It’s hard to believe just how fast this year has flown by. This is the last week of October, meaning there are just over two months left before we finish out 2020. It’s been an interesting and unprecedented year for gaming with COVID-19 in the mix. Major video game conferences were either canceled or forced to be online only. Many game releases were delayed into 2021 because developers were working from home. Yet the industry has continued to thrive and there were some great releases in 2020.
When I consider a Game of the Year (GOTY) candidate, the game’s release date does not have to fall within that particular calendar year in order to qualify. Admittedly, I do not buy every game when it is first released. As a result, I may not get around to some games for years. For example, my Game of the Year in 2019 was Tomb Raider on the Playstation 4. Although the game was released in 2013, I finally played and completed it last year. It was the best game that I played in 2019. In my opinion, the game was a masterpiece that had excellent graphics, terrific gameplay, tremendous character development and progression with Lara Croft, very responsive controls, and outstanding pacing. It held my full attention from beginning to end. It had been a long time since I had played a game where I actually felt like the main character I was controlling was going through a harsh ordeal. Yet Tomb Raider conveyed this brilliantly with all the obstacles Lara faces from start to finish. She gets messed up and the game makes sure you feel it. That is part of Tomb Raider’s charm that other developers could take notes from.
This year, I already have several games that come to mind that I would consider to be the best I’ve played in 2020. The current nominees are: Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4), Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4), Persona 5 Royal (PS4), MLB The Show 20 (PS4), Fire Emblem Three Houses (Switch), Astral Chain (Switch), Fire Pro Wrestling World (PC), Hades (PC), and The Division 2 (PC). All of these games exemplify the best in gaming.
Featuring my favorite comic book character, Spider-Man set the bar for all comic book games to follow when it comes to titles featuring individual comic book characters with its immersive action and story. How Square Enix took an original Playstation game and brought it to life for 2020 is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment with Final Fantasy VII Remake. The original Persona 5 was already one of the best role-playing games of all-time but to release a version that adds even more content and characters in Persona 5 Royal made an all-time great game legendary. With MLB The Show 20, no other modern professional sports title comes close to delivering the high quality this game does. I had never played a Fire Emblem game before Three Houses, but that game (which I currently have more than 60 hours in) actually made me start buying role-playing strategy games. Not a lot of people talk about it, but Astral Chain is a manga inspired gem of a game with great action and a unique control system that makes the battles very exciting. With unparalleled customization and a tried and true formula that spans decades, Fire Pro Wrestling World is the best representation of video game pro wrestling that I have ever played. As if the other titles (Bastion, Pyre, Transistor) Supergiant Games created weren’t great enough, the developer decided to create a beautiful and engaging masterpiece with Hades, which exited early access in 2020 and holds its own against the best Triple-A games. And finally, The Division 2 is a spectacular looter shooter that is easy to lose yourself in and has tremendous depth.
Those are my picks. Although I play games like Battlefield 2, Star Wars Battlefront II, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, and Call of Duty very regularly and they are some of my favorite games, I did not want to include them as candidates because they would end up being eligible every year. I also apply the same criteria to sports games I play often such as ESPN NFL 2K5 and NBA 2K14. Normally, I don’t include wrestling games but because Fire Pro Wrestling World developer Spike Chunsoft released its final DLC for the game this past summer, I felt it was fair to add the game as a potential candidate since all of its content is now fully released.
There’s still a couple of months left and there could be a game or two that gets replaced along the way. I look forward to seeing how Watch Dogs Legion shapes up as it is released this Thursday. It’s one of the games I’ve been looking forward to this fall. What are some of the games that you’ve played this year that you would give the nod to as your GOTY?