Ten members of the Geekdom Gamescast family select-start-A-B their Top 3 GOTY with honorable mentions. So let’s get to, and don’t forget to scroll down for our overall consensus GHG 2020 Game of the Year!
1. The Last of Us Part II (PlayStation 4) – I had so much to say about this game we recorded two different Gamescast episodes about it, and when I look back, I still wish I could play it again for the first time. I was pretty hesitant about a sequel to the 2013 PS3 masterpiece, but by the end this sequel both justified its existence while opening up the world even more with a thematic punch that can only really be executed in the form of a video game, forcing you to keep playing through horrific situations and literally put yourself in the shoes of your enemy. On top of that Naughty Dog continues to bring the tense combat scenarios and harrowing set pieces, including the most notable boss battle of the year. – 5/5
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) – While almost 75% of the movie blockbusters that were supposed to come out this year were pushed back, Square Enix made up for it by releasing maybe the most exciting sci-fan blockbuster in any medium to come out in a very long time — as noted by yours truly in quite a few Gamescast episodes. The lovable characters, memorable moments, and mostly polished game design all adds up to be the most fun you can have had in an ARPG this year. – 4.75/5
3. *TIE* Doom Eternal (Xbox One/PS4/PC/Nintendo Switch/Google Stadia) / Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – When it comes to what I like about video games, these two titles are almost polar opposites. With it’s excellent combat-puzzle hybrid gameplay, Doom Eternal was by far the sweatiest single player experience I had this year— to the point where I got so hyper focused it was a transcendent, out of body experience (where I didn’t need VR). On the other end of the spectrum Ghosts was beautifully immersive in its expansiveness and immersion. While it didn’t bring any one new thing to the table, it did mostly everything so well that it was hard to put down. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Hades, Call of Duty: Warzone, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 Remake, Star Wars Squadrons.
1. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) – The anticipation and hype surrounding this highly loved JRPG title was unreal and luckily it exceeded my expectations. I could barely put down the controller once I got hooked, a true masterpiece! The wait for Square Enix to grace us with the “sequel” to this epic story continues. Without a doubt my favorite single-player game of 2020 and that says a lot, as 2020 had lots of heavy hitters in the single-player/story category. A game no-one should miss out on. – 4.5/5
2. Valorant (PC) – My #2 pick sees a highly competitive team-based 5v5 sci-fi/fantasy first-person shooter title from the same company that brought us League of Legends. Even back in Alpha build this felt more polished and finished than its competitors– a brilliantly executed multiplayer game that rewards tactics, pure skill and communication. Valorant borrows elements from popular games like Counter-Strike and Overwatch. Its free-to-play model makes it very accessible and with non-intrusive cosmetics microtransactions that doesn’t alter the fine-tuned gameplay. Oh! It also runs well on a wide range of hardware. – 4.5/5
3. The Last of Us Part II (PS4) – A sequel we really didn’t need and it didn’t achieve the same level of greatness with the story and how it was told compared to their first game, but it’s still one of the better single-player games released this year. Naughty Dog always deliver with the packaging, a visually stunning game that takes you on a journey that plays on all the heartstrings along the way. For better and worse. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: Ghost of Tsushima, Call of Duty: Warzone, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remake, Desperados III.
1. The Last of Us Part II (PS4) – It’s no surprise that the sequel to my favorite game of all time winds up in the number one slot. Although it didn’t blow me away as much as the original, it still slipped the rug from under me, in a very brilliant way. This game took a narrative risk thus creating divisive reception, and I respect Naughty Dog for that. This is going to be a game that people will revisit in their 30’s and have a completely different outlook on. It’s no surprise that Naughty Dog checked all the marks with this one: graphics, sound design, music score, gameplay, combat, and especially narrative. I’m not here to tell you it’s extremely polished in all avenues. This is my number one because it made me pensive, fostered conversations on morality, and demonstrated how gaming as a medium can take advantage of the high level of immersion it offers. – 4.75/5
2. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – When everyone else was experiencing a high level of zen and joy from Animal Crossing, I was having the same exact experience with Ghost of Tsushima. Tsushima is one of the most beautiful worlds I ever explored and following the wind direction or a cute animal to my next destination was a treat. Yet this game wasn’t all pretty and rainbows, as the story is very good with some dark themes. Ghost takes elements from games like Assassin’s Creed and somehow creates the Assassin’s Creed game we have been asking for in a Feudal Japan setting– except better. Although TLOU 2 is more critically GOTY, I had the most fun with Ghost. – 4.5-4.75/5
3. Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PS4) – This game straight up made me smile non-stop, and it wasn’t just nostalgia. Square Enix somehow managed to recreate and evolve the magic of the original FF7 and made it feel like a completely different game while keeping the core elements. It also somehow perfected the hybrid turn-based with action mechanics. Also…that remix of “One Winged Angel”! – 4.25/5
Disclaimer: Waiting for PS version of Hades to dive deep.
Honorable Mentions: Demons Souls Remake, Cyberpunk 2077.
