It’s awards season, and while every game released in these unusual times deserves extra praise, there’s still an opportunity for a chosen few to rise above the rest at The Game Awards 2021.
The actual ceremony takes place on 9 December, though we already know the nominees. We’ve each picked a couple of categories in order to predict their winners. What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments.
Move over Epona, there's a new favourite mount in town.
Skipping over the fact that Deathloop seems to be up for almost every award going (I was half expecting to see it crop up in “Best Family Game”), I think there’s a decent variety of titles vying for the top prizes this year.
For the Best Sim/Strategy title, I have to go for Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’d already played around with the game on PC but having it available on Xbox has been an even better experience. What I like best about it is it can be as challenging or as welcoming as you want it to be.
Personally, I enjoy the latter option. Picking up a pad and just cruising around distant (or even local) locations for 30 minutes or so has been a great way to unwind. Flying, it turns out, is surprisingly peaceful when it’s not sandwiched between hours of airport tedium.
As for Best Multiplayer, I would have liked to have seen Hell Let Loose get nominated. Yes, I know it’s been out since last year on PC but, like MS Flight Sim, technically it did come out this year for consoles. From the options available, however, I have to go with Back 4 Blood because it was pretty good with friends and had a surprisingly fun PvP mode.
Tranquillity. In plane form.
Game of the Year
Best Game Direction
As a big fan of the Resident Evil franchise in all its guises, RE Village struck an excellent balance between old and new. It’s a unique blend of classic survival horror and modern action/adventure - each of its acts almost feel like separate games, though they also coexist and complement one another.
Arkane Studios’ titles are typically some of my favourites, including the divisive Prey. It came as a nasty surprise to learn that Deathloop isn’t for me, then; I kept playing in the hopes that it’d finally click, but then the credits rolled... Considering its level of recognition, however, I half expect it to clean up at The Game Awards.
In terms of Best Game Direction, Josef Fares and Hazelight Studios’ It Takes Two would be a worthy winner. Fares’ games so far all share a common thread - that innovation and cooperation are central to the experience. It Takes Two once again achieves that objective, building upon the foundations set by Brothers and A Way Out.
Elsewhere on the list, Deathloop and Returnal already feel like outdated roguelikes by comparison to the superior design of Supermassive Games’ Hades. Psychonauts 2 and Ratchet & Clank are both excellent, though just fall short of matching the directorial prowess displayed by Hazelight.
Forget the lovely art style, it has split-screen multiplayer! That's worth an award all on its own.
What nominations would you like to see win? Let us know below or in the forums.
We were lucky enough to have a quick look at Elden Ring (thanks Bandai Namco) during its Closed Network Test.
These games make a point of being quite tough to play, how was it?
We only had a few hours to explore, but the game certainly throws a lot at you. Lore is, unsurprisingly, abundant, as are a lot of pop-up menus explaining all sorts of screens and player actions.
In combat, standard enemies can easily take you down with a couple of hits and usually attack in groups. You should fully expect to die a lot – just just like in previous titles. If you’re careful, however, you can avoid or get the jump on enemies by utilising the new stealth system.
The game’s massive bosses might be too much to take on straight away for most players, though, fortunately, you don’t need to fight alone.
There’s multiplayer then?
Perhaps more overtly than in any of From’s past games. While having players invade your game, or summoning someone to help you, has been a feature of past titles, here there’s a bit more of an emphasis - perhaps because a more open setting lends itself to teaming up.
Messages scrawled throughout the world are here too, plus you’ll see the outlines of others exploring in the immediate area and bloodstains that show how other adventurers met their end.
How was it on the whole?
There’s a lot to take in for newcomers, but the swelling soundtrack and beautiful world of Limgrave set the stage for an epic adventure and push you on.
Elden Ring offers flexibility in play style right off the bat, even allowing players to bring some friends along to help out. It’s possibly the most approachable FromSoftware title to date, though we’ll find out for sure when the full game releases on February 25, 2022.
Forza Horizon 5 puts gamers behind the virtual wheel and transports them to Mexico. That got us thinking about some other memorable driving adventures; whether it’s on the track or out in the wilderness, racing games give players an opportunity to visit familiar and exotic locations.
Where have you been? Where would you like to see the Horizon series go next? Let us know in the comments.
Architecture such as this can only really be appreciated at 150 mph.
Liam | Britain, Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 came along at a time when I was living in Amsterdam, and though I considered that city home, it was nice to be able to revisit Britain in video game form.
While the Lake District inspired vistas and streets of Edinburgh were well realised, I didn’t feel any emotional connection to them. However, much of the regular countryside you drive through in FH4, particularly in the southern areas of the map, looks remarkably like where I grew up in the south of England.
It was a joy to suddenly be able to tear around a landscape so reminiscent of my home. Basic items that I’d encountered many times over the years, such as barriers, road markings and signposts, were suddenly loaded with nostalgia. I even picked some of the more bog-standard vehicles to fully replicate my youth (my household was (and still is) sadly lacking in the supercar department).
I’ve since moved back to England, so all those everyday road items once again seem just that, but it was nice to be able to view them through the lens of nostalgia, if only for a little while. Now, if Playground Games could set the next Horizon game in the Netherlands, that’d be great.
Yep, just like home.
Sam | Paradise City, Burnout Paradise
I’ve never really been into racing games. It’s one of those genres where I’m happy to let entries pass me by, even as they get rave reviews; driving is almost never a central hook, but rather a small component that can complement larger scale projects. One notable exception, however, is Criterion Games’ Burnout Paradise.
In discovering Paradise City I found a playground that was actually fun for my tastes. Speeding down busy roads at breakneck pace, jumping and smashing through billboards, wrecking competitors by ramming them into obstacles - all set to a classic rock soundtrack.
While Paradise City isn’t a real location, like London or Prague, it’s basically an amalgamation of iconic places in the United States. As a result, the game feels like a quintessential North American road trip and is a treat for fans of all things Americana.
Burnout Paradise Remastered makes the modern classic easily accessible, while also presenting the best rendition of Paradise City yet - it’s a win-win situation. Now, if only EA would greenlight a sequel instead of having Criterion helm the middling Need for Speed franchise.
It must be difficult building brand awareness in Paradise City with all the billboard destroying going on.
What's your favourite driving adventure?