2020 is finally almost over and it was a doozy. On the plus side, there were a lot of great games that came out this year, and all of us here at G FUEL want to celebrate the ingenuity of the industry. So much so that I asked a bunch of fellow staffers here what their picks were also.
We are all gamers and it’s important to celebrate the triumphs together. And while there were some hiccups in the industry this year, that doesn’t mean we didn’t play all sorts of wonderful games in 2020.
Also this list, until the very end, is in no particular order. We wanted to just highlight some of the greats and let you decide which ones you want to play if you missed out on any.
So without further ado, here are G FUEL’s picks for the best video games of 2020!
20. Iron Man VR
Platform: PlayStation 4 VR (PSVR)
Marvel has been doing some great stuff recently, including movies and TV, so it’s no wonder that a few games made it to the top as well. The game's story revolves around Iron Man's conflict with a computer hacker and terrorist known only as Ghost. Ghost tries to target Tony and his company, which seems weird. I mean, I get it, to prove you’re the best you have to take out the best, but who tries to take out Iron Man?! Although his other motive was to seek revenge for the deaths caused by the weapons the company manufactured prior to Stark becoming Iron Man.
Either way, putting on the PSVR headset and using the flying mechanics and weapon systems of the Iron Man armor to attack enemies (mostly while gliding through the air), just feels so awesome. You will combat baddies across several different environments too. Iron Man can freely navigate a linear progression of story, so it makes it feels a little open world.
You’ll interact with a few different Marvel characters, undertake a few really fun missions, and unlock new armor upgrades by progressing through the main story or completing challenge modes outside of the story. I shouldn’t have to say that upgrading your suit makes the game even better. You’ll actually proclaim, “I am Iron Man!”
Nick Merola, G FUEL Chief Creative Officer: “Iron Man VR was the absolute best VR experience I’ve ever had. The flying and fighting mechanics were incredibly fun and the story [while being mostly predictable] was enjoyable and entertaining. In a year without Marvel Movies, it was nice to get a small dose to tide me over.”
19. Half Life: Alyx
Platform: PC with Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Oculus Quest
Speaking of VR, Half Life: Alyx is the continuing story of the Half Life series where players control Alyx Vance. She is on a top secret mission to seize a superweapon belonging to the alien Combine. Players use VR to interact with the environment and fight enemies, using ‘gravity gloves’ to manipulate objects rather than using the ‘gravity gun’ from Half-Life 2. Which, let’s be honest, was a truly innovative way to use VR.
All the normal/traditional Half-Life elements return, such as physics puzzles, combat, exploration, and survival horror elements. While I mentioned that it is the continuing story, that isn’t entirely true. Technically it is a prequel to Half Life 2, but Lead Designer David Speyrer said HL: Alyx was not an episodic game or side story, but "the next part of the Half-Life story." The game is even around the same length as Half-Life 2.
The bottom line is you get to spend a bunch of hours in a game with a great story, great mechanics, and gloves that let you throw endless amounts of garbage at your enemies. I mean I guess you could also shoot them with the different types the game has, but … why?
18. Genshin Impact
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Mobile
While many people equaled this to an anime version of Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact had plenty of its own ideas. While, yes, it is an absolute mess of genres, including open-world, free-to-play, role-playing, online, and crafting action game with gacha elements. Despite all that, though, it all comes together in a fantastic fantasy anime experience that ended up breaking into the mainstream audience.
Like many other Gacha games (games that make you pay money to spin the roulette of available characters), Genshin Impact can become kind of predatory if you start buying stuff. Every time I got a new character, I would sit there and contemplate on spending either the in-game currency or real-life money on something. However, the game did offer so many other things for free that I let myself enjoy my purchases rather than resent them.
Genshin Impact has had an amazing amount of success this year because despite its annoying and gluttonous monetization methods, it does have that “one more activity” feeling about it. Every day, when you logged in, you felt like you were able to make a good amount of progress in this game's huge, beautiful world. The combination of skill and progress kept me logging in for a while to see what new thing I would unveil. Not to mention all the great Waifus in it.
