DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 — Grant's Top 10
Even in a year like 2020, I still managed to have a good time with incredible games like DOOM Eternal and The Last of Us Part II.
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.
2020 was certainly a year for everyone. While many of us have certainly been stuck at home exploring some new experiences that have released this year, I have definitely taken a different route with some of the games I have played.
There are still so many games I have still yet to play such as Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Hades, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and so many more. I am looking forward to eventually getting to all of them so that some of my picks for 2021 can be outdated as well.
10. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
I took a long hiatus from the Call of Duty franchise up until last year’s reimagining of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I decided to take the plunge into Black Ops Cold War after Activision has decided to take the popular route of continuing to create experiences based off prior content rather then creating anything new. That might sound a little harsh, but I still quite enjoyed the campaign for its latest release.
Black Ops Cold War takes place after the events of the original Black Ops and tells a convoluted yet interesting narrative. There were some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and the addition of dialogue options was a fascinating choice, even if they didn’t turn out to be all too meaningful. The campaign also bolsters all of the over-the-top explosions and Michael Bay-esque action set pieces we have come to expect from the series, which I am not too ashamed to admit that I quite enjoy.
I also might have a soft spot for this game since it was my first “next-gen” game that I played on my Xbox Series X. Black Ops Cold War is still a Call of Duty experience though, which means the gunplay will be great, the levels will be over-the-top, and you are bound to have some fun running and gunning.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
9. Halo 3: ODST
I have always remembered Halo 3: ODST as that one game I have always wanted to play but never got around to actually playing. Well, that finally changed in 2020 after seeing my fellow DualShockers colleagues place it at number 1 on the top Halo campaigns ranking.
ODST features the same fantastic Halo gameplay we have come to love while also integrating a more open world atmosphere. Exploring the city of Mombasa after the attack and creeping through the desolate city at night was a great change of pace for the Halo series. The game does an incredible job of weaving its narrative together with playable flashbacks that all lead to an incredible ending. And of course, finall there is what I think is the most forgotten aspect of ODST, its soundtrack; the music is top tier and easily some of the best in the series.
Go play this game if you haven’t. It isn’t that spinoff game that you wouldn’t mind missing out on. If you are a Halo fan, this is a must play.
8. Astro’s Playroom
I think there should be an experience just like Astro’s Playroom on every platform. This game is an excellent 3D platformer that also showcases the unique capabilities of the new DualSense controller and PS5. I still haven’t found a more “next-gen” experience than the feeling of playing this game with the new controller.
Astro’s Playroom also seems strategically built for speedrunners. After completing a level, I couldn’t help but wonder how fast I could get through it again. And wouldn’t you know I also got some handy dandy speedrunning tools to keep track of my times too.
Finally, the main reason why I think every console should have an experience similar to this game is that Astro’s Playroom celebrates the long history of PlayStation consoles and video games. Within every level, there are references to other iconic PlayStation games and collectibles that are old accessories or hardware from previous consoles, with each level containing collectibles tied to each generation of PlayStation.
I have not found another game to honor and celebrate the history of the medium quite like this. I am dreaming of the day that Nintendo would create something similar.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Astro’s Playroom.
You are damn right I am putting the original Pikmin on my list. I went back to play through the first two games before I reviewed Pikmin 3 Deluxe earlier this year, and I was astonished at how well the game holds up. I played through the Wii re-release of the the game and I am very happy I did. I have toyed around with the original GameCube game, but it controls best with the Wii’s pointer controls.
The first Pikmin game does not take very long to beat, but what is there contains some of the most creative ideas Nintendo has ever brought to life. Somehow the big N was able to make controlling a little army to do manual labor fun and exciting. Planning out each day and achieving everything you set out to do has this satisfying feeling that is unmatched from many similar games. Getting back to the S.S. Dolphin with a lost part with just a few minutes to spare was just…man, you will “get it” once you play it.
Each world has just enough to explore while not feeling like too much. No matter what corner of the level Olimar explores, something will be there to discover. Everyone should play this game once, because there is not much else like it.
6. Resident Evil 3
Resident Evil 3 might not live up to the incredible game that was Resident Evil 2; the game might not be very long, and yes, it does not contain some content from the original. It does have some problems; I will give you that. However, it still retains that great action/survival-horror gameplay we saw in last year’s game. Jill’s adventure through Racoon City was terrifying and exciting. Taking on Nemesis more times than I could count never got old for me. Plus, we got the best line ever muttered in a video game in Resident Evil 3.
Capcom has done a fantastic job at going back and restoring these classic games with modern touchstones. Now I just can’t wait until the inevitable remake of Resident Evil 4.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Resident Evil 3.
