From strategy to VR and even a highly-detailed flight simulator, there was a wide range to choose from on PC this year.
We saw a diverse crop on PC this year, but one stood head(set) and shoulders above the rest. This is our pick for the Best PC-Exclusive Game of 2020.
Despite hopeful trends and breakthrough products like the Oculus Quest 2 bringing down the price-point, VR remains a “sometimes food” for most gamers. To us, that makes what the Half-Life: Alyx team did even more impressive. Beyond being a stellar gaming experience, Alyx represents a vote in the future of Virtual Reality on the PC, and a high watermark for the form. We can only hope that more exciting, engaging, terrifying games like Alyx make their way to PC in the near future, and likewise that the player base for such experiences continues to broaden. Alyx is one of the rare VR games that stands on its own as a great game, regardless of immersion level. It’s not an exercise in new tech, it’s a masterclass in game design, and demands the most from our PCs. With beautiful environments and models, top-tier voice-acting and crisp gameplay mechanics all rendered in the virtual space, Alyx deserves all the credit for pushing our PCs to perform new and astounding tricks for our amusement.
Half-Life: Alyx was also IGN’s People’s Choice for the best PC exclusive of 2020! For more, check out our full Half-Life Alyx review.
Below are our other picks for the best PC-exclusive games of 2020.
The Best PC-Exclusive Games of 2020
Click through the gallery above or scroll down for the full list!
A Monster’s Expedition
A Monster’s Expedition doesn’t have a level select screen: it has a map. Despite being a relatively straightforward (and incredibly charming) puzzle game on the surface, one where you play a cute little monster navigating its way through an outdoor exhibition of human relics, the way its discreet puzzles flow between each other, intertwine, and branch away sets this game apart from others like it. Moving from island to island is actually how you solve puzzles at all, with your little monster pushing logs over to make bridges between them. That means a single island can have branching paths depending on what you do, with a whole open world full of archipelagos to uncover (and cleverly written jokes about human life along the way). Its wonderful style and calming soundtrack also make this one of the most relaxing puzzle games we’ve ever played, which is saying something when it can simultaneously be deviously difficult.
Crusader Kings 3
Strategy games are still the one genre no other platform comes close to matching the PC on, and Crusader Kings 3 was easily the best strategy game released this year. Its predecessor became one of PC gaming’s biggest cult hits, spawning countless memes about conquering, murdering, and boinking your way through the middle ages to achieve eternal glory. And that was despite dated graphics and a high barrier to entry. CK3 has brought up the visual appeal significantly with the addition of animated 3D character models that age dynamically, every detail of their appearance dictated by a complex DNA system that will pass down features realistically from sister-wife to child. And it’s one of the most accessible Paradox strategy games ever, with an intelligent tooltip and hint system even your bumbling oaf of an uncle Duke Gerhardt could use.
For more, check out our full Crusader Kings 3 review!
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Absolutely the best reason to own a PC, with a powerful enough rig, Microsoft Flight Simulator is almost indistinguishable from real-life. The incredible flexibility of add-ons and support for peripherals means you can take to the skies with a simple Xbox controller or build out an entire, perfect recreation of the cockpit of your favorite in-game aircraft. There are few games with as much technical prowess on display as Microsoft Flight Simulator, and while there is an Xbox Series X release planned, it will always be best as a showcase for your powerhouse PC.
For more, check out our full Microsoft Flight Simulator review!
If there’s one thing Riot Games understands, it’s how to get a game into the hands of as many people as possible. Taking the same approach from League of Legends and applying it to Valorant, Riot Games has created another fantastic PC experience that can be played on just about any machine around the world. Riot has promised low-latency games for everyone, paired with an industry-leading 128-tick server rate with the goal to level the playing field for everyone. Aside from the technology, Valorant’s gameplay is extremely focused: one game mode, five maps, and 13 playable Agents. Gunplay feels tight with most weapons feeling viable in the meta, allowing players to experiment without potentially throwing a round. Overall, matches truly feel like they are determined by skill – not any external factors. The superior engineering makes this one of the best PC exclusives this year, and a definitive mainstay in the Esports scene for years to come.
For more, check out our full Valorant review!
There are plenty of other awards beyond just the best PC games! Check out all our platform, genre, and design award winners – and, of course, our picks for this year’s GotY – below!
Best Games by Platform
Best Games by Genre
Game Development and Craft Awards
Be sure to check out all of our other Game of the Year award winners, as well as our picks for the best movies, TV shows, comics, and anime of 2020!