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The Best PC Games Of 2020

The Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 have finally supplanted the aging Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but the PC is here to stay. Audiences continually flock to the home computer gaming scene since it can push graphics and controls beyond the realm of consoles — and because many multiplayer PC titles don't require a separate subscription, like PlayStation Plus. Where there's a playerbase, there's developers willing to provide great games.

2020 is home to some of the best PC games of the decade, and not just because it is the first year of a new one. Gamers got to see follow-ups to beloved titles, indie games that trounced AAA titles with larger budgets, and even a few surprises that snuck out of left field. Some of these titles wormed their ways into players' hearts early in the year, while others were last-minute entries that still won over gamers.

If you own a PC and didn't play any of these games, you have some catching up to do.

Half-Life: Alyx

After Half-Life 2: Episode 2, fans waited for the next exciting installment in the Half-Life series. As time went on, gamers began to lose faith they would ever see another Half-Life title, and any lingering hopes seemingly evaporated when the voice actors of Dr. Breen and Eli Vance, Robert Culp and Robert Guillaume, died in 2018. And then Valve released Half-Life: Alyx in 2020.

To call Half-Life: Alyx a welcome surprise simply because audiences never expected the game (or its quality) would be a disservice to the title. Sure, Alyx might be extremely linear, but a new challenge waits around every corner, so it's difficult to get bored. Moreover, the game thrives on its VR design. Alyx makes full use of its new 3D setting to provide experiences and puzzles not possible in the original Half-Life games, all mixed with the world-building and immersion that made the franchise famous.

Even though Half-Life: Alyx is an in-betweenquel for Half-Life and Half-Life 2, it stands in a proud position to dictate the future of the franchise, as well as VR. Alyx is best described as "VR's killer app" — without a hint of irony or sarcasm. It's no wonder some gamers consider Half-Life: Alyx one of the best games of 2020.

Hades

Supergiant Games is a studio with a penchant for fantastic games with one-word titles. The studio won audiences over with Bastion and Transistor, but those were full releases. When Supergiant premiered Hades as an early access title, audiences were cautiously optimistic, but after playing it, many predicted it would become a game of the year contender when finished. Come 2020, Hades launched for real and proved those predictions correct.

Hades is the roguelike story of Zagreus, son of Hades, who wants to escape the Underworld. But, everybody is willing to kill him to make sure he never does. And, when Zagreus dies, he respawns back at home. Supergiant interweaves this mechanic into the narrative to create a novel story that is nonlinear, yet engrossing. And that's to say nothing of the brilliantly voiced characters who bring the world of the dead to life.

Combat in Hades is equally compelling since it provides a variety of unique weapons that can be upgraded with collectible resources and run-limited boons. Since boons are random, you can create a new build and experience each game session.

Hades climbed the ladders of many Game of the Year lists, and in some cases, dethroned the "favorite game of all time." It's unheard of for a roguelike to wield that much power.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

When you hear the word "simulator," you might think of a game that tries to, well, simulate an activity as accurately as possible down to the smallest detail. Normally, this could alienate a sizable portion of a title's potential audience, but Microsoft Flight Simulator defied the odds and transformed a simulator into one of the best video games of 2020.

The key to Microsoft Flight Simulator's success isn't just that it simulates the process of flight. The game's true magic lies in it's ability to simulate the sensation of flight. More impressively, Microsoft Flight Simulator features a one-to-one scale digital model of the Earth. You can fly over famous landmarks, discover locations you never knew existed, and even buzz your house, all while experiencing real-time weather and flying pixel-perfect recreations of real airplanes.

Microsoft Flight Simulator includes a few challenges to test your flying and landing skills, but the meat of the experience lies in losing yourself to the open skies. Just make sure you have a powerful rig before you play this game. The last thing you want is your computer combusting while trying to render a Boeing 747 in a snowstorm over the Andes.

Crusader Kings 3

In many strategy games, peace is only achievable through war, and allies won't betray you unless the narrative calls for it. However, Crusader Kings 3's betrayal of this game design tradition helps elevate it to video game royalty.

Crusader Kings 3's claim to fame is its myriad of interconnected systems that combine strategy mechanics, life simulation systems, and even RPG elements to create an engrossing dynasty simulator. Crusader Kings 3 doesn't have objectives aside from those you set for yourself, which results in an experience where every decision you make to further your kingdom organically changes the world and NPCs. In Crusader Kings 3, court drama and inter-kingdom spats can be solved (or caused) with an arranged marriage or an assassination.

Of course, you can't just min-max a king or queen in Crusader Kings 3 to grind out an outcome. The mounting in-game system of stress keeps you in the roleplaying shoes of your digital duke/duchess, but that too plays into the game's ability to evolve with choices.

Crusader Kings 3 is designed to be replayed repeatedly. How long can your kingdom survive when you roleplay as King Arthur? What about when you create a line of Elizabeth Bathorys? Play and find out.

Spelunky 2

The first Spelunky was a simple, freeware roguelike that captured the hearts of gamers. Nobody could have predicted it would accrue enough popularity to see an updated, paid rerelease. Or a sequel. Or that the sequel would surpass countless other AAA titles to become one of 2020's must-play PC titles.

If you played Spelunky — either the free original or its remake — a lot of Spelunky 2 will feel familiar, which is a good thing. You run, jump, dodge traps, and whip like a dream; and you can pick up items, collect trinkets, and rescue prisoners. When you die, the process starts over in a newly generated series of maps. But, Spelunky 2 isn't a rehash. The game includes new features to make the experience feel both fresh and familiar. Paths branch off so you don't have to progress through the same biomes each run. Liquid physics adds new dangers and ways to clear paths with pools of water and lava. Also, you can ride mounts such as turkeys — and kill them for extra health.

