2020 Has Been A Doozy, But There’s Plenty For Gamers To Be Grateful For
No doubt about it, 2020 has been a rough one for all of us. With the weight of a still-raging worldwide pandemic and an extraordinarily vicious election cycle bearing down on the country, it’s easy to lose sight of the little things that make us happy. And honestly, despite all the awfulness we’ve had all had to endure, there’s an awful lot we as gamers should be pleased about this year. With that in mind, and in celebration of the holiday, we at Hey Poor Player want to talk about 5 things garners should be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
The Next-Gen Consoles Are Here
With so much going on these days, it’s easy to forget that Sony and Microsoft’s shiny new boxes are finally upon us, heralding the dawn of the ninth generation of home consoles. Sure, they may be scarce as unicorns right now as hardware manufacturers struggle to meet the crushing demand for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but they’re here. And while noteworthy console exclusives may in short order at the moment, the ones that do exist, like Bluepoint and Sony’s stunning Demon’s Souls remake (shown below in Digital Foundry’s excellent comparison video), make a strong case for what the latest hardware can do.
As for me, I’m thankful for being able to revisit the crumbling ruins of Boletaria all over again in 4k 60FPS glory. And with promising titles like Horizon: Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and The Medium tempting us like the wafting smell of a succulent Thanksgiving turkey, we at Hey Poor Player can’t wait to see what the next year brings for these powerful new machines.
And So Is The Polymega
I’m usually quite skeptical of crowdfunded consoles, and with good reason: they seldom work out. The Atari VCS’s road to retail has been a veritable slow-motion train wreck. Likewise, I’m old enough to remember when the prototype Coleco Chameleon demoed at Toy Fair New York was revealed to be a SNES Jr. stuffed into a Jaguar shell. So when the Polymega (then known as the Retroblox) made its debut in 2017, I took the news with a grain of salt.
Flash forward three years, the console is finally here. And by and large, retro-minded gamers who’ve managed to get their mitts on one seem to be quite pleased despite the initial uproar over the system not being FPGA-based as developer PlayMaji first promised. The modular system plays disc-based games from a plethora of retro consoles, including the PlayStation, Neo Geo CD, PC Engine, and even the notoriously tricky-to-emulate SEGA Saturn with ease. Additionally, it’s upgradeable with a handful of decks (sold separately) that can be used to play physical Super Nintendo, Genesis, and TurboGrafx- 16 games. Pretty cool, right?
If you’re a retro gamer who’s been looking for an excellent way to play your classic games on the big screen in glorious 1080p and don’t mind the $400 price tag, then the Polymega certainly delivers the goods. If nothing else, the fact it released and did what it was supposed to do is a very un-2020 thing indeed. That alone feels like a cause for celebration.
Closing The Distance Through Online Gaming
I know I’m speaking for many of us when I say that the era of social distancing has been hard to adjust to. Gone are the semi-weekly game nights, where my wife and I would fire up all of our consoles and arcade machines and entertain large groups of people. Those gatherings were something I always looked forward to with excitement in the days before phrases like “stay-at-home orders” and “flatten the curve” entered our collective lexicon.
Thankfully, some spectacular online games have come to the rescue, allowing us to close the distance between our friends and loved ones. Developer Mediatonic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has been a runaway success as up to 60 players guide their bean-shaped avatars through insane gauntlets as they compete for the crown. On the subject of Beanie Bois, 2018’s Among Us also exploded in popularity this year. Since then, our friends have never been more sus, but the memes have been pure gold. Overall, I’d say it was a worthwhile tradeoff.
If these casual games aren’t your thing, that’s cool. Dotemu and Lizard Cube’s Streets of Rage 4‘s online co-op is pure beat-’em-up bliss. AAA hits like Ghost of Tsushima, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Destiny 2: New Light are excellent ways to kill some time with friends (or just kill your friends. I won’t judge) in this new normal.
Cyberpunk 2077 Has Finally Gone Gold
It’s been a long time coming. Now, after eight years of development, it’s almost time for players to explore the seedy streets of Midnight City in Cyberpunk 2077. Warsaw-based developer CD PROJEKT RED‘s hugely anticipated (and often delayed) RPG has gone gold. So, barring some cataclysmic event, the millions of players who’ve been awaiting their chance to experience this sci-fi epic should be able to do so on December 10.
As I’m sure you already know, the game looks phenomenal. It’s one of those rare titles that manages to impress me more and more every time I see it. For a game that’s been in development for nearly a decade, that’s saying something. Just yesterday, the developer put out a new gameplay trailer showcasing the differences between the game running on the PS4 Pro and PlayStation 5, and it was nothing short of stunning.
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out the trailer below:
From the rugged deserts of the Badlands to the neon-saturated streets of Midnight City, Cyberpunk 2077‘s world is one I can’t wait to get lost in. If it’s the last game I play of 2020, I’ll consider that closing this miserable year out on a high note.
All The Great Games
Of course, at the end of the day, it’s all about the games. With that said, despite all of its challenges, 2020 has been a banner year for the industry. Final Fantasy VII Remake and Resident Evil 3 gave players the chance to experience reimagined versions of two of the best games of the 32-bit era. Meanwhile, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II delivered an unforgettable AAA journey that pushed the medium in new directions when it comes to storytelling. As a massive fan of the series since its inception, I had high hopes for Streets of Rage 4. Lucky for me, Guard Crush Games and Lizard Cube hit it out of the park to deliver not just a solid beat-’em-up, but arguably one of the best games in the franchise’s history.
Speaking of beat-’em-ups, Yakuza: Like A Dragon was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. SEGA and Ryū ga Gotoku Studio’s decision to turn their open-world brawler into a bonafide turn-based RPG mid-development was crazy, but it worked. The final product is a game that feels like the natural evolution of the series. As I said in my review earlier this month, I don’t think I want another traditional Yakuza game again. Speaking of evolutions, Ubisoft’s decision to eschew the series’ stealth roots in favor of brutal Viking melees in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was awesome and did a great job of breathing new life into the aging series.
These are just the tip of an iceberg in a year that’s been flush with incredible games. With so much good stuff to keep us entertained when we’re all stuck at home, I think that’s something we should all be thankful for.
So, what are you feeling thankful for? Sound off below.