The best PC games of 2020

As we head into the closing months of 2020, let's take a look at the best games to release on PC this year.

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As wild and unpredictable of a year as 2020 has been, it has undoubtedly been a more than solid year for video game releases. We’ve spent our extra time at home playing more games than ever before, and would like to look back at the best releases on PC. These aren’t necessarily exclusives, but just a listing of the best PC games of the year.

The best PC games of 2020

There are still more games to launch on PC this year, but these are the best games we here at Shacknews have played over the course of 2020.


Microsoft Flight Simulator

It’s hard to overstate the importance of a game like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. It goes beyond being cool. It’s a game that allows players access to the entire earth with real-time flights that offer stunning graphics and deep immersion. It’s a game that allowed me to visit the location Canadian troops landed on D-Day, a game that let me visit my family’s island after over 20 years of not visiting, a game that let me fly by my old apartment, and a game that let me explore parts of the world that we simply cannot visit in a pandemic. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a game that will be overlooked by a lot of people because they don’t have the hardware to run it, but for those that can run it, it’s a game that must be played.

Death Stranding

Death Stranding is a game unlike anything anyone had ever seen or heard of. On the surface, it doesn't sound like a grand time: schlepping across America delivering cargo. But the whole package (pun definitely intended) is wrapped up in such a beautiful environment and deeply intriguing story, that one cannot help but want to experience everything on offer. Then when 2020 hit, all the themes of Death Stranding hit home: the sense of isolation, the love you have of the delivery person dropping someone off at your house, everyone connected through online means. It was almost prophetic in its delivery. Kojima has proved, once again, that he's an auteur in the video game space.

Valorant

Riot Games made its foray into the world of team-based shooters with Valorant, an FPS heavily inspired by CS:GO and Overwatch. Valorant features the strategic gameplay and tight gunplay that fans of the tactical shooter really appreciate. The game also manages to weave the abilities of its numerous agents into gameplay in a way that compliments combat but doesn't dominate it. More than anything, Valorant feels like a game made by passionate fans of the genre. The development team is constantly listening to its community, and taking this feedback into account for new updates and changes.

Trackmania

Trackmania 2020 brings back the exciting high-octane action that racing fans have enjoyed over the years. Praised for its creativity and fun time trials, Trackmania stands among some of the best games to hit PC in 2020.

Wasteland 3

Few RPGs have come close to the scale and amount of control that Wasteland 3 puts in the player's hand. This full-fledged RPG takes everything that the developers at inXile have learned throughout its storied history and turns the entire genre on its head. Player decision runs the world, giving players a number of ways to expand and explore, directly impacting the flow of the story. Kill anyone, do almost anything. It's a freedom that few games have managed to excel at, but one that inXile manages to pull off expertly.

Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact came in like a sneak attack. This free-to-play MMO-esque game has a lot in common with titles like Breath of the Wild and brings a lot to the table for fans of the gacha genre. While there are some issues that the developers are working out, the game itself offers a stellar combat system built on combo hits and elemental attacks. It's a surefire hit and with no buy-in, there's no reason not to try it out.

Baldur’s Gate 3 (Early Access)

If you're looking for a new RPG to cut your teeth on then Baldur's Gate 3 could be a great choice. There are a few caveats, though. First, the game is still in early access. This means there are bugs, saves are going to break, and the content itself is limited to the first act of the game. But, if you want to experience a deep D&D driven system, there's nothing else like it out there. While it's still early in development, Larian is poised to make waves with Baldur's Gate 3.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Fall Guys has been an absolute blast for anybody looking for a friendlier sort of battle royale experience. It's a game filled with wholesome mascots who compete in Mario Party-style party games until ultimately only one player is left standing. The variety of games keeps the experience feeling fresh, especially as Mediatonic works to add new games each season.

The PC version may not have had the free entry that the PS4 version offered for PlayStation Plus members, but it's arguably the better version of the game. The crisper-looking visuals, the lack of input lag, and the more reliable online experience make PC the best way to play Fall Guys. And with everything coming down the pipe, we'll be playing Fall Guys for a long time.

Torchlight 3

Torchlight 3 might not be the most complex ARPG on the market, but it makes up for that with its charm and addictive gameplay. Players that have been waiting for more dungeon-crawling goodness will certainly find plenty to keep them hooked in this third entry in the long-running Torchlight series. With new classes to play, a Fort for each player to personalize, and ample loot and gear to farm, there's a lot to keep you playing until the sun peeks over the horizon. Plus, co-op ARPGs are always a blast, and Torchlight 3 is no exception.

