2020 was a year the world was firmly put on pause. But games have continued to entertain us all the while.
This year there have been some incredible releases, literal game-changers in the industry which is heralding in a new generation of consoles.
So whether you're thinking of catching up on the biggest blockbusters over the holidays, or thinking of a Christmas gift or two, here are some of the best-in-show for 2020...
The Last of Us Part 2 (PS4)
The Last of Us Part 2 is the quintessential game of 2020.
Set in a world ravaged by a fungal disease, where entire populations have transformed into infected monsters, the story takes place 4 years after the original game and is compelling and controversial in equal measure.
19-year-old Ellie's quiet life in Jackson comes to an abrupt end where, with rifle, bow, and bombs in hand, she leaves her home with one thing on her mind – revenge...
The gameplay is intense and is reserved for those who enjoy being frightened every minute without fail. Every bullet is considered, every exit carefully planned, every moment of peace savoured. You will always fear the worst - and have so much fun in doing so.
TLOU2 is incredibly dark, gruesome, and entertaining, and sets an even higher precipice in gaming than its predecessor did, 7 years ago.
Read our full review of The Last of Us Part 2 here.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla (PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia)
In a game that asks you to think, live, and conquer like a Viking, Assassins Creed Valhalla is a saga of immense proportion and barbaric fun.
You play as Eivor, a young Viking who sets sail with brother Sigurd in search of new opportunities in England.
Leaving the Nordic snow behind you, England is a hostile location where forming alliances and eliminating foes becomes your definitive objective.
There's mythology, raiding, and assassinations all neatly packaged together in what is easily the best in the Assassin’s Creed series.
If you have even the mildest curiosity about Vikings, mythology or history, or yearn for a story well told, this game provides it all.
Read our full review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla here.
Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)
Whether it's an innovative combat system or spellbinding story, Ghost of Tsushima is a high-calibre game that ticks all boxes.
You play as Jin Sakai, the last surviving member of his clan, and easily the most likable character you’ll ever play as in a game.
Set in the 13th Century, where the Mongol empire aims to conquer the east, Jin must protect Tsushima Island from invaders before they breach into Japan. In his quest, Jin goes through an identity crisis.
Does he fight as an honourable samurai who may end up losing? Or does he walk the path of 'The Ghost’, someone who uses deception, deceit, and the shadows for a certain win?
Luckily for you, the answer is both. Creativity is the main ingredient to a samurai game where you can be as noble or sneaky as you want.
Aside from combat, there is plenty to do to attract even the most passive of gamers. Japanese mythology and folklore are cleverly intertwined at every corner, and a plethora of collectibles, puzzles, and side missions will have you explore just as much as you draw a sword.
And with a recent multiplayer mode added, players have even more ways to enjoy a slice of samurai life.
Minecraft Dungeons (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, and PC)
Experience the Minecraft universe like never before in this delightful dungeon-crawling adventure.
As a dungeon crawler, no two levels of Minecraft Dungeons are ever quite the same. What is consistent though, is the fun you'll have slaying endless waves of creeps, spiders, witches, and Endermen.
You play as a character of your own design and complete a series of dungeons, collecting treasure, weapons, armour, and more. Expansion packs include even more levels for you to explore, and with the recent cross-platform patch, you can now team up with friends from different consoles for a co-op adventure.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PS4)
One of the most anticipated games of 2020, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is simply put, a gaming triumph.
Based on the bestselling 1997 classic, you play as Cloud Strife, an ex-soldier turned mercenary in the city of Midgar. Hired by eco-activist group Avalanche, your initial goal is to take down the corrupt Shinra Electric Power Company, which is using the planet's life force as a form of energy.
But Cloud and friends discover an even more sinister plot is unfolding at the hands of nemesis and super-soldier Sephiroth.
Whilst Remake serves as only the first part of a much bigger series of games, there is more than enough content to describe FF7R as a fully-fledged game, one with surprises and new experiences at every corner for fans and newcomers to the series alike.
If Found (PC, Mac, iOS)
If Found is an interactive visual novel from Irish game studio Dreamfeel.
On December 31st, 1993 in the crumbling ruins of a mansion on Achill Island, Kasio destroys her diary, which tells the story of her return home to the West of Ireland.
Rather than create, in this game you'll 'erase’ things to find deeper meaning – it’s a tactile way of exploring an emotional story which explores everything from Kasio’s family conflicts, to her friends and the challenges she goes through in life.
Whilst short, it’s a charming game full of Irish wit that tells a deep story in an truly interactive fashion.
Animal Crossing (Nintendo Switch)
Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out at an opportune time to offer the world complete escapism from life. It has only one simple goal - to enjoy the smaller things in life.
Create, design, collect, and transform a deserted island into a paradise of your choosing, complete with varying residents and co-op features. A quick search online and you will the depth of creativity New Horizons affords you.
There is no right or wrong way to play, no task that needs to be taken care of immediately. And with an abundance of new content consistently being released, there's plenty to do – and no rush at all in doing any of it.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS4/PS5)
Who can say no to a superhero spin-off?
With incredible visuals and precise details in every pixel, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the very definition of eye-candy and one of the highlights of 2020's gaming year, despite being recently released.
You play as the unassuming teenager Miles Morales, who is following in the footsteps of his mentor Peter Parker in becoming the new Spider-Man, at least temporarily.
But with New York City in grave danger, Miles realizes that with great power comes great responsibility, and he must fully commit to being the hero his home desperately is in need of.
