The Last of Us Part 2’s Metacritic Page Shows How Broken Numerical Scores Are

The Last of Us Part 2’s Metacritic Page Shows How Broken Numerical Scores Are

Despite The Last of Us Part 2‘s mixed critical reception, review score aggregator Metacritic shows it with a critical score of 95 out of 100, with a plethora of 10/10s developer Naughty Dog has been happy to tout. The user scores, meanwhile, sit at an abysmal 3.5 out of 10, based on over 31,000 reviews and counting, over 20,000 of which are negative. All of these numbers are meaningless.

User reviews on Metacritic began pouring in almost as soon as the game launched. Much of this was likely review bombing, a practice in which people intentionally flood a game with negative reviews. Forbes noted that the game had over 5,000 user reviews only a half-day into release, suggesting “unless people are doing blitzing speed runs and then immediately going to Metacritic to post angry 0/10 reviews…something fishy is clearly going on.”

The game hasn’t even been out for two full days in the US; running at 25-30 hours, it’s unlikely many of these negative reviews, even taking into account regions where the game launched sooner, are from people who’ve finished it. A vocal contingent of players has been set against The Last of Us Part 2 since its April’s leaks. On Metacritic, a large portion of reviews reflect this, calling director Neil Druckmann “Cuckman” and railing against the game’s “SJW propaganda.” “This is a political statement, not a video game,” wrote one user.

Other negative reviews are more reasoned, taking complaints with the game’s story, citing plotholes and unlikeable characters. “Unfortunately, this sequel destroys the remarkable achievements of the first game,” wrote one reviewer. “Once you’ve finished it it literally has been for nothing!” wrote another. Many players disliked what the game does to some of its beloved characters, with one writing that a character’s story was “a complete insult to the character.”

While the negative reviews far, far outweigh the positive ones, there are also over 800 mixed reviews as of this writing, and over 8,500 positive ones. “Unmatched facial expressions, incredible level and audio design and phenomenal graphics make this one of the most beautiful worlds ever created… The story is shocking and real,” reads one early positive review.

For comparison, the generally reviled Fallout 76 for PS4 has a critical score of 53 against a user score of 2.8, based on 4,601 reviews. The disastrous Anthem has a critical 54 versus a user score of 3.5, based on 1,268 reviews. Mass Effect 3, whose contentious ending drew so much ire developer Bioware changed it, has a 93 critical score against a 5.7 based on 1,921 reviews. These critical numbers don’t all reflect the many sites that don’t use review scores, or ones that have dropped numbers or altered how they’re utilised ” Polygon, for instance, stopped using numbered scores in 2018, while IGN removed decimal scores in January. (Kotaku, meanwhile, has never used numbers.) In all these cases, however, both the critical and user scores on Metacritic seem to paint at least some reasonable picture of these games’ receptions.

Whether The Last of Us Part 2‘s mind-bending amount of negative reviews are from players predisposed to hate the game or those who legitimately found it lacking, the discrepancy between the critical and user scores is notable. There are a lot of problems with Metacritic: the effects ratings have on game developers and the ease with which players can abuse them, to name a few. Basing your sense of a game’s quality on numbered review scores is itself a fool’s errand; Metacritic scores fail to take into account the diverse critical opinions of the game (several user reviews accuse these positive critical scores of being paid for) and the plentiful non-scored reviews (such as Kotaku‘s, among others).

Someone looking at critical scores alone would believe the game was widely beloved, only to be faced with the onslaught of negative user reviews that might lead even the most sceptical reader to believe something was amiss on the critical end of things. That aside, the sheer amount and noise of the user reviews would make it even more difficult to tell how players actually feel about the game. Metacritic, for all it’s become a supposedly vital metric for assessing a game’s quality, here shows a bunch of meaningless numbers and a lot of rage, very little of which paint any picture of how players are actually finding the game.

If you want to know how The Last of Us Part 2 is, skip the maths. Read a review from some sites you trust, ask a friend what they think of it so far, or watch a bit of the game on YouTube before you buy it.

More The Last of Us Part 2

The Last Of Us Part 2: The Kotaku Review

Everything in The Last of Us 2 takes work. Every weapon reload, killing blow, and crafted item takes time and button presses. At times the game is painfully slow; even in the most action-packed sections you put in effort to move things forward. You're paid for this work in a...

