reach yourself. It’s a great follow-up to a great game, and if you enjoy a good fable AND a good Metroidvania, you can’t go wrong with Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

Key features
  • Uses autosaves in place of the first game’s „soul links” planted manually
  • Upgrade system using shards as currency
  • Great story, tying up the threads from the first game
  • Beautiful levels and animations

Final Fantasy VII Remake

PlayStation 4
Release:April
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperSquare Enix Business Division 1

A breath of fresh Aerith

The hellscape of 2020 had a few rays of sunshine, few as cool as the remake of one of the most beloved Final Fantasy games. People spent ages pestering Square Enix to make it, and, after a long, long, LONG time, we finally got the first part of it. And it turned out very well! It looks fantastic, the city of Midgar looks much more like a real place, and even the story got expanded!

The world and characters look like they were taken straight out of the Advent Children movie, combat is dynamic, but retains elements of the ATB system, and promises a new story woven on the basis of the source material, which is exciting, if potentially unsettling. Either way, the game’s a joy, the characters have more personality, and there’s plenty of new scenes and side activities.

Key features
  • The visual upgrade compared to the original is massive
  • New combat system with interesting additions
  • The characters have much more personality showing through
  • The remake people were waiting for

Ghost of Tsushima

PlayStation 4
Release:July
Genre:Action-adventure, stealth
DeveloperSucker Punch Productions

Samurai’s Creed

Ghost of Tsushima somehow managed to not only make good on the promises it made, but also turned out better than many people even expected. It’s an absurdly beautiful game, with as much of this beauty attributed to artistic direction as to the technical quality that Sucker Punch managed to squeeze out of PlayStation 4. And there’s so much to do you’re not likely to get through it all quickly.

ghost of tsushima screenshot

There are no obvious, video-gamey markers. Instead, wind gusts will direct you to the location you want to reach, and animals (foxes and yellow birds) will reveal hidden locations to you. The story is also interesting and quite nuanced, woven around the historical event of the first Mongol invasion of Japan, and focused on Jin Sakai, a samurai who fights against the invaders, by any means necessary.

Key features
  • Great main character
  • You’re in control of the way you fight: in open combat or from the shadows
  • Solid combat system with several stances to learn and master
  • One of the absolute best video games to launch this year

F1 2020

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release:July
Genre:Racing
DeveloperCodemasters Birmingham

Press F1 for pit stop

Formula 1-based racing games are a bit of a niche, but it doesn’t mean they are bad, far from it. For example, F1 2020 is a damn great game, and it deserves being among other greats of the year. Codemasters have years of experience making racing simulation games and it does show here. The attention to detail is staggering, and the extent of customization should be a gold standard.

You can customize not only your driver, but also the composition of your entire crew, pick the sponsors and component manufacturer, even work on the facilities. And that’s before you even sit in the driver’s seat, rev the engine and get to enjoy the game’s driving physics. It’s not the easiest game to get into and get the hang of, but if you’re an F1 fan already, you’re in for a real treat.

Key features
  • Wonderfully detailed
  • You can run a full ten-year career
  • Includes classic cars dating back to 1988
  • Looks amazing

Fall Guys

PC
PlayStation 4
Release:August
Genre:Battle royale, platformer
DeveloperMediatonic

Autumn Fellows

Fall Guys’ success was a surprise for everyone, most of all, it would seem, the developers themselves. But, like Among Us, it seems like a game that’s really, really good at being a great game. A bunch of players (up to 60) have to complete various challenges as cute, round, clumsy beans. There are races, games of tag, team-based competitions, and more, usually with physics-based obstacles.

And there are tonnes of neat costumes for the beans, many inspired by, or made in cooperation with, bigger franchises. On top of Fall Guys being just a cute, colorful, extremely entertaining game, some consideration must be given to the developer’s top-tier Twitter game. Even if you’re not playing Fall Guys, you really should give their Twitter a look, it’s going to be worth your time.

Key features
  • Many competitive minigames
  • Plenty of unlockable costumes
  • Family-friendly battle royale
  • Physics-based levels, reminiscent of Gang Beasts

Crusader Kings 3

PC
Release:September
Genre:Grand strategy, role-playing
DeveloperParadox Development Studio

The Crown: Medieval Edition

Paradox’s Crusader Kings III is the latest entry in the Swedish studio’s series of Medieval dynasty simulators. You can join a historical noble house, or create your own, and try to keep your family alive over centuries. Pick heirs, arrange marriages, and maybe even get some people on the throne somewhere. And a recent update added a really, really good ruler creator. A REALLY GOOD ONE.

Although this entry adds more RPG elements to the experience, make no mistake: it’s still a complex, demanding game. The campaign can span almost six centuries, many generations, and things that happen to your house in that time can be ALMOST as entertainingly messed up as real medieval history. If you take the time to learn the systems, CK3 becomes a generator of infinite stories.

Key features
  • Very nice character creation.
  • As much of a story generator as the CK2 which is quite famous for it
  • There’s a ton of complex systems to get the hang of
  • Full Steam Workshop support

Hades

PC
Nintendo Switch
Release:September
Genre:Rogue-like, action role-playing
DeveloperSupergiant Games

Family business

Supergiant Games’ games already have a reputation for being great, but Hades puts them all to shame. You play as Zagreus, a son of Hades himself. When you meet the small-statured deity, he’s just jumped off his balcony and is about to attempt his first escape from his father’s realm. Nobody escapes Hades’ domain, as the grumpy god keeps remind you, but Zagreus gets the help of Olympian gods.

Hades - gameplay

The game is a fantastic rogue-lite with a tight combat system with six very different weapons (with four variants each), complex dialogue system, which may not give you conversation options, but it does respond to your actions, weapons, etc in a very clever way. Beautiful tile sets, engaging storyline, complex progression systems and memorable hades all contribute to Hades’ stellar quality.

