The Game Awards – My Thoughts

A lot of gaming events have been cancelled, derailed or altered this year and the Game Awards were no exception. A great event where so many people got the recognition and credit for their work over the past few years that resulted in the games released in 2020 that helped take the edge off of a pretty crappy year. Its great to see the studios, creators and unsung heroes of the industry get the credit for their great work and contribution and this year was no exception, despite the fact it was done mostly over Zoom. It did give a bit of an empty feeling to event, with no crowds or real applause but this shouldn’t detract from their success. You can see all the winners here and all the nominees here.

I stayed up and watched the event and although some outcomes were predictable, there were some I believed there were some who were cheated out of a win. I wanted to take this blog to go over 10 of the categories, give some thoughts on if the winners were worthy or not and if not who I think should win… And unlike last night, I am starting with Game of the Year first….

Game of the Year

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo
  • Doom Eternal – id Software
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake – Square Enix
  • Ghost of Tsushima – Sucker Punch
  • Hades – Supergiant Games
  • The Last of Us Part 2 – Naughty Dog – Winner

I think everyone expected this one. I have played all the nominees except for Doom and I have seen multiple people play through this game (it is on my backlog) and all of these games are worthy for being up there. Animal Crossing has provided a great time vampire that asks you to kick back, relax and work on your island and it’s a great game to play with my daughter, while Doom, released at the same time is it’s antithesis of AC in its stylish fast, paced, visceral combat, offering a catharticism of a different sort… and one that I definitely wouldn’t play with my daughter. Controversially, I don’t think FF7 should be on here because as much as I enjoyed what I played, I struggled to finish it. It definitely deserves to be in the Art Direction category but personally it wasn’t a contender for GOTY. Ghost was an incredible game; beautiful, thoughtful, fun, violent, hectic, peaceful and compelling and it deserves it’s nomination, but for me I lost steam with it towards the end, potentially because the open world nature of the game just became a bit of a chore towards the end. Hades, for me, is a great shout here and it was somewhat of a surprise hit compared to the others, but it has held my attention since I got it and I think it always will.

But of course, The Last of Us Part 2 was always going to win. It offered a nuanced and thought-provoking story that challenged everything we thought about, not the franchise, but human nature. It pulled the rug out from beneath us, it divided us on matters of ethics and morality and what the cycle of revenge and violence truly means to people. It showed that, despite there being external biological threats that could ravage the survivors, ultimately it was human nature that was the biggest threat they faced. A scary insight given the stories that have come out of 2020. The game had its brutal moments, it poignant moments, at times it filled you with rage and at other times with sadness. There was little happiness in the game and that was somehow a testament to how robust a story it is. It is not without its flaws, but compared to the other games it offered a depth and insight that the others didn’t.


Best Narrative

  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • Ghosts of Tsushima
  • Hades
  • The Last of Us Part 2 – Winner

The Game of the Year winner was almost guaranteed to win Best Narrative because the narrative of The Last of Us Part Two was one of its many strengths. I would have been very surprised if it hadn’t won it. That isn’t to detract from the story of the others though. Hades has a great story although the inherit issue with Hades’ story is that it is easily skippable if someone is after just the roguelike element. Ghost had some great stories to tell, but it missed some beats along the way and as I mentioned, the open world element actually detracted from the narrative at points; sometimes you lose the sense of urgency by finishing a mission and then being able to explore before another. FF7 being here is a hard one for me to grasp- its effectively a part of a wider story that has already been told but fleshed out and changed at points. The FF7 story is strong but in my opinion it is strong as a whole and I felt that the stretching of this game out actually added some unnecessary beats to the game although it did add some needed development to other areas.


Best Art Direction

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • Ghosts of Tsushima – Winner
  • Hades
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • The Last of Us Part 2

Ghost of Tsushima is a beautiful game. The cinematic feel they added to the game to evoke those feelings of old school samurai films is amazing and the photo mode has produced some shots testament to this. But I don’t feel that it deserved the win here. It certainly deserves the nomination but I feel that Hades beats Ghost on this point. If you look at Ancient Greece’s portrayal recently you have the likes of God of War and Assassins Creed Odyssey which show the Classical beauty of Greece but don’t push the direction creatively. Hades reimagines the various levels of the Underworld. it’s pantheon of gods and the stories in a striking, never-before seen style that is bright and addictive in contrast to the real world. These are stories that were shared by orators and imagined in the minds of listeners, and Hades offers the contemporary view of what the Greek world could look like if stylised.


