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Best single-player games 2020: the top games for playing solo on console and PC

Looking for the best single-player games available right now? Then you’re in the right place. 

It seems bizarre to consider that just a few short years ago many big publishers were writing off the notion of single-player games. Despite the push towards multiplayer shooters, live-service games, and then battle royale titles, quality single-player titles have been popping up all over the place.

In the last few years, the best single-player games have dominated with fresh narrative and technical frontiers, which is why we’ve rounded up the best single-player games on offer right now. 

Whether you’re playing on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or PC, there should be something here for you. So draw your curtains, unplug your phone, and prepare to jump into entire worlds built to entertain.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Four years after its release, millions of gamers are still carrying on their solemn journeys across the war-ravaged low-fantasy world of The Witcher 3. It remains to be the apex of video game storytelling. Everything – from side-quests with lowly peasants to political tinkering of lords and barons – seems to be treated to the same degree of love and attention from the writers.

This is the game that made surly, concrete-voiced hero Geralt of Rivia an icon (and soon to be star of a Witcher Netflix show). The world is not just astounding in terms of topographical scale and variety, but also impressive in its sense of history and life, as it seems that every village, castle ruins and cave has a story to tell. 

The fact that The Witcher 3 remains as remarkable an experience today as it was when it first came out is proof of its groundbreaking role in the medium.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

Resident Evil 2 Remake

A remake of one of the great survival horror games can be a poisoned chalice, but Capcom succeeded in creating a magnum opus both within the series and among all video game remakes.

Like the original, Resident Evil 2 Remake has two coinciding campaigns as Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. While it follows the narrative beats of the original game, it’s also an archetype of modern level design, as you solve puzzles and open up shortcuts around the maze-y Raccoon City Police Department. 

Each zombie is a bullet sponge and mortal threat, resources are hardly adequate, and an unkillable blue man dressed like a hard-boiled detective marches after you through much of the game. Remake or not, this is one of the best horror games to date.

Celeste

Celeste

The makers of Towerfall, one of the greatest couch multiplayer games around, took some of the game’s best mechanics and transformed them into a winning 2D platformer about climbing a mountain. 

The core mechanic is the ability to rush in eight directions, but as you progress, you’ll find yourself confronting a constant and growing trickle of different obstacles and challenges. Ultimately, Celeste amounts to a tough old time.

Many levels can be played through in different iterations, and all that finger-cramping platforming is wrapped in a touching story about friendship and tribulation. Celeste feels as significant and seismic for the modern 2D platformer as Super Meat Boy was when it came out a decade ago.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey 

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Taking a year off in 2016 to rethink the Assassin’s Creed series was a clever move by Ubisoft, because with Odyssey that decision really paid off. Looking to RPGs for inspiration, it’s an inconceivably large open-world adventure set in the scorched azure idyll of the Hellenic peninsula.

It’s not just the backdrop and gloriously recreated Greek architecture that make Odyssey such a joy. It’s also in the way Alexios and Kassandra’s story weaves through history and myth, and in how it enhanced certain systems – like ship-sailing and level-based enemies – from earlier titles.

Some will balk that it’s no longer the cloak-and-dagger assassin game the series is known for, but the reality is, it’s now become so much more.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The game that helped the Switch sell bucketloads, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is still played regularly by fans even today – three years on from release.

Setting players loose as longtime protagonist Link in a beautifully realized (and ruined) Hyrule, Breath of the Wild is the first truly open-world Zelda title and takes some cues from The Elder Scrolls franchise.

Rolling plains, puzzle-filled shrines, and dense forests are there to be explored, while combat slowly reveals its impressive nuance after some tough early skirmishes. With crazy physics that allow for new solutions to each problem, Breath of the Wild is the gift that keeps on giving.

Total War: Warhammer 2

Total War: Warhammer 2

While the Total War series stagnated with Rome 2, Creative Assembly made up for it by taking on for its next project one of the most inspired possible fusions of videogame genre and IP: epic-scale strategy and Warhammer.

Total War: Warhammer 2 embraces the asymmetry of its source material, with each faction offering a distinctive tactical and narrative experience. If you also own Total War: Warhammer 1, all the major factions of the vibrant grimdark world are represented in the sequel. 

Skaven lurk in city ruins and skurry through an underworld, Vampire Coast pirates embark on treasure hunts, and Dwarves hunker down behind heavy armour, ready to fight any infantry charge.

Each campaign lasts dozens of hours, delivering endless clashes between the most well-crafted, inventive armies seen in a strategy game.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro is a tense, tough, and visually striking samurai game set in a more mythical feudal Japan, and it’s one of the best single-player games you can buy.

If you’ve played Dark Souls or Bloodborne, you’ll know what awaits, and already have an idea of whether its unforgiving style is for you or not. Some see the severe combat as sadistic, others see it as a highly challenging, high rewarding experience that has no equal. Whichever way you lean, you can’t question the meticulousness of Sekiro’s mechanics.

Where Sekiro differs from its spiritual predecessors is that it’s less obtuse, with a linear, articulate narrative and the addition of more mainstream action-game elements. 

You leap around vertically oriented levels in quest of shortcuts and secrets, while combat is about finding the right angle and timing for that legendary killing katana blow. It’s never easy to land, but once you start doing so consistently, you begin to understand what all that suffering is for.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar’s latest might not be to everyone’s tastes, slowing the breakneck pace of the developers Grand Theft Auto series to a comparative crawl, but it’s one of the best single-player games available right now.

