Games of the year

The Last of Us: Part II
The Last of Us: Part II
As 2020 draws to a close — ushering in a new generation of games consoles as it does so — the ODT’s gaming writers each highlight three personal favourites from this year, as well as from the outgoing PS4/ Xbox One console generation overall.

Hayden Meikle 

GAMES OF THE YEAR

Fifa 21
Fifa 21
1. Fifa 21

I’m so predictable! But the old favourite earns its place on the list on merit this year. The best Fifa in an awfully long time. Couple of long-awaited new options, and it all feels super smooth. Now go sort out Madden.

2. The Last of Us II

An epic achievement; the finest mix of story and gameplay for many a year. We wondered how the original could be topped, but the sequel manages to do that in spades. Astoundingly good.

3. The Division 2: Warlords of New York

Yes, I’m cheating slightly. This is an expansion to a game that came out in 2019. This was an opportunity to revisit the world of Division 2, and complete a bunch of new quests in a major storyline. A great game that was extended nicely.

GAMES OF THE GENERATION

Assassins Creed: Origins
Assassins Creed: Origins
1. Assassin’s Creed Origins

I was a bit of a latecomer, but oh boy. Perhaps my favourite game since Red Dead Redemption. Completely reinvented the AC series, offered 100 hours of gameplay, and presented a brilliant mix of stealth, combat, exploration and problem-solving. An open-world game par excellence.

2. Marvel’s Spider-Man

Just fun. Just bags and bags of fun. Super satisfying web-slinging and combat and progression. A marvel . . . geddit?

Rocket League
Rocket League
3. Rocket League

Pound for pound, perhaps the most successful game of the generation. Released quietly in 2015, this "car soccer" freebie is still going strong with a player base boosted by cross-platform play. Still lots of fun, whether you play it every day or once a month. 

Simon Bishop

GAMES OF THE YEAR

1. The Last of Us: Part II

My favourite game this year. One of the most remarkable and powerful games of all time, and one that will stay in my memory for just as long. I’ve never been moved by a game in the way this one managed, and can’t recommend it enough.

2. Spiderman Miles Morales

An amazingly crafted game that is a showcase of the new PS5, but also a sign that the PS4 has got plenty of life left in it. Captures the character perfectly, gives gamers a very different protagonist that struggles with the weight of responsibility, but without turning into a dreary grind.

3. Astro’s Playroom

Yes, I can’t believe I’m choosing this either. A free inbuilt game on the PS5 turns out to be one of the best games of the year. It’s just so much fun, and has so much character, you can’t overlook it. A super fun platformer that delves into both the new PS5 in remarkably creative ways, but also shows off the history of PlayStation in such a cute and clever way.

GAMES OF THE GENERATION

1. The Last of Us Part II

Kind of goes without saying that this was my favourite game of the PS4 generation. I didn’t know how Naughty Dog was going to ever live up to how superb the first game was, and early on in it I felt they’d missed the mark. Little did I know I was in for the gaming ride of my life.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare/Warzone
Call of Duty Modern Warfare/Warzone
2. Call of Duty Modern Warfare/Warzone

Now this seems a funny one to choose, as Call of Duty games always get a bad rep, despite always getting millions of players and great reviews. For me, this is the best shooter experience I’ve had on a console: it looks great, runs great and is so much fun. But what makes it a game of the generation is the Warzone component, and how it tied into the crazy world we live in. Just so much fun.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Another Naughty Dog game, and a game in which they wrapped up a franchise fantastically. The PS3 era was defined for me by the Uncharted games — they’re still some of my favourites. It seems fitting then, that the sayonara story for Nathan Drake, Elena and Sully stands as one of my defining games of the generation for PS4 — capturing all the best bits of the series in terms of crazy set pieces and explosive action, but also with deep and thoughtful sections, ultimately leading to one of the most satisfying endings I can remember.

Ben Allen

GAMES OF THE YEAR

Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima
1. Ghost of Tsushima

One of the most flat-out beautiful games ever, Ghost of Tsushima somehow managed to make experiencing samurai Jin Sakai’s life falling to pieces an absolute delight. Robust combat, a surprisingly thoughtful story and ohhhhh-so-pretty.

Doom Eternal
Doom Eternal
2. Doom Eternal

A game that was to gory what Ghost of Tsushima was to gorgeous. In a year that went to hell, it was nice to have Doomguy back and still tearing through demons like paper. An adrenaline-pumping shooter on speed.

3. Before We Leave

Before my PC spectacularly died this year (boo!), I had hours of chilled-out good times with this pleasing little indie civilisation-builder, created by Dunedin’s own Balancing Monkey Games. Presiding over your little peg-like citizens has a pleasingly ant farm-like feel, it looks and sounds great and it’s a really relaxing (multiple) world(s) to spend some time in — beyond the odd worrying encounter with a hungry space whale. Totally worth a look.

GAMES OF THE GENERATION

Destiny 2
Destiny 2
1. Destiny 2

Yes, there have been annoyances, content droughts and weird decisions, but what can I say — Bungie’s space-wizard future shooter and its many, mad plotlines, has got its claws in me. Still some of the best-feeling shooting and most spectacular environments anywhere in gaming, and even if it’s had its problems, you only need look at all the games that have tried to emulate it to see what a success it really is.

2. God of War

An epic, awe-inspiring journey through Norse mythology that also completely rejuvenated an increasingly cliched character from gaming’s unfortunate "edgy" phase while also being a thoughtful exploration of forgiveness and father-son relationships while also still allowing you to hew through a mythological bestiary with a magic axe. This game was a miracle.

3. INSIDE

INSIDE, Playdead’s even-more-amazing follow-up to their acclaimed Limbo, is an oppressive sci-fi puzzler that simply needs to be experienced in its entirety (spoiler free!) — and is an amazing work of art. The ending will stick with me forever.


 

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