Feature Article

GameSpot's Best Game Of 2020 Nominees

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

These are the 10 best games of 2020, across PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

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

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"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.


Hades

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"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

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"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.


Demon's Souls

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"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.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

mgespin

Matt Espineli

Matt is a GameSpot Editor who, like a Dragon Quest Slime, strives to spread love and joy to the world.

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SebB

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Best of 2020 LOL. Did 2020 have anything "best" about it lol.

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Pierce_Sparrow

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Personally have to say Ghosts would be my GOTY, though TLOU II is a very close second. And as much awfulness surrounding CP2077 there is, that is way up there for me too. I understand it's a black sheep pick, but I have rarely had more fun with a game this year.

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bobbo888

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Edited By bobbo888

Hades is definitely a top 10! Some of the best writing and voice acting in a game, and the action is awesome! FFVII Remake was also phenomenal! The graphics, gameplay, and writing was so good! As for the other games, have not played lol

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LoafofBread

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I am so out of sync with games journalists these days. Everywhere seems to be omitting Doom and Ori 2 which, in my opinion, are two of the best pure gameplay experiences of the year.

Persona 5 Royal does not deserve a place in these nominations. Persona 5 was my game of the year for 2017. Why should a slightly jazzed up version of the same game take the place of a more deserving original title?

Also, and here is the big one... I just don't get Animal Crossing.

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cmarcosn33

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I don't care what others say. I really enjoyed The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima.

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AllFather12

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Edited By AllFather12

I was hoping Ori and the Will of the Wisps would be on here :(

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artiebuco

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Is this for Game of the Year, or Best Weird Japanese RPG?

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JSprunk

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@artiebuco: Best in-game Asian baked goods.

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xgalacticax

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Ghost for the win, but it isn't going to win. GS should give it to Demons Souls. Giving the original DS (which almost no one played) GOTY back in the day was one of the reasons I started respecting this website.

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toffifee

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Without a doubt "The Last of Us: Part II".

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xgalacticax

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@toffifee: *With a lot of doubt...

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rinshun

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@toffifee: at this point, I don't know if you are being serious or sarcastic haha

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Pierce_Sparrow

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@rinshun: Whether people actually liked it or not, TLOU II is a phenomenal game. People don't have to like it for it to be objectively good.

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umair_s51

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The last of us is the most over rated game of all time.

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uninspiredcup

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uninspiredcup  Online

Really out of sync with games journalists laud.

Streets Of Rage 4 or Desperados 3 for me.

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dmblum1799

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One side note for devs: If Nioh 2 had an easy mode it would clearly be on this list. That's not to say you should always have easy mode -but for that game that's what happened to it. It was too hard.

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alastor529

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its obvious GOTY is gonna be LAST OF US 2, its a journalist dream game.

its miserable, doesnt pander to fans, doesnt contain typical gaming tropes. diveristy at the forfront and tackled in game, cinematic presentation likened to big TV series on netflix/HBO etc.

so to a gaming journalist its a progressive step foward int he gaming industry to make game smore like movies with progressive themes at the forefront.

thats why its going to storm awards and other games like it will be what critics like, kind of like How Moonlight won the Oscar for best movie of the year yet , despite being a good movie, the vast majority didn't even watch it. and thats OKAY.

because its the CRITICS WHO CHOSE, they dont represent all gamers or your opinion.

so yes, will Last of uS 2 win GOTY on this website? yes. 110% , lol if you dont think its does..well..you are right to because your GOTY and a left leaning liberal gaming critic wont impact your enjoyment on and opinon on what game you think is GOTY

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Thanatos2k

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@alastor529: Choosing the best game of the year because of its agenda and not because of the game itself is not "OKAY"

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Master_Live

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@alastor529: Oscars' voters aren't the critics but members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy membership is divided into different branches, with each representing a different discipline in film production (producers, directors, actors, screenwriters etc.).

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dmblum1799

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Btw, Demon Souls was like the Velvet Underground. They didn't sell a lot of records, but everybody who listened went out and started a band.

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dmblum1799

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Edited By dmblum1799

Demon Souls is so much more fun and just better than all the other games. Final Fantasy VII was okay, but those games are so puerile they insult ones intelligence. I expect that from a video game, but, Dude, this isn't Nam - there are rules.

I would say Ghost would be the best game as a new IP. Really, I can't wait for the remaster of that. Its graphics are just so far behind Demon Souls. The rest is meh. MLB was my other favorite game, strangely enough. Probably because the Dodgers finally won the Series again.

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Nikky

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Did Cyberpunk miss the cutoff date? If so, it's probably for the best since it has been a beautiful but janky mess so far. I've had to save-exit-load my games a few times to complete a quest. Many times I cannot pick up items without reloading the game. The scanning (holding tab) some times does not work or is oddly delayed. I'm only 3 hours into the game.

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JeremyAlexander

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@Nikky: Cyberpunk is a broken mess with a mediocre story and a boring cityscape. If it had released without game breaking bugs it doesn't deserve to be on this list. I'm 30ish hours in and it's become a chore more than it is fun. Such a let down.

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GustavoB

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@Nikky: Cyberpunk scored a 7 at Gamespot, and this is a Gamestop list, so...

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Fedor

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@gustavob: You should check out Ghost's score.

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GustavoB

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@fedor: you’re right. They just don’t know what they are doing 🤷‍♂️

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