5. Paper Mario: The Origami King
I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am the biggest Paper Mario fan; I don’t run a Thousand Year Door stan Twitter account or anything. But damnit, this game sure does make me want to make one for it.
The Origami King has some of the funniest and most clever writing I have played in recent memory. Mario’s sidekick throughout the entire adventure, Olivia, had me giggling in my bed like I was hiding from my mom playing Mario Kart DS back in the day. Every event that took place throughout the experience had witty characters, interesting and funny settings, and so much more. I mean there is a Toad DJ running a private club underneath the desert in some ancient barrel grounds. How the hell do you come up with that?
I do believe Intelligent Systems has close to no idea how to make gameplay and combat a meaningful experience. And I do mean that quite literally. The puzzle-based combat has zero meaning whatsoever, other then to collect coins and to practice for boss battles. However, the developers still know how to create a game that will have players smiling throughout the entire play through.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Paper Mario: The Origami King.
4. Ghost of Tsushima
Sucker Punch created arguably the prettiest looking game of the generation with Ghost of Tsushima. The sweeping landscapes of the absolutely beautiful island of Tsushima was breathtaking at times. This really was an experience that should be played on a PS4 Pro or PS5 with HDR enabled.
On top of the visuals, Ghost of Tsushima has some incredibly engaging combat and gameplay. Mixing up your stances depending on the enemy encounter always kept me on my toes. I was always on the lookout for foxes to discover secrets when I was exploring the vast world of Tsushima.
Sucker Punch’s latest title didn’t do anything to really push the needle forward for open word western AAA RPGs. However, it still stands as an incredible experience that PlayStation 4 owner have to pick up.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Ghost of Tsushima.
3. Super Mario 3D All-Stars
This might be a controversial one to some, but Super Mario 3D All-Stars was something I had been hoping to see for quite sometime. I have always wanted to have most of the 3D Mario games playable on the go for so long. Yes, I agree that the package in 3D All-Stars is pretty barebones. Nintendo could have done a much better job of actually celebrating Mario’s 35th anniversary with this collection rather then just slapping emulated versions of the games onto a cartridge. But what can I say? I am a sucker for Super Mario Galaxy.
Galaxy has always been a top 5 game for me ever since it released back in 2007. With that said, I had never fully completed the game. I have beaten it plenty of times, but I had never 100%-ed it and collected every star. That changed in 2020. And I have to say, there is not a 3D platformer better than Super Mario Galaxy. It was also fantastic to revisit both Super Mario 64 and Sunshine.
I am not going to sit here and make excuses for how lacking the collection was and the potential it could have been. But when I look back on all of the games I played in 2020, this was the one I had some of the most fun with. Well, maybe the third most fun.
Check out DualShockers review of Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
2. DOOM Eternal
There is not a better FPS out there that makes the player feel like more of a badass. From the very start of DOOM Eternal, the Doom Slayer (or the player) was acclaimed as this running and gunning hellfire of death. And that is exactly what you are.
The fast paced gameplay of DOOM Eternal was unmatched this year. Once players get accustomed to the speed of it, jumping and circling enemies while blasting all of them away is just so damn satisfying. But even then, it was somehow not as satisfying as performing a glory kill. The rhythmic nature of how the Doom Slayer moves throughout the levels almost becomes second nature after a couple hours. It was such a surreal experience when I was just screaming through levels while barreling through demons like it was nothing.
I had no idea how id Software was going to top DOOM 2016, but somehow they achieved the impossible. DOOM Eternal was the best FPS of the year, and I can honestly say it might be the best single-player FPS I have ever played.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of DOOM Eternal.
1. The Last of Us Part II
Naughty Dog once again showed why they are the best storytellers in the video game industry. It might not have been exactly what I wanted or what plenty of other people wanted, but the experience left me floored when I finally finished The Last of Us Part II. Naughty Dog knew exactly what the reaction would be from plenty of gamers out there, and they still went for it.
I have to applaud the direction that Neil Druckmann and the team went for, because often the games that don’t make you feel anything do not get remembered. When Kojima pulled a 180 with Metal Gear Solid 2–making Raiden the main character above Snake–fans were upset at the time. When Nintendo went for a more vibrant and cel-shaded art style with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, fans were upset. But both of those games are looked upon as not only some of the best in their retrospective series’, but some of the best games ever made. I think in ten years, we will be saying the same thing about The Last of Us Part II.
Naughty Dog told a gut-wrenching narrative while simultaneously creating the best gameplay of any title they have ever created. I can’t wait to see what they have planned next for the franchise.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Last of Us Part II.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards nominees:
December 24: Grant Huff (Senior Staff Writer) // Camilo Olmedo (Associate Staff Writer)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed