Chris Nelson's Most Anticipated Xbox Games of 2020
5. HALO INFINITE
I gotta say, I feel like I should be disappointed in myself for placing a game on this list that has shown no gameplay and has only released a couple strange tone pieces. Some may say that someone in my position is blindly putting this game on this list simply due to nostalgia and unapologetic nerd love for the franchise.
That being said... There’s a new damn Halo game coming out this year.
And I can’t wait.
I feel that I should be cautiously optimistic or a self-protective form of indifference when approaching this new title. Considering that I didn’t connect with Halo 4’s campaign and didn't even get around to playing Halo 5, I have no reason to accept Master Chief back into my life with open arms. But Microsoft’s 2019 E3 trailer for Halo Infinite gives me chills every time I watch it just from the sounds of Chief’s armor powering up. So I’ll be waiting by the door swooning until Holiday 2020, ready to love again.
If this can be a return to form with a great Master Chief adventure, I will be absolutely ecstatic. This honestly feels similar to the buildup to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, where I had felt burned and abandoned in the past, but instantly became overjoyed at the concept of a great new chapter. They’re just hitting enough fan service cues to get me right back in line waiting for the new installment, hoping for a step in the right direction.
I also haven’t played a new Halo multiplayer game since Xbox 360, so I’m fascinated to see what 343 Industries has up their sleeve for this next title. I have no idea what this next chapter in the Halo series will hold, but the few nuggets in the Xbox E3 “Discover Hope” trailer were enough to send my heart fluttering and land this game on my Most Anticipated Games list.
4. LITTLE NIGHTMARES 2
The original Little Nightmares was an eerie, intense, fascinating horror game along the likes of LIMBO and INSIDE with one of the most unique art styles that I’ve seen in a game. The haunting claymation world had a dark, drippy, ghastly aesthetic and exceptional character design. It was like a grimier, more insidious version of a Tim Burton film. The enemies were repulsive but so well designed that it’s hard to avert your gaze (even though you so desperately want to.) The butcher was particularly memorable and picturing encounters with him still makes me cringe to think about, but he was my favorite design in the entire game and, in my opinion, an iconic video game enemy. The game was an overlooked gem that deserved more attention.
In a similar vein, the announcement for Little Nightmares 2 snuck up on me. I didn’t learn about it until months after the initial trailer dropped. We haven’t seen much so far, but it is absolutely enough to earn my pre-order as soon as possible and I’m so excited that I’d rather go into the game dark on any other details and avoid seeing any new enemy types. It’s rare that a truly special indie game like this comes along (and even more rare when they end up being a horror game that I want to play). If it’s even a slight improvement on the foundation set by its predecessor, Little Nightmares 2 will easily earn a spot among my favorite games of 2020.
3. WATCH DOGS: LEGION
I have a strange history at this point with Ubisoft E3 presentations at the beginning of a new console generation. When I was less enthusiastic about the Xbox One generation in 2013, Ubisoft completely changed my perspective on what next-gen video games could be with a stylish story trailer and an extended gameplay video for Tom Clancy’s The Division that broke my brain. It remains to me as one of the best game presentations I’ve ever seen. During this past year’s Ubisoft’s E3 presentation, they managed to accomplish that again.
Leading up to this E3, I had a flashback to the end of the Xbox 360 generation, feeling rather indifferent about the next generation of game consoles since we’ve just gotten some of the most impressive titles I’ve ever played in my life. In this bait-and-switch trailer, however, they recreated that feeling of the first Division reveal.
The first part of the trailer made it seem like a gritty dystopian Jason Statham simulator, which earned a solid 6/10 level of excitement from me, but didn’t seem like a game that I couldn’t have played in the past. Then, with a simple kill screen and a shocking, hilarious transition, they got me. By revealing the depth of the playable character pool and the wide variety of gameplay approaches that the player can take, my heart raced at the possibilities and I was assured that a game like this would not have been possible in years passed.
Ubisoft managed to completely blow me away with one of the most impressive and most next-gen game showcases I’ve seen and I’ve rewatched the trailer and gameplay demo nearly a dozen times at this point. The visuals are stunning, the comedy seems right up my alley, and the animations (aside from the driving, perhaps) look smooth and fluid. If the gameplay and character stories are half as deep as they made them seem, this will be a sure fire Game Of The Year contender for me personally. From their humble beginnings with the original Watchdogs, it seems that Ubisoft have really caught their stride with this upcoming release and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
(P.S. I will certainly be playing with the old woman as much as possible and I will protect her at all cost!)
2. DOOM ETERNAL
Doom (2016) was one of my absolute favorite games of the last generation. It’s a superb, brutally challenging shooter with disturbingly high fidelity visuals and a Hellish, heavy metal art direction to match its legendary soundtrack. When I first started it, I expected to burn out rather quickly due to my subpar FPS skills, but I learned quickly that this new iteration of Doom was unlike other shooters on the market. Once I grasped the rhythm of the game and the ingenuity of the relationship between melee and reloading, I became obsessed with keeping my combo chains going and strived to defeat every enemy in the room without hiding to heal. The enemy types were fascinating and beautifully rendered (every spike, tooth, and eyeball). The boss battles were some of the most brutal, rewarding encounters I’ve experienced in a shooter. It truly changed how I felt about the first-person-shooter genre and holds a special place in my heart.
Even if the worst case scenario for Doom Eternal is it just being more of the same Doom gameplay with new levels, weapons and bosses with a fresh coat of paint, it’s still already on track to be one of my favorite games of the year. I watched a short clip from a recent gameplay video and had to shut it off with excitement because I want to go into this experience fresh (and I was in public.) I can’t wait for this game.
1. CYBERPUNK 2077
Honestly, I feel like I’m somehow jinxing myself by even talking about this game before launch. With the amount of press and coverage that this game has gotten since its initial announcement I’ve been trying to stay as dark as possible on story details and interesting game mechanics. I’ve been trying to keep my expectations in check. I’ve been trying to be a level headed adult when it comes to this game... but I think about this game each and every day. This wouldn’t be a proper Most Anticipated list without Cyberpunk 2077 at the very top.
I’ve been craving a satisfying and deep RPG world to dive into for some time now, but I’ve been holding off since I first saw footage of this game from developer CD Projekt Red. The semi-reasonable justification is that I refuse to let myself become burned out on the following: Open Worlds, RPG’s, Futuristic Settings, Dialogue Trees, or even media containing Keanu Reeves. I’ve done all that I can to prepare myself for this game, and it’s one of the few games that I’ll be blocking off entire weekends to play in 2020.
From what I’ve seen of the game before going dark, it looks like one of the most visually impressive gaming experiences that I’ve ever seen. I’m eagerly anticipating the world building. I’m fascinated by the possibilities of their mission structure, sidequests, and augmentation tree. I expect a phenomenal soundtrack and breathtaking voice acting. The Blade Runner-esque aesthetic is one of my favorite styles in art and media, and I’m excited to see that Witcher 3 polish applied to a game that speaks to me more in terms of themes and setting. I think that this game has the power to accomplish some great feats and make waves in the AAA RPG landscape.
I’m terrified of overhyping this game in my own head, but that being said, I’m counting the seconds until this game is released. Cyberpunk 2077 is my most anticipated game of 2020, and my most anticipated game of this generation.