2020 gave us a surprising amount of significant titles. We can look to new projects from Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, even, more contentiously, CD Projekt Red, or fresh installments in the Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy and DOOM reboot series. In a year defined for many by escapism and entertainment, video games delivered. Edge writers have collected personal picks for 2020’s best below, presented in no particular order, from Mario all the way to NBA.
The Last of Us Part II
Despite the controversy surrounding The Last of Us Part II‘s narrative decisions, there’s no denying that it is one of the greatest games of 2020 and one of the best PlayStation exclusives to date. With a harrowing journey following the game’s protagonist Ellie, the adventure Naughty Dog weaved was filled with beautiful landscapes and tough combat, featuring a story filled with heartbreak and poignancy that made it a journey of unrivalled glory. It pushed players to the extreme depths of revenge, forcing them to partake in actions where the consequences were always measured in equal severity and gave birth to questions on the justifiability of revenge. The game went to extreme lengths to humanise its “antagonist”, becoming less clear-cut and decisive than the first game’s journey. The Last of Us Part II was a beautiful progression of the Joel and Ellie narrative, maybe not telling the story we wanted it to, but the story it needed to.
– Sam Pegg
It’s been an interesting year for video games. We have had a lot of very interesting games: Hades, Animal Crossing New Horizons, The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, and of course Cyberpunk 2077. It certainly hasn’t been easy picking a winner but, for me, DOOM Eternal has just squeezed out in front.
id’s combat puzzling is gleeful, soul-rendering carnage. In the new DOOM, much like in its predecessor, we’re not here to answer questions about human nature or morality; we’re here to rip and tear our way through a never-ending hoard of demons. There were parts of Eternal that had me cackling with just how brutal the slayer is, the satisfaction of crunching through the last demon, or finishing off enemies with a double-barrelled minigun and then hacking them in half. There’s no art here, there’s no message, it’s just 20 hours of pure unadulterated chaos, and that’s why it gets my game of the year.
– Josh Le Long
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Was there any game I was anticipating more in 2020 than a new Assassin’s Creed? Sailing to consoles in November, Valhalla proves once again how good Ubisoft games are, with hundreds of hours of content in 9th-century England. The game has an engaging storyline which honestly blew my mind with its turns and additions to the lore, amazing graphics and a soundtrack once again scored by Jesper Kyd and Sarah Schachner! With the addition of plenty of minigames, from Orlog to flyting, to fill your time, and a plethora of accessibility features (which saw the title nominated at the Game Awards for “Innovation in Accessibility”), Valhalla is giving more people some way to enjoy the adventure.
Surely, any game that has been used to promote the next generation of consoles, and the one which secures that coveted Christmas number 1 spot, deserves to be recognised as one of the best games of the year.
– Louise Chase
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Is this a basic pick for favourite games of the year? Maybe so, but damn is it a valid one. Animal Crossing: New Horizons could honestly not have arrived at a better time, landing on the Nintendo Switch just as UK lockdown started. Like the rest of the world, I became absolutely obsessed, racking up over 150 hours in the game over an alarmingly short period of time (there wasn’t a lot to do in quarantine, okay?). It provided a peaceful, beautiful, anthropomorphism-filled escape from the stress of the current world. Not to mention, having played through most of the Animal Crossing series throughout my life, I loved the new game structure New Horizons offered; the ability to landscape, terraform and decorate your very own island was a genius move from Nintendo. AC gameplay can get a bit repetitive after a while, but not when you’re re-designing your whole island for the third time. I also loved the worldwide community that formed because of the game; everyone was sharing photos of their islands and dodo codes to let people visit. Whole online communities cropped up just to trade and make friends. At a time when the world felt more isolating than ever, Animal Crossing: New Horizons provided a new platform to make friends, be creative and just have some carefree fun.
– Alice Fortt
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys is a game that was impossible to ignore this year. It quickly grew popular as lockdown was announced and millions across the world were confined to their houses with nothing else to do. And what better activity to keep yourself occupied is there than competing in obstacle courses as mini, colourful characters against other individuals online?
As well as being a big hit amongst everybody’s friends and families, Fall Guys proved incredibly popular with famous gamers and regular influences online. And if that is not a sure fire way to hype people up into playing a game, I’m not sure what is. Fall Guys is a game that you can play no matter your gaming experience. In my household, everybody got involved – even grandma. It requires no previous skill, and is so frustratingly addictive that you can play for hours on end. It’s my favourite game of 2020 for its simplicity and fun.
