Over the next eight days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2020 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best Sports, Fighting, Racing, Adventure and VR Game. Please note that Cyberpunk 2077 did not meet our eligibility deadline for Best of 2020 Awards, but will qualify for consideration in our 2021 awards alongside any game released after December 9.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
While annual licensed iterations of football (both kinds), basketball, golf, ice hockey and the like have been a long, winding and at times turbulent saga in the medium of video games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is one of the few sports-oriented series whose legacy, despite its later duds, has lasted over the years. It made sense to see Vicarious Visions at the helm of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, following their much-praised remake of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy. But revisiting the classic maps in an all-new [proper] HD coat of paint was not only nostalgic, it was a testament to how great Neversoft’s original level design can withstand the passage of time. Compiling some of the series’ more beneficial mechanics — alongside a soundtrack whose returning favorites and present-day tracks meshed surprisingly well into a fluid playlist – Vicarious Visions clearly had a handle on the source material — heightening but respecting more so what came before. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is, admittedly, a great snapshot of a bygone time first, but it’s in revisiting these many maps, half-pipes, rails and opportunities for hundred-thousand combos that gives the game that deserved edge.
|PGA Tour 2K21||NBA 2K21||NHL 21||MLB The Show 20|
Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Although it’s best known for being a huge success as a mobile title, Granblue Fantasy branched itself out this year and released a wonderfully-unique fighting title. Players take on a variety of characters from the Granblue universe and fight in competitive matches or take on the story mode and learn more about every one of them. Although 1-on-1 matches are all good fun, the story mode added a surprising amount of depth to the combat and even offered a co-op mode for those who want to fight alongside their friends. For those looking to dive into a fighting game for the first time Granblue offered great tutorials and introductions to hitting combos correctly in order to make sure it was easily accessible to anyone. While it’s entirely new to the scene, Granblue Fantasy: Versus became our favorite fighting game of the year and brings with it tons of variety to enjoy for newcomers and veterans alike.
|Gundam Extreme VS Maxiboost ON||Fight Crab||Them’s Fightin’ Herds||My Hero’s One Justice 2|
If you love nostalgic, futuristic racing, then Pacer is a given. It’s super fast, smooth and colorful and features combat. This is undoubtedly a Wipeout clone, which is a good thing when members from the original Wipeout team worked on this title. The game features crafts that can be upgraded and include varying racing attributes to allow the player to play around with different setups. The backdrops include apocalyptic cities and areas along with tons of neon lights. Wipeout has always been a franchise to push each PlayStation to its maximum potential, but Pacer may surpass that in its graphical fidelity. With the likes of DIRT 5, WRC 9 and F1 2020 out there, Pacer does something different yet familiar that hasn’t been experienced with such perfection in some time.
|Art of Rally||Hotshot Racing||F1 2020||WRC 9|
There’s nothing that screams adventure quite like being thrust onto a mysterious island where discovery is what it’s all about. Bugsnax takes place on an island like no other filled with food-like animal creatures. With a mystery waiting to be uncovered on this mysterious island, Bugsnax was an easy pick for our favorite adventure title this year. Bugsnax had been on everyone’s mind since its reveal, and when it finally released players got to see what it was all about in a world filled with strange muppet-like creatures doing their best to survive together. Adventure isn’t just about struggling to fight along the way and can instead be about the journey people make in strange new places. There’s a lot to be said about an adventure that takes the unique route of being a creative mix of genres that’s never been done like this. It’s all about exploration, puzzle solving and of course Bugsnax.
|The Pathless||Necrobarista||I Am Dead||Spiritfarer|
Evolution in gaming is a slow process, as anyone who lived through 3D changing from barely functional to actually impressive in the PS1 era can attest to. VR managed to skip most of the “early stumbling about” parts of its evolution, but even so it’s taking a while to answer questions of how players with freedom of movement can fully interact in an adventurous world. This year saw a major step forward with Half-Life: Alyx, which not only managed to live up to the series’ legacy but also let players make great use of one of the most powerful weapons in their armament: their hands. So much of the fully-realized world of City 17 could be played with that it actually began to feel strange when something couldn’t, but the number of toys in each area gave a huge amount of freedom in every area and encounter. Barnacles were a perfect example, in that their dangling tongue/tentacles would pull in anything, whether that be a head crab (alive or dead, doesn’t matter) or explosive tank of gas, making feeding them whatever was lying around more entertaining than just killing them. Markers draw on surfaces, gadgets have all sorts of dials and levers, and it never got old playing hot-potato with grenades in the middle of a firefight. Half-Life had been dead but Alyx not only brought the series back to life in full force, but significantly raised the bar for what VR can offer, and its effects are going to be felt for years to come.
|Paper Beast||The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners||Dreams||Star Wars: Squadrons|