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Marvel at SDCC 2019: Phase 4 and Beyond

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Marvel went above and beyond expectations with their Hall H presentation at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. With announcements of movies and television productions for the next few years, we got a good look at what Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is shaping up to be, so let’s take a look at everything announced and teased. We will start with the film reveals, and follow those with the upcoming array of Marvel shows.

Black Widow

Release Date: May 1st 2020

Directed by Cate Shortland

Written by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson

Starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/ Red Guardian, O.T Fagbenle as Rick Mason, and Rachel Weisz as Melina

After years of high demand for a Black Widow solo movie, we finally got some concrete details during the Marvel panel, as well as some new cast member confirmations and a release date for the long-awaited title. Rumours suggest that the film will explore Natasha’s previously mentioned excursions in Budapest, an event that both Black Widow and Hawkeye have referenced in The Avengers and Avengers: Endgame. One notable confirmation from the panel was that the film will be set after Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War. Some brief footage shown at SDCC which revealed the film’s main antagonist: the classic Marvel villain Taskmaster.

Black Widow has always been a character shrouded in mystery, with a few glimpses here and there of her backstory. Despite the character first coming to the big screen in Iron Man 2 over ten years ago, we still don’t have a full grasp on her character. After her death in Endgame, it seemed like she would forever remain an enigma due to her sacrifice, but Black Widow is an opportunity to delve into her character one last time before she bows out of the MCU (presumably??). Here’s hoping that her solo movie will not only be the female-driven narrative we have been waiting for, but also a film that gives Natasha the justice she deserves.

Eternals

Release Date: November 6th 2020

Directed by Chloe Zhao

Written by Matthew K. Firpo and Ryan Firpo

Starring Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, and Don Lee as Gilgamesh

The Eternals movie was announced back in April 2018, and at SDCC we got confirmation for the cast members and director. The Eternals are a strand of humanity with superhuman resilience and strength (as well as other more individual abilities) created by Celestials after experimentation on archaic humans millions of years ago. They defend the Earth from various threats, including Deviants, who are the evil versions of the Eternals created at the same time by the Celestials. Other than that, little is known about where the story is going to go. Kevin Feige said in 2018 that he wanted the story to focus on the characters Ikaris and Sersei, but details at the moment are pretty limited. More info is likely be released next year, as it is the second film in the Phase 4 lineup.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Release Date: February 12th 2021

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Written by David Callaham

Starring Simu Liu as Shang-Chi and Tony Leung Chiu-wai as The Mandarin. Also starring Awkwafina in an undisclosed role.

Shang-Chi has been in line for his own movie for a fair amount of time now. Stan Lee wanted to make a movie back in the 1980s with Brandon Lee in the title role, but thirty years later, the Marvel martial arts expert is finally get a film of his own. The character is known for his martial arts abilities, earning himself the title of Master of Kung-Fu. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may sound like a mouthful compared to most Marvel movie titles, but this one has some particularly interesting implications. The Ten Rings are a terrorist organisation in both the comics and movies, and they have been directly affecting the main players of the MCU for years — such as Tony Stark, who they kidnapped in Iron Man under direction from Obadiah Stane.

It seems like a direct confrontation with the terrorists has been a long time coming, and the Shang-Chi film will be tackling it head on. Another interesting element of Shang-Chi is that it is introducing the real Mandarin (rather than the phony actor one from Iron Man 3). The Mandarin is a well-known villain from the comic, and whilst the Iron Man 3 version was a unique twist on the character, fans of his comic book iteration are sure to be pleased that he is finally getting a proper introduction in the MCU.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Release Date: May 7th 2021

Directed by Scott Derrickson.

The writer has yet to be confirmed.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch

Although it hasn’t been confirmed as of yet, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor may well be reprising their roles as Christine Palmer and Baron Mordo.

Another rather monstrous mouthful of a title, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be the sequel to the 2016 Doctor Strange, which introduced the Sorcerer Supreme to the MCU, as well as expanded on the concept of magic.  Taking place in a post-Endgame world, the film will see Doctor Strange on a journey through the multiple universes that were hinted at by the various timelines and travel between them in Endgame. The good doctor won’t be alone on his travels either. Wanda Maximoff, also known as Scarlet Witch, has also been confirmed to be a part of the sequel. This could be interesting, as Stephen Strange could easily take up a mentoring role for Maximoff, whose magic appears to be getting stronger in every film that she is in (she almost singlehandedly took down Thanos in Endgame). The two could make for an interesting double act due to their powers.

