The best PlayStation games of 2020

By Luke Albigés,
While there was certainly a lot wrong with 2020 as a year in general, there shouldn't be too many complaints about the quality of gaming releases over those tumultuous 12 months. While we finalise the results of the TT Game of the Year community polling, we thought we'd share the ten finest releases of the year, as chosen by the TT news team. It should be interesting to see how our picks compare to the community concensus, but in the meantime, here are the games we (eventually) came to the decision to declare 2020's finest.

10. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

PlayStation Plus has been the catalyst for a good few overnight success stories now, but Fall Guys might just be the most explosive so far. The colourful and chaotic party game fuses the basic principles of battle royale games with a fast-paced game show format, pitting dozens of adorable little jelly bean dudes against one another in a series of ridiculous contests until only one contestant remains. The joy of the game is in its randomised progression — you're faced with a different series of challenges each time you play, so you might soar through all of your favourites to reach the final round one go, then be the victim of a last-second steal in Tail Tag the next to crash out early. But you can just throw yourself straight back into the mayhem, with the popularity of the game ensuring that it only ever takes seconds to round up another 59 capsule contestants for the next heat.

The game has fallen off a little since its hugely successful launch back in August, but those sticking with it are seeing plenty of new content to keep them busy. The developer is constantly adding new stages and features, as well as themed seasons with a host of unique cosmetics to earn as you play. A unique twist on the elimination multiplayer format that fuels some of the biggest games out there, Fall Guys deserved all the success it got. And thanks to its simple controls and quick-fire gameplay, it's a game you can return to at any time for a few quick rounds of Takeshi's Castle-style absurdity.

9. Demon's Souls

Demon's Souls

Bluepoint has built a reputation for itself as perhaps the single best remake/remaster studio in the business, so it should really come as no surprise that Demon's Souls is as great as it is. FromSoftware's original Souls title needed more than a little polish if it was to turn heads as a PS5 launch title, and Bluepoint buffed the game until it absolutely gleamed. Visually, it's one of the best games on Sony's latest console, and Demon's Souls is a game so rich in variety that it gets to show off all kinds of impressive effects and jaw-dropping vistas. Not to mention stunning monster designs, with the titular demons coming in all shapes and sizes and this remake managing to make them look and feel even more imposing than ever.

Despite the makeover, though, Bluepoint's remake is surpringly faithful to the original's design, almost to a fault on occassion. While there are elements that feel a little clumsy or dated and could maybe have used a rethink, the studio was effectively in a no-win situation in that regard — while some might have liked to see tweaks and improvements to things like AI and balancing, Souls purists would be up in arms if this wasn't an authentic recreation of the PS3 game. For its flaws, though, the new Demon's Souls remains a fantastic and challenging experience with all kinds of different character builds to try out, and the visual overhaul means it's an absolute treat whether you played the original or not. The new trophy list also does away with all the stupid weapon upgrade trophies from the original list, which is reason enough to celebrate on its own.

8. Spelunky 2

spelunky2

As one of the original indie darlings, Spelunky was always going to be a hard act to follow. With that in mind, it's quite remarkable just how well developer Mossmouth managed to improve on most every aspect of the game with Spelunky 2. The basics remain largely unchanged — descend into ever-changing procedurally generated dungeons armed with just a whip, some rope, and a few bombs, and see how far you can get — but there's such a sense of nuance and satisfaction to every element of the game that it becomes utterly captivating. Progress can be slow, but as you learn how to spot and deal with the various traps and hazards, it's a hell of a lot of fun to see your attempts evolve from timid tiptoeing to lightning-fast speedruns.

Even regular enemies display a wonderful sense of character, their unique behaviours being typically easy to interpret (if not always to deal with) and their quirks often being laugh-out-loud funny, whether it be foes who can't help but throw themselves into harm's way or best of all, the troglodytes who just can't resist picking up and carrying anything that ends up in their path. We spent hours just seeing what we could make these lovable idiots lug around, and that sense of wonder, of playful experimentation, permeates the entirety of Spelunky 2. Like its predecessor, it's an extremely difficult game (even harder, we'd say) and one many players will likely never see through to the end, but there's so much fun to be had on the journey that the destination pales into insignificance.

7. Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact

It's unusual to see a free-to-play game make it onto a list like this, but there's no doubt in our minds that Genshin Impact absolutely deserves its spot here. The uproar around the pricing of its microtransactions and miniscule odds of its gacha unlock system has absolutely been warranted, and it's far from ideal, but the sheer amount of content you get without needing to spend a single penny is still pretty staggering. The huge map is packed with stuff to see and do, combat is fast and fluid even with just the basic characters, and the ability to strategise and combine elemental effects by switching between party members makes for some extremely satisfying encounters. Genshin was a massive game even at launch, and each new update adds new locations, challenges, story missions, and more... it'll be growing for years to come, so its map size and volume of content is going to get pretty ridiculous by the time the story reaches its conclusion.

