best video games of 2020
CNN  — 

While many of us would rather forget 2020, we can’t ignore the truly stellar year of video games that brought joy in the face of — and sometimes because of — our unprecedented global situation. The arrival of the PS5 and Xbox Series X ushered in a fresh generation of games that pushed visuals and innovation to new levels, while titles such as The Last of Us Part II and Doom Eternal revealed just how much the aging PS4 and Xbox One are still capable of.

It was a year of multiplayer phenomena that kept people connected during isolation, from the wacky game show antics of Fall Guys to the simple but brilliant whodunnit action of Among Us. And there was something for every type of player in between, whether you chose to escape to an island oasis in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, dive into engrossing indie games like Hades or engage in immersive virtual reality dogfights in Star Wars Squadrons.

From next-generation standouts to modern Nintendo classics, here are our favorite games that made a very strange 2020 much more enjoyable.

The best PS5 and PS4 games of 2020

Spider-Man: Miles Morales ($49.99;

marvels spiderman review swinging

Aside from any Star Wars title, Spider-Man: Miles Morales was next on my most-excited-to-play list. I was late to the party with the original Spider-Man on PS4 and didn’t want to make the same mistake, especially after the trailer and gameplay samples were released. Miles Morales expands the story beyond Peter Parker and introduces you to his history, his family, his specific New York City and his powers. Web-swinging down Broadway or across Central Park is still dynamic as ever, even more so thanks to the CPU and GPU in the PS5. But what really sold me on the game was the compelling storyline and new powers for Miles. Venom really mixes things up and allows you to add a dose of electricity to a punch, jump or takedown. It also expands the idea of who Spider-Man can be. Whether you have a PS5, a PS4 Pro or even a standard PS4, Miles Morales should be your next game. — Jacob Krol, tech and electronics editor

Ghost of Tsushima ($39.99, originally $59.99;

best games of 2020 ghost of tsushima

I normally get bored or exhausted by big open-world games pretty quickly, but Ghost of Tsushima’s gorgeous, expansive feudal Japan playground had me happily going off the beaten path with my trusty horse to scale mountains, take out enemy strongholds and do favors for my local townspeople. Sucker Punch’s stellar action-adventure game is packed with fun activities to discover, and the game’s dynamic combat system lets you approach encounters with a mix of intricate swordplay and satisfying stealth, thanks to an ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities. Ghost of Tsushima is a true visual masterpiece whether you’re playing on PS4 or PS5, with a visual style bursting with colorful, lush greenery and gorgeous vistas. I’m pretty sure I spent more time in photo mode than I did fighting off bad guys. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Astro’s Playroom

best games of 2020 astros playroom

Normally a free game on a console doesn’t make many, if any, waves. Astro’s Playroom, the preloaded title on every PS5, is the exception. It not only showcases all the potential of the DualSense controller — intense haptics, a microphone, a speaker and a large touchpad — but also offers up a satisfying series of levels packed with fun secrets. But let me just be very clear: It made me fall in with the PS5’s controller. And it unlocked, or rather drew back the curtain on, the potential for future games on the PS5. Astro’s Playroom’s storyline takes place through the physical hardware that makes up a console. Cooling Springs is my favorite level, from its sweet beaches to the icy jumps you’ll need to make to win. — Jacob Krol, tech and electronics editor

The Last of Us Part II ($29.99, originally $59.99;

best games of 2020 the last of us part ii

The Last of Us Part II is a captivating and harrowing tale of revenge that sees Naughty Dog push its knack for top-notch storytelling, gameplay and visual fidelity to all-new heights. This sequel to the genre-defining 2013 original continues the story of Joel and Ellie, who find themselves dealing with the consequences of their actions while stuck in the middle of a war between two deadly factions in a postapocalyptic world. Thanks to the game’s superb performances, lifelike graphics and visceral combat, I constantly felt motivated to push through The Last of Us Part II’s story — even when things were at their most emotionally draining. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Demon’s Souls ($69.99;

best games of 2020 demons souls

Demon’s Souls is a breathtaking remake of one of the most revered and brutal action games of all time — and a great showcase of what the PS5 is capable of. Bluepoint Games’ fresh take on this 2009 classic makes the haunting world of Boletaria look more stunning than ever, and thanks to the PS5’s DualSense controller, you’ll truly feel the weight of your sword and shield as you parry and slash demon after demon. I typically give up on Souls games pretty quickly, but the unmatched level of satisfaction that comes from finally conquering a difficult enemy — not to mention the game’s captifyingly mysterious setting — constantly had me coming back for more. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Final Fantasy VII Remake ($29.99, originally $59.99;