Hades

Supergiant Games sure did spend quite some time in Epic Games early access with Hades, but nearly two years later, that wait feels so worth it. The Version 1.0 of this game is on a level few roguelikes ever touch. It's got a vast array of powers and abilities to take on colorful randomized rooms full of Greek-themed denizens of the underworld. More than that, Hades takes a lot of the sting out of dying with a well-crafted story and progression system that keeps you moving forward no matter how many times you fall. Every player will find their personal favorite style of weapons and god-given power-ups, and the journey will be a perilous one as foes become even more varied and treacherous as you defeat them, but you put it all together and Hades might be one of the most delightful PC games of the year.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

There was a stink about the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series for far too long after THPS 5. It was a wretchedness that could barely be washed out and left us wondering if we'd ever see a good return to the glory days of skateboard games again. When we first learned of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, we were cautious. We had every right to be, but Vicarious Visions worked to win our hearts over. This love letter to much of the working parts of the series brought back the old skaters with some new faces, a full listing of the classic music along fresh new tracks, and ground-up rebuilds of levels across the first two games. THPS 1+2 went above and beyond, and it makes us wonder (or perhaps hope with all our hearts) that a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 remake is in the cards.

Hellbound

Here at Shacknews, we have a very strong history with games like Doom and Quake. So, of course we’re going to eat up a game like Hellbound that pays homage to so many FPS games of yore. Players will take on horde after horde of demonic Hellspawn as they make their way through a tormented landscape. It’s got the quips of Duke Nuke’em, the powerful weaponry of Quake, and the violence of Doom all in one tight package. If you’re an old-school FPS fan, or looking for a game for that classic player in your life, Hellbound is a great choice.

SnowRunner

Big loads, big trucks, and big levels — SnowRunner has it all. Part logistics simulator and part mud-bogging Dark Souls, the Saber Interactive-developed game is certainly unique. Building on the foundation of previous titles like SpinTires, SnowRunner manages to flesh out the progression and mission design that was sorely missing from its predecessors. With the ability to elicit frustration and elation, SnowRunner walks a fine line that makes it one of the standout titles of 2020.

Crusader Kings 3

Paradox Interactive would have us believe that Crusader Kings 3 is a grand strategy game, and it plays like one, but beyond that, it's a vast and infinitely flexible storytelling machine of rulers and statecraft. The sheer magnitude of things that can occur in a single Crusader Kings 3 game, from a ruler being married, to having children, to having separate kingdoms from their spouse, to accidentally going to war with their spouse, to becoming estranged with a child who takes their parent's throne and remembers said war, is just a glimpse of the shenanigans that can occur. It is safe to say that no player's journey through this game's web of political intrigue will play out quite the same, and with a burgeoning mod community and plenty of support from Paradox, this will continue to be a game that keeps on giving back.

Doom Eternal

Doom 2016 took the gaming world by storm. It was a breath of fresh air into a franchise players hadn’t experienced in a long time. With a lot of hype surrounding it, Doom Eternal was announced and released to the hounds. It’s always tough trying to build on perfection, but the masters at id Software managed to add to the raw fury of the Doom series in a way only they know how. It wasn’t just runnin’ and gunnin’ anymore, Doom Eternal added even more movement into the mix, allowing players to still feel like an unstoppable force but with the added pleasure of grappling hooks and flipping around the arenas of death while slaying demons. Plus, nothing quite gets the pulse pounding like Mick Gordon’s heavy metal choir.

Half-Life: Alyx

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had the opportunity to slip into the world of Half-Life. It’s been so long that many were beginning to wonder whether or not Valve had the ability to deliver something that lived up to the game’s titanic mythos. And so came along Half-Life: Alyx, an entry in the franchise unlike anything experienced before. As Shacknews CEO Asif Khan describes it, Half-Life: Alyx will “undoubtedly go down as one of the best virtual reality games ever made.” I don't know about you, but that gets me searching for the best VR system to purchase so that I might be blessed by this experience.


That covers it! The best games we've played on PC throughout 2020. This list was a collaborative effort between the staff here at Shacknews. What were some of your favorites? What did we leave out? Feel free to sound off below!

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 28, 2020 4:30 PM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, The best PC games of 2020

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 4:36 PM

      + Doom Eternal

      • reply
        October 28, 2020 4:49 PM

        We talked about it. Landed on a no initially.

        However, your comment got us circling back, and we agree. We'll be adding it to the list.

        • reply
          October 28, 2020 4:52 PM

          Honestly that narrative matches Doom Eternal very well, I think! I get that it's not a strong showing early, but after some time, it becomes more than worthy. Good call I think, and thanks!

          • reply
            October 28, 2020 5:05 PM

            It's just odd how things evolve. We considered it and landed on, "Nah." Then I read your comment and it felt... wrong... not having it there.

            When we made these lists (and there are more coming), we did so without being too serious so that there was room to go, "We flubbed up. Let's fix it."

            It should be added tonight. :)

          • reply
            October 28, 2020 5:18 PM

            Strange! My own Doom Eternal experience was opposite. Crazy strong showing up front, loved it in the heat of battle during each major encounter. And once finished it off on UV, the novelty wore off so quick. I tried going back and doing some more and just bounced off it so damn hard. As more time more passed, the more I thought about it and compared it to my Doom 2016 experience, the less I liked Eternal in the end.

