I’m not normally big on award shows. Even less so for shows that focus on people with generally poor social skills. Let’s face it, actors & dancers are trained to entertain… game designers not so much. That said, I think the idea is sound. Having peer recognition is always a good thing.
This year had a lot of winners. God of War won the big title. Read Dead Redemption won a few related, Celeste a few, Dead Cells a couple, Fornite some. There’s a significant portion (like 30%) that’s dedicated to e-sports folk. In that regard, it’s like the opposite of the Oscars, where the technology portion is more celebrated than the people.
What’s interesting here is that there’s not all that much controversy. God of War this year, Breath of the Wild before, Overwatch, Witcher3… all solid games. You’d be a happy gamer if you played even half of what’s listed here.
Does make me think about what I played this year. I agree that God of War was a clear standout, hitting near perfect notes on every aspect of the game. The ending alone…
Other notable highlights, in no particular order.
- Read Dead Redemption 2 – lots of info lately on this one. Sprawling epic story, feeling more like a simulation than a game. Astounding level of detail. Only weakness is the engine/controls
- Spider-Man – a beautiful view of Marvel’s New York, with great visuals, controls, and story. The randomness of events is fun, the various tasks throughout add a lot of lore. Few games make travel feel as much fun as this one. It suffers a bit from Ubisoft’s icons-everywhere syndrome.
- Monster Hunter World – The most beautiful of all grinds. Each monster is unique, and there’s no better feeling than the final blow on a giant that can sneeze your death. Because the gains are not incremental but instead plateaus, it makes the tail end of the game feel like hours without progress, then a gold mine.
- Ni No Kuni 2 – Sequel to one of my favorite RPGs, but takes a more kitchen sink approach. The art and combat mechanics are superb. The first 75% of the game is pure JRPG, with a great story, minor backtracking, and continual progress. The last 25% is an un-fun level grind – which is again a JRPG staple.
- Pillars of Eternity 2 – I’ve yet to finish it, and can’t really tell which point of the game I’m at. The story & mechanics are much improved on the previous. What I can’t get over is the travel portion over the seas. It’s minutia that I don’t find enjoyable…
- WoW: Battle for Azeroth – I’ve written enough about this. This expansion plus the whole Diablo:Immortal push has soured me tremendously on Blizzard.
As a trend, I notice that these are not 8 hour games. Each one of them took weeks to get through (or not in PoE2’s case). They are also not PvP games. 2 of them are PS4 exclusives as well… and combined with Horizon: Zero Dawn, you can spend a few hundred hours playing GotY candidates/winners.
In terms of things on my wish list:
- Dead Cells – metroivania + roguelike
- Celeste – a tough platformer (by a Canadian too!)
- Frostpunk – a city builder, based on scenarios
- Into the Breach – a tactical RPG with very short sessions
- Divinity 2 – isometric RPG with was seems like sandbox mechanics
On top of the recent expansion to Warframe and upcoming season of Path of Exile.
For all the negative gaming stories that take up space in the news, there are some absolutely amazing games out there to play. That’s the best part – having too much fun to have time to complain.