The Game Awards 2020
Another year and another Game Awards ceremony, though this time it was obviously a little bit different due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The awards were a little more downplayed as all the nominees, winners and performers had to attend remotely. Despite this, we still got the regular show and the pre-show. There were a fair amount of cool announcements- from crossovers between Fortnite and Halo as well as Fortnite and The Walking Dead, a (very) brief glimpse at Dragon Age 4, a look at the spiritual successor of sorts to Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood, a return for the Perfect Dark series and some brand new titles such as It Takes Two, The Callisto Protocol and Open Roads to name a few. Let’s take a look at some of the best- as well as some of the worst- moments from this year’s Game Awards.
5. Worst- Music Yet Again Relegated To Pre-Awards
Game soundtrack of the year went to the incredible Final Fantasy VII remake score but once again, the award for best music/score was relegated to the pre-show. I complained about this last year and I’m complaining again and I will continue to complain until video game soundtracks are given the attention they deserve, damn it! Music is such an important part of a game and its atmosphere and it just feels unfair to yet again force it into the pre-show rather than give it a moment in the main show. This award wasn’t the only one to get this treatment though. Action/ Adventure game also didn’t get main show status as well as other awards such as Best Debut Game. I think this one is also a bit harsh. It would be a great way for these developers with their debuts to gain more publicity by having this award in the main show. This would go for all the nominees, not just the winner. The pre-show does get views but a lot more people tune in once the actual show starts, so it seems a little unfair to take away publicity from those who need it most to give it to the biggest developers.
5. Best- Sephiroth in Super Smash Brothers
I know some will be unhappy with this reveal but let’s be honest, there is always going to be someone unhappy with a fighter reveal for Super Smash Brothers. I think Final Fantasy’s Sephiroth is a great inclusion to the game, already having that connection with Cloud and being an awesome villainous character to include. I also gave this moment bonus points for the above screenshot. They really had us thinking that Sephiroth had impaled Mario for a second there. Props for that.
4. Worst- Among Us Beats Genshin Impact in Mobile Gaming Award
This might just be me but I thought that this was a really unfair win. It’s hard to say as the Among Us devs were so sweet in their acceptance speeches- they won this and best multiplayer game- but I was skeptical about Among Us even being nominated as it is a game that was released two years ago. With that being said, the games recent spike in popularity makes it eligible as it continues to be updated. However, I really feel like Genshin Impact should have taken this one. Again, this might be too personal of an opinion but Genshin Impact is an absolutely stunning game. Knowing that it is free to play still boggles my mind. It is truly out of this world with its gorgeous visuals, fun gameplay, and incredible musical score. Among Us is a lot simpler as it had a very small team of developers, but it still managed to capture the hearts of people around the world. That is a huge achievement, but I just don’t think it is enough to justify its win over a game like Genshin Impact.
4. Best- The Callisto Protocol
Did anyone else get super nervous because of this trailer? Because it left me genuinely feeling freaked out and I am really not someone who scares easily. Scary movies bore me but scary games- GOOD scary games- can leave me shaken and this one certainly gave me goosebumps. It’s no surprise though, coming from the creator of Dead Space Glen Schofield. The Callisto Protocol will be the debut game from Striking Distance, the new game development studio from Schofield. In his interview at The Game Awards, Schofield stated that they were hoping to make one of the scariest games ever with The Callisto Protocol. The game will be a survival horror in the third person and whilst the trailer showed an odd intergalactic prison of sorts with malfunctioning robots and hungry alien creatures, not much else was shown. I think The Callisto Protocol was one of the more promising reveals from The Game Awards. Let’s just hope it delivers when it is released in 2022.
3. Worst- That Bizarre Ark 2 Reveal
This whole thing was just odd to me. The reveal of Ark 2- sequel to ARK: Survival Evolved– was definitely out there as it depicted Vin Diesel- yes, Vin Diesel- facing down dinosaurs in a tribal outfit. It was weird and I couldn’t get into it. There was something a little off about the whole thing. The graphics were a tad dodgy as well. Watch it again and look at those peculiar blood splatters when people get eaten by the dinosaur. It’s…not right. Diesel’s involvement also felt kind of forced, though I do know he is a gamer in reality so maybe he is a fan of the series? Sometimes things just don’t work and for me, this one really didn’t. It felt awkward and strained. I wasn’t left feeling excited or hyped, just confused. One of the good things about this reveal is that it came with a trailer for an interesting looking Ark animated series with a crazy cast that features Russell Crowe, Karl Urban, David Tennant, Gerard Butler, Michelle Yeoh, Eliot Page, and of course Vin Diesel. Weird flex but okay.
3. Best- Laura Bailey Wins Best Performance
Laura Bailey got a lot of abuse online following her performance as Abby in The Last of Us: Part II. No matter what your thoughts on the game or the character are, there is no denying that Bailey gave an amazing performance. I thought it was great when Bailey was awarded the Best Performance trophy at The Game Awards after all that she went through with online trolls. Bailey even hinted at the reactions that she had received after the game’s release in her acceptance speech, so it is clearly something that has affected her. As talented as the other nominees in this category are- including Bailey’s co-star Ashley Johnson who played Ellie- I feel like Bailey truly did deserve this award after the harassment she received despite her excellent performance.