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Tips For Playing The Last Of Us Part 2

It's been seven years and an entire console generation, but we finally have another Last of Us game. Out today for PlayStation 4, The Last of Us Part 2 plays much like the first game: tight, third-person action set in open-ended levels with a heavy focus on stealth. Much like...

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Naughty Dog Showed A Fake Last Of Us 2 Scene To Preserve One Of The Game's Surprises

To be crystal clear, this video covers major spoilers for The Last of Us Part 2. If you'd prefer to go into this game totally cold, turn back now.

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Here's The Deal With The Last Of Us Part 2

The road to launch for The Last of Us: Part 2, out tomorrow for PlayStation 4, has been lined with questions. The leaks in April were one thing. The review conditions provided by Sony were another. We adhered to those guidelines, and signalled that to readers in our review. Of...

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  • My major issue with review bombing in situations like this in particular?

    That journalists conveniently never acknowledge that there are very much cases of positive user reviews being left that are also fake.

    You don’t get to complain about the negative reviews while ignoring the positives like, “All these positive 10’s are fine and totally legitimate!”

    It goes both ways. And some so-called ‘journalists’ need to stop acting like it doesn’t, and babbling on that the negative reviews are all just by angry virgins or other nonsense bullshit like I’ve seen since TLoU 2 came out.

    • too true. any 10/10 can instantly be taken out of the equation. no game is perfect, and this game certainly isnt. so whats left? the few “brave” ones that marked it a 9.9? no they need to removed too. in fact just remove any score from a commercial organisation since they rate high to keep their review keys coming.
      so whats left after that? something inbetween around a 6-7? that seems accurate.

      • But surely that logic, every game would be between 6-7 if we just disregard all the high / low scores?

      • I can think of a bunch of games I’d rate 10/10 – Witcher 3, Half Life 2, Diablo 1 (some would say Diablo 2 instead, but they would be wrong), Warcraft 3, Civilization 2, GTA3/Vice City… some of the greatest games of all time.

        A better way to think about it is all game scores sit on a bell curve – let’s say 5/10 is the average game, so the top of the curve. The top 10% of games should get the 10/10 score – it’s not saying the game is perfect, but that it’s in the top 10% of games.

        Even then, it’s a subjective measure. I freaking love deep games like Stellaris and Civ 6, and and can get lost in these games for days at a time, but some people would be bored mindless by those kinds of games – Does that mean these games aren’t perfect for their target audience? Of course not!

        That’s why Riley is bang on when he says “Read a review from some sites you trust, ask a friend what they think of it so far, or watch a bit of the game on YouTube before you buy it.” Find someone with the same taste in games as you, and see what they think about it – that’ll be far more effective than looking at the average scores.

  • I played it, really didn’t enjoy the game to be honest. Wasn’t sure if I was playing to be revolted, or what the heck I was actually playing for. Yeah it’s pretty, but the story is really quite average.

    But don’t mention that out loud on the internet lest you be tarred with the user conspiracy brush.

    Yeah no, I just didn’t like it.

  • Mostly been enjoying the body blood effects too much to care about the story anymore.

  • If anyone thinks that most of the negative review bombing is becuase Ellie is a lesbian then they’re being foolish.

    The game for sure is being review bombed by angry fans, this could also be becuase of ND’s crunch culture or the firing of Amy Hennig most of the negative reviews are from some of the major plot leaks before the games release (need a spoiler tag) inperticular.

    I wouldn’t trust game reviews either when your livelyhood depends on clicks (ad revenue) and you are continually giving out actual honest reviews that aren’t high you run the risk of being blacklisted by the developer/publisher

    Getting blacklisted and losing the ability to get early copy so you can have time before the review embargo lifts hits the hip pocket, no one is going to read a review after the game releases if they can read several a week before.

    Another thing to take into account is Dave Chappelle special sticks and stones, for a number of days only ten reviews from “critics” were aloud on RT all at 0% when user reviews came out it hit the high 90’s.

    Reviews have been tainted for as long as they have existed in the case of TLOU2 I would assume the game is actually better than the user reviews just like Mass Effect 3 as the article mentions (besides the ending).

