In An Age (of) Game Awards

Since this appears to be a Thing now, let me hand out a few awards.

Overrated Game of the Year: Witcher 3

Witcher 3 conclusively proves that all that particularly matters in gaming awards is that it looks pretty and has an interesting story; gameplay and rational design systems are 100% optional. Which, actually, is a fact that I should have already learned from Bioshock Infinite, which managed to bludgeon its way to several awards in 2014 based solely on its visuals and media narrative, not the garbage story or weak gunplay.

Seriously though, search your feelings on this – you know it to be true.

Actual Game of the Year: Metal Gear Solid 5

Yeah, I went there.

Look, the question you need to ask yourself is “what does Game of the Year even mean?” If that means “which game had the most engaging gameplay, the tightest game mechanics, and the elegance of harmonious, interlocking design,” then MGS 5 is Game of the Year no question. Go ahead and try to argue some other game got gameplay better.

Did MGS 5 go off the rails towards the end story-wise, when Konami presumably had Kojima’s balls in a vice? Yes. Would one final chapter mission DLC wrap everything up to a ridiculous degree and catapult the game into gaming legend? Absolutely. Does it immeasurably suck that none of this happened? Crushingly so.

But goddamn if the act of playing MGS 5 wasn’t the best game experience all year for me. Witcher 3 probably had better voice acting and a more coherent story, and I spent more time in Fallout 4 overall. Nevertheless, I feel MGS 5 deserves Game of the Year more than the others because it got the actual game bits so, so right.

Game of the Year after Mods and DLC: Fallout 4

Calling it now.

You Can’t Go Home Again Award: Pillars of Eternity

I remember having nothing but fond memories of the Baldur’s Gate series, playing them for many, many hours during a time period where I was otherwise beholden to JRPGs only. Pillars of Eternity was indeed a return to form, and I thought those same good feels would return.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, they did not.

As it turns out, the pseudo-real-time combat of PoE (and by extension Baldur’s Gate) isn’t actually all that fun to me. Back in the day, it was novel and interesting, but I just can’t stand the tactical sloppiness anymore. You can’t simultaneously make positioning super important and not allow me to fine-tune my character’s movement, especially when two pixels are the difference between your tank tanking and allowing the assassin to slip through the doorway.

Also? Sitting around and auto-attacking for days isn’t especially engaging.

I love tactical games, queuing attacks, and so on. Pillars isn’t tactical though, as you have no idea when an attack is going to fire, if a potion will be quaffed in time, or pretty much anything else. Not necessarily a deficiency in Pillars itself – it is true to the form it is imitating – but it represents a gameplay type that simply doesn’t work for me any more.

Best New Feature in a Game: Hearthstone’s Tavern Brawl

I may have talked about Tavern Brawl from time to time already, but let me just say that Blizzard came up with game mode here that nobody asked for, but nevertheless ended up being exactly what the game needed. It’s hard now to imagine what Hearthstone was actually like without it. Did we really just grind Ranked or play Arena all day? Gross.

The brilliance with Brawl is actually manifold. Half the time you have to create decks from your own collection, but the other half of the time your collection doesn’t matter; this means that a new player has a shot to win against someone who has been collecting cards since beta. The weekly format means A) variety of play styles, and B) drives the Hearthstone conversation in interesting ways. On Blizzard’s side, Brawl also affords them the opportunity to playtest new cards, game modes, and receive real-time feedback on the same.

Of course, Brawl isn’t perfect. Some weeks, the rules are just crap. Brawls frequently jack up the RNG to insane levels. There have been quite a few repeats. The 2-3 day “cooldown” in-between Brawls doesn’t really need to exist, IMO.

But overall? Tavern Brawl is exactly what Hearthstone needed, right when it needed it.

Most Anticipated Game of 2016 (Thus Far): Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

I asked for this.

Runners Up:

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Final Fantasy 15
  • Star Citizen (?)

Game I Would Really Like to See Out of Early Access: The Forest

Oh, and Starbound. And The Long Dark. And Darkwood, which was a game I technically backed in goddamn 2013. Now that I think about it, there isn’t a game I want to ever see in Early Access anymore.

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Posted on December 24, 2015, in Miscellany and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Sorry but I think a lot of people enjoyed the game play as well, I know I did and while some systems like crafting speed crammed in it did kind of add to the experience.
    And I think your downplaying the story too as I thought many of the optional quests wee really well done as well. Interesting stories, not just simple kill quests but long interconnected ones. It was also a world I wanted to explore and get lost in.
    It was also supported by good industry practices too. Dr free, free extra content. Reasonably priced expansions.

    Mgs story is just bad. It’s mostly unintelligible dribble that uses way to much jargon and jumps all o er the place. The world aspects were good but it become bland after a short time. There were also quite a few annoying always online bits and microtransaxtion in the end.

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    • A lot of people enjoy Justin Bieber too.

      Having a world you “want to get lost in” is completely fine, but having such a world revolve around a race against time is just bad. Especially when that world takes such great pains to be a believable and coherent place everywhere else. Bloody Baron? Great. Bloody Baron when the Wild Hunt is one step away from Ciri? Disbelief unsuspended. Nevermind how they took the gritty, immersive parts of the earlier Witcher titles’ combat systems and trimmed them down to MMO abilities.

      At this point though, I’m just reiterating my review, which I already linked.

      Completely right about the MGS story, no argument there… although pretty par for the course for a MGS title. But is that what “Game of the Year” is dependent on? Witcher 3 can have story of the year. It does not get gameplay of the year.

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      • It’s hardly the only game that pushes time limited story elements. Fallout 4 had the baby I was supposed to be looking for and forgot about 2 seconds in. That’s just a regular trope of the industry.
        Also I wasn’t debating how you feel about the game, I read your review and have seen the same points elsewhere. Just my 2 cents is all haha

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  2. I love Tavern Brawl so much! As someone who likes playing Hearthstone but is not particularly into the minutia of high-end deck building, Tavern Brawls have kept me playing Hearthstone most of the year. They’re also a great steady source of dust from melting extras from the reward pack, and finally I can do the “Win X games as a rogue” quests without having to put together decks for classes I’m not interested in.

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  3. ur very retard the witcher 3 is the best game of the year , kojimacocksuck

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  4. ^^ See, that’s what you get for putting “Game Awards” in your title.

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  5. “Did we really just grind Ranked or play Arena all day? Gross.”

    Hey now, there were some people :cough: who thought that was the best thing ever!

    My Witcher 3 review preview: The worst parts of GW2, Diablo 3, button mashing, and how not to do the critical story/game element of Majora’s Mask or Fallout 1. Oh and it’s pretty with good voice actors.

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  6. It says something that even your GOTY only got a “worth it” price of $35. Not sure what it says, but it has to say something.

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    • Ha, well, my scoring rubric is a little odd, yes. It’s not that a given game is only worth X amount, but rather that it is an auto-buy at or below that price. So if you see MGS 5 somewhere for $35, I’m recommending that you go ahead and buy it now.

      I don’t think there would ever be a $60 recommended game (you can usually get Day 1 AAA games for $42 from GMG anyway), and I believe $35 is the highest I have gone.

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