Even though the 2020s have just begun, the decade has already produced several fantastic games. As the years fly by and studios become more familiar with the limits of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, the industry will test what Sony and Microsoft’s systems can do. In the meantime, the Nintendo Switch will enter the last stretch of its existence, and the console could go out with a bang.
There is still plenty of gaming to be done this decade, and it could very well be that the best games of the 2020s are still multiple years away. That being said, things have gotten off to an exciting start. What are the greatest titles to come out in the decade so far?
Only games that debuted in the 2020s will be considered, so re-releases or expanded editions will be omitted. Games are also listed in reverse chronological order.
Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake 2
- October 27, 2023
- Survival Horror
It took a while to materialize, but Alan Wake 2 was well worth the wait. Remedy returned to its survival horror license with an ambitious sequel that easily surpassed its 2010 predecessor, a game that is pretty good in its own right. The campaign is told from two perspectives that are connected but still feel different from each other. One half focuses on an FBI agent named Saga Anderson as she investigates a murder in Bright Falls, and these chapters expand beautifully on the ideas of the original Alan Wake. The other half switches over to the eponymous writer, and Alan has been stuck in the Dark Place for more than a decade.
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With a captivating storyline that takes quite a few unexpected turns, Alan Wake 2 is worth playing just for its stellar writing and characters. Fortunately, the game also has solid gameplay, immersive sound design, and impeccable visuals.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Building on two fantastic games, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 comes very close to perfecting the superhero formula. Insomniac has a well-earned reputation for crafting gorgeous games with fast-paced and satisfying gameplay along with fun narratives, and the 2023 release highlights the studio at its peak powers.
Featuring two protagonists, Peter Parker and Miles Morales, Spider-Man 2‘s central storyline is among its strongest features, and it does a great job of highlighting both leads, even if Peter is prioritized slightly more than Miles. The combat system is not that different from its predecessors, but it does have a couple of tweaks and additions that take things up to the next level. While the optional content is still not brilliant, the open-world is generally a joy to explore thanks to the smooth controls.
Baldur’s Gate 3
As it launched into early access in 2020, Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 was a known quantity long before its full debut, so the game’s brilliance hardly came as a surprise. Similar to the developer’s Divinity: Original Sin 2, the 2023 RPG uses a turn-based battle system that demands strategic planning and holistic thinking. Complex and challenging with a degree of unpredictability due to its Dungeons and Dragons origins, Baldur’s Gate 3’s combat can take some getting used to if someone is not familiar with tactical RPGs, but it is well worth the effort of mastering.
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Larian’s game has a lot more to offer than just fantastic combat; in fact, that is really just the tip of the iceberg. Baldur’s Gate 3 comes with a deep customization system that not only allows players to create unique characters but also rewards their choices with different in-game experiences. Along with a lengthy main story, the RPG is also overflowing with optional content.
Dave The Diver
Dave the Diver
- June 28, 2023
- Simulation , Adventure
2023 proved to be an oddly great year for fishing-themed indie games, and Dredge and Dave the Diver are also wildly different experiences. The former’s Lovecraftian take on fishing sims is inspired, while the latter opts for a more vibrant aesthetic and lighthearted tone. The eponymous Dave is running a sushi restaurant with a few friends, and if that was not already hard enough, he is also placed in charge of farming the fish they plan to sell.
During the night, players run a restaurant; during the day, they dive into the blue unknown in search of fish. It is a simple loop that works brilliantly, especially since the underwater area regularly changes to ensure exploration never grows stale.
Final Fantasy 16
Over the last decade or so, Square Enix has steadily shifted Final Fantasy away from its turn-based roots and toward real-time combat. Final Fantasy 16 embraces this change wholeheartedly by minimizing RPG mechanics, including the introduction of a single playable character and the elimination of a traditional party system. Obviously, not everyone agrees with the franchise’s current direction, and that is a perfectly valid reaction; however, in isolation, there is a lot to love about the 2023 game.
For one, Final Fantasy 16 tells an epic and mature story that builds toward a wonderful final act. Unsurprisingly, Square Enix pulled no punches when it comes to the cinematics, with the game comparing favorably to any other title on the market. While not immediately apparent due to the first playthrough’s low difficulty, the combo-driven combat system has quite a bit of depth.
