2020 Is An Underrated Gaming Year

Players, look around you. There’s no denying the truth: we’re in the middle of a great gaming year. Back in 2023, we had killer blows from the past with Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, System Shock and Metroid Prime Remastered, and a perfect vision of our gaming future with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It wasn’t all revolutions or remakes, and 2023 rolled in with extremely good triple-A sequels like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Dead Island 2, Diablo 4, Street Fighter 6, and Octopath Traveler 2, as well as awesome new IPs. such as Hi-Fi Rush and Season: A Letter to the Future.

As my colleague Tessa Kaur recently pointed out in her review of the coming year, 2023 is only going to get busier from here on out. July will bring Final Fantasy 16, Remnant 2 and Telltale’s adaptation of The Expanse. August has Baldur’s Gate 3, Armored Core 6, and Sea of ​​Stars. September is a solar system unto itself with Starfield, Mortal Kombat 1 and Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty expansion. And October marks the return of Spider-Man, Alan Wake and old school Assassin’s Creed. When all is said and done, 2023 may go down as one of the best years in gaming history.


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But it hasn’t actually been that long since we had an S-tier year. Although 2017 — which introduced the world to Breath of the Wild, NieR: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, Hollow Knight, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Super Mario Odyssey, What Remains of Edith Finch and Night in the Woods — often hailed as one of the best years of all time, here’s another recent year that’s often overlooked: 2020.

Malorian Arms Cyberpunk 2077

It’s easy to forget how good 2020 was in gaming when it was uniquely awful in most other ways. But continuing to focus on games, the fact that the year ended with a messy launch of Cyberpunk 2077, which many gamers expected to be the alpha and omega of role-playing games, left a sour taste in the mouths of many a Game Fuel. I was one of those disappointed players. When I think back to that year of gaming, I remember thinking that playing Cyberpunk was a huge oasis that got me through a terrible year.

But Cyberpunk was a rare disappointment in a group that otherwise features many studios operating at the height of their powers. The Last of Us Part 2 is the most obvious example, and while this game received a polarized reception at launch, the further I get from it, the more it impresses me as a work of unique mood and power. While triple-A gameplay has been modeled after The Last of Us for the past 10 years, there’s no game quite like its sequel.

This year also brought two other highly anticipated returns. Half-Life: Alyx, which I reviewed when Illinois, where I live, was closed, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which I devoted long days to on vacation that I had planned in advance for that April, which ended up being forced hiatus as many of the sites I was working with were temporarily closed to freelance contributions.

Alyx raises her hands as the three combinators aim their rifles at her.

This is the problem you run into when you try to even talk about 2020 in gaming. Writing about the sheer amount of Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons I played in March and April, I can’t help but place those games in the first month of a crisis that was unlike anything I or anyone ever had. survived.

The Last of Us Part 2 was released one month after the Black Lives Matter uprisings that summer. I was playing through Ghost of Tsushima when I read about conservatives starting to rally around Kyle Rittenhouse, the then-on-duty teenager who killed two innocent people at a protest in the summer of 2020. I played Watch Dogs: Legion for Guides in the lead up to the United States presidential election and did the same for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla while the country waited to see if Donald Trump would accept his election defeat. When the new consoles were introduced at the end of the year, they were extremely hard to find due to a shortage of chips caused by the supply chain crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Everything happens so often,” he says old saying, and 2020 was the year when everything was happening and the only distraction from it all was video games. Online gaming brought lonely friends and family together, and Among Us, Fall Guys, Phasmophobia and Jackbox Party Pack 6 will forever be associated with that time for many gamers. Hades and Spelunky 2 comforted them when they were alone. Pumpkin Jack and Spider-Man: Miles Morales helped bring a sense of time and place when a day on the calendar seemed insignificant. 2020 was a great year for games, but mostly I remember how bad everything around me was when I played them.

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