Shitty weather, extreme fatigue and incessantly annoying Christmas music. There are many signs that the end of the year is upon us, but one that is much cheerier – and a great topic of discussion – is The Game Awards. Effectively the Oscars of video games, The Game Awards celebrates the best games of the year, with many categories from best strategy game, to best music score and of course the big daddy of them all: Game of The Year. This week we will take a look at the nominees, I will give my opinion on what I think will win, as well as what I would personally like to see win the award.
Quick disclaimer! When it come to the Esports scene, I’m not as involved as I used to be – so I won’t be covering those categories. If you want to see them for yourself, this year’s nominees are available on The Game Awards website.
“For the Best Game Experience Playable in Virtual or Augmented Reality, Irrespective of Platform.”
Nominees: Asgard’s Wrath, Blood & Truth, Beat Saber, No Man’s Sky and Trover Saves the Universe.
As someone who does not own VR (yet), I can only speak for which games I have played at conventions. Beat Saber is an absolute blast to play especially if you love rhythm games. It is innovative and unique – I would love to see it win. I also think that Beat Saber will take the award this year as it is simply the most well-known game as well as, from what I gather from friends, the most loved game. Although with the recent surge in support for No Man’s Sky I wouldn’t be shocked to see it snag the victory.
“Best game focused on real-time or turn-based strategy gameplay, irrespective or platform.”
Nominees: Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Anno 1800, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Tropico 6 and Wargroove.
I love strategy games. This year has been great for all types, from Anno 1800’s CIV-like gameplay to Fire Emblem’s deep story-based gameplay. My personal favourite of the year was Wargroove. A spiritual successor to the Advance Wars’ games of yore, this indie game has it all. Beautiful art, engrossing gameplay and plenty of replayability. However, I believe that Fire Emblem: Three Houses will take the award. It was a huge hit, loved by all varieties of gamers – even bringing in people that aren’t typical fans of strategy games. That combined with the massive 100+ hour sink makes for the perfect award winner.
“For the best traditional and non-traditional sports and racing game.”
Nominees: Crash Team Nitro-Fueled, Dirt Rally 2.0, PES 2020, F1 2019 and FIFA 20.
I’m not going to lie, I do not like F1, FIFA, or PES, so that’s off the table. The choice is between Crash and Dirt Rally. Personally, I’m on the Crash side because I have always loved battle-racing games and this is no different. Although, I can see the side of Dirt Rally lovers, it is realistic but still maintains that arcade-like charm (just don’t smash into anything or you’ll fuck yourself). I think Crash will win overall, mainly because it holds that bit of nostalgia (being a remake), that just elevates it slightly above Dirt Rally 2.0.
Score & Music
“For outstanding music, inclusive of score, original song and/ or licensed soundtrack.”
Nominees: Cadence of Hyrule, Death Stranding, Devil May Cry 5, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Sayonara Wild Hearts.
Music is usually what I remember the most about games, whether it’s the classic do-do-dos of Cadence of Hyrule or the fast-paced beats of Devil May Cry, I still catch myself humming it from time to time. Without a doubt my favourite score was Cadence of Hyrule. The Modern remixes of the classic themes from Zelda’s past are catchy, uplifting and really hit that nostalgia beat (pun intended). Being a rhythm game, I would be shocked if Cadence of Hyrule didn’t win the award, what a fantastic soundtrack it has, truly.
“For the best game designed with rich player character customisation and progression, including massively multiplayer experiences.”
Nominees: Disco Elysium, Final Fantasy XIV, Kingdom Hearts 3, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne and The Outer Worlds.
Role Playing Games are really what gaming was made for. You can fully immerse yourself in a world with fully customisable characters to create and deep lore to explore. As an avid fan of the Fallout series, The Outer Worlds (developed by the original creators of Fallout), has to take the cake for me. It really allows you to play the game any way you want without punishing you for prioritising smooth-talking over combat ability – take notes Bethesda. This also seems to be the general opinion, at least online. The Outer Worlds is a recent smash hit, leading me to think it is going to win. Although one cannot forget Monster Hunter or Final Fantasy XIV, both which have very large fan bases that have easily sunk 1000s of hours into their respective games.
“For outstanding storytelling and narrative development in game.”
Nominees: A Plague Tale: Innocence, Control, Death Stranding, Disco Elysium and The Outer Worlds.
This category highlights games that show that gaming itself can stand out as its own creative medium. I am torn with my choice; while A Plague Tale: Innocence has some great narrative moments, the epic cinematic feast that is Death Stranding is equally tempting me. The Outer Worlds is also a strong contender, but much of the narrative is controlled by your own choices, which I don’t consider as actual “story-telling”. I think that Death Stranding is likely to win this award. Despite coming out only recently, it is such an anticipated game, and considering how dull the gameplay can be at times, the fact that people still play really just shows the strength of the story that much more.
“For outstanding online multiplayer gameplay and design, including co-op and massively multiplayer experiences, irrespective of game genre or platform.”
Nominees: Apex Legends, Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Tetris 99, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.
I do not play many multiplayer games. I much prefer to spend my time delving into a deep single player world at my own pace. But I will always have a soft spot for Tetris and Tetris 99 hooked me from day one. A battle-royale Tetris game seemed like an insane concept, but it really, really works and I absolutely love it. Apex Legends and Modern Ware have the mass appeal, especially Apex legends with the millions of players that it brought on within a couple days. I feel as though Apex legends will take the award simply from how successfully it managed to make an impact in the market despite it already being flooded with games like Fortnite and PUBG.
