THE BEST XBOX GAMES OF 2020

Our list of games that we thought were the best Xbox releases of 2020!

– Jan Kenneth Declaro (jkdeclaro)​

 

The year 2020 has certainly been a challenging one for all of us. The global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus has changed the way we lived our lives indefinitely. Full lockdowns were enforced, businesses were forced to close, and the global economy has seen its worst recession in recent memory.

The gaming industry was also affected by the global pandemic. Publishers and developers were forced to change their work schedules, delay releases of games, and even shut down their operations.

Despite the current situation, the gaming industry has also seen a major surge in terms of console and game sales. A situation largely due to the quarantine/stay-at-home orders from governments across the world. People seeking any form of entertainment and escape from the pandemic would turn to video games as something they could do while on lockdown/quarantine.

Video game sales/subscription services have seen a major increase in terms of overall revenue, with IDC data forecasted at almost $180 billion in 2020 [1]. Microsoft, in particular, has had a strong 2021 Fiscal 3Q Earnings Report, bolstered by their Gaming Division. Reporting $3.6 billion in revenue and a 232% increase in gaming hardware revenue [2], thanks to a strong launch and demand of the new Xbox Series X and S consoles, Microsoft has thrived during the pandemic.

Accompanied by their Xbox Game Pass subscription, which itself has seen a massive surge in terms of new player subscriptions and the addition of major AAA games, some of which are released day-and-date with other consoles. It currently has around 23 million subscribers as of April 2021, compared to approximately 10 million subscribers it had around the same time just last year [3].

The addition of EA Play and Cloud gaming in 2020 has certainly helped in the uptick of Game Pass subscribers, especially with the release of the Xbox Series S console, which certainly pairs perfectly with Game Pass due to it being an all-digital console.

Despite the pandemic, several games have been released throughout 2020 that have since won or been nominated for several game awards, aside from being launched alongside the new generation of consoles that take full advantage of the new technologies these consoles offer that give gamers the ultimate gaming experience. Out of several games released for the Xbox in 2020, here are 5 of the best Xbox games that you can play from 2020 that we think should be paid tribute:

Whats in The Article

DOOM ETERNAL

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ Doom Eternal Signus Labs

This classic and beloved series from ID Software and Bethesda makes its return with Doom Eternal, complete with new features and gameplay elements that have been carried over and improved from the 2016 Doom reboot.

The game follows the Doom Slayer, having been betrayed and teleported by Dr. Samuel Hayden, returns to quell demonic invasion of Earth that has been overrun by demonic forces, with the remains of humanity either fleeing Earth or have banded together with the ARC, a resistance movement also tasked to quell the invasion, but forced into hiding after suffering heavy losses.

Along the way, players will encounter various types of enemies, ranging from Ambient to Super Heavy, along with unique bosses that are sure to give players quite the challenge that has been a staple of the Doom franchise for years now. As the game implies, movement is a crucial aspect in this game, since the demons will always charge at you no matter what.

Doom Eternal

The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ Doom Eternal Signus Labs

This is not the typical first-person shooter game wherein you have to seek cover and plan your attack carefully. In this game, you will find yourself constantly on the move avoiding attacks from the demons and constantly looking for ways to hold them off. Some demons may require you to aim at certain parts of their body or throw certain weapons at them to hold them off, but that is the beauty of a Doom game that fans have come to know and love.

Rip and Tear until it’s done!

For almost 20 years, it is one of the pioneers of the first-person shooter genre, and Doom Eternal is the latest example of how the genre will move forward in the coming years. Doom Eternal is currently included with Xbox Game Pass and is set to have an Xbox Series X and S optimized version sometime in 2021.

Now that ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Id Software and Bethesda, is now officially under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, we can be sure that the game will utilize the Smart Delivery system, in which players who already own the game or are currently playing it via Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One would receive the Xbox Series X|S optimized version at no additional cost. Perhaps the long-awaited collaboration between Master Chief and the Doom Slayer could also be on the horizon?

You can buy the game here:

ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA

Ubisoft’s latest entry into its beloved Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, is one of the launch titles for the Xbox Series X and S. Taking advantage of the Xbox’s Velocity Architecture and its overall hardware, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla follows the story of a Viking Raider and Clan Leader named Eivor Varinsdottir and lead their fellow Vikings and Clan Members against the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.

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What’s unique about the game is that the player has the option of playing Eivor as either a male or a female, while also having the option of letting the game alternate between them at key moments. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla builds upon the role-playing element and gameplay that has been introduced in Assassin’s Creed Origins and continued with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, veering away from the beat-em-up gameplay that was a staple of the earlier Assassin’s Creed games.

Sprawling landscapes and beautiful scenery

Aside from the main story, optional side-missions are also available for the players to traverse and complete, and as with other role-playing games, choices made through conversations and gameplay affects character development and alliances with non-player characters. Leveling up Eivor uses skill trees selected by the player as the story progresses.

