Video game awards are pretty neat. They are shiny and pristine and all-round impeccable… if they were real and made of anything other than digital ones and zeros. Whatever they are made of does not matter, however, since the very essence of something like a Game of The Year Award already carries a lot of presence. This presence is carried down annually and bestowed upon a game worthy of the recognition, but this can get a little bit crazy considering every single media outlet has their own idea of which title best suits their own Game of The Year Award. Thankfully some games are markedly better than others, to critics and fans alike. These games go down in the hall of fame with an exponential amount of awards below their belt, but it could be challenging to keep track of them all. Fortunately, the Game Awards does! Thanks to their effort, we can say for certain what the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020 are.
From Death Stranding in 2019, through to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 2003, and every year in-between, Game Awards have scoured the internet to bring the world proof of how, when, and why certain games received the awards they did. While 2020 was a harrowing year for many, video gaming saw one of its most prolific years. It was also one of the video gaming industry’s most controversial – but what is a budding industry if it does not spur a bit of conversation, right?
Courtesy of the ever-growing popularity of video gaming; collecting stats on which games won over others takes a bit of time. As such, the stats for 2020 are still labelled “in progress” by Game Awards, but they have gone through so many outlets already, it is hard to think the stats will change anytime soon. As such, we bring you the list of the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020, in ascending order.
The Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020
Microsoft Flight Simulator
4 Awards from Media Outlets – 0 Readers Choice – 4 Total
As one of the most highly detailed simulators to date, it is easy to see why new entries in the franchise are as popular and anticipated as they are. I know for a fact that the latest instalment in the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise captured all of Hans’ awe. It is also safe to say that it did the same for many others. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 squeezed out four Game of the Year awards right at the tail-end of the year. Sadly, the game won no Reader’s Choice awards, but earning four Game of the Year awards is nothing to scoff at. So much so, that four are enough to make it one of the Top Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020.
In Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, aeronautic fans and pilot hopefuls can practice and fly some of their favourite planes. This entry promises everything from “light plans to wide-body jets” and everything in between. It is perfect for anyone who loves the stresses of real-life flying as the higher difficulties let players contend with real-time atmospheric simulation and live weather in a “dynamic and living world”. Microsoft Game Studios also highly undersell it, but a good internet connection will reward players with incredible vistas and views.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
4 Awards from Media Outlets – 0 Readers Choice – 4 Total
It is easy to see why Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is on the list in the first place. As the third title in the newly revamped open-world take on the franchise, Valhalla features a wonderful romp in Dark Ages England. While I would personally have liked it to be higher on this list, I do appreciate that there are four publications out there who think this was one of the greatest games of 2020.
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, players step into the shoes of Eivor and become a legendary Viking warrior raised on tales of battle and glory. Valhalla brings a few new things to the table while pulling inspiration from almost every other game in the franchise. Players can explore England’s Dark Ages and see how the war civil wars led to a unified England; raid enemy encampments with Eivor’s clan; grow their settlement, and ultimately become one of the best Assassins the order has ever seen. Truly a campaign befitting of the gods!
10 Awards from Media Outlets – 0 Reader’s Choice – 10 Total
Half-Life is a beloved gaming franchise from development and publishing company, Valve. Alas, chances that the franchise will ever get a third mainline instalment is next to zero (see Team Fortress, Portal, and Left 4 Dead). This is why when Half-Life: Alyx was announced, the entire geekosphere lit up with resounding cheer. Sadly, the game seems to be a way for Valve to encourage Virtual Reality sales in a bid to make VR a much more viable mainstream option. Courtesy of the cost of entry, not very many people had the opportunity to play the game, which is likely why it did not receive a single Reader’s Choice award.
In Half-Life: Alyx, Valve transports players into the shoes of Alyx Vance before the events of Half-Life 2. Alyx partakes in a rebellion and fights against the vicious alien overlords known as the Combine in an attempt to free the human race once more. The game is truly next-gen VR, meaning players can interact with almost anything and everything in the world. The visuals are astonishing, to say the least, and the campaign, while short, is worthy of any Half-Life player provided they have a VR headset.
12 Awards from Media Outlets – 0 Reader’s Choice – 12 Total
From ripping one demon’s head off to sawing another in half, DOOM never hesitates when it comes to providing the spawn of hell with their comeuppance. The Slayer (lovingly dubbed DoomGuy by fans) has become a pop idol thanks to his incredible talent at ripping and tearing – a fact that this sequel to the 2016 reboot doubled down on. DOOM Eternal is a great game that improved on all facets of its predecessor. While its platforming puzzles became a bit tedious, the game will stand as a testament to how well sequels can be made.