“For the best game playable on a dedicated mobile device.”
Nominees: Call of Duty: Mobile, Grindstone, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Sky: Children of the Light and What the Golf.
I do not have much to say about this, I am fond of some mobile games but I do not play them much and the only one listed here that I have played is Grindstone. It is an oddly satisfying and highly addictive game to pull out on the train, but I don’t see many people discussing it. If I had to guess on the winner, I would say Sayonara Wild Hearts, simply because out of all of these games, it is the one with the most nominations.
“For outstanding creative and technical achievement in a game made outside the traditional publisher system.”
Nominees: Baba is you, Disco Elysium, Katana Zero, Outer Wilds and Untitled Goose Game.
Indie games are a uni student’s best friend. They don’t take up too much time and they are relatively cheap. These are all amazing contenders and it is very, very hard to choose between them. Baba is you is so unique, Disco Elysium and Outer Wilds are beautiful, Untitled Goose Game is bloody hilarious. I would choose Outer Wilds though. It is an indie game but it does not feel like an indie game. It has such a massive scope that I didn’t realise it was by an indie developer when I first played it. Unfortunately, I think it will be overshadowed by Untitled Goose Game. Goose Game took the internet by storm and everyone, even non-gamers, knew about the crazy antics of this rude goose. Being House House’s first game, they are deserving of the reward, it’s just a shame that its likely success takes away from some absolute bangers that were available this year.
Games for Impact
“For a thought-provoking game with a pro-social meaning or message.”
Nominees: Concrete Genie, GRIS, Kind Words, Life is Strange 2 and Sea of Solitude.
Pffffff Concrete Genie is AMAZING. The art is beautiful, the gameplay is insanely enjoyable and most importantly the message really spoke to me. I urge anyone who hasn’t heard of it to pick it up and give it a go. I love it and really hope it wins this award, getting more exposure. I think it is likely to win, although Sea of Solitude and Life is Strange 2 as far as impact goes are great contenders. Covering important issues in mental and physical health, both these games hit me hard in the feels almost as much as concrete genie did.
“Awarded for outstanding creative vision and innovation in game direction and design.”
Nominees: Control, Death Stranding, Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Outer Wilds.
As much as I want Resident Evil 2 (my personal favourite remake ever) to win this, I feel as though Death Stranding is more deserving. The ability of Hideo Kojima to put together all the parts of Death stranding into a cohesive cinematic gem is undeniable, and with Geoff Keighly (organiser of The Game Awards) being good friends with Kojima, I would be surprised if it didn’t win this award.
“For the best game designed primarily around head-to-head combat.”
Nominees: Dead or Alive 6, Jump Force, Mortal Kombat 11, Samurai Shodown and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
I literally snorted when I saw Jump Force nominated for best fighting game this year. It has been a mixed year for fighting games, but luckily MK 11 and Smash are absolute gems. MK 11 keeps everything the fans love about Mortal Kombat, but the slower than usual gameplay disappointed some. Smash Bros. on the other hand has no haters. It has over 70 unique fighters, bringing back every fighter and almost every stage from previous games. It has a 30 hour+ story mode and it still gets DLC characters despite 5 already being released (this is amazing for Nintendo). I would be amazed if it didn’t win, and being my favourite franchise of all time, I would be so happy to see it getting the recognition it deserves.
“For the best game appropriate for family play, irrespective of genre or platform.”
Nominees: Luigi’s Mansion 3, Ring Fit Adventure, Super Mario Maker 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Yoshi’s Crafted World.
Not much needs to be said here, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate deserves this, hands down. Although, it is funny to notice that every nominee is from Nintendo.
“For the best action/adventure game, combining combat with traversal and puzzle-solving.”
Nominees: Borderlands 3, Control, Death Stranding, Resident Evil 2, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
As far as action/adventure games go, this year has been great. Despite lacking many traditional feeling action/adventure games, all the nominees here brought something unique to the table. Borderlands 3 stands out as being a blast from start to finish, but I don’t think it will win. Resident Evil 2 and Zelda are both remakes so despite being amazing, I doubt they have much chance either. I would love to see Control get some recognition as it mainly flew under the radar this year, but I have a feeling that Death Stranding will also take this just because of how popular it seems to be.
“For the best game in the action genre – focused primarily on combat.”
Nominees: Apex Legends, Astral Chain, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Devil May Cry 5, Gears 5 and Metro Exodus.
Man, oh man do I want Astral Chain to win this. From the makers of Bayonetta, Astral Chain is 100% action and gameplay and I love it. It was a sleeper hit and personally I feel like it does a lot more than many of the other nominees. I have a sinking feeling that Apex Legends will win though, simply due to the massive audience that it grew, as well as its addictive high-speed gameplay.
GAME OF THE YEAR
“Recognising a game that delivers the absolute best experience across all creative and technical fields.”
Nominees: Control, Death Stranding, Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadow’s Die Twice, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and The Outer Worlds.
This is the kicker. What a hard choice. Super Smash Bros. is my favourite series of games but I cannot look past how much fun I had with RE 2, Sekiro or The Outer Worlds. Equally, the general audience seemed very drawn towards Death Stranding and control this year. It is very hard but I feel like when considering which game “delivers the absolute best experience across all creative and technical fields”, Resident Evil honestly takes the cake. Despite being a remake, the music, art, direction and gameplay are all sublime and I struggle to flaw it in any way. My personal pick would be Smash Bros. But I honestly believe this will be the first time a remake wins it all.