Kevin Feige also announced that the film would be Marvels first horror movie, which could be an exciting new genre to add to the MCU. With director Scott Derrickson confirming that the villain Nightmare (the creepy Dream Dimension leader who thrives on torturing dreaming humans) will be included in the film, it seems like Multiverse of Madness could be a completely fresh take on Marvel’s superhero formula. It also has an interesting link to one of the upcoming Disney+ Marvel shows, but more on that later.

Thor: Love and Thunder

Release Date: November 5th 2021

Directed and written by Taika Waititi

Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie.

The quirky titles just keep coming with the last film announcement officially confirmed for Phase 4. Thor: Love and Thunder will be the fourth Thor film in the MCU, and Taika Waititi will once again be returning to the director’s chair. One of the biggest surprises of the Hall H presentation was Waititi announcing that Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster will be taking the mantle of Thor at some point in the film, becoming a female Thor similar to the The Mighty Thor storyline from the comics. The introduction of a new Thor makes it likely that Chris Hemsworth will be stepping down from the role, possibly to do some adventuring with the Guardians of the Galaxy, seeing as he left with them at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Portman has some big shoes to fill if this is the case, but it is refreshing to see a female take over a leading superhero role from a male.

Another big reveal from the panel was the Valkyrie will be the first LGBTQ superhero in the MCU. Whilst LGBTQ characters have been suggested in the MCU before, Valkyrie is the first major character to be confirmed as such. It is encouraging to see such a major studio bringing more diversity to their films, both on and off screen (many of the Phase 4 films have brought on female directors as well as directors and writers from different backgrounds and ethnicities). After being crowned as king of New Asgard, Valkyrie will be searching for her queen in Love and Thunder (I have my fingers crossed for Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel taking up the position). It looks like Thor: Love and Thunder could shake up the MCU in a creative and contemporary way, with a good deal of eccentricity thrown into the mix thanks to Taika Waititi’s unique and hilarious style.

Blade

Starring Mahershala Ali

The last announcement in Hall H was the confirmation that Marvel is developing a new Blade movie with Mahershala Ali in the title role.  Nothing else is known besides that, but it was a great surprise to top off the vast array of Marvel news that we were given. Ali is a superb actor and a brilliant choice for the part. It’s awesome to see him join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s hoping that we get more news on the new Blade film soon.

Kevin Feige confirmed that we will also see Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in Phase 5 of the MCU, and hinted at new Fantastic Four and Mutants movies.

***

Whilst this was a big presentation for movies, there was also a good deal announced in regards to a slew of Marvel series set for Disney +. Let’s take a look at what Marvel will be bringing to the small screen in the upcoming years.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier

Release Date: Autumn 2020

Directed by Kari Skogland

Written by Malcolm Spellman and Derek Kolstad

Executive Producer: Kevin Feige

Starring Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Solider, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Daniel Brühl as Zemo.

The first of several Marvel shows that will be exclusive to Disney’s upcoming streaming service, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is pretty self-explanatory in that it will focus on Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) from the Captain America and Avengers movies. As to what the show could entail, I have no doubt that the role of Captain America will play a significant part. With Steve Rogers choosing to live out his life with Peggy Carter in an alternate timeline at the end of Avengers: Endgame, the helm of Captain America is currently unmanned. It is suggested that Sam will take the role, as a now-old Steve hands over his infamous shield to him at the end of Endgame.

However, both Sam and Bucky have taken up the shield in the comics, so it is possible that the title role could go either way. The characters have had some pretty funny interactions with one another, being brought together by their separate friendships with Steve, and having something of a love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship. A ‘buddy cop’ style of show wouldn’t go amiss for their personalities, but a more serious tone could also work if done well. From what we’ve heard so far, it seems to be more of a political thriller style show, possibly in the same vein as Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The plot will certainly have strong ties to the MCU, which is suggested by the return of Daniel Brühl as Zemo from Captain America: Civil War. With the creator of the John Wick series on board as a writer, we know the show will have some incredible action sequences, and hopefully some interesting character development for its title characters.

WandaVision

Release Date: Spring 2021

Jac Schaeffer as showrunner and writer of the pilot episode.

Executive Producer: Kevin Feige

Starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany as Vision, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau.

The romance between the Vision and Scarlet Witch was one of the more important plot points of Avengers: Infinity War, and this relationship is sure to be expanded on in WandaVision. The show will be set after Avengers: Endgame, but little else is known. There are a few different ways in which the show could go, however, as the two characters were a couple in the comics for a good long while. In fact, they were even married and had children. Could the show demonstrate their domestic lives? One main obstacle of this theory is the fact that Vision is currently dead, of course, but with his name in the title of the show itself, he is sure to be brought back somehow.

