Wccftech’s Most Anticipated Action Games of 2020 – This Generation’s Final Battle
2020 will be the swansong for the Xbox One and PS4, but this generation will be going out with a bang with a number of long-in-development, much-anticipated titles, many of which happen to fall under the action umbrella. We won’t get as many truly hardcore action games as we did in 2019, but titles like The Last of Us Part II, Marvel’s Avengers, and Ghost of Tsushima should provide plenty of thrills along with engaging stories, detailed worlds, and stellar production values. And hey, those who like punishment still have thumb-spraining games like Nioh 2 to look forward to. Here are some of the exciting games you’re going to be battling through in 2020…
Note: Only games with confirmed 2020 release dates are eligible for these lists. Stuff that’s only rumored or speculated to be coming out is relegated to the honorable mentions.
Marvel's Avengers (PC, Xbox One, PS4 & Stadia, September 20)
Marvel’s Avengers has caught some flak for its weirdly off-brand character models and confusing approach to co-op, but there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the game. Crystal Dynamics is the studio behind Legacy of Kain and the Tomb Raider reboot – they know how to make rollercoaster action-adventure games better than anybody (at least, anybody not named Naughty Dog). Also, let’s be honest, this project is too big to fail. There’s no way Disney or Square Enix is going to let a bad game out the door, and Avengers’ recent delay shows they’re serious about bringing a polished product to market. Expect big, bombastic superhero fun when this one finally arrives this fall.
The Last of Us Part II (PS4, May 29)
How do you follow up on a game that, a) was a landmark for the industry, and b) had pretty much the perfect ending? That’s the daunting challenge facing the makers of The Last of Us Part II, but if anybody can pull it off, it’s Naughty Dog. We’ve only seen brief snippets of the game, but its clear Naughty Dog are swinging for the fences with another heavy-hitting, emotional story. The Last of Us was great, but its story was fairly simple, sometimes even a bit naive (one of its two main characters was a kid, after all) – Part II promises to be a more grown-up take on the subject matter.
Story aside, The Last of Us Part II looks to be the ultimate evolution of the formula Naughty Dog has been refining over their past few games, and the tech powering the game looks amazing. Naughty Dog has always been at the forefront of character modeling and animation, and grown-up Ellie is their greatest achievement to date. I can only imagine how terrifying the Clickers and other Infected will be.
No More Heroes III (Switch, 2020)
In recent years Japanese punk rock auteur Suda 51 has slid into more of a producing role, but he’s returning to hands-on game direction for No More Heroes III. The game’s “E.T. gone wrong” premise, which sees a young boy save a cuddly alien, only for said alien to return as a swaggering world-conquering supervillain, is fantastic, and I’m pretty confident this is going to be Suda’s craziest, most-ambitious story to date. Gameplay should be just as satisfying, as Suda has promised a return of the semi-open worlds of past games, more side activities, and all-new stuff, like the ability to jump into a suit of powered-up battle armor. Start pumping up your beam katanas now.
Resident Evil 3 (PC, Xbox One & PS4, April 3)
The Resident Evil franchise has been on a roll recently and I fully expect that to continue with the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake. Now, if we’re being real, Resident Evil 3 was never the best of the classic RE games, but Capcom has promised the new version has been given a more thorough overhaul than Resident Evil 2. Expect dialed-up action, more new missions and set pieces, an expanded role for Carlos, and Nemesis AI that improves on that of Mr. X from the RE2 remake. Oh, and Resident Evil 3 also comes with an all-new multiplayer experience – the asymmetric co-op game Resident Evil: Resistance, which is quite fun by most hands-on accounts. How can you go wrong with a double-dose of evil?
Streets of Rage 4 (PC, Xbox One, PS4 & Switch, 2020)
Back in the day, some kids liked Final Fight, others liked Double Dragon or Golden Axe, but me, I was always all about Streets of Rage. In my humble 90s kid opinion, the Streets of Rage games were faster, harder-hitting, and generally cooler than the beat ‘em up competition. And let’s not forget that glorious music! Sadly, the series has largely been neglected by Sega following its 16-bit heyday.
Thankfully, Sega has handed the Streets of Rage series over to the talented folks at Lizardcube (Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap) and Guard Crush Games (Streets of Fury). Streets of Rage 4 looks absolutely gorgeous, featuring some of the best 2D artwork I’ve seen in some time, and appears to deliver all the bloody-knuckled action you’d expect. Oh, and yes, original series composer Yuzo Koshiro is back to do the music. Time to contact your old grade school buddies, because you’re going to want to set up some couch co-op action when this one hits.
