The Game Awards 2016 Preview

the-game-awards

It’s that time of year again, where we get to bicker amongst ourselves over what the best games of the year were. Geoff Keighley’s annual gaming awards show, The Game Awards, has finally become a staple of the industry. There’s a lot to look forward to as it relates to dubbing the year’s best in gaming as well as big reveals and trailers for upcoming titles in 2017 and beyond. So here’s a bit of a preview for what’s to come on Thursday night and who I believe to be the winners.

First we have the jury selected winners. A jury consisting of various media members selects the awards as it relates to primary categories like Game of the Year, Studio of the Year etc. A note to be made is that for games to qualify for a nomination, they must have been released prior to November 24, 2016. So let’s take a look at the nominees.

 

Game of the Year

Recognizing a game that delivers the absolute best experience across all creative and technical fields.

Doom by id Software/Bethesda
Inside by PlayDead
Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment
Titanfall 2 by Respawn/Electronic Arts
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End by Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

This is an ok selection of games but I was a little surprised to see that Dark Souls 3 didn’t make the cut, particularly considering that Doom did. I think this category is a two horse race between the year’s best narrative and the year’s best multiplayer experiences.

My Pick:

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Studio/Game Direction

Recognizing a game studio for outstanding creative vision and innovation in game direction and design.

Blizzard Entertainment for Overwatch
DICE for Battlefield 1
id Software for Doom
Naughty Dog for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Respawn for Titanfall 2

I think it’s hard for there to be any sort of competition in this category this year because I think that one studio on this list has been so far ahead of the rest. A key element for a game’s longevity is the ability to properly maintain it while also adding new content on a consistent basis. Sometimes, a game like last year’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is so absurdly good that the studio wins by default for creating an unbelievable experience. There’s a clear top two here, but I think there’s a significant gap between them.

My Pick:

Blizzard.png

Blizzard Entertainment

Best Narrative

For outstanding storytelling and narrative development in a game.

Firewatch by Campo Santo
Inside by PlayDead
Mafia III by Hanger 13/2K
Oxenfree by Night School Studio
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End by Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

I know there was a lot of love for some of the smaller games this year but an emotionally exhausting conclusion to a well renowned saga is going to win this award every time.

My Pick:

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Art Direction

For outstanding creative and technical achievement in artistic design and animation.

Abzu by Giant Squid/505
Firewatch
by Campo Santo
Inside
by PlayDead
Overwatch
by Blizzard Entertainment
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
by Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

This is a pretty strong category from top to bottom. All five of these games have terrific visuals and great overall art styles. But there’s one art style in particular that I absolutely love.

My Pick:

 Firewatch.jpg

Firewatch

Best Music/Sound Design

For outstanding audio, inclusive of score, original song, licensed soundtrack and sound design.

Battlefield 1 by DICE/Electronic Arts
Doom
by id Software/Bethesda
Inside
by PlayDead
Rez Infinite
by Enhance Games
Thumper
by Drool

I’ll be honest, outside of a beta weekend and a demo, I played none of the games on this list. The game I’d give this to had both exceptional sound effects and great music that really made it feel like the game it was supposed to be.

My Pick:

 doom

Doom

Best Performance

Award to an individual for voice-over acting, motion and/or performance capture.

Alex Hernandez as Lincoln Clay, Mafia III
Cissy Jones as Delilah, Firewatch
Emily Rose as Elena, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Rich Sommer as Henry, Firewatch
Troy Baker as Sam Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

You can probably tell by this point that one game in particular is going to clean up on Thursday night. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End featured great performances all around so you could really justify giving this award to any of them. And is there ever going to be a year where Troy Baker isn’t a nominee in this category?

My Pick:

 Nolan North.jpg

Nolan North as Nathan Drake

Games for Impact Award

For a thought provoking game with a profound pro-social meaning or message.

1979 Revolution by iNK Stories
Block’Hood by Plethora Project/Devolver Digital
Orwell by Osmotic Studios/Surprise Attack
Sea Hero Quest by Glitchers
That Dragon, Cancer by Numinous Games

The winner of this award literally left people in a puddle of their own tears.

My Pick:

That Dragon, Cancer.jpg

That Dragon, Cancer

Best Independent Game

For outstanding creative and technical achievement in a game made outside the traditional publisher system.

Firewatch by Campo Santo
Hyper Light Drifter
by Heart Machine
Inside
by PlayDead
Stardew Valley
by ConcernedApe/Chucklefish Games
The Witness
by Thelka, Inc.

