You have to hand it to Geoff Keighley. For years he has been working hard to amplify gaming, From Opening Night Life during GamesCom, to the Game Awards he openly strives to produce bigger and better content, always looking to get the community more involved and taking in feedback.
This year the Corona pandemic wreaked havoc on in persons events. As traditional conventions like E3 were cancelled many stepped up to fill in the gap including Geoff who attempted to get publishers, devs, and marketing companies to coordinate and consolidate under the Summer Game Fest banner. Although not completely effective it definitely brought some order to chaos that ended up being a scattershot of competing channels across the industry.
So how did The Game Awards do without the energy of a massive indoor audience? How much community feedback made its way into the final presentation? Did the musical performances hit or miss? We’re we treated to massive unexpected announcements or did everything flounder under the weight of a near 4 hour runtime?
The Mega Dads team give their impressions and breaks down the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from The Game Awards 2020.
The Good: Even though there were no crowds, choppy Zoom acceptance speeches, and an overall feeling of this event being more about the reveals than the actual awards, I thought that this year’s Game Awards was a very tight and well paced affair. There were few moments that I felt like anything was dragging despite it’s meaty run-time and there was a metric shit-load of big reveals that had me more than glued to my television.
The highlight of the show was hands-down the debut trailer and gameplay reveal for Back 4 Blood. When Turtle Rock announced they were working on this game last year I crossed my fingers so hard they practically broke. Well, it looks like not only is this spiritual successor looking to deliver on everything a Left 4 Dead fan could want. We also got a glimpse at a beautifully serene PS5 adventure game titled Season, a look at a new co-op action game set in the Evil Dead universe, and Xbox finally showed a teaser for Perfect Dark. The Game Awards has cemented itself as a premiere event to showcase HUGE reveals and that is pretty awesome.
The Bad: I still think there needs to be more of an emphasis on the actual awards. I would love it if throughout the night they would spotlight one of the Game of the Year nominees in a more in-depth fashion much like they do for the Oscars. I understand the draw is the reveals, but I feel like you could spend a little more time on showcasing the GotY nominees and less time showing anything related to Fall Guys because that game is dumb.
The Ugly: I don’t want to see Vin Diesel in my video games anymore unless he’s saying “I am Groot”. Ark 2 looked janky and boring as hell. How do you make future dinosaurs look bad? For real? That was a butt.
The Good: Geoff put on a really entertaining show under terrible circumstances and there were plenty of highlights to choose from. They started the show with a bang with some killer game announcements, with our first peeks at the reboot of Perfect Dark from The Initiative and Back 4 Blood from Turtle Rock Studios. Both of these games shot to the top of my most anticipated list, and while I suspect we won’t be playing Perfect Dark for a number of years, Back 4 Blood will be in our hands next summer and I cannot wait. The performance of Future Days by Eddie Vedder was another highlight that reminded me not only of what an amazing talent he is, but how brilliantly that song fit into The Last of Us Pt. II.
The Bad: Another year without the announcement of the always rumored return of Silent Hill has come and gone. It has become such a staple of every big gaming event that it’s quite frankly getting a little tiring. While I was thrilled to see a release window for Microsoft Flight Simulator on the Xbox Series X, having to wait until summer to play it hurts. I was really hoping for a January or February surprise. Finally, Among Us won a few awards last night, and while I have nothing but respect for the game and I’m sure it’s loads of fun, I think it’s kind of disrespectful to the other games in the category that they gave the award to a game that came out not even last year but the year before. That just doesn’t seem right.
The Ugly: Not content to have the worst looking game announcement at last year’s Game Awards, Vin Deisel makes his triumphant return with an odd looking starring role in Arc 2. Bland action, awkward animation, and a generic feel made this game feel both dated and an boring.
The Good: With very few exceptions, from a technical standpoint The Game Awards was near flawless. The stage design was excellent, pre-recorded video packages were well put together, and the musical performances sounded crisp even streamed over the net. Geoff remarked several times during the show about how jazzed he was that things were going off without a hitch.
Avoiding tech hiccups is a huge accomplishment for any live broadcast but even more impressive was the fact that even without a huge live audience the show felt like it was high energy. A combination of good pacing, digital applause, and obviously a lot of planning and hard work went a long way, once again elevating the presentation from even last year.
Having acceptance speeches delivered at Zoom quality instead of pre-recorded HD quality was an interesting choice that I initially felt threw the rest of the show off but capturing the genuine excitement shown by award winners live (especially the moving display of emotion by the Among Us team at Innersloth ended up being a highlight.