Street Fighter 6
While Capcom has been on a great run in recent years, the stink of Street Fighter 5’s launch continued to linger. The franchise needed to nail its next entry if it wanted to regain its place as one of the fighting genre’s definitive casual options, and it is safe to say that Capcom managed to do just that. In some ways, Street Fighter 6 seems like an apology for its predecessor, particularly its inclusion of the single-player-focused World Tour. Lasting for over a dozen hours, this story mode is overflowing with content and fanservice, and it even includes open areas that players can freely explore. The narrative itself is nothing special, but World Tour’s character creator and progression system are rewarding.
A robust single-player mode is all well and good, but a modern fighting game’s longevity is determined by its online options. Street Fighter 6 has this covered with the Battle Hub, which not only serves as a place for players to engage in PvP encounters but also as a celebration of the franchise as a whole.
The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
Breath of the Wild was one of the best games of the 2010s, and the sequel managed to repeat this feat for the follow-up decade. Tears of the Kingdom builds heavily on its predecessor’s impeccable foundation, crafting an adventure that successfully retains BOTW‘s many positives while introducing a few welcome twists. An underground investigation leaves Zelda missing and Hyrule in chaos, prompting Link to go on another long and epic journey filled with discovery, action, and creative crafting.
Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom – 6 Mysteries From BOTW It Answered
Fans were left scratching their heads with these mysteries from Breath of the Wild. Luckily, Tears of the Kingdom shed some light on them.
Even if the minute-by-minute routine is very similar to BOTW, TOTK‘s new additions and mechanics result in a rather different overall experience. This time around, Link earns the ability to fuse items together, and this concept plays a part in nearly every facade of the campaign. Despite landing on a dated and limited console, TOTK still succeeds in being modern, ambitious, and innovative.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a strange one to discuss since its launch state left quite a bit to be desired, particularly on PC. EA and Respawn released quite a few patches over the following weeks that improved things to an extent, but they did not fix everything. These technical issues could very well ruin the game for someone, and that is a perfectly valid response.
However, unlike Redfall or Gollum, beneath Survivor‘s optimization issues lies a great game that does justice by not only its prequel but also the Star Wars license. While the combat system is not that different from Fallen Order, Survivor‘s worlds, platforming, exploration, and story are arguably all improvements.
- March 31, 2023
- Black Salt Games
The indie scene has been on fire for the entirety of the 2020s. Nowadays, a week barely seems to go by without an indie darling hitting the market; consequently, a project needs to be extra special to stand out from the crowd. Dredge is one such title, and there is nothing else like it. At its core, this is a fishing game that asks players to head out into the sea to collect fish and then sell them in town. Obviously, their hard work will allow them to upgrade their vessel to facilitate longer trips at sea.
So far, so ordinary; however, Dredge shakes things up by adding a Lovecraftian twist. At night, the calm waters transform into a nightmarish seascape filled with all types of creatures that boggle the mind and shiver the spine. During these sequences, Dredge becomes something of a horror game, which stands in stark contrast to its otherwise relaxing vibe.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
2023 produced two high-profile horror remakes: Dead Space and Resident Evil 4. While perhaps not surpassing their predecessors, both projects live up to their legacies, which is no easy feat. Out of these releases, Resident Evil 4 just about edges out Dead Space, although big sci-fi fans will likely prefer the latter.
Capcom’s remake finds Leon, once again, traversing a creepy European village and castle in search of Ashley Graham, the US president’s daughter. Familiar but still fresh, this trip offers way more than just a nostalgic blast with modern visuals. RE4 tweaks the campaign in both obvious and subtle ways, crafting a remake that can comfortably exist alongside the original version.
Roughly a month into 2023, Tango Gameworks and Microsoft surprised Xbox Game Pass subscribers with not only a new game but also one that could very well rank among the year’s best when all is said and done. Hi-Fi Rush is an action-platformer with a taste for music; basically, players can enhance their movesets by syncing their button inputs to the soundtrack. In combat scenarios, this translates to higher damage output and the option to execute finishers. When not fighting robots, players can also improve their platforming performance by adhering to the beat.
Hi-Fi Rush matches an awesome central gimmick with (potentially) timeless cel-shaded visuals and an endearing roster of characters. The story is fairly by the numbers, but it is executed well by Tango. Furthermore, Hi-Fi Rush has some genuinely funny and witty writing.
- December 8, 2022
- Matthias Linda
Chained Echoes‘ inspirations are not too difficult to figure out as the game feels ripped right out of the ’90s JRPG scene, in a good way. Along with beautiful 16-bit graphics, the RPG utilizes a turn-based combat system that will seem immediately familiar to anyone who grew up with titles from that decade; however, Chained Echoes is not happy to merely rethread worn-out ground. During battles, players need to keep an eye on a risk & reward meter, adding an element of strategy.
