Though it may seem like time is meaningless, we've passed the halfway point of 2020 and, thankfully, there's no turning back. The following titles have kept us entertained through uncertain times and are already strong contenders for Game of the Year.
And the art style isn't too shabby either.
James | Animal Crossing: New Horizons
When 2020 began I wasn't expecting to be as excited about digging up fossils on a daily basis as I ended up being.
Nonetheless I stand before you having completed the museum's fossil section in New Horizons and with a sense of accomplishment uncommon in a big-budget release. Thanks to the drip feed of fish, bugs and art though, I'll be busy for a while yet.
Minecraft is a game which has done a lot to spark creativity over the years, and during lockdown in particular I've seen Horizons play host to everything from complex gameshows to elaborate recreations of landmarks and architecture styles.
It's not the most innovative game at first glance, but the various interwoven systems (and the countless frustrations that come with them…) create a wide range of things to do with little of the stress or anxiety you can experience in other, more structured games.
The wholesome nature of everything is enough to cause even the most cynical to relent and raise a wry smile and you'll probably even get one or two villagers who are fun to talk to.
Don't let the cutesy visuals fool you, Animal Crossing is a game for everyone.
Liam | Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone might look a lot like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, (no, not that Modern Warfare, the other one) which launched late 2019, but the standalone Battle Royale portion was actually released this March, and therefore qualifies as my Game of the Half-Year.
Apart from a brief dabble with Fortnite, the BR bandwagon has pretty much passed me by, so I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed Infinity Ward’s take on the last-team-standing formula.
Perhaps it’s the classic gunplay, or the mass appeal that has seen long dormant names on my friends list suddenly reactivated, but I haven’t had this much fun with a Call of Duty title since the series’ heyday over ten years ago.
Surviving frantic final circles, plotting winning strategies and picking fights with bounties is, and continues to be, a bloody good time, especially with a full squad of mates in tow. It’s even better when you consider the game costs absolutely nothing and still comes with plenty of content – including the criminally underrated Plunder mode.
The only downsides are the frequent (not to mention large!) updates whose only purpose seems to be to try and evict every other game from my console’s hard drive.
Deciding what games to delete is half the battle.
Sam | The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us 2 has gotten a bad rap based largely on leaks and misinformation, but setting aside preconceived notions and actually playing it was an experience to say the least. I’ll be keeping things vague, but fair warning that narrative themes and structure are discussed here.
Juxtaposing gorgeous visuals and often grotesque violence, The Last of Us 2 is a tragic story that you experience from two sides of the same coin. Each has their questionable reasons for vile actions, though somehow, I came to root for both. More than anything, I hoped that human decency would prevail and beget peace in the end.
If I was pushed to come down on one side or the other, however, it'd be that of a newcomer and the so-called “antagonist” of the story. TLoU2 challenged my perception via perspective and prompted a complete u-turn. While I can think of other moral twists in entertainment media, they all rely on a somewhat cheesy “Aha!” moment. Here it’s done slowly and subtly enough that I didn’t realise until I caught myself rooting for the “wrong” person, questioned it, then affirmed that I definitely was.
That’s a first for me and has stuck with me in the days since. I’ve thought about this game constantly after completing it, plus discussed and debated about it online. I’m more involved with the world and characters now than I ever was after playing the original - which was also excellent - and keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll eventually see more.
Are there any heroes in this story?
Let us know which games would make your list.