In Infinity War, we see Shuri finish her work on Vision just before Thanos’s army invades and the mind stone is ripped from Vision’s head. Obviously the plan fails when Thanos snaps half the universe into oblivion, but with the world being restored after Endgame, perhaps Shuri will be the one to bring Vision back? No matter how he comes back, what is certain is that the android will be reunited with Wanda. Feige stated in the presentation that WandaVision is unlike anything that Marvel has ever done, which makes it all the more appealing. The show may well be a unique take on classic romance whilst also incorporating some sci-fi or mystical elements due to Vision’s robotic nature and Wanda’s growing powers.

The show will also have some links to other MCU films, with Teyonah Parris playing a grownup version of Monica Rambeau (Carol’s adopted niece) from Captain Marvel. The show will also play a part in the lead-up to Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, in which Scarlet Witch will play a role. Perhaps we will see Vision there too, or Doctor Strange making an appearance on the show? Scarlet Witch is a personal favourite character of mine, so I’m looking forward to this one.

Loki

Release Date: Spring 2021

No writer or director confirmed yet.

Executive Producer: Kevin Feige

Starring Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

Arguably the most anticipated Marvel show coming out, Loki will follow the god of mischief, who gained something of a cult following after his introduction in the first Thor film. After Loki had his neck snapped by Thanos in Infinity War, we thought we had seen the last of him; however, when the Avengers in Endgame travel back in time to the 2012 Avengers film, we see Loki escape from custody following his fight with them, Tesseract (the space stone) in tow. Kevin Feige confirmed that this alternate Loki is who the show will focus on, as he jumps around various time eras (and possibly dimensions)

That is all we know so far, but it is an interesting premise considering it could create multiple timelines with various different events, depending on just how much trouble Loki gets himself into. It could also be interesting to see how different this Loki will be from the one who was throttled by Thanos, as he hasn’t gone through the character arcs he had in Thor: The Dark World or Thor: Ragnarok. This is 2012 Loki, who is still very much hellbent on villainy rather than the slightly calmer and more tolerant Loki who was killed. Loki may well be a fantasy-based show or have a more comedic element, but we will have to wait until more details emerge.

What If…?

Release Date: Summer 2021

Executive Producer: Kevin Feige

Starring Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher. Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteri, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Stanley Tucci as Abraham Erskine, Taika Waititi as Korg, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Djimon Hounsou as Korath he Pursuer, Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, and Chris Sullivan as Taserface.

In the only animated series in the line-up, What If…?  will be similar to the comic book series of the same name in that it will delve into various alternate realities within the Marvel Universe. Like the comics, the show will be narrated by Uata the Watcher (voiced here by Jeffrey Wright). Watchers are extra-terrestrial beings tasked with gaining knowledge of the universe, and Uata has the ability to see multiple realities, making him the perfect narrator for the “What If” stories. The comics touched on several interesting alternate storylines, such as “What If Gwen Stacey Had Lived?” and “What If Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four?” and “What If Iron Man had been a Traitor?”

The show will likely be incorporating more of the MCU into the show rather than the comics due to the cast and the characters who are set to be initially involved, but the possibilities are vast for this series, and it may well end up following some stories from the comics if it is successful. With at least 25 MCU actors reprising their roles for the show (I’ve listed the confirmed cast above), and no doubt more to be announced, What If…? is a project that could be a dream for long-time fans of the comic series — animation and MCU fans alike.

Hawkeye

Release Date: Autumn 2021

No writer or director confirmed as of yet.

Executive Producer:  Kevin Feige

Starring Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

Hawkeye has always been relentlessly mocked for his role in The Avengers. He fought alongside a genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist in a super suit, a super solider who has punched Nazis, a literal God, a giant, green superhuman, and an ex-Russian spy who could kill you with a glance. All the while, he was there with his bow and arrow. Well, who’s laughing now?? Still everyone probably, but at least Hawkeye is getting some rightfully deserved love and attention with the announcement of his very own Disney + show, humbly named Hawkeye.

Hawkeye will focus on Clint Barton training up his protégé from the comic books, Kate Bishop, to take over the mantle of Hawkeye following the events of Avengers: Endgame. This could be a good way to lead into the Young Avengers in some way, either via television or film, as Kate was a prominent member of the team in the comics. The show will also explore Clint’s time as the assassin, Ronin, a persona he took on after losing his family to Thanos’s snap in Infinity War. This is a good way to delve more into a side of Hawkeye that we only got a glimpse of in Endgame — the ruthless and merciless side. It could also explore Clint dealing with the grief of losing Natasha in Endgame, as the two were incredibly close, and her death is sure to have taken a toll on him.

There is no confirmation as to whether the rest of the cast will return to play his family, or who will be taking on the role of Kate Bishop, but we will be keeping an eye out for details as they are announced.

To watch the best bits of the Hall H Marvel Presentation, check out the video below.

