Welcome to VG247’s very prestigious and meaningful annual awards, which matter very much, because they’re written down on a video game website.
VG247 GotY Awards
2016 has been a great year for video games. When it came time to compile our game of the year awards we had so many arguments that if this weren’t an entirely virtual office, it’s possible blood would have been shed. In the end we decided everyone could pick three games to get a gong, and then try to sort them into some sort of comprehensible order.
As video game journalists, we have a sacred responsibility to write down our opinions on things and pretend like anybody cares about them at all, and once a year we have to do it in a way that suggests any of us can remember past the last two weeks without external assistance. This is what we’ve done here, and the first episode of our five-part thumbs-up-a-thon is: The Obvious Picks We’re Not Even Sorry For.
Tune back in tomorrow and all through this week as we move through four more totally arbitrary categories and hand out VG247’s Game of the Year Awards, which we’d just like to remind you matter very much indeed. Congratulations to all who received this tremendous honour.
Selected by: Sherif
Doom is the first game I picked for this list. There was no way the revival of something that shaped my tastes in the medium, and the way I still perceive it to this day, wasn’t going to get my attention. Lucky for me and everyone else, it’s done so for all the right reasons.
Doom is the sort of game that’s so successful in what it tries to do, you begin to wonder if it’s possible for other beloved properties to have a similar comeback.
We often have misfires in the games industry, franchises brought back to life only to end up being nothing like the originals, or they’re so much like them we begin to wonder if our opinions of the real thing were of a time and place. If this makes reviving classic games sound like an impossible task, it should. It’s a proposition you’re going to lose most of the time, but when you do nail it, it’ll go down in history as another classic.
Doom is the sort of game that’s so successful in what it tries to do, you begin to wonder if it’s possible for other beloved properties to have a similar comeback. The effect Doom has had reaches far beyond the game itself, and extends to the rest of the industry. It’s a bold statement of intent from id that tells us, despite all our doubts, there’s a team there capable of making a fun shooter campaign which can safely jettison design standards previously thought to be the only mantra modern games should abide by.
Their daring attempt left us with a fresh, vehement, and beautiful picture, propped by frenetic pace and loud music, churning when it needs to and loitering when it feels like it. Doom is a game worth observing, and one that’s worth learning from.
The Last Guardian
Argued for by: Matt
I spent a lot of 2016 shooting things. I’ve enjoyed The Division, Doom, Titanfall, Overwatch and Battlefield a lot. But it wasn’t until I put the ammo down and picked up ultra-delayed The Last Guardian out of curiosity that I realised how tired I was of all that gunplay. I wasn’t expecting much from it, and I only really got stuck in because of a boring logistical problem where we couldn’t get a copy of the game to Brenna in time for review.
It’s a contradictory beast as it should be, part untamed animal and part pet. Yes, I had feelings for it by the end of the game, and that’s coming from someone with a wizened black heart.
Anyway. The Last Guardian has been a highlight of the year partly because it took me by surprise and partly because it does adventure and wonder and exploration without physical combat. There is peril and drama and panic and the need to flee for your life, but you never have to pick up a bat and charge in swinging. That still feels refreshing.
There are annoying control and artificial intelligence issues in The Last Guardian, but they pale in comparison to the good; the views from the top, the sheer scale, the curious story, the inhabitants and their weird rituals.
And then there is Trico, a fierce yet friendly companion that nuzzles you for affection and stomps guards in a rampage. It’s a contradictory beast as it should be, part untamed animal and part pet. Yes, I had feelings for it by the end of the game, and that’s coming from someone with a wizened black heart.
Dark Souls 3
Blood was spilled for this by: Sherif
What a surprise! This Dark Souls fan liked the latest iteration! It’s true, I consider myself a big Soulsborne fan, which I admit is directly responsible for my appreciation of the third one, but there’s more to it than that.
Dark Souls 3 is the first game in this series to try and prey a tiny bit on your nostalgia for past themes and characters by retreading similar – but not the same – grounds over the course of its story. These were mostly in the form of subtle hints, which, for a game in a series known for having obtuse stories, meant that only those who spent time decoding the many tales in the previous games would pick up on them.
The fact I knew some of its tricks never stood in the way of my enjoyment of what it is. I still remember the feeling of awe and excitement that filled me when I reached the Boreal Valley, or the combination of fear and respect I felt for the Nameless King.
Even not taking that into account, Dark Souls 3 is the most mechanically complex one of these. It also controls the best, by a decent margin. I went in thinking the game would not have the same wondrous effect the original – and to a lesser extent Bloodborne, had on me.
Playing a Souls game is always an adventure, but when you’ve played every one of them, you begin to expect the world to follow certain patterns, or the story to take some familiar turns, even down to spotting an ambush a mile away. But the fact I knew some of its tricks never stood in the way of my enjoyment of what it is, because a lot of the time, Dark Souls 3 was pulling out of a whole new bag of tricks.
I still remember the feeling of awe and excitement that filled me when I reached the Boreal Valley, or the combination of fear and respect I felt for the Nameless King during his boss fight, or when I realised the music accompanying the final boss used the same piano chord from Gwyn’s theme – and for good reason.
These are all moments that send shivers down my spine and bring a big smile to my face even now as I think about them. Only one other game on this list managed to do that to me, as you’ve no doubt guessed. Dark Souls 3 is a spectacle in every sense of the word, the perfect send-off for this venerable series.
Return tomorrow for the next instalment of the year’s hottest and most important assessment of video games, the only thing that matters.