Best Ongoing Game

  • Apex Legends
  • Destiny 2
  • Call of Duty: Warzone
  • Fortnite
  • No Man’s Sky – Winner

Of all of the announcements, this one shocked me I must admit and even Sean Murray looked surprised. Twitch predicted that Fortnite would win, and whether I agree or not, Fortnite has provided some great in game events and season stories, it’s boasted huge player numbers and people keep coming back for reasons. How did it not win Best Ongoing Game? Of all of these games its one of the oldest so by definition it must be doing something right. Apex and CoD fall into the similar bucket as they have taken great strides in improving the way their seasons work and the content that they add which has meant they have maintained healthy player bases and numbers…. but they are all Battle Royals. I am not saying this is the beginning of the end of Battle Royals but from an awards point of view, maybe something more is needed to win Best Ongoing Game… the Oscars don’t pick the most popular film, its always more than that. Maybe Battle Royal games are becoming what the Marvel films are to cinema – great fun, hugely popular but lacking the substance needed by award panels.

So for this we come to the remaining two; Destiny 2 and the winner, No Mans Sky. Both games that I play and thoroughly enjoy. I have written about Destiny before and I think it does a great job of adding new content, responding to community feedback and enforcing a very addictive loot cycle. But Destiny’s problems are that it can become very grindy and it can be very episodic. I wouldn’t say it is ongoing in the sense that it is an ever present, instead it is always live but not always installed. I will come back at key moments, before and after expansions and at the start and end of seasons, but I often fade away throughout. Although I don’t often go back to No Man’s Sky, Hello Games needs to be given a lot of credit because the game that won this year is not the empty game they released four years ago. They have spent their time refining, adding and persevering to make this game a very enjoyable experience, both solo and coop. It is a completely different game and that is because over this time they have been supporting it while it has been live. So although it is a surprise, I think it deserves its award.


Best Action Game

  • Doom Eternal
  • Hades – Winner
  • Half-Life: Alyx
  • Nioh 2
  • Streets of Rage 4

Yes. Yes. Yes. I mean I have spoken about Hades already but I haven’t really spoken about its combat. Its ridiculously fun, easy to use difficult to master, always rewarding combat that allows for experimentation with constant tweaking and practice. God I want to play it now. At the end of the day the combat that at first seems frantic can be as shallow or as deep as you want it to be but beyond anything it is enjoyable. The other games on here have great combat too although I haven’t played Alyx, Streets of Rage of Doom and they are all worthy of their nominations. Alyx brings a lot of novelty and finesse to VR action, Streets of Rage is a tried and tested formula and I will be honest Doom would have been a serious contender for this award. The combat for this game IS it’s selling point, more so than Hades. But I think, as an FPS, it probably fell into familiar territory with other shooters despite it being unfair to tarnish it with this brush. And honestly, Nioh 2 is great but its difficulty curve can make it far too inaccessible. So yeah Hades FTW.


Best Action/Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Ghosts of Tsushima
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • The Last of Us Part 2 – Winner

The blog is becoming a review on the The Last of Us at this point. As stated in the show, often the winner of this category goes on to win GOTY and 2020 was no different and again it’s no surprise. But at the same time, this is a tough category. There are some solid games in here of which many could have won it in my opinion. Spider-Man has refined the combat and gameplay left by its predecessor and brought more to the table but maybe because it was similar to Spider-Man it didn’t get the win. Ghost made samurai combat seamless and satisfying while giving us a new part of the world and history to explore but again maybe there was too many times where it was unfocused. Valhalla shows that Ubisoft can continue to improve and refine a successful formula but that formula is yet to be perfected. Star Wars brought cool Jedi combat back, with great planets to explore and amazing battles to be had, although it could be tough at times. I will be honest as well, I haven’t payed Ori, but after seeing it on here several times, I am installing it on my Xbox. In my opinion they all could have won, but The Last of Us Part 2 has shown itself to be the complete package, balancing that harrowing narrative with the exciting set pieces and shoot outs and adding in there time for us to explore and experience the intricately crafted world Naughty Dog has made for us.


Best RPG

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake – Winner
  • Genshin Impact
  • Persona 5 Royal
  • Wasteland 3
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon

This is the only one on my list here where I strongly disagree and I feel not one, but two titles have been cheated here. I never finished FF7: Remake because it just dragged itself out and, in my opinion, actually lost a lot of its RPG element. I still have the game but being truthful to myself, I likely won’t finish it because I have no drive to go back to it. There are two games on this list that deserve it more, and one which I think should be the winner. Firstly, Genshin Impact was a superb game. It offered a vibrant world to explore, fun combat and a not half bad story. It encourages exploration and experimentation between both your gear and your party as well as a long term story that will come periodically. It is by no means perfect and it could get repetitive, but I felt it brought something significantly better to the table than FF7. But Genshin isn’t my winner, that honour goes to Persona 5 Royal. This game is superb and I would argue the definitive JRPG experience. It was probably let down by the fact it is an expanded version of the already award winning Persona 5, but I would argue that doesn’t matter, P5R offers a great introduction into JRPGs with a fantastic art style, catchy and addictive music and a great cast and story that carries it through. It has enjoyable and challenging combat but also makes it very accessible to new players. This launched at a similar time as FF7 and honestly I think that FF7 won on name and popularity alone which is a shame.


