At the outset of 2020, with much naivety in our eyes, we picked a bunch of games that we thought were going to be good. Some of them, it turned out, were not good at all. And many of them didn’t release—almost one in three of the games we picked, actually. Oops. But we can’t be blamed too much for a lack of foresight in a year that saw much of our entire lives put on hold.
Nevertheless, one year later, we’re reflecting on our predictions. Who struck out, and who bet on the right horses last January? Vote below on the winner of last year’s draft, and check back in January for the results of our surely genius picks for 2021.
ABOVE: While you’re here, a preview of some of what we’ll be drafting in January as we consider the best games of 2021.
The 2020 draft, in review:
1st pick: Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor
1 Cyberpunk 2077
16 Rainbow Six Quarantine
17 Watch Dogs Legion
33 Gears Tactics
48 Phantasy Star Online 2
49 Psychonauts 2
2nd pick: Wes Fenlon, Features Editor
2 Microsoft Flight Simulator
18 Kerbal Space Program 2
47 Nioh 2
50 Heart Forth, Alicia
3rd pick: Phil Savage, Deputy Editor
3 Doom Eternal
14 Crusader Kings 3
19 Desperados 3
35 Mineko’s Night Market
46 Overwatch 2
51 Iron Harvest
4th pick: Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief
4 Half-Life: Alyx
13 Empire of Sin
20 Hollow Knight: Silksong
29 Chivalry 2
36 Evil Genius 2
52 Industries of Titan
5th pick: Harry Shepherd, Guides Editor
5 Resident Evil 3
12 Dying Light 2
21 WoW: Shadowlands
28 Halo Infinite
37 Ori and the Will of the Wisps
44 Gods & Monsters (Immortals Fenyx Rising)
53 Boyfriend Dungeon
6th pick: Robin Valentine, Managing Editor
6 Teamfight Tactics
11 Legends of Runeterra
22 Baldur’s Gate III
27 Marvel’s Avengers
43 A Total War Saga: Troy
54 Tell Me Why
7th pick: Joanna Nelius, former PC Gamer Hardware Staff Writer
7 Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
10 The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
23 Elden Ring
39 Little Nightmares 2
42 12 Minutes
55 Twin Mirror
8th pick: Chris Livingston, Staff Writer
8 Spelunky 2
9 Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord
24 Minecraft Dungeons
25 DEATH STRANDING
40 System Shock
41 Wasteland 3
56 The Settlers
Tyler: I’ve got to give it to Chris. His picks come with caveats, but at least most of them actually released and, unlike Cyberpunk 2077, didn’t result in mass refund requests. Spelunky 2 wasn’t a phenomenon like Hades (which no one picked!), but it is fantastic. Mount & Blade 2, while still in Early Access, is an exciting platform for medieval shenanigans and led to some of the funniest gifs of the year. Death Stranding is technically a 2019 console game, but is brilliant on PC and one of the best games our platform got in 2020. Wasteland 3 was predictable, but still a great old school RPG. Good picks!
Chris: I’d say Phil won, though I appreciate the vote of confidence, especially since I had to pick last, something I’ve been grumpy about for the entire year. Doom Eternal somehow cranked up Doom to new levels of ripping and/or tearing, Crusader Kings 3 improved on what I think was already a near-perfect strategy game/soap opera, and Desperados 3 is a hell of a lot of fun even for me, someone who really sucks at stealth tactics games. It was an extremely tricky year to even have two picks that delivered or even got released, but Phil had three great ones.
Wes: I’d just like to add that I definitely did not win. Only two of my picks even came out this year! Microsoft Flight Simulator was a big deal for a couple weeks, at least.
Phil: Robin should get recognition for picking games that all came out this year, albeit some in Early Access. Sure, Marvel’s Avengers and Tell Me Why weren’t exactly critical hits, and the limited hype around Temtem seems to have almost entirely died away, but Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra and Baldur’s Gate III is a solid top three. Teamfight, in particular, found a place in my library as a lovely hangout game—something to play on a Discord chat with friends as you try to craft a build that can deal with the Cultist meta.
Robin: Thanks Phil! I think apart from BG3 I ended up with a very safe selection—nothing that really set the world on fire, but no major disasters. I am a little disappointed with how things worked out for a couple of mine, though. I expected much better of Tell Me Why, for example, and Temtem hasn’t been the enduring phenomenon I thought it might be. And I continue to be disappointed that Legends of Runeterra hasn’t taken off—for what it’s worth, I still play it almost every day, and Riot’s done an absolutely fantastic job with updates and expansions throughout the year.
It is tough to pick a winner – it’s depressing looking at these lists how many of these games ended up not coming out or being unexpected disappointments. I feel like everyone’s draft ended up having major caveats.
Harry: I think it’s got to be Chris, no mean feat as the person with the final pick. Although it upset me to be reminded that Bannerlord came out in 2020—it’s been a long year hasn’t it—going for that and the excellent Spelunky 2 and pretty fun Minecraft Dungeons is pretty good going.
Evan: In what was a monumentally difficult year for the world, it shouldn’t surprise us that a jillion games got delayed. Again, almost a third of what we picked didn’t come out. But it’s heartening that it still managed to be a strong year for PC gaming.