Antonia Haynes resides in a small seaside town in England where she has lived her whole life. She's a simple girl with a passion for zombies, writing, film, television, drawing, superheroes, Disney and, of course, video games. Her ideal day would consist of junk food, fluffy pyjamas and video games because quite frankly going outside is overrated. Follow her on Twitter on @RainbowMachete

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20 Years of the ‘One Piece’ Anime: How Will It End?

With twenty years of swashbuckling animation under its belt, how will Eiichiro Oda’s masterful One Piece conclude?

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With twenty years of swashbuckling animation under its belt, One Piece packs a treasure trove of characters and stories. Recently surpassing its 900th episode, how such a behemoth of a tale will conclude is anyone’s guess. Eiichiro Oda no doubt has it figured out, but that doesn’t mean us plebs can’t take a stab at guessing. So here’s my take!

What’ll happen to these guys?

To theorize about each and every character would take longer than 3D2Y, but here’re some thoughts on a few…

One Piece Shanks

Shanks: Luffy’s pledged to pummel all four of the super-powered Yonko, even his beloved childhood inspiration and savior. So, the Straw Hats battle the Red Hair Pirates in a Davy Back Fight, with the winner taking the Poneglyphs (Shanks is likely in possession of a Road Poneglyph). This gives the divisive Long Ring Long Land arc added relevancy, and allows Usopp and his father, Yasopp, to engage in a sniper showdown.

One Piece Garp

Garp: The veteran of justice fights and kills fleet admiral Sakazuki, avenging Ace and liberating the Marines from the magma bodied monster’s reign, but succumbs to wounds sustained during said battle and dies. Koby becomes fleet admiral and promises to make his mentor proud.

One Piece Blackbeard

Blackbeard: The murderous traitor to Whitebeard with the power of darkness; Luffy races him to the One Piece. Blackbeard claims it first, only to be disappointed. It’s a spyglass that held personal value to Roger, and Blackbeard’s reaction of letdown mirrors that of fans. But knowledge is power, and the One Piece’s value is in its role as a final/ultimate Poneglyph detailing the Void Century. Upon looking through its lens, it answers every question fans could possibly have (and then some). Luffy beats Blackbeard and retrieves the One Piece, becoming the Pirate King, and the truth unearthed holds vital importance in the inevitable war between Dragon’s Revolutionary Army and Im/the World Government.

One Piece Kuzan

Kuzan: This ex-admiral and icy geezer joined the Blackbeard pirates as a Marine spy. He eventually dies a hero, and his arc serves as a tale of redemption (take notes Jaime Lannister).

What’ll happen to the Straw Hats?

What’re the finish lines for Luffy and his crew of loveable oddballs?

One Piece Jinbei

Jinbei: This fearless fish-man never wholly joins the Straw Hats (i.e. travels with them). It’s too late in the story for him to hop on board as a fully-fledged crewmate. Instead, he gives his life for Luffy to become the Pirate King. His sacrifice, and Luffy’s success, triggers a peace between fish-men and humans, ending the history of discrimination and cementing Jinbei as an icon to his people.

One Piece Brooks

Brook: The Straw Hats’ musician returns to Reverse Mountain, where he sings Binks’ Sake to Laboon. After performing to countless audiences as Soul King, he puts on his best performance for his favorite fan.

One Piece Franky

Franky: Upon attaining the title of Pirate King, Luffy sparks a peaceful/non-criminal era of piracy, and is hailed as a hero. As such, Franky’s regarded as the world’s best shipwright for building the Thousand Sunny. He returns to Water 7 and reunites with Iceburg and the Galley-La company, but Koby unexpectedly requests the funky haired cyborg designs and constructs the newest iteration of Marine Ships. After Tom was executed by CP5 for building the Oro Jackson years before, Koby pledges to never let the World Government and their wicked corruption rise again.

One Piece Robin

Robin: After learning the world’s history, she sets to rebuilding Ohara in all its glory.

One Pirce Chopper

Chopper: The adorable reindeer returns to Drum Island, where he discovers a dying Kureha. She’s contracted a supposedly incurable disease, but Chopper uses the vast medical expertise he’s gleaned from his journey, most notably his stint on Zou, to save her. She cries, an expression she commonly bottles up, telling him he’s become a doctor capable of working miracles and curing any disease. She emphasizes how proud Hiriluk would be of his ‘son’.

One Piece Sanji

Sanji: the Straw Hats’ cook reconciles with Pudding, and they get married (for real this time, sans betrayal and attempted assassination). He discovers the All Blue, and opens his own Baratie-like restaurant. Zeff visits and Sanji concocts the best seafood meal ever for his mentor, accompanied by dessert courtesy of his new wife.

