Naughty Dog’s Favorite Games of 2020
Naughty Dog devs celebrate some of the games that inspired, thrilled, and, above all, entertained them in 2020.
As we enter a brand new year with new possibilities, it’s only natural to get a little sentimental. 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges, but, as we closed our doors and found ourselves more disconnected than ever, its game releases inspired and reunited us, granting us incredible experiences that continue to push the narrative, technical, and artistic boundaries of the medium.
For the first post of 2021, we asked devs here at Naughty Dog, “What was your favorite game of 2020?” Here’s what they had to say:
Erick Pangilinan - Art Director
I have been playing Astro's Playroom with my young kids because it’s one of the few games I can share time with them and is age appropriate. The mechanics are easy enough for them to enjoy most of the game....but the difficulty ramps up so I can jump in to get them through the tough parts. It’s great to see your kids get excited about these classic games because you see a bit of yourself in them when you first experienced this.
Waylon Brinck - Development Director
It's the right place at the right time - Astro's Playroom is an awesome introduction to the PS5 and a giddy trip down PlayStation memory lane. But the real surprise for me was how my 4-year-old was eager to play it, his first console game ever. He learned SO FAST, which is a testament to both the game design, and to the DualSense controller. The haptic feedback made it easier for him to coordinate his actions to the screen, but also added excitement that made him want to try, try again!
Jeremy Yates - Animation Director
Perhaps 2020 has made me a glutton for punishment, but Demon’s Souls is a game I haven’t been able to put down. While not the most accessible, DS has been a great example of precision gameplay where every decision has consequences and step has been earned. The PS5 remaster is also jaw droppingly beautiful.
Neil Druckmann - Co-President
Fall Guys was the right combination of chaos, humor, and camaraderie (when my friends were on.). It was the perfect game to play late as a stress relief when we were finalizing The Last of Us Part II. It also happens to be my only platinum trophy! (subtle flex)
Vinit Agarwal - Game Director
For a few weeks, I remember it was every night with Kurt, Neil, and some other Ddogs -- “Aare we Fall Guy-ing tonight?” Then we’d log on, and Neil’s decked out in full chicken gear (at least 5 crowns worth of stuff), and I’m mad jealous, and now we’re competing. Def my game of the year -- shoutout to the Mediatonic team for innovating in the multiplayer space. Respect!
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Ashley Swidowski - Character Art Director
Being a fan of the original, I couldn’t wait to revisit this world and it’s characters reimagined on the PS4. The team did an incredible job recreating the huge, bustling world of Midgar while adding new intrigue and a contemporary battle system. Spending time with Aerith and Cloud again brought me so much joy this year!
For the King
Richard Cambier - Game Director
So many greats of 2020 - go play all the games on the lists - but I want to call attention to one called For The King. First off, I love co-op games! And this is a super playful turn-based RPG that feels like a little tabletop adventure. It came out in 2019, but I found it this year. And I’m glad I did because during the pandemic, firing this up with a buddy gave me a little sense of escape and some much needed laughs, along with some pretty challenging battles. (For The King can be tricky since it also has some rogue-like elements, kind of like that amazing king-of-the-underworld game.) Happy Holidays. Play Games. Be kind.
Ghost of Tsushima
Christian Gyrling - Vice President
I loved the setting for the game, the Japanese countryside. It was incredibly beautiful and satisfying to play as a samurai as I slowly got more and more proficient at using my sword and knives while taking on larger and larger groups of enemies. In the end, I felt like a real badass.
Kurt Margenau - Co-Game Director
Hopping into Tsushima and clearing out Mongols from camps is exactly the therapeutic gameplay I needed in 2020. The world is beautiful, there are tons of things to discover, the combat is fluid and surprisingly deep, and I can feel like I’m actually accomplishing something turning the entire map from red to white! Sucker Punch really delivered on the samurai fantasy.
Check out more of Kurt's and other devs' favorite games of 2020 on the PlayStation.Blog
Patrick Goss - Quality Assurance Director
I love open world games, and absolutely adore those that provide deep compelling narrative like Ghost did. Visceral and frenetic combat followed by sitting quietly to write haiku - and caring about both! It transported me to Feudal Japan sufficiently that it's one of the few games I felt obligated to platinum just to ensure I didn't miss anything.
Arne Meyer - Director of Communications
There were so many great games in! I'm picking Klei Entertainment's Griftlands. Full disclosure: it's still in Early Access and was originally released in 2019 but was released via Steam Early Access this year, so it counts, right??
I love all sorts of games, but this ticks a lot of boxes for me. It's a roguelike, deck-building game with some narrative and RPG elements. And lots of character. I also loved exploring a game where one of the conflict resolution mechanics is non-violent -- in the physical sense. It's got such a simple game loop, but the solid systems and increasing strategy as you build your deck made this game one I came back to again and again. It even inspired me to try my hand at making a strategy- based deck-building game. It doesn't get more inspirational than that!
No Man's Sky
Anthony Newman - Co-Game Director
In a lot of ways, NMS is the opposite of the games we make at Naughty Dog: rather than every moment being carefully crafted, literally the entire galaxy is procedurally generated. Digging a tunnel to take shelter from a raging radiation storm, barely avoiding freezing to death diving for ancient secrets in a polar ocean, building my dream-base on a forest moon filled with giant squid creatures, quietly watching flying animals flock and undulate with the planet's ring backing them in the sky... Some amazing memorable moments in that game, all the more special because no one will ever have those exact moments but me. The next-gen update on PS5 is amazing, a great reason to come back.
Check out more of Anthony's and other devs' favorite games of 2020 on the PlayStation.Blog
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Evan Wells - Co-President
However much I enjoyed the original Spider-Man, Miles Morales exceeds it in every way. It looks absolutely stunning on the PS5, and the story, characters and gameplay were also all improved.
Rob Krekel - Audio Director
Insomniac have just nailed the feel of being Spider-Man. Having the story focus on Miles this time around was really great! I’m also glad that it was real (actively-speaking) short.
While it’s nearly impossible to list all of our favorite games, it also amplifies how many incredible titles released in 2020. The passion and admiration we share for other studios, their development teams, and their games goes beyond our professional perspectives -- their games gifted us with indelible memories that will last far beyond this year. It’s a privilege to experience the results of their hard work, immense talent, and boundless imagination.
Thank you to all of the hardworking development teams that crafted and released some of our favorite games this year!
Happy New Year from Naughty Dog!