It’s unlikely that any individual in the gaming world will ever have a song written about them, but Geoff Keighley is a good candidate for the first. That song is Linkin Park’s In the End since there’s no one that personifies this song better. For the second year in a row Keighley ran the Video Game Awards solo, having cut ties with Spike after 2013’s disaster.
To his credit, Keighley really does try with these shows. He and his team put in a lot of effort and it shows, since it went solo the VGAs have been much more game-focused than Spike ever made them, and it’s almost refreshing. The focus is the games, never mind the Pepsi product placement everywhere and, confusingly, this year’s constant mention of Go90, a product many were unfamiliar with prior to, and during the show.
All right, we’ll circle back to Keighley and the show in general, but here’s what you’re likely here for:
Best family game – Mario Maker
Best fighting game – Mortal Kombat X
Best mobile game – Lara Croft GO
Best E-Sports team – OpticGaming
Best e-sports player – KennyS
Most anticipated – No Man’s Sky
Best narrative – Her Story
Trending gamer – Greg Miller
Best indie – Rocket League
Best sports game – Rocket League
Best developer – CD Projekt Red (The Witcher 3)
Best art direction – Ori and the Blind Forest
Best action/adventure – Metal Gear Solid 5
Best original score – Metal Gear Solid 5
Best performance – Viva Seifert
Best RPG – The Witcher 3
Game of the year – The Witcher 3
It’s hard to be particularly surprised by any of these, and your opinions may differ wildly from what was selected, but certainly many of the winners deserve their awards. The Witcher 3 certainly deserves game of the year.
Game of the year, and best RPG winner
Let’s get back to the show. Aside from the awards, the VGAs essentially serve as a massive billboard for upcoming games, and this year was no different. First we had the teaser for Shaq Fu Reborn, presented by Shaq himself. This is confusing for a few reasons, the first being Shaq Fu isn’t a very fondly remembered game. Sure the name and premise is hilarious, but the game was actually really bad. It seems the team was aware of this, since Reborn appears to be a beat-em-up instead of a 1v1 fighter. It’s hard to wonder if this isn’t like Mike Tyson Mysteries, where it’s a joke that everyone except the subject seems to be in on.
Next up was the reveal of Telltale’s upcoming Batman project. Telltale have been doing great work with licensed properties like Borderlands, The Walking Dead, Fables, and Game of Thrones, so this comes as little surprise. Here’s hoping that, like the Arkham games, they get one of the comic writers involved and make a proper Batman adventure title. Telltale also released the first gameplay footage of the upcoming Walking Dead: Michone game that’ll fill in the comic character’s back story prior to meeting Rick and his group.
Following that we got a new gameplay trailer for Uncharted 4, although it’s somewhat difficult to discern if what was shown was really gameplay, because it looked so good. As for content it seems to be the standard series fare, that being Drake stumbling and bumbling around and getting hurt a lot, so looks pretty neat.
Speaking of bumbling about, there was a gameplay reveal for Far Cry Primal, which seeks to take the shooter franchise back to the stone age. There appears to be some sort of animal control mechanic, something the series has been playing around with in the last few games, plus ridable saber tooth tigers. The concept alone sounds intriguing, that being a first-person survival prehistoric shooter(?) so it’s exciting to finally see it in action.
Psychonauts 2 was announced… sort of. The Kickstarter, sorry, Fig project, was announced for it. Double Fine is looking to raise the insane amount of $3.3million for this. While a new Psychonauts sounds exciting, Double Fine’s history with delivering projects on time is sketchy at best, with Broken Age taking years to release, despite also making $3.3million.
There’s a new Rockband coming out. It uses the Oculus. It’s out next year sometime? The trailer was pretty cringe inducing, that’s really all that’s worth talking about at this time.
The oft-forgotten upcoming project from Remedy, of Alan Wake and Max Payne fame, Quantum Break received another gameplay trailer. Still no word on the release date, or the pending companion TV show, but like Last Guardian at this year’s E3 it’s nice to know that it still exists.
Finally, Rocket League, the stand out indie star and rocket-powered soccer extravaganza released earlier this year for PC and PS4 will be making it’s way to the Xbox One early next year. As of yet no word on cross-play, but it will include two new vehicle skins based on Halo and Gears of War.
Best indie and Racing game, coming soon to the Xbox One
Ok, back to the show. From the technical side, not bad at all. There were far less audio and video problems than last year, and the stage and presentation all looked great. Keighley himself looked like he hadn’t slept for days, and considering he pretty much runs the show by himself he might not have. Still he did a stand up job hosting, and the show looked and sounded great.
That’s where the positives end, since there were a lot of problems. The cut-away interviews conducted by iJustine ranged from sort of boring to insane at one point. Those weren’t nearly as bad as the Bud Light Level Up segments that can only be described as physically uncomfortable. The tribute to Westwood was well done, and it’s always nice to see people in the industry, especially visionaries like Westwood receive recognition, but it’s hard not to feel like something was left out, like say, how EA ripped them up and sold them for parts?
Cutting ties with EA like that would, of course, be risky, but such risk doesn’t seem out of the question considering the downright confusing and, what can only be described as rage-filled, pot-shots taken at Konami tonight. First off Kiefer Sutherland, or an angry homeless man, was trotted out on stage to say exactly three lines before a video unrelated to him was shown. Then, while handing out an award, a presenter dropped another log on the long burning David Hayter vs Kiefer Sutherland fire burning in MGS fans. But the bombshell was Geoff Keighley himself discussing why Kiefer Sutherland accepted the award for MGSV’s win for best action game instead of Kojima. Keighley talked straight faced about Kojima’s legal trouble with Konami and the feeling in the crowd and online was immediately negative towards Konami. To see a major producer called out like that was nothing short of shocking.
By far the best part of the show was the massive, and well done tribute to late Satoru Iwata. The tribute featured Reggie Fils Aime discussing Iwata’s contribution to the industry, plus a showing of his time with Nintendo. Capped off with a performance by Ben Harper, it was respectful and fitting, and kudos to Keighley for putting it together.
Overall, it was… another year. People will be arguing about these awards online for the next 365 days, and perhaps even after that. Here’s the thing, and not to be mean, but the VGA’s don’t totally matter. The gaming industry is the only entertainment medium that allows it’s products to boast dozens of “Game of the Year” awards. They might be the closest we have to the Oscars, sure, but does gaming need an Oscar-type ceremony?
Regardless, congratulations to all the winners. It’s a show about entertainment products, and it shows that. It’s dumb, irreverent, and kind of fitting. Here’s looking forward to the next year of games, and next years show.
We didn’t land on the VGA awards, the VGA awards landed on us.
The award statue. Not sure what it is…