            Now I couldn't even say if it would make my personal top ten GOTY list, if I had actually played 10 other new games this year. :(

            So for me it was fitting to see it absent here :o

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 4:56 PM

      No... Half-Life: Alyx???

      https://i.imgur.com/19sIATK.jpg

      • reply
        October 28, 2020 5:00 PM

        I honestly am stunned as well

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        October 28, 2020 5:09 PM

        After a thorough beating from The Man with the Briefcase, Half-Life: Alyx is going on the PC list. We'd saved it for another list, but it's technically a PC game as well.

        We minions of Shacknews did not effectively Do It for Shacknews, and we feel shame.

        It will be corrected.

        • reply
          October 28, 2020 5:23 PM

          What else could Alyx be if not a PC game?

          • reply
            October 28, 2020 5:36 PM

            VR game, since it requires additional hardware.

        • reply
          October 28, 2020 5:41 PM

          TECHNICALLY, my s0n????

          Thank you for doing it for Shacknews. briefcase dude appreciates that. As do I.

          • reply
            October 28, 2020 6:18 PM

            We have a VR-specific list coming was what I was getting at. We didn't snub Alyx, we had it planned for another list.

            • reply
              October 28, 2020 6:24 PM

              you absolutely snubbed Alyx by excluding it from the "Best PC Games" list

              • reply
                October 28, 2020 6:34 PM

                Another person will look at another list and say we absolutely snubbed a game on it. You can't make everyone happy. In order to ensure lists didn't include 50 games each, which few people would ever bother reading through, we opted to put Half-Life: Alyx on the VR list. Even the Steam page has a warning that it requires a VR headset. I think you can see why we opted to give it a home there, no?

                Either way, it's already been added to the list. Crisis averted.

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          October 28, 2020 5:43 PM

          WTF "but it's technically a PC game as well"

          • G D mercury ultra mega
            reply
            October 28, 2020 5:48 PM

            Probably the separation between VR/non-VR games? Some headsets are standalone.

          • reply
            October 28, 2020 6:18 PM

            We have a VR-specific list coming, which is where we put this, but there's nothing wrong with doubling up, so we're adding it here as well.

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 4:58 PM

      I'm really glad to see Genshin there!

      Ori 2 and Alyx should also be there imo

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 5:12 PM

      my family's island

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 5:42 PM

      This is gonna be silly when ALYX wins Shack GOTY

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 5:45 PM

      Cyberpunk 2077

      don't laugh at me! Believe it'll come out December 10! Believe!!!!

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 5:47 PM

      Good list. The only one I really object to being on there is Torchlight 3.

    • reply
      October 28, 2020 5:48 PM

      And no Among Us as well.

      /sigh, this is gonna be a rough awards season, I can tell already.

      • reply
        October 28, 2020 5:53 PM

        For all purposes, Among Us is not a 2020 game, its a 2018 game.

        However, any srs gaming award this year around needs a COVID-comfort game category, of which games like Among Us, Fall Guys, and Jackbox would fall into.

        • reply
          October 28, 2020 5:54 PM

          Yeah, good point.

          Then again , if there is gonna be a "rebound game" it would most def be WreckFest.

          • reply
            October 28, 2020 5:57 PM

            That would also be a valid category.

        • reply
          October 28, 2020 6:19 PM

          Yeah, we left Among Us off because it didn't release in 2020.

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      October 28, 2020 5:52 PM

      No Factorio. =(

      • reply
        October 29, 2020 5:01 AM

        So not a correct list them :)

    • reply
      October 29, 2020 3:33 AM

      Doom 2016 needs to be on the list.

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      October 29, 2020 5:42 AM

      I love the wasteland 3 pick. It seems like this game is going to be another Pillars of Eternity 2, which means it's going to be quickly forgotten in the glut.

      • reply
        October 29, 2020 5:56 AM

        I'll admit, I fell off playing it after 5 or 6 hours. It wasn't bad at all, but it just wasn't doing a lot for me.

        • reply
          October 29, 2020 6:11 AM

          It feels like "more of the same but a little better" so it doesn't really stand out much.

    • reply
      October 29, 2020 6:16 AM

      When did Ori sequel come out?

      Also pretty sure Death Stranding came out 10 years ago.

      • reply
        October 29, 2020 8:18 AM

        its a pretty funky list

      • reply
        October 29, 2020 9:24 AM

        Death Stranding hit PC this year, as did Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

        • reply
          October 29, 2020 10:16 AM

          I was being sarcastic about Death Stranding. feels like a lifetime ago.

      • reply
        October 29, 2020 9:46 AM

        Ori2 was back in March. Hard to remember consider all that's happened since, feels like years ago.

        It's on Game Pass if you skipped it.

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