Geoff Keighley eat your heart out, Ready Up has this years videogame awards all sorted. So without further ado lets roll out the still stained red carpets, count up the bribes and crack open the envelopes (which haven’t at all been steamed open and resealed) and see what the consensus was in a variety of exciting categories. We’re going to be discussing these a little more in the next podcast, so keep your ears peeled for that.
It’s been another crazy year for narrative in videogames with heavy hitters like The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 on one hand delivering quality writing in an unprecedented scale, and on the other titles like Undertale and Her Story subverting the very notion of narrative presentation in games. But the runaway winner for this category was The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, which set a new bar for mature, nuanced storytelling and meaningful characterisation.
Winner: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Runner Up: Life is Strange
Best aesthetics covers graphical power houses and stylistic gems alike, but fundamentally it’s the category that captures the atmosphere of a game. Understandably there was a wild split on this category with votes for games as diverse as Rise of the Tomb Raider, Splatoon, Volume and Prune. The winner though was Bloodborne, a game that delivers such a confident and delicate Lovecraftian setting that the hairs on my neck stand on end just thinking of it. Close behind, though, was the gloriously colourful, hand-crafted aesthetic of Yoshi’s Woolly World.
Runner Up: Yoshi’s Woolly World
Music isn’t just there as an ornamentation, it can dynamically change your experience of the game as well as increase your immersion in the game world. This year saw a diverse range of auditory delights from the nostalgia-laden Star Wars Battlefront with its authentic sounds, the chiptune vibe of Axiom Verge, the indie shoegaze trappings of Life is Strange, and the atmospheric medieval strings of The Witcher 3. But the winner, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, ravished with its evocative choral soundtrack by the immensely talented Jessica Curry.
Winner: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Runner Up: Broken Age
Sure, it’s been a good year for games, but even amongst all the riches there have been a few games that fell far short of their promise. Whether it was the product of a studio stretched too thin and biting off more than they could chew (Tell Tale’s Game of Thrones), a cynical money grubbing ploy (Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival), an early console exclusive that needed a lot longer in the oven (The Order 1886), or a good old fashioned technical and PR disaster (Batman: Arkham Knight or Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5), there were plenty of things for people to get mad about. This is a bit of a broad category but two games seem to have raised the ire of Ready Uppers more than the others.
Winners: Game of Thrones & The Order: 1886
This is the opposite of the last category. These are the games that weren’t on your radar, but very quickly became firm favourites. Whether it was a surprise indie gem like Undertale or Her Story, the game released from production hell that shouldn’t have been good but was such as Until Dawn, or a game that just surprised with the sheer extent that it overperformed like The Witcher 3, there was plenty of refreshing reminders that sometimes the best experiences come from unexpected releases. Two games took Ready Uppers slightly more by surprise than all the others.
Winners: The Beginner’s Guide and Until Dawn
Sometimes the most fun comes from playing videogames with your friends, whether that’s online or in one of the increasingly popular local multiplayer titles. This year there were a broad swathe of opportunities to team up with or against your buddies. Halo 5 delivered the year’s best slice of deathmatch shooter, and MOBAs are still doing strong if Blizzard’s entry to the field Heroes of the Storm is anything to go by. But there were some more unconventional experiences on offer too, as is evident from the three games that split the vote in this category: a cutesy Nintendo take on the shooter, a hilarious physics based wrestling game, and a mash up of football and RC cars.
Winners: Splatoon, Gang Beasts and Rocket League
What would a videogame be without a character on which to project yourself – well, an abstract game I suppose. Nevertheless there were an ample amount of fresh faces for us to get acquainted with. Our writers took a shine to three of them equally.
Winners: Dr Hill (Until Dawn), Cody and Wreden (The Beginner’s Guide) and Nick Valentine (Fallout 4)
It’s not all about the sparkly graphics and all guns blazing (although, sometimes it is very much still about those things) sometimes smaller studios and individuals are able to realise crazy concepts that big studios couldn’t dream of.
Winners: Undertale and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Sometimes big is beautiful, so let’s all take a moment to reflect on our favourite big, blockbuster experience this year. Tied for first place are the colossal experiences Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3, very much demonstrating the open world is here to stay. Close behind on votes and tying for second place are Rise of the Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid V.
Winners: Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Runners Up: Rise of the Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
2015 has been a fantastic year but 2016 is also looking promising with some big titles on the horizon like Hitman, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dark Souls 3 and some joker even said The Last Guardian. But the three games (yes, once again we prove to be the most indecisive website out there) that have everyone most excited are:
Winners: Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Nier: Automata