DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 — Ben’s Top 10
I turned to a lot of comfort games throughout this year, but 2020 also brought lots of great new games for myself and friends to play.
As 2020 (thankfully) comes to a close, the DualShockers staff is coming together to share their personal favorite games throughout the year. Unlike our official Game of the Year Awards, each of these lists is meant to reflect which games stood out personally to each of our staff members. Additionally, any game — not just 2020 releases — can be considered in each Top 10 List.
10. Cyberpunk 2077
I’ve been playing Cyberpunk 2077 on PC and feel as if I’m one of the lucky ones throughout its launch to not experience a range of game-breaking issues. But while I don’t believe it excels in a lot of areas, I do think that the story has a fantastic range of voice acting and depth that has found me becoming really engrossed in it. And what’s more is that it’s not just characters that are central to the story: its supporting characters (such as the ones during the mission at Clouds) have so much power to their voice acting, and the random side-quest actors feel like they bring their characters to life.
For that reason alone, Cyberpunk 2077 has only just slid its way into my top 10. I may have had to find myself pushing through awkward shooting mechanics, glitchy car journeys, and a world that is uncomfortably written on purpose. However, the payoff to see V’s relationship with those around them grow, especially Johnny Silverhand, was something that made my time with the game worthwhile.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Cyberpunk 2077.
9. Watch Dogs: Legion
This hacking-athon title from Ubisoft certainly stood out to me this year, probably because I’m a Brit living in a world that feels as if it’s heading in the same direction as the one portrayed in Watch Dogs: Legion. The hacking mechanics felt as if they were enjoyable and built upon the previous games in a way that felt a touch more fluid, albeit somewhat fiddly at times. The story was a surreal trip in a lot of places, specifically the Blume plotline, but it was something that worked, and something that felt engaging while also leaving you thinking, “Wait, what?”
The writing in general took an overly stereotypical feel, but it’s such a beautiful dystopian world, and one I’m familiar with. And there’s nothing more fun than recreating my Camden Market to Piccadilly Circus shopping trip with the added threat of being beaten down by Albion security. But being able to explore the city freely in typical Ubisoft fashion was something I enjoyed.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Watch Dogs: Legion.
8. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2
With Session and Skater XL being the only other skating games that were on my radar this year, they were also borderline simulations. So while they were enjoyable, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 brought entertainment in skating games back in its typical arcade way. The remaster of the originals looks stunning and the gameplay is so familiar that my muscle memory from the year 2000 had started to kick in immediately.
I do need to spend more time creating a park rather than browsing the community created parks, but I think that goes to show how much fun I’m having popping ollies in other people’s imaginations. The other bonus is that the soundtrack for the game was not only nostalgic but also introduced me to some interesting bangers this year. I never thought I’d be enjoying one specific Machine Gun Kelly track, but here we are.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.
7. Rocksmith 2014 Edition – Remastered
I know this is an old game, but it’s been one that’s been really enjoyable throughout this year’s pandemic. I used to play guitar back in my younger years and learned a few simple songs before I wound up becoming engrossed in the world of filmmaking and video editing. Playing guitar had, since then, been something I was always going to “get back into” but I never did. So this year, after finding my old acoustic, I picked up Rocksmith 2014 Edition -Remastered and made use of the microphone input rather than the electric guitar cable you can get separately.
While this worked for a while, it wasn’t picking up chords exactly, which led to me receiving an electric guitar and picking up a Rocksmith cable. From there I skipped past all the learning steps and started picking up my old guitar playing habits using the large DLC library available. Now I’m learning the themes from video games such as The Last of Us, Portal, Hades, and a few others on top of tracks such as Radiohead’s “Last Flowers,” Gary Jules’ “Mad World,” and David Grey’s “This Year’s Love.” Additionally, I’m also writing my own melodies thanks to the inspiration to keep improving through this game.
6. Among Us
This game kind of took me by surprise, as I’m sure it took everyone by surprise. A massive success story lies behind this game this year, and it’s one that I’ve had a good time playing. I often join a friend of mine who’s a streamer, and for a number of streams, we’ve jumped into Among Us and had a fun time with the community. It’s a game that makes people frantically talk over one another trying to prove their innocence, which for a deaf player like myself is a nightmare. But the gameplay is so simple, so easy to pick up, and so hilarious that it’s been an absolute joy to play.
