Video games take centre stage

Danial Norjidi

FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice emerged from a strong lineup of nominees to win Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2019.

The annual Game Awards ceremony saw 29 awards presented. It was held at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on December 12.

Game of the Year is widely considered the biggest award, and it recognises a game that delivers the absolute best experience across all creative and technical fields.

Action-adventure game Sekiro won the award ahead of a list of nominees that included third-person action adventure Control; renowned game director Hideo Kojima’s latest creation, Death Stranding; Capcom’s remake of the 1998 survival horror classic, Resident Evil 2; fighting game Super Smash Bros Ultimate; and sci-fi role-playing game The Outer Worlds.

Set during a fictionalised and magical version of the Sengoku Period in Japan, Sekiro centres on Wolf, a shinobi on a quest for revenge. Known for having a high level of difficulty, the game features exploration, combat and stealth as well as memorable boss battles. In addition to Game of the Year, Sekiro also won the award for Best Action/Adventure Game. Speaking at the ceremony upon receiving the Game of the Year award, President of FromSoftware and Director of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Hidetaka Miyazaki said he was very moved.

A screenshot from video game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
President of FromSoftware and Director of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Hidetaka Miyazaki receives the Game of the Year award

Sekiro has a lot of difficult and complex elements that made us a little unsure when it was about to come out, and we were both surprised and overjoyed by the reaction that we saw.”

“I’d like to share the joy of winning this award with the staff of FromSoftware, who pulled out all the stops to make this happen, as well as the team from Activision for their ongoing support throughout.”

“And finally, I’d like to give out a huge thank you to our players. We couldn’t have done it without you and it was a huge honour to make, so we will continue to try and make the best games we possibly can,” he added. “Thank you so much.”

Another big winner at The Game Awards this year was indie development studio ZA/UM for their open roleplaying game, Disco Elysium, garnering a total of four awards. They won not only the Fresh Indie Game award, which recognises a new independent studio that released its first game in 2019, but also won Best Independent Game, Best Narrative and Best Role-Playing Game.

Death Stranding earned three awards, winning Best Game Direction, Best Score and Music as well as Best Performance, which went to Mads Mikkelsen for his role as Cliff in the game.

Other award winners include: Devil May Cry 5 for Best Action Game; Control for Best Art Direction; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for Best Audio Design; Fire Emblem: Three Houses for Best Strategy Game; Super Smash Bros Ultimate for Best Fighting Game; and Destiny 2 for Best Community Support.

The Best Family Game award category was dominated by Nintendo, with all five nominees being Nintendo-exclusive games. Ultimately, the award went to Luigi’s Mansion 3.

First-person shooter Call of Duty: Mobile won Best Mobile Game, while free-to-play battle royale Apex Legends won Best Multiplayer Game. The award for Best VR/AR Game went to VR rhythm game Beat Saber.

Meanwhile, the ever popular Fortnite added yet another feather to its cap with the award for Best Ongoing Game, while the award for Best Sports/Racing Game went to go-kart racer Crash Team Racing Nitro-Refueled, which is a remaster of CTR: Crash Team Racing released in 1999.

The Games For Impact award is for a thought-provoking game with a pro-social meaning or message, and went to indie developer Nomada Studio’s platform-adventure Gris.

In addition to celebrating the achievements of the developers and makers of video games, the event also saw the spotlight put on the world of esports.

In terms of award categories for esports, Danny ‘Zonic’ Sorensen won the award for Best Esports Coach; Kyle Bugha Giersdorf won Best Esports Player; G2 Esports won Best Esports Team; Eefje ‘Sjokz’ Depoortere won Best Esports Host; League of Legends won Esports Game of the Year; and the League of Legends World Championship 2019 won Best Esports Event.

There was also an award for Content Creator of the Year, which went to Michael “Shroud” Grzesziek.

Aside from the awards, the event featured live music performances from Green Day, Grimes, Chvrches as well as The Game Awards Orchestra.

The event also had a slew trailers showcasing new video game announcements and world premieres. One of the biggest reveals was by Microsoft unveiled the new Xbox Series X with a release date of late 2020.

Sony showcased a trailer for its highly anticipated PS4 exclusive, Ghost of Tsushima, which is slated for a summer 2020 release date, while also providing a first look at a game called Godfall, which is an exclusive for the tech giant’s next console, PlayStation 5.

Another notable reveal came in the form of a trailer for Square Enix’s roleplaying game Bravely Default II, which is set to release on the Nintendo Switch next year.

Local video games enthusiast Mohd Nor shared his thoughts on The Game Awards 2019, saying, “I was surprised that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won Game of the Year, but I’m also glad that it did. It deserves the plaudits for its crisp gameplay and intriguing storyline.”

Death Stranding was another deserving winner, and I’m particularly glad it won for Best Game Direction. I’m a big fan of Hideo Kojima’s. Death Stranding’s story was truly ‘Kojima-esque’, and the direction it took was really outside the box. Also, the performances by Mads Mikkelson, Norman Reedus and the rest of the cast were great and shows why video game actors need more recognition.”

“While I think last year’s edition was better, all in all, this year’s ceremony was good, if a bit longer than necessary,” he added.