This game comes at an opportune time to test the mettle of the next-generation PS5, where enhanced visuals and fast-loading times elevate a gaming experience to new levels.
The Ultimate Edition of the game also includes the original Marvel’s Spider-Man, which may offer Spidey fans an opportunity to re-explore the grandeur of one of the best superhero games made.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Series X/S, PC)
The latest installation to the Call of Duty franchise sees high calibre gunplay to the tune of new maps, modes, and zombies.
Acting as the sequel to COD Black Ops, there's something here for everyone – be it the intense, cinematic single-player campaigns or the myriad of multiplayer modes from the staple Deathmatch to the new 'Protect the VIP’, to many more.
Zombies return in a mode which sees you and a team fire bullet after bullet at hordes of spawning enemies with the potential for interdimensional teleportation to
Whether you’re after a solo adventure, or teaming up with it’s a delightfully violent dip-in-dip-out game.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time (PS4, Xbox One)
Crash and Coco Bandicoot are back and it's about time!
Combining the perfect blend of 90s gaming nostalgia with a new story, Crash 4 will entertain and frustrate you in equal measure.
The story explores how Dr. Cortex and his gang of evil scientists have escaped prison and go bout destroying the fabric of time. It’s up to Crash, Coco, and the new Quantum Masks to band together to help restore the timeline.
Reverse gravity, slow down time, swap objects in and out of existence – with the help of the new masks, the gameplay is clever always engaging. And of course, there’s spinning. Lots of spinning.
With new playable characters and a host of replay value with ambitious challenges, Crash’s arrival to the modern era of platforming is right on time.
Read our full review of Crash Bandicoot 4 here.
Watch Dogs: Legion
In a game where anyone can be a hero, Watch Dogs: Legion is an ideal open-world adventure for gamers who want it all; exploring, driving, spying, shooting, hacking and much, much more.
Set in a dystopian London, you play as a set of members belong to the hacker-group DedSec, whose main objective is to free the city from the omniscient control of Albion Security. The storyline gets dark and political quickly, but there's a myriad of things you can do around London to help break it all up.
The highlight of Legion is who you play as. You can recruit any character you happen upon to join your cause. This makes for some fun, utterly bizarre team combinations, where an unassuming citizen suddenly becomes the hero of the story.
Silliness aside, this feature ensures you’re always in control of who, what, where, how, and why – which is so rewarding in an open-world game.
Read our full review of Watch Dogs: Legion here.
FIFA 21 (PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch)
In what has been a difficult year for sport, there's one thing you can depend on – the fun of a well-made FIFA game.
FIFA 21 brings a host of new features and gameplay improvements that will satisfy the appetites of any footie fan looking to renter the world of virtual soccer.
New co-op modes together with advanced AI makes playing every match an even bigger and rewarding challenge. And with an expanded career mode, you can flex your football manager prowess as you patiently wait for sports to return to normality.
Read our full review of FIFA 21 here.
Hades (PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch)
One of the most critically acclaimed games of 2020, Hades is a rogue-like dungeon crawler where no two plays are ever quite the same.
You play as Zagreus, son of Hades, who ironically wants to escape the Underworld and explore the world above.
During your travels throughout the labyrinth of the afterlife, you'll fight a myriad of lost souls and meet iconic mythological characters in a seemingly never-ending storyline full of charm and wit.
From its engaging setting to the smooth, innovative gameplay, to the in-depth dialogue at every corner – the praise heaped at Hades this year has been more than deserved.
Fall Guys (PS4, PC)
While Fall Guys arrived back in August to much fanfare, the subsequent months of new content prove it's more than a one-hit-wonder.
It’s consistent, no-stakes fun for anyone with even a few minutes to spare with only one fundamental rule – survive.
Taking the best elements of Hunger Games and Takeshi’s Castle, and putting it together on the set of a Katy-Perry music video, Fall Guys is a colourful game of patience, determination, and cunning.
You play as a bean-like creature who’ll jump, dive, grab and luck their way through a series of obstacle courses, memory games, and team football matches, all the while eliminating 50+ of your fellow beans vying for the crown.
Read our full review of Fall Guys here.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2
If you've grown up with a console in your childhood, no doubt you’ve played at least one Tony Hawks skating game. The Pro Skater 1+2 Remaster is a beautifully well-executed tribute to two of gaming’s most iconic titles – neatly wrapped in a combined package.
Featuring the same skaters, levels, and challenges from the original, this remaster is more than just a fresh lick of paint. A multiplayer mode brings forward a brand new way to enjoy the game and will satisfy both casual and competitive gamers alike.
Read our full review of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+ 2 here.
Big releases to keep an eye over…
The gaming year never truly ends, with big releases scheduled right across the Christmas holidays.
Upcoming titles you should keep eyes and ears open for include:
Cyberpunk 2077 (December 10th)
One of the most anticipated games of the year, Cyberpunk 2077 is an immersive, open-world, action-adventure story set in a world where power, glamour, and body modification are paramount.
You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality. With impressive character customizations, the choices you make in the game will shape the story and the world around you. And yes, Keanu Reeves pops up as Johnny Silverhand...
Immortals Fenyx Rising (December 3rd)
Immortals Fenyx Rising brings mythology to life. You play as Fenyx, a winged demigod who is on a quest to save the Greek gods from a dark curse.
With mythological beasts aplenty and powerful god-like abilities, it promises to be a legendary adventure.