The Verge/Riot Games
Trying to create a new action shooter these days is hard, especially one that is exclusive to PC. Valorant is a hardcore competitive shooter that has taken the esports world by storm. While it may not be as big as some of the other games like it, Rainbow Six Siege, Counter-Strike, or Overwatch, all of which took years to figure out their niche, it seems like Valorant blew up. Riot Games releasing something as immediately good and popular as Valorant is still kind of a surprise.
With Valorant, Riot created a game with rock-solid shooting mechanics and a roster of characters that manages to make every match feel different, making for one of the most fun competitive multiplayer games released in years. Despite watching the professionals totally kick butt at it, I still had my own fun in the game. Playing with friends or not, the game has so many fun elements that make it both more fun and colorful than CS:GO with the creative freedoms of Overwatch.
I also always appreciate when companies stay on top of their games. Over the six months the game has been out, Riot has also proven that Valorant is built to last. They have made sure to come out with active patches, content updates, and open communication with its fans. It’s rare that you play a game and know from the start that it will be a huge part of the gaming community for a long time. But with Valorant, that’s exactly how I felt. Hopefully the game will continue to evolve with more characters and maps to keep it part of both esports and our hearts for many years.
16. Marvel’s Avengers
Games Radar/Square Enix
Like I said earlier, Marvel had a heck of a year in games. Avengers was a looter shooter where you play as some of your favorite Marvel heroes … although since more than half of them don’t don’t shoot, can we just call it a looter puncher? While the game may have launched with a few bugs, the content was fun and wonderful.
The game is played from a third-person perspective and has both single-player and multiplayer modes; it features an online co-op mode, allowing players to assemble a team of heroes of their own. The roster consisted of Steve Rogers/Captain America, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Bruce Banner/Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel — with more characters being added in free post-launch updates such as Kate Bishop who launched recently. The latter of which also added story expansions and new regions to be explored.
The best part of the game: each hero possesses a variety of costume customization features, as well as the capacity to upgrade their powers and abilities using a skill tree. So you could learn them all, find your favorite character (Thor and Kate were mine), and either really focus on them or jump from character to character to level them all up. They all had daily challenges, so you can spend hours getting new stuff and experience for your favorites.
I know that not everyone thought the best of this game, but my friends and I continue to have a blast with it. The newest DLC with Kate Bishop has been incredibly fun. The single player mode has a wonderful story. Kamala showed us it's ok to be a fan of your heroes. The rest of them showed us that sometimes they fail. It has a heartwarming story. Once that’s over, there are hours of gameplay. While, yes, there are some glitches, overall Marvel’s Avengers satisfies everything I needed while playing as Marvel characters — raw power.
15. The Last of Us II
Platform: PlayStation 4
Tech Radar/Sony/Naughty Dog
There is something you need to know about The Last of Us Part 2 before you play it (if you somehow missed out on it). This game really puts you in a sad/bad mood. There were moments I needed to just stop playing and play something else. It’s not bad at all, but the emotional roller coaster it puts you on can really make you miserable.
It’s easy to believe that 2020 was a pretty gloomy year for everyone. And from its initial gut punch to its bittersweet ending, The Last of Us Part 2 makes you suffer along with it, rather than take you from tragedy to celebration. This game’s story, from open to close, is almost all downhill. I can already hear you say, “So why in the heck should I play this game? It doesn't sound fun at all!”
From one terrible and anxiety-ridden moment to the next, I did have fun exploring collapsed residential areas. The flashback and romance scenes were wonderfully told and made you smile. Although that didn’t last very long. Most games would buckle under the weight of awfulness in the world of The Last of Us Part 2.
But the joy of The Last of Us Part 2 comes from Ellie herself. Her character keeps a spark of hope in us all. It kept me playing. Those amazing moments in her story hit hard. Not only because of Naughty Dog’s practiced storytelling skills, but because we all needed that slice of hope.
14. Streets of Rage 4
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
VGC/Dotemu/Lizardcube/Guard Crush Games
Let’s step away from the depressing shadow of TLoU2 and talk about a bright and colorful game. Personally, I love Beat’em Ups. The side-scrolling adventures of the tough streets, and beating up guys that look the same and have the same names, what a rush.