Red Dead Redemption 2 offers a prequel to the original game, telling the story of Arthur Morgan, a member of the notorious Van Der Linde gang at the tail-end of the Wild West. A bad man looking to make amends for his many transgressions, Arthur’s narrative lacks immediacy but weaves itself through one of gaming’s most detailed open worlds with true artistry.

Then there’s the animations, the sound, the little details, and the supporting cast of loveable (and not so loveable) rogues. An unmissable experience.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel's Spider-Man

Taking one of the world’s most iconic characters and handing the reins to one of the most consistent developers in gaming turned out to be a match made in heaven for PlayStation fans.

Telling an (excellent) original tale in a non-MCU Spider-Verse, Marvel’s Spider-Man is anchored by fantastic performances from Yuri Lowenthal and Laura Bailey as Peter Parker and Mary Jane. That’s to say nothing of new versions of the Wallcrawler’s rogues gallery and surprising relationships explored with longstanding characters.

Thankfully, the gameplay is more than up to snuff, too. Combat is kinetic, exciting, and rewarding, and swinging from building to building to traverse a stunning recreation of New York is like something from our childhood dreams.

What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch

A breath of fresh air from the big-money behemoths that dominate this best single-player games list, Edith Finch is so poignant and exquisitely crafted that it will soften the hearts of even the most resolute walking-simulator naysayers.

As the titular character, you meander about in her sizeable but recently abandoned family home set on a haunting, crepuscular island in Washington State. You explore the richly detailed house, visiting the still-furnished rooms of each family member where you get swept up in the dreamy haze of surreal vignettes that show you how they died.

It’s a meditative game about piecing together the story of a family that seems to be afflicted by a merciless curse.

Edith Finch is the kind of thematically heavy, highly curated experience that doesn’t seem to be quite done justice by the word ‘game’.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4

Nathan Drake has become one of gaming’s most enduring heroes thanks to his everyman nature and quippy dialogue, but Uncharted 4 might be the game that solidifies his place as the most likeable gaming protagonist.

On the trail of pirate treasure with his long lost brother, Drake’s final adventure is full of incredible action set-pieces including a car chase, a heist, and fights in plenty of crumbling buildings, each chapter is more unforgettable than the last.

It’s a perfect closing chapter for the characters we’ve come to love over more than a decade, their conversations and interactions more believable than ever before.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear fans are understandably disappointed that Kojima’s final instalment didn’t tie up the series’ long, winding narrative as they’d hoped, but in gameplay terms ‘stealth action’ has never been better.

Taking the infiltration-based mechanics to an open world and then layering plenty more on top, Metal Gear Solid 5 is a toy box of gadgets, gizmos, and missions players can attempt a near-infinite number of ways. 

Carefully extracting enemies can allow you to recruit them to your cause, which then feeds into a huge metagame as players build out their ‘Mother Base’, which then offers extra benefits in the middle of a mission. It’s compulsive, with ‘just one more mission’ feeding into another, and then another.

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight

Of all the genres to have re-emerged since the indie revolution nine-odd years ago, Metroidvania has been the biggest benefactor. The kinds of games that have come out haven’t just been throwbacks to the good old days of the 90s, but profound evolutions in their own right.

Hollow Knight feels like the pinnacle of the last several years of Metroidvania design, and it’s certainly earned its place in this list of the best single-player games. You traverse an enchantingly forlorn subterranean kingdom as the titular knight, incrementally gaining abilities, which then let you go down deeper into the world.

It’s both cute and brooding, magical and daunting, filled with thoughtful touches like the fact that Hollow Knight physically pulls out a map whenever you look at the map screen. 

God of War

God of War

2018’s God of War is a soft reboot of the series and sees a fresh beginning for Kratos, the titular God of War. Here, the antihero has moved from ancient Greece to the frigid colds of Norse Mythology and started a new family. After the death of his wife, he takes his son, Atreus, to cast her ashes from the tallest mountain in the realm.

Of course, things don’t go to plan, and our protagonist finds himself in the sights of a whole new pantheon of gods. With incredible combat (the Leviathan axe might be one of the best weapons in all of gaming) and a story that features absolutely no camera cuts, God of War is gaming nirvana.

Dishonored 2 

Dishonored 2

One of the tragedies of single-player gaming is that the immersive sim – sprung from cerebral first-person games like System Shock, Thief and Deus Ex – has seldom been a big seller. The future of masterpieces like Arkane’s Dishonored, therefore, has always seemed tenuous.

Dishonored 2 casts you as a preternaturally skilled assassin on a revenge mission in the sun-kissed steampunk city of Karnaca. Each large area lets you explore apartments, shops and cluttered rooms from all angles before you swoop in on your objectives.

It’s both visceral in its black-magic-and-blades combat, and ingenious in its level design, with the ever-shifting Clockwork Mansion and the time-travelling Crack in the Slab giving you some of the most memorable gameplay sequences you’ve ever played.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

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Ok, this is technically cheating, but if you own an Xbox One (or Windows PC), you really must invest in the Master Chief Collection (or download it from Game Pass).

A collection of the big, green Spartan’s first four mainline adventures, the Halo games have aged impressively – particularly given the increase in resolution across Combat Evolved, Halo 3 and Halo 4.

The main attraction, however, is Halo 2 Anniversary. With 4K visuals, reworked sound effects, and the ability to switch between original and Anniversary graphics with the push of a button, it’s one of the finest first-person shooter campaigns in history.

The collection continues to grow, too – with Halo Reach and Halo 3: ODST also being added since launch.

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