Games of 2020

Welcome to “Games of 2020.” I did better this year. I completed eleven games! The total number of hours playing games this year surpassed several of the previous years, so I feel good about 2020. Variety was a little lacking; I am disappointed that I did not play any indie games. In the end, I had fun with each and every game.

What is this? Well, every year I create a post that highlights all of the games I completed in the year. It is not a “game of the year” countdown post. The series has taken several forms throughout the years, but I have tried to standardize in the past few years. There are a lot of posts, so here is an appendix.

For this post the games did not have to come out in 2020. In fact, none of them, at least not officially, did. Each game in the list includes my thoughts about the game. Do not expect a full review with details; I like to keep it simple. I also include my favorite screenshot I took, and some statistics about my time with the game. Let’s dig in!

Just How I Do

Borderlands 2 (PC)

Release date:                  9/18/2012
Number of hours played:        118
Number of achievements earned: 64/75 (85%)
Number of screenshots taken:   177
Acquisition date:              9/18/2012
Acquired from:                 Steam
Purchase price:                About $78.56 (List $59.99 + 
                               $29.99 Season Pass)
Games of 2020 - Borderlands 2
Get ’em, Deathy!

I had been making my way through the Borderlands series before the Steam release of Borderlands 3. After playing through the first game and the Pre-Sequel, I tackled Borderlands 2. Like the first, I already had a couple hundred hours invested in it, but I itched to play through it again. Like the first, the critical hits are satisfying, but not as satisfying. The gore is not anywhere near the first game’s, and it affects the visceral feeling the first had. Also, I am not a fan of how they approached loot in second game. There is more variety in the weapons, but when I found one I liked, it was only good for a few levels before it needed to be replaced. For example, if I found an epic grade sniper rifle I liked, I might have to replace it with a lower grade pistol a few levels later just because the pistol did more damage. Borderlands 2 does story better than the first game. Handsome Jack is one of the best, if not the best, antagonist in any video game. He is a psychotic douche bag, and yet charming and relatable.

I decided to play as the mechromancer, Gaige. I had never played as her before, and I had a blast! I love summoner classes, and Death Trap was a fun companion. Her Anarchy skill is way overpowered, but joyful to use. For my first playthrough, I completed the main game including all side missions. For my second, I only completed the main story missions. During my third playthrough, I completed the main game, all side missions, as well as tackled the DLC. I enjoyed the first DLC, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty. Scarlett, although not as good as Jack, was a fun antagonist. The second DLC, Mr. Torque’s Campaign of Carnage, was not as fun to play, but it had Mr. Torque, so it is hard to complain too much. It is a perfectly serviceable story to kill baddies, and get more loot. I did not like the third, Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt. I really like Sir Hammerlock, but I did not like the DLC’s setting. The antagonist, who also makes an appearance in The Pre-Sequel, just sucks.

In past playthroughs, I never finished the fourth DLC, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. I am glad I completed it this time. The D&D setting should not work in a Borderlands game, but somehow it does. I am not a huge fan of Tiny Tina, but she is fantastic in this DLC. You get to see how she processes trauma, and it is kinda sad. This DLC is my favorite from Borderlands 2. DLC five, Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary, was released almost seven years after the main game was released. It bridges the story between 2 and 3… sorta. I got more Vaughn, some closure on a character’s death from Tales, and got to see what happens to Sanctuary. I also got more Dahl, which I missed.

Overall, I like Borderlands 2. I mean, I have over three hundred hours in the game. It has flaws, but I did enjoy my time replaying it now.

Loader Bot Is Love, Loader Bot Is Life

Tales from the Borderlands (PC)

Release date:                  11/25/2014
Number of hours played:        10.75
Number of achievements earned: 35/35 (100%)
Number of screenshots taken:   62
Acquisition date:              6/11/2015
Acquired from:                 Steam
Purchase price:                $12.49 (List $24.99)
Games of 2020 - Tales from the Borderlands
Guys. I am having a really good time.

