DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2020 — Justin’s Top 10
2020 was a year that featured social-distancing, mask-wearing, and some really great video games. Check out my Top 10 list here.
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.
Saying the year 2020 has not gone the way I expected would be a gross understatement. Between nearly being trapped in a foreign country, working in the middle of a pandemic, and navigating my way through all-online school, I certainly had my hands full. Despite all of the crazy twists and turns that came this year, the one thing that remained constant throughout was my love for video games. No matter what was going on in the world, there was always that escape from reality waiting there for me when I got home. Whenever my personal life became more difficult, I found comfort knowing that there was stability in at least one thing in my life.
As a result, I kind of fell back in love with gaming this year. This isn’t to say I necessarily fell out-of-love with it, but sitting down to play a game took on an entirely new meaning for me. I learned to really embrace my fandom of all things gaming, so it made my favorite pastime that much more special to me. On top of the next-gen console releases, some of my favorite games of all-time came out this year. Along with this, I managed to graduate college and begin writing at DualShockers. How could I not be excited?
Although I played many stellar games this year, these are the few that stood out to me the most in 2020.
10. Among Us
During a year where it has been difficult to hang out with friends, Among Us helped make things more bearable for everyone. The winner of two honors at this year’s The Game Awards, Among Us gives crewmates one of two simple tasks; either “Discover the Imposter” or “Kill off the Crew.” From there, a hilarious game filled with brutal deaths, completed tasks and deception ensues. Whether at a (socially distanced) gathering or over the internet, the game is a must-play for friends looking to have a good time.
9. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
One of my biggest regrets this year is not spending more time with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sooner. I have spent a lot of time with the Assassin’s Creed series and by the time Assassin’s Creed Origins had released, I was burnt out; it was all “Assassins” this and “Templars” that. It was all just starting to feel like the same game to me.
However, the time I spent playing as Kassandra ranks amongst the most memorable in the entire series. The huge open world, freedom of choice, and fun combat made the game world easy for me to get lost into. Although I am not sure I would call it the best game in the entire series, it certainly ranks near the top and is a must-play for fans of open-world RPGs.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the unexpected mental health savior of the year. Releasing right as the COVID-19 pandemic took its grasp on the United States of America, the game was the only thing at the time that brought a sense of serenity to anyone. Due to this, I think the game means something different to everyone. To me, it was the only game I could really play with my girlfriend so it allowed us to connect in a really unique way.
One of my favorite things about Animal Crossing: New Horizons is explaining it to people. When they ask what you do in the game, all I have to say is “whatever you want.” It is your island to design how you see fit and discover at your own pace, which is something we all needed this year.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
7. PGA Tour 2K21
I have a confession to make; I am one of those people that buys NBA 2K and Madden every year on launch day. Despite those games being flawed in a number of ways, they are a guilty pleasure for me. However, it was PGA Tour 2K21 that outclassed all other traditional sports games this year in my opinion.
While it may not have the hyper-realistic graphics of NBA 2K or the spectacle and hype of Madden, PGA Tour 2K21 does have great gameplay. Everything feels just as it should, and the game never forces you into some cheesy story or puts you at a disadvantage for being a rookie golfer. From the moment you step out on the course, you have the opportunity to compete with the best of them.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of PGA Tour 2K21.
6. Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Although this might technically be cheating a bit because there are three games here, I could not turn down the opportunity to include Super Mario 3D All-Stars on my list. When three of Mario’s best adventures come bundled together in one package, how can you resist not putting it on a Top 10 list?
Super Mario games are unique because even many years after their initial release, they manage to retain their charm. So many more 3D platformers have been released after these games, yet they still manage to hold up perfectly. That is why these games are truly special. Not only do you get great gameplay, but you also get a music player so you can listen to the wonderful scores from each game right on your Nintendo Switch. For $60, this is a hard package to turn down.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Despite not being a full-length game, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales manages to deliver quite the spectacle. 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man was one of the finest games of last-generation with its fun story, fluid combat and addictive web-swinging. While Miles Morales doesn’t stray too far away from that successful formula, where it excels in my opinion is its story. With Peter Parker taking some time away from New York City, Miles Morales is left to be the city’s only Spider-Man.
Although relatively short in length, the game manages to show Miles’ development from a shy wannabe hero into a full-fledged defender of the city. This game also introduces new combat mechanics with Morales’ “Venom Power,” which serves to not only allow for new gameplay opportunities but also adds a bit of style to the package as well. Whether you’re lucky enough to own a PlayStation 5 or you’re still rockin’ the PlayStation 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the best games you’ll find on either piece of hardware.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Despite being a Star Wars fan practically since birth, I was a little tardy to the party when it came to playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Since I am not one for “Soulslike” games, I found myself turned off when it released last year. It wasn’t until I knocked the difficulty down from “Jedi Master” to “Jedi Knight” that I was able to finally experience what this game had in store.
