2020, A Year in Gaming

I hate that December is the month to look back on an entire year and make sweeping judgments like “Game of the Year”. After many began posting about their favorites, I was still padding my completed games list for the year. Instead of in December, I thought it better to try and do this early in January once the year has switched over and I can truly say the year is done.

All-New Everything

I was lucky in 2020 to make a series of upgrades. I mostly rebuilt my PC early in the year. This led to me thinking I could finally pull-off a virtual reality headset on my computer. I had been using my Playstation 4 Pro and, despite loving it, PSVR always felt limited. It took four months of waiting, but I got my Valve Index in November.

Also in November, I got both a Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. Excessive, I know, but the wife owed me the PS5 (for prior debts I took on when we were first starting out). The Xbox was more an impulse buy. Back in the day, I was a bigger Xbox fan than most anything else, but I skipped the prior generation entirely. With Xbox Game Pass being a great deal (I am paid out three years in advance), I thought also having an Xbox in the house to play games easily was a good idea.

Here are quick reviews of each:

My computer now handles any game I want to play perfectly on my 1440p monitor. Also, I have two additional 1080p monitors going for work purposes. It has been a long time since I was truly a PC gamer, so the parts I bought were not top of the line, but I am excited to have them all the same. My computer feels like a beast especially since I only play games like FFXIV which, albeit beautiful, are not that intense.

The Valve Index is a dream. I sold my PSVR to help make financial sense of buying the Index. I do not regret it. With the mounted base stations in our office, it has never been easier for me to play a game in VR. With the PSVR, I had to keep the camera mounted on a mic stand which needed to be pulled out and adjusted each time I wanted to play. It was a huge hassle. Furthermore, the higher fidelity on the Index has led to a lot less motion sickness for me.

The Playstation 5 is perfect. The PS4 was one of my favorite consoles in recent memory, if not ever. The PS5 is strictly an improvement. I opted for the disc-based version since I wanted to play UHD movies on it. My television is limited in HDMI slots for HDR, and I knew PS5 would be guaranteed my best HDMI slot.

The Xbox Series X has been an experience. As I said, I skipped the prior Xbox generation entirely. I did not miss much. Still, with the entire Xbox Game Pass available, plus all the games I owned on the Xbox 360, I filled up my Xbox’s hard-drive with games on day one. I focused on playing other stuff, but I am excited to finally play Halo 5 or replay all the other Halo games or finally finish Child of Eden.

My 2020 Dropped List

Time is our most precious commodity. I spend most of mine on games. Sometimes a game does not work out and it makes my dropped list. A game could be dropped because I did not like it, was not feeling it, or just got away from playing it so much that I know I may never go back. I used to look at this list as a waste of money too, but that is less the case. With so many services, more and more games are dropped after trying them rather than trying them after having also bought them.

Presented in no particular order:

  • Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
  • For the King
  • Scourgebringer
  • Nex Machina
  • Farcry: Primal
  • The Outer Wilds
  • Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
  • Pit People
  • Monster Train
  • Knockout League
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Dicey Dungeons
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Blood & Truth
  • Beat Saber

2020 Games of the Year

Here are all the games I finished in 2020, ranked from least enjoyed to most enjoyed.

#17. Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem
#16. Airborne Kingdom
#15. Panzer Paladin
#14. Timespinner
#13. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
#12. Final Fantasy IX
#11. Final Fantasy III
#10. Control
#09. The Messenger
#08. Cuphead
#07. Red Dead Redemption 2
#06. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
#05. Sackboy: A Big Adventure

I never intended on buying Sackboy, but after reviews came in, I decided it was worth a shot. I am glad I did.

Despite having played a ton of platformers in the last couple of years, they have all been 2D. Sackboy was the first 3D platformer I have finished since Mario Odyssey and the first non-Mario 3D platformer I have finished since Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

Those are both huge titles to live up to and Sackboy does it. The game oozes charm and imagination. It is fun and inviting. There is the right blend of humor and challenge whilst never being overbearing with either.

Sackboy was a perfect launch title of the Playstation 5. I obsessed over playing it and did almost everything I could to 100% it. I still have a ways to go, but I never try to 100% a game unless I care about it.

#04. Half-Life: Alyx

Half-Life: Alyx is not my favorite VR game. That honor remains with Astro Bot Rescue Mission. However, I have always loved the Half-Life universe. Alyx is no exception.

As my first ever Valve Index game, Half-Life: Alyx was a crash course in what VR should be, can be, and is. Few games have inspired the same level of intensity. While the puzzles and story were a bit weak for my tastes, the game’s focus on survival horror-esque elements (darkness, limited ammunition, etc.) always kept me on my toes.

As an experience, Half-Life: Alyx is unlike any other. It was totally worth the investment I made in order to play it. I hope to see more like it in the near future.

#03. Ghost of Tsushima

I loved Ghost of Tsushima for its atmosphere. The gameplay was fun too. I had high hopes that I would fall deeply in love with this game as I had with other open world games like Horizon: Zero Dawn. While I did not, that is no critique of the game overall.

More than its atmosphere or gameplay, I most enjoyed just standing around in this game. That is not a common thing for me. The island of Tsushima is so beautifully rendered and lovingly crafted, that I valued my long horseback rides through its countryside more than anything else.

I have no idea where a potential sequel might go, but I am ready to go wherever it takes me.

#02. Hades

As of writing, I put almost four days of time into Hades. I bought the game shortly after it first hit early access on the Epic Game Store. I have loved it ever since. By far, it is my favorite Supergiant game which is saying something because I have loved (and completed) every game they have put out.

Hades though brings in another passion of mine: Greek mythology. It also taught me that I too can enjoy cute boys and shipping them like some internet-raised teenager. That part is a stranger thing for me to admit, but no less true than my other feelings about the game.

The combination, along with its replayability, makes for as close to perfect as I think a game like it can get.

#01. The Last of Us Part II

If Hades is perfect, then what is The Last of Us Part II?

I always knew I was going to buy a Playstation 5. My wife has promised me one well in advance of any details. With that knowledge and knowing it would be backward compatible, I chose to wait to play The Last of Us Part II until I could play it on my new Playstation 5 rather than my old Playstation 4.

The wait was difficult. I loved the first game and thought it story hit deeper than any other game (and more than most other kinds of media too). The Last of Us Part II hit deeper, harder, and stronger. The game is not perfect in the way that Hades is perfect, but it resonates in its exploration of the human experience. It demands many emotions and earns them all without question.

The Last of Us Part II is not more perfect. It is more human. And it is terrifying.

An Honorable Mention

I played a ton of Final Fantasy XIV this year too. Though I technically finished Shadowbringers, I did not want to include it here as I never feel any kind of completion with FFXIV in the way I do with other games. There is always more to do now and more to come.

Contrast that with World of Warcraft, which I also played a great deal of this year. Both earlier in the year and later in the year for the expansion, I realized more and more that WoW is not the MMO for me anymore. I could write another tireless rant about why, but what is the point of that?

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