Spelunky 2's collection of features and additions coalesce into an addictive experience. Never has losing track of time (or losing progress) to a video game felt more rewarding.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is a tale of two experiences. On one hand, you have the buggy console versions, which have all the quality of Fallout 76 at launch. The PC version, meanwhile, features none of the performance problems and has relatively few bugs (the universal save data bug notwithstanding). The difference is so great they feel as though they were developed by two different studios, but the fact remains that Cyberpunk 2077 shines on computers.

When you aren't being taken out of the moment by visual glitches, you get to soak in Cyberpunk 2077's world, which many critics agree is a sight to behold. You practically (and sometimes literally) stumble into a new spectacle every several feet. Each street corner hides something new, and in this game, exploration is a must. Restricting your experience to the main narrative (even though it is engrossing) does the game and its world a disservice. You won't discover Cyberpunk 2077's best characters, weapons, abilities, and missions unless you poke your nose into every corner and take your time.

All in all, Cyberpunk 2077 is best likened to the ill-fated Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines — their spectacular narratives and writing overshadow everything else, especially the jank and bugs. Don't be surprised if future audiences reminisce about both titles for the same reasons.

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension

Point and click adventures are dead. Or are they? Yes they are, so you might as well go on to the next title. No point and click adventures were released in 2020, not a single one, so why are you still here?

What you just read is a taste of the sense of humor found There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension, a point and click adventure that totally exists, no matter how much it tries to convince you otherwise. The game emulates point and clicks from the 90s and thrives on puzzles that range from lateral to non-Euclidian. One second you are creating a makeshift moon with cardboard and paint, the next you are stealing letters from in-game text to fix/destroy the environment.

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension doesn't stop at aping classic point and click adventure puzzles. The game exudes comedy of almost every fashion, but mostly sticks to satire and parody. Behind the jokes lies a narrative that keeps gamers guessing and takes a few wild twists that will keep you enthralled.

If you have five hours to spend, you can't go wrong with an indie title like There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

Recently, video game publishers have discovered the secret to success: fall back on what works. This practice has resulted in beloved remakes such as Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and the most 90s/early 2000s game ever, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.

Every feature that turned the original Pro Skater titles into classics is faithfully recreated in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2. The game includes levels that are locked behind challenges (no microtransactions here) and are restricted to two-minute timers that beg players to return for more. Pro Skater 1 + 2 also packs the same soundtrack and a tight, retro control scheme that 90s kids remember — although you can swap controls for something more modern. The only big difference is the graphical overhaul, which is usually the hallmark of a great remake.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is the perfect game to relive your Mountain Dew-fueled youth, as well as introduce younger audiences to a genre that has fallen on dark times. You can't ask for a better way to wash the taste of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 out of your mouth.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Blind Forest is a darling indie metroidvania title that captured the hearts and minds of audiences. The then-newly minted Moon Studios couldn't have asked for a better debut — which is why it won the Best Debut Award from the 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards. Gamers expected the world from its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Moon Studios exceeded those expectations.

Given Ori and the Blind Forest's luscious presentation, it came as no surprise that Will of the Wisps carries on that proud tradition. The game follows in the original's footsteps and tells a gripping narrative that tugs at player heartstrings. The game world is beautiful, and the titular Ori's animations weave together into a wondrous ballet of platforming and combat. While some abilities return from the first game, many skills are new and a boon during Will of the Wisps' bevy of challenging segments.

If you enjoyed Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a must-buy. If you didn't play Blind Forest, you need to play it and then follow it up with Will of the Wisps.

F1 2020

Every gaming platform has its signature racing title. Nintendo has Mario Kart, and PlayStation has Gran Turismo. But, if you want the signature multiplatform racing game with annual sequels, look no further than F1 and its latest entry, F1 2020.

Many of F1's legacy features remain intact in F1 2020. The game provides beautiful driving mechanics in spite of the cracks in its opponent AI and underlying driving engine. However, what sets F1 2020 apart and elevates it into the year's best titles is its campaign mode.

Unlike other racing games, F1 always provided a special single-player story that cast players as racing mercenaries, but this time the game goes full racing team management sim. You customize everything from the ground up, not just the car. You have to recruit pit crew members, sign on backup drivers, manage sponsorship, and make sure your team's finances don't fall into the red. This mode adds to F1 2020's already staggering longevity, but there's always multiplayer if you want to race against real opponents.

Somehow, F1 2020 is both the most in-depth and approachable entry in the franchise. The game is bound to please longtime fans and newcomers alike.

Doom Eternal

After 2016's Doom blew collective gamers' minds and ended on a cliffhanger, audiences couldn't wait for the inevitable sequel. The anticipation, however, was tempered by the fear that the upcoming game couldn't live up to the shock and awe that Doom provided. When Doom Eternal launched, gamers were proud to be proven wrong.

Doom Eternal maintains its predecessor's high bar of graphical fidelity, tight controls, and headbanging tracks, all while pushing that bar even higher with revamped enemy designs and new songs. The game also features fresh weapons and mechanics to separate the enemy into biomechanical chunks.

Even though Doom Eternal can be considered a power fantasy, it provides a worthy challenge. Every enemy poses a new threat, and in order to keep your ammo, health, and armor reserves topped up, you have to master novel systems that push the FPS genre forward. The game solves the problem of artificial resource scarcity and abundance. You only have as much as you want.

To add to the bonfire of awesome, Doom Eternal also features DLC that has been well-received by critics and audiences with more yet to come. If Doom Eternal receives a sequel, don't be surprised if that game also makes the year's "Best PC Games" list.