While many a console gamer spent this year lusting after a new PlayStation or Xbox, those who prefer to game with a mouse and keyboard had their own leaps forward in technology to try and acquire in the last few months (and often just as fruitlessly).
And just as there have been a fantastic array of games on console, PC gamers have their own experiences that they can hold up as fantastic reasons to throw more money than feels reasonable at their gaming hobby. Though you absolutely don’t need to have a PC at the bleeding edge to enjoy our winner.
Having to create a sequel to one of your company’s defining hits and a title that has a long seven year legacy of updates and expansions is sure to have been a daunting task, but you wouldn’t know it from the release of Crusader Kings 3. In fact, I think the team at Paradox might have found it pretty liberating.
CK3 got to cut away a lot of the built up cruft and ideas from its forebear, and then build the game back up again while reconsidering everything that made CK2 such a great game. There’s more role playing, there’s more scheming, an impressive breadth and depth to the cultures and religions you can adhere to (or create), and being the custodian to your noble family and its legacy is as compelling as ever.
This is a successor that truly learns from and improves upon what went before, and while there’s plenty of space to still grow and improve in its own right, it’s already a worth winner of this year’s Best PC Game award.
Runner Up – Microsoft Flight Simulator
There’s open world games, and then there’s Microsoft Flight Simulator, perhaps the first whole world game. Asobo Studios’ revival of the venerable Microsoft Flight Simulator series was a hugely ambitious undertaking, but built on the rapid advances of AI and machine learning to take satellite imagery of the whole planet and transform it into a compelling rendition of the world for you to fly around in a range of gorgeously recreated airplanes.
Such a reliance on machines and metadata led to humorous mistakes – a 200 story pillar jutting up into the sky in Australia, a vast hole in South America that takes you on a journey ripped out of 2001: A Space Odyssey – and there’s no denying that the very basic procedurally placed buildings and road traffic are a thin veneer if you look too closely, but it remains an impressive accomplishment. Just as impressive is the rate at which Asobo are taking this world and refining it, with World Updates for Japan and the USA already released, the UK coming in January, and Sim Updates that tackle the fundamental flying. Oh, and now there’s VR support.
It already feels like this game is ageing like a fine wine.
Runner Up – Hades
What can I say about Hades that hasn’t already been said? A multiple winner in this year’s awards across Best Gameplay and Best Independent, and a runner up in a bunch of other categories, Hades has been one of the top games of 2020. Supergiant Games have now somehow managed to craft the finest indie games for the best part of a decade, and there are few studios that can come close to their level of consistency and success. We can only imagine where they’re going to go from here, but everyone should pay even closer attention now after Hades (not that they weren’t paying attention before).
The Greek mythology roguelite started off in Early Access, and immediately got tongues wagging from those in ‘the know’. As it marched onwards to full release it was clear that they’d managed to capture the genre in the most remarkable way. The action is sublime, the loop of alternating boons an empowering delight, and the graphics are knowingly attractive in every sense of the word. If you’ve still yet to experience Hades, prepare to be sent to hell. It’s marginally more on fire than the real world.
– Dom L
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Wasteland 3
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
- Best Single Player Game
- Best Narrative
- Best Gameplay
- Best Independent Game
- Best Visual Design
- Best Original Soundtrack
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Remaster/Remake
Have you been gaming on your PC this year? Let us know what games and experiences have delighted you over the last 12 months.