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The 25 best games of 2020

10. Astro's Playroom

Astro's Playroom

(Image credit: Sony)

Developer: Asobi Team
Format: PS5

What is it? A showcase for the new features of PS5 pre-installed with every console, and a platforming paean to PlayStation history. 

Why should you play it? We entered Astro's Playroom expecting a fun but forgettable tech demo for the PS5, but came out Platinum-ing one of the best platformers to release in years. Not only is Team Asobi's free next-gen software a breathtaking proof-of-concept for the novelty of Sony's new console, but a damn great game in its own right, one that's well worth booting up as the first title to try on your PS5. It's a cleverly designed tour through the internal architecture of the new system, somehow mining genuine entertainment by showcasing the hardware specs typically reserved for back-of-the-box small print. Steeped in a genuine love and passion for all things PlayStation, Astro's Playroom has made Team Asobi the first-party platforming studio to watch as we head into the next generation of Sony exclusives. Alex Avard

9. Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Developer: id Software
Format: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

What is it? The direct sequel to 2016’s Doom features Doom Slayer fighting back against the hordes of Hell after they invade Earth.

Why should you play it? If 2016’s Doom shouldn’t have worked. Doom Eternal really shouldn’t have worked. Effectively throwing the demon-baby out with the bathwater, id Software sidestepped the stripped-back approach of the original to bring a lore-heavy, management-intensive FPS kicking and screaming to players via the bowels of Hell.

Its major change was a larger emphasis on juggling your resources while everything, inevitably, tried to murder you. As Doom Slayer strides and saunters around each battleground with typical id-like breeziness, players must think on their feet to ensure arm-our, ammo, and health are all replenished. Switching weapons on the fly to deal with a murderer’s row of bug-eyed and flesh-rotting enemies is also essential. So much so that stopping for a literal second means certain death. It’s punishing, sure, but reinvigorated a flagging genre with a sorely-needed layer of strategy and depth. Doom Eternal’s greatest success was how it dared to be different from its predecessor, yet ended up being equally as brilliant. Bradley Russell

8. Fall Guys

Fall Guys

(Image credit: Mediatonic)

Developer: Mediatonic
Format: PS4, PC

What is it? Part battle royale, part wild gameshow, this online multiplayer platformer tasks you with being the last one standing by surviving its hilarious mini-games. 

Why should you play it? Has a battle royale ever been this much fun? Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, even Fortnite have all delivered tense thrills and absorbing battle pass systems that keep us coming back, but they don't really provide laughs. Fall Guys is a rib-troubling chortle of a game, providing countless moments of mirth as you try and steer your Fall Guy (I prefer Tic-Twat) through levels that range from the hectic (Door Dash) to the intricate (Slime Climb). What also helped sell this concept was how simple it was to pick up and play, with controls that anyone could grasp, in sharp contrast to another all-conquering battle royale that launched this year (cough, see below). While getting the game onto PS Plus helped attract an audience, the sheer bubblegum chaos of trying to survive tumbling into the abyss was exactly the sort of cheery tonic we all needed this year. Ben Tyrer

7. Call of Duty: Warzone

Call of Duty: Warzone

(Image credit: Activision)

Developer: Infinity Ward
Format: Xbox Series X, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, PC

What is it? A 100 player, free-to-play battle royale set in the Call of Duty universe that's part of a larger meta-narrative

Why should you play it? 

Call of Duty came into the battle royale battle late, but it clearly spent time taking notes, dropping in with the best features of all the greats that came before it. You've got vehicles, a fairly extensive ping system, an overwhelming abundance of weapons, and the chance to return from the dead by winning a 1v1 gulag face-off. All that's wrapped up in the often hyper-realistic, sometimes anachronistically absurd world of Call of Duty. The learning curve is steep, but oh boy is it worth it to crest over the ability hill and end up one of the last players standing. With playful customization options that push against the seams of Call of Duty's realism and crossplay that lets you team up with your friends no matter the platform, Call of Duty: Warzone takes the battle royale formula and drops in a shot of 100-proof liquor. Alyssa Mercante

6. Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima

(Image credit: Sucker Punch)

Developer: Sucker Punch
Format: PS4

What is it? An open-world action-adventure game that follows samurai Jin Sakai through the Mongol invasion of Japan.

Why should you play it? Ghost of Tsushima was the perfect open-world game to cap off the PS4. It's everything we've come to expect from open-world design – stabbing dudes in the grass, freeing settlements, tracking quest markers – presented in a way we've never really seen. Its historical setting and soulful characters give Ghost of Tsushima an edge that cuts through the usual open-world checklist, and its fast-paced combat combines samurai and shinobi techniques in exhilarating ways, capturing the satisfaction of an unseen kill in one scene and the thrill of a one-on-one duel in the next. 

More than anything, Ghost of Tsushima cemented Sucker Punch as a PlayStation powerhouse. The Sly Cooper studio has grown into an open-world savant, and Ghost of Tsushima combines the best parts of the studio's Infamous series with the teachings of modern games to create an unmissable saga that was somehow improved with the addition of fantastical multiplayer. Austin Wood

5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Developer: Nintendo
Format: Nintendo Switch

What is it? Escape to a deserted island with Nintendo's life simulator, where you'll build your own little paradise and fill it with adorable animal villagers. 

