Video games are incredible things. They can make you laugh, cry, and even forget you’re living through a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. In 2020, video games helped all of us cope. They were the bright spot in a year filled with major delays and disappointments.
Whether it was helping us through quarantine, entertaining us while cinemas were shut down or just encouraging us to get out and exercise, video games played an essential part in all of our 2020 plans.
Here’s all the games that kept our minds off the pandemic and spread joy over the last year.
For Kotaku Australia reader Tina, Pokémon GO was one of the saving graces of 2020.
In a time when exercise options were limited and we couldn’t see our friends, Pokémon GO was the perfect excuse to go for a quick walk around the neighbourhood and to re-establish a sense of normality. For Tina, it was also a means to keep in contact with people in their local area.
The continued growth of Pokémon GO in 2020 proves it has a longevity many didn’t expect. At the very least, it spiced up all those boring walks around the block we did.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
I could talk about the value Animal Crossing: New Horizons added to my 2020 until the cows come home, but it’s clear I’m not the only one who felt this way. In March, the pandemic’s impact was just being understood. Many shifted to working from home around the same time Animal Crossing released and the pandemic worsened — so it became a wholesome lifeline.
2020 was a hideous time, but one made so much simpler and more entertaining by the cute delights of Animal Crossing.
Hades is just absolutely excellent, isn’t it? Kotaku Australia reader Prophet of Cthulhu (fantastic name) suggested it as one of their most entertaining rides in 2020, and everyone will likely agree. Hades is an excellent rougelike that spins the genre on its head with a cast of memorable characters, flashy art and a story that’ll tug at your heart strings.
That’s not to mention the action, which is just so over-the-top you’ll find yourself loving it even if the genre isn’t for you. It really is an incredible game, and it helped inject 2020 with some hard-hitting, flashy action (and hunks).
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves represented a breath of fresh air in 2020. The game has maintained a dedicated player base over the last three years and a raft of new content has kept it feeling fresh, fun and always entertaining. Both Mad Danny and Normaltype said they spent their 2020 travelling the low stakes high seas, and it was all the better for the journey.
Whether you’re wrecking people or being wrecked, the game is incredibly chill. It generated the peaceful vibes we all needed in 2020
The Borderlands Trilogy
Playing video games with mates is a real blessing, but online co-op was the only option during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Without the ability to meet friends in person, games like the Borderlands trilogy became a major source of entertainment for readers like Mad Danny. It meant they could still connect with their friends and have a great time gaming regardless of state-based restrictions.
Borderlands 2 is the real highlight of the franchise, but every game in the series lets you go on some fantastic, high-energy adventures.
MMOs – Final Fantasy XIV, Path of Exile, World of Warcraft
For everyone stuck isolating at home or in quarantine, social video games like MMOs were a 2020 godsend. Readers Scree and djbear both spent their year playing through these adventures, chatting with friends and discovering new worlds along the way. While all three differ in story and appeal, there were plenty of reasons to get stuck into each of them.
Beyond providing a brief escape, they also let people reconnect with their friends, meet new people and revisit worlds both familiar and new. In 2020, shared gaming experiences were more valuable than ever.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon
This was a suggestion from Kotaku AU reader Nefylem, but I’m also seconding it. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is an absolute joy, and a great jumping-in point for any fans of RPGs. You don’t have to have played the other Yakuza titles (this one is a spin-off) and you’ll absolutely fall in love with the game’s ridiculous antics.
Like A Dragon is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and in 2020 we absolutely needed that. It’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that’s usually so dour it’s soul-crushing. Plus, Ichiban is a total sweetheart.
Among Us was the surprise hit of 2020, defying all expectations to become a major success on Twitch and beyond. It’s simple, but extremely fun — and if you can get a good group of friends together, it’s an absolute blast. Sure, there’ll be plenty of arguments along the way but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it.
Jumping in and playing a few rounds is super easy, and it was a great way to stay in touch with friends in 2020. Cheers to Prophet of Cthulhu for the suggestion!
What games helped you get through the hell year that was 2020? Pop on down to the comments below and share them with your fellow Kotaku AU readers. We all need more wholesome games in our lives.