DOOM Eternal pits players (as DoomGuy) against an army of hellspawn who have invaded Earth. In the game, players journey across dimensions to stop the destruction of humanity and find out more about the origins of DoomGuy himself. Satisfying ripping and tearing lie in wait for anyone who loved the previous games. It is no wonder why DOOM Eternal is one of the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
19 Awards from Media Outlets – 1 Reader’s Choice – 20 Total
The Final Fantasy franchise is well-regarded amongst Japanese Role-playing Game connoisseurs. Final Fantasy VII, however, is well-regarded all over the world. Final Fantasy VII is the game that introduced the franchise to a brand-new 3D space. It modernised Square’s incredible storytelling and introduced three-discs worth of narrative to gamers all over the world. It spanned multiple regions, cities, and introduced a plethora of relatable and loveable characters. This is why the long-rumoured Final Fantasy VII Remake would be destined to be one of the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020.
While the original title was a full, open-world experience, Final Fantasy VII Remake pulls back in scope to deliver a much more intimate narrative. This way, the developers could focus on fleshing out every single one of the hundreds of characters featured in the original. As a multiple part series, the first part of Final Fantasy VII Remake takes place in Midgar alone. What was a five-hour introduction to the game in 1997 has now become a sixty-hour romp with incredibly emotional storytelling. The story itself received a massive overhaul while keeping the key beats intact, making it a masterpiece. 19 Game of the Year awards are well deserved.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
24 Awards from Media Outlets – 1 Reader’s Choice – 25 Total
Animal Crossing is nothing if not wonderfully unique. New Horizons brings the long-standing Nintendo franchise to the latest console/mobile hybrid in one of the most stellar displays gamers have ever experienced. Tom Nook is back and more rich than ever as fans flocked to their little islands in the millions, rightfully earning the game a spot as one of the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020.
In this instalment, players can “escape to a deserted island” where they can take over and create their paradise. Players are encouraged to explore every nook of the island, create and build all sorts of stuff, and ultimately create a vacation destination of their own. Every island features boundless natural resources ready to be taken advantage of. Plant turnips and sell them in a heated market with varying buying and selling values; decorate buildings and plateaus with captured butterflies, or become the king of the ocean while fishing out valuable items and rare fish. Every second in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is made to match real-life. This means players will be spending a buttload of time perfecting their islands… and it is way more addictive than you might think!
10 Awards from Media Outlets – 17 Reader’s Choice – 27 Total
With humble beginnings and a 15-man studio working on The Witcher, through to a 1500-strong development army working on The Witcher 3, its expansions and a spin-off title, it is clear how much dedication can pay off. When the Witcher franchise came to an end, however, it only made sense for CD Projekt Red to explore new horizons. One such franchise is none other than Cyberpunk, a pen-and-paper Role-playing Game from creator Mike Pondsmith. As with all things new, however, Cyberpunk 2077’s release was tumultuous. Fans who stuck through, however, managed to experience great narrative and gameplay, all rolled into one dystopian package. It was so great that Cyberpunk 2077 is the only game that managed to enjoy more Reader’s Choice awards than Game of the Year awards from critics in 2020. It is also the only game with the aforementioned rewards ratioing 170% in favour of Reader’s choice, proving that the ongoing hate bandwagon might be nothing more than a farce.
Like The Witcher, Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world action-adventure. What sets this Intellectual Property apart from The Witcher, however, is its entire conceptualisation. Cyberpunk 2077 began life as a tabletop board game in Cyberpunk (and later Cyberpunk 2020, and Cyberpunk Red). Cyberpunk 2077 serves as both a canonical sequel to the board game and a point of entry for new fans. In it, you play as V, a mercenary outlaw who is after a unique implant that may be the key to immortality. Cyberpunk 2077 is a great RPG which serves different play styles equally in and around a vast and wonderfully realised city.
