by Tanner Kinney
Another year, another Game Awards ceremony comes and goes like an unpleasant distant relative with many wrong opinions. The gaming equivalent of the Oscars is quite the event, funded completely by former IGN employee and television presenter Geoff Keighley and is respected by many in the field. Gamers themselves tend to just use the Game Awards as a reason to get angry and complain about corruption and Geoff Keighley being a sellout. I’m not here to argue whether Dorito Pope Keighley is a sellout fraud or whether the Game Awards being two-thirds ads makes the show less legitimate. What I am here to argue about are the results of the Game Awards, analyze the trailers being shown, and relay the good word from Josef “video game Tommy Wiseau” Fares about the Oscars, which you can listen to below.
Images all taken from The Game Awards Youtube.
Trailer Hot Takes
In a time honored tradition, The Game Awards shows EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE EXCLUSIVE trailers that take up a majority of the show. In previous years, these trailers tended to even overshadow the awards themselves, particularly back during the Spike VGA days. I remember seeing Fortnite announced as a trailer during one of the earlier VGA’s, which finally actually released this year. These days, big publishers sometimes show things off, but it tends to be dominated by more low-key trailers, with one or two massive ones being shown off during the show to keep people watching. Let’s be real here; no one actually cares that much about the awards. They care about the trailers.
This year delivered with a number of big surprises, cool trailers, and enticing teasers. A new Bayonetta game is coming to Nintendo Switch, which is pretty exciting, because Bayonetta is awesome. PUBG is getting an new map, and Fortnite is getting a new game mode. That’s all very… exciting? I think? An awful looking World War Z game got announced which won the award for worst trailer of the night. Second place for worst trailer would probably go to Fade to Silence, but that was more boring than awful. The best trailer of the night (minus the big one, we’ll get to that later) was for a game called Witchfire from the team behind The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. The trailer caught me off guard as it started like a walking sim but turned into a fast-paced, stylized FPS. Did you know this team also made Bulletstorm and Painkiller, two of the most insane FPS’s created in the past couple decades? Yeah, apparently they did. I’d say I’m excited for that game to release moreso than any that were announced.
A lot of VR titles had trailers, all of which made me sick thinking about playing them. A new Soul Calibur got announced by the coolest looking man at the event, and that’s pretty exciting because Soul Calibur has always been pretty hype. FromSoftware also teased their new project with a trailer as long as a Vine, and that got people excited. It’s probably that Shadow Tower reboot they were talking about, but who knows? Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had the release trailer for it’s DLC which was good enough, and now Link is on a motorcycle. And Campo Santo, the developer of Firewatch, is making a game about adventurers in Egypt called In the Valley of the Gods. I’m sure that’ll win awards during the 2019 Game Awards.
The trailer we were all looking for, though, was the newest trailer for Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, a game that was originally shown off at the Game Awards last year. Kojima is famous for making insane narratives but also got held back by Konami and logic. So now that Sony has given Kojima a blank check and infinite time to make a game, how is Death Stranding looking now? Well, we now know that Norman Reedus may be playing a man named Sam Porter. And that’s about it.
The Death Stranding trailer somehow both made no sense and all the sense at the same time. I felt like my mind was expanding as I watched the trailer, horribly confused but also enlightened by everything being shown. It looks stunning, and the whole world built from the trailer is definitely very intriguing. The invisible oil/goo monsters have been suspected to be Lovecraftian horrors of some kind, and that’s always fun. Also, Norman Reedus swallows the baby from the last trailer in this one, and to show that it was inside of him, they have the camera zoom into Norman Reedus’s mouth, down his throat, and show the baby giving a thumbs up.
Long story short, watch the Witchfire and Death Stranding trailers, and start mentally preparing yourself to play Death Stranding when it releases in 2022.
The Advertisement Awards
There are always three parts to the Game Awards: exclusive world premiere trailers, some awards, and a whole lot of advertisements. As much as I love to talk about selling out, I’m going to skip that for now. To briefly mention it and give this the authentic Game Awards recap experience, I’m going to emulate it here. Ebay Ebay Ebay, Schick Hydro, McDonalds and UberEats order now, Microsoft Mixer only available on Xbox One, cringey Bethesda advertisement, Nintendo Switch buy now please we’re still trying to make money back from the WiiU, and play Warframe: it’s like Destiny 2, but it won’t punch you in the gut and rob you blind.
Now repeat that to yourself for roughly an hour. Good. Now with that out of the way, I’m really craving some fresh, never frozen beef. That’s why I go to Wendy’s. Eat at Wendy’s today to get all of your food fresh and of the highest quality, because quality matters.
Now onto the awards. For the most part, I had few complaints. My own personal predictions were basically all wrong, except for Cuphead sweeping the indie categories and getting best art direction. Granted, those were predictions for what I wanted to win. My realistic predictions were more accurate, because I’ve watched enough of these shows to get an idea as to what wins: companies with the most money–I MEAN quality games. Any award I don’t talk about didn’t give me enough of a reaction to actually care about it.
The big winner for this year has to be Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. I’ll be honest; I didn’t peg this game to win a single award despite being nominated for 5 awards. It didn’t win Best Narrative or Best Indie, but those were tough categories to begin with. The other categories it was in also seemed very tough. It went up against the two Nintendo titans in Best Audio Design; and in Games for Impact it had to fight a bunch of think-piece games, along with the prequel to previous Games for Impact winner Life is Strange. I’m still salty Life is Strange got that award in 2015. Undertale was robbed, damnit! Despite that, Hellblade cut the competition down and took home three awards, as many as Breath of the Wild and Cuphead. So good job Ninja Theory! I’m glad you took down the competition–mostly just the Games for Impact award though. Good to see actual games winning an award for games. I’m looking at you, Life is Strange: you and your long, melodramatic, interactive movie self.