Performance could get a little rough on stock PS4 hardware, but PS5 runs the game like a dream, with near-flawless 60fps performance to really do the beautiful anime art style justice. Genshin Impact is as close as we're going to get to having Breath of the Wild on PlayStation (yes, even closer than Immortals, somehow), and even manages to do some things better than the celebrated Switch adventure — being able to climb even in rain makes exploration feel less of a chore when the heavens do decide to open, for instance. There's a great sense of variety to the playable characters (even those who share weapon types), which just makes it even more galling that recruiting and maxing out the strongest among them ends up locked behind a paywall that extends all the way into space. So long as you don't expect to unlock and power up everybody and can control your wallet, Genshin Impact is a damn good time.

6. Astro's Playroom

astro

After the limited scope of PS4 pack-in The Playroom, you'd have been forgiven for going into its PS5 counterpart, Astro's Playroom, with fairly low expectations. Fortunately, that also means you'd likely end up even more impressed, because Astro's Playroom is a beautiful showcase for the DualSense controller and a delightful celebration of all things PlayStation. Structured as a hub-based 3D platformer with gameplay akin to PSVR favourite Astro Bot: Robot Rescue, the game lets you barrel around gorgeous themed stages packed with references that span 25 years of PlayStation history and amusing gimmicks that utilise the full extent of the new controller's features. The Playroom might have felt purely like a tech demo, but Astro's Playroom manages to hide that same level of impressive functionality in a fully-featured game, albeit a fairly short one.

As well as the Easter eggs that litter each stage (groups of other bots can often be found acting out scenes from classic PlayStation games, which make for superb incidental gaming trivia pop quizzes), secrets peppered around every level allow you to unlock PlayStation consoles and accessories from all four previous generations to populate the museum-like PlayStation Labo. This retro playground is a delight to explore, letting you mess around with everything from a PS1 memory card to a PSP Go — Astro's Playroom is one massive PlayStation love-in, which would probably have felt crass in a retail release but works stupendously well for a pack-in title. This adorable little guy just goes from strength to strength...

5. Dreams

Dreams 5

There's definitely an argument to be made that Dreams isn't a game at all, rather an absurdly in-depth creative suite. But whatever the hell it is, it's certainly worth celebrating. The LittleBigPlanet team was working on this epic project for years, and the results speak for themselves. As with LBP, the 'campaign' — in this case, a super-stylish point-and-click sort of thing called Art's Dream — was created entirely using the in-game tool set, giving players a glimpse at the level of quality expert creators would be able to produce in Dreams. And after extended delays, long beta periods, and an early access release last year, the community had already started to approach Media Molecule's standards by the time the game finally got its full release in February. And today, the quality and quantity of impressive creations in which you can lose yourself is simply astonishing.

The creation tools themselves are certainly complex, but video tutorials for every aspect can help you get up and running to a respectable standard. There's also the option to collaborate with other users on larger projects, so you might be able to find an expert Dreamer out there who can help you learn... well, whatever it is you want to learn. Dreams facilitates creation of anything from full games to static art, short movies to tech demos... your imagination really is the limit in Dreams (well, aside from the actual hard limit on how many items can be used in any given scene, but that can be circumvented in a number of ways). There's no better showcase for this than just to dive headfirst down the Dreams rabbit hole, bouncing from one creation to the next and sampling some of the best that the talented community has to offer. Whether you're a creator or an explorer, Dreams is an absolutely fascinating experience that never stops giving.

4. Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Ps5 Showcase Spiderman

No prizes for guessing that Spidey would be popping up on here, given just how impressive Insomniac's first crack at a web-slinging open world adventure was. With Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the team got to push the limits further still by moving onto PlayStation 5 hardware, where the game is simply gobsmackingly beautiful. At launch, we had to choose between a smoother frame rate and better fidelity with features like ray tracing, which wasn't easy — as good as those fancy new effects looked, it was difficult to go back to the lower frame rate after swinging around Manhattan at 60fps. Fortunately, the team managed to work some technical magic post-launch and added a third option, slightly lowering traffic and pedestrian density to free up just enough power to push 60fps and ray tracing at once in a best-of-both-worlds mode that genuinely feels like the best of its kind on console, and a benchmark that all other devs should be striving to reach.