Ok, they aren’t for everyone. However, a game like Streets of Rage really stood out back then. The Streets of Rage series was truly instrumental in defining the mature console that Sega was looking for. While SNES also had a bunch, SoR was one of the best. With a cartoonish vision of ’90s urban violence and a soundtrack straight out of a dance club. After 26 years, the series just stopped … until this year.
I think that it’s fitting that the return to Beat‘em Up games should form from the latest entry in one of the genre’s biggest franchises. Streets of Rage 4 is really back. The music stands up to the best in the series; hands down. The gameplay has been modernized just enough to keep it interesting, while not upsetting the simplicity of the format. The hand-drawn graphics are absolutely perfect.
Sometimes change is hard, but it’s a testament to the work of developers Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games that they managed to dust off Streets of Rage after 26 years and still make it look easy.
13. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and Xbox Series X and S
Ubisoft has a huge market in big open-world adventure games. Without a doubt, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is big. Set in 873 AD, the game recounts the story during the Viking invasion of Britain. The player controls Eivor, a Viking raider who becomes entangled in the conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order.
Released in November, Ubisoft’s open-world role-playing game sprawls from Norway to England and back again (even touching the shores of North America). Each of these places is gorgeous in its own right, a true testament to the pure technical prowess of a game like this.
No matter what weapons you choose to fight with, there are a plethora of options. Honestly, most of the game, I used double shields because I found it hilarious. The game also saw the return of settlements, which have been absent from the series since Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and it felt like a great add back into the series.
Sometimes you get overwhelmed by the huge weight of exploration in the game. That's ok. I’ve continued playing. Long after finishing the story and most objectives, I am still enjoying the world’s size. It’s the kind of game that I could (and did) spend weeks in, seeking out secrets and side stories to fill out the world’s lore. I’m still finding things to explore. AC: Valhalla will get you into Viking lore even if you knew nothing about it before.
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One
Steam/Phobia Game Studio/Devolver Digital
Described as a "reverse-horror game," the game allows players to control a tentacled monster whose objective is to make its way through a facility, stalking and killing humans in its path. If John Carpenter or David Cronenberg could have made a video game, it would be Carrion. The game is a Metroidvania in concept, but the scoop-of-G-FUEL-version of it, because this game is action-packed.
You move the monster throughout the base, seeking simply to get outside, growing larger by absorbing biomass. Which means, you know, eating people. Then distributing that biomass into holes in the wall to spread through the laboratory. Doing so opens up new paths and crucial progress doors that lead to new areas, and is also surprisingly gross and fun.
The gore of this indie game makes it both hilarious and disturbing. The monster, which you control, can scare enemies by growing, knocking out vents to distract them, then grabbing them with tentacles when they aren’t looking. These combat scenarios get harder as time goes on, but Carrion stops short of ever making them frustrating for a patient player. It is definitely worth your time.
11. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Green Man Gaming/CyberConnect2/Bandai Namco Entertainment
Whether you’re a Dragon Ball Z fan or not, this game is one of a kind. While it's made with the fan at heart, Bandai Namco made a pretty great action RPG with one of the best animes of all time as its subject. If you’re a fan of JRPGs at all, it’s worth a try.
As a kid, I grew up watching this show. I know the story backwards and forwards, and yet I couldn’t help myself getting upset at certain parts or laughing at others. The fighting is well balanced, and you need to keep training to learn some higher super moves. Flying around as Gohan, Goku, Piccolo, and Vegeta never gets old. I could have done it for hours.
In our Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review, I stated:
There’s an undeniable and marvelous sense of love for the source material. The kind that you’d have to actively fight to resist the smile wanting to creep onto your face...Revisiting all of these characters and stories is a joy in itself, and despite my minor issues with it, it’s probably the most efficient way to enjoy the story of Dragon Ball Z. It’s colorful, fun, and immersive. The music and sounds of the game bring you back to your childhood.
This is 100% true. People who are new to the show and love a fun, 3D JRPG will also get a kick out of the action. There’s also been a few new Dragon Ball Super DLC and a card game called Dragon Ball Card Warriors. It works like MtG but with its own DBZ elements.
