TheGamer Editor’s Choices Of 2020 – Dave Aubrey

What the hell happened? I feel like I just opened my eyes and a whole year whizzed past. 2020 has been incredibly eventful, but as I usually judge the passage of time by how many Nintendo Direct presentations we’ve had, this year has felt like too much, too fast. And now, here we are, standing at the precipice of the end of the world, and it’s time to take a brief look back at what the very best games of 2020 were.

Any and every game released in 2020 did so under extreme circumstances – the impending launch of a new console generation. Oh, and there was also a pandemic, which almost certainly complicated matters, at least a little bit. So it’s a minor miracle we were able to play so many games of such a high level of quality – believe me, it took me a little while to narrow things down, but here are my ten favourite games released in 2020, in no particular order.

Roll on 2021 and a vaccine, please. Just so fighting game tournaments can return, if nothing else.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Everyone is saying that this game is a blast of nostalgia, the kind of thing that only truly resonates if you’ve been thinking about Cloud and his adventure for more than two decades now. Well, I am here to say that is absolutely wrong, because I have never finished the original Final Fantasy 7, and I adored Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

While this adventure isn’t quite what fans were expecting from Tetsuya Nomura’s reimagining of the fan-favourite fantasy, it’s solid in more ways than one. The action combat system melds wonderfully with the RPG mechanics, it looks gorgeous, each character has a unique playstyle, and, yes, I am invested in the story. I do vaguely remember watching Advent Children with a friend many years ago, after all.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a weird one for me. I was more than a little excited to play it when it launched, but when I played those first few days on the island I wasn’t as invested as I expected to be. Then a few more days passed. Then weeks. Then months.

Then, suddenly, I had an entirely filled out island, entirely organised trees, picnic areas, flower gardens, an outdoor gym, everything I could think of, I created, and I just couldn’t put it down. I don’t think Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the best game ever or anything like that, but any game that can make me put 200 hours in after just a couple of months must be pretty good.

Resident Evil 3

This is not as good as the utterly incredible Resident Evil 2 Remake, let’s get that out of the way immediately. Resident Evil 3 Remake, just like the original, is a bit shorter than its predecessor, a bit lighter in terms of content, and certainly doesn’t drag you back for a second playthrough the same way Resident Evil 2 does. But that base is so good that anything you build upon it is going to withstand the test of time.

Resident Evil 3 goes for a more linear and action-centric style of gameplay than Resident Evil 2, but it’s still a wonderful romp while it lasts – and the asymmetrical multiplayer mode is definitely worth a go, even if it’s not up to the quality of the rest of the game.

Kentucky Route Zero

I hadn’t even heard of Kentucky Route Zero until this year when the fifth and final episode released, and when playing it through I could barely believe what I was experiencing. Kentucky Route Zero is a game which has you primarily just reading and experiencing things, thinking about what you see, and there’s plenty to think about.

Sure, the Hard Times Whiskey being brewed in casks – or, to be more accurate, caskets – is a bit of a heavy-handed metaphor for how capitalism grinds us all down until we die, but sometimes you need something overt to open your eyes to the messages at play, and if you look just a little bit deeper, you’ll find a much more thoughtful and fascinating look at working-class America.

Granblue Fantasy Versus

Granblue Fantasy Versus is secretly one of the best looking fighting games to have been released for years, it’s just that no one noticed because the online play was a bit lacking. Yes, Arc System Works outdid itself once again and created a fighting game that has excellent amounts of depth, while still being approachable for casual players.

Never input a quarter-circle motion in your life? That doesn’t matter, as Granblue Fantasy Versus can simplify those inputs for you, while still making it worth your time to learn the intricacies of fighting games. If only the netcode held up as well as the gameplay…

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

I will always evangelise Pikmin, and Pikmin 3 Deluxe is no different. You may have missed this one, it’s easily done, but did you know Nintendo released the best co-op multiplayer game of the year? See, it’s easy not to notice, but Pikmin 3 was an utter gem when it released on Wii U, and on Nintendo Switch with full co-op play added to the story mode it’s even better than ever.

All the mission mode DLC, new gyro controls, co-op throughout, and even a short and sweet new story mode following Olimar and Louie – this is quite possibly the very best Pikmin game, and you’re all ignoring it. For shame.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

The Warriors/Musou formula has been done to death, but somehow Age of Calamity managed to revitalise a gameplay loop that I long thought was dead to me. Yes, you do spend a long time in Age of Calamity fighting off hordes of fodder enemies, but things are different this time.

There’s a smaller cast of characters, but each of those characters has a more detailed, varied moveset. You no longer have to obsess over fodder enemies, and instead the focus is put on stronger monsters, each with a bigger health bar, and a variety of counters you can use, such as Perfect Dodges, Flurry Attacks, and Shiekah Slate parries. Combine all of these together, and it makes for the most engaging Warriors game released for years.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 will now, and always, be known for crunch culture and bugs, especially following the launch of the game on base Xbox One and PS4 – the team at CD Projekt Red really should’ve just delayed the launch of the last-gen version of the game, but this is where we stand now.

Cyberpunk 2077 is actually an excellent RPG to get lost in, with some amazing set pieces, beautiful visuals, touching stories, and a world that will have you exploring for hours on end. If you can play this game on a decent PC or newer console you absolutely should – otherwise you should be patiently waiting for more patches.

Astro’s Playroom

Yes, I managed to actually purchase a PS5, but I expected the likes of Spider-Man and Demon’s Souls to grab more of my attention. Instead, Astro’s Playroom had me, probably because it’s the only game on the console that felt truly new – and felt is the operative word, as the DualSense controller lets you feel your way around Astro’s world.

While the game doesn’t have me as convinced on the virtues of Sony’s haptic feedback technology as much as the company would like, it has convinced me of their pedigree. Sony is one of the biggest players in the video game industry, and Astro’s Playroom is an incredible celebration of everything Sony has achieved since the mid 90s. Plus, it’s the most Nintendo-like game I’ve ever seen on a PlayStation console, which has to count for something.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

I did not finish Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, despite being an avid participant in the “Project Rainfall” fan campaign that helped get the game localised. Thank goodness for Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, because I almost missed what is easily one of the top-ten greatest JRPGs of all time.

Xenoblade Chronicles takes you on a journey across a completely unique world in the video game space, and tells a story which goes from humble beginnings, to outcomes which literally change the nature of the universe, and it’s irresistible from start to finish.

Next: The Biggest Xbox One And Xbox Series X/S Games To Look Forward To In 2021

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TheGamer Guides Editor. Opinionated about Nintendo.

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