The year is about to end (thankfully!) so it’s time to continue the tradition started in 2019 and publish an end of year list. Just like the last time, we have a Game of the Year and then a few favorites from select categories, with a final slot reserved for the most disappointing releases of the year.
Let’s start with a bang though, yeah? Here’s our Game of the Year, and once again, it shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following our coverage of games released in 2020.
Game of the Year – DOOM Eternal
What’s there to say about DOOM Eternal that hasn’t been said already? As sequels go, this is pretty much the apex predator. id Software could have chosen to rest on their laurels after the well-received 2016 DOOM relaunch, but instead, they went back to the drawing board and created a masterpiece that should influence FPS design for years to come. Oh, and the first part of the DLC (The Ancient Gods: Part One) might be even better, if you can handle its increased difficulty and penchant for throwing a bunch of cyberdemons at your face. If you are a first person shooter fan and don’t own DOOM Eternal yet, go buy it the second your economy allows you to do it. This is the sort of game you can’t miss.
Runner-up for Game of the Year – Death Stranding
I bought Death Stranding as a gamble, with the idea that if the first hour and a half didn’t hook me, I’d refund it and forget about it until it was on sale down the line. How did that go for me? I ended up spending almost ten hours hooked to my computer on that day, playing Kojima Productions‘ latest like there was no tomorrow. It’s a game that stubbornly refuses to be confined to a specific genre, coming closest perhaps to titles like Euro Truck Simulator, but at the same time indulging in gorgeous cutscenes and interesting sci-fi ideas. It’s not without faults, and it’s definitely not a game for everyone, but I’m very glad I stuck with it, as it will stay in my memory for years to come.
Action game of the year – DOOM Eternal
I should have moved this category down some spots, shouldn’t I? You aren’t seeing double, it’s just that DOOM Eternal deserves both the GOTY and Action game of the year awards. There’s always space for a runner-up though!
Runner-up for action game of the year – Serious Sam 4
Sam Stone’s return to the fold was as chaotic as the destruction he leaves in his wake when dealing with Mental’s hordes, but it was also charming and full of humanity. This is an over the top first person shooter that takes the time to make us care for both the world our character is trying to save, and the hero himself. It’s rough around the edges, but as I said in my review, Serious Sam 4 is the frenetic heavy metal mosh pit to Doom’s beautifully choreographed ballet of death and destruction, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Multiplayer game of the year – Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys dominated my online playtime in 2020, and with good reason, as it’s an incredibly entertaining experience. I’m still somewhat opposed to its reliance on random chance, and I wish the squad aspect of the game had received more love, but overall, Mediatonic‘s adorable juggernaut was, without a doubt, my multiplayer game of 2020 (and before you ask, while Among Us is an excellent game, it didn’t come out this year, so it’s not eligible).
Runner-up for multiplayer game of the year – Star Wars: Squadrons
Space combat titles aren’t exactly dime a dozen, so when Squadrons was announced, I was instantly onboard with its attempt to revive the greatness of the X-Wing/TIE Fighter games. While the campaign is highly enjoyable, the multiplayer modes ended up being the real star of the show for me, even if it’s a little light on content maps-wise. Fleet Battles is infinitely replayable, and the addition of B-Wings and TIE Defenders earlier this month was yet another reason to keep playing. Hopefully the sales numbers were high enough to warrant a sequel or continued support.
RPG of the year – Yakuza: Like a Dragon
If you told me at the start of 2020 that my RPG of the year would be Yakuza: Like a Dragon, I’d have asked if a certain other game got delayed again, because I was THAT certain that it wouldn’t disappoint. 2020 being what it is though, here we are. This is not a dig at Like a Dragon‘s quality though, because it’s a top notch experience, both as a Yakuza game and as an RPG. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have once again crafted an extraordinary title, and this time, they weren’t even working on something that played to their strengths.
Runner-up for RPG of the year – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The final evolution of the path Assassin’s Creed set on with Origins, Valhalla is a massive open world RPG that manages to tell an engaging story while at the same time featuring fun gameplay and a world that can be a joy to explore.
VR game of the year – Half-Life: Alyx
The return of Half-Life, and an extraordinary VR achievement. There have been a few attempts at making AAA-quality VR titles, but none have reached the quality of Valve‘s latest release. This is a masterpiece of VR design, and one that will hopefully inspire the next generation of VR developers, because after playing it, it’s hard to feel excited for other titles that just try to copy pancake game mechanics and paste them into a VR world. If you have a VR headset, or the money to get one, Alyx should be number 1 on your “to play” list.
Runner-up for VR game of the year – The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
Saints and Sinners is definitely far from Half-Life: Alyx‘ level of quality, but it shares one very important thing with Valve’s masterpiece: both games were designed as VR experiences from the ground-up, with very few remains of traditional game design ideas rearing their ugly head from time to time. This game is not a VR system seller, but it should be pretty damn high on your “to play” list, because it does so many things right (it’s pretty much a VR immersive sim in many ways).
Open world game of the year – Immortals Fenyx Rising
I won’t deny it, this is an all-new category that I created so I could put Immortals somewhere. This is one of the games that I enjoyed most this year, and while I guess I could put it as a runner-up for Action game of the year, removing Serious Sam 4 felt wrong. Awful name aside, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a surprisingly refreshing take on the Ubisoft open world formula that will probably convert even the staunchest Ubi-hater. Give it a go if you have the chance, you won’t be disappointed.
Disappointment of the year – Cyberpunk 2077
Oh, how I wish things had turned out differently for Cyberpunk 2077. From developers forced to crunch for crazy amounts of time, to cut features that were advertised as being in-game right up until it came out, to bugs and performance issues, this is the most disappointing release I’ve played in a pretty long time. I suppose that the fact that it came from the creators of The Witcher 3 is what makes me feel so bad about it, because Geralt’s last outing is still one of my favorite games of all time. There’s so much potential in Cyberpunk‘s Night City, that it feels wrong writing that the game is a disappointment, but sadly, that’s what it is right now. Without the marketing campaign and the developer videos hyping up its AI and RPG systems, this game would have probably been a solid 9/10 for me. As things stand, it’s a 6/10 at most. Seriously, have you seen the cop AI? Or the utter lack of meaningful RPG mechanics? I sincerely hope that next year I’ll be able to say CD Projekt RED have redeemed themselves in the way Hello Games did, but I’m not even sure if that’s on the table at the moment.