Sal Triolo, G FUEL Chief Partnership Officer: "It’s a toss up for me. I really enjoyed Doom Eternal. It was fast paced, challenging, and INTENSE. I also enjoyed the nostalgia of Crash Bandicoot 4, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. However, my favorite game of 2020 would have to be Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. This game took me back to relive my childhood in the 90s. It was like watching the TV show all over again."
10. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Games Radar/Blizzard Entertainment
WoW has been around since the internet was young, and it’s a Blizzard game that stole our hearts back in 2004. 16 years later, the game continues to impress us. The expansion opens up the Shadowlands, the realm of the dead in Warcraft lore. It features the game's first "level squish," a completely overhauled leveling system, access to the Death Knight class for the races that did not previously have access to it, Covenants in the new zones, and new dungeons and raids.
It all starts with picking a Covenant — one of the four main factions of the Shadowlands — a choice independent of whether you're part of the Horde or Alliance. Alongside Revendreth and Ardenweald, Maldraxxus is the abode of dead warriors, where zombies and abominations with festering wounds and pointy armor (even for WoW) do battle eternally and revel in plagues and fleshcraft.
The 10 levels you'll spend getting to know the Shadowlands definitely live up to the standard of quality I expect from Blizzard in terms of zone design, music, and affecting character moments. And at max level, this is probably the most compelling World of Warcraft's beckoning call to stick around has ever been, mainly because of Torghast and the chances it presents you to craft your own legendary items.
Mike DeQuatro, G FUEL Community Manager: "As the 8th expansion in the World of Warcraft series, Shadowlands does a great job at capturing the hearts of players who have been around for a long time, new players diving into the game, and returning players who are coming back. Easily the best leveling experience, storytelling, and dungeon designs in years. Once you finish the well-crafted campaign quests during your level 50 to 60 grinding, the end game finally feels fleshed out. Castle Nathria has been a smash hit so far, and at this point I can only see things going up from here. Shadowlands has drawn a ton of comparisons to the beloved Wrath of the Lich King (2008) expansion, and I think that it is very well deserved. Easily my favorite game of 2020."
9. Pokémon Sword and Shield
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reset Era/Game Freak/The Pokémon Company/Nintendo
I know that technically Pokémon Sword and Shield came out in 2019, however, the reason it still made it on our list is because of the two DLC packs they released. The games received two DLC expansion packs with the The Isle of Armor, released on June 17th, and The Crown Tundra, released on October 22nd. Also, a physical bundle including both expansion packs with the base games was released on November 6th. You know the saying, “Gotta Catch Them All!”
Like all of the other games, you control a young trainer who goes on a quest to catch and train Pokémon and win battles against other trainers. The player's Pokémon gains experience, allowing them to level up and increase their battle statistics, learn new battle techniques, and in some cases, evolve into more powerful Pokémon. Classic Pokémon gameplay.
However, several new features have been added to the game that are also firsts for the series, including cooperative raid encounters, akin to those seen in Pokémon Go; the Wild Area, a fully explorable open world area with free camera movement and dynamic weather, which has implications on which Pokémon species appear at a given time; also "Dynamaxing" and "Gigantamaxing," both of which temporarily allow Pokémon to grow to larger sizes. This really gives Pokémon Sword and Shield a much needed upgrade that the series needed.
Anthony Carretero, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "My game of the year has got to be Pokemon Sword and Shield. Sure, they technically released in 2019, but 2020 saw a nice spike in player base in not only the video game, but the trading card game as well. Sword & Shield received a lot of attention for the early game footage shown prior to release due to the lack of detail in the overworld, and not having a complete National Pokedex is still a sore spot for many. As a title on its own, however, Sword & Shield gave new life to an almost 25-year-old franchise. From the Wild Area’s open world feel & wild Pokemon showing up in the overworld, to the new Dynamax mechanic for battling, Sword & Shield are must haves for any Switch owner (especially if you haven’t played a Pokemon game in a while)!"
8. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Platform: PlayStation 4
Eurogamer/Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
This was a monumental game that explored the idea that even one neighborhood is worth saving. Spider-Man: Miles Morales feels like the reason why the web-slinger is often called “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
2018’s Spider-Man was great, but being a hero to 8.3 million New Yorkers (while half of them hate you) doesn’t seem worth the effort sometimes. However, Miles Morales is Spanish Harlem. His story, identity, and reason for even putting on the mask are all in service of the neighborhood he loves and represents.