Tales from the Borderlands is my favorite Borderlands game. All of the characters are well written, and fully developed. There is not a single character I dislike. It is not too surprising, since it is a Telltale game. It does have a little bit of Telltale jank to it, but it is easy to look past it since the story, voice acting, and characters are so good. I am disappointed that Gearbox did not bring back Troy Baker (Bioshock: Infinite, Last of Us) for Rhys in Borderlands 3; in Tales, Troy’s performance is incredible. Tales has a stacked cast overall: Laura Bailey (Last of Us Part II, Gears 4/5), Chris Hardwick (Singled Out, some podcast show), Patrick Warburton (The Venture Bros., The Tick), and more. The story is an emotional rollercoaster. I never thought I would cry over a loader bot. Laugh at a nerd’s abs. Gush over how cute Gortys is. Hang onto the edge of my seat during a finger gun battle. The game thawed my cold heart, and opened it up to love. And isn’t that what’s important?

Rackin’ Em Up

Borderlands 3 (PC)

Release date:                  3/13/2020
Number of hours played:        179.75
Number of achievements earned: 72/78 (92%)
Number of screenshots taken:   140
Acquisition date:              3/13/2020
Acquired from:                 Steam
Purchase price:                $49.99 (List $89.99 for Super Deluxe)
Games of 2020 - Borderlands 3
Ima pop a wheelie over your corpse.

I do not know what it is about mainline Borderlands games, but they just miss the mark of perfection by a hair. Borderlands 1 had good combat and loot, but not the story. Borderlands 2 had a slight downgrade in combat, a misstep with loot, but had a great story and good writing. Borderlands 3 nails combat and movement. Guns have satisfying weight to them. Vaulting infinitely improved the platforming sections of the game. The story is not bad, however, it suffers from terrible writing and plot points that had me thinking, “That’s just dumb.” The loot is better than 2‘s, but too much. There are so many legendaries, that they do not feel legendary. There is no point in keeping any weapon below an epic. I am not much of an end game guy, but the end game relies on specific weapons for your build. It is okay, since there are a lot of choices, but it still boxes you into a specific build if you want to continue doing damage at higher mayhem levels. I am not into that, so I did the story, and the four DLC’s, and called it good.

The DLC’s are a little better than the main game from a writing perspective. Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot drug Jack back into the limelight. Guns, Love, and Tentacles has a cool Lovecraftian feel to it, and it brought back Gaige. This one was my favorite. Bounty of Blood is a Western, including a grizzled narrator. It is a fun, but short, story. Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck should have been my favorite DLC, since I do enjoy Krieg. But it is too short, the bosses are bullet sponges, and there are only a handful of new locations. It is still an okay DLC, but not what I was hoping for.

Despite its flaws, I still put in a lot of hours into this game. I enjoyed my time with the game, but I do not really see any reason to revisit it, unless they put out a new story DLC.

Taking On The Big Boys

Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)

Release date:                  2/6/2018
Number of hours played:        9.5
Number of achievements earned: 19/38 (50%)
Number of screenshots taken:   70
Acquisition date:              3/14/2020
Acquired from:                 Playstation Store
Purchase price:                $0.00 (List $19.99)
Games of 2020 - Shadow of the Colossus
Giddy up, Agro!

I remember working at Target, and buying the Greatest Hits version of Shadow of the Colossus for the Playstation 2. It was a fun and interesting game at the time. It only has 13 enemies, and a large, mostly empty world. The enemies are puzzles. The graphics were a bit blurry, but I thought the art style was unique. The Playstation 2 version is a little rough to play now.

Good thing Bluepoint nailed the 2018 remaster. The graphics are some of the best on the Playstation 4; it is absolutely stunning. They somehow kept the art style, while getting rid of the blur. The controls are also updated, and it feels great. With all of the updates, it still feels like the old PS2 game, just a bit more modern. As far as I am concerned, this is the gold standard on how to do a proper remaster.