Why should you play it? It might seem ridiculous to say that Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived at the perfect time, but in this case it's true. Facing a worldwide pandemic with country-wide lockdowns, Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a lifeline for people. Communities like no other sprung from nothing, aiding the trading of turnips, DIY recipes, or just tips and tricks for making your perfect island, and connected people through their physical isolation at a time where we all needed it most. Interest may have waned a little now, but that community at its core remains as does the appeal - getting the ultimate escape from reality. New Horizons keeps the core gameplay loop it's always had, where players check in daily to see what's happening on their island. Nintendo has continued supporting the game with seasonal updates and additional features, meaning that it's constantly drawing you back in too. Delivering wholesome goodness in literal shovels, there's no doubt New Horizons will be a presence in many players' lives for years to come. Sam Loveridge

4. Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Spider-Man: Miles Morales photo mode

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)

Developer: Insomniac Games
Format: PS4, PS5

What is it? A trimmed-down, standalone Spider-Man game starring the objectively best Spider-Man and set in a gorgeous Harlem Christmas

Why should you play it? Aside from being an incredibly vivid virtual tour of New York City during the holidays, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a blast of a game; succinct, but immensely satisfying and packed with heart. Everything you do feels intuitive, from swinging around buildings to beating up goons, but as you get better and unlock new skills, the challenge evolves with you so that the action never feels mindless. In-between the fluid, seamless rooftop traversal and fighting are tender scenes of Christmas dinner, complicated relationships, and newfound responsibility. And yet even with so much on offer, Miles Morales is the perfect game for the time-conscious gamer, as it feels robust and meaningful without demanding dozens of hours from your schedule. 

Wandering through loud, colorful, celebrating streets is a dream we can only live virtually this year, and playing Miles Morales around the holidays is especially cathartic. We've all earned ourselves a break this year, so do yourself a favor and slot out some time this season for Miles Morales. Jordan Gerblick

3. Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Developer: Ubisoft
Format: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC

What is it? Ubisoft's latest hood-wearing, time-traveling adventure, but this time we're going to Britain during the Dark Ages as a Viking warrior. 

Why should you play it? What if Assassin's Creed, but with slightly less assassinating and a tonne more axes? Well, that's basically what Ubisoft has delivered with this romp through the Dark Ages, offering players a different iteration of exactly what an Assassin's Creed game can be. There's still plenty of lore to be had for the long-term fans, but at its core is a huge, immersive, and atmospheric world full of people to meet, mysteries to solve, and big decisions to make. You play as Eivor - who can be male or female - who is a fantastic addition to Assassin's Creed canon, who only emphasizes this new stronger, bolder direction for the series. It's a bloody success on all fronts. Sam Loveridge

2. The Last of Us 2

The Last of Us 2

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Developer: Naughty Dog
Format: PS4

What is it? The sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, set in a post-apocalyptic America ravaged by a deadly pandemic.

Why should you play it? In hindsight, 2020 probably wasn't the best year for The Last of Us 2 to hit store shelves. Still, the fact that so many have found comfort and connection in its unapologetically bleak narrative during these bleakest of times is testament to Naughty Dog's talent at conjuring humanism from a seemingly hopeless landscape. The studio's survival-horror sequel is a more complicated, multifaceted beast than its predecessor, yet far more daring in its vision and handling of the interactive format. Storytelling aside, The Last of Us 2 is also Naughty Dog's most sophisticated title yet, fluid in motion and gorgeous from any angle, not to mention a radical step forward for accessibility in blockbuster gaming. It might be traumatic, uncompromising, and downright hostile to your sense at times, but you owe it to yourself to play The Last of Us 2 - we've had nothing else quite like it this year. Alex Avard

1. Hades

Hades

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Developer: Supergiant Games
Format: PC, Switch

What is it?
A roguelike that delivered innovative solutions to long-standing issues with the genre; it's a triumph for storytelling, pacing, and challenging action.

Why should you play it?
2020 has made us long for what we've lost. Control and community, family, and friends, a sense of structure and purpose beyond the walls that surround us. And as we have turned to video games as a respite from the carnage of everyday existence, it's Hades that has provided a small window to another world. In Zagreus we take control of a character who longs to escape, a mission that he can complete should we have the determination to see it through to the end. In the beginning, it's an impossible task; the struggle eased by a community that has rallied around this roguelike in an effort to guide others through its tormenting puzzle of love, loss, and triumph. The gods you encounter throughout the underworld, an estranged family eager to see the spectacle, and friends who can help you on your way – you'll delight in spending time with both while you can. 

While many of you may find the repetitive nature of the roguelike reductive, where death is used as a teaching tool, Hades is able to smooth out the frustrations inherent to the genre with ease; as its structure becomes familiar, the sense of purpose it presents is palpable – impossible to walk away from. No game should have to shoulder the responsibility of mitigating the chaos wrought by 2020, but Hades has handled it with ease. Josh West

Want more? As the PS4 and Xbox One generation draws to an end, we highlight the games that defined the last seven years with the 100 best games of the generation

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