This is another strong category. Indie games have become some of my favorite in recent years because you can feel the passion of the creator(s) when you play them. There’s some stiff competition and you could certainly make a legitimate argument for everything in this category.

My Pick:

 Stardew Valley.jpg

Stardew Valley

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

For the best game playable on portables devices, including mobile phones and dedicated gaming handhelds.

Clash Royale by Supercell
Fire Emblem Fates
by Intelligent Systems/Nintendo
Monster Hunter Generations
by Capcom
Pokemon GO
by Niantic
Severed
by Drinkbox Studios

The nominees in this category are dumb. Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon were released on November 18th, almost a full week before the cutoff date, and were not nominated. That should be the winner of this category, but we don’t have to waste any more time here. Pokemon is taking this one without any debate after taking the world by storm in the summer.

My Pick:

 Pokemon GO.jpg

Pokemon GO

Best VR Game

For the best game experience playable in virtual reality.

Batman: Arkham VR by Rocksteady Studios/WBIE
Eve Valkyrie
by CCP Games
Job Simulator
by Owlchemy Labs
Rez Infinite
by Enhance Games
Thumper
by Drool.

I don’t own any form of VR nor do I know a single thing about the VR experience of these games.

My Pick:

N/A

Best Action Game

For the best games in the action genre focused on combat.

Battlefield 1 by DICE/Electronic Arts
Doom
by id Software/Bethesda
Gears of War 4
by The Coalition/Microsoft Studios
Overwatch
by Blizzard Entertainment
Titanfall 2
by Respawn Electronic Arts

If I haven’t made it clear by now, there’s one shooter that has been infinitely better than the rest this year.

My Pick:

 overwatch

Overwatch

Best Action/Adventure Game

The best action/adventure games, combining combat with traversal and puzzle solving.

Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Hitman
by IO Interactive/Square-Enix
Hyper Light Drifter
by Heart Machine
Ratchet & Clank (2016)
by Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
by Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

I have a pretty simple standard here; you can’t win Game of the Year and lose your own genre.

My Pick:

 Adobe Photoshop PDF

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Roleplaying Game

The best games designed for rich player character customization and progression, both offline and online, including massively multiplayer.

Dark Souls 3 by FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
by Eidos Montreal/Square-Enix
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine
by CD Projekt RED
World of Warcraft: Legion
by Blizzard Entertainment
Xenoblade Chronicles X
by Monolith Soft/Nintendo

God do I so badly want to give this one to The Witcher. Blood and Wine, the second expansion for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, was longer and superior to many Triple A titles by itself. As phenomenal as it was, I can’t justify giving a full game award like this to a piece of DLC. We need a DLC/expansion/add on category in the future because Blood and Wine deserves some love.

My Pick:

 Dark Souls 3.jpg

Dark Souls 3

Best Fighting Game

For a game designed primarily around head-to-head combat.

Killer Instinct Season 3 by Iron Galaxy Studios/Microsoft Studios
King of Fighters XIV by SNK/Atlus USA
Pokken Tournament by Bandai Namco/The Pokemon Co.
Street Fighter V by Capcom

Look, I’m not a fighting game guy. I played a little Pokken and I watched Street Fighter at EVO but that’s about it for me.

My Pick:

Street Fighter V.png

Street Fighter V

Best Family Game

Best game appropriate for family play, including toys-to-life, rhythm/music/dance, and other genres. 

Dragon Quest Builders by Square Enix
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
by TT Fusion/WBIE
Pokemon GO
by Niantic
Ratchet & Clank (2016)
by Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Skylanders: Imaginators
by Toy for Bob/Activison

I would not include an interactive phone app on this list but the rest of the nominees here are great. I just so happen to like one significantly more than the rest.

My Pick:

 Ratchet & Clank.jpg

Ratchet & Clank (2016)

Best Strategy Game

Best game focused on real time or turn-based strategy gameplay.

Civilization VI by Firaxis Games/2K
Fire Emblem Fates
by Intelligent Systems/Nintendo
The Banner Saga 2
by Stoic Studio/Versus Evil
Total War: Warhammer
by Creative Assembly/Sega
XCOM 2
by Firaxis Games/2K

Another category where I don’t have much experience. I’ve owned one of these games since it released but I just haven’t gotten around to actually playing it yet. My choice here is a game that I thought was all around excellent.

My Pick:

 XCOM 2.jpg

XCOM 2

Best Sports/Racing Game

For traditional and non-traditional sports and racing games.

FIFA 17 by EA Canada/EA Sports
Forza Horizon 2
by Playground Games/Microsoft Studios
MLB The Show 16
by SCE San Diego Studio/SIE
NBA 2K17
by Visual Concepts/2K Sports
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
by PES Productions/Konami

I haven’t played sports games not called Rocket League in years. I’ll leave this one to you guys.

My Pick:

N/A

Best Multiplayer Game

For outstanding online multiplayer gameplay and design, including co-op and massively multiplayer experiences. 

Battlefield 1 by DICE/Electronic Arts
Gears of War 4
by The Coalition/Microsoft Studios
Overcooked
by Ghost Town Games/Team 17
Overwatch
by Blizzard Entertainment
Rainbow Six Siege
by Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Titanfall 2
by Respawn/Electronic Arts

Honestly not much competition here for the top spot.

My Pick:

 overwatch

Overwatch

 

Next up we have the fan votes. There are really only a couple of these categories that I care about, the rest mean little to me but that’s just my taste for the particular nominees this year.

 

Best eSports Player

The eSports player judged to be the most outstanding performer in 2016, irrespective of game.

Faker, SK Telecom T1, League of Legends
Coldzera, SK Gaming, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Byun-Hyun Woo, Starcraft 2
Infiltration, Team Razer, Street Fighter V
Hungrybox, Team Liquid, Super Smash Bros.

Normally, I wouldn’t care much about this category but I do watch EVO every year and both Infiltration and Hungrybox were awesome. Hungrybox finally breaking through to win in an epic comeback was pretty awesome and Infiltration destroyed everything in his way. I don’t know anything about the other guys, to be honest with you.

My Pick:

 Hungrybox.jpg

Hungrybox

Best eSports Team

The eSports team organization judged to be the most outstanding for performance in 2016, irrespective of game.

SK Telecom 1, League of Legends
Wings Gaming, DOTA 2
SK Gaming
Rox Tigers, League of Legends
Cloud9

Yeah, I got nothing here.

My Pick

N/A

Best eSports Game

The eSports game that has demonstrated creative and technical excellence in 2016 with the best gameplay, community support and content updates.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive by Valve
DOTA 2
by Valve
League of Legends
by Riot
Overwatch
by Blizzard Entertainment
Street Fighter V
by Capcom

I watch a little bit of eSports from time to time. I typically watch the major events but there’s one game this year that has captured my interest a bit that I watch somewhat consistently.

My Pick:

 overwatch

Overwatch

Trending Gamer

For a streamer/influencer/media member who has made an important impact on the industry in 2016.

AngryJoeShow
Boogie2988
Danny O’Dwyer
JackSepticEye
Lirik

If you had given me this list a couple years ago, I would have had a definitive pick in a heartbeat. I know who a few of these guys are but I don’t particularly care enough about the content any of them provide to pick one. Lirik will probably win the category in a runaway.

My Pick

N/A

Best Fan Creation

For fan-created content, such as MODs, fan films, and other player content.

Brutal Doom 64
Enderal: The Shards of Order

This category was gutted when Another Metroid 2 Remake and Pokemon Uranium had to be pulled from the category because of Nintendo. Nintendo needs to lighten up on these kinds of things because Pokemon Uranium and Another Metroid 2 Remake were well done projects made by passionate fans.

My Pick

N/A

Most Anticipated Game

Recognizing an upcoming game that has shown significant ambition and promise in moving the gaming medium forward. Must be announced and scheduled for release after 12/1/16.

God of War by Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Horizon: Zero Dawn
by Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Mass Effect: Andromeda
by Bioware/EA
Red Dead Redemption 2
by Rockstar Games
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
by Nintendo

This is a real heavyweight list right here. Gamers are going to be salivating over the launch of all five of these titles. But let’s be real, after a six plus year wait since the release of one of the greatest games ever made, one of these games is the Goliath of the group.

My Pick:

 RDR 2.png

Red Dead Redemption 2

 

So there you have it, a quick little preview of the things to come on Thursday night. Both Mass Effect: Andromeda and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will also show off some new gameplay during the show on top of new trailers and world premieres yet to be determined. With PlayStation Experience taking place in California this weekend, it’ll be interesting to see which trailers we get going into the weekend. I, for one, am praying for a bigger glimpse at what’s to come with Red Dead Redemption 2 as well as the announcement of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Run The Jewels will also be performing live, if you’re into that. The Game Awards has turned into another annual event where there’s a lot to be excited about in the gaming industry.

The Game Awards 2016 will take place on Thursday, December 1st at 8:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm PT. It’s streamed all over the place, so watch it on whichever platform you choose.

 

@Sixchr

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