With Sony and Microsoft debuting new consoles towards the end of the year, 2020 effectively brought to an end the Xbox One's run as one of the main systems on the market. Following a rather rough launch, the Xbox One eventually picked up steam through Microsoft's consumer-driven initiatives, specifically the Game Pass subscription service.
All things considered, 2020 was a decent enough year for Microsoft's console, with each month adding a few worthwhile titles to the system's library. Which games stand out as the best 2020 had to offer for Xbox One owners?
12 January: Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
January tends to be a slow month in most entertainment industries, and the same holds true for gaming. Projects like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and
Journey to the Savage Planet certainly have their strengths, but they are not exactly the most unique games out there.
While an acquired taste, Kentucky Route Zero is unlike anything else on the market. The point-and-click adventure game is split into five chapters and tells a surreal tale fueled by well-written dialogue and memorable characters. The TV Edition version tells the complete story.
11 February: Yakuza 0
Xbox owners waited a long time to get their hands on Yakuza 0, but the game was worth it. Featuring two playable characters who are both awesome in their own ways, Yakuza 0 blends a gripping main narrative worthy of a gangster flick with the shenanigans of an absurdist comedy.
The beat-'em-up combat starts out overly simplistic but eventually blossoms into something quite special, while Kamurocho and Sōtenbori are packed with dozens upon dozens of unforgettable stories.
10 March: Ori and the Will of the Wisps
One of the most highly-anticipated sequels of the eighth console generation, Ori and the Will of the Wisps stands alongside the best games of 2020. Building on the foundations of its fantastic predecessor, Ori and the Will of the Wisps introduces a surprisingly deep combat system that paves the way to a string of memorable boss fights.
Although the combat is a welcome addition, Ori and the Will of the Wisps' brilliance comes down to its stellar map design, tight platforming, and intelligent visual storytelling.
9 April: Streets Of Rage 4
In the same month that saw the launch of the solid but somewhat disappointing Resident Evil 3, the gaming industry also produced the unexpectedly fantastic Streets of Rage 4. As decades have passed since the last time Wood Oak City served as the setting for hundreds of epic uppercuts and body blows, Streets of Rage 4 faced the arduous task of recapturing the magic of a series from a bygone era.
The beat-'em-up sequel succeeds in simultaneously acting as a love letter to the original games and a modernization of a classic formula. Streets of Rage 4 will not win over too many people who are not fond of this genre, but it is a must-play for anyone remotely interested in classic beat-'em-ups.
8 May: Huntdown
Another throwback to yesteryear, Huntdown wears its '80s inspiration on its sleeve. A run and gun shooter that does not hold back on the destruction, Huntdown is unapologetically aggressive. Set in a world run by corporations and filled with gangs, one of three Bounty Hunters are sent out to eliminate four groups of the latter.
Huntdown presents a glorious symphony of chaos, bullets, and retro goodness. It also plays like a dream and looks great in the process.
7 June: Desperados III
A prequel to the first Desperados title released in 2001, Desperados III is a real-time tactics game set in the Old West. Featuring a likable roster of playable characters, the game's heroes must use their unique skills to overcome countless enemies on a journey driven by revenge.
Rather than cinematic shootouts, Desperados III focuses specifically on providing players with the necessary tools to carefully set up plans to lure targets to their own demises. The game is difficult but rewarding.
6 July: F1 2020
Published by Codemasters, F1 2020 might very well be the most complete racing sim on the market. Along with the splendid driving mechanics that have defined recent entries in the series, F1 2020 includes a casual driving option to make the experience more welcoming to beginners.
The highlight of the package is My Team, a management mode that positions you as the owner of a brand rather than just its driver. Deep, addictive, and accessible, F1 2020 is a masterpiece.
5 August: Wasteland 3
The sequel to 2014's Wasteland 2 takes place in Colorado, which has been turned into a frozen post-apocalyptic hellscape populated by feuding factions. Like the previous entries in the series, the isometric RPG delivers a lengthy adventure filled with odd humor, impactful decisions, interesting locations, enjoyable turn-based tactical combat, and bizarre character interactions.
Wasteland 3 is a confident entry in its genre, one that does not reinvent the wheel but greases it thoroughly.
4 September: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2
Every modern console generation deserves at least one great Tony Hawk's game, and Vicarious Visions delivered just that at the tail end of the Xbox One and PS4 era. A remaster of the first two games in the series that is on the verge of being a full remake, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 lovingly recreates the maps and awesomeness of those entries while incorporating quality of life improvements seen in later releases.
Fans of the originals will feel right at home with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2's intuitive gameplay. Some games are just timeless, even if they could benefit from the occasional touch-up.
3 October: Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
Crash Bandicoot has been through a lot since the franchise's days as a PlayStation exclusive. After a string of head-scratching redirections left the series struggling for relevance, the N. Sane Trilogy hit the scene and revitalized interest in the marsupial. Crash Bandicoot 4 completed this icon's rehabilitation.
A funny, gorgeous, and challenging platformer with an eye on the past and present, Crash Bandicoot 4 comes across as a natural progression of the original three games in the series. Taken on its own without the conditions for a completionist run, Crash Bandicoot 4's base game is very strong.
2 November: Yakuza: Like a Dragon
With Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Dirt 5, and Planet Coaster: Console Edition all debuting in November, Yakuza: Like a Dragon certainly had competition. As great as those games are, Sega's title signifies an important shift for the Xbox brand when it comes to Japanese games. For the first time in the license's history, a Yakuza game's worldwide debut included simultaneous releases on PlayStation and Xbox systems. The latter did not have to wait years to play Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
It also does not hurt that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio put together an innovative (for the franchise) RPG that takes plenty of risks and makes nearly all of them work.
1 December: Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
Dragon Quest XI has been available for a while on eighth-generation systems, and the base version is easily one of the best modern JRPGs. Although it may be a hard sell for those who already dropped a hundred hours on the original release, the Definitive Edition is unquestionably a superior product.
Some of the things brought to the plate by the Definitive Edition are an improved soundtrack, new companion-focused side quests, and a 2D mode. With this version, Dragon Quest XI shows that excellence can be improved upon.
Vi and Caitlyn are gay and nobody can change my mind.