5-underscored final fantasy vii remake review

The Final Fantasy VII Remake was an early highlight of 2020 and a long-awaited one. It had to make good with fans who played the original while also delivering an exciting story with reworked components for them and newcomers alike. It keeps the classic story surrounding Midgar, and Cloud is still your main character. The graphics are taken to a new level, and loading screens are fully removed — big changes from when the title originally launched in 1997. The controls feel like a true RPG that’s highlighted with a real-time system for more engaging battles. Fear not, as you still have access to multiple attacks and the ability to plan out power-ups. This makes it a compelling RPG that’s sure to bring joy to both new and old fans. — Jacob Krol, tech and electronics editor

The best Xbox Series X and Xbox One games of 2020

Tetris Effect: Connected ($29.99, originally $39.99;

best games of 2020 tetris effect connected

How do you make the best version of the world’s most iconic video game even better? Add multiplayer, of course! Tetris Effect: Connected is the ultimate version of Enhance Games’ beloved 2018 puzzler, which provides an incredibly immersive take on Tetris, thanks to serene music and visuals that sync up with how you play. On top of the engrossing single-player campaign and array of challenge modes from the original, Connected also brings multiplayer to the mix, with an innovative three-player cooperative mode as well as a variety of competitive options to test your brick-dropping skills against the world. Connected is so good that, even with tons of new next-gen games at my disposal, there were countless nights where all I wanted to do was play some Tetris. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Also on: PC, Xbox Game Pass

Ori and the Will of the Wisps ($14.99, originally $29.99;

best games of 2020 ori and the will of the wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the rare game that enthralled me with its gameplay as much as it did with its striking, Pixar-like visuals. A follow up to Microsoft’s beloved Ori and the Blind Forest, this addictive platformer drops you into a sprawling, freely explorable world filled with new abilities to unlock and dangerous enemies that will force you to master its precise movement and combat. One of the best-looking games I’ve played this year (if not this generation), Ori’s hand-painted visuals make an especially great showpiece for Xbox Series X, thanks to support for up to 120 frame-per-second gameplay, enhanced audio and even a 6K visual mode. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Also on: PC, Xbox Game Pass, Nintendo Switch

Doom Eternal ($29.83, originally $59.99;

03 Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal is the best pure action game I played this year, building on the incredible 2016 Doom reboot with new weapons and abilities that truly made me feel like the ultimate demon-slaying badass. Every encounter in this first-person shooter is a beautiful ballet of strategic violence, as you’ll rapidly switch between shotgun blasting, chainsaw ripping and performing ever-satisfying melee kills to keep your health and momentum up. With massive levels packed with secrets, fun platforming and traversal challenges, not to mention some truly memorable boss fights, Eternal is an epic sequel that I regularly revisited long after I first beat it. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox Game Pass

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 ($25.67, originally $39.99;

best games of 2020 tony hawks pro skater 1 and 2

Few franchises mean more to me than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater — which is why the last few botched attempts at bringing the series back have been especially painful. Fortunately, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 finally brings the legendary skateboarding franchise back to its former glory. A faithful but forward-looking remake of the first two Tony Hawk games, Pro Skater 1 + 2 delivers gorgeous new renditions of classic levels, a stacked roster of skaters and that same unforgettable soundtrack with some great new tunes. Most importantly, it just feels perfect, replicating the tight, addictive skateboard action of the original games while incorporating moves from newer Tony Hawk titles for even wilder combos. Throw in online multiplayer, a robust park creator and hundreds of challenges, and you’ve got a game that stole dozens of hours of my time and will likely steal dozens more — just like it did back in 2000. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Also on: PC, PS4

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2020

Animal Crossing: New Horizons ($59.99;

