2020 has been a unique year for games, in many ways, because no one could've predicted it. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world across numerous fronts, and the games industry was no exception. Still, developers and companies managed to stay the course amid challenging times, meeting the demand of those quarantining with an abundance of fantastic games and exciting new hardware on which to play them. As you can imagine, the quality on display across this year's finest games has made it difficult for us at GameSpot to choose what makes it into our Best of 2020 awards. But after spending numerous hours across multiple rigorous deliberations, we narrowed down a list of 10 nominees for our Best Game of 2020.
Below you can find the game nominees we considered to be the most memorable and innovative games of the past year. Each nominee below was qualified to be considered our game of the year, but like all prestigious awards, we crowned only one as the winner. You can find out our pick in our detailed GameSpot Game of the Year 2020 write-up. Still, the nominees we've considered are well worth looking through, so be sure to check them out and read our thoughts on why they're each considered as some of this year's finest.
Our choice for Game of the Year and nominees aren't the only amazing games we've highlighted. In the lead up to our big reveal, we've also looked back at the best games on every major platform and weighed in on the performance of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo this past console generation. To find all of our latest and upcoming content, check out our Best Games of 2020 hub. Though, if you're keen to look to the future, you can also check out our Most Anticipated Games Of 2021 hub, which houses our features around some of the biggest games to play next year.
Editor's Note: the following list is organized by each game's release date.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
"More than anything, though, what makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons a special game is its irresistible charm. Watching a villager plop down in front of a tree to read a book or break out into a spontaneous song in the town plaza--these little moments are endlessly endearing and never cease to put a smile on your face. New Horizons is a warm hug of a game that has helped many a player find digital refuge from the relentless torrent of this year's woes. There have been many excellent games over the past 12 months, but none of them will be as inextricably associated with 2020 as New Horizons." -- Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Read our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons Best Of 2020 Nominee feature.
"Half-Life: Alyx is familiar. In comparison to previous installments in the franchise, it even looks a bit samey. You get guns, you fight terrifying headcrab-controlled zombies, mow down the militant Combine, solve puzzles, and try to liberate a world from a multi-dimensional alien takeover. On paper, it’s hard to pinpoint a hugely notable difference between Half-Life: Alyx and Half-Life 2, a 16-year-old game. Yet, Half-Life: Alyx is unlike anything I’ve ever played before. Yes, it’s a VR game, and the immersion that comes from that defines the experience. However, beyond the virtual reality is a video game so meticulously crafted and so spellbinding in its execution that the familiarity and simplicity becomes a stroke of brilliance." -- Kurt Indovina, Host/Producer
Read our full Half-Life: Alyx Best of 2020 Nominee feature.
Persona 5 Royal
"Persona 5 Royal is an overwhelmingly emotional experience, partly because you grow to love the characters you spend so much time with, making it tough to say goodbye as the credits roll. But also because there's a genuine empathy built into the fabric of Persona 5 Royal that many us identify with on a profound level. To see difficult parts of our lives expressed in a 100+ hour RPG that's an absolute blast to play is an experience like no other." -- Michael Higham, Editor
Read our full Persona 5 Royal Best Of 2020 Nominee feature.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
"Sure, Final Fantasy VII Remake has its issues, but in every single way that matters, Square Enix has more than done justice to the original. It stokes that melancholy that comes from going on a perilous journey with people that become friends so dear that, when it's over, it hurts to say goodbye. It leaves you longing to return to them, desperate to be in its world once more so you can take the next step on the journey together. And that's what makes a Final Fantasy truly special." -- Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Read our full Final Fantasy VII Remake Best Of 2020 Nominee feature.