1. Star Renegades (X1/PS4/Switch/PC) – Once again, let us give praise and thanks to Xbox Game Pass. Because, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have played it otherwise with so many other huge games coming out. Check my review for details on this gem that you shouldn’t miss if you’re a fan of gorgeous sprites, strategies, old school rpgs, and Into The Breach. – 5/5
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) – I think a lot of the other writers at GHG thought I was kidding when I said this would be on my list (since so many monster games were coming this year). Nah, I was dead serious. AC came out swinging with more of everything that long-time fans love, pulled in new fans with its undeniable charm on a platform that finally caught on. It gave gamers the best friendship they never knew they needed: Isabelle and Doomslayer. My only problems were Nintendo being Nintendo with some aspects (multiplayer, one island per console, etc). – 4.75/5
3. Cyberpunk 2020 (uhh… PC?) – First off, I truly feel for gamers that play the game on a base Xbox or PS4. What CDPR pulled was utter bullshit and I hope they got flame-retardant coal for Christmas. That being said, I’m lucky enough to play on a Series X and haven’t had one crash or game breaking bug (just “Skyrim glitches” here and there). Where this game shines is the sheer liberty with how you can build your character (stats-wise, not physically) and handle missions. The stories told — both main and side — are fantastically written and should definitely be experienced. Check Dee’s stellar review for more details. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: Ghost of Tsushima, Doom Eternal, Empire of Sin, Gears Tactics, Marvel’s Avengers (not kidding, idc), Hades, Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
1. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – Masterpiece of epic proportions on all fronts. Also the best movie I watched in 2020. Can’t heap enough praise upon the title and Suck Punch Productions. My Game of the Year, my Game of the Generation (narrowly beating God of War). Can’t wait for what’s next for the franchise! – 4.75/5
2. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (X1/PS4/XSX/PS5/PC) – From being underwhelmed in the first 30-hours to still absolutely in love at 120+ hours, Valhalla for me is the comeback story of the year, and believe it or not, the best AC game I’ve ever played– and I’ve played ‘em all. Except Unity. Fuck Unity. – 4.5/5
3. Call of Duty: Warzone (X1/PS4/Xbox Series X/PS5/PC) – A tired franchise and a tired game type somehow reinvigorated both. The expansion of lore through weekly intel hunts helped build a cohesive shared universe in the COD franchise. I may have been the only person asking for COD lore, but it led to hours of me scavenging for the truth of what happened in Verdansk. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, Doom Eternal.
1. Yakuza: Like a Dragon (X1/XSX/PC/PS4) – New protaganist, new setting, new gameplay. RGG Studio took a huge gamble on Yakuza 7 but managed to hit a monumental home run. They offered not only one of the best Yakuza games, but a very compelling Japanese RPG as well that is very accessible to series newcomers. Like A Dragon just feels like the perfect evolution of a great series. – 5/5
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) – FF7R took me back to my childhood, offering an almost perfect remake of the original Final Fantasy VII while changing some of the groundwork into a still incredibly satisfying game. While not a direct 1:1 port, fans of the original can easily jump in and relive the magic in a very beautiful rendition of Midgar and incredibly satisfying action combat. – 4.75/5
3. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – GoT doesn’t break the mold or reinvent the wheel, but what it does is take an established open world formula and improve on almost every aspect of it. With one of the best melee combat systems in recent years and an exploration system that actually feels rewarding, Ghost of Tsushima is one of the most impressive open world games to date. Now with a multiplayer mode that is incredibly fun, it is a very great package to experience. – 4.75/5
Honorable Mention: Hades, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 Remake, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Monster Train.
1. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – Having watched 27 — yes, twenty-seven! — Samurai movies in preparation for Jin Sakai’s 80+-hour journey, I was already going into this Sucker Punch title excited as shit. While it was a tough call between this and my #2, this PlayStation exclusive made more of an impact to me, culturally, and as a whole melted inside my brain for several months after I rolled credits. Just on the vanilla PlayStation 4 it was a beauty! The intuitive yet not overwhelmingly complex, visceral combat is definitely the year’s best, and the surplus of supporting characters and various sub-narratives were memorable. In a year where we upgraded our lovely PS4 and Xbox One consoles for awesome stuff that cost 500 bucks, having an open world “greatest hits” type genre game like Ghost of Tsushima was the perfect cherry on top. – 4.5-4.75/5
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) – If Ghost is my #1, FF7R is my #1A. Actually, I originally rated this one slightly higher than my top pick. Hey — it’s been a long year. While that game still gives me the feels, no 2020 game gave me higher instant gratification. The best moments of this remake are among the best moments in video games of the year. Yeah, I say that without playing TLOU2 (so sue me), but, hell, I’m one-half of the Gamescast so I can get away with it. In the end, part 1 of the new FF7 is a flat-out gorgeous, invigorating battlefield of every weeb dream imaginable. – 4.5-4.75/5
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS5/PS4) – While I’m still playing it, taking my sweet-sweet time swinging around this superb PlayStation 5 eye-candy on my new 65″ Sony X90H LED, the 50% overall completion is enough to grant Miles’ story in my Top 3. While not entirely exclusive (it runs just fine on PS4/PS4 Pro) and not the mega-experience Peter had 2-years ago, this follow-up improved upon every one of the original Insomniac Spidey title (but the villains; more of Marvel Comics’ fault than that of the devs’). And, really, there’s nothing like it; Miles Morales just feels next-gen, popping on the screen like nothing else in gaming. The story is super solid, the characters are multilayered and Miles’ skills just outshine Pete’s. Arguably the most fun game of the year. – 4.5/5
Disclaimer: Personal 5 Royal woulda been my GOTY if not for being a mere enhanced rerelease (and being 7000 hours long.. geesh); I also just started Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on the PS5 a few nights ago (but loving the Viking vibe already!).
