Who Should Win at The Game Awards 2016


I absolutely adore the Game Awards! Geoff Keighley and his crew were able to piece together the only universally respected award ceremony that celebrates the beauty and majesty of video games. What I particularly enjoy about the show is the fact that the producers do it for the fans. This year, Hideo Kojima will receive the 'Industry Icon' award, while trailers that heavily rely on CG will not be accepted, putting more focus on in-game footage. Having said that, most of us tune in to find out which studios receive the awards. Today, I'll briefly run through some of the biggest categories of the show and reveal who I think should emerge victorious. Without further ado, let's get to it:


BEST ACTION GAME


Official Description: 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

Who Should Win: Doom. Now, this will be a major theme in this piece: all of these games are remarkable. That said, only one can win. Combat is mostly about violence, and when it comes down to it, one title stood out due to the absolutely chaotic experience it presented. The answer is Doom. Everything about it, from sound effects and visuals to guns and enemies, delivered exactly what I wanted from a modern day version of the franchise.


BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE GAME


Official Description: 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 by Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
- UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END by Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Who Should Win: Uncharted 4. Had to think about this one for a second. Hitman was pretty good. I was especially thrilled to see Ratchet & Clank and Hyper Light Drifter getting some love. Dishonored is one of the best video games of the year. I loved its crisp and adaptable mechanics. Sadly, this category was made for the Uncharted franchise. Its solid combat mechanics perfectly blend in with the fun puzzles and breathtaking traversing. It all adds up to deliver some of the most surreal set-pieces I've ever witnessed in a video game, deservedly earning the award


BEST ROLE PLAYING GAME


Official Description: 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

Who Should Win: Blood and Wine. To be fair, I spent no time with World of Warcraft: Legion. But this category is ultimately a clash between Dark Souls 3 and Blood and Wine. Played both of them, loved them equally for their own set of reasons. They are unquestionably two top-notch RPGs. In the end, I had to base my decision on the price tag. Because while Dark Souls retailed at full price, Blood and Wine provided 20+ hours of fantastic adventures for the low price of $19.99. Can't beat that.


BEST SPORTS/RACING GAME


Official Description: For traditional and non-traditional sports and racing games.

- FIFA 17 by EA Canada/EA Sports
- FORZA HORIZON 3 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

Who Should Win: Forza Horizon 3. None of these games reinvented the wheel of their respective sub-genre, so I searched for the game who perfected it the most. In my mind, there is no question: Forza Horizon 3 is the perfect racing game. Sophisticated, beautiful, massive, and full of things to do, this one truly deserves your attention.


BEST MULTIPLAYER GAME


Official Description: 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

Who Should Win: Overwatch. Three games stood out to me here. The rest were simply quality versions of your typical FPS multiplayer formula. Rainbow Six did some pretty unique stuff when it comes to destructibility and game modes, but it wasn't deep enough to keep players engaged. Overcooked is the underdog in this race, and a part of me is hoping it comes out on top. Nevertheless, Overwatch is the pick here. Blizzard's first shooter is miles ahead of its competition. Its unique art style, deep yet accesible mechanics, and addictive gameplay have users playing on a daily basis...months after release!


BEST ART DIRECTION



Official Description: 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

Who Should Win: Firewatch. This one is bound to cause quite a bit of buzz. Each game is visually stunning, in their own rights. Regardless, I'm sticking with Campo Santo's paradisiacal adventure. Firewatch is drop-dead gorgeous. Unlike some of its contemporaries, its graphics are not meant to be one-hundred-percent realistic. Instead, the developers had a vision for the art style, and they fully stuck with it. The vision? Let's make everything look prettier than it actually is. Skies seem like they were hand painted, trees are greener than they actually are, sunsets are redder than the one you see in real life and water is clear as crystal. The result is an overwhelming sense of euphoria. You feel like you're in another world.


BEST STUDIO/GAME DIRECTION


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

- BLIZZARD for Overwatch
- DICE for Battlefield 1
- ID SOFTWARE for Doom
- NAUGHTY DOG for Uncharted 4
- RESPAWN for Titanfall 2

Who Should Win: Naughty Dog. Without a shadow of a doubt, Naught Dog is the finest developer in the PlayStation ecosystem. I would argue they're the best in the business. Sure, there are teams who can are better at certain aspects of game development. But nobody can craft the entire package quite as well as the Santa Monica studio. Uncharted 4 is one of their best releases to date, and the guys behind Nathan Drake's adieu deserve the nod.


BEST NARRATIVE


Official Description: 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

Who Should Win: Mafia III. I think I speak for most gamers when I say that Mafia III was supposed to be a better game. Sure, the final product wasn't the worst thing in the world, but fans of the franchise expected a masterpiece that simply wasn't there. However, I was blown away by the top-notch cinematic elements in developer Hangar 13's bloody, graphical revenge narrative. Mafia 3 has the quality found in many of your favorite movies. The story follows Lincoln Clay, who happens to be one of the best protagonist I've hung around with in a long time. The rest of the cast is equally rich and multi-dimensional. The storytelling also deserves to be praised. It's a mix of cutscenes taking place in 1968 with footage of a documentary being shot in present day. It's a fresh, magnificent method to deliver a complex storyline.


BEST INDEPENDENT GAME


Official Description: 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.

Who Should Win: Inside. A little over six years ago, Limbo was first released. An indie gem developed by PlayDead, it was a critical and commercial success. For the longest time, I was absolutely sure it would be the studio's best offering. But I was wrong. Inside not only met my high expectations, but it beautifully surpassed them. It doesn't reinvent the magic Limbo delivered. It rebuilds it, crafting an entirely new adventure with jaw-dropping presentation, crisp controls, and clever puzzles you must try. Also, it reclaim's PlayDead's spot as one of the most exciting developers in the world.


GAME OF THE YEAR


Official Description: 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

Who Should Win: Uncharted 4. For the longest time, I simply saw the Uncharted series as a fantastic trilogy of adventure games with breathtaking set-pieces. Thinking about it, they are considerably more complex. They're the quintessential form of escapism. Getting a break from our boring lives in order to lead Nathan Drake towards a treasure. With 'A Thief's End', Naughty Dog concludes one of video game's finest franchises with a contemporary masterpiece. From lifelike visuals and improved gameplay, to incredible characters and impeccable dialogue, this experience desperately screams "MAGNUM OPUS". If you love video games, you're bound to adore 'A Thief's End'. An absolute must play.


Winners will be revealed live at The Game Awards 2016, which you can watch around the world live on Thursday, December 1.

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