This game is just special. The fights are tense and thoughtful. Between fights, riding Agro allowed me to have a breather while taking in the beautiful environments. It is a perfect balance, and a near flawless game.

My Brother’s Keeper

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)

Release date:                  5/10/2016
Number of hours played:        55
Number of achievements earned: 46/68 (68%)
Number of screenshots taken:   102
Acquisition date:              2/18/2018
Acquired from:                 Playstation Store
Purchase price:                $19.99 (List $39.99)
It appears this mountain is boiling.

I tried to play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End on hard difficulty for my first playthrough. I had beaten Uncharted 2 and 3 on hard. However, I had to knock it down to normal during chapter 8. There is not a lot of combat in the first seven chapters. I struggled a little bit, but I just thought I was rusty from not playing a shooter on the Playstation 4 in awhile. By chapter 8, I could not sneak up on very many enemies before being spotted. Enemies would rush me from all directions. I just kept dying over and over again. Finally, I knocked it down to normal. I was able to stealth kill many more enemies without issue, and when they finally spotted me, I was able to take the remaining enemies out. The difficulty gap between normal and hard is absurd. Once I was on normal difficulty, I just sat back and enjoyed the story.

I love a good pirate adventure, and Uncharted 4‘s story is exactly that. Nate’s long lost brother, Sam (voiced by Troy Baker), asks Nate (Nolan North) to hunt down one last treasure before hanging up his adventuring boots for good. Although the brothers’ relationship is center stage, I felt Nate and Elena’s (Emily Rose) relationship had the biggest emotional impact in the story. The story is definitely the most emotional out of all the Uncharted games. It closes the chapter on Nate, but keeps the door open for other treasure hunters.

After beating the game, I craved more of it. So, I decided to hunt some trophies. I started with the speedrun trophy. I used infinite ammo, selected the one-hit-kill gun all the time, set the difficulty to explorer, and turned on auto aim. It was a fairly easy trophy to get. I still craved more. I decided to do a Brutal playthrough. I did use most of the same “techniques” as above, with an added cheat of bullet time. The gun still was capable of one hit kills, with a few exceptions. It was not too bad. There were a few frustrating parts, but I had a ton of fun playing this way. I highly recommend unlocking cheats, and playing through the game again on Brutal. I had to play one more time, because my accuracy got glitched, and I did not get the over 70% accuracy trophy. I did not earn all of the trophies, but I felt satisfied with the ones I did get.

Choose Poorly

Erica (PS4)

Release date:                  8/19/2019
Number of hours played:        3.5
Number of achievements earned: 8/34 (24%)
Number of screenshots taken:   27
Acquisition date:              7/26/2020
Acquired from:                 Playstation Store
Purchase price:                $0 (List $9.99)
Always justify.

I cannot call Erica an interactive movie; it is more of a movie with interactive elements. You can play it with a Playstation Dualshock 4 controller, but it encourages you to sync your cell phone to control it. You can select dialog for Erica, flick objects, open things, etc. all using the touchpad on the controller or your phone. It was free on Playstation Plus, and I decided to have my friends help me make choices.

The story is a thriller. We played as Erica. Erica has nightmares reliving her father’s death. One morning, she receives a package containing a severed hand. She works with police to help them solve this mystery. In the meantime she moves into the Delphi House, an asylum her parents had worked at. We made choices for her, mostly related to dialog, to solve the mysteries of the Delphi House, severed hand, and a distinct symbol.

The game reminds me of the FMV games from back in the day, except Erica is fairly high quality. The acting is great, music compliments the thriller atmosphere, and the overall production value seems high. The story has unexpected – and sometimes bizarre – twists and turns, with the writing being passable. My friends and I spent most of the time making fun of the writing and Erica’s facial expressions. We played Erica as someone who only would talk to the detective, and refused to say anything to anyone else. This gave us lots of time to make comments as we waiting for the timer to run out.