Best Multiplayer Game

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Among Us – Winner
  • Call of Duty: Warzone
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
  • Valorant

Do you know what, I almost got in trouble for this one. I honestly though Fall Guys was going to win this but when Among Us won I cheered, forgetting everyone else was asleep. Despite being two years old, Among Us has seen a resurgence this year and I absolutely love it. Fall Guys offers a similar fun get away in a year where we socialising has been at a minimum but Among Us takes this to another level. For me, the draw about Among Us is the social aspect itself – you are forced to talk to people, even if it is lying. You get to know people, you figure out their patterns, their tells, all things you may do naturally in person and that drives the game forward. It creates outrageous moments, hilarious moments and sometimes frustrating moments but always moments that you talk about again. Fall Guys was fun and it scratched an itch but the party play wasn’t as good and in all honesty if you go out early you are forced to watch your friend’s tic tac do better than you. I was so happy that Among Us won this because in my mind it deserves it as it has been an example of how you can still play with your friends in 2020 despite being completely isolated.


Best Family Game

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Winner
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
  • Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King

I got my daughter a switch early this year and I got her Animal Crossing and she loves it. This year has been tough for all of us, and we often forget that kids sometimes just want to go out and play and for much of this year that hasn’t been possible. Animal Crossing allowed me and her to sit down and just build some islands, go swimming catch bugs etc and connect us in a very 2020 way. Bless her, she even made sure my character had a mask on when I came to her island. All the other games are great family games, but for me with a young family, Animal Crossing allowed me to experience games in a different way to the other nominations and in a way that isn’t stressful and competitive but instead mellow and relaxing. As mentioned earlier, Fall Guys was fun to play with her but it wasn’t great if we were together and it can be difficult to share. I don’t have the space for Mario Kart Live and the others are all great games but none that created the personal experience I had this year with Animal Crossing.


Best Mobile Game

  • Among Us – Winner
  • Call of Duty Mobile
  • Genshin Impact
  • Legends of Runeterra
  • Pokemon Cafe Mix

I am a huge advocate of Among Us so again I was over the moon to see these guys win this. The others are all such serious games that can require a fair amount of time to sit down and play and I don’t want that for my mobile games. I would like to jump in, play a quick game and leave, which Among Us allowed me to do. It also meant, if my friends were having a few games and I wasn’t at my laptop I could still jump in and play. It started as a local multiplayer game and you can see that it still remembers it’s roots.


Summary

I haven’t covered all the sections and there were some other great wins out there so a huge congratulations to all nominees and winners. Unsurprisingly, TLOU2 smashed it, winning a raft of awards including GOTY and in all honesty it deserved it. But for me, some of the bigger wins came from the likes of InnerSloth with Among Us where you could see how much that win meant to them. It is great to see, and a great message for all out there, that you don’t need to create a AAA game to win all the awards. A game should, at its heart, be fun and connect people and that is what Among Us does. In a year where we have probably played more games than normal and seen other people less, it is nice that a game can fill both camps.

2021 Predictions

I wanted to look forward to next year as one game was suspiciously absent. Cyberpunk 2077 launched the day of the Game Awards which may have been coincidental but also could be slightly tactical to take itself out the running against the likes of TLOU and instead have a year to embed itself. That said, its rocky launch with a myriad of issues means it will need to work hard to earn that top spot. There are other games too that may well come and challenge it, for example God of War 2 and Horizon Forbidden West and not including some of the other games that may contend for other awards such as Hogwarts Legacy, Psychonauts 2, Ratchet and Clank and so on. Although its looking like 2021 will still start rock in terms of restrictions etc, it is certainly looking bright when it comes to releases so I look forward to writing this blog next year after seeing what the year holds for us.


What did you think about the Game Awards? Was anyone cheated on any of the sections you would have liked or was anyone missed off entirely?

Drop your messages down below or hit me up on Twitter! Would love to hear back from you guys and let me know your thoughts!

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An all round gamer, aspiring Pokemon master and someone trying to chronicle my hobby!

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