As you might expect, the basics change little from the original Spider-Man, but Insomniac did an incredible job of giving Miles a completely different feel to Pete. While Parker glides around New York with confident, fluid swings, Morales can't hide his lack of experience as he flails and wobbles from thwip to thwip, but all with a wonderful sense of eagerness and swagger. That Insomniac manages to get all that just into character movement is pretty telling of the level of polish here in general, and with combat that expands on the great system from the original in interesting and meaningful ways and a selection of suitably superb set pieces, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is comfortably one of the best games on PS5 right now.

3. Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

If you spent hundreds of hours running around as an Ancient Greek misthios in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, be prepared to sink just as much time into Assassin’s Creed Valhalla — and to love it even more. It’s a big change to the old AC formula, but it really works. The setting of Dark Ages England works brilliantly with Valhalla’s new style of exploration, which sees you hunting down artifacts and mysteries, coming up against English myths and Viking legends as you go. Odyssey’s over-the-top combat is toned down a tad for Valhalla, and new pieces of armour are much fewer and farther between, making each new acquisition feel like a much bigger deal.

Aside from shoring up some of Odyssey’s gaps, Valhalla also brings plenty of its own additions. The quests page is no longer so cluttered, as aside from Eivor’s main quest and the storylines for each region, the world is open to explore, and it’s up to you whether to have Eivor investigate each mystery. There are other mini-games, but it’s the dice game Orlog which is by far the best. Valhalla’s strongest feature, though, is the settlement. Gathering resources, building it up, and expanding it all adds an extra layer of immersion to the game which was very much needed. Between being a Dark Ages builder and endless games of Orlog — and maybe remembering to do the actual quests, if you have time to spare — Valhalla will no doubt supplant Odyssey as the best AC game we’ve had.

2. Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is fantastic. There had been so much hype building around it, that we were starting to worry the game couldn’t live up to it — and then Ghost of Tsushima launched, and made us look like fools for worrying at all.

Visually, it’s probably one of the most beautiful games we’ve ever played, full of bamboo forests, canopies of golden trees, and fields of waving pampas grass, with petals and leaves whirling in the wind. Ghost of Tsushima also really embraced the idea of natural exploration. On-screen info is limited, and exploration is much more about interacting with the game world. Birds, foxes, trees, and pillars of smoke can lead you to points of interest, and instead of a pin or trail showing you where to go, you can just swipe on the controller to produce a gust of wind which points Jin in the right direction.

The combat and progression is well-paced, with Jin learning more complicated combat stances and techniques throughout the game. One of the fundamental parts of the story is Jin’s struggle between his samurai training and the need to adopt a new, less honorable fighting style against the overwhelming forces invading Tsushima. You can, in theory, use either samurai or Ghost techniques whenever you want, but Jin’s story is handled so well that it’s obvious how much it costs Jin to leave his samurai training behind, and each time you have to make that decision, it feels like a genuinely gut-wrenching dilemma.

The story follows Jin’s efforts to liberate the island, with both the immense struggle to make alliances and drive back the invasion, and Jin’s own personal conflict between his past and the tactics he’ll need to use to survive. A complex cast of characters, and a beautiful, branching story makes for a compelling experience, and it’s nearly impossible to put the game down until you’ve seen it through to the end.

1. The Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us Part II E3 Screens

The Last of Us Part II is without a doubt one of the best games to launch on the PlayStation 4 in 2020, if not the best. It’s got everything: a captivating and devastating story, superb acting from both voice and mo-cap actors, fantastic visuals, great gameplay, and a rich world that’s filled with despair, horrifying creatures, and small slivers of hope. Sure, some of the gameplay mechanics haven’t really moved on from The Last of Us, but this is all quickly forgotten when you’re trying to slowly sneak past a blind clicker or when you’re waiting for one of the Seraphite cult members to continue their patrol.

The Last of Us Part II is chock-full with tense stealthy moments like these, as well as some pretty brutal combat when things get loud. The sound design plays a huge part in both of these, and it’s hard to find a game that launched last year with better audio. Blood gurgles as you stab someone in the neck, bones snap with force, and the quiet whisper of something skulking around in the hallway that you need to travel down next all create quite the grim experience. The Last of Us Part II does have its critics when it comes to the story, and Naughty Dog definitely took some risks with the plot, but it will have you gripped until the very end. And once it is all over, you’ll be left with that familiar void all great games leave when there’s nothing left to discover.


So there you have it: 2020's best of the best. We'll be back with the community voting results very soon, so be sure to check back to see how the two lists stack up. In the meantime, let us know below if there were any surprises in here, if you're looking forward to catching up with any of these amazing games, or how you think the community list will be different to ours...
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Hey, I'm Luke! I've been playing games since way back in the 8-bit days, and have spent the last 15+ years writing and talking about them professionally for anyone and everyone who would let me. Monster Hunter fanatic, wearer of many fine hats, and always up for a raid.