Our Game of the Year Awards are given out based on voting and debate among PC Gamer’s entire staff, whereas review scores are awarded by individual reviewers throughout the year, with input from editors. In other words, there’s more than one way to assess videogames, and reviews are just one. They’re a useful one, though, and it’s always interesting to look back to see how we felt about games when we were experiencing them fresh and deciding whether or not to recommend them.
We attach scores to our reviews at PC Gamer, using a 100 point scale expressed as a percentage. We’ve never given out a score of 100%, or even a 99%, but we’ve awarded plenty of scores in the mid-to-low 90s. At that level, we consider the game important to PC gaming as whole. And in the 80s range, we’re talking about exceptional games that we see touches of brilliance in, some of our highest recommendations.
Lower on the scale, in the 60s and 70s, we’re still offering a recommendation, but not with the same gusto, so for this article, I’ve started with 80% as the baseline—and it still comes out to a lot of games. For all of our 2020 reviews, see our reviews section.
80% and up: Very good games
Mortal Shell (80%): Enjoyably tough and esoteric, if a little uneven, Mortal Shell is a decent debut from Cold Symmetry.
Fall Guys (80%) : In a genre overstuffed with guns and grenades, this cute and cuddly battle royale stands out.
Cloudpunk (80%): The story has some issues, but this vast, beautiful city is a joy to take flight in.
Noita (81%): Combines classic roguelike progression with complex RPG-style spellbuilding and sets it in an incredibly dynamic environment.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (81%): It’s inconsistent and sometimes annoying, but ultimately a charming, challenging, heart-string-pulling fable.
Call of Duty: Warzone (82%): Reaches new heights in battle royale by ditching backpacks and throwing us in a Gulag.
Iron Harvest (82%): The mech-based strategy can burn a little slow, but the payoff is undoubtedly worth it.
Gears Tactics (83%): Clever combat abilities and brutal executions translate Gears of War into a deep, fast-paced strategy game.
Star Wars Squadrons (83%): Delivers on great dogfighting, even when its campaign doesn’t live up to its full potential.
SnowRunner (83%): This deep off-road sim delights in giving you a hard time, but every victory is all the sweeter for it.
Genshin Impact (84%): The open world and clever combat are fantastic, but its endgame tries way too hard to milk you for cash.
Risk of Rain 2 (84%): The quest for outrageous items makes Risk of Rain 2 a strong action roguelike, but its unlockable secrets give it that little something extra.
Wasteland 3 (84%): A willfully strange setting explored through a predictable but enjoyable old school RPG that’s been streamlined just enough.
Besiege (85%): With a fun concept, superb creation tools, and finely crafted puzzles, Besiege is a construction game to savor.
Death Stranding (85%): Slow, weird, and indulgent, but a true original, and a journey that will linger in your mind long after it’s over.
Halo: Combat Evolved (85%): The definitive edition of Halo: Combat Evolved, assuming you’re willing to sidestep a wonky remaster.
Horizon Zero Dawn (86%): A classy sandbox that stands out from the pack thanks to its brilliant battles against an array of fantastic beasts.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (86%): A perfect blend of authenticity mixed with modern quality of life enhancements. Joyous, slick, high-score gaming that looks nice too.
Halo 3 (87%): The genre-defining shooter holds up fantastically, despite an imperfect package.
Spelunky 2 (87%): Doesn’t advance the original’s formula, but there’s more stuff to sink your teeth into.
Persona 4 Golden (87%): A bare-bones refit, but this remains a captivating JRPG, marrying slice-of-life drama with stylish demon battling.
F1 2020 (88%): The deep career mode is even better when managing your own team, and the racing is superbly tactical.
Microsoft Flight Simulator (89%): An incredible exploration portal with even greater potential once its tech issues have been addressed.
90% and up: The year’s top scores
Hades | 90%
“Different as they are, Supergiant’s previous games—Pyre, Transistor, and Bastion—have all been summed up the same way. Story, art, music, voice-acting, atmosphere? A+. Combat? Kind of B-. Hades feels like a response to that, a Supergiant game that focuses on the fighting and elevates it to the absolute top-tier. This isn’t a spoiler because you’ve looked at the score, but they nailed it. The combat’s fantastic.” —Jody MacGregor
Super Mega Baseball 3 | 90%
“The on-field baseball sim is livelier than ever, and player development, attributes, and free agency gives you some real managerial decisions to make both on the field, over the course of a season or season, and even during the offseason.” —Christopher Livingston
Valorant | 90%
“Valorant is the more accessible Counter-Strike I didn’t know I wanted. Abilities add an intoxicating dynamism to every round and expand the scope of teamwork for this style of FPS. I’m genuinely interested to see how new agents and maps keep things fresh in the years to come. Even if unlocking its full roster is a major grind and cosmetics cost a bunch, Valorant is an exceptional team game that you can play right now without spending a dime.” —Morgan Park
Factorio | 91%
“I can’t remember the last time a game swallowed my brain whole in the way Factorio does. I spent most of my time writing this review fighting the urge to stop and play more. It’s even spilled over into my dreams. I see conveyor belts when I close my eyes. It’s the best management game I’ve played for ages, a manufacturing masterpiece.” —Rick Lane
Amnesia: Rebirth | 91%
“Frictional’s ability to marry deeply personal, relatable fears with cosmic horror is nearly unparalleled in games. While mechanically rusty, Amnesia: Rebirth deserves to go down as one of the most effective and mind-bending horror games ever made, just like its predecessor.” —Leana Hafer
Paradise Killer | 91%
“Sets a new standard for investigative gameplay; I felt untethered and invested in the world’s mysteries in a way I’ve never felt in a detective game before. The neon sheen, fantastic soundtrack, quirky characters, and narrative twists make it one of the best whodunits you can play.” —Funké Joseph
Half-Life: Alyx | 92%
“I didn’t have much doubt Half-Life: Alyx would be a great VR experience—Valve makes its own VR headset and software, after all. But I was skeptical it could also be a great, proper Half-Life game, and I was thrilled to discover it really is. While it’s sandwiched between the events of Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2 the repercussions of its story extend well into whatever future there is for the Half-Life series, and its technical accomplishments will leave other developers, once again, struggling to keep up.” —Christopher Livingston
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla | 92%
“Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is my favorite Assassin’s Creed, which is saying something considering it’s a series that spans 23 games. It builds on the already excellent RPG foundations laid by Origins and Odyssey, but with meaningful improvements.” —Steven Messner
Crusader Kings 3 | 94%
“Crusader Kings 3 is incredible. It’s an irrepressible story engine that spits out a constant stream of compelling alt-histories, delightfully infuriating characters and social puzzles that I’ve become obsessed with unravelling. I can’t imagine being done with it.” —Fraser Brown
Doom Eternal | 94%
“The moment to moment combat is distilled panic rather than empowerment. I live for the fleeting moments my head gets above water within the hurricane of light and noise and extravagant violence, and I pull off a feat of accuracy and reflex I never thought I was capable of before.” —James Davenport