    • sorry. lifehacker said the word “blacklist” is no longer PC. please cease and desist.

    • I could understand being annoyed about Amy Hennig’s ousting, and writing a low score review of Uncharted 4. It makes less sense w.r.t. The Last Of Us. She wasn’t really involved in the first game, and the second may not have even been in development at the time she left.

  • I do not like review bombing but I can see where some of the fans are coming from. I loved the first game, bought the collectors edition for part 2 and have roughly played around 10 hours of the story so far and all I can say from what i’ve played is that the story is pretty bad as compared to the first game, the gameplay is terrific and probably better than the first game, I enjoy the stealth sections of the game and have been in some pretty intense battles but the story just brings it down a lot for me.

    I have seen some of the leaks and I am not looking forward to playing the second half of the game where I have to play as I character I know I just cannot learn to sympathize with but I will give it a chance and ride it out until the end and see how it goes. Other than those points I’ve been enjoying the game so far and love playing as Ellie

  • Frankly, this is why I trust Steam’s user reviews over EITHER side of metacritic – user reviews or critic. It’s a part of why I’ve scoffed so hard at Epic refusing to implement user reviews on their store, claiming that it’s worse than doing your research elsewhere.

    User reviews don’t even require the user to have bought the game and should be soundly distrusted for obvious reasons. And critic reviews that boil down to a number, at least, are… deeply flawed. Hell, even the fact of being establishment adds a layer that distorts the value of the review.

    I’ve found that games journalists get to know and really like developers, and they have more of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I can’t help but think that kind of familiarity and sympathy for the work adds a somewhat more forgiving lens than Joe Consumer needs, to evaluate whether they’re just… going to enjoy the game.

    I’ve found my tastes so badly out of synch with so many publications at this point that at this point, I don’t think I can can trust critics any more than I can trust brigading douchebag users who haven’t bought the game.

    At least a scroll through the Steam reviews will tell you that people who put fucking money down either do or don’t recommend it, and you’ll quickly get the vibe of whether it’s because it’s art that you ‘should’ experience, even if it’s not fun, or if it’s janky but fun, or if the jank gets in the way of the fun… the speed-read aggregate of those little ups and downs give you a kind of insight that neither a number nor a thousand word essay can.

    • Can Kotaku please restore the upvote system? I want to upvote this. This comment here, please.

    • I honestly love Steam’s user review system… Not the overall score bit, but the fact I can read a bunch of reviews from people who actually have to own the game.

      Being able to do this at a glance is incredibly powerful information. And a number of times in the past I have been alerted to something wrong with a game by a simple throwaway comment from some random review, so I could then go Google and clarify if it’s a big issue or not for me.

    • Absolutely agree. I love how they separate the overall reviews and recent reviews too. Not perfect, but the best of what’s out there imo.

    • [quote]I’ve found that games journalists get to know and really like developers, and they have more of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I can’t help but think that kind of familiarity and sympathy for the work adds a somewhat more forgiving lens than Joe Consumer needs, to evaluate whether they’re just… going to enjoy the game. [/quote]

      This is a very true statement. A lot of developers and game journalists live in Sydney, so they get to know each other very well and spend a lot of time together. Hell, at one point there were several game journalists, convention organizers and developers living in the same apartment buildings and spent a lot of time together hanging out. There’s no doubt that sometimes friendships override integrity and skew the way reviews/ articles are done. The games industry in Australia isn’t so much of a business like in the US, but a club of friends. Know the right people, and everything you need is yours.

      • It doesn’t even need to be the personal relationships. When I’m using various applications, now, with a bunch of dev and BA experience under my belt, I’ve got a… different appreciation and expectation for what the application is actually doing and how it’s doing it.

        Sometimes that means I give it shit for not doing the basics right, sometimes it means I give a free pass to something with a horrible UX because I’m fully aware of just how difficult the task it’s trying to do is.

        Knowing how the sausage is made gives you a different take on sausages.

  • Personally, I think there’s value in the user scores on metacritic or steam or wherever… its just not usually in whether or not I should buy the game because it’s often not about actual game quality.

    Metacritic’s critic reviews, when used with a sense of intelligence and awareness of what you as the player like, are however of value – I don’t think this issue of reviewers being in bed with devs/publishers is anywhere near as big of an issue as it is perceived. Im sure it’s a factor but the reality is that reviewers who truly traded credibility with their audience for favour with the devs/publishers would very quickly find themselves without much of an audience.