In my opinion, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order ranks among the best Star Wars games to date, at least in terms of making you feel like you are part of the universe. The story of Cal Kestis is one that, while it maybe comes off as unnecessary at times, is a ton of fun to experience. I wasn’t super invested in every character, but Kestis’ story is one that I would love to see more of. The small dynamic between him and his droid companion BD-1 never failed to put a smile on my face, and the game also has an interesting villain in the Second Sister.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
3. Cyberpunk 2077
What more can be said about Cyberpunk 2077 that hasn’t been said already? Between the delays, infamously buggy launch, and even a lawsuit, there is a lot working against it. This is really all a shame, because behind all of that madness around its launch is a really good game. It is not the 10/10 masterpiece that it was hyped up to be, but a good game regardless (if you have the means to run it well). From the tough-as-nails Panam Palmer to the incredibly likable Jackie Welles, the game introduces you to a cast of characters that I found to be interesting and relatable despite the futuristic setting.
This is my favorite thing about Cyberpunk 2077. While the gunplay and driving feel rather inconsistent, the characters, story, and world keep me coming back for more. Despite all of the time I’ve put into it so far, I haven’t even scratched the surface of everything that Night City has to offer. That is both exciting and terrifying. The sheer amount of things there is to do in this game makes it worth the price of admission alone. While I’ve been lucky enough to play Cyberpunk 2077 on a PlayStation 5, I can understand why many would be turned off if they started playing on a last-gen console. I still do believe Cyberpunk 2077 will be “playable” on last-gen eventually. If you can help it, hold on to your copy because there is a great game behind all of the technical issues that (unfortunately) plague it currently.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Cyberpunk 2077.
2. Persona 5 Royal
As an updated version of my favorite game of all-time, Persona 5 Royal basically solidified its place on my list from the moment it launched. I cannot stress enough how you should play this game if you haven’t already. Even if the anime art style is not your thing, trust me when I say that you will fall in love with it in a short amount of time. Persona 5 Royal is the most stylish game I’ve ever played. Whether it is the new over-the-top “Showtime Attacks,” insane Palaces, or even just the menus of all things, there is eye candy no matter where you look. Along with this, the game features a refined version of the addicting turn-based combat from the original Persona 5.
The story is what really makes Persona 5 Royal as good as it is. I would love to explain what it is about, but doing so would double the size of this list alone. On top of that, Royal adds an entire additional semester of gameplay as well, so an already long game got even longer. Even if you’ve already played Persona 5, there is still a reason to come back to play Royal. The added 10-20 hours of story content along with all of the other gameplay changes manage to make a great game even better. Persona 5 Royal was so close to being #1 on my list, but I ultimately decided that there was just one other game that made a bigger impact on me this year.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Persona 5 Royal.
1. The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us is a game that I hold dear to me. There are only a handful of games that truly ever floored me; games that, once the credits started rolling, made me place my controller aside and try to process what just happened. The Last of Us is one of those games. 2,562 days is how long I waited to see the story of Joel and Ellie to continue. Like much of the gaming community, I was stunned to see that The Last of Us Part II only kind of continues that story. Instead of giving gamers what they expected, developer Naughty Dog made some incredibly bold choices that I am happy to say ultimately paid off.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so all I am going to say is that The Last of Us Part II makes a pretty dramatic change roughly halfway through its story. The fact that Naughty Dog was able to keep that (mostly) a secret leading up to launch is an amazing thing, because it made the game hit so much harder for me. It made me do some things I really did not want to do, but by the time the credits rolled, I was able to understand why these things happened and made me really appreciate them. The game is also driven by strong performances from Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey. I felt as though I shared their struggles throughout the course of a story that I never wanted to see end.
The thing about The Last of Us Part II is that although I didn’t want to see it end, I haven’t touched it since. Every time I think about playing it again, I think about how hard that game was to experience. As I mentioned earlier, you see and do things in The Last of Us Part II that you may not really want to do, and they don’t really pay off until the very end of the game. For some, they may not pay off at all. The seven-year wait in between games allowed gamers everywhere to connect with these characters and their universe.
Naughty Dog wasn’t afraid to tear that connection apart and honestly, I feel they should be commended for it. Instead of making a game that phoned in a continuation of what we saw in the first game, they delivered a game that no one will forget, for better or for worse. For these reasons and more, The Last of Us Part II is my personal Game of the Year for 2020.
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 28: Scott White (Video Editor) // Justin Kucharski (Associate Staff Writer)
January 4: Game of the Year Awards 2020 Official Winners Revealed