One Piece Usopp

Usopp: A ship approaches the shores of Syrup Village. Ninjin, Piiman, and Tamanegi bellow to the villagers that pirates are coming (a habit inspired by a certain someone), but said pirates are only the Straw Hats. Usopp’s back from his adventure, and he talks with Kaya. The long-nosed liar tells tales of his travels, but this time they’re true. From fighting alongside the Tontatta Tribe in Dressrosa, to visiting the kingdom of Elbaf and kicking back with the giants; Usopp’s a liar no longer, and is regarded as a fearless pirate throughout his humble home.

One Piece Zoro

Zoro: Dracule Mihawk’s mortally wounded by a ferocious opponent, and Zoro fells the foe in his place, proving his superiority to the Shichibukai in the process. With his dying breath, Dracule Mihawk remarks he’s never seen such swordsmanship, and that Zoro’s indeed the world’s strongest swordsman. Following this, Zoro establishes his own dojo, akin to the one he trained at as a child, in Wano, and Momonosuke becomes his student.

One Piece Nami

Nami and Luffy: Nami returns to Cocoyasi Village, where she reunites with Nojiko. One day, Luffy visits her in a battered up boat (like the boat he first took out to sea with Zoro, pre Going Merry), asking if she wants to go on another adventure. Commenting she still has some spots on her map in need of charting, and she’ll never turn down the chance to snatch some treasure, they set off. One Piece begins with Luffy and Nami (on Alvida’s ship), and it ends with them too.

One Piece Luffy

The final scene shows the Straw Hats reuniting at Sabaody Archipelago years later, à la a second timeskip. They reminisce about old times, and with that, the journey ends.

With so much at play, it’s tough to hold predictions for everything, so feel free to fill in the blanks, or point out the possible idiocy of my thoughts, by sharing your own theories in the comments. But however this odyssey ends, Toei Animation’s rigorous commitment to animating Eiichiro Oda’s masterpiece for 20 years and counting is worthy of a tip of the (straw) hat!

Watch One Piece on Crunchyroll HERE!

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Five Best and Five Worst Moments of The Game Awards 2019

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The Game Awards 2019 revealed a fair amount of new and exciting projects as well as offering up awards to some of the best achievements in all aspects of gaming this year. There were certainly some disappointments in the show as well as some great moments. There are plenty of points to delve into so I’m going to be counting down the five best and the five worst moments from the Game Awards 2019.

Let’s start with a few honourable mentions first.

Best: The Game Awards Orchestra

This incredibly talented orchestra knock it out of the park every year with their performances and 2019 was no different. Their medley of the best game nominees was fantastic, with each entry seamlessly blending together to create one awesomely diverse piece. They also performed some music from the upcoming Ghost of Tsushima which was just sublime. I wish they had been able to perform a medley of the best soundtrack nominations too.

Worst: My own personal disappointment!

Okay so this isn’t really a valid point which is why I’m just mentioning it in case anyone else feels the same. I felt a little disappointed by the show due to certain games that I really wanted a trailer or some new info for. Dragon Age 4 was the main one for me but I was also a little surprised that we didn’t get a fighter announcement for Super Smash or any news on Breath of the Wild 2.

Now onto the actual list!

5.Worst: General cringe and awkwardness

It happens during any live ceremonies but it still makes them hard for me to watch. Here it was mostly Vin Diesel and awkward interviews but thankfully there was nothing too terrible this year.

5. Best: Xbox Series X Reveal

In the first console announcement at the awards show, the next Xbox was finally unveiled. After being teased under the codename “Project Scarlett”, it was revealed that the successor to the Xbox One will be known as the “Xbox Series X”. It’s pretty simple in design, looking like a black rectangular box. It can be used on its side or vertically, one of multiple cool features surrounding the console. It will also have backwards compatibility, being able to support Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Xbox games. The Xbox Series X will be released during the holiday season 2020, putting it in direct competition with the PlayStation 5.

4. Worst: Games for Impact and Muppets

The Muppet skit from the ceremony was one of the best parts of the show (more on that later) but the category that they choose to associate it with made absolutely no sense to me. The Muppets appeared before the Game for Impact category. This category is meant to celebrate games that provoke thought, highlight important social issues or provide the player with a message. So why would you choose the Muppets to introduce it? Their opening was hilarious but I felt that the combination of this with the Games for Impact category was very odd. Games for Impact is probably the only category that doesn’t work with a skit, so this choice just made no sense whatsoever.

