It’s certainly been an usual year, and not only because of the unprecedented goings on across the world, but because of what gaming meant to us in 2020. It might have been harder to deal with the unique situation we’ve all been in this year were it not for our own little corner of escapism, where you can become an expert sharpshooter, traverse a few platforms to save a fantasy realm from darkness, or just be really good at crafting furniture out of one of three types of wood.
Hopefully you’ve all found games which have helped pull you through 2020, but which was your favourite? Which was the most surprising or unexpected? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, on to our top picks.
New Horizons' charming wholesomeness was a bastion of serenity for many people this year.
Sam | The Last of Us Part II
Like James, my “Game of the Mid-Year” wasn’t dethroned during the last six months. Since I summed up my feelings on TLoU2 back then, however, rather than repeat myself I’ll immediately derail the conversation by discussing something else entirely…
Although Demon’s Souls (my favourite console launch game) and Resident Evil 3 are the runners up this year, I’m surprised to say that Final Fantasy VII Remake is hot on their heels. As someone that has no prior experience with the series and little to no patience for JRPGs with anime trappings, that’s damn impressive.
After playing the demo out of a feeling of obligation, I walked away having really enjoyed the combat if nothing else. That was enough for me to give the full game a try, and, to my surprise, I warmed to its world and characters over the nearly 40 hours it took to finish all of the quests.
In time, what were unbearably tropey caricatures with cheesy dialogue became more endearing than annoying. As someone that typically cringes at this stuff and can’t bear to be around it for any significant length of time, what the game achieved was nothing short of miraculous.
I’m actually looking forward to the second part of Final Fantasy VII Remake, which is something I never thought I’d say. Credit where it’s due, the team at Square Enix did an excellent job with what could’ve been a disastrous project accounting for the game’s illustrious history.
You know it's been a messed up year when Sam's praising a JRPG.
Liam | Star Wars Squadrons
I've spoken before about my enthusiasm for the Rogue Squadron series, and flying games in general, so it’s no surprise that Star Wars Squadrons, the perfect amalgamation of the two, gets my pick for game of the year.
My winner could very easily have been Call of Duty: Warzone, which continues to provide me and my friends with hours of entertainment (for free!), or Animal Crossing: New Horizons – a title I’ve sunk dozens of hours into, and even tipped it to be my top pick earlier in the year – but I simply couldn’t ignore the brilliance of Squadrons.
While I’ll always have a soft spot for Rogue Squadron’s arcade gameplay, there’s just something very satisfying about Star Wars Squadrons’ more technical take on combat, whether it’s diverting power to weapon systems for an attack run on a Rebel flagship or shifting power to your X-wing’s forward shields to swat away the TIE interceptor that’s foolishly decided to joust you head-on.
The sim-focussed gameplay might feel a little daunting at first but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a properly immersive experience (both in multiplayer and in the surprisingly decent campaign) that lets you live out your ultimate Star Wars fantasies as a Rebel or Imperial ace.
The Force is strong with this one.
What was your game of the year? Let us know below.