TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There was no shortage of video games to choose from in 2020.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the industry managed to release long-awaited titles, 100-hour RPGs, and more than a few quality indie titles to fill in the gaps.
Here are the 10 best video games of 2020 and a few that missed the cut:
While the dev team at CD Projekt Red -- which delivered the landmark "The Witcher" series -- has incomparable talent and drive, the finished product didn't quite live up to the massive hype. The game -- set in a future in which cybernetic enhancements blur the line between humanity and A.I. -- left echoes of the likes of "Watch Dogs" and "Deus Ex" franchises without innovating in major ways. Lackadaisical storytelling, perfunctory upgrades and characters who don't stand out make it tough to lose yourself in its world. The game is also stymied by more glitches than we're used to from a top tier title. While we're interested in seeing how "Cyberpunk 2077" evolves throughout patches and updates, it off to an awkward start.
The Last of Us Part 2
The plot of "The Last of Us Part II" handles the first game’s complex ending with care, but this follow-up goes overboard on the violence. The quest-for-vengeance style of storytelling eventually loses its footing, especially in the third act, leaving a feeling of fatigue when the credits roll. There are still plenty of moments that make it worth experiencing, and the cast delivers top-notch performances, but it falls short of achieving the greatness of its predecessor.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Tackling the Viking culture circa 873, the series lets you swing your axe with abandon. Steeped in culture and lore of the era, the game has grit and excitement to spare. Still, the parkour and stealth-friendly mission structure doesn't quite jibe with the feel and culture of the setting. While the array of missions and customizations is impressive, bland writing fails to engage you in the way that some of the best games in the franchise have.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
"Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War" takes a dramatic tonal shift from its super-serious 2019 predecessor, making it one of the goofier entries in the annualized franchise. Aside from an amusing, conspiracy soaked campaign, this sequel feels plays it safe with its familiar feeling multiplayer and zombies modes. At best, it's a middle tier entry in the overall "Call of Duty" rankings.
10. Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
"Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time" is easily the best game in the franchise to date. Its commitment to detail, super challenging platforming, level design, and overall creativity has breathed new life into the series, making it a worthy successor to the original trilogy. It's great to see the "Crash" back in good hands.
This top-down, Greek god-themed dungeon crawler is oozing with style. Developer Supergiant Games takes the hack and slash aspects of its first game "Bastion" and brings it into the rogue-lite genre. Suffering a game over is part of the experience, so lean into it. Few indie games contain a level of storytelling and voice acting quite like "Hades." You'll easily lose hundreds of hours if you give it a chance.
8. Star Wars Squadrons
Helping you live out your space combat fantasies to the extent that licensed games rarely manage to reach, "Squadrons" melds the hardcore sim approach to arcade-style cartoonish antics. The level of customization is impressive, and the dazzling visuals and triumphant sound design suck you into the cinematic feel. You truly feel as though you're in the cockpit, doing your part to help out a grand-scale mission.
7. Marvel's Avengers
This is the comeback story of the year. Rough early showings made it easy to write this one off, but the final product delivered on the initial promise. Taking a "Destiny"-style approach to the platform, the action-adventure captures the struggles, thrills and triumphs of the ongoing struggle of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. With the ability to upgrade and evolve the skills of likes of Thor, Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow -- as well as loads of intriguing lore and fan service thrown into the mix -- the game is pure exuberance in both solo and multiplayer action.
6. Ghost of Tsushima
Developer Sucker Punch’s most ambitious title yet takes the spirit of Akira Kurosawa films and infuses it into the third person action-adventure genre, making for an ideal pairing. Its intuitive combat system provides a bit of a learning curve, but once mastered, dealing with hordes of enemies never felt so good. "Ghost of Tsushima's" presentation is striking, its open-world is gorgeous, and its story is among the most gripping of any game this year.
5. Pikmin 3 Deluxe
The Switch-exclusive remake of the criminally overlooked and underplayed 2013 Wii U title shines on Nintendo's latest console. Shepherding dozens of tiny creatures to confront an array of challenges in a mix of real-time strategy and puzzle-solving, you grow attached to the spunky little guys. Nintendo's trademark lighthearted humor abounds. The accessible yet stiffly challenging game is an excellent choice for parents looking for a way to bond with their kids.
4. Resident Evil 3
Capcom has been on quite the hot streak in remaking the earliest "Resident Evil" games into modern marvels. Resurrecting the 1999 PlayStation classic with fully revamped visuals, loads of quality-of-life enhancements and redesigned combat mechanics, "Resident Evil 3" feels not only like a new game, but one of the best in the storied series. With chilling suspense and loads of freaky jump scares, this is one to play alone in the dark.
3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
This game couldn't have been released at a better time in 2020. Just when COVID numbers began to increase, Tom Nook and company took gamers on a much-needed virtual vacation to a tropical island with plenty of chores to do. "Animal Crossing: New Horizons'" snappy building mechanics and charming sense of humor make living in paradise a dream. It’s perfect for kids, it’s perfect for adults, and a must-have for all Switch owners to pass the time.
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake
This remake of the 1997 classic PlayStation title is a nostalgic love letter that also improves every aspect of the original. Its new combat style is fluid and satisfying, its storytelling is wilder than any game that came out this year, and the game's characters are obnoxiously endearing. Though it's only part one, and the number of sequels to finish the complete story of Cloud Strife is still in question, Square Enix exceeded the hype of this long-awaited remake.
1. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Bursting with wit, excitement and joy, the PlayStation exclusive picked up where the 2018 game left off, introducing an up-and-coming version of Spidey into the web. Exuberant combat melds with kinetic storytelling to spin a tale worthy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe standard. While the game is shorter than most AAA blockbusters, it never wears out its welcome and gives you plenty of reasons to keep coming back from more.
Joey Greaber is a Digital Content Producer with KGUN 9 On Your Side
Phil Villareal is a Senior Real-Time Editor with KGUN 9 On Your Side