Miles’ power set is pretty different from Peter’s, so the game mechanics feel fresh. With Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, you kind of know what you are always getting. But when you get to play as Miles and his bio-electricity powers, you get a new game. His Venom Blast (the ability to incapacitate his enemies with bio-electricity, and charge or drain electronics), Camouflage (temporary invisibility), and Mega Venom Blast (massive explosion of bio-electricity), and other moves, such as the Venom Dash and Venom Jump, are unlocked either during the story or through a skill tree. They all give Miles his own unique Spider-Man identity.
Throughout Spider-Man: Miles Morales, we get to see him grow into a defender of a specific ZIP code. He gains the trust of his neighbors, eats empanadas and pastelitos from a nearby restaurant, and takes the effort to save his local bodega’s cat. His acts may feel small compared to the world-shattering events the Avengers, or even Peter Parker, might be mixed up in, but to the folks he shares a block with, these problems are their entire world.
While the action is great and the game mechanics are fun, the point of playing as Miles is not only defending his neighborhood, but also the lives that have become intertwined with the bricks and asphalt that surround them. Watching him grow as a hero to his surroundings makes him a character we can all love. That’s what makes him a true friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
7. DOOM Eternal
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and Google Stadia
Game Media/id Software/Bethesda Softworks
Is there anything really better than traveling through Hell and killing demons in the most brutal way possible? I would wait for an answer, but we all know the answer is a resounding “No!”
Doom Eternal is the story that follows the Doom Slayer once again. He is on a mission to end Hell's consumption of Earth and foil the alien Maykrs' plans to exterminate humanity. Doom Eternal made its way to players on March 20th, just a week into when most of us began quarantining. It gave us a lovely excuse to let loose some steam.
While another March 20th release came to define much of our collective quarantine (yes, I’m talking about Animal Crossing: New Horizons), Doom Eternal offered players something besides tranquility and the allure of a pleasant, mindless, island escape. It let you blast demons into chunks, shoot giant guns, rip things in half, and also, just for fun, jump around a murder playground.
It also gave us the hilarious memes of Isabelle and Doom Slayer together as best friends, both collecting materials and fishing and killing demons in the most violent way possible. Bravo Internet.
WesNemo, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "The sequel to Bethesda's Doom is by far my 2020 Game of the Year. It takes the gameplay and visuals of the first game and cranks it up to the next level. The iconic demon-slaying action that we've been known to love is by far the most polished it’s ever been. Doom Eternal's unique level design, enemies, weapon variety, and bad-ass melee animations is what transcends the game from being just another first person shooter. This game really makes you feel like you're the doom slayer (bonus points if you get that reference). id Software did an absolutely stellar job with Doom Eternal and is easily one of the most underrated games of 2020 and by far the most deserving of Game of the Year."
Platform: PC and Nintendo Switch
Hades is a classic coming-of-age story drenched in Greek mythology. The game tells the tale of Zagreus, son of Hades, who is making a break from the depths of hell in an attempt to reach the surface. Zagreus will end up dying dozens of times over your quest through the game, so you get used to the agony real quick. This roguelike action role-playing game developed by Supergiant Games is a great challenge that deserves your attention.
Despite the constant dying and sometimes hard to navigate action, Hades pulls off the fantastic storytelling of being kind, cozy, and welcoming. For a game with hack and slash combat. it still presents plenty of fun combat mechanics as well. The player has a primary weapon, a special attack, and a magic "cast" which can be used from long range. Upon starting a run, one of the Olympians will provide a gift, a choice of three persistent boosts for that run that the player can select from; the gifts are themed based, for example with Zeus providing lightning damage effects.
There is a big cast of characters, most of whom are family, so it’s no surprise that things get increasingly complicated as you die, talk to your friends back home, buy a precious upgrade, and then die again. You will be doing this quite a bit. But don’t let it scare you from dying because in the long run, it will help your escape.
