The EZA Community Top 20 Best of 2020!

  • When it was unveiled at Paris Games Week back in 2017, my interest was piqued purely off the Samurai aesthetic. When we saw gameplay at what would be Sony's last E3 show, the thing I was impressed by was the lighting of what looked like a setting sun through dark, smoky clouds hitting the field as Jin rode through. But even then I wasn't really sure I wanted to dive in.

    When Ghost of Tsushima finally got its own dedicated State of Play right before launch, I finally had a good idea of what the gameplay would be, and it was a hard out for me. While the vibrant color of the world just pops off the screen, and both the wind mechanic and the "Kurosawa Mode," are wonderful ideas, seeing how it just looked like a more refined, polished, and frankly better version of pre-RPG Assassin's Creed had me feeling meh about it. I like the concept how relying on stealth and deception as a ninja is dishonorable but confronting foes head-on in deadly stand-off is the way of the samurai is incorporated into how characters perceive you, but it's that very thing which places an undue personal pressure I don't want to deal with.

    I do think Ghost is another example on how Sucker Punch nails an open-world and I feel it's a worthy swan song for the PS4 before the arrival of the PS5 and with it cross-gen and ultimately PS5 only games. That said, much like Spider-man, while it may not be for me, I admire it's undeniable quality.

  • Ghost of Tsushima is my #37 of 41. Lower are only games I’ve got for free.

    Developers tried to make a game that feels like a Samurai movie and apparently this was their only effort - the rest of the game was just phoned in. Exploration is poorly designed. Map markers are practically non-existent, birds lead you to places you’ve already being, and environment is covered in such dense fog that you can’t see any point of interest. World doesn’t even try to be believable. Summer and winter regions are separated by 300 meters, Uncharted-style climbing challenges are everywhere, wind blow indoors and so on and so on. Game can’t decide what it wants to be. There’s no HUD, but tutorials pop up constantly; katana feels like a real weapon, but spears send enemies flying like a grenade explosion; 1-on-1 combat presented like a fighting duel, but you aren’t locked on target and your attacks often go in opposite direction.

    Then there are bunch of technical shortcuts. NPCs in every settlement are completely stationary and doesn’t react to your actions. Environments feel the same because of copy-pasted assets and layouts. There are no animations for entering boat or lighting campfire and only one intro animation for all boss battles. AI doesn’t react to sound of explosions and often enemies are just standing in one place. You can’t talk to a character while they move, be creative in quests, do anything, but the only thing you supposed to do. All quests follow the same generic pattern. Every story arc plays out exactly as you would expect. And visuals are simply bad – materials barely react to light, textures and models are low-res, there's no skin translucency. Just look at these two images and try to guess which game came 2 years before another.
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    All of these could be forgiven if Ghost of Tsushima was an indie title for $10. But it’s a major AAA game, and Sony even raised its price several months after its initial release. And for such highly priced and marketed game such low effort is simply inexcusable. I don’t have a problem with any individual who likes this game – every title speaks to someone. But I will never understand why most gamers hated Cyberpunk 2077, a game that shoot for the moon, but didn’t quite get there, while they liked Ghost of Tsushima, a game that didn’t even try to leave the Earth.

  • Ghost of Tsushima has many problems, perhaps some more unforgivable ones that deserve more scrutiny than they receive, but the satisfaction of timing a deadly slice and its pleasing visual aspects make up for the problems somewhat. Rote forgettable missions, a pretty dry, overly-serious yet unrewarding story, and the general sense that it's just another huge open world game with crafting and collectibles makes me want to reevaluate my opinion of it. Maybe I've been swept up in all the buzz surrounding Ghost of Tsushima and duped by its lovely presentational aspects and particular combat high points that underneath it's a drudge of repetition and sameness-where it would appear that GoT follows the Ubisoft formula like Days Gone followed all the overdone trends like zombies, post-apocalypse setting, crafting and collectibles, serious storytelling and everything else the industry has pounded us into the dirt with in the past decade or so. Spider-Man/Miles Morales has loads of things to do in its open-world but the collectibles and gather and nearly everything you do is rewarding in some way. Guess SONY generally love their trend-following games as long as they look pretty or they hook us in emotionally-kinda baiting now that I think about it.

  • Banned

    Haven't played it but really want to. A lot of buddies said it was their GOTY, which I personally find hard to believe after TLOU2 released in the same year but hey apples and oranges.

  • Tsushima is an excellent video game, just somehow not that memorable after some time has now passed. It still easily made it into my HMs, loved playing it. Even platinumed it (of course). The sword-fighting system feels super good, all the counters and stand-offs etc.

  • Ghost of Tsushima was absolutely my favourite game of the year. I played it on my PS5 with high frame rate.

    The highlight for me was the setting, the quests, and the combat and stealth gameplay. The world was absolutely beautiful to explore, with countless locations that are painstakingly crafted to look like a sacred samurai battleground, or a tranquil spot for meditation.

