2020 has been quite a year (you know, you were there). Despite everything, the videogame industry has rattled on, and your trusty news crew at this delectably orange site right here has continued to bring you all the lowdowns on the biggest, best, and most bizarre happenings throughout – mostly the bizarre, though. As we come to a screeching halt at its end, as we collapse into a weary heap, as we ascend into our final form of a trans-human mince pie, we’ve decided to compile a cacophony of the year’s greatest, grandest, and most grotesque hits. Here’s PC gaming news, the 2020 edition (AKA Now, That’s What We Call NEWS 2020!).
Starting with Cyberpunk 2077 and ending with, er, Cyberpunk 2077, we’ve sifted through 2020’s goodies, not-so-goodies, and all the fun in between to remind you of all that’s happened over this most unusual of years.
They say hindsight is 2020, and we cannot wait for this year to be a topic of hindsight. While we’ll be staying up on New Year’s Eve, shotgun in hand to make sure 2020 stays dead, it was still a memorable year for games – in both good and bad ways. At least we can all agree that of all the years in videogame history, 2020 was one of them. It’s not quite 2019, but not quite 2021, either. We had a blast looking back, and we hope you do, too.
The gaming news in January more or less set the tone for this absolutely bizarre year. In January, as the rest of the world looked at stories of a novel coronavirus outbreak in China with mostly mild concern, the developers behind the hentai game Mirror put together a big ol’ giveaway to encourage Chinese players to stay inside. Ha, porn, funny. Well, anyway, I’m sure we won’t be thinking about that outbreak anymore for the rest of the year…
In other gaming news that definitely wouldn’t be a factor throughout the rest of 2020, CD Projekt Red posted a tweet featuring black text on a yellow background, telling the world that Cyberpunk 2077 had been delayed from an April 2020 window to September 17, 2020. Well, at least that new date is much more specific, right? Can’t delay it further than that, certainly.
January also saw the gaming world in a collective hangover from the frankly astounding success of Netflix’s Witcher series. Even though the show and the games are technically completely separate works that just happen to be inspired by the same source material, there’s plenty of crossover – such as a burning desire to see Ed Sheeran banned from both forms of The Witcher. And don’t worry, original series author Andrzej Sapkowski told the world, The Witcher will not feature a Game of Thrones-style Sheeran cameo. “I will make sure [that] doesn’t happen. I will make sure.”
With Valentine’s Day in the air, things started to get steamy in February – because any burning passions kept getting doused by buckets of cold water. Modders brought GTA: San Andreas’s infamous Hot Coffee mod back in Red Dead Redemption 2, only to receive a takedown notice. Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida asked players to stop using mods to take lewd screenshots. And Ubisoft even had the gall to debut Oryx in Rainbow Six Siege, a man with legs of steel but zero glutes.
At least we still had Baldur’s Gate 3. The game originally made its appearance as a Stadia title, and Google let slip early that it would launch in 2020. Developer Larian quickly responded that this release date was a mistake, but thankfully it was Larian itself which was somewhat mistaken there as it would come out, albeit in Early Access. When we saw an early demo, we also learned that we could bang all our companions, which got us right back into that amorous spirit.
In less horny news, February was also the point where the internet suddenly realised that Billie Eilish’s mum was a prolific actor whose videogame credits included Samara in Mass Effect 2 and 3. Yes, that’s cool and all, but it means that Billie Eilish herself is probably Ardat-Yakshi, and now the world makes a little bit more sense.
February might’ve been over, but the work of profoundly dumb news about being horny marched right into, er, March. A trashy Steam game that basically amounted to the strip poker version of Connect Four made it to the top of Valve’s new and trending list after prolifically problematic gamer xQc got banned from Twitch for streaming it.
For forlorn PC gaming fans, one event in March that stood out from the rest, though: the launch of Half-Life: Alyx. Sure, the fact that it was a VR title meant that its potential audience was limited, but it still turned out to be an excellent take on the Half-Life mythos and one of the finest uses of the format yet. The launch also got Valve talking again, including some words from the head honcho himself. Gabe Newell talked about everything from the “giant disappointment” of Artifact to his days as a World of Warcraft gold farmer. He did not say “Half-Life 3“.
And yet the launch of Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord into Early Access proved that some long-awaited games don’t stay pipe dreams, and we even got Call of Duty: Warzone to prove again that battle royale games are not the ‘fad’ that they were once dismissed as being.
Oh, and E3 officially got cancelled. Remember when we were talking about that silly porn giveaway two months ago?
Ah, April 1. The Last of Us 2 was confirmed for PC “just to piss off PlayStation fans”, remember? Well, not really. But we did have some fun with that one (as did plenty of you, we gather). The fourth month of 2020 was a curious one. We were all finding our feet following the thing and we had a mixed bag of news across the biggest and best PC games around. In early April a raft of real-life photographers took to one of the prettiest open-world games of all time, Red Dead Redemption 2, to snap shots of street life while in lockdown. Plus, it was reported that Rockstar was considering a slightly smaller Grand Theft Auto 6 in an effort to kill crunch.