While you are running through the Underworld, you master new weapons and perfect your technique against insane combat. When you get back home, you try to make things a little better for your friends and family. The two paths smoothly mix together, creating a fun and unforgettable campaign of satisfaction, struggle, despair, and triumph.
Patrick Curran, G FUEL Director of Social Media: "For a game that only ran me $20 on the day of its launch, it felt like a truly complete game. Everything from the beautiful Greek mythos art style to the rich voice-acting to the dialogue encounters to the immersive environments and level designs - Hades delivers an authentic, memorable and perhaps most importantly - a very addicting, challenging and re-playable gaming experience and then some. If you're looking for a hack & slash 'roguelike' game with tons of hours and challenges to offer - HADES is your answer."
5. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Platform: PlayStation 4
This game was the only reason I originally bought my PlayStation 4. While I found a ton of games in the meantime, I was so excited for Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It had been so many years since I last played the original game ... A game I played constantly growing up. So, when I turned it on for the first time to see this shiny new game that didn’t look like a polygon mess, I might have shed a tear.
FF7 Remake isn’t just a fresh coat of paint on a nostalgic property. Each area of Midgar is so thoughtfully and wonderfully detailed and designed. Players will get that feeling of what it must be like to live in one of these sectors just from the architecture and debris piled on the ground. And that massive plate that looms over Sector 7 just makes the game that much more viable. Growing up with the original you never got that sense.
It’s one thing to know it’s there, another to see it. It has dangling wires, and crumbling edges where Shinra has given up on maintenance, and the massive lights that imitate the sun they rarely see down there. After the plate fell, you can actually look up from another sector and see the slice of sky where the Sector 7 plate used to be. All the details of destruction there. It was a feat that I never would have thought possible from playing the original.
FF7 Remake is quirky and funny, too. While Cloud’s attitude has changed a bit from the original, the personalities of the other characters continue to stand out. It brought new characterization to Wedge, Biggs, and everyone’s new favorite Waifu, Jesse. Also, I did cackle out loud when Cloud had the dance-off against Rhodea at the Honey Bee Inn. It’s one of many welcome updates, for me at least, that makes Remake more comforting to come back to than the original game. I cannot wait for the next installment.
Joshy Sutherland, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "My favorite game of the year is a remake of one of my favorite games of all time: Final Fantasy VII! After a significant delay, I did my absolute best to avoid any spoilers from the Remake and I am so glad that I did. Every time I would enter a familiar area with classic characters in a new perspective and beautiful graphics, it was like a nostalgia volcano erupting. They fleshed out every little bit of Midgar and I'm sure that I missed quite a lot of secrets and challenges in my first play through, so I'll have to give it another run soon. The best part is, there are more installments still on the way!"
4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Released on the same day as DOOM Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons exploded after it launched. Thanks to the great release timing, people were looking for ways to distract themselves from the grim realities of the ongoing pandemic. Also people were trying to find new ways to digitally gather. ACNH provided both of those.
For those living under a rock for the last 15 years, Animal Crossing isn’t really about anything. The player controls a customizable character who moves to a deserted island (in New Horizons anyway) after purchasing a package from Tom Nook, a racoon character who has appeared in every entry in the Animal Crossing series. The game actually takes place in real time. The player can explore the island in a nonlinear fashion, gathering and crafting items, catching insects and fish, and developing the island into a community of anthropomorphic animals. That’s it. You don't win, you don’t lose, and it is incredibly fun.
Players can fish up big catches, perfecting your bug catching technique, or play the turnip stalk market. You can do it alone for hours or invite your friends to your island. It’s the kind of game that has something for everyone.
If I’m being completely honest, at one point, New Horizons was the main drive for me to get out of bed in the morning during most of the quarantine. I wanted to grab my Switch and check in on my island to see what had changed overnight. Chill out to some of the best music in a game, listen to some K.K. Slider, sell stuff to the Nook brothers, and catch new things to give to the museum. Sometimes I had a special visitor, or maybe my shop had some new furniture I was looking for. Though a hefty chunk of New Horizons players have now burned out, it’s undeniable that the game provided an immense sense of joy and belonging during a pretty bad time.