Another thing that sets Chained Echoes apart is its skill-based progression system. Rather than leveling up, characters grow more proficient as they reuse skills, which allows players to mold their party to fit specific roles. Narratively, the RPG hits the mark as well.
- November 15, 2022
Obsidian’s Pentiment is a unique adventure game that revolves around player choice. Set in the 16th century, players must investigate a murder, and they are given the freedom to pursue leads as they see fit. Telling an ambitious narrative that stretches over more than two decades, Pentiment immerses players in a fascinating world filled with colorful three-dimensional characters.
Whodunits can produce some of the most nail-biting stories in fiction, but most games that fall within this genre have a fixed route in mind. Pentiment is an exception that permits players to decide who did it.
God Of War Ragnarok
2018’s God of War reinvigorated Santa Monica’s franchise following 2013’s disappointing Ascension, launching a new era in Kratos’ story. Ragnarok builds beautifully on the work of its predecessor. On the surface, the sequel offers more of the same, but God of War: Ragnarok expands or fine-tunes enough elements to distinguish itself from what came before.
As implied by its title, Ragnarok revolves around an event in Norse mythology that signals the end of a number of key figures. The story is epic and unpredictable, expertly blending grandiose set pieces with character nuance and growth. The combat system is satisfying and intense, being a notable improvement over the 2018 entry.
The free Valhalla expansion only served to further cement God of War: Ragnarok as one of the 2020s’ best games.
- August 30, 2022
- Sam Barlow
Immortality is not for everyone, and some might even suggest this project does not qualify as a game. Marissa Marcel, an actress, has gone missing, and the only way to solve the case is to piece together clues by watching clips from three of her movies. Each scene can be paused and interacted with, allowing players to explore the people or items that appear in the flick.
Essentially, Immortality is a puzzle-detective game with a unique presentation, very good acting, and a strong sense of mystery. An interactive film lives and dies by its story, and this release knocks it out of the park in that department.
Cult Of The Lamb
Time to start a cult. Cult of the Lamb has a quirky sense of humor, a gorgeous art style, and addictive fast-paced combat. Massive Monster’s rogue-like puts players in the body of a lamb that decides to form a cult in honor of its god, a process that requires traveling to five regions to recruit animals. Once at the village, these followers can be assigned unique roles.
Cult of the Lamb is fun, and that is often enough the only thing a game needs to be. However, this title has more to offer than just a solid battle system. The story’s dark tone and the action’s tendency to inspire gore juxtaposition amusingly with the cute character models and charming visuals.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Monolith’s Xenoblade series has been knocking it out of the park for more than a decade, and the third numbered entry might be the franchise’s peak. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is an action JRPG set in a sci-fi world. Despite being on a relatively underpowered console, the game’s open-world is massive and packed to the brim with secondary content. This RPG can keep somebody busy for longer than 100 hours.
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Xenoblade Chronicles is known for throwing dozens of mechanics upon each other to the point of exhaustion. While by no means dumbed-down, XC3 does a much better job than its predecessor of introducing its concepts to players in a timely manner, allowing the deep battle system to flourish more quickly.
- June 16, 2022
- Angel Matrix
Neon White is all about speed. Split into short missions, players are tasked with killing everyone en route to an endpoint. While this might sound simple, the twist is that cards are needed to execute actions, and each one can either be used as a weapon or a move. With finite options, players must carefully decide when, where, and how to use a card in order to shave a few seconds from their completion time.
Neon White is one of those titles that can be hard to put down as the core gameplay loop is nearly flawless. Although the story is polarizing, the visuals are pretty great.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
- June 16, 2022
- Tribute Games Inc.
- Beat ‘Em Up
A blast from the past, Shredder’s Revenge is a love letter to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, particularly the franchise’s arcade gaming run during the ’90s. This modern beat ’em up pays homage to a classic like Turtles in Time while adding more than enough elements to set itself apart from everything that came before it. This is a great game on its own and not because it reminds people of fond memories from their childhood.
This 2022 release features gorgeous pixel art graphics, seven playable characters (including April O’Neil), and a wide plethora of legendary TMNT villains overflowing with personality. All of these elements serve as the icing on the cake that is Shredder’s Revenge‘s incredibly fun and challenging gameplay.
