This year has been another stunner for fans of video gaming, with a host of brilliant new IPs, stunning open world extravaganzas, reinvigorated franchises, and a rich array of games from all genres and types.
In December, the Game Awards held its annual ceremony honouring the biggest and best the industry has to offer, rewarding all aspects of production from Game of the Year and best in breed, through to individual technical awards for direction, design, development and audio. Here are our selected highlights…
Best Ongoing Game
This strange title pays credit to those titles that keep on delivering fun and action for its players, month in, month out. Unsurprisingly, this was hotly contested by a collection of online shooters: Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege, Grand Theft Auto Online, Destiny 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and – remarkably for a game launched in 2013 – Warframe, which still sits at number five on Steam’s most played chart.
In the end, Blizzard’s Overwatch bagged the accolade, which, although only 18 months old, currently has more than 35 million players, dwarfing the likes of PUBG. Overwatch also ran away with the Best eSports title.
Although PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds missed out on the title of Best Ongoing Game at the Game Awards, it did win Best Multiplayer, beating off stiff competition from Fortnite, Call of Duty: World War II, Destiny 2, plus Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch.
PUBG has been the phenomenon of 2017, selling 20 million copies in just eight months and dominating the Steam charts. The last-man-standing shooter was designed and directed by former DJ and graphic designer, Brendan Greene, working out of Korea, and is based on his previous mod for ARMA 2, DayZ: Battle Royale.
Best Sports/Racing Game
It’s slightly weird to bundle football in with motor sports, but in the end this category was a battle between FIFA 18, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, NBA 2K18, Project Cars 2, GT Sport and Forza Motorsport 7, with the Turn 10 Studios title taking the chequered flag.
Available for both PC and Xbox, Forza Motorsport 7 is actually the tenth entry in the series, which began life as an Xbox exclusive in 2005 and in recent years has alternated with the Forza Horizon open world racers. With 32 locations, more than 700 cars, realistic handling and sumptuous environmental effects, it’s a worthy winner.
Best Fighting Game
The one-on-one combat game has enjoyed a mini-renaissance of late as evidenced by the nominees in this category, which includes ARMS for the Nintendo Switch, Injustice 2, Marvel vs, Capcom: Infinite, Nidhogg 2 and Tekken 7.
In this battle royale, the victor was Injustice 2 from NetherRealm Studios, the sequel to its 2013 release Injustice: Gods Among Us. The beat ’em up features characters from the DC Comics universe, and was directed by Ed Boon, co-creator of the original Mortal Kombat series.
Best Action Game
This was another fiercely contested category at the Game Awards, with the likes of Cuphead, Destiny 2, Nioh, Prey and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus all nominated.
However, it was MachineGames’ highly respected sequel to 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order that took top honours. The release neatly coincided with the rise of Donald Trump and the United States’ alt-right movement, and employed marketing taglines such as ‘Not My America’ and ‘Make America Nazi-Free Again’.
Best Audio Design
As well as bagging the ‘Games For Impact award’ – for games offering thought-provoking ideas and profound social messages – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice fought off competition from big hitters Destiny 2, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey to secure the Best Audio award.
Ninja Theory’s psychological horror adventure follows Sensua (played by Melina Juergens who won the ‘Best Performance’ award) in her quest to rescue the soul of her dead lover from Helheim, the Norse version of hell. The character is plagued by psychosis and the audio plays an important role in delivering the voices in her head – known as Furies – which haunt her journey.
Best Indie Game
It should come as no surprise that the cult hit Cuphead beat the likes of Pyre, Night in the Woods, What Remains of Edith Finch and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice to this award. Coded by two Canadian brothers, the retro-styled, retro-themed, run-and-gun title sold more than a million copies in just two weeks and its unforgiving, hard-as-nails play was embraced by gamers worldwide.
Music is a hugely important part of the interactive experience, and it’s only fitting that it should have its own category at the Game Awards. The nominees included Cuphead, Super Mario Odyssey, Destiny 2, Persona 5 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But it was NieR: Automata that most impressed the judges.
This action-RPG from Square-Enix features a soundtrack by long-time video game musician Keiichi Okabe, whose credits include final Fantasy XV, Tekken 7 and the original Nier.
Game of The Year
There were so many good nominees this year at the Game Awards, with a shortlist featuring Super Mario Odyssey, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5 (winner of the ‘Best Role Playing Game’ award). But Nintendo scooped the top honours with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – the latest entry in a franchise dating back to 1986 on the Japanese Famicom console. The sprawling role-playing title also won Best Game Direction and best Action/Adventure Game.
Other winners included Cuphead for ‘Best Art Direction’, What Remains of Edith Finch for ‘Best Narrative’, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard for ‘Best VR/AR Game’, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, which – somewhat controversially – beat XCom 2: War of the Chosen, Tooth and Tail, Total War: Warhammer and Halo Wars 2 to the title of ‘Best Strategy Game’.