Key features
  • Each of six weapons has four aspects, three of which you need to unlock
  • Completing the storyline is just the beginning
  • Everything, from gods, to locations, to items, looks amazing and distinctive
  • A good build can wipe a room in seconds

Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access

PC
Stadia
Release:October (Early Access)
Genre:Role-playing
DeveloperLarian Studios

Psychic parasitic passenger

Nobody expected a new Baldur’s Gate game, especially after the Bhaalspawn story was concluded in the original BioWare-made BGs. When Larian Studios, at the time famed for having made Original Sin 2 announced they are making it, much rejoicing and conversation happened. After several extensive gameplay livestreams, the Early Access version of Act I launched in October. And it’s great.

The game adapts the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons to adjudicate your action in the game, and thanks to a turn-based combat system it manages to adhere quite closely to the ruleset. The map is full of stories big and small, including getting rid of a psychic parasite in your head; ending the conflict between goblinoids and a druidic grove, and finding your way to the infamous Underdark.

Key features
  • Dense, detailed, region with many different events taking place even in Early Access
  • Several classes and species available for testing already with more yet to come
  • The Forgotten Realms setting really benefits from modern graphics
  • You get to visit the Underdark

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

PC
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 5
Xbox One
Xbox Series X/S
Release:November
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperUbisoft Montreal

Viking and hiking

Ubisoft’s long-running tour of history filtered via the Ancient Aliens science-fiction trope has visited many regions and periods, it an inevitable, perhaps, that it would end up in the Viking era at some point. Valhalla takes place some time after the fabled conquests of Ragnar Lothbrok, and you play as Eivor, a young raider seeking to make his or her (players can choose) fortune in 9th century England.

assassins creed valhalla screenshot

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is much more of an action-RPG than even Odyssey or Origins, and the world is rich in small stories, memorable NPCs, and plenty of things to do in the game’s open world. In addition to hunting legendary artifacts left by the Isu, you could engage in more thematic activities, like Norse verbal battles called flyting, or building cairns in noteworthy locations.

Key features
  • Beautiful map of early medieval England
  • You get to customize Eivor’s appearance via clothes, tattoos, warpaints, and hairstyles
  • Vast, vivid world
  • You get to discover and use artifacts such as Thor’s hammer

Cyberpunk 2077

PC
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 5
Xbox One
Xbox Series X/S
Release:December
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperCD Projekt Red

Do you feel lucky, cyberpunk?

The year’s biggest launch finally came on December 10th, and vast numbers of players took a trip to see the marvels of Night City, a technological metropolis of year 2077. The new action RPG from the creators of The Witcher 3 promises cybernetic urban adventure within city limits and some vehicular fun when you drive out into the Badlands beyond Night City. And it did delivers on that and more.

cp2077 night city

There are many things to know about CP2077. The city is huge, detailed, and pleasantly diverse from district to district and block to block. Johnny Silverhand (played very well by Keanu Reeves) is a frequent presence in V’s (the protagonist) head, and the game give you a nice degree of choice in how you approach missions, which evokes pleasant memories of playing Deus Ex games.

Key features
  • The map is massive, rivaling Rockstar’s games with size and detail
  • Johnny Silverhand was a perfect role for Keanu
  • Flexible gameplay
  • Interesting crime story

A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one

Two games experienced an unprecedented degree of success this year. One is a cute game about clumsy bubbly humanoids competing in various minigames, and another is a cartoonish game which is a hidden role game in science fiction clothing. It’s not hard to come up with possible reasons they both got a LOT of action this year. They are, ultimately, pretty simple, very easy to get into, and losing can be quite funny, or at least stressless. But there’s also another facet: they are very social games. Among Us relies heavily on communication and working together which players are impostors (or framing innocent players), while Fall Guys… you won’t talk much, but the beans you play as have the energy of small children in a playground. In a year when many people didn’t get to spend much time with friends, that counts for a lot.

Sad disappointments

Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t have a good year. Due to various factors, it’s release was delayed three times, moving the launch from April 19th to December 10th. It generated a lot of negative emotions, stress, and messed with many people’s plans. The delays even caused turmoil in the launch schedules of OTHER games. Several smaller (than CDPR) developers realized that it may be a bad idea to launch games around the time Cyberpunk 2077 releases after months of edging its fanbase. The three that immediately come to mind are Everspace 2, an expansion for Path of Exile, and an expansion for MechWarrior 5. All delayed, because suddenly Cyberpunk 2077’s release came too close for comfort. On a more positive note, the final product is looking hot and delivers on the promises from its many trailers and marketing materials and it’s worth checking out.

What awaits us in 2021?

The future is always in motion, and 2020 has done a really good job teaching us not to trust launch dated too much. Nevertheless, some games are announced to have a possible release in 2021. Most notably, there are many interesting sequels scheduled for 2021 (for now). God of War may present a new chapter in the story of Kratos and BOY, Hitman 3 is sneaking by, while Capcom is prepping a new Monster Hunter game. Of course, we can also expect Halo Infinite while fans of fighting games have new Guilty gear, Strive, to wait for.

On the “tabletop origins” front there are some Warhammer games, including Blood Bowl 3, and Warhammer 40k: Darktide, made by the creators of Vermintide. There’s also Vampire: the Masquerade 2 – Bloodlines and a few games based in the same setting, like Werewolf and Geist. Maybe even Baldur’s Gate 3 will get to leave Early Access, who knows? Of course, there are many, many more games launching, or at least scheduled for release. Maybe 2021 will have its own unexpected hit selling like hotcakes, its own Fall Guys. Maybe there will be another game brought back from oblivion, like Among Us. There’s no way to know, but hopefully, the coming year will be interesting in all the best ways.