4. Best: Reggie’s Speech

Nintendo legend and ex Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime attended the Game Awards this year- as he has done every year since its conception- and presented the award for Fresh Indie Game. He gave a speech highlighting the importance of indie games and their creators, noting that every game that was nominated was created by someone who started off in the indie scene. It is easy to forget that everyone has to start somewhere but Reggie’s speech reiterated the importance of supporting those who represent the future of the gaming industry. He also paid tribute to Satoru Iwata, ex CEO of Nintendo who passed away at age 55. Iwata was an incredible influence on some of the most popular games today such as Pokémon and Super Smash Brothers. He also had a direct contribution to franchises like Earthbound and Kirby. It is brilliant to see that Reggie wants people to remember Iwata’s legacy. He truly is one of the good guys in gaming even when he isn’t in gaming anymore. Reggie’s charisma and natural likeability made this speech good but his earnest commitment to supporting upcoming game developers and his heart felt tribute to Satoru Iwata made it great.

3. Worst: Awkward Samsung and Stadia Ads

It is understandable that the Game Awards would need advertisements. I have nothing against that. Ads are a necessity for promotional and financial purposes. But the adverts that we got during the Game Awards were repetitive, irritating and damn right cringey. Adverts for Google Stadia were repeated often. In the wake of the criticisms surrounding the platform, it came off as more than a little desperate. Samsung also kept popping up. By the end of the night, I was ready to burn any and all Samsung products I could come across. Like I said, there is nothing wrong with advertising in general as it is a necessity for businesses and companies. However, what I do have a problem with is the way that they chose to advertise these products. Annoying and awkward, the Samsung and Stadia plugs were a bit of a fail.

3. Best: Surprise Sequels

There were a few surprises at the awards show but some of the sequels that were showcased were some of the better game announcements. A sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s SacrificeHellblade 2: Senua’s Saga– was shown to be coming to the Xbox Series X in a creepy and atmospheric trailer featuring a lot of eerie chanting.  The No More Heroes series of games was also shown to be getting a sequel, No More Heroes III as well as a new Bravely Default game, Bravely Default 2 (though it will technically be the third game in the series). The stand out sequel to me was the announcement-or re announcement-of The Wolf Among Us 2. After Telltale’s collapse in late 2018, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Wolf Among Us game was left in the dark. Now we have confirmation that the sequel is indeed still alive and it has been confirmed that some Telltale veterans are returning to work on it. It is not particularly clear what the situation is with Telltale Games as a studio, but clearly there is some life coming back to the company in some way. The Wolf Among Us 2 was definitely the announcement of the night for me.

2. Worst: Fast and Furious Game Closes the Night

One of the weirdest moments of the night for me was the ending. Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez took to the stage to show off a new Fast and Furious game that is coming next year called Fast and Furious Crossroads. The game looked like a PlayStation 2 title in terms of graphics, quality and gameplay. Compare it to the Hellblade 2 trailer which was done entirely in the game engine (I had to look that up to make sure as I was initially certain that it was real), Fast and Furious Crossroads looks laughably bad. There is a certain standard to video games now as the bar is constantly being raised so I’m shocked that this sort of game would even get a proper look in at the awards ceremony, let alone be the game to finish on. There was also a weird Hollywood vibe to it. It felt like the whole thing was more of a Fast and Furious 9 promo (Vin Diesel even threw in a not so subtle reference to a Fast 9 trailer). The whole Fast and Furious element of the show felt weirdly jarring and a tad contrived.

2. Best: Untitled Beaker Game

I already briefly mentioned the Muppet skit in the show and whilst I think having it before Game for Impact award undercuts the theme of the category, it was still the funniest part of the awards. I’ve been a big fan of the Muppets for as long as I can remember so this bit was always going to go down well with me but adding the Goose from Untitled Goose Game was a stroke of genius. Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker demonstrate a new VR experience: Untitled Beaker game. We are then shown Beaker in the Untitled Goose Game world, waddling around and being shooed away until he is confronted by the honking menace himself. The Goose then comes into our world in Muppet form, honking incessantly before stealing the results card. I must admit, I laughed out loud a few times in this skit. I would seriously watch a whole show dedicated to Beaker and the Goose. Unfortunately, Untitled Beaker Game isn’t a real thing. If it had been, this moment would have taken the number one spot.

1. Worst: Glossing Over Most Awards

Whilst watching The Game Awards, it became clear that not all of the awards were being treated as important. In the pre-show alone, several award categories were skimmed over as the presenter rattled off the names of the nominees and the winners before moving on. Some of the awards that didn’t even make it to the full show were Best Fighting Game and Best Score/Soundtrack (there wasn’t even a mention of the composers or artists). Other awards were briefly mentioned in the show- such as Best RPG, Best Performance or Best Action/Adventure Game- but only the winners were mentioned so the other nominees didn’t even get a nod. There weren’t even any examples shown like game clips or the acting performances that were nominated.  It felt like certain aspects of games were favoured over others and it was such an insult to those who have worked so hard on some of these titles. It felt very disrespectful to gloss over so many amazing games and it was the worst part of the ceremony.