Rogue Legacy 2
Rogue Legacy 2
- April 28, 2022
- Cellar Door Games
- Roguelike , Metroidvania
After more than 18 months in early access, Rogue Legacy 2 was officially released on April 28, 2022, and the game was well worth the wait. Considering 2013’s Rogue Legacy was such a resounding success, the sequel needed to knock it out of the park to not feel like a disappointment. While Rogue Legacy 2 changes a number of things from its predecessor, including the class and weapon systems, it is still fundamentally the same core experience – and that is not a criticism.
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Players hunting for the best armor sets in Rogue Legacy 2 should prioritize these choice pieces of protection.
In this roguelike platformer, players take charge of multiple generations of warriors as they venture into dungeons. As experience is gained, new classes, weapons, and traits are unlocked, greatly impacting the gameplay.
Kirby And The Forgotten Land
It took a while but the pink puff finally has a proper 3D adventure, and it was well worth the wait. Kirby and the Forgotten Land translates the franchise’s standard template into a wider landscape, providing all the copy abilities and charm synonymous with this pretty consistent license.
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Although not without its flaws, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is beautiful and fun, the latter of which is arguably the most important thing a game can be. Hopefully, the series continues down this route as this is a stellar first attempt at a full-scale 3D campaign.
- March 16, 2022
- Andrew Shouldice
One of 2022’s most pleasant surprises, Tunic is a delightful (and challenging) throwback to classic The Legend of Zelda games. Even though it takes a fair few ideas from Nintendo’s iconic franchise, this indie game still succeeds in carving out its own identity, mainly through its robust combat system.
A confident adventure that expertly blends exploration, puzzle-solving, and battles, Tunic is a rewarding experience from start to end. The game resists the urge to hand-hold players, largely leaving them to their own devices; consequently, the early hours can be slightly frustrating, but things come together quite nicely after that point.
FromSoftware’s latest masterpiece pushes the Souls formula to the next level. Elden Ring drops players in The Lands Between, a massive open-world divided into six regions filled with lore, items, enemies, bosses, and secrets. Unlike Sekiro, Elden Ring is very much an RPG that permits players to approach encounters in a style that matches their preferences, be it melee combat, magic, or even stealth. Character-building is an integral part of the Elden Ring experience, and the game’s commitment to player freedom greatly enhances its replayability and flexibility.
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The world of Elden Ring is unforgiving and tough. Having a friend tag along in the form of a Spirit Ash can help out in a pinch.
Elden Ring is a no-brainer for any fan of FromSoftware’s previous releases. For those who tend to be put off by the studio’s penchant for difficult games, the 2022 title is slightly more accessible while still offering a significant challenge. Elden Ring is a leading contender for the best game of the 2020s.
Horizon Forbidden West
Guerrilla Games’ highly anticipated sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn builds upon its predecessor’s foundations beautifully, offering a bigger and better package that opts to fine-tune rather than re-invent the wheel. Horizon Forbidden West continues Aloy’s story while dedicating a significant amount of time to building the rest of the world without relying too heavily on long passages of exposition. The main quest is better-paced than the first game’s story.
Filled with unforgettable sites of both natural and human-made origins, Horizon Forbidden West‘s map is huge, gorgeous, and dense. The combat system is also a blast, giving Aloy access to a wide selection of tools to make battles more dynamic.
Total War: Warhammer 3
The sequel to 2017’s Total War: Warhammer 2, the 2022 entry caps off Creative Assembly’s trilogy in a grand fashion. Warhammer 3 delivers a complex and epic campaign that should hit the mark for longtime fans of the series.
Total War is not the easiest license to get into for newcomers, but Warhammer 3 features one of the franchise’s finest tutorials, making the title more welcoming to people unaccustomed to real-time strategy or tactics games. With a lengthy single-player campaign and a robust multiplayer scene, Warhammer 3 is the full package.
Forza Horizon 5
By this point, it has become a tradition for Playground Games to release the best arcade racer on the market whenever they drop a new Forza Horizon. This time around, Mexico serves as the Horizon crew’s sandbox, and the country has proven to be the ideal choice due to its diversity in locations.
Forza Horizon 5‘s huge map comes packed with all sorts of challenges, ranging from standard races to death-defying jumps and the gloriously over-the-top showcase events. With a huge collection of cars to unlock and an active ecosystem, Forza Horizon 5 will probably be the definitive arcade racer until its sequel releases.
Following a forgettable 2010s, Metroid wasted little time in getting the ball rolling for the next decade. Metroid Dread is a welcome return to the influential franchise’s 2D roots, and it barely sets a foot wrong. At its core, this is a “classic” Metroidvania, one that expertly blends exploration, combat, and flashes of storytelling to craft a constantly excellent campaign.