The Last Of Us Part II
"The Last of Us: Part II's choices in gameplay and presentation may not always make for a smooth landing, and it often takes a long time to see its payoff, but it manages to provoke a discussion and emotional response in the ways that matter. It can inspire impassioned conflicts and challenge beliefs, but does so in ways that foster growth and encourage seeking out new perspectives on the bleak setting of the series. With its story set in a morally ambiguous world where every character carries the scars of trauma, the sequel presents a question: Who among them gets to decide who's in the right? The Last of Us: Part II makes many brave and profound choices with its focus on the toxic cycle of violence and its study of Ellie as a character--and not just as a protagonist. In doing so, it is one of the most engrossing and painful experiences of the year, and it's a game you should not miss out on." -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Read our full The Last Of Us Part 2 Best of 2020 Nominee feature.
Ghost of Tsushima
"When you just look at Ghost of Tsushima's gameplay loop, it's a rather traditional open-world game--really, there's nothing remarkable about it purely from a gameplay standpoint. But the memorable moments crafted on top of that foundation ultimately makes for a game with so much cool stuff to see and do (and you can keep seeing and doing it alongside your friends in Legends, an incredible post-launch, multiplayer-focused expansion added to the game for free). Ghost of Tsushima has a unique style and virtually every aspect of it is built in support of achieving that style, successfully emulating the idea of what western audiences commonly associate with samurai films and Japan." -- Jordan Ramee, Associate Editor
Read our full Ghost of Tsushima Best of 2020 Nominee feature.
"Spiritfarer feels like an essential game for anyone who has ever experienced a painful loss or who has stayed up at night worrying about death. It's also a fitting game for 2020, a year wrought by so much pain and isolation. For a game about death, Spiritfarer is filled with joy, whether you are gliding across an island, whipping up one of your passenger's favorite meals, or fishing off the side of your boat at night under the gentle glow of the moon. Its world feels like home; its characters become not only passengers, but beloved friends and family. And just as much as you help each character fulfill their needs, they help you in return, giving you the strength to keep living and accept your time when it comes. Spiritfarer is a truly special game from beginning to end, and its message of compassion, acceptance, and courage is one we could all benefit from hearing, now more than ever." -- Jenae Sitzes, Commerce Editor
Read our full Spiritfarer Best Of 2020 Nominee feature.
"But what elevates Hades to another level is that the strong writing stands on top of what is an excellent game in every facet. Each aspect of the game is top notch. Visuals? Stunning, with gorgeous vistas (those panning shots when you take the time to admire a new area are truly impressive) and easy-to-read environments and enemy types that let you keep up with the action. Music? Arguably the best of the year, or even recent years, particularly the intense rock music during boss fights that will get your blood pumping. Combat? It feels rock-solid, with an added layer of strategy that you might not expect at first glance. Replayability? There are so many layers of upgrades and different ways to approach a run, including wildly varied weapon types, that diving back into Tartarus feels like an exciting proposition, never a chore.
Hades not only redefines what a roguelike can be, it simply stands as an exemplary experience across the board. That makes it an easy case for being one of 2020's best games." -- Chris Pereira, Senior Editor/Global Head of News
Read our full Hades Best of 2020 Nominee feature.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
"It was a bit tough to think of where the franchise could go after Yakuza 6 and Judgment (which was a great spinoff). Yakuza: Like a Dragon charts a new and exciting path for Yakuza because it captures what so many of us love about the series, yet takes them to new heights by exploring more affecting themes. For RGG Studio's first RPG, it's an impressive switch in gameplay that has paid off in a big way. And, as always, its world is brimming with hilarity and fun activities. Once the goofiness starts to settle in, you find that this game has a big heart, and just like how Ichiban grew throughout his journey, Like a Dragon proves that the series did as well." -- Michael Higham, Editor
Read our full Yakuza: Like a Dragon Best of 2020 Nominee feature.
"For longtime fans with extensive knowledge and experience of Demon's Souls, Bluepoint's remake gives them the ability to feel what it's like to play a Souls game for the first time. That is something that I highlighted in my review, and the value of it cannot be understated. The Souls community is obsessive, constantly chasing the same high that they get when playing From Software's titles, so to be able to re-experience a game it already knows and loves, but through the eyes of a newcomer again, is incredibly valuable and why Demon's Souls is one of the best games of the year." -- Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Read our full Demon's Souls Best of 2020 Nominee feature.