Honorable Mentions: Doom Eternal, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late [cl-r]: Star Wars Squadrons, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Granblue Fantasy Versus, Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
1. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – GoT captivates with almost every aspect of the game. The environment, the sound design, and visuals all work together to bring you into this beautifully crafted world. The action/fighting is always fun throughout and feels very well balanced in that you hardly ever feel like you didn’t deserve to lose in those trying moments. When a game can played as easily and fluid as this, and you can still stop and stare at the landscape of it all and feel like it’s art, you know you’ve got something special. – 4.5/5
2. Hades (Switch/PC) – The most fun I’ve had with a roguelike in quite some time. As with all roguelikes, you’ll become quite familiar with death as you play, but you’ll gain bonds (and romances) with the Greek gods as you progress which both deepen the story and add new elements for your playthroughs. Even once complete there’s still hours and hours worth of gameplay. – 4.5/5
3. Animal Crosssing: New Horizons (Switch) – Call me crazy for putting this in the Top 3, but.. this is the top 3 for 2020. This game dropped right at the beginning of the quarantine and was a perfect escape from all the worries of the ongoing pandemic. The relaxation of living on your own island, caring for your new house, doing some fishing, visit your friends islands; it was such a release from the tensions brought on by this year. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: The Last of Us Part II, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Doom Eternal.
1. The Last of Us Part II (PS4) – Like any great work of art, TLOU2 is divisive and it is hard at times to separate the toxic discourse from legitimate criticism. While not the perfect game for everyone, it is a most certainly heartfelt and passionate work from a lot of talented people and worth experiencing for yourself to make your own opinion about. – 5/5
2. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – One of the most polished games of the year, Ghost of Tsushima, takes all the best aspects of samurai lore and constructs a compelling narrative. Story aside, the visuals and music are gorgeous as well, and Sucker Punch made an open world game that’s actually worth exploring. – 5/5
3. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) – Fans have been waiting decades to play a remastered version of FFVII and not only did SquareEnix deliver, they knocked it out of the park! The battle system is exciting and dynamic and the story takes some unexpected twists and turns even if one is familiar with the original. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Hades, Carrion.
1. Half-Life: Alyx (PC VR) – These top 3 are hard to rank in order, and all are here because aside from just being great games, they also brought a lasting wow factor. With HL: Alyx, it was simply being in the world of Half-Life in VR. The atmosphere it spot on, the controls are great, graphics are superb and you get a continued story from Alyx’s perspective. Although to be clear, it’s a continuation from the original Half-Life, not the sequel. Every VR owner that enjoys first person shooters should give this game a try, and every VR owner that loves the Half-Life series… well what are you waiting for? Buy it now! – 4.5/5
2. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (X1/XSX/PC) – While I don’t consider this a game, it does have features of a game such as challenges and a leaderboard. It’s also an amazing achievement for simulators and for the Microsoft Flight Simulator series. The developers put a lot of effort, a lot, to make this the best one, and it shows, as the last time we saw a title in the series was 2006 with Flight Simulator X. Graphics are amazing, excellent sound, solid controls and UI system, and just down right phenominal tech powering the in-game world. Not only is the world using satellite mapping that turned into an incredibly well created 3D environment given the data at hand, but there is also real-time weather and real-time flight data. The data is actually so large in all areas, that it is streamed to your PC — and soon Xbox — as you fly. And while it won’t teach you how to actually fly a plane, you will definitely come out of it with a better understanding of the flight systems and greater respect for pilots. – 4.5/5
3. Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners (PS4/PC) – With many failed or poorly received games carrying this name, I was unsure about this. It turned out to be the best “Walking Dead” video game, with good graphics, solid controls, decent storyline and overall drops you right into the zombie experience you expect. Beyond the usual “shoot and loot”, you also meet people along the way and make decisions as well as learn about characters and their stories. However, one of the wow factors it brings involves your microphone. If you make a noise or speak near your microphone, the game hears it and so do the zombies. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Star Wars Squadrons, Phasmophobia, Doom Eternal, Project Wingman, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Cyberpunk 2077.
1. Ghost of Tsushima
2. Final Fantasy Remake VII
3. The Last of Us Part II
4. Animal Crossing
Honorable Mentions: Cyberpunk 2077, Doom Eternal, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Call of Duty: Warzone, Star Wars Squadrons, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 Remake.
Happy New Game Year from GHG!