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With Metroid Prime 4 in the pipeline, the 2020s could be Samus Aran’s decade, something that has been a long time coming.
Fans had to wait a long time for a sequel to 2005’s Psychonauts but few will argue that Double Fine failed to meet expectations. Raz is welcomed into the Psychonauts as an intern, a role that gives him free access to explore Motherlobe, the sequel’s impressive hub area. With the identity of the mastermind behind Truman’s abduction still unknown, Raz sets out to piece together the Psychonauts’ history.
Psychonauts 2 is a rare example of a platformer with a prominent and effective storyline. The gameplay is not ground-breaking, but Raz’s Psi-Powers allow for some freedom on how areas are approached. The levels themselves are expansive, creative, and visually mind-blowing.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Although Demon’s Souls and Returnal came close, Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was arguably the first PS5 game to truly come across as a next-generation project. Gorgeously animated and making good use of the DualSense controller’s features, Rift Apart is a blockbuster of an action-platformer that delivers thrilling gunplay, precise movement, and lovable characters.
Fans of Sony’s long-running series will get a kick out of this new entry, while those entering the Ratchet & Clank universe through Rift Apart might feel tempted to go back and play the previous games.
It Takes Two
Specifically designed with co-op in mind, It Takes Two is an ambitious platformer that constantly shakes things up throughout its 10-hour campaign. Taking control of two parents who are trapped in dolls, players have to guide Cody and May through a wild journey that seeks to test and heal their fractured relationship.
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Players unfamiliar with co-op games like It Takes Two may be a little lost. These beginner tips should help.
It Takes Two‘s story is satisfying on an emotional level, while the gameplay is precise and evolves throughout the campaign as new abilities are unlocked in each chapter. At the moment, It Takes Two is the best 2020s co-op game.
It might not have been the Half-Life release people have been anticipating since 2007, but Alyx is comfortably among the best VR games of all time. Set prior to the events of the second game and featuring Alyx Vance as the protagonist, Half-Life: Alyx is a fully realized entry in the iconic first-person shooter franchise. The game makes expert use of virtual reality to completely immerse players in City 17, and the controls are precise and easy to master.
Half-Life: Alyx is the type of game that justifies the hype surrounding virtual reality. Hopefully, the 2020s will be filled with VR games that match Valve’s success.
- September 17, 2020
- Action RPG
Supergiant Games’ Hades is a roguelike that utilizes the subgenre’s conventions to enhance its story. The game finds Hades’ son, Zagreus, trying to make the trip from the Underworld to Mount Olympus, a journey that entails taking on a number of the Greek Pantheon’s powerful warriors.
Hades‘ combat is frantic, smooth, and flexible; each weapon frees up a world of possibilities and playstyles, magnifying the game’s replayability. While roguelikes are not generally known for their narratives, Hades‘ story and characters develop beautifully as Zagreus repeatedly tries to leave behind the Underworld. All of these things combine to make Hades one of the best games of the 2020s.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator
- August 18, 2020
- Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator is not for everyone. However, if someone is searching for an ambitious flight sim that offers the entire planet as its map, then they can’t possibly find anything better than Microsoft Flight Simulator.
This title is jaw-dropping in its scale; while the sim does come with ready-made flight plans that players can take on, pilots are also free to plot their own course and travel the globe. Visually stunning and mechanically complex, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a reason to own an Xbox Series X or a high-end PC.
The Last Of Us 2
Perhaps the most highly anticipated sequel of recent years, The Last of Us 2 is a challenging experience in terms of gameplay and narrative. Lasting well over 20 hours and featuring multiple protagonists, The Last of Us 2 moves away from the core relationship that defined its beloved predecessor, opting to focus on a story dealing with revenge, grief, and self-destruction.
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The Last Of Us Part 2 is one of the most story-heavy games around, and these titles will scratch the same itch.
The gameplay is visceral and, at times, discomforting, two traits that complement this universe’s grounded and unforgiving nature.
Id Software’s sequel to 2016’s Doom didn’t have to do anything but deliver more of the same; however, Doom Eternal went the extra mile. While the gunplay remains largely unchanged since there is no way to improve on perfection, Doom Eternal expands Doomguy’s movement options, including a dash and the introduction of the Meat Hook.
An aggressive FPS that manages to make the player feel extremely powerful and simultaneously vulnerable, Doom Eternal is a cathartic masterpiece with few peers in its genre.
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