Ghost of Tsushima
39 Awards from Media Outlets – 11 Reader’s Choice – 50 Total
Western Role-playing games (RPG) have traditionally explored vast ancient lands steeped in magic and fictional lore. Video games based on true historical events are usually reserved for first-person shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Medal of Honor with only one or two ever exploring the wonder that is the European Dark Ages. Every once in a while, however, a game comes along that truly blows your mind with subject material everyone has asked for, but no one has ever been brave enough to deliver. Ghost of Tsushima is one such game! Not only is its Eastern setting exceptionally realised, but it is also coupled with gameplay that is, truly, wonderful. No wonder the game received so many Game of the Year awards.
In Ghost of Tsushima, players are transported to the 13th Century Tsushima. Jin Sakai is a brave Samurai warrior who finds himself at the onset of the Mongol invasions of Japan. Tsushima is the first line of defence between the Mongols and Japan, with the Samurai acting as the only true line of defence. After a fateful encounter with the Mongol leader, Jin takes it upon himself to learn the seemingly cowardly ways of the thief and becomes a master of shadows who masters fear, as much as he already commands the ways of might. The most enjoyable part of the game is how it embodies a bit of Assassin’s Creed, while simultaneously standing on its own feet as a formidable western RPG.
52 Awards from Media Outlets – 3 Reader’s Choice – 55 Total
Bastion was an incredible game. It reinvented the isometric indie experience with a strange mixture of twin-stick combat and a sprinkling of RPG elements. Transistor, then, released and doubled down on all of that, with a brand-new emphasis on storytelling and micromanaging limited resources. Similarly to how Bastion reinvented isometric twin-stick shooters, Pyre, on the other hand, brought its brand-new gameplay mechanics to the table, and then some. Did I mention all of these games have the most incredible art styles that complemented their gameplay beautifully? No? Well, that is curious.
Hades is the fourth game from Supergiant Games and like the games before it, Hades continues to evolve the gameplay mechanics first introduced in Bastion. The game is essentially a rogue-lite dungeon crawler that combines all of the best features from previous Supergiant titles. It is also phenomenally rich in narrative. Like all rogue-lites, the aim is to complete tasks or continue further on the story path in-between lives. Since players take on the role of an immortal god, they simply find themselves back “home” after every death. Most upgrades remain unlocked, and some resources will never be lost. The game also features an incredible amount of characters rich in personality – many of whom will be mainstays in Hades’ adventure. The game received 52 Game of the Year awards from various critics and three Reader’s Choice awards. It is that good.
The Last of Us Part II
173 Awards from Media Outlets – 92 Reader’s Choice – 265 Total
There is no way around the subject: The Last of Us Part II has easily been the most controversial title I have ever experienced. It certainly is the most controversial title I have covered in my career so far! There was an insurmountable amount of upheaval surrounding pre-release leaks. The game had even more upheaval when embargoes finally lifted and the public was notified that publications were asked to keep information on an incredibly important part of the game under wraps… for some reason. The Last of Us left a massive legacy behind and topping that was already a huge undertaking. So much so that naysayers crawled out of the woodwork the moment Part II was announced. Fortunately, the game lived up to its expectations and then some. To date, The Last of Us Part II has won more Game of the Year awards than any other game in video game history. Similarly, it holds the most-ever Reader’s Choice awards and is slowly becoming the most prestigious video game ever developed as well (awards are constantly counted and checked for validity). While the game may not have had the best pre-release cycles, it most certainly enjoys its spot at the top of the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020.
The Last of Us Part II continues five years after Joel and Ellie trekked cross-country in a bid to save the world. They have settled down in Jackson, Wyoming, and are living amongst a thriving community of survivors. This peace is short-lived, however, as Joel’s past finally catches up to him. When a violent event disrupts that peace, Ellie sets off on a revenge quest. Meanwhile, a new character named Abby must live through a world where she had already fulfilled her mission and exacted revenge on those who wronged her. It tells the story of a woman who has already figured out that revenge does not bring peace – a lesson Ellie is yet to learn. Where The Last of Us told an intimate story of two people learning to love again, Part II tactfully undoes that in its story of anger and hatred. Part II masterfully teaches players that life needs to be lived – it is never Hollywood perfect. Sometimes the good guys do not win… not in real-life anyway.
Ending the list on such a sombre theme seems fitting. Looking back at the Ten Most Awarded Games of 2020 is a nice way to send 2020 off. It may not have been the best of years, but it did bring players many great games. From easy winners like Hades and Final Fantasy VII Remake, to surprise hit Microsoft Flight Simulator, and even massive controversial players, Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II, gamers had a darn good time.
Now let’s see what 2021 has in store for us.