Nintendo has also kept up on adding all types of new things. Easter, summer, Halloween, and this current holiday season has seen some amazing updates and new things to build and find. We are sure to have more in the coming new year.
Tani Tozian, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "DOOM, The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima and Ori and the Will of the Wisps all come to mind for me as great titles released this year and I liked each of them for varying reasons. Animal Crossing, however, really just hit the spot for me. In a time when the world started to shut down, Animal Crossing was there with almost infinite possibilities and ways to share those ideas with your friends. There were definitely days that knowing I wanted to check my island got me out of bed earlier or possibly at all during the worst of quarantine. Animal Crossing was there to bring us all together when the real world was keeping us apart. I spent days searching for certain bugs or villagers; I would visit friends' islands and have fun exploring the virtual world they put together. Some days I'd waste fishing and other days were spent fully redecorating my island. No matter what, I knew I could start it up and find an escape from the real world for a while and it would be enjoyable. Animal Crossing did an amazing job of creating this dynamic game that could fit the gaming style of many but still be, on the surface, simple enough for everyone."
3. Persona 5 Royal
Platform: PlayStation 4
The Mako Reactor/Atlus/P Studio/SEGA
Jumping back into a 100-hour game is a hard sell for many gamers. Atlus released Persona 5, a JRPG about teenage vigilantes with supernatural powers living in Japan, back in 2016. So how did it make our top 20?
Well, they created an enhanced version: Persona 5 Royal, a version that addresses the game’s original problems, with new characters and gameplay tweaks. Not that the original was bad, not in the slightest. Now, the game has a more natural progression, an elegant and noticeably improved version that also serves as a reminder of the simpler time during which it was created.
The core of Persona 5 Royal remains the same: a high school kid arrives in a new city after a run-in with the law. His efforts to lie low and live a normal life are disrupted as he, and several of his fellow students, discover that they have the power to change the hearts of corrupt individuals by entering palaces (which are physical manifestations of distorted desires).
In between heroic extracurriculars, players also spend the course of a calendar year making new friends, improving themselves by raising social stats like charm or knowledge, and doing mundane tasks like laundry or cleaning. So, you will take some tests in school, and you don’t have to head to bed because of a cat who’d chide you into going to bed early. Now, it’s easier to spend free time with friends or at home reading and making tools.
The game also introduces some time-consuming JRPG elements with activities like darts and billiards. It is a fun way to both raise different stats with party members and kill some time with minigames. The addition of the Thieves Den, a hangout where you can add statues, photos, and more, offers a quiet place to admire your achievements. Overall, it was an update that made the game basically a brand new game. And in 2020, it gave many a chance to play for the first time.
Malachi Shinault, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "Persona 5 Royal: While it's essentially Persona 5 (which released in 2016) with a bunch of new bells and whistles, P5R genuinely kickstarted my interest into the entire JRPG genre. Up until this game, I wasn't the biggest fan of turn based combat, but Persona does it so well and blends the palace fighting and day to day activities so well, it's the perfect storm of a video game I didn't know I longed for."
Zahcary Dickerson, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "My Game of the Year is Persona 5 Royal. I know Persona 5 didn't release this year, but I had never played a persona game before this, so it is MY game of the year. Royal changed enough from the base edition of the game to warrant discussion as well. This game is a masterpiece and made me fall in love with JRPGs all over again. Final Fantasy VII Remake could have occupied this spot, but I intentionally kept myself away from the game until the second episodic release so that I can experience everything it has to offer in one sitting. Persona 5 Royal has an amazing story and amazing music. Had I played this game in my youth, it would probably be my favorite game of all time. It hits every single note that I've been wanting from a modern JRPG and does it with turn based combat, which I've been dying for in a AAA JRPG for a while. If you've never played a Persona title and love JRPGs, you can't miss out on this."
2. Call of Duty: Warzone
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Techno Info Plus/Infinity Ward/Raven Software/Activision
So I can already hear you say that Call of Duty came out in 2019. While yes, that’s true, Call of Duty Warzone didn’t drop in on us until 2020. So we are counting it. The quality of Warzone made it well worth the wait. The scene exploded when it was announced that it would be free to play without the base game. Although it was way harder to upgrade your weapons since the upgrades transfered over to your custom builds. Many of us found some of our favorite places to drop (for me and my friends, it was The Promenade) to try and get that upper hand.
