Cyberpunk 2077 and the constellation of controversy orbiting it--at nearly every level of its making--is almost laughable. The open-world shooter game, developed by Polish studio CD Projekt Red, was billed as the next big thing in video games, an experience that would impress both visually and narratively. From a huge city full of opportunities to an arsenal of upgradable elements for your customizable character, how could one not be enticed by the previews ahead of the Dec. 10 release? Hell, it's even got Keanu Reeves in it, and a lot of him! In hindsight, Cyberpunk 2077's seven-year lead up didn't do it any favors. After all, you can only rely on hype for so long.
It's been just a few weeks since the Microsoft Xbox Series S/X and Sony PlayStation 5 consoles hit store shelves, with people scrambling to pick up what little available stock there is before the holidays arrive. But said consoles are hundreds of dollars a pop, and right now they aren't worth the price of admission considering how few next-gen titles are available. So what's a gamer with a slim wallet and a dream to play the latest games to do? With streaming services on the rise thanks to advances in broadband internet speeds, now is the time to look to game streaming as just another option, like video and music streaming. Whether you're just itching to play the latest titles on your outdated laptop, or want to enjoy your own personal library on the go, there are multiple game streaming services to choose from, all catering to different needs.
In a bizarre, unsettling, and oftentimes downright frightening year, video games became a port of refuge for many--be they longtime gamers, old-school veterans picking the controller back up after a break, or first-timers looking for a novel way to safely have fun or connect with friends during pandemic lockdowns. It's a small blessing, then, that it was also a banner year for excellent games to play. Here are TIME's best video games of 2020, according to our group of resident gamers, listed alphabetically. Also read TIME's lists of the 10 best fiction books of 2020 and the 100 must-read books of 2020. Nostalgia is big business right now, but reworking old joy rarely delivers that original thrill.
The hotly anticipated next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are now available, meaning you can enjoy kicking ass and taking names on your TV in luxurious 4K glory. But if you're on the fence about upgrading to the Xbox Series X/S or PlayStation 5 (or you just can't find one in stock), you might want to stay there. The trio of new devices are indeed powerful, but plenty of factors--including a disappointing lack of next-gen games--means you may be better off waiting til next year, when the dust settles, deals may be on offer, and more games are ready for you to enjoy. You may think a new generation of consoles would bring a new stable of exclusive games taking advantage of all that newfound processing power. But some of the most anticipated next-gen launch titles, like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and Godfall are also available on previous-gen consoles or PC, meaning you don't need to upgrade to play them unless you want the absolute best visual experience possible.
As a new generation of video game consoles arrives, many have wondered whether the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will actually feel "next gen"--that is to say, markedly better. New console generations used to mark major leaps in performance, fidelity and ways of playing (think of the graphical leap from the NES to the Super Nintendo, or the jump to 3-D games with the original PlayStation). But more recently, there's been less distance between one generation of consoles and the next. And today, high-powered gaming PCs already surpass the PS5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X in the specs department, delivering higher frame rates and better visuals. All this was on my mind when I first fired up the PlayStation 5.
When skateboarding video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater arrived on the PlayStation in 1999, no one could have expected the cultural impact it would have or how much muscle memory it would ingrain into dedicated fans. It was an enormous hit with skaters and non-skaters alike, helping to usher in a more-mainstream acceptance of skateboarding culture, define a new video game genre and teach tens of thousands the words to Motörhead's "Ace of Spades." Twenty-one years after the release of the first game, publisher Activision and developer Vicarious Visions will release Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 2, a ground-up remaster of the first two games, on Sept. 4, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. And while it sticks very closely to its source, the new game feels like it belongs in 2020, with a greater focus on representation and a firm grounding in that angsty skate culture aesthetic. Tony Hawk himself couldn't be more excited about the release. "You don't understand how many people ask me about [Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2]," Hawk told TIME.
The 75th anniversary of Japan formally surrendering to the U.S. aboard the battleship USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, arrives at a moment when the question of how the war is remembered feels more necessary than ever. Veterans' stories, books, movies and TV shows have kept memories of the war alive for the last 75 years, but how will those stories be told when there are fewer people around who lived through those era-defining years? Recently, some people in younger generations have turned to a perhaps surprising source for World War II stories: video games. Games have become more realistic not only in terms of technological advancements, but also in terms of featuring real people and, at least in terms of blockbuster games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, getting input from real experts on military history. For example, the upcoming virtual-reality game Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond will feature documentary shorts, and creators interviewed WWII veterans about their wartime experiences to inform the set, which includes missions across Europe and in Tunisia.
I am behind the wheel of a Nissan Leaf, circling a parking lot, trying not to let the day's nagging worries and checklists distract me to the point of imperiling pedestrians. Like all drivers, I am unwittingly communicating my stress to this vehicle in countless subtle ways: the strength of my grip on the steering wheel, the slight expansion of my back against the seat as I breathe, the things I mutter to myself as I pilot around cars and distracted pedestrians checking their phones in the parking lot. "Hello, Corinne," a calm voice says from the audio system. The conversation that ensues offers a window into the ways in which artificial intelligence could transform our experience behind the wheel: not by driving the car for us, but by taking better care of us as we drive. Before coronavirus drastically altered our routines, three-quarters of U.S. workers--some 118 million people--commuted to the office alone in a car.
Employees at Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard Inc., began circulating a spreadsheet on Friday to anonymously share salaries and recent pay increases, the latest example of rising tension in the video game industry over wage disparities and executive compensation. Blizzard, based in Irvine, California, makes popular games including Diablo and World of Warcraft. In 2019, after an internal survey revealed that more than half of Blizzard workers were unhappy with their compensation, the company told staff it would perform a study to ensure fair pay, according to people familiar with the situation. Blizzard implemented the results of that study last month, which led to an outcry on the company's internal Slack messaging boards. One employee then created a spreadsheet and encouraged staff to share their compensation information.
Summer and fall are often the worst time to be a video game fan. Publishers often hold their best stuff til the end of the year, and it's worse this year, because Microsoft and Sony are hanging on to their biggest games until the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are out this holiday season. Still, 2020 has already offered an embarrassment of riches for gamers. Here are the best video games of 2020 so far, to tide you over til year's end: Doom Eternal ripped and tore its way into our hearts at the beginning of the year and hasn't been topped since. What makes Doom Eternal so remarkable is that it managed to improve on its predecessor, and in so doing proved the almost 30-year-old franchise is still as vibrant and vital as it was in 1993.