The thing I’m most looking forward to is that the game’s sudden success means there’s going to be loads of new updates heading to players. We’re already getting a new map and the game’s being ported to consoles, but I’m hoping to see better in-game communications, and more possibilities for Imposters to make use of.
5. Fitness Boxing
DualShockers was due to be getting a review copy of Fitness Boxing 2, but that never happened. But as it happens, throughout 2020 I’ve had an on/off relationship with the original game. When jogging felt too cumbersome, I’d instead switch to digitally punching inputs. It’s not a perfect game, by far, and I’m pretty sure the continuous punching motions have screwed up 2 sets of Joy-Con controllers, but it’s a game that does exactly what it sets out to do.
I’ve punched my way through all available exercises in Fitness Boxing, and all of them, especially the more intense workouts, have made me work up a sweat and I’ve felt my muscles feeling the strain from targeting specific areas. Prior to the pandemic, I was looking into a gym membership, but now that the world has plunged into socially distanced measures, this has been the better option for me that doesn’t require forking out for the expensive Ring Fit Adventure to squish with my thighs.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Fitness Boxing.
4. Rocket League
I believe I keep putting Rocket League into all my Top 10 end of year lists, but there’s always a reason. Usually, it’s just because it’s a great game to play with strangers, friends, and family alike, but this year the game saw a huge update; one that saw the game go free-to-play along with a complete overhaul of various features. New game modes have entered the fray on a timed basis, and the enjoyable gameplay remains intact throughout.
I continually find myself striving to rank up to Diamond with Platinum 3 being the highest I’ve been able to gain. I enjoy this game year-on-year and with the continued support from its developers, I don’t think that’s going to slow down. I’d love to see more accessibility features implemented to make the game’s interface more appealing to look at, but for now, Rocket League is here to stay for me.
3. Microsoft Flight Simulator
I honestly adored this game when it launched earlier this year. I’m a low-key flight simulator fan, playing games like IL-2 Sturmovik 1946 back in my younger years. Microsoft Flight Simulator was, however, my first trip back into the world of flying games since maybe 2007. And it was incredible. The sheer detail and realism throughout the game was a marvel to witness, and being able to use an Xbox Gamepad rather than a HOTAS felt more casual and enjoyable to control.
I also enjoyed flying alongside a good friend that reviewed the game here at DualShockers, and while the game needs work on being able to clearly see your flying pals, when we eventually managed to fly along the coasts of Hawaii, it was pure bliss. No combat, just flying in real-time over a real world. I do however feel guilty because in order to install Cyberpunk 2077 I felt like I had to uninstall Microsoft Flight Simulator as a precaution. But after remembering I have 2 SSDs, I’ll be jumping back in within the next few weeks.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
This, similarly to Among Us, saw huge success this year. The game launched and its popularity continued to grow. I’m a huge fan of horror games, but Phasmophobia takes horror to weirdly new cooperative heights by introducing voice commands that are used to trigger ghost activity. While hunting a ghost is fun and everything, the atmosphere that builds up around you is mostly of your own making, which I find impressive. Ghosts can throw things, and they can flicker lights, and make noises. But being the one person forced by your team of 3 others to stay in a room alone calling the ghost a series of vulgar words just to get that last piece of evidence needed is a fear that works incredibly well in Phasmophobia.
The developer seems to be working on more content and updating the way the game plays as more players flock to it. But the current levels and ghost hunts have huge replayability due to the different randomized tasks needed and given the unpredictability of a ghost. I’m excited to see where this game goes in the future.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched on the heels of a global pandemic and turned out to be the perfect way to keep everyone connected while in lockdown. Following that, personally, the game fell off my radar for a few months after due to having to focus on other game launches and as my personal life started to weigh me down. But since jumping back into it again in late November, I’ve started to feel the game’s magic come back, and for a brief moment, the stresses of reality became less.
I think there’s much that New Horizons doesn’t do well — terraforming, item customization limitations, internet connectivity with others, etc — but there’s no denying that it’s a fantastic game about connecting with others without having to resort to violence. There’s also a small gladness that I can leave the game for 4 months and not have to feel entirely guilty because my island seems to continue to thrive. Weeds don’t populate that much, and if they do they look somewhat aesthetically pleasing, and the villagers seem to be more understanding that you’re a busy person.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
December 23: Lou Contaldi (General Manager) // Ben Bayliss (Features Editor)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed