One of gaming’s biggest nights, the Game Awards, thundered across the internet, in the early hours of December 11th. The show delivered awards, announcements, more world premieres than you’d believe possible, and – most importantly – Swedish Chef.
First coming onto the game awards circuit in 2014, the Game Awards are hosted each year by Geoff Keighley. The Game Awards is the top award show of the video games world – the awards mean just as much as the Oscars do for movies. Awards range from Best Narrative, Best Direction, to more conceptual awards like Games for Impact which rewards games which push for change.
With 32 awards on offer – spanning from art direction, to completely esports based awards, including best esports team and best esports coach – there is alway a lot to play for. The Last Of Us Part 2 won big, taking home seven awards in total, with Laura Bailey receiving the Best Performance award for her role as Abby. It also claimed the highly coveted Game of The Year award. Naughty Dog’s apocalyptic sequel also scooped Best Audio Design, as well as the Innovation in Accessibility Award. The Innovation in Accessibility Award, presented for the first time this year, recognizes ‘Software and/or hardware that is pushing the medium forward by adding features, technology and content to help games be played and enjoyed by an even wider audience.’
The Last Of Us Part 2 was not the only game to clean up nicely, however, with Supergiant Games’ Hades picking up the award for Best Action Game and Best Indie Game. Hades was released in its 1.0 version back in September, and after a year of rumbling about the early access models of the game, it was released to overwhelming praise. Hades, Ghost of Tsushima, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and Among Us all pulled in two awards each.
Some of the other awards going out to developers included the Best Ongoing award, which ended up going to the team at Hello Games for No Man’s Sky, recognising the games bounce back from its disastrous release in 2016. This year’s Games for Impact award, an award for a game with a powerful pro-social meaning or message went to Tell Me Why, from the folks over at Dontnod, who previously gave us Life Is Strange. Tell Me Why is also, significantly, the first game, from a big studio, with a transgender playable character.
In her acceptance speech, Livvy Hall, the community manager for Tell Me Why, talked about the importance of representation in games, saying, ‘here’s to a future where even more marginalised people can see themselves and their experiences truly reflected in the games that they play’.
For some, the main event of the VGAs actually isn’t the awards given out to games from the last 12 months, but instead the world premiers and exclusive new looks at upcoming games. And this year these viewers would not have been disappointed, with the trailers, first looks, and premiers airing thick and fast throughout the show. The first thing to be revealed during the main stage was the new Super Smash Bros. character, Sephiroth from Final Fantasy 7.
After the tumultuous year many have had, it’s little surprise that many of the games announced leaned heavily into horror. Some of the biggest announcements of the night included Back 4 Blood, from Turtle Rock Studio 2 – the team behind Left 4 Dead – who are now back with the spiritual successor to the squad based zombie shoot ‘em up. Back 4 Blood looks so much like the original Left 4 Dead, that perhaps the studio just decided it’s best to give fans more of what they love. If mowing down hordes of the undead is your bag, add 22nd June 2021 to your calendar.
Keeping with the creepy vibe was the spooky trailer for The Callisto Protocol, which looks to be another spiritual successor, this time for the game Dead Space. Glen Schofield, the CEO of Striking Distance Games and the creator of the original Dead Space, is behind this new project, and said he wanted to make the ‘single most scariest game for PCs and consoles’. The trailer features what seems to be malfunctioning robots and a space inmate getting his face munched by a mutant – that’ll easily put you off your dinner– super foul and scary. The Callisto Protocol looks to be a bit further off, dropping sometime in 2022.
The Swedish Chef dropped in as well, carrying a homemade VGA trophy, to announce his inclusion in Overcooked: All You Can Eat; true horror in and of itself.
Horror aside, the sheer volume of games announced was absolutely mind boggling, with game after game after game gracing the screen. Another stand out would be Season, a PS5 console exclusive developed by Scavengers Studios, which does not currently have a release date. The main thing that hits with the trailer for Season is the raw beauty of the world, somewhere between cel-shaded and painted. You play as a character discovering the world for the first time, with the game allowing you to cycle around, recording bugs and plants.
Another standout game shown off was a new game titled Open Roads from Fullbright, the developers of Gone Home. The premise seems fairly simple: you are travelling with your mother to uncover the mystery of your recently deceased grandmother’s life, and if Fullbright’s previous work is anything to go on, the twists and turns in Open Roads should be numerous, and sharp. Open Roads stars Kaitlyn Dever and Keri Russel as the main mother/daughter duo.
One major game missing from the Game Awards, aside from a throw away comment from Geoff Keighley, was Elden Ring. The new game, briefly teased at E3 2019, has been on radio silence since. It’s the brainchild of From Software, the geniuses behind the Dark Souls series, in collaboration with George R.R. Martin; fans were foaming at the mouth for more news which sadly did not show up.
Another weird one was that most of the esports awards were handed out in the preshow, before the start of the event proper; with all the air time given to the legitimizing of video games as a sport, pushing it aside to the pregame seemed like an odd move.
After such a promising event, filled with incredible announcements, sad silences, heartfelt thanks, and, not to forget, the covid chat; the future of gaming looks promising for 2021 and beyond.