Best Games of 2020 - Honorable Mentions


Where to even begin with this year.

Coming into 2020, it was hard not to feel exuberant excitement. For all intents and purposes, we were in the endgame of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation that started all the way back in the ancient times of 2013. A new generation of consoles was on the horizon. The last big hurrahs of these systems were getting ready to ship. For many gamers out there, these are the most exciting of times.

Then COVID-19 happened. 

No matter which way to slice it, the COVID-19 pandemic that shrouded the entire world for the entirety of the year cast an unflattering pall over what should have been the victory lap of this past console generation. For a virus that ravaged and continues to ravage many different corners of the world, leaving lots of dead in its wake and hitting all sorts of working industries and economies hard, focusing on something relatively "unimportant" as videogames would seem like something a little irresponsible when looking at the big picture. 

With that said, there is something to be said about the importance of videogames in a year such as this, where endless lockdown times required lots of distractions in between the monotony of having to remain locked down at home. From that perspective, the importance of videogames as a tool to cope with a lot of what happened this year took on a new meaning, and games that would have been great any other time would provide the much needed escape and catharsis desperately needed in a year as brutal as this one. 

Regardless of the COVID-19 of it all, objectively speaking, the games that came out this year were real bangers, and combined with the launch of a new generation of hardware, the sense that something new waited for us in the horizon just made it all the sweeter. So much good stuff came out this year, so much so that coming up with my Top 10 was kinda grueling. In the spirit of trying to remain positive considering the negativity that surrounded this year, I'm going to focus a lot just on the positive this time around (where my previous years write ups had sections dedicated to the year's most disappointing offerings). So without further ado, here are the games that made an impact for me this year, both in honorable mention form and my personal Top 10 for 2020. 

Honorable Mentions

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War

2020 was a surprisingly robust year for "Call of Duty". Within the same year, Activision released the Battle Royale mode for last year's excellent "Modern Warfare" soft reboot (which led to big success for them in a space mostly dominated by "Fortnite"), continued their remake experiment by releasing the campaign for the legendary "Modern Warfare 2" (one of my favorite campaigns in the series which holds up even today), and then release the yearly mainline entry with "Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War". While the Battle Royale is what it is, and reliving the MW2 campaign gave me the cold and fuzzies of 2009, "Black Ops Cold War" was an interesting entry compared to last year's reboot. It gave me a campaign I thought was more fun than last year's game and a more fun coop mode with Zombies, but multiplayer that felt more barebones and stripped back compared to the advancements made in "Modern Warfare 2019". Even visually speaking it felt like a step back. While overall I got the enjoyment I got from the series I expect year in and year out, the tug and pull with how I felt about it compared to "Modern Warfare" was enough to be an honorable mention in my list. 


The long gestating game from "Little Big Planet" developer Media Molecule finally came out this year. When I played the game back in February of this year, I was delighted at the sheer creativity in display and the idea the game was all made by the tool MM created for it. In the three hours I spent in the "Campaign" that shipped with the game, I appreciated playing something so quirky again in a Sony exclusive considering the company's recent glut of third person open world games. With that said, considering the brief time of the campaign and my limited delving with the user created content, "Dreams" remains an honorable mention. Still, what a delight. 

Super Mario 3D All Stars

I'm so torn with this one. On the one hand, finally having three of my all time favorite games in my Nintendo Switch (yes, I do love "Super Mario Sunshine" that much) is the thing I have always wanted. On the other hand, this collection seems like the very definition of "minimal viable product". It feels like Nintendo didn't put the time and care you think these games would deserve in a collection that has the "All Star" moniker. But at the same time, these three games are seriously some of gaming's best, and getting to experience them on the Switch still was a delight despite any disappointment the actual quality of the collection itself would engender. 

Marvel's Avengers (Campaign)

Yes, I'm adding that qualifier for a reason. Someone can deservedly make the argument that "Marvel's Avengers" from legendary "Tomb Raider" developer Crystal Dynamics is one of the most disappointing games released in 2020, specially since it is a "games as a service" loot game in the vein of "Destiny", "The Division" and "Anthem" that launched with TONS of faults, which is par for the course after a generation where this specific kind of game always launches with significant faults that are ironed within the year. Despite that, the actual campaign that Crystal Dynamics cooked for this game is actually really good, with a story anchored by the enthusiasm of Kamala Khan and her effort to reassemble the disassembled Avengers. The core within this Avengers game is sound, and the campaign made good use of its playable characters and provided a story that delivered the kind of hopeful catharsis I needed this year. The state of the endgame post campaign is very unfortunate, and I hope Crystal Dynamics eventually nails it like other successful looters eventually did. But still, it doesn't take away from the great time I had with the campaign for this game to cling itself into 2020's honorable mentions. 

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

The one Ubisoft series that always holds a spot that's near and dear to my heart made it's return this year after taking a one year hiatus after 2018's "Assassin's Creed Odyssey". With that said, it is a game I've only played a few hours on, and for all intents and purposes, it's going to be a game that's going to take a long time for me to beat (read somewhere that it can take up to 71 hours to see everything, which doesn't surprise considering I sunk 84 hours to Odyssey). But from what I played of it, the game has one of my favorite settings in an "Assassin's Creed" game so far, the Viking motiff surprisingly works, and the modern day story feels like it's finally going somewhere after meandering for so long. I can't wait to dive back in and see where this one will land in the pantheon of my favorite entries in the series. 


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