2020 was a complex year, to say the least. And as happy as everyone is that it’s over now, we at WALL JUMP are starting the new year by looking back with love. Which moments actually touched us the most when we played in 2020?
Over the years, video games demanded a bunch of emotions from me. Joy, happiness, frustration, triumph and disappointment. Sadness was also there. But until now, the helplessness and desperation I felt at the ending of The Last of Us Part 2 remains unchallenged.
The scenarios that play out shortly before the credits are topic of countless controversies and that – not taking toxic troll comments into account – not without reason. In the encyclopedia of worn out gaming terminology the, well, let’s call it boss fight, might stand next to the term “ludonarrative dissonance” as a prime example.
Media can shake me to the core when it tells me stories in which my understanding of what is wrong is stretched to the extreme. But what if I am the one doing wrong, when I have to make wrong decisions and as if in a fever dream have to do things that I would never actually do? And when a game does that to me, is it genius or just badly designed?
I cursed and cried and shouted at the screen.
While my thoughts were running wild, while a part of me was stuck with Ellie and Abby and another part was having a meta dialog with the developers, my questions resolved into a realisation that I tried to convey to my non-gaming friends ever so often: That thing here, that intimacy and intensity can happen in this medium, and only in this medium. In good and in bad variants, for better and for worse.
I was not okay with what was happening on screen but I could not dare to stop. It was inevitable, the rules of gaming and what came before asked me to act, while every fibre of mine tried to refuse. I cursed and cried and shouted at the screen. That was not “nice” in an actual sense but like a parable to this extraordinary year it is my gaming moment of 2020.
My gaming moment of the year was not so much a single moment as a ritual that took on more and more of a life of its own during this crazy year.
It was the after-work sessions of Rocket League, an e-sports classic that I played only briefly at release and then again a few years later, liking it but quickly putting it aside due to a lack of motivated co-pilots. Now, two of my oldest friends and I play Rocket League competitively in 3on3 right after work on a very regular basis. Usually for an hour, as a digital regulars’ table to get away from it all. And I love that for many reasons. Not only because of the current physical contact restrictions. But because since the Xbox360 era, our threesome can once again agree on a game that excites us all, where we can watch each other get better and that doesn’t require too much concentration, so that we can also bullshit about the dreary everyday life of this year. Rocket League has thus become one of my favourites after all these years. I also credit the new cross-play functionalities for that. For the last few years, our clique was always united in the matter, but separated in the colors. The two of them on the PS4 and me on the Xbox One. This hurdle has long since fallen with Rocket League and other titles, but unfortunately it is not yet established as an industry standard.
Rocket League has thus become one of my favourites after all these years.
So for 2021, with or without a Pandemic, I’d like to see less of a wagon train mentality in Gaming and (even) more playing together across all platforms.
Despite many games that I actively played for a long time this year, my gaming moment of 2020 is a thoroughly passive one. More specifically: a two-minute announcement trailer – without any gameplay scenes and without any indication of a release date. That’s not necessarily rational, but when the personal gaming highlight of your own video game history suddenly gets a sequel after more than 20 years, emotionality beats all rationality.
Wonderful! My favorite game is actually returning to the big stage after all these years.
At every Microsoft E3 press conference over the past few years, I had secretly hoped for this – and although I was actually absolutely sure in advance that it wouldn’t happen, I was always a bit disappointed after the annual missing announcement. But then suddenly there was this one trailer during the Game Awards 2020: Agent flair with modern spy gadgets, here and there a small (hidden) homage to the predecessor and during the final shot on the roof of a skyscraper, the so familiar dataDyne logo appears. A great scene. The game title is presented at the end with the nostalgic font and erases the last doubts: A new Perfect Dark was actually announced at the Game Awards 2020!
The brand-new developer studio The Initiative seems to be a great choice for the further development of the IP, because even the first little information about the development process makes the retro heart beat faster. The developers attach great importance to preserving the spirit of the N64 title, thus bridging the gap between classic and new/further development. Wonderful! My favorite game is actually returning to the big stage after all these years. What else could mark my gaming moment in 2020!?
The WALL JUMP moments of 2020 – Part 2
Part 2 of the best gaming moments from the WALL JUMP editorial team will follow on January 6. Stay tuned!
This post is also available in: German