Now, whilst I grew up with the likes of the recent Golden Joystick Awards as the one and only gaming awards ceremony, since 2014 the old bull has faced strong opposition from the young buck in the form of The Game Awards, an event that this year particularly has come to take on a whole new level significance other than handing out a piece of brass. Having said that, let us first take a look at those who did pick up a few of those trinkets.
First of, let’s start with the game of the moment: Red Dead Redemption 2. Fear not my budding cowboys and cowgirls, whilst you might have been disappointed when Red Dead was pipped to the post for Game of the Year at the Joysticks and only earning an honourable mention having only been out for just over a week, Rockstar made up ground this time around by sealing a slew of awards.
Not only did RDR2 win the highly desirable Best Narrative, but also Best Audio Design, Best Music and Best Performance (Roger Clark). So, as the now award-winning Arthur Morgan would say: “that’s quite the corral of proverbial chrome-encrusted cattle”. Okay, he’d never say that and let pretend I never did either, shall we?
Having said that, for many it doesn’t matter how many awards you win: some only one want the holy grail and just as was the case in London last month, the title that won out was that familiar old mythological, beard-faced, father-son blood-fest, God of War. The team who have now raised the bar so high in terms of games being art also took home Best Action/Adventure and Best Game Direction. As if that wasn’t enough to satiate God of War fans, we were even treated to Kratos actor, Christopher Judge bellowing “Read it, BOY!” as means of handing one of the awards.
However, it was some surprise that Santa Monica’s seminal title didn’t complete the trifecta by clinching Best Art Direction, which instead went to Return of the Obra Dinn: a murder-mystery-puzzle game with a cool monochromatic, illustrative style. Other notable mentions go to the interactive story-driven game, Florence, which earned Best Mobile Game, as well as Celeste, which took home the double with Best Indie Game and the Games for Impact award, recognising the game’s profound message before it’s classic platforming mechanics.
We had some more returning winners carried over from the Joystick’s here too, with the likes of Monster Hunter World securing the award for Best Role-Playing Game, Dead Cells this time picked up Best Action Game – oh! And who could forget Fortnite? Which, of course, picked up the awards for Best Multiplayer and Best Ongoing Game.
One last friendly face that popped up on the podium was Blizzard’s Overwatch, which continues to earn accolades for its competitive qualities as it picked up Best Esports Game. In fact, with the pro-gaming scene bigger than ever, it has become a key part of The Game Awards annual line-up: this year recognition was given to players like SonicFox, teams like Cloud9 and content creators like Ninja.
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of this year’s Game Awards is how it has now become another window for announcing new games and debut eagerly awaited trailers; I recently mused over Sony’s decision to pull out of next year’s E3 and what it might mean for the future of games marketing.
It seems that award ceremonies like this might be the new alternative as not only did we get new trailers for Rage 2 and new content for the likes Rocket League and Fortnite, but we were also treated to Outer Worlds – the heavily-teased new game from Obsidian (developers of Fallout New Vegas) – an interesting new IP from the makers of Assassin’s Creed called Ancestors, and even an unexpected new entry into the Far Cry series entitled, New Dawn (which could also be mistaken for a Fallout or maybe even a Borderlands game).
The fun didn’t stop there either. The crowd nearly lost their minds as a brand new Mortal Kombat was revealed on stage and I nearly suffered a fatality myself when I heard klaxons sounding, race lights flashing and that rambunctious bandicoot going from pixelated relic to high-definition, high-octane speedster: that’s right – Crash Team Racing is getting a remaster!
Whilst I pray nothing takes away from our beloved E3, I enjoyed this new approach to debuting new games: it felt like it a lot of things caught me off guard and even titles that had been rumoured were not necessarily expect here; they offered respite and excitement at the same time by breaking up what can often feel like a long queue at the post office as you wait for the packages of interest to you. All in all, The 2018 Game Awards were a hoot and worthy competitor for the Josyticks. Step your game up, guys.