Game Awards! A time to reflect back on the industry, how much it changed and what lies in store for the future. And to a lesser extent it’s an opportunity to enjoy the amazing ship that is Hideo Kojima X Geoff Keighley. Unfortunately Kojima skipped on the awards this year, so I didn’t get to enjoy that aspect of Game Awards, but hey!

I won’t be wasting time listing out all the nominees and all the categories, that wouldn’t really be interesting. Instead I’ll focus on the big winners and the most interesting aspects of an otherwise pretty dreary event. And then I’ll also take a deeper look at the game announcements because there are some interesting things indeed.

So without further ado, the Game Awards 2018!

The key players and the role of God of War

While the categories were quite expansive, running the full gamut from game’s story, through musical score and graphical fidelity, right down to the E-sports scene, there were several games that made it into the nominee lists time and time again.

You probably have your own assumptions, but these were as follows: God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2 and to a somewhat lesser extent Marvel’s Spiderman and Fortnite, but from the indie scene we also had the excellent Celeste winning big and that’s great, great news.

I will state it now instead of building acritical hype, God of War won the Game of the Year award. And that’s absolutely fantastic, in the era of live-services and incessant monetization, the award going to the console-exclusive, single-player only, devoid of microtransactions masterpiece of an action game, is a reason for elation. Even if all of us kind of expected it.

It’s entirely possible that this game will sell well over 10 million copies before the year is over. Now whether this is enough to change the course of the gaming industry remains to be seen, but the bar has certainly been placed very, very high.

Red Dead Redemption II was the big winner

While God of War won the most prestigious award, the highest total number of claimed awards goes to RDR II and that includes Best Narrative, Best Score, Best Audio Design and Best Performance.

So we have something of a repeat of the 2018 Bafta Games Awards where while the most important award went to What Remains of Edith Finch, Ninja Theory’s Hellblade was the game that amassed the greatest number of awards.

It saddens me a bit that Melissanthi Mahut (ASC Odyssey’s Kassandra) didn’t win the reward for Best Performance, it would have been great for a minority voice actress to receive this award and she certainly deserved it.

Not to belittle Roger Clark’s excellent performance as Arthur Morgan. But of course I’m very happy for RDR II’s success, even if Rockstar’s continuing commercial success with heavily monetized games is… worrying.

Video Game Awards 2018

Games nominess to Game Awards 2018

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The Indie scene

Celeste game winner indie game

As I’ve said, Celeste was the bright shining star of the evening. The game was nominated in several different categories, including the Game of the Year, which in itself is no mean feat, but in the end it won two other awards: for Games for Impact and Best Independent Game.

If you haven’t heard about it up to this point (shame on you), Celeste is a game from a single dev working on all their games, Matt Makes Games. Matt’s games share a similar 8 bit aesthetic punctuated with gorgeous hand-made images and they tend to be introspective and unconventional.

Celeste is a metaphor for conquering yourself, but the heartwarmingly refreshing take on how nothing good can come out of furiously trying to reject parts of yourself and that self-love is the bedrock of striving to be a better person, is a breath of fresh air in video games.

It’s also very thoughtful in presenting a strong, female protagonist, whose strength doesn’t lie in your regular male power fantasy of an emotionless badass, but partially in her fragility. And it also puts a main male lead into support, emotionally available role, which again, pretty great.

If you haven’t yet played Celeste, I cordially invite you to do it. It’s a very heartfelt and honest game, with very innovative gameplay elements that tie perfectly to the story and its themes. I hope Matt continues to makes games, because when I look at Celeste I know THIS is what this industry is for.

The E-sports.

I do like E-sports, but I have to admit, I don’t pay as much attention to the scene as maybe I should. The Best Esports Event award went to, unsurprisingly, League of Legends.

PUBG ultimately failed to cause more than a lukewarm stir with its Berlin Invitational (does anybody other than me even remembers that that was a thing at one point?). Plus, Riot released that fantastic, unhealthily leg-focused, K-pop music video for their event, which became a sensation on YouTube and actually beats a lot of what is considered cult classic in K-pop (I dabble).

