Despite all of the hardships it presented, 2020 ended up being a pretty special year for gamers. Against all odds, developers everywhere turned in an incredible lineup of titles that will surely make this year’s game of the year awards a challenge to figure out.
Yet, there are a few titles I see that keep popping up as candidates for those awards that just make me wince. They’re not necessarily bad games but they are, for one reason or another, games that are just getting a little too much love.
These are the most overrated games of 2020.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed Origins was a fascinating, but flawed, attempt to softly reboot the complacent Assassin’s Creed franchise. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey did a brilliant job of fixing many of those flaws, solidifying the franchise’s new direction, and setting us up for something potentially special.
Valhalla is occasionally that something special, but it’s mostly another incremental improvement that received a little too much praise for being another largely familiar entry in an increasingly familiar franchise. Not every AC game needs to reinvent the wheel, but we should also temper our praise for amounts to a better version of an already good game.
Call of Duty: Warzone
It didn’t take long for Call of Duty: Warzone to become the darling of the battle royale scene. The popularity of the Call of Duty franchise made Warzone immediately notable while the title’s free-to-play status got it into the hands of more people than may have otherwise given it a chance. On top of that, it’s a fun game in its own right.
Yet, at a time of constant updates, Warzone‘s general complacency has been frustrating to watch. The one advantage of live service games is that they typically stay fresh enough to become the only game you need for months at a time. Aside from a couple of fun events, Warzone‘s updates have largely focused on balancing the existing game.
Ghost of Tsushima
This one is tough. I actually think Ghost of Tsushima is a really good game. It’s got a great open-world, fun combat, a ton of style, and a fairly good story. There’s not a lot wrong with it from a purely critical standpoint.
Yet, at a time when Ghost of Tsushima is clearly becoming an award season darling, I feel that it’s necessary to be realistic about this game’s accomplishments. It’s a very well done version of a kind of game that we’ve seen before. Much like Valhalla, Ghost of Tsushima executes a formula to near perfection, but it perhaps plays it a bit too safe to be considered truly great.
Granted, there aren’t a lot of people hyping up Marvel’s Avengers these days, but this feels like a fairly well-deserved case of “We told you so.”
After listening to everyone who wanted to defend this game for months despite an ever-growing pile of red flags surrounding it there’s an admittedly dark pleasure that comes from seeing this title turn out to be exactly what many others suspected it would be. Aside from its fairly good campaign, this is a soulless cash grab that tries and fails to cash in on a license with an unlimited amount of potential.
Star Wars: Squadrons
Squadrons is another game I actually like quite a bit. At a time of increasingly lowered expectations for Star Wars games, Squadrons offers a fun take on this universe that is often fairly clever.
However, Squadrons was hyped as a return to the glory days of Star Wars spaceship games, which it simply isn’t. It lacks the pure arcade action of the Rogue series, and it fails to replicate the simulator brilliance of the PC Star Wars space fighter titles of the ’90s. It’s stuck reminding me of better games it simply is not.
Genshin Impact caused quite a stir earlier this year with some fans going so far as to call it an improved version of Breath of the Wild that you can even play on mobile devices.
However, a little more time with Genshin Impact reveals its gameplay reliance on a microtransaction system that is too aggressive to be condoned at a time when microtransaction ethics are such a big talking point. To be honest, Genshin Impact feels like the most successful and ambitious mobile knock-off ever.
Resident Evil 3
I loved the original Resident Evil 3 and often wondered what would happen if the game got a chance to shine outside of the shadow of Resident Evil 2. Unfortunately, Capcom decided to release Resident Evil 3‘s remake in the shadow of Resident Evil 2‘s remake.
Similarities to the previous Resident Evil remake aside, one of the most disappointing elements of 2020’s Resident Evil 3 is how little new content it adds to the original game. It tends to cut some of the original game’s more frustrating moments rather than rework them which seems unambitious for a big-budget remake.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
At the end of the day, Super Mario 3D All-Stars features three classic Mario games. It’s hard to argue with the idea of getting all of these games in one package or the merits of the original games.
Yet, nearly everything else about this collection feels like a mistake. Its ports are little more than glorified emulations that fall short of paying these games the tribute they deserved. Even if you’re willing to overlook this game’s bizarre limited digital release schedule, you’re still left to wonder where Super Mario Galaxy 2 is or why these games aren’t just straight-up available to download on Nintendo Switch.