1. Best: Acknowledgement of original games and single player titles.

What I was impressed with during The Game Awards was that there was a lot of new content on display. Whilst I did mention the exciting sequels earlier, a good deal of the announcements where surrounding original games.  The PlayStation 5 confirmed a title in a new Gearbox game called Godfall. A rather vague teaser for a game called Prologue was seen. Not much is known but it is being developed by the team behind Player Unknown Battlegrounds. Sucker Punch Productions released a new trailer for Ghost of Tsushima, a single player PlayStation 4 exclusive. These were just a few of the original game announcements and it is great to see originality being encouraged. The Game of the Year Award winner also demonstrated this. Despite being up against really strong competition such as the Resident Evil 2 remake and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, the winner was Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Again, this is a great achievement for original IP’s in gaming but also for single player games. This encouraging support of original games and single player narratives was one of the best parts of The Game Awards 2019.

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Game Awards 2019: The Ten Best Moments

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Hellblade 2

The fifth installment of the Geoff Keighley’s annual awards show has come and gone and as usual, we got to see new game reveals, new trailers, special guest appearances, musical performances, and more celebrities pretending they play video games. And in between all that, some awards were given out. Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodrigues made a surprise appearance, Reggie Fils-Amie kept up his perfect attendance record and the Game Awards Orchestra led by Lorne Balfe took to the stage to perform some of the biggest songs from some of the best video game soundtracks. All in all, the awards show was quite good— well as good as any awards show could be.

Let’s be honest, awards shows are usually too long, and most awards shows don’t do a good job of balancing entertainment with giving out awards. I mean what good is an award show if no one is receiving any awards but nobody wants to watch four straight hours of people giving speeches. This year, however, the Game Awards featured great performance including the opening by Chvrches and another by Green Day, who surprisingly still sound great when performing live. And unlike most awards shows, Keighley’s annual event didn’t try to stuff the evening full of lame jokes. More importantly, unlike other awards shows, the Game Awards also moved at a brisk pace— starting at 9:00 PM EST (not counting the 30-minute pre-show) and ending by 11:45. That’s less than three hours which is way shorter than say, the Academy Awards, Grammys, Emmys or Golden Globes which all average about four and a half hours in running-time. That’s not to say that the Game Awards is must-see TV but give credit where credit is due— Geoff Keighley did a standup job coordinating the event— and while it didn’t feature as many big surprises as we hoped, it still offered plenty to look forward to.

Here are the best moments of the 2019 Game Awards.

10) Godfall

While Playstation didn’t have a big presence this year, Counterplay Games and Gearbox Publishing did unveil Godfall, the first official game announced for the Playstation 5. Pitched as a fantasy action RPG, “Godfall utilizes high-impact third-person melee combat to engage players as they hunt for loot, don legendary armor sets, and defeat vicious enemies. As players face challenging missions in the world of Godfall, enemies and bosses will reward fans with head-turning loot as they are vanquished”. While it isn’t as exciting as Sony debuting a trailer for a sequel to an already established IP like The Last of Us or Bloodborne, it’s at least a step closer to us learning more about Sony’s next console. I’ll take it!

9) No More Heroes 3

While No More Heroes 3 was first announced during E3’s Nintendo Direct in June, there wasn’t much to see other than a very short tease. Thankfully the Game Awards gave us a colorful new trailer featuring anime-style cutscenes and a mysterious new character — “a goddamn superhero”. After a ten-year hiatus, the action game is back featuring the all-American No. 1 ranked assassin, Travis Touchdown only this time, the otaku assassin must face off against some super hardcore enemies from space with his beloved Beam Katana in hand. Additionally, the trailer unveiled that the new project from Grasshopper Manufacture is launching for Nintendo Switch in 2020.

8) Ghost of Tsushima

We knew that PlayStation was going to debut a new Ghost of Tsushima trailer at The Game Awards since they teased its appearance during its State of Play presentation on Dec. 10— yet I didn’t anticipate just how gorgeous the game would look. And not only did developer Sucker Punch showcase both gameplay and cinematic footage, but the trailer was also followed by a live orchestra playing music from the game. It’s a big departure for Sucker Punch, a studio best-known for the Sly Cooper series and Infamous games but Ghost of Tsushima is easily one of our most anticipated games of 2020 and this trailer made us even more excited to get our hands on the game!