Meanwhile, the award for Best Esports Player went to Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean, who let’s just say dressed for the occasion. I haven’t paid much attention to him, but seeing a black, self-proclaimed gay furry take the stage was great. You know, both for representation reasons and due to the immense schadenfreude reading the chat at the time caused me.

The PUBG vs. Fortnite feud is kind of over.

I think the 2018 Game Awards should be considered the point at which the winner of this long and storied feud (it’s been 8000 years and nobody remembers what it started over, something about frying pans?) should be announced, at least unofficially.

Fortnite was nominated multiple times, and won the Best Multiplayer Game award (beating Monster Hunter World, the fiends) while PUBG couldn’t muster a single nomination outside of its mobile version. And with Ninja winning the Best Streamer award, I think the dust is setting in.

The war is over and Fortnite stands victorious. It’s no coincidence that Epic announced their game store right before the event nor is it a coincidence that one of its exclusive titles, Hades, was announced therein. Epic’s success is reverberating widely in the industry and should not be underestimated.

Game announcements

Now that we’ve dealt with all the faff, let’s talk about the really exciting stuff, the future landscape of the industry, as seen through the lens of, what else, new game announcements. I won’t be talking about all of it, for example I don’t think a new winter-themed PUBG map is important to anybody. I’ll reserve my commentary for things that spark genuine interest and surprise.

So first off, to get it out of the way, we have the upcoming sci-fi RPG from Obsidian, Outer Worlds. The developers are wearing the mantle of people-who-made-Fallout proudly and aren’t afraid of throwing some shade at my boy Todd, which certainly caught internet’s attention. Meanwhile I have to say, the game really looks interesting, and funny, and great. Cannot wait.

We also got a clarification on what the new mysterious Far Cry thing is supposed to be. It’s a new game alright, but using a lot of assets and the engine of Far Cry 5. So you can think of it as something very similar to Far Cry Primal or Blood Dragon. And it’s exactly what it seems: continuation of Far Cry 5 with new villains and a transformed, now post-apocalyptic setting. Thank God I was wrong and it didn’t turn out to be a mobile game.

Next up is Supergiant’s Hades, very much continuing the Studio’s proven track record in making solid isometric action games. The art style is really fantastic, mechanics look complex and it has a huge focus on repeatedly dying. So you know, just like <immediately gets smacked across the face> [Super Meat Boy?—Ed.]. Hopefully Hades will be narrating your whole journey (what is a Supergiant’s game without a narrator?), but I do like a more mouthy protagonist. Also, he look goooood.

Finally, from the things that interest me, we got a new trailer for Devil May Cry 5, which finally showcased V’s moves. And for the life of me, I can’t peg this guy down. He has demon familiars that do the fighting for him, which is unique as far as the series is concerned, but he also seems to be using a Trickster-style teleport. He also has Devil Trigger? Actually, he has DmC’s Devil Trigger, which turns his hair white. I don’t know who he is, but I’m more excited than ever.

On the front of things that interest me less, we’ve seen new Mortal Kombat, gory as ever, and flaunting some fun gameplay mechanics including using environment for your advantage (it always bugged me that you can’t pick up those spears, why would they leave them around if not for that?). We also saw what I assume to be alternate costumes. Playing to your strengths I guess, that’s smart.

Lastly, we saw a trailer for the announced nostalgia trip, Psychonauts 2. While there were and still are many, many worries to be had about this game having to do with the main man behind the project and its Kickstarter history, the trailer did look really well. It unmistakably still has that cartoony style and the humor is on-point. I’m still wary about this game, but more hopeful now.

May the Schick Hydro-bot protect us

Game Awards are behind us and hopefully I managed to distill the most relevant parts for you. Lack of Death Stranding is weighting greatly upon me, but I will console myself with the flurry of fantastic games that we’re all anticipating.