Elsewhere in the industry, CS:GO and TF2 source code leaked, but following a review Valve said it had not “found any reason for players to be alarmed or avoid the current builds (phew!), and the poor Doom Eternal devs got to watch in dismay as speedrunners managed to power through the shooter in a mere 27 minutes. Oh, and we found out Final Fantasy 7 porn-seekers definitively prefer Tifa over Aerith. Huh.
May was plenty packed, too. Early in the month, we were offered our first look at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay and we… didn’t really get it. We did get a good peek at some in-game snippets cut together into cinematic trailers, but with it having been touted as gameplay, the folks at both Ubisoft and Xbox apologised, saying we’d get to see much more in the coming months (which, of course, we did).
Also in May, Terraria – the little sandbox game that could – smashed its player count records, becoming Steam’s fourth most-played game, plus we found the Tony Hawk remakes would use new face scans, meaning all the skaters would be old in the game now. Later in the month, Skyrim Grandma decided to take time off for her health following some YouTube stresses and strains (though fear not, she has returned!).
The fifth month of this strange year was also when we discovered a World of Warcraft boss was literally based on a nightmare its designer had (shout out to Ner’zhul). The Culling – one of the world’s first battle royale games – made its return, and this time without loot boxes! Oh, but players had to pay to play more than one match per day. In case this news has piqued your interest, The Culling was culled shortly after, because that was a terrible idea.
Psst – also, a Skyrim mod uncovered the ‘truth’ – birds aren’t real. Pass it on.
Phew! Bit of a year already. As we hit the halfway point, we saw the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection rack up frankly silly numbers of players, hitting more than 42,000 concurrent commanders and conquerors in-game two hours after launch. Speaking of Steam, in June EA brought a bunch of its titles back to Valve’s platform after years away in the wilds of Origin.
Later in the month, Twitch took “appropriate action”, and banned one of the platform’s most prominent streamers, Dr Disrespect (we still don’t know why), and Escape from Tarkov players revolted over some THICC cases. We round the month off with another Cyberpunk 2077 delay, this time to November 19 (still not the eventual release date). June was also the month we sat back and watched a man beat Dark Souls 3’s final boss by touching various bananas.
We kicked off July with Geoff Keighley’s look at ‘The Final Hours of Half-Life Alyx’. While the documentary had plenty of details on Valve’s latest, it also shed some light on projects of old. Left 4 Dead 3 was in the works in 2013, and we nearly got a L4D-inspired Half-Life 3 that would’ve been designed around replayability. Both projects were stopped in their tracks by the limitations of the Source 2 engine.
Red Dead Online players had their own lack of content to deal with as they had been waiting since December for something to do. Rather than hang about, though, they whipped up a fashion contest themed around the travelling circus. Why? Because they were “all clowns for believing [they’d] get an update”.
For all of July’s lack of content, though, we did get to see Witcher star Henry Cavill build a new PC. It took him a few tries to get everything in working order – bless his wee face. We guess Superman is more relatable than we thought.
July also saw a report from Bloomberg that delved further into ongoing allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment at its worldwide studios. The report cites nearly 40 current and former Ubisoft employees and mentions devs pushing back against playable torture scenes and a demand to minimise female protagonists.
Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida also made an appearance in July to tackle one of the game’s most prominent topics: butts. While Yoshida appreciates that you all “really like butts”, you won’t be getting the option to increase or decrease the size of your derriere. Your PC can’t handle it, basically. Shout out to GameSpot for asking the real questions, here.
We kicked off August with a look into the US Army Esports programme, and spoke to a source who told us that the organisation isn’t really about esports. You could imagine our surprise! Familiar problems also arose for Red Dead Online fans as mod menu users began to impersonate streamers in a bid to get them banned. We spoke to a few of them who told us that, even if they were never banned, they were still knocked offline, and unable to work to support themselves as a result.
One of the themes of the year has been the rather large install size of games. It reared its head again as Microsoft Flight Simulator would be 127GB. That’s okay, though – we found plenty of spare storage space by deleting photos of our loved ones. Speaking of rearing its ugly head, Epic Games’ polite disagreement with Apple bumbled on. Apple apparently attempted to cut off Epic Games’ development tools, which would have boned lots of other developers who use them, too. Thankfully, though, a judge said ‘nu-uh, you can’t do that!’
We also found out in August that Sam Fisher was coming back, but in Rainbow Six Siege and not a new Splinter Cell game. Sorry, fans. There was more wholesome news elsewhere, though, as indie hit Fall Guys topped seven million units sold on Steam alone. Nice.
As we rolled into September, Among Us cemented itself as another standout hit of the year. The indie game’s developer, Innersloth, revealed on Twitter that the social deduction game hit 1.5 million concurrent players. We were but a handful of those players from time to time, and we’ve come away with the knowledge that our guides team are lethal when the situation calls for it. Good news for all of you reading their guides, bad news for the rest of the PCGamesN Crewmates.