Overall, I cannot really recommend paying money for Erica. It reminds me of an indie movie from a first time director, and it is just strange. If that is your thing, then I say, “go for it.”

Picture Perfect

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)

Release date:                  8/22/2017
Number of hours played:        24
Number of achievements earned: 50/50 (100%)
Number of screenshots taken:   113
Acquisition date:              8/9/2020
Acquired from:                 Playstation Store
Purchase price:                $14.99 (List $14.99)
My insurance adjuster is not going to like this.

After beating Uncharted 4, I craved more Uncharted. So, I bought and downloaded Uncharted: Lost Legacy. It was nice playing someone other than Drake. Chloe (Claudia Black) takes center stage, and I got to see what she has been up to. India provided an absolutely stunning backdrop for the story. Every moment was a screenshot opportunity. There are points that Chloe can stop and take a picture. The setting is my favorite out of all the Uncharted games. It is a shorter game, but the story does not have a lot of excess fat to it, and it is packed with emotional punches. Gameplay is more of the same from Uncharted 4, which is just fine. After beating it, I craved more, and played a few more playthroughs to platinum it.

Breathing In Space…

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Release date:                  11/12/2007
Number of hours played:        55
Number of achievements earned: 121x2/121x2 Stars
Number of screenshots taken:   56
Acquisition date:              12/9/2007
Acquired from:                 Target
Purchase price:                $49.99 (List $49.99)
Games of 2020 - Super Mario Galaxy
Mario must have more concussions than an American football player.

I have been wanting to replay Super Mario Galaxy for a few years now. I had not played it since it first came out. I busted out my WiiU to play it, hoping that upscaling would make it look better… it did not. The graphics were blurry. After playing a few levels, I decided to move it to the PC. The Dolphin emulator is the best way to play Mario Galaxy. It plays in full HD, 60 FPS, and looks crisp. I was able to use Wii remotes, and it was just like playing it on the Wii (except prettier). I know motion controls are not well liked, but Galaxy was designed for the Wii remote. I did not have any issues “waggling” the controller to spin, or using the IR pointer to grab star bits. In my opinion, Wii remotes are the definitive way to play it.

Other than graphics, playing on an emulator had other advantages. I remember when I first played it on the Wii, I got so frustrated that I broke a Wii remote. On an emulator, I had access to save states, making those parts a lot more bearable. When I got to a difficult section, I could create a save state right before it, and load if I died.

Galaxy actually has the best story out of any Mario game. Yes, the princess is kidnapped by Bowser, but Rosalina’s story is very moving. I never thought I would tear up in a Mario game, but Galaxy tugged on the old heartstrings. The hub world is also my favorite in any 3D Mario game. I kind of wish the game had more exploration elements, but the platforming more than makes up for it.

… Because It’s Breathtaking

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Release date:                  5/23/2010
Number of hours played:        34
Number of achievements earned: 142/142 Stars
Number of screenshots taken:   34
Acquisition date:              NA
Acquired from:                 Probably Target
Purchase price:                $49.99 (List $49.99)
Games of 2020 - Super Mario Galaxy 2
You’d think that would hurt Yoshi’s tongue.

Of course I played Super Mario Galaxy 2 after playing the first one. I played it on the Dolphin emulator as well, and it looks just as stunning as the first one. Save states calmed my rage during frustrating parts. Galaxy 2 does not have the story the first one has, but it tightens up the gameplay, and adds Yoshi.

Let’s talk music. Mario games always bring their A game with their music. The music in both Galaxy games are absolutely amazing. The first Galaxy has my most favorite video game soundtrack of all time. I am a sucker for those catchy strings. Galaxy 2 remixes tracks from previous Mario games, and it is stunning.