Animal Crossing New Horizons

Nintendo’s ultra-adorable social sim franchise Animal Crossing made its Switch debut earlier this year with New Horizons, and it couldn’t have arrived at a more fitting time. For many quarantined gamers (myself included), it was a much-needed escape from the pandemic, with players being able to move to, landscape and design their own island home and befriend a wide range of super-cute animal friends. But more than being just an extremely well-timed salve for the quarantine blues, it’s a gorgeous, fun and ever-evolving gaming experience that’s perfect for children, adults and even grandparents alike. Whether you spend your time catching insects, designing outfits, chatting up the residents or playing the “stalk market,” there’s no shortage of things to do — not to mention the game pushes out regular free updates that add new features and trigger seasonal events. I put nearly 300 hours into this game in just a couple months, and I can’t wait to sink 300 more. — Daniel Toy, copy editor

Hades ($19.99, originally $24.99;

best games of 2020 hades

I’ve always loved roguelikes (dungeon crawl games in which every play-through is different) for their pick-up-and-playability, but they typically aren’t known for having in-depth stories. Supergiant’s indie game Hades, however, literally changes the roguelike game by offering a dense story mythology (again, literally — all of the characters are gods from Greek mythology) between play-throughs. You play as the immortal son of Hades, Zagreus, as he tries countless times to escape the underworld and his father, but each time you die — and trust us, you will die…a lot — you return to Hades’ palace, where you break from the action for a few minutes to interact with a colorful cast of characters. And if that’s not enough, you also get to pet your floofy three-headed dog, Cerberus, every time you return, which is reward enough for even the toughest-to-handle deaths. With gorgeous character designs and hours of playability, Hades is a no-brainer for one of the best games of the year. — Daniel Toy, copy editor

Also on: PC

The best PC games of 2020

Among Us ($3.99, originally $4.99;

Among Us

Among Us was released in 2018, but it didn’t get popular until this year after Twitch and YouTube streamers started playing. Convince a few of your friends — anywhere from four to 10 — of them to play with you. But we have to warn you, you might not be friends after playing this game for a few hours. Players walk around different spaceship-themed maps, completing tasks such as connecting electrical wires or completing a body scan as Crewmates. The goal is to complete your tasks while avoiding the player or players who were randomly selected to be an Imposter, whose role is to sabotage tasks and kill Crewmates. Players can report bodies or call emergency meetings, where they can lobby the rest of the players to vote on who they think the Imposter is. The kicker here is that the Imposter has every reason to lie and blame someone else while claiming innocence. My favorite part of the game is trying to convince my friends and family members that someone else — usually the red character — was the Imposter. More than one argument started during long Among Us gaming sessions, but ultimately we all prevailed and continue to laugh about the interactions to this day. — Jason Cipriani, contributor

Also on: iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch

Star Wars Squadrons ($23.99, originally $39.99;

star wars squadrons starship

Star Wars Squadrons has allowed me to live out my intergalactic dogfighting fantasies better than any Star Wars game before it. This first-person space shooter lets you pilot iconic ships such as the X-wing and TIE fighter, each of which can be customized to your playstyle with a variety of components and cosmetics. I loved getting to know new characters from both the New Republic and Galactic Empire during the game’s unique two-sided campaign, and I had an even better time blasting away at enemy fighters during heated multiplayer dogfights with my friends. And while Squadrons looks gorgeous on my monitor running on PC, it became a whole other game once I tried it in virtual reality. I suddenly turned into my 7-year-old self once again, staring all around me into space as my childhood dreams of piloting an X-wing were realized. — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Also on: Xbox One/Series X, PS4/PS5

Fall Guys ($15.99, originally $19.99;

02 Fall Guys

The surprise multiplayer hit of the summer, Fall Guys is what happens when you combine the unpredictability of Mario Party with the massive scale of a battle royale game like Fortnite. This popular party game sees up to 60 players compete in a series of wacky minigames, from chaotic races to precise platforming challenges, until there’s just one player left standing. Mediatonic’s brilliant multiplayer free-for-all has led to some of my most triumphant gaming moments and also made me want to throw a controller at a wall at times — but no matter what, it regularly kept me coming back for “just one more game.” — Michael Andronico, senior tech writer

Also on: PS4