    The combat is just stupid fun.

    The story had something to say and it covered the topic in the best way I've seen so far.

    Only issue is that the open world collectibles/minor quests were a bit old fashioned. However, they were adorned with so much set dressing and theming that I was happy to keep doing them.

    Also, it seems a little silly but the shape of the open world leaves something to be desired, as it feels less like exploration and more like working your way down a queue. Breath of the Wild starting you in the middle of the open world was no accident. However, I understand it's based on real events in a real place, and the structure does have its own strengths, such as a strong sense of progression.

    I haven't touched Legends mode and don't really plan to. But what a great add-on to what is already a pretty chunky game.

  • Ghost of Sushi was a major disappointment, part of it was on me, I was led by the marketing thinking they were going to really push towards a more emergent gameplay approach, and boy was I wrong. On top of that it's not even a top tier traditional open world a lot of it is stuck a whole gen behind on how non reactivate it is and how poor is the AI.

    Combat was fun at times particularly after they introduced the Lethal difficulty.

    If it was released some years earlier I think I would have enjoyed it more, like I enjoy Mad Max, but as a late gen title from a Sony first party and being released after BotW my expectations were way higher. It felt like the developer was throwing all available colorful particles at my face trying to distract me from a rather mundane game.

    That said I don't hate it, just don't care for it.

  • For Hades, like others were saying, I'm not usually big on rogue-likes, but this was the first one that really got through to me. I really enjoyed testing out each weapon, trying to complete all of the missions where you have to try out every gods' boon at least once, and I appreciated being able to reveal more about the characters and story after every run, even if I didn't do too particularly well. It felt like I was being rewarded for at least trying new things regardless of if it worked out or not.

    As for Ghost of Tsushima, I had a great time going through this world. The combat was satisfying to get down, I think it looks pretty stunning visually, and the story (both main and side quests) all landed pretty well for me. I'm excited to head back and a do a NG+ playthrough on PS5 to get back to 100% trophies and revisit everything. Sure, it doesn't revolutionize the "box-ticking" aspect of open-world games, but I felt like all the boxes I was ticking mattered and were worth my time. Plus, I liked the context of following foxes or birds or whatever to find each collectible so theoretically, you could never open your map and still find a lot. Also worth noting that Legends was a super cool addition post launch, I still need to go back and finish everything out there. I'm super curious to see what Sucker Punch does with a sequel, I think they laid a great foundation to build on.

    Most importantly, any game that lets me cosplay as Sly Cooper is a win in my book.

  • You guys on the forums have definitely sold me on Ghost of Tsushima, especially @bam541 you just always sound so happy about this game.

    Even the people who have issues with it are the same issues I'll probably have with it too but I watched Daminani play it on stream and I can tell the combat is fun enough to carry the game over it's flaws. Also saw so many awesome GIFs of GoT and TLOU2 this year and the combat in both games just feel like a canvas for your tools, skills, and creativity.

  • Banned

    @dipset Speaking of TLOU2's combat, you should check out the Caitlin YT channel. Basically dedicated to doing hilarious/weird/awesome shit using TLOU2's combat and the built in accessibility options/cheats.

    Youtube Video

  • @el-shmiablo temporary hijack to shoutout CJ's Hitman elaborate kill videos.

  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps

    #3. Ori and the Will of the Wisps - 43 points


    #1: 5 (paulmci27, Shoulderguy, MiserablePerson, DemonPirate, kindiman)
    #2: 2 (DIPSET, NeoCweeny)
    #3: 2 (Brannox, Scotty)
    #4: 2 (Axel, Phbz)
    HM: 0


    Release date: March 11 [US/EU]
    Developer: Moon Studios
    Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
    Genre: Metroidvania
    Platform(s): Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, PC


    EZA Review

  • I feel like the Ori games has a reputation for being "underrated", not getting enough love or popularity. I don't know why that is, but at least that's not the case in this forum.

    Anyway, I can't wait to see the next two placements, mostly curious about the points they get and how it is distributed. I feel like both of those things says a lot about the game itself. Like how Ghost of Tsushima gets mostly HMs and 4th places, or Ori being top heavy despite not a ton of people voting for it.

  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps is my #9 of 41.

    I loved this game. I had some problems with navigation & difficulty, and I didn’t like that music didn’t restart when you die during escapes, because as a result it no longer matches your actions. But the music is good, art-style & animations are great, and visuals are excellent. Ori once again reminds us that being independent doesn’t necessary mean lower production values for your games and it’s a wonderful news for everyone who wants both innovation and quality.

  • Woah, did not expect this! I didn't play many games during 2020 but even if that weren't the case, I think Ori would still top the list.