Galaxy and Galaxy 2 are my favorite 3D Mario games, but it is so difficult to say which one of the two is better. Galaxy has the music, story, and the hub world, but Galaxy 2 has the better controls, platforming, and Yoshi. I have to combine them to say that they are the greatest of the 3D games in the series.

The Exercism Of Mario Mario

Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

Release date:                  10/27/2017
Number of hours played:        53.75
Number of achievements earned: 60/61
Number of screenshots taken:   77
Acquisition date:              12/25/2019
Acquired from:                 Gift
Purchase price:                $0.00 (List $59.99)
Games of 2020 - Super Mario Odyssey
Mario T-Rex SMASH!

I wanted to love Super Mario Odyssey. The art style integrates some realism, while keeping it distinctly Mario. It looks fantastic in high definition. Mario’s moveset has increased from previous games, and he controls great… with a controller. The Switch’s Joy Cons just did not work for me. I tried to use them while performing a timed platforming puzzle. I needed to use a series of long jumps, which I have been doing since Mario 64. I ended up failing dozens of times. I finally switched to a regular controller, and got it on the first try.

Cappy is a wonderful companion and works in lieu of the regular power-ups. Basically, Cappy allows Mario to possess objects, animals, and enemies which is… horrifying. It works really well, and is a ton of fun. Within the first two levels, I was able to possess a tiny frog and jump really high, and, later, possess a giant T-Rex that allowed me to smash through enemies and objects.

Exploration is the heart of Odyssey. I found around 850 of the 880 power moons. Some moons are just sitting right in the open, while others made my blood boil. I really wanted to get all of the moons. I got all of the stars in 64, shines in Sunshine, and power stars in Galaxy and Galaxy 2. I could not get the remaining moons though. I do not have the skills. At least I did not break anything like I did with the Galaxy games.

Odyssey is still a great game, but I do not see myself replaying it like I do other Mario games.

The Legend Of Stop Motion Christmas Movies

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (NS)

Release date:                  9/20/2019
Number of hours played:        18.75
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken:   68
Acquisition date:              11/28/2020
Acquired from:                 Amazon
Purchase price:                $42.79 (List $49.99)
Games of 2020 - The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Link, you pervert. 😏

The Gameboy Color version of Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening kicked off the great Zelda binge of 2017. I was able to scoop up the remake for the Switch on sale, so I wasted no time playing it right away. I love the interactions with the Koholint Islanders, the story, the music, the dungeons, and the items in this game. The remake makes everything better. Moving from just two buttons on the Gameboy to the Switch controller streamlines many items and actions. Not only are the graphics better, but the folks at Grezzo changed the art style; it reminds me of the old stop-motion Christmas cartoons. It is a bold move to change the art style for a remake, but it is perfect for Link’s Awakening’s dream world. The expanded resolution also better allows you to see how locations relate to one another in the world. The music is amazing on the original Gameboy version; I am always amazed what Nintendo EAD was able to pull off with the original hardware. Hearing the music on the Switch for the first time was, well, music to my ears. Hearing the actual instruments as you collect them is a dream come true. I’ll stop with the puns.

The remake still feels like the original. Link’s movement, and interaction around the island is unchanged. Grezzo made some quality-of-life improvements. It has more warp points, for instance. They added bottles for catching fairies. They replaced the Picture Shop from DX with Dampe’s create-a-dungeon shop. Throughout the game, I collected lots of dungeon tiles. Seashell collection, and fishing is greatly expanded to accommodate this new collection item. The Trendy Game has also been revamped and expanded. Overall, there is a couple of hours worth of new content.

It always feels good to revisit Link’s Awakening. This remake was a great excuse.