Enemy difficulties depend on how Eivor has been leveled up. Some features from previous Assassin’s Creed games return such as Assaults, Raids, Player Settlements, and Naval Transport also make an appearance.

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Estimates place the main story completion at around 60-70 hours while completing the game at 100% will take 100+ hours. With so much to discover and enjoy with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it is considered to be one of the best releases of 2020, and one of the strongest launch titles for the Xbox Series X and S.

The game also utilizes Xbox’s Smart Delivery feature, in which you only need to buy the game once and you will get the best version of the game no matter what system you are playing it on. Buy the game on an Xbox One, and when you play it on an Xbox Series X or S, you’ll automatically get the optimized version at no additional cost, and also save transfers are a breeze thanks to Microsoft’s Cloud technology and Smart Delivery feature. Very smart indeed.

You can buy the game here:

WATCH DOGS LEGION

The third installment in Ubisoft’s noteworthy Watch Dogs series, Watch Dogs Legion is another launch title for the Xbox Series X and S, despite it releasing a few days earlier for the Xbox One. The game’s setting travels across the pond for the first time to the United Kingdom and features multiple playable characters for the first time.

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ Watch Dogs Leigon Signus Labs

Continuing off Watch Dogs 2, Watch Dogs Legion takes place in the year 2030, where technology has seen advancements as a result of automation and Artificial Intelligence, 6G Networks becoming the norm, cryptocurrencies overtaking the Pound Sterling, among other advancements and progresses.

Despite all these advancements, London is facing its downfall, wherein people are being oppressed by a surveillance state, private militaries patrolling the city, and a powerful crime syndicate preying on the vulnerable. It is up to DedSec to save the city from all the oppression, coupled with the player forming a resistance to fight back against the oppressors. While there are several playable characters in the game, it does not have the main character, thus the game is dependent on a new system that allows players to recruit virtually any non-playable character from within the city to DedSec’s cause to fight the oppressors.

Big Brother is Watching…

The consistent characters in the game are the Allies, the Antagonists, and DLC characters that are regularly added, including the main protagonist of the first Watch Dogs game, Aiden Pierce. As with the other Watch Dogs games, the game is played in a third-person perspective wherein players can freely traverse London to complete main story missions and recruit civilians to DedSec’s cause.

Once recruited, a character can be assigned into one of 3 different classes: Combat, Stealth, or Hacking. Each class offers unique characteristics, ability upgrades, and tools when characters level up from completing missions. Each character has a background and is best suited to one of the 3 classes.

Assigning that specific character into a class in which he/she has the strongest background will maximize the character’s use. Permadeath is introduced for the first time in the franchise. Once a character is killed during the game, he/she will remain dead, with no option to respawn the character or reset the game to before the character died.

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ Watch Dogs Leigon Signus Labs

The game also has a multiplayer mode, although it was released a few months after the game’s launch due to several bugs and issues that Ubisoft claimed were causing the game to break. The Multiplayer mode includes several co-op missions, Tactical Ops, and Spiderbot Arena that players can all partake in, and progressed is shared among Single-Player and Multiplayer modes. Performance mode for the Xbox Series X|S that will be released on June 1 ensures that the game can be played at constant 60 FPS with compatible displays. Players will now be able to play Multiplayer within the same console family, which means that players on the Xbox One can play with those on the Xbox Series X|S and vice versa [4].

Check out the game to pick up your copy:

CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS: COLD WAR

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Signus Labs

Activision’s latest yearly release in the acclaimed Call of Duty lineup, Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War sees the franchise make its debut in the new generation of Xbox consoles, the Xbox Series X and S. The sixth installment in the Black Ops series and the seventeenth overall installment in the Call of Duty franchise, the game released just 3 days after the launch of the Xbox Series X|S, while also releasing for the Xbox One at the same time.

The Campaign:

Taking place amid the Cold War in the 1980s, the single-player campaign follows Bell, who is on a mission to hunt down an alleged Soviet Spy named Perseus, whose goal is to subvert the United States and tip the scales in favor of the Soviet Union. Characters from One version into its Series X| previous Black Ops games also make their return in Cold War, with Alex Mason being the playable character in certain missions of the campaign.

Multiplayer:

Multiplayer has a plethora of new and returning modes, such as the release of new content through Seasons, similar to the 2019 reboot of Modern Warfare and the free-to-play Warzone. Multiplayer maps accommodate the traditional 6v6 format, as well as the 12v12 format. Fireteam Mode makes its debut, which supports up to 40 players at once.

Returning from Modern Warfare is the Create-a-Class system, albeit with major improvements such as field upgrades now implemented as part of class load-outs. Progression between Black Ops Cold War, Warzone, and Modern Warfare are now integrated together under a unified level system after a system update was released.

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Signus Labs

Zombies mode also returns with a new storyline called “Dark Aether”, expanding on the original Aether Story in Black Ops 4. Using Aetherium Crystals, players can upgrade weapons and skills using the Skill Upgrade System, enhancing weapons, ammo mods, and field upgrades.

