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.
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.