7) Fast & Furious Crossroads

The biggest surprise of the night was how excited I was when I saw the reveal of Fast & Furious Crossroads. Pitched as an immersive new team-based, vehicular-heist action game, the new project from Bandai Namco features voiceover performances from Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson—and, it promises an authentic storyline, packed with heroes, gadgets, cars and non-stop cinematic-style action. If that’s not enough, Fast & Furious Crossroads will deliver pulse-pounding gameplay both in single-player story mode and a soon-to-be-revealed multiplayer mode. According to the press release, players will travel from the streets of exotic locales to the murky world of international espionage, pulling off high-speed heists and stunts as they battle to take down a new threat. There’s going to be Easter eggs throughout for fans of the franchise to enjoy and joining the cast are Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery, The Walking Dead) and Asia Kate Dillon (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum). Sign me up!

6) FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

SQUARE ENIX gave gamers across the globe a holiday surprise when the company showcased the latest trailer for the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake. The action-packed video explores the backstory of the game’s hero, Cloud, and his connection to the underground resistance group, Avalanche, and their struggle to save the planet from the shadowy Shinra Electric Company. It’s not the first trailer for Final Fantasy VII but damn is it great!

5) Xbox Series X

With the Game Awards, Microsoft unveiled the name of their next-gen console courtesy of a clever trailer featuring footage of some of their biggest games mixed with the sounds of “The Dream of Life” by Alan Watts.

Initially revealed at the E3 2019 press conference as Project Scarlett, the trailer for the Xbox Series X is perhaps the second-best trailer of the night and it reminded me a lot of Frank Budgen’s insanely brilliant Playstation commercials. While the trailer didn’t give us any concrete details to focus on, it did include its release window and it gave us a good look at what Microsoft’s fourth-generation console looks like. And while looks aren’t everything, I must admit the Series X is a gorgeous looking machine! I can’t wait to learn more.

4) Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2

While we didn’t get a whole lot of details about Series X, the reveal did transition into the World Premiere of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, the follow-up to Ninja Theory’s critically acclaimed Senua’s Sacrifice. The team at Ninja Theory is doing some amazing things and this in-engine trailer was by far the best trailer of the night. Seriously, just watch the trailer— and tell me if it doesn’t seem like the game was directed by cinema auteur Robert Eggers. I love the pulse-pounding soundtrack featuring heavy percussions and devilish chants, not to mention the gorgeous art direction. It’s safe to say that Hellblade 2 just shot up to the top of my list of most anticipated games of 2020.

Released in 2017, the original Hellblade was created by a team of just 20 developers led by writer and director Tameem Antoniades. Inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture, the game follows Senua, a Pict warrior who must make her way to Helheim by defeating otherworldly entities and facing their challenges, in order to rescue the soul of her dead lover from the goddess Hela. The game blends several genres, including hack and slash, puzzle-solving, and psychological horror and was praised for how it portrayed mental health struggles in a sensitive and effective manner. While Hellblade wasn’t a hit when first released, it has since gained a huge cult following worldwide.

3) Untitled Beaker Game

Several Hollywood stars attended the Video Game Awards tonight but the biggest highlight came during a Muppets-themed segment when the renowned Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker took to the stage to present the Games for Impact award to the makers of Gris. Before they announced the winner, however, Beaker was given a stylish VR set so he could play Untitled Beaker Game, a game featuring both Beaker and the now-iconic goose from the smash-hit Untitled Goose Game. Of course, this isn’t a real game, but the segment was hilarious, and it did give us a good idea of what the indie darling from House House Studios would look like if it featured Muppets.

2) The Game Awards Orchestra

As they do every year, the Game Awards Orchestra led by Lorne Balfe put together another incredible performance as they composed some of the most iconic music from video game soundtracks released over the past year. While watching their performance I couldn’t help but wonder why Geoff Keighley felt the need to invite Green Day when all that fans really want to hear is the music from their favourite video games and not tracks from a rock band that doesn’t even work in the gaming industry. Hopefully, next year, we will get more of the Game Awards Orchestra.

1) Reggie Fils-Aimé 

Former president of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aimé (who really needs no introduction), marched on-stage at the Game Awards and resurrected one of his most famous ‘characters’ for a brief moment before delivering the most passionate speech of the entire night. Despite no longer working in the video game industry, Fils-Aime who is an industry favorite did not want to break his streak of presenting an award every year and this year, he pretty much stole the show as he reminded the world why indie game developers are so important to the industry— and why the award for best indie game is by far the most important award of the night. Explaining why, Reggie spoke about the importance of indie development, comparing Shigeru Miyamoto and the late Satoru Iwata to the pioneering indie game developers of today. It’s moments like these that fans across the globe want more of— passionate people who work in the business delivering heartwarming speeches about why video games are so important.

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