Between the rise of COVID-19, the US presidential election (regardless of your personal politics) , and the endless amounts of online controversies that took hold of social media at any given time, 2020 was, to say the least, a tiring year.
The last twelve-calendar months were particularly terrible for most forms of entertainment, as the ongoing pandemic led to the near universal halting of productions, delaying of releases, and cancellation of live events.
However, with most of the world confined to their homes due to lockdown and social distancing orders, video games thrived in a situation almost tailor made for the medium as the continual stream of new releases and the arrival of next gen kept more than a few people sane.
As one of the aforementioned individuals whose sanity amidst this year’s insanity can partly be owed to being able to play video games, I’ve played my fair share of titles during my time at home.
The following are the six best titles I played this year, based solely on my opinion.
(Why six instead of five? Simple answer: the grid generator I use to make my annual ‘best of’ list images looks better in increments of three.)
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6) The Wonderful 101 Remastered
Saved from obscurity as a WiiU title by an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign, The Wonderful 101 Remastered brings PlatinumGames’ tribute to the sentai and tokusatsu genres to a deservedly wider audience.
One of my favorite titles from last gen, I was thankful that not only was The Wonderful 101 bringing its charming personality and colorful aesthetics to the Switch, but that its unique drawing-based gameplay transl0ated so smoothly to the Joy-Con control scheme. In doing so, the game’s core ‘Unite Morph’ mechanic flows even better than it had before, allowing players to truly take in The Wonderful 101’s as the love letter to superheroes that it is.
If you’re even slightly curious about the game, I highly recommend picking it up. I guarantee that you won’t want to miss out on this game a second time around.
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5) One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4
The Pirate Warriors is the One Piece video game series that keeps on giving.
Building upon the series’ core Musou gameplay, PW4 introduces the Pirate Warriors’ franchise’s most interesting and expansive roster yet. From mainstays such as Portgas D. Ace to the entire roster of the Vinsmoke Family children, PW4 offers the most gameplay diverse roster yet, with every player able to blow away crowd after crowd of enemies with a fighter that fits their preferred play style.
While I wish that the game had an extra layer of ‘presentation’ polish, as I found the menus and interface to be lacking the same level of personality they had in PW3, PW4 was one of my most played games of the year.
If you’re a One Piece fan, I cannot recommend this game enough.
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4) Call of Duty: Warzone
In a way, Warzone struck at the time when the iron burned its hottest. Combining the newly popular battle royale genre with Call of Duty’s signature gunplay and dropping right when the first COVID-19 lockdown orders were declared, Warzone was all but guaranteed to be a hit.
The main multiplayer game I’ve sunk time into during this past year, Warzone’s citywide, 150-player matches are something I could only imagine playing when I was younger. And thanks to Warzone’s continuous updates and rotating playlists keep the game fresh and exciting no matter how many hours my friends and I sink into it.
Of course, Call of Duty games aren’t for everyone, so don’t expect Warzone to either instantly change your mind on the franchise or be that enjoyable if you’re looking for a single-player experience. But, if you and a few friends are looking for an FPS game that offers surprises in almost every match, look no further.
Oh, and even better? It’s cross-platform, free, and devoid of ‘pay-to-win’ microtransactions.
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3) Final Fantasy VII Remake
The original Final Fantasy VII is one of my favorite-games of all-time, so the release of the long-awaited remake was one of my most anticipated events of the year.
Thankfully, the wait didn’t disappoint, as FFVIIR’s gameplay provides a fun, action-oriented update to Cloud and company’s fight to save the planet from Shinra and Sephiroth. The same can be said of the game’s overall presentation, as the game’s graphics and voice-acting work to properly bring the character’s to life in a fashion that lived up to the expectations of nearly every fan of the original title.
However, while the game is one of my ‘top three’ and I could gush for hours and hours on the story and lore, it’s not without it’s flaws, some of which are rather glaring. Non-main character NPCs looking like generic Bethesda NPCs, Sephiroth’s early introduction ruining a good amount of his mystique, and a long-stretch of the game feeling like ‘filler’ are only some of the issues this game presents.
Are these issues dealbreakers? Far from it. But the sharp contrast of these flaws against the high-production values of the rest of the game definitely makes them stand out more prominently.
Needless to say, I did more than a few runs of the game, and I’m looking forward to all the Nomura-fueled madness to come in the sequels.
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2) Persona 5 Royal
Holy s—t I love this game.
If you’ve joined us on any of our Bounding Live! streams over the past month or so (every Wednesday at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST), you’ll know that I’ve been almost exclusively spending what free time I have sinking hour after hour into this game, taking down Shadows and doing my best to max out my social link with Kawakami.
Between the game’s monster-collecting turn-based combat to its day-to-day social simulator gameplay, every moment I play the game makes me feel more and more invested in the characters, the story, and the world.
Fighting through Mementos and Palaces takes strategy, each time you decide to hang out with someone has actual gameplay and story ramifications, and the characters all possess their own individual personalities. P5R is truly one of the most well-crafted and best games of the year, if not the entire last generation.
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1) Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Is it any surprise that my game of the year is one of the best Dragon Ball video games of all time, second arguably to Dragon Ball Fighterz?
Kakarot is an absolute love letter to the Dragon Ball franchise. Not only does the game dive so deep into Dragon Ball lore that James Cameron would gasp at the expedition, but its gameplay offers one of the most engaging, fun, and accurate representations of the series’ fast-paced, transformation based combat ever developed.
Though the game retreads the thoroughly-explored story of the ‘Z’ saga, which most Dragon Ball fans know by heart at this point, it does so in a way that intersperses world building and exploration amongst the iconic showdowns that made the series one of the most beloved of all time and a solid RPG-inspired levelling system that provides a scaling challenge throughout.
Dragon Ball fans need to play this game. There’s just no way around it. All the fan service, love, and care that went into crafting this will make even the most jaded of fans fall in love with the series all over game.
Of course, these six games are only my personal choices. What are yours? Let us know your picks for game(s) of the year on social media or in the comments down below!