For those of you who don’t know, Warzone is CoD’s Battle Royale. After a rough first couple of months, the developer turned Warzone into one of the most fun, fast-paced, and interesting battle royale shooters. The game’s unique money system, which lets players purchase upgrades or their own custom loadouts, helps give each match its own mini objectives outside of just killing opponents, and could give you the upper hand in a battle.
It’s not just the money system that helped you survive. When you were knocked out of the initial game, you got one more chance at life in a 50/50 stake. Kill or be killed in the Gulag. Win and you were released back into the game to help your squad. Were you the only one that survived? That's ok, find money and buy your friends back to help you.
The future of Warzone, unlike that of most games on this list, is up in the air. After eight months of impressive updates and improvements from Infinity Ward, this week the game will begin adding content from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. We will all just have to wait and see.
Bailey Cortese, G FUEL Partnership Manager: "This was easy for me. I grew up playing COD4, WaW, and MW2. It has felt great to be fully immersed in a new Call of Duty title the same way I was when I was 12-14 years old. Let’s hope for a new map soon!"
Nick Merola, G FUEL Chief Creative Officer*: COD Warzone - Especially this year, Warzone was a great way to stay connected with others and became a challenging, tactical and fun game to play."
(*Nick got two because he couldn’t choose)
1. Ghost of Tsushima
Platform: PlayStation 4
Foriegn Policy/Sucker Punch Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment
This is honestly our true number one game. It follows Jin Sakai, a samurai on a quest to protect Tsushima Island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan in the late 13th century. The opening scene is that invasion, where the rest of the game is Jin taking back his home. The game is absolutely beautiful in so many ways.
The game features a large open world, without waypoints, which can be explored without guidance. If you truly wish to know the direction you're going, though, the wind is your friend. Yes, the wind will guide you to anything you wish to find on the island. You also unlock all kinds of tools to help you along the way. Sometimes, watching your enemies will give you a new stance to inflict violence on your oppressors, so waiting in the shadows is the most viable option at the start.
The story of Ghost of Tsushima takes the idea of the honor-bound samurai trope and lets the player explore the limits of the archetype. It isn’t long until the narrative tests the foundations and forms cracks in its design. Becoming the titular Ghost that ultimately saves Tsushima is a haunting and necessary evil that slowly erodes the identity of the main character and the necessity of the samurai code.
The code of the samurai, directly facing one’s enemy, is a huge mechanic in the game. Sometimes missions call for stealth, or sometimes it makes a long arduous fight way easier. Taking over a full fort full of Mongols can be reduced to a handful if you take them out silently. However, those actions wear down our hero Jin’s resolve.
Jin Sakai’s transformation is revealed throughout your gameplay. It’s slow, but not boring. The effects of your actions ricochet off to everyone on the island who he’s trying to save. The consequences of becoming a specter that haunts his enemies also instills fear into the very people he’s trying to save. Without spoiling anything, the final moments of the game don’t let the player revel in a job well done, but rather question whether the cost of succeeding was worth the path to victory.
Brian Riley, G FUEL Marketing Associate: "10/10 execution. Ghost of Tsushima made me feel like a playable character in my favorite action movie. Between your uncle and the other side characters you met along the way, you felt connected, and the game has really given you something to play for. The gameplay was challenging enough to keep you interested and offered enough fighting styles and tools to allow you to tailor your experience to the style you like to play. The added cherry on top was how beautiful the game looked."
John Donadio, G FUEL Writer: The writer of this article also picked this game as his GotY, but since he is writing it, he didn’t need a quote.
That concludes our list of the top 20 games of 2020. Was there a game you played this year that you think belongs on this list? Tell us in the comments section below!
Everyone here at G FUEL hopes that you all have a great and safe New Year. Let’s hope the games continue to be incredible. We will see you all in 2021!
Top image via Games Radar/Square Enix
This article was written by John D. AKA SomeBeardy2Love. John has been gaming for over 30 years, has a podcast, and watches nothing but anime and Bob’s Burgers. He has a sponsored beard and a modest book collection.