Journey to the Savage Planet (PC, Xbox One & PS4, January 28)
Okay, I’m cheating a little with this one – I’ve already played and finished Journey to the Savage Planet (look forward to the review next week!) and I can confirm it’s one to be excited about, particularly in the largely-dead first couple months of 2020. Savage Planet’s trailers and marketing has been a bit confusing, but the game is essentially Metroid Prime with a sprinkling of comedy and some Dark Souls elements. The game’s sense of humor is a bit hit or miss, but it’s a blast to play. Explore a big, weird alien world packed with secrets, take on challenging bosses, and improve your abilities with fun and useful equipment like a grappling hook and rocket pack. Metroid Prime 4 probably isn’t coming any time soon, but a trip to the Savage Planet should ease the pain.
The Pathless (PC, PS4 & Apple Arcade, 2020)
We haven’t seen or heard all that much about The Pathless in recent months (nothing beyond the initial announcement trailer has been released), but I’m still excited enough about the game to include it on this list. Developed by Abzû creators Giant Squid Studios, The Pathless is another super-stylish adventure, although this time around action is much more of a focus. You play as an intrepid hunter who relies on their archery skills and eagle buddy to explore a mysterious forest and do battle with various strange and intimidating creatures. The Pathless basically looks like a Studio Ghibli movie come to playable life, which, needless to say, is a very good thing for a game to be.
Godfall (PC & PS5, Late 2020)
Godfall also made our Most Anticipated RPGs of 2020 list, but the game also looks to put a heavy emphasis on action, so I’m listing it here too. The product of mid-sized developer Counterplay Games and publisher Gearbox, Godfall has received a lot more attention than a game like this might otherwise get, as it’s one of the first titles specifically announced for the PlayStation 5. That isn’t to say Godfall is only notable because it’s first out of the gate – the game’s visuals are amazing and its hack-and-slash gameplay looks properly intense. Add drop-in/drop-out co-op to the mix, and you have a game that could really carve out a niche for itself early in the PS5’s lifespan.
Nioh 2 (PS4, March 13)
Nioh 2 is another one that also made our RPG list, but again, Koei Tecmo’s series is as much about action as it is about roleplaying, so it qualifies (ultimately, these are all judement calls). The original Nioh was a nails-hard adventure that put even From Software’s games to shame, and by most accounts, Nioh 2 ratchets up the challenge even further. But Nioh 2 isn’t all about the difficulty – it also significantly improves on the original game’s visuals, adds new abilities and weapons, and lets you customize your look with a new character creator. With Cyberpunk 2077 and Final Fantasy VII Remake suffering delays, Nioh 2 now stands as the must-have action-RPG of early 2020.
Ghost of Tsushima (PS4, Summer 2020)
Ghost of Tsushima has been one of the biggest question marks on Sony’s calendar for some time now. Developer Sucker Punch certainly have a great pedigree, having created the Sly Cooper and InFamous series, but can they pull off a realistic open-world game set in Feudal Japan? Why did we not see anything of the game for so long? Can Ghost of Tsushima measure up to recent acclaimed samurai games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Nioh?
I’m not 100 percent sure about that last question (both Sekiro and Nioh were really good), but I have a lot of faith in Sucker Punch’s abilities. The Ghost of Tsushima gameplay demo I saw at E3 2018 already looked amazing technically and artistically, and Sucker Punch will have had another solid two-years-plus to polish the game by the time it finally comes out. Tsushima will be a very good game, of that I have no doubt. Whether it will be able to carve out its own unique niche is the question.
Honorable Mentions and Possible Surprises
There were a number of games that didn’t quite make this list, either because not enough is known about them or I had some lingering concerns about them. I trust Ninja Theory, but I’m not sure if Bleeding Edge’s multiplayer melee concept will work, and Ghostrunner and Narak: Bladepoint look to provide some solid ninja action, but I’d have to go hands on to know for sure.
And then there’s the somewhat maddeningly long list of games that have been delayed or still don’t have solid release dates. Said list includes Dying Light 2, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion and Gods & Monsters, and Platinum Games’ ambitious-looking Babylon’s Fall. 2020 could end up being a good or downright great year for the action depending on how many of the above games actually make it out before December 31.
Those are the games you’re going to be grappling with in 2020! Any promising action games I missed? Round up your own list and share it in the comments!