2020 Summary

Total number of games played:       11
Total number of hours:              562
Oldest game played:                 Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Newest game played:                 Borderlands 3 (PC)
Total number of gaming sessions:    234
Game with most achievements earned: Borderlands 3 (PC)
Favorite game to Platinum:          Uncharted: Lost Legacy (PS4)
Game with most hours played:        Borderlands 3 (PC)
Total spent:                        $318.79
Personal game of the year:          Uncharted 4 (PS4)

I had a good year gaming. I got to replay several of my favorite games. It is weird being able to read my original thoughts on some of these games from old blog posts; weird in a good way. It is one of the reasons I continue this series each year. I also played new entries in my beloved series. I even tried out a weird movie-game thing. My only regret is not playing any indie games. You will have to tune in next year to see if I remedy that.

Normally I give some thoughts on the game industry, but I do not have any new thoughts for this year. Just play the games you think you might like. There are a lot of different ways to figure out which games you might like from trailers, reviews, Let’s plays, walkthroughs, and more. Do not let things like a specific publisher stop you from playing a game; that’s stupid. Pre-ordering is also dumb, unless it is for a collector’s edition. I guess with game prices rising to $70, I encourage you to become a patient gamer. Prices always drop… unless they are made by Nintendo. XBox Game Pass is also a good deal, especially with EA Play getting added to the PC version of it in 2021.

I really liked what I did last year. Here is a list of games that came out in 2020 that I did not have a chance to play.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Honestly, it looks like a fun viking game. I just wish it was not associated with the Assassin’s Creed series. I feel the new ones have strayed from what defined the series.

Cyberpunk 2077. Even with the disastrous launch, I am still looking forward to this game. I am going to wait for the bugs to get ironed out; maybe a price drop down to 30 bucks. But I will get it one day.

Doom Eternal. This is pretty close to the top of my list of games to play in 2021. It is on XBox Game Pass (which I have on PC), so I will probably play it sooner than later.

Final Fantasy VII Remake. The only Final Fantasy game I liked was VIII. I tried playing VII back in the day, but did not make it too far. I am looking forward to playing Remake, but I am choosing to wait until the full game is out. It might be awhile.

Ghostrunner. Fast-paced. Violent. Looks jaw-dropping. Not much more to say.

Ghosts of Tsushima. It is near the top of the list for games I want to play next year. It just looks fun.

Hades. I almost forgot about this one, but Supergiant Games has won my loyalty. I am not into rogue-likes, but I heard this one is more of a rogue-like-lite.

Half-Life: Alyx. I will probably never play it, but I really have to give credit to Valve for making a AAA game for VR.

Immortals Fenyx Rising. This was not on my radar at all. It kept showing up on “biggest surprise of 2020” game lists. It looks really fun, but their marketing really dropped the ball. I plan on getting it for the PS4 next year.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. There was so much potential in Kingdoms of Amalur. I’m glad THQ Nordic brought it back, and I want it to sell well enough that they make a sequel. I only hope that they bring R.A. Salvatore back for the lore.

The Last of Us Part II. I will probably never play this game, but I really want to watch someone play it. I watched Cry play the first one, but he has some controversies that he is dealing with. I will have to find a new Let’s Player.

Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020). I want to play this game, but I want a flight stick that is simple, and under $70. The flight stick community is making this difficult.

Resident Evil 3. I watched Markiplier play through it. It did not look as fun as 2, but it was still enjoyable to watch.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered. I really like the Saints Row series, and the remaster is a good excuse to replay the third game. It just needs to come to Steam first.

Streets of Rage 4. I used to play this series in the arcade at the bowling alley. It has been a long time since I played an old school beat-em-up.

Teardown. I like destroying things, and everything in this game can be destroyed. I am into it. It needs to leave early access.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. Once it is on Steam, the game will be mine. I loved these two games on the PS1, and it looks like they did a proper remaster this time around. I want it on Steam, just in case the music gets removed, so modders can mod it back in. I still refuse to use the Epic store.

Thank you for reading this mess. 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year, but hopefully gaming brought you a well needed distraction. Here’s to 2021 being a better year, and a playable Cyberpunk 2077.

-Royfuss

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