Finally, anyone with reasonable expectations could walk away with a few things to look forward to in 2021. Although many were teaser announcements big reveals included Dragon Age 4, a new Mass Effect and Perfect Dark. Nothing stole the show for me more than the cinematic teaser for Ark 2 featuring Vin Diesel. I chanted ‘Please be a new Turok, please be a new Turok’ the whole way through the beautiful action packed trailer. Sure the fighting animations were janky but the detailed character models, intimidating enemies, stunning environment, and interesting short story gave me hope that the series might move way from janky MMO to more of an adventure game. If you don’t get hyped by the prospect of fighting a furious T-Rex your your inner child has become a shriveled old overworked tax attorney with bulging hemorrhoids.
The Bad: With a 4 hour run time it is inexcusable to fire off multiple award categories and winners in quick fire succession. Especially when you’re cutting the RPG category for time. Not only are Role Playing Games one of the top selling and critically acclaimed genres, many were GOTY contenders this year. Tell me why we couldn’t carve out 40 seconds for another well done nominee montage. Speaking of mishandled categories combining RTS and Simulation into one category and having Microsoft Flight Simulator take the win is just…no.
The Ugly: I understand that The Game Awards relies on marketing partnerships. Not only do I not mind the ad breaks, I look forward to the well produced targeted ads that show off games weather I’m directly interested in them or not. However, if you speed through actual game awards to make room for a recurring Instagram filter segment maybe display the fan created videos full-screen so we can actually see them. What a waste.
The Good: As soon as Americas favorite CEO Nina Struthers came on screen I knew anything coming after was going to be a let down. Devolver Digital has consistently been the highlight of E3 and now they are the my highlight of the Game awards. That being said Sean Murray sipping a beer in a zoom call assuming he isn’t going to win Best on going game was pretty spectacular and a very well deserved win for him and the team at Hello Games. For game announcements I am willing to give another Mass Effect a try in five years when it releases and I’m more than ready to have deadites suck on my boom stick in that Evil Dead game. Seasons looked great as well.
The Bad: I appreciate that the Game Awards have come along way and to put on the show every year is a massive undertaking, but the format still leaves much to be desired. There is very little surprise or upsets in the show and dragging out celebrities’ that could not care less about games feels very early 2000’s E3. That and Vin Diesel in another video game, why do we keep doing this? For all we know it’s why the polar ice caps are melting. I don’t know what is worse the bland gameplay and acting or the fact I had to scroll past the same “past and Furious” jokes a half dozen times on twitter.
The Ugly: Tik Tok and Instagram…that’s it. That’s the Ugly
The Good: Geoff Keighley might get a lot of gruff from critics, but it can’t be denied that this man loves what he does and it shows. Despite the odd start time, and the overall length of the show being a little longer than I’d have wanted, it felt brief when it needed to be, and slowed down at the right time. I actually caught myself smiling every I saw a group of award winners on their zoom call all wearing masks, and had a really good chuckle when (the names of who escape me) the couple accepted the award with one person inside, and the other from outside through a window. Everyone was safe, but it really highlighted how crazy this year has been, but showed how much video games have helped us all get by, and to that, I say “Thank You, Geoff Keighley.”
The awards themselves were handled in mostly decent fashion, although more than a few got zipped through with only moments of air time to digest the winners, but it kept the pace so I understand why. The Last of Us Part 2 swept several categories include, and rightfully so, Game of the Year, and Neil’s acceptance just put a smile on my face. I love this studio and eagerly anticipate whatever they work on next. As to the announcements, there were a handful of standouts, some of which I will be the only one cheering for. The first of which was Ark 2. Yea, the game starring Vin “Dominc Toretto” Diesel, where he fought off a T-rex in the trailer, and then went into his Horizon: Zero Dawn-esque future cave. The internet will shit all over this game, but I liked it so you can all suck my butt. Back4Blood from Turtle Rock looks like a promising Left4Dead “reboot”, Evil Dead: The Game fills the same niche and also made my ears perk up. Dragon Age 4 teaser reminded me that I really love this series, but only half as much as the Mass Effect teaser reminded me that Andromeda let me down, and Liara appears to be front and center and I am cautiously optimistic because OMG I LOVE MASS EFFECT!
The Bad: I know I’m going to get shit for this, but I am very disappointed in The Initiative going back to the well to make a new Perfect Dark game. This is a brand new “AAAA” studio, and we’re not even getting a new IP. I know the series has its fans, and I’m sure the game will be nothing less than stellar, I just wish they created something new. Speaking of something new, after seeing Microsoft drop a new title, I was hoping to see something from Sony that rivaled in scope, especially given the fact that we’re at the start of a new generation. I would have even settled for gameplay of an already announced title like Horizon: Forbidden West or the new Ratchet & Clank game. Lastly, for as much as I enjoy all the announcements and trailers, a game award show should probably focus a little more on the awards. Pull some trailers and give more time to honor the games that got us through the year, especially this year!
The Ugly: Wooper Watch 2020. Seriously, how much money did Pokemon Go spend to be the unofficial sponsor of the show. And really, of ALL the Pokemon you choose to spawn, they chose fucking Wooper?