  • I always find it hilarious to read people think that publications rate high to avoid controversy with the publisher, most critics I hear from are much more worried about getting harrased/doxxed by “fans” upset that they didn’t give out the correct score than ticking off Sony.

    In the end, I really don’t care about user scores at all because too many boil down to people saying “this wasn’t what I wanted”. There is no concept of “this is good, but not for me”. I care much more about whether it’s good relieved from expectations. From what I’ve read (from people I trust) is that TLOU2 is really good, but it’s also asking me to go on a journey I’m not really interested on going right now. I’m happy to put it in the same pile as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Sekiro and continue to enjoy hearing about it without having to play through it.

    • Nobody is going to be harassed/doxxed for giving a game an 8 or 9 and saying it’s great instead of going “10! It’s a masterpiece! Game of a generation!”

      The ‘take you on a journey’ angle is the sort of thing I see trotted out to basically say, “Oh you just don’t get it… That’s why you hate it.” As if you’re not smart enough to see how ‘high-art’ the game is.

      Shit like that is designed to belittle people, to put them down and discredit their opinions like they’re plainly invalid.

      • Read up on the harassment Jim Sterling got for giving BoTW a 7/10. Just go read the replies of any critic’s tweet of their review that doesn’t perfectly allign with the “angry young gamer crowd”.

        The “you didn’t get it” argument isn’t what I’m talking about here, what I’m talking about is the lack of being able to identify what doesn’t work for you personally compared to what you don’t think is executed as planned. It has nothing to do with art.

        Perfect example for me is FromSoft’s games. That style of combat really doesn’t click with me, despite putting a bunch if hours into both Demons Souls and Bloodborne. It isn’t about being easy or hard, it’s that the style of play the game corridors you into isn’t a style of play I find fun. Using a critical eye I’d describe them as great games; personally I see them as unenjoyable slogs.

        Compare that to all the people that read the leaks of the story a few months ago and declared “this game looks like ass, and is bad”. I just don’t care about their opinion, because they aren’t looking at it through a lens I find interesting. “This isn’t what I want = bad” is such a boring take and there are too many users reviews that rate that way for me to take user reviews seriously.

        • Well if you can’t accept those negative user reviews, then you shouldn’t be in any way accepting of the “10/10 best game!” critic reviews either because its the same line of thinking just on the other end of the spectrum.

          I think it’s a red flag when ANYTHING gets a 10 from a critic… And those red flags only get more numerous and brighter the more 10’s that roll in from critics. It’s an unpopular opinion that gets you labelled unfavourably online right now, but I absolutely believe TLoU 2 only got so many of these 10’s because critics are, in the simplest terms, virtue signalling. The entire thing screams, “We support you! Give us a pat on the back for being so supportive!”

          And you know what pisses me off so much about that? That I really don’t care what a story is about as long as it’s well written and makes some sense… The fact TLoU 2 misses the mark so much in regard to storytelling is utterly amazing for me to fathom that it is even a Naughty Dog game.

          Personally, I thought first game was an average game with questionable controls from a gameplay point of view… But the story was nothing short of stellar. TLoU 2’s gameplay isn’t much better than the first, but the story is such a poorly handled mish-mash that lacks a lot of sense and is so full of holes that you’ll just about be able to measure the damage it does to other games in the future that try to tell different stories.

          • This kind of ties back into the point of the article (pretty much the entire comments section, including me, decided it was more important to talk critics vs users). Review scores only hold any weight because they are the ultimate tldr. The score should always take a backseat to the words written before them. You say that all 10/10 reviews should be discarded, but is that based on anything written in those reviews or solely because of the score? Review scores for games have become so warped ever since the term “hate out of ten” started being used. If readers take away that anything under an eight as not worth playing on release, of course scores end up skewing to either 10s and 9s simply to indicate the game is above average.

            Its why unrated reviews end up being more valuable, because it ends up just being a description of the reviewers experience. If you take a game that is perfect for a small group of gamers but not enjoyable for most people and a compentent game that doesn’t really excel in any particular area but a broad range of people will like it, you may score them the same, the score isn’t telling the reader anything about the game, only the review is.