– Georgie Holmes
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Super Mario 3D All-Stars brings together 3 of Nintendo’s classic home console releases starring the titular plumber. Containing Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy, the collection stands as a testament to the evolution and endearing nature of the franchise and its capability to enthral players all these years later. While it lacks the compelling narrative of The Last of Us Part II and the graphical overhaul seen in the most recent Crash Bandicoot, the individual games’ quality still shines through.
Sliding down Cool, Cool Mountain, exploring Pinna Park and exorcising the Ghostly Galaxy all still compel the player to move forward. Galaxy’s gravity-bending mechanics are a reversal from Sunshine’s slower and more intricate F.L.U.D.D. traversal; there is bound to be a gameplay style that suits each player. Despite any individual flaws these games may have, all three coalesce into a concise package that brings together three of Mario’s most distinct worlds. Mario is simply fun to control in any of these spaces, and Nintendo has provided a collection to allow Switch users the chance to re-experience them or experience them for the first time.
– Ross Holmes
Halo PC Ports
In a troublesome year, it was a joy to revisit some of the best ever first-person shooters ever released, especially with graphical fidelity greater than when they’d initially released on the Xbox 360. While technically Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) came out last year on PC, most of its games were added this year (0nly Halo: Reach was released on PC in 2019). Revisiting Halo 2 over a decade after I’d initially played it, with the Anniversary Edition updates, was especially fantastic. The packaging together of the MCC is also impressive, having one menu to visit six different Halo games and their respective multiplayer modes, as well as respectful but meaningful additions like lost armours or pre-order bonuses, is just the icing on top. The MCC even manages to correct issues that had plagued the original MCC on Xbox One, namely lacking modes on Halo 3: ODST, with this being fixed both on both platforms now. The nostalgia and fun this collection has consistently created for me are why it is my game of the year. With the closure of the Xbox 360 servers for Halo next year there is no better time to get a Killtacular on Zanzibar, Blood Gulch, or any of the other 110+ maps in the MCC.
– Conor O’Hanlon
Developed by Innersloth and released on iOS and Android way back in 2018, Among Us only truly came to the gaming forefront just earlier this year when an array of popular gamers and streamers across the globe began playing it for many to see. The game is classed as a ‘social deduction game’ in which players, known in the diegesis of the game as crewmates, have to decide who among them is the deadly imposter that’s basically going on a killing rampage, and stop them before its too late.
As someone who’s not much of a fan of PC-based gaming, and didn’t even know how to use supporting platforms like Discord ’til earlier this year, Among Us is one of those games which allow the less gaming-informed minds like myself to understand it through its simplistic rules and aims. I’m terrible at the game, however it has quickly become a personal favourite purely through its basic but effective design/interface, its ease of communication and its fun friendly-arguing vibe.
Among Us is the perfect game for socialising with your mates when you’re unable to see them, so having been popularised this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that shook the world, its success was well and truly deserved as it brought us all together when this otherwise wasn’t possible.
– Katie Evans
NBA 2K21 is my favourite game of the year for three reasons. I love basketball; it stars Jesse Williams; and it’s the only game I’m playing at the moment. NBA 2K21 is all about the community – the neighbourhood in the MyCareer mode has expanded to 2K Beach and is a great place to play online in cage games, the Rec, 1v1 and more. The great storyline in MyCareer is why it stands out as different to any other sports game. Jesse Williams stars as your father, Duke, a college superstar player who never made it to the NBA. You are Junior and are trying to establish yourself outside of your dad’s spotlight. Each decision you make during the story mode impacts your career making it feel like your story. In the next-gen version of the game you are also able to create your own WNBA player, which is a brand-new feature and a fabulous step towards equality in basketball. NBA 2K21 breaks boundaries on what a sports game is all about and I absolutely adore it!
– Morgan McMillan
Apex Legends Season 5
While not technically its own game, rather an update, Apex‘s fifth season is still something to note alongside this compilation’s more legitimate entries. It’s been the first patch to really feel like it changed up the game — the addition of daily treasure boxes and mini story missions showed that Respawn were actually trying to build on the title’s formula. This, combined with a great treasure-hunting aesthetic and the backstory-loaded new character Loba, made the season feel thematically intact more than any previous. It seemed as though there was a lot for players to sink their teeth into this time around, even despite a wobbly launch. Burning through games of Apex during this time ended up being a weirdly year-defining experience.
– Harry Geeves