NieR: Automata taking home Best Score was probably well-deserved, but I personally like Persona 5’s soundtrack more. I’m glad NieR won something, at least, for everyone’s favorite robot waifu 2B. Metroid: Samus Returns winning best handheld surprised me as well, considering Metroid has been dormant for a long time. Then again, it’s competition wasn’t that stacked, only Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valencia and Monster Hunter Stories really stood a chance. The award for Best Student Game existing at all was another surprise and a nice touch for Geoff Keighley to add.
The Non-Surprises I Begrudgingly Complain About
The award for best narrative going to What Remains of Edith Finch did not shock me but did disappoint me. Compared to the uniquely told and captivating narrative of NieR: Automata, along with NieR having some meaty gameplay to work with the narrative flawlessly, I think it was better deserved elsewhere. Despite that, I still figured Edith Finch was going to win. Maybe I just have a bias against walking simulators, but then again I loved Final Fantasy XV (joke). The Last of Us II winning Most Anticipated is also a non-surprise, but I would’ve liked to see the award go elsewhere. Mostly to games not nominated. Fun fact: every game nominated for Most Anticipated is either a PS4 exclusive title OR a game coming onto PS4. Coincidence? Probably. PUBG also won best multiplayer, not that anyone noticed because they forgot to announce it. Too much time (or maybe not enough time) spent with Josef Fares, the most passionate man in gaming.
The Robbed and the Robbers
— The Game Awards (@thegameawards) December 8, 2017
There were fewer awards I actively thought were wrong choices this year, which was a surprise considering how cold and jaded I am. Despite that, I still disagree with some of them. For example, I don’t think Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus deserved Best Action. In a different year, okay, maybe I’d accept it. This year though it was up against Nioh and Cuphead, both stellar actions games with wildly different and fun gameplay. NieR: Automata wasn’t even nominated for this award (but dull Destiny 2 was), and that was one of the best action games of the past decade. Wolfenstein II struggled from some bad level design and not being able to separate itself from its predecessor. Nioh’s unique take on the Souls-like genre definitely deserved more recognition.
The biggest joke of the event though was Overwatch taking two awards in a year it didn’t even release in. How did they do that? Well, it first won Best Esport. Yes, a game that only JUST developed an esports scene and a spectator experience that isn’t complete garbage got it. This is over Dota 2, a game with multi-million dollar prize pools consistently. This is also over League of Legends, which sold-out the largest stadium in China. Hell, even Rocket League deserved it more because Rocket League doesn’t give the viewer a headache trying to follow everything. But no, Blizzard’s barely-an-esport esport takes the crown. Am I saying that Activision-Blizzard bought the award? Maybe. But hey, you can say it was a fan category and the rabid gambling addicts who still play the game voted en masse for it. I can live with that.
Second, Overwatch took home one of the new awards: the Best Ongoing Game award. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means a game that’s still being updated long after release, like World of Warcraft (not nominated), or League of Legends (also not nominated), or the fantastic Final Fantasy XIV which had an amazing new expansion release this year (take a guess). The nominees were already a joke, with a game released this year being included as an “ongoing game” and the cash-grab money-void GTA: Online getting nominated just in time to advertise their new DLC coming soon. Warframe I can accept, but it’s also been shilled hard on Twitch for the longest time so I don’t buy it. The nominees are all frauds!
So of course Overwatch takes it; it’s the most deserving nominee on the list. It’s like the award was set up specifically to keep giving Overwatch awards every year after it stole Game of the Year last year. You can’t even blame fan vote on it; that award got voted on mostly by the “elite panel of 51 influencers.” Combined with the Game Awards orchestra taking time to play a medley of Overwatch songs during the show instead of, you know, the WINNER FOR BEST SCORE OR ANY OF THOSE NOMINEES, and it starts to reek. Smells like money descending into Geoff Keighley’s pockets. I respect the man’s hustle, but once you start shilling for irrelevant things like Microsoft Mixer and Ebay, I start to doubt your dream of an awards show that’s well-respected.
Huh? Game of the year? Oh, right. Yeah, Zelda deserved it. I would’ve liked to see Super Mario Odyssey or Persona 5 take it because I enjoyed those games more, but Breath of the Wild deserves it just as much. Can’t get angry about that.
The Game Awards were better this year than previous years. I’d honestly say this was the best one of all of them. It had enough big reveals, deserving winners, and funny non-cringey jokes to be worth the time. The sellout nature of the whole thing still gets in the way, but it’s less obnoxious, and the crowd jumped on making fun of the sellout-ness. Now, if they could get it down from three hours long so I could get some sleep next time, that would be great. If you don’t have time to watch the show (I don’t blame you), at least check out the greatest interview from any of these god-forsaken shows. Josef Fares is a blessing upon mankind, and I definitely already have 5 copies of A Way Out pre-ordered just for him.
Maybe next year the show will get even better. They’ll include live lootcrates you can purchase and a random game gets an award. Overwatch and The Witcher 3 are commons, and Horizon: Zero Dawn isn’t on the loot drop list. I’ll feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment from it. I kid of course; it’s just fun to hate on the Game Awards. But remember that with all of this hate that there is still one true enemy: the Oscars.
Images: YouTube, Twitter, Don’t Feed the Gamers
Tanner is a Film and Media Studies major and a Digital Media minor. His Neo Yokio review won a second-place CSPA Golden Circle award for the 2017 semester. He enjoys playing JRPG’s of any variety, regardless of how obscure and strange it is. Tanner is also the host of Byte at the Movies, the premiere movie discussion live-stream.