            One glowing 10/10 review of TLOU2 that describes how grim the story is and how focused on revenge and inflicting trauma the themes are helps me to decide I don’t want to play it much more than a whole bunch of people just saying it’s either “crap” or “boring”.

  • “the onslaught of negative user reviews that might lead even the most sceptical reader to believe something was amiss on the critical end of things.”

    I played it, didn’t like it. Story was weird and certain aspects felt forced, way too much stuff seemed made for shock value and not much else, and the gameplay stagnated after a while. Several mates played it as well, they hated it. Everywhere I see reporting about it though tells me I should love it, and if I don’t I’m wrong. Seems wierd to me that I’m apparently not allowed to look at both sides of the reviews, and we’re only meant to listen to critical opinions. I had misgivings about the game based on the leaks, but played anyway based on the glowing reviews, and I really didn’t enjoy it in the end.

    The obvious review bombing aside, it seems that at the moment anyone who has a bad opinion of the game is being viewed as a troll, or apparently anti-feminist or anti-lgbt, other than because it’s genuinely not that great of a game, especially considering how good the first one was.

    • I think the worst part is from a game perspective there’s not really any notable enhancement of the actual gameplay… To a game that came out so long ago it was on a previous console generation, and now we’re about to hit the next console generation.

  • It’s amazing how sites like a Kotaku publish articles about how “review scores don’t matter” when those reviews don’t align with theirs.

    Groupthink is tearing this work apart. There is no “right” or “wrong” opinion with things, we will never have a single unified opinion on anything, and that’s fine.

    This world, especially anything online, has lost the ability to debate or even agree to disagree. We have become a world of personal absolutes, and in a world of personal absolutes, we will never change anything or be happy with anything.

    • That is a million miles off base.

      It’s not about having other reviews all align. It’s not about reviews being right or wrong. It’s about numerical scores being completely unrepresentative of an experience, and in a lot of cases, those scores not even being wholly representative of the text itself. It’s not a good communicator for the information people need to understand, especially when two people’s experience of the same thing can be so wildly different.

      Numerals just aren’t a good conduit for nuance. And nuance is what’s required to have an actual conversation or debate about things. You can’t do that when everything gets boiled down to a pointless figure. A figure, by the way, which more often than not exists purely for the aggregate traffic that sites receive off the back of sites like OpenCritic and Metacritic.

      But it’s hard to actually talk about some of these things. People in gaming communities love shooting from the hip. How often do you see people posting about something without actually reading the full context of a story?

      • It gives me the shits on UberEats too.
        “You only rated this 4 Stars. What was wrong with it?” Nothing. It was fine. 5 stars should be the ultimate, perfect meal.

  • I’m about 8 hours in and so far I’m honestly enjoying it alot more than I thought I would.

    I may be in the minority here but I never really got all the hype with the first game, characters were pretty great but the overall story wasn’t exactly original and the game play was pretty average.

    So far as I said im enjoying my time with the new one but considering its apparenrly 25 hours long im not sure how I’ll feel by the end.

  • There is another side to user reviews that perhaps goes unnoticed – the fact that some developers post their own reviews to inflate their review scores. My former employer actively encouraged everyone at the studio to post user reviews on Metacritic around or prior to the launch of every game. The excuse was always that we were trying to ‘counter trolls’ but I doubt anyone ever stopped to think of the implications of deceiving consumers with biased reviews. This practice is particularly unethical when you consider that some publishers will also offer bonuses for games with a high user/critic review score on metacritic.

      • I’m sure that was a factor but management’s main concern seemed to be the impact that user review scores might have had on sales. It always frustrated and angered me that the solution to this problem was to inflate the review score rather than examine our development process to reduce bugs, improve quality and justify the game’s price tag at launch.

        What I wonder is how many other studios quietly get away with the same practices. I also worry about how many of their employees quietly fall in line either out of fear or complacency as the practice becomes the norm.

    • “If this game recieves a 97% on Metacritic, we’ll give you the bonus we owe you.”

  • TLOU2 review war is interesting as it asks questions like are creators allowed to move stories in ways that will alienate fans who are attached to certain characters, and what is actual bad story crafting vs fan attachment issues.