What game didn’t live up to your expectations?
Evan: When it arrived on our doorstep, Empire of Sin looked more like a roughed-up henchman than a stylish boss. We don’t see many prohibition-era strategy games, and it’s disappointing that Romero Games seemed to struggle with the complexity of this ambitious management game. It turns out that replicating the depth and stakes of XCOM is quite hard, actually. Even the creator of X-COM ’94 struggled to, as Phoenix Point stumbled out the gate at the end of last year.
Tyler: In my defense, it was obvious to everyone who participated that Cyberpunk 2077 should be the first pick. That’s how it goes, though: You snag a star and they pull a hamstring on day one. I won’t dwell on that. I was more personally disappointed that I couldn’t get into Ooblets after being so charmed by it that I made it my fourth pick. Maybe I was projecting my experiences with Stardew Valley onto it, and it just couldn’t be that for me a second time. Its cutesiness put me off, in the end.
Chris: Sequels are hard and trying to find the balance between ‘more of the same’ and ‘something new’ is tricky. I think Spelunky 2 kind of disappointed me because it feels mostly like more of the same. There’s tons of new stuff, and the original stuff is outstanding, but I guess I was hoping there’d be more new than old. I didn’t play and enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Evan: 100-hour Spelunky 2 player here who just beat his second boss last night. The depth is there if you want it Chris, I promise.
Wes: I was disappointed Maneater couldn’t turn its funny “SharkPG” premise into a sustainable game, as Chris wrote in his review.
Phil: Meanwhile, I didn’t play any of the games I picked, although I hear on good authority that some of them are good. Obviously 2020 has been a year, and even when we haven’t been in full lockdown, PC Gamer’s UK office has been closed for most of it. As a result, I’ve hyper focused on online multiplayer as a way to keep in contact with friends. Basically, I played a lot of Apex and Destiny, leaving little time to get massively obsessed with a new Crusader Kings.
Robin: I think from my list, Tell Me Why is the biggest disappointment. I wanted this to be the year I fell in love with Dontnod again—instead, between the muted reaction to TMW and the pretty poor reception of Twin Mirror, it’s starting to feel like the studio’s on a downward slide.
Harry: It’s been a pretty poor showing for me this year by all accounts: I’ve only played a bit of one of my picks, Immortals Fenyx Rising. While Ubi’s Breath of the Wild-like had the most disappointing name this year, it has to be Resident Evil 3 for me. Capcom did such an excellent job on the remake that the third was an obvious first pick. Sadly, its short campaign and underused Big Bad consigned me to a losing position this year. Even WoW’s best expansion in a while (as I understand it) wasn’t enough to claw me back into contention.
Who made the smartest single pick?
Evan: Chris got Wasteland 3 at 41st overall. It wasn’t our best RPG of 2020, but as essentially the return of isometric Fallout and the franchise that pre-dated it, it came pretty damn close.
Tyler: Evan, you picked a new Half-Life game after three people passed on it, which would’ve been shocking under different circumstances. Its appeal was of course limited by it being VR only, and maybe some of us were scared off by Valve’s fumble with Artifact, but you correctly guessed that after all this time and all the Half-Life 3 memes, Valve wasn’t going to put out a mediocre game with the Half-Life name attached to it. Sure enough, it’s the best VR game ever made, and easily one of the best games of the year.
Chris: I know we’ve poked fun at the weirdness of Microsoft Flight Simulator—the bizarre monoliths, the gaping chasms, the death spikes—and it’s an utter beast to run. Plus, it could really use a good mission system or some more structure so we’re not just aimlessly flying around gawking at stuff. But it’s still pretty amazing that it’s simulating the whole dang planet. It might be a while to sort out its issues and for our hardware to catch up to it (there’s a lot of that going around these days) but it’s a pretty amazing sim, so I give Wes credit for nabbing it with his first pick.
Phil: Not to toot my own horn, but I’m glad I got Iron Harvest in at the end. It’s not destined to be mentioned in the same breath as Company of Heroes or Dawn of War, but in another tough year for the RTS, it stood out as an accomplished and enjoyable romp.
Wes: I’m also going to toot Phil’s horn, because Crusader Kings 3, at #14, was a great pick. A hell of a grand strategy game that will keep getting better for the next five years.
Robin: I think Chris was smart to pick up Death Stranding. Coming so late, I thought the PC port would come and go, but it really had a second life, especially among the team. Partly that’s thanks to it resonating weirdly well with the events of 2020. Is it possible Chris had early warning about the pandemic? I’m forced to conclude the answer is yes.
Harry: Going to second Robin on this one. Death Stranding was especially divisive when it launched on consoles (and remains so), but Chris was right to take a shrewd punt on it. As Robin says, it fit well with the team and the nature of the world this year. When we had to stay inside, trekking through post-apocalyptic America became a fantasy, rather than a chore. Many of us revisited the game after playing it on consoles, and with more time to think, contemplate, and stroll, Death Stranding only got better.
Thanks for following along with our 2020 predictions. Check back in January as we carve up the 2021 calendar of games in an all-new PC gaming fantasy draft. Will this finally be the year Elden Ring reappears, or yet another chalk tally on the wall?