    Nice going, forum :)

  • It's actually hard to know where to start when discussing Ori, because there's so much I can touch on. I was captivated with the original, so much so Ori and the Blind Forest was GOTY for 2015 (and I'm still stoked it was able to place in our countdown back then). Speaking purely in an artistic sense (so I don't mean realistic graphics), Ori is by far the most beautiful game series I've played. There's something about how the watercolor painting in constant motion is so captivating as both environments and characters alike are striking and easy to just be hypnotized by if you take a moment to stop in a relatively safe spot and take in all the detail.

    But that's not the only thing that speaks to me, as the music is so incredible. Gareth Coker has a score and soundtrack that intertwines with the forests, grottos, and caves, to the point it's impossible to separate one's identity from the other. The pulse pounding tracks of escape sequences or boss battles further elevate the tension, but the ambient music that plays when you're not in combat is some of the most therapeutic and calming I've heard.

    Speaking of combat, Will of the Wisps is a complete improvement over Blind Forest in several ways. While I like the original's, it can be repetitive and one note, whereas in this game, giving you three slots to equip a selection of quite different abilities gives you more freedom in how you want to fight. Personally, the Sword and the fireball you can generate to create more jumping opportunities are mainstays, and I switch between the hammer and the javelin dependent upon the boss or situation.

    Platforming is solid and as you get more abilities like the triple jump or dash, it fires off all kinds of endorphins as you go from running around and figuring out where you can and can't go at the beginning of the game to zipping through the areas at top speed, which is a credit to how well both the progression and the interconnected map is designed.

    While the Mouldwood Depths is a personal nightmare, I love everything about Will of the Wisps. The story is as heartbreaking as the first (though the first does get undercut a little by reversing on a key plot point), I was always moved by what was going on and whatever the objective I would be working towards at any given time. Most of the said objectives would be improving the hub area from a pretty empty place to a populated and beautiful spot that unlocks more huts and little nooks and corners you can explore the more you help out the NPCs and other peaceful creatures of the forest.

    As I intimated when discussing DOOM: Eternal, this was the other game that switched spots on my overall list. This is because, initially at launch on six year old Xbox One, there were tech problems with the map taking a while to open and sometimes the game would stutter or freeze for a half-second mostly during times when I was jumping. And in a game where most of your traversal is jumping over obstacles or dangers, that's not a good thing. So for a while, Eternal was third and this was fourth.

    However, when I got my Series X at the end of the year, this was one of the first games I replayed and it went flawlessly. No issues of any kind across the entire two sittings (which, side note, it always surprises me how the two Ori games are not really that long, and if you're willing to put in just a little bit of effort, are easy to 100% the map). And with a game where I can hardly find a fault whereas I have a couple more nitpicks about DOOM: Eternal, in the end, I had to switch them.

    Overall Ori is phenomenal, and if there is anyone out there reading who hasn't given them a shot and is curious to try, I recommend giving them an hour or two to see if its for you. While Will of the Wisps may further muddy the definition on if Moon Studios would be considered "indie," I WILL say Ori is my favorite indie franchise. And much like DOOM: Eternal (and I suspect tomorrow's final reveal of the top two), I'm not going to tag every single voter but I just want to express that, after being only one of two people to vote for Blind Forest in our 2015 countdown, I am so overjoyed to see it get so many votes to have it be our BRONZE MEDALIST.

    If Will of the Wisps had released in 2017, 18, OR 19, it would have gotten my GOTY. However, 2020 was so excellent for my interests, that I suspect the top two games I voted for will be our top two overall (which, like 2011, is crazy especially when this thread has a chance to hold my top 3 votes being the top 3 picks, potentially in the same order).

  • The first Ori was one of my favourites in the genre and I just couldn't believe how much better the sequel was. Maybe it could be a place higher if it wasn't for the technical issues when it released.

    The only negative I can find is that exploration doesn't feel as rewarding as Hollow Knight, every zone is kind of predictable, but everything else is just incredible. One of the best soundtrack composition and implementations in gaming, and pretty much genre defining in almost every single way. Although I still give Hollow Knight the top spot.

    Great that the game found its place in our community. Sometimes 2D games are treated with condescendence, like no matter how good they are they are never good enough, so it feels great to see as our number 3.

  • I had high hopes for Ori and the Will of the Wisps after how much I enjoyed Ori and the Blind Forest. But, Damn! Moon Studios blew those expectations away! It's such an awesome game from beginning to end.

    The only thing I would knock it for, are some audio bugs that happened on my first playthrough. Which was especially jarring when it happened during a boss fight. Otherwise, it's a 10 out of 10 experience that I absolutely recommend to everyone.

  • While we wait for the inevitable Battletoads vs Bugsnax showdown, I would like to bring to your attention my #3 – Filament. I strongly believe that this is the best puzzle game since The Witness and it doesn’t receive proper attention only because it’s a debut game from unknown indie developer. If you have 3 minutes, please watch my review, and if anything sounds interesting, please give this game a chance. It’s on PC & Switch and it’s currently on sale on Switch.
    Youtube Video

  • @ffff0 That looks interesting!