Unfortunately, Black Ops Cold War does not support Xbox’s Smart Delivery feature, thus you have to either buy the cross-generation bundle for full benefits (includes both the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S version), or pay a $10 fee to upgrade the Xbox One version to its Series X|S version.

Even the physical disc version of the game has caused confusion among casual gamers. There are 2 versions of the game that came out; an Xbox One version, and an Xbox Series X|S version that also includes the Xbox One version.

If that’s not enough headaches, the file size of all game modes would have gamers thinking of buying additional storage space. Installing all game modes on an Xbox Series X or S, takes a whopping 136 GB of storage space, which is already down from the initial 186 GB file size of all modes [5]. That’s already roughly one-third of the available storage space of the Xbox Series S’ internal SSD.

Season updates also a sight for sore eyes for gamers, with most updates coming in at sizes that are bigger than some Xbox One games. Season 3’s update size, for example, comes in at around 25 GB [6], and some updates actually reduced the file size of the entire game, thanks to some enhancements made by Treyarch.

Despite all the hiccups, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is one of the best entries in the Call of Duty series, building upon the foundation set by Modern Warfare and Warzone and a great way to bring in the beloved series to the new generation of consoles.

you can pick up the game here:

THE OUTER WORLDS

Obsidian Entertainment’s latest role-playing game offering, The Outer Worlds, is one of the first games released after their acquisition by Microsoft through Xbox Game Studios, although Take-Two was able to secure publishing rights beforehand, through their publishing label, Private Division.

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ The outer Worlds Signus Labs

Outer Worlds takes place in an alternate timeline, wherein the United States President William McKinley was not assassinated in 1901, thus Theodore Roosevelt never succeeded him. As a result, large business trusts were never broken up, leading to a hyper-corporate class-centric society dominated by the power of mega-corporations and robber barons.

The story follows The Stranger, known as “the unknown variable”, on his journey to the Halycon system, aboard the colony ship Hope. Throughout the journey, the colony will experience malfunctions, adrift, and the Halycon Holdings Corporate Board abandoning the colonists, among other problems.

a familiar environment to fans of the Fallout franchise

The Stranger’s actions and choices will determine the future of the Colony. Taking inspiration from the Fallout Series, specifically Fallout New Vegas (also developed by Obsidian Games), the game carries over several core gameplay aspects from Fallout, evidenced by those who worked on Fallout New Vegas also working on The Outer Worlds.

The gameplay is a mix of first-person shooter and role-playing elements. Players also have the ability called “tactical time dilation”, in which in-game time can be slowed down to inflict more damage on enemies. In-game NPCs are also present that players can recruit into their party. Up to 2 companions at a time can be recruited.

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The Best Xbox Games of 2020 https://signuslabs.com/The-Best-Xbox-Games-0f-2020/ The outer Worlds Signus Labs

As with other role-playing games, decisions and actions made by the player will directly affect how companions think of them, and negative actions may result in companions abandoning the player entirely. The Outer Worlds is certainly one of the more underrated Xbox games of 2020, being nominated for several game awards in 2019 and 2020. Currently available via Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft will now be the publisher of future The Outer Worlds titles. Considering Obsidian Games is now officially under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, could we see a cross-over of Fallout and The Outer Worlds in the near future?

Grab the game here:

– Jan Kenneth Declaro (jkdeclaro)

REFERENCES:

[1] Witkowski, W. (December 2020). Videogames are a bigger industry than movies and North American sports combined, thanks to the pandemichttps://www.marketwatch.com/story/videogames-are-a-bigger-industry-than-sports-and-movies-combined-thanks-to-the-pandemic-11608654990  

[2] Wilde, T. (April 2021). Despite Xbox shortages, Microsoft reports $3.6B in Q3 gaming revenue, 232% growth in hardware saleshttps://www.geekwire.com/2021/despite-xbox-shortages-microsoft-reports-3-6b-q3-gaming-revenue-232-growth-hardware-sales

[3] Reeves, B. (April 2021). Xbox Game Pass Hits 23 Million Subscribershttps://screenrant.com/xbox-game-pass-subscriber-count-tops-23-million

[4] Good, O. (November 2020). Installing all of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War requires 180 GB on consoleshttps://www.polygon.com/2020/11/10/21558618/call-of-duty-black-ops-cold-war-system-specs-download-size-200-gb-ps5-xbox-series-x-pc

[5] Bankhurst, A. (May 2021). Watch Dogs: Legion to Get 60 FPS ‘Performance Mode’ on PS5 and Xbox Series Xhttps://sea.ign.com/watch-dogs-3/172251/news/watch-dogs-legion-to-get-60-fps-performance-mode-on-ps5-and-xbox-series-x

[6] Park, M. (April 2021). Call of Duty: Warzone’s Season 3 update is a merciful 25.2GBhttps://www.pcgamer.com/call-of-duty-warzones-season-3-update-is-a-merciful-252gb/