Sid Meier, of Sid Meier’s Civilization fame, was also doing the press rounds to hype up his new book ‘Sid Meier’s Memoir!‘ He reckons the strategy game was perfect for its time and place, though he probably couldn’t have made it today as that’s “not where most gamers” are at. Meier also says that Civilization’s nuclear Gandhi bug isn’t real, so get over it.
The month ended on a bum note as it came to light that CD Projekt Red introduced mandatory crunch in a bid to get Cyberpunk 2077 ready for its November release date, which it was definitely going to hit this time. Bloomberg reported that developers were required to work six days a week, but were paid overtime per Polish labour laws. We concluded our write up with the thought: “If Cyberpunk 2077 needs more development time, please just delay it again“, and the internet got mad – how’d that turn out for you, internet?
You could tell things were going extremely normally in the run-up to the American presidential election when members of the Free States Militia, a Fallout 76 roleplay group, were briefly banned from Facebook in October. That’s also the month that Activision unveiled its extremely normal ‘Gallery of the Gamer,’ an explorable, virtual 3D art gallery full of… well, we’re not sure what it is, honestly.
Baldur’s Gate 3 arrived in early access and managed to break Steam. That only lasted momentarily, though, and since then Larian’s RPG game has been keeping track of how horny, evil, and boring most players tend to be – three adjectives which by now you’ll have noticed could apply to 2020. We also learned that Terraria’s ‘Journey’s End’ update earlier in the year wasn’t actually the end – because we got the Journey’s Actual End update this month.
Pandemic lockdowns had been in place for quite some time by October, and we were finding new ways to spend our time – specifically, by getting Skyrim to run on an RGB keyboard and watching US Representative Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez play Among Us on Twitch with Pokimane and HasanAbi.
November roared in with the launch of Project Diablo 2, a truly massive fan update to one of Blizzard’s most beloved titles. Later that month we’d also see the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, which is one of parent company Activision’s more annoyingly punctuated titles. Sadly, Amazon’s Crucible – which had launched and then un-launched itself earlier in the year – decided to call it quits, but on the bright side, we did get a Skyrim mod that allows you to hug your companions.
When AEW revealed its games lineup, wrestling fans’ reactions were mixed. Many were thrilled by the prospect of a new game from Yuke’s, the Japanese developer behind Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain. Others, however, were dismayed by the somewhat stylised aesthetic. Meanwhile, Valve boss and memelord Gabe Newell, still stuck in paradisiacal New Zealand, decided to launch a titanium garden gnome into space as a way of saying thank you to his hosts. Christmas at the Newell household must be lit!
Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed yet again, but we continued waiting patiently – surely the extra time was meant to make sure everything went smoothly when it launched. That’s usually the case with repeated delays on projects that have been going for the best part of a decade, right? Oh, and the new consoles came out. Let’s move on.
The end of the year brings with it the Death of Flash, that beloved embeddable medium for sharing weird little micro-games on the internet. Fortunately, a project called Flashpoint has swept in to preserve all that nostalgia for you, or at least around 40,000 individual games and animation pieces.
The first major event of December was the Game Awards, which is when we saw reveal trailers for games like the Left 4 Dead spiritual successor Back 4 Blood and the Dead Space spiritual successor The Callisto Project. We also learned that Vin Diesel is not only appearing in Ark 2, he’s also helping produce it. What we didn’t see at the Game Awards was any trace of Elden Ring, which sent the already anxious subreddit into paroxysms of gibberish from which it has yet to fully recover.
The winner of the coveted Game of the Year trophy that night was something called The Last of Us Part II, which we’re informed is a zombie game of some kind, perhaps another Left 4 Dead clone?
And at long last, Cyberpunk 2077 launched. Playing on a decent PC, Rich reviewed it and enjoyed it a lot, despite the particularly buggy state it was in during the review window – go on, read his lovely Cyberpunk 2077 review. As it turned out, our friends on consoles were in for a much worse time, and the resulting firestorm has consumed much of the gaming discourse since then.
Bugs notwithstanding, Cyberpunk 2077 sold extremely well, and on Steam it shattered several records – Steam itself had its best day ever, whilst Cyberpunk 2077 itself broke the record for most concurrent players in a single-player game, ever.
Speaking of Steam, Valve’s platform rolled out several new features at the end of 2020, such as a new option to browse games by theme – and that includes an ‘explicit’ section for sex games. Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive also saw the launch of its new Operation Broken Fang, which added new maps, modes, and premium bonuses to the perennial heavy hitter.
It’s been a challenging year where nothing has felt certain. That said, it has also been a year where some great games have provided some much needed moments of reprieve. Be it escaping hell in Hades, or returning to the world of Half-Life.
It’s also worth remembering that plenty of busy developers have brought you these games during trying times amidst a pandemic. We don’t know how this year will influence the next, but forget thinking about that for a few weeks. Enjoy your break, and – most importantly – behave.