    • I’m sure there have been people much smarter than I that have looked at this correlation, but I believe the more turbulent real life, the more people push away from narratives designed to unnerve us and push into the unfamiliar. It’s part of the reason why The Marvel films are succeeding so much in the last 10 years, they provide the perfect amount of comfort. Compare that to the films being released just before 9/11, when the western world felt the most safe and a lot of cinema was pushing to be subversive.

      I really believe that if this were released in a time where people felt more safe and secure, there would be a lot less pushback on some of the story elements that feel uncomfortable (Including from myself).

  • ” A vocal contingent of players has been set against The Last of Us Part 2 since its 2018 E3 trailer showed lead character Ellie in a lesbian relationship ”

    If this is true explain why the first games dlc is rated so highly. That dlc made it clear what her orientation was and people didn’t give it negative reviews for that.

    It’s almost as if f you are trying to paint all negative reviews and being not legitimate. Just this week we saw a certain NZ IGN journo labelling all people who didn’t like the game as virgins. Or a certain GG host labelling people sexist bigots if they didn’t like the game.

    If scores don’t matter why are these negative reviews getting to you so much?

  • If players truly loved the story of the first last of us they would not be giving last of us 2 a good rating it’s terrible past the half way mark and the ending leaves you with a real sense of absolutely nothing accomplished.. game play and graphics 10 /10 story lucky to hit a 3/10 .. I personally played last of us for the story survival horror games are a dime a dozen but where last of us really excelled was it’s beautifully crafted story that last of us 2 took a dump on..
    On a note of user reviews try reading more than a few of them ..most of the low scores are all the same good graphics game play but terrible story … yet brought ratings of 10/10 critics rating before the game was released seems less honest than users!!!

  • I only started playing the Last of Us 2 today so I am undecided at the moment,
    however I did recently play and finish “Days Gone” which has the similar but opposite problem.
    Reviewers hated the game with particular hatred for the main character who was a straight, white biker guy.
    but users have rated it highly with some saying it was a game of the year contender

    I also really liked Days Gone but Last of Us 2 does look awesome

  • Personally, I’m enjoying The Last of Us: Part II.

    Without spoiling anything, the story is in my opinion quite good, and it is unfortunately ruthless with some of its plot points. I won’t lie, I don’t “like” what has happened and what is happening at times, but the world of The Last of Us is truly cruel and unforgiving, so I think they’re telling a pretty decent story regardless.

    To no surprise, the graphics are absolutely amazing, and I enjoy the game’s chilling soundtrack.

    For the most part, the controls and game play are quite slick and responsive. I know it’s only simple changes, but I’m glad to see how nimble Ellie is with her ability to dodge in combat, jump and climb up higher obstacles etc. I also appreciate how the environments are a lot larger, offering optional exploration and alternative routes.

    To contradict myself, while I do praise how the game plays, sometimes it can get a bit repetitive, especially with the game’s much longer length when compared to the previous title.

    I think my biggest issue is the A.I. partners. In the first game, I don’t remember Tess and/or Ellie, or any other temporary side characters, ever getting in the way. In this one though? I find my allies always getting in the way, especially at the worst of times. I try and duck behind cover to hide, my ally is there blocking the way, I get spotted and shot at.

    • So I’m still playing and I’m approaching the end of the game. My thoughts haven’t changed a whole lot on the journey.

      Like I said before, simple changes make a huge difference. Being able to jump, climb, go prone and crawl make a huge difference in stealth, especially against human-enemies.

      In regards to the overall narrative… it’s good, but it’s not as good as the first Last of Us. Some of the characters, well, I don’t dislike him, but I just don’t really care about them.

      I’m enjoying the experience but unfortunately, it’s probably not my Game of the Year. I feel a bit disappointed by games of 2020, as I’ve played DOOM: Eternal, Resident Evil 3, Final Fantasy VII: Remake, Persona 5: Royal and now The Last of Us: Part II, and all those titles have been enjoyable, but they haven’t really “stuck” on me, if that makes sense, so I feel a little disappointed and spoiled at the same time.

      2018 really “stuck” on me with some games, like Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2. 2019 had a few as well, like the Resident Evil 2 remake, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. 2020, though? I’ve played some good games… but they haven’t leapt out at me as “GREAT”, yet.

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