2. Worst- Awkward Celebrity Involvement
As with most award shows, the awkward celebrity interactions are usually one of the worst and most cringe-worthy parts of the show and The Game Awards is no exception. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could be due to the remote nature of the awards this year, but there were still a few noticeably awkward moments. Having movie actors Gal Gadot and Brie Larson present awards seemed a little pointless as they didn’t really do much except blatantly read from their scripts and then announce the winner, except Tom Holland who did even less as he announced Nolan North who was the award presenter. The worst moment came from actresses Mary Mouser and Peyton List from the Cobra Kai series as they are shown debating Ellie vs Abby (from The Last of Us: Part II). This was super cringey as- to me- it seemed glaringly obvious that neither of them actually knew anything about the characters they were feigning support for. I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m wrong if I am, but I have the feeling they may not have even played the game. Gasp. Shock. Horror. What a surprise. I could really do without these awkward and unnecessary moments in any awards show. The second-hand embarrassment can get unbearable and this was certainly one of those times.
2. Best-The London Philharmonic Orchestra
The orchestra at The Game Awards always knock their performances out of the park and this year was no different. This time, it was the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing from London due to the pandemic but they were just as brilliant as the usual orchestra. As well as the annual mashup of themes from Game of the Year nominees, they also performed a Super Mario mashup in celebration of the Nintendo mascot’s 35th anniversary. Their performances were both incredible. I particularly loved the Game of the Year nominee mashup as they managed to effortlessly combine the somewhat oppositional music themes from The Last of Us: Part II and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That is talent. Composer Lorne Balfe- who has worked on various films as well as tons of video games too- was at the helm of the London Philharmonic and he led them brilliantly. Amazingly performed and hugely creative in its composition, the orchestra’s performance has to be one of the best Game Awards moments.
1. Worst- The Last of Us: Part II Wins Game of the Year and Best Narrative
Please don’t hate me for this. I know I’m making this article a little more geared towards my personal feelings this year but I really do feel very strongly about this. The Last of Us: Part II was a good game. A great game, even. It definitely deserved some of the awards it received- such as Laura Bailey’s performance award that I mentioned above and audio design. However, I strongly feel that it was not deserving of the Game of the Year Award or of the Best Narrative award. There were a lot of narrative issues in the game in my opinion, such as nonsensical character choices, ridiculous plot conveniences, and a slew of narrative holes. The decision to have a split protagonist role between Ellie and Abby was brave and bold, but I don’t think it worked one hundred percent. Yes, it is interesting to see the other side of a story but it was done in such a ham-fisted and preachy way that it didn’t feel compelling. For me, it felt incredibly forced. The game was nominated alongside 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, the Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ghost of Tsushima and Hades for narrative and I think it really isn’t fair that such creative and original games- particularly Hades– were overlooked in favour of a sub-par sequel. When it came to the Game of the Year, it was up against Ghost of Tsushima, Final Fantasy VII and Hades again as well as Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. When it comes to impact, Animal Crossing: New Horizons conquered all in terms of sales. Hades is an incredibly unique indie hit and Ghost of Tsushima is a beautifully atmospheric game with an original story. Final Fantasy VII may be a remake but it is the perfect example of how to completely revamp an older game whilst Doom Eternal is a statement on how to reboot an action FPS game for the modern era of gaming. All of these games were great in their own way, with some surpassing The Last of Us: Part II in certain ways. When considering the other nominees, I really don’t believe The Last of Us: Part II deserved these awards
1. Best- Mass Effect Surprise
At this point, I was feeling pretty tired as it was 3 am and I wanted to get some sleep. Geoff Keighley announced one more world premiere trailer and honestly I wasn’t paying that much attention. I saw the shots of space and heard the static-filled radio broadcasts but my attention still wasn’t completely captured. More space shots, more broadcasts, but then that noise. I remember that noise. Is that what I think it is? That nightmare-inducing mechanical wail…no, you’re just tired. You’re imagining it. But at this point, the trailer had my attention. Is that a burnt out mass relay? Don’t get your hopes up now. That music does sound kind of familiar now that I think about it. We then see a lone figure on a snowy and desolate planet. They reach down to pick something up out of the snow. She brushes away the ice. It’s a piece of armour. The armour has N7 plastered on it. When she looks up, we see that it’s Liara. Mass Effect Liara. It’s 3 am but I almost scream a little bit. My dog looks confused. Mass Effect will continue. Yes, that’s definitely the Mass Effect music.
If you couldn’t tell, this moment was the best from the Game Awards for me. It was such a shock, an incredibly pleasant one but a shock nonetheless. With the recent departure of key figures from BioWare Casey Hudson and Mark Darrah, fans of Mass Effect and Dragon Age were left feeling uncertain about the future of these franchises. The short but sweet look at Dragon Age was promising but not much that we haven’t seen before. We did get narration from Varric the dwarf which was great and another look at Solas but that was it. After the announcement of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, there was also word of a new Mass Effect game. There was no confirmation of what exactly this would be but from the looks of this trailer, it seems like a direct continuation of Shepard’s story. I really hope that is the case. No matter where the next game goes, at least we know Liara is going to be in it. All hail our Asari Queen.