There’s all manner of games out there in terms of length, from short two hour experiences and six hour cinematic campaigns, through to sprawling RPGs that will take you closer to 100 hours before you see the end. Then there are those games that just keep going and going and going, like they’re a Duracell Bunny (or Energizer Bunny if you’re American).
I am, of course, referring to the so-called ‘live’ game, the game where developers keep on plugging away, adding regular content drops, responding directly to the community’s demands and giving them more and more things to do. Your MMOs, your looter shooters, your battle royales and other seasonal multiplayer games. These games don’t always stick (arguably, they won’t more often than not), but when they do, they can keep players occupied for years.
Our winner shouldn’t be much of a surprise, to be honest – you may get a sense of deja vu here – with a developer that has been been knocking it out of the park with meaningful updates that have gone far beyond their original vision for the game.
No Man’s Sky has been on a long road since its disappointing launch four years ago, with Hello Games having spent most of the intervening time “fixing” the game to say the least. Just last year they added whole new gameplay systems, online multiplayer and VR support, and they’ve shown no signs of slowing down. 2020 has seen the addition of mech suits, living ships, and Hello Games navigated the often tricky waters of cross-platform multiplayer with relative ease, but that’s small stuff compared to the update that released in September.
Titled ‘Origins‘, this huge update changed the fundamentals of how planets are procedurally generated, allowing players to explore planets full of mountains that are kilometers tall and oceans of unnerving depth, not to mention apparently doubling the diversity of the animals and plants you encounter as well. There’s even giant worms! Then there’s the next-gen update, bringing No Man’s Sky to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S style with a graphical upgrade that’s so stunning in the trailer it almost looks like a sequel.
With all of this in mind, No Man’s Sky gets the uniquely rare honour of winning Best Ongoing Game two years in a row.
– Gareth C
Runner Up – Among Us
Among Us came hot on the heels of Fall Guys in a summer of discovery and sudden flashes of viral popularity amongst game streamers. Though practically unheard of until 2020 – this was a game that seemingly hadn’t stuck that landing – Among Us came out in 2018, pitching a number of crew members in a tense battle of wits in order to survive and root out the Imposter.
Reminiscent of The Thing, one or more players are Imposters, seeking to murder the other crew members before they can complete all of their tasks. However, Imposters can only kill infrequently and can easily be voted out if discovered. The key to the game is really the oppressive silence as regular crew members go about their tasks, before bickering and trying to weed out the deceitful players once a murder has been discovered.
Innersloth had actually been starting work on Among Us 2 when their original game caught fire, and they had to suddenly pivot first to simply get the server capacity to handle the sudden jump in players, and then deciding to ditch the sequel in favour of continuing to support the original. Since then, they’ve set out a roadmap of new features and content (including a new map revealed at The Game Awards), and we’re keen to see them really follow through.
Runner Up – Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne continues to surprise us. Following on last year, when it won the very same accolade, the enormous DLC expansion has resolutely stood its ground as the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve all been eagerly awaiting the next Monster Hunter game, coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2021, but the constant trickle of excellent new content has been very warmly received.
On top of all the other free content Capcom just gave away for the Iceborne expansion, the game has received no fewer than five title updates, bringing with it a slew of new monsters to hunt, weapons and armour to turn them into, and a series of seasonal festivals to keep you engaged at every turn.
– Nic B
Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Destiny 2
- Rocket League