Top 2020 games

It was a tough year for sure. Yet, many were able to find escape in the creative world of video games. Here’s a list of our top picks from 2020. Let us know in the comments about your favorite games released last year.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator reignited an old passion of mine in flight sims. In sims of years past, the world in which you were flying felt flat and dull. In Flight Simulator, you are able to fly literally anywhere in the world with relatively realistic satellite imagery and real-time weather patterns. Your experience can be as cathartic or intense as you desire. Most of my flight time has just been exploring new and familiar places from the skies.

— Jesse Allen

DOOM Eternal

With its near-perfectly mastered, full djentcore soundtrack by Mick Gordon, id Software’s newest installment into the most beloved FPS franchise of all time makes killing demons from Hell in the most violent fashion better than ever. Assuming the role of the Doom Slayer once again in this push-forward FPS, we find ourselves in the eternal fight to save Earth against the invasion of Hell caused by the ever-meddling hands of humanity. Whether you’re going toe-to-toe with a Hell Knight in hand-to-hand combat, using your BFG to bring total cataclysmic annihilation to a Tyrant, or bashing the Crucible through the Icon of Sin’s skull, there is no way around it: gunplay in this 2020 title, which utilizes the id Tech 7 engine, has never felt better. Coupled with level design that harkens nostalgia from DOOM (1993), there is absolutely nothing left to desire in this masterpiece. This title should be a permanent centerpiece of any gamer’s collection.

— Cameron Buster

A sequel to the 2016 reboot, DOOM Eternal features a fairly lengthy campaign filled with side quests, challenges, and all your favorite demons to annihilate, with some newer faces. It is worth noting that the mechanics between DOOM and DOOM Eternal change completely, but all for the better as the Eternal feels more run-and-gun (especially compared to the originals on DOS/Nintendo 64) than the 2016 reboot. The developers at Bethesda/id have also released an expansion pack called The Ancient Gods which features more missions, new demons, and a serious plot twist in the lore that you will not expect. While I cannot say a whole lot about the multiplayer aspect, the campaign was very satisfying and plenty difficult on a normal setting. If you enjoy speed runs, this game is for you.

— Dylan Nichols

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Yes, games like Ghost of Tsushima and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are amazing, but what was my favorite game of 2020? Why, it was a collection of three games that are all at least 13 years old, of course. The Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection for Nintendo Switch caught some unfair slack for being nothing more than a limited-time port of old games with no real flair in the package, but I don’t care; it’s still three (well, two for sure) of the best games ever made in one! I loved the nostalgia trip of completing these games 100 percent and re-experiencing some of the all-time best platforming in gaming with improved visual fidelity. I blasted through the first 70 stars in Super Mario 64 in less than two hours, and I forgot how inventive and creative Super Mario Galaxy is. Super Mario Sunshine’s camerawork still sucks, but I actually stuck with it and enjoyed completing it 100 percent for the first time (240 blue coins are way too many).

— Jeremy Costello

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Little Hope is the second installment in a series of mystery/thriller games. I love how the choices you make during character interactions impact how the story ends. After one playthrough, it is clear how many details at the beginning of the game were actually clues, which makes you want to play it again. Plus, it gives you a sneak peek of the next game to come in the series.

— Ainsley Cotherman

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The Animal Crossing series is known as one of the most peaceful and fulfilling game series created, and New Horizons is possibly the best of them all. The game begins with you settling on a deserted island with nothing but a tent and some neighbors in the same situation as you. As you progress, you will discover new plants, bugs, fish and more to add to your museum collection, earn enough money to buy an increasingly larger house, find more blueprints to create items that you can decorate your island with, and invite new strangers to inhabit your island. The game rewards small, consistent chunks of playtime, which makes for a much more playable game for busy people. However, the game was released at the perfect time — just as the pandemic was beginning to take full effect — and many people were stuck at home in quarantine. This gave those people something to get immersed into if they had previously been bored at home.

— Samuel Heinrich

Hades

If you enjoy great voice acting, wonderful animation and a dose of Greek mythology, then this is the game for you. The gameplay pays homage to the Diablo series in several aspects. I am not trying to say that it is unoriginal; on the contrary, whereas Diablo has you change class to experience diversity in the fighting styles, Hades has your character change weapons. Overall an enjoyable experience, it can be played casually, doing a run here and there, but it also supports the sustained replayability factor with the randomly generated floors.

— Patrick Madden

Immortals Fenyx Rising

My favorite game of 2020 came late in the year. Immortals Fenyx Rising was created by Ubisoft and takes place in ancient Greece, following a story involving the gods of Greek mythology. The game borrows heavy inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, from story progression to graphical style, but still manages to be completely its own game. The writing is great and has a sense of humor. The gameplay is excellent with Fenyx’s mobility as you jump, climb, and glide effortlessly across the map. Combat is very fun, borrowing from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed titles with plenty of skills to obtain and upgrade. I had low expectations when I picked up the game on sale, and it turned out to be my favorite game of the year.

— Joshua Maine

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Before you scoff at such a juvenile choice for game of the year, let me preface this choice with an obvious statement: everybody’s tastes are different. When it comes to video games, this is super true (take, for example, my passion for the FIFA game franchise compared to 80 percent of my gaming friends’ disdain toward sports games), which makes picking a “best game” award nearly impossible. So, here’s my grading criteria to get a best game that doesn’t depend on personal preference: 1) Uniqueness 2) Ambition 3) User reviews 4) Magic (hard to define, but you know it when a game has it!). Although it won’t be a hardcore gamer’s go-to game, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit nails the stated criteria better than any other game of 2020. You have to credit Nintendo for taking a dynasty of a game and giving players a new and magical gaming experience by turning home surroundings into a playable racetrack. Users are generally in love with the game as well, even with a high price point and variability in the potential experience. Though other games like Cyberpunk 2077 had incredible ambition and potential, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit delivered on a game that is truly unique and magical for kids and classic Mario Karters alike.

— Brian Wilde

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