My Favourite Strategy/Tactics Game
Desperados III/Gears Tactics
I had a hard enough time choosing between these two that I just split the difference. Desperados III offers up a great cast of unique characters that each bring something new to the table. I’m a huge fan of longshot sniping with the doc, but there are scenarios where it’s just easier to use voodoo magic…
Gears Tactics? I didn’t like it at first, but when I bought into the idea of playing it more like Gears and less like X-COM it suddenly ‘clicked’ and became one of my favourite games of the year. Learning how to properly exploit the different skill builds and chain together attacks and executions in order to wipe out enemies in a single turn is glorious.
Runner Up: Othercide
Every pre-release trailer for this game floored me thanks to the art style, with the black-and-white world interspersed with splashes of red a real stunner. I was happy to find the gameplay backed up that early enthusiasm, with every encounter a challenge – but that made the post-battle need to sacrifice some characters to heal others an even bigger challenge.
I really shouldn’t have named my first characters after my kids…
My Favourite Shooter
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War
I swore up and down that last year was my final Call of Duty, that I was going to take a break from the series and…and then the multiplayer beta for Cold War hit.
I love the franchise’s campaigns for their ‘summer blockbuster movie’ bravado, and this year’s offers multiple endings and some really DARK storylines, but man is the multiplayer a ton of fun. The new weapon loadout system offers up some real variety, and the maps have been solid so far. This is a game that’s going to evolve over time, and I’m going to be along for the ride.
Runner Up: Doom Eternal
I thought 2016’s DOOM reboot was nearly perfect, but some great quality of life improvements take things to 11 with DOOM Eternal. Stellar graphics AND great performance? Maybe they’re onto something here…
There’s multiplayer here if you want it, but for me DOOM is just a single-player jam.
My Favourite Sports Game
EA Sports NHL 21
For years – YEARS – I’ve been asking for Be A Pro to get an overhaul and this is the year they delivered on literally everything I’d been asking for. I’ve fallen deep into Hockey Ultimate Team thanks to the combination of HUT Rush’s super quick games and the Xbox Series X’s fast load times, but my Be A Pro is rolling along loving life.
You can read my review here.
Runner Up: PGA Tour 2K21
HB Studios nailed the ‘feel’ of golf with their earlier games and now that they have the PGA license and 2K Sports backing them up, they’ve taken it to another level of polish without losing that feel. PGA Tour 2K21 is incredibly frustrating when you’re off your game, but it’s doubly rewarding when you’re in the zone.
My Favourite Family Game
A streamlined Diablo-like experience set in the Minecraft universe and accessible enough to play with my kids? What’s not to love? Check out my review of Minecraft Dungeons here.
Runner Up: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
This one makes the list just for all the time I’ve spent watching my kids play and helping them make decisions about their island. It’s not a game that clicks with me personally, but the amount of joy it brings them pushes it almost to the top here.
My Favourite Game of the Year
I went back and forth about what game I’d consider my favourite of the year and Fuser gets the nod for a couple reasons.
First off, it’s just ridiculous fun. Mixing Brad Paisley’s “Mud on the Tires” vocals with the guitar from Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and the beat from Lizzo’s “Good As Hell” is a concept that shouldn’t work, even with Harmonix at the helm, but it does.
Secondly, this is a game everyone can play no matter what kind of musical knowledge or preference they have. It’s introducing my kids to older music, which I consider a win, and they get to see me mix “Moves Like Jagger” with “Symphony of Destruction” so…that’s good too, right?
Finally, and most importantly, this is really the only game on this entire list that I couldn’t replace with some other game. There are all kinds of other shooters, strategy games, etc…but there’s only one Fuser.
Harmonix has been raising the bar on music games for years, and this is one of their best yet.
Well that’s my list from 2020 – and who knows what 2021 will bring. Hopefully it’s a better year for everyone, and gaming looks to be pretty strong. Halo Infinite in the last part of the year is one thing I’m looking forward to, but much sooner is Outriders from People Can Fly and Square Enix. That game looks awesome, and I can’t wait to jump into it.