Each year introduces a number of games that we consider “must plays” even before we weigh in on them critically. These are the games that are hyped up, come from legendary developers, or innovate in ways that just reading about them isn’t enough. These games may not end up being the best of the year, but they do enough to warrant a playthrough or at least a look.
For 2019, Death Stranding was one of those titles. Leading up to release, no one really knew what to expect from it. When it eventually hit, it was one of the most polarizing games in recent memory, making it a game most people needed to see for themselves. Given how secretive game companies are, we likely don’t know of most of the games that will be hitting in 2020, especially those for PlayStation 5 and Xbox. Of those secret games, we will undoubtedly see another Call of Duty next year, and after a year off, Assassin’s Creed should be coming back too. Both of those games will likely deserve a spot on this “must play” list, but I can’t say for certain until we know more about both of them. Here are the titles that we know plenty about and are eager to get our hands on:
Coming off of CD Projekt RED’s success of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Cyberpunk 2077 is easily the most anticipated game of the new year. The amount of graphical detail shown in the trailers and lengthy gameplay videos led many people to believe it was going to slide to the next-generation machines, but that isn’t the case: Cyberpunk is heading our way April 16 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The wealth of choice for story and combat looks dizzying, as does the thought that we have a huge open world to explore. Cyberpunk can’t hit soon enough.
The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II is a sequel I didn’t expect given how perfectly the first chapter concludes, or even want since it means Ellie and Joel will be thrown into harm’s way again. As stressful as this forthcoming journey will likely be, any game that comes out of Naughty Dog becomes a generation-defining event, and I expect nothing less from Last of Us Part II. We just have to hope for the best for Ellie and Joel, but it’s safe to assume Naughty Dog is going to throw them to the wolves in another emotional, violent, and unpredictable story. The chaos begins on May 29 for PlayStation 4.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Square Enix’s decision to turn Final Fantasy VII Remake into an episodic series is concerning, especially given how long it’s taken to get to this point, but knowing we’ll spend more quality time with Cloud and Tifa isn’t a bad thing, right? Square hasn’t been shy about showing fans what can expect from this return. The redesigned combat system looks fun and deep, and Midgar looks like a fully realized place we’ll get to explore fully. We’ll find out if this classic was worth returning to in just a few months when it hits stores on March 3, 2020.
Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima makes great gameplay trailers, but how is the open world? What about the combat? I adore the setting and cinematic eye developer Sucker Punch Productions is clearly applying to Ghost’s story sequences, but I don’t know what kind of game I’m in for yet. Slated to release for PlayStation 4 next summer, we’ll find out soon if Sucker Punch has what it takes to move from superheroes to samurai.
Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers didn’t receive the warmest reception when it was unveiled at this year’s E3, and there’s a chance some of us will never come around to liking how these heroes look, but the game itself sounds ambitious, fun, and deep. Being able to team up with friends and quest for new gear and abilities for any of the heroes sounds like a hell of a time. If Crystal can nail the action, which is a tall order given how many heroes need to be brought to life, this could be the go-to co-op experience of 2020. We’ll find out on May 15, 2020.
Resident Evil 3
This year’s Resident Evil 2 remake was as much a new game as it was a revisiting of the 1998 classic. Here’s hoping Resident Evil 3 follows the same formula as that remake, and more importantly, is every bit as good. We clearly can’t get enough of Capcom’s survival horror formula, and while I’d prefer new stories and a Resident Evil 8, going back in time is fun too. If you were terrified of Resident Evil 2’s relentless Mr. X, just wait until you get a taste of Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. Just the thought of seeing this behemoth again makes me tense up a bit. Maybe I don’t want to revisit this one…
History repeats itself, and we once again have a Halo title lined up for the launch of a machine simply named Xbox. We don’t know much about Halo Infinite yet other than it being the third chapter of the Reclaimer Saga (following Halo 5: Guardians). Master Chief is also returning with slightly redesigned armor. The initial footage shown teased a massive world, implying it could be an open world setting, or the very least deliver larger levels, but right now that is all speculation. Regardless, a new Halo game is always exciting, and I can’t think of a better (or more Microsoft way) to kick off a new console generation than with another Master Chief adventure.
Watch Dogs: Legion
You can play as almost every character you see in the world. That idea alone is worth investigating. Watch Dogs: Legion is another open-world experience that empowers the player with the latest in technology, whether it’s hacking devices or drones. This entry unfolds on the streets of London, and gives the player a lengthy campaign to play through, as well as cooperative-focused online content. You can also run around with a pig mask on, which may be the reason most people buy it (you know you want to do that). This series has always been fun, but just a little repetitive or off in its delivery. Let’s hope Ubisoft nails it with this third game. It’s slated to release sometime in 2020 for current and nex-gen machines.
This isn’t the Half-Life we truly want, but it is the VR game we’ve been waiting for. Valve is making a full-length, triple-A experience for VR headsets that looks absolutely stunning. A prequel to Half-Life 2, players suit up as Alyx Vance and take the fight to the Combine. The trailer gave us a good look at the first-person gunplay, environment interaction, and even a small taste of humor that this series, and Valve for that matter, have always knocked out of the park. Half-Life Alyx is THE VR title to keep on your radar, and is hopefully just the beginning of Valve resurrecting this beloved series.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
The Yakuza games are fantastic, and while this next installment looks to be more of the same, Like a Dragon is a dramatic reinvention for the series, moving from real-time brawling to RPG-like turn-based battles with a team of up to four characters. Other changes include a move from Tokyo to Yokohama, and a shift away from series-long protagonist Kazuma Kiryu to newcomer Ichiban Kasuga. All of these changes create a slew of questions, which makes it one of the most exciting releases of the new year. While it’s slated to launch in January in Japan, a U.S. release date has yet to be determined.