The Game Awards Picks: The Side Stage

The Game Awards are right around the corner (December 7th), and include several categories across a multitude of gaming areas, including influencers, ESports, and the games themselves. Here are our picks for the awards that didn’t quite make the cut for the Main Event:

Best Debut Indie Game

Nominees: Donut County, Florence, Moss, The Messenger, Yoku’s Island Express

Tyler: I haven’t actually played a single one of these. What’s wrong with me?

Ashton: Love pinball, so this one’s going to be Yoku’s Island Express for me. Might be an unpopular opinion, but Sonic Spinball is one of my favorite games from the Genesis era, and this took me right back.

John: The Messenger, hands down. Was always a big Ninja Gaiden fan, and the blend between 8 and 16 bit art directions was incredibly impressive.

Best Student Game

Nominees: Combat 2018, Dash Quasar, JERA, LIFF, RE: Charge

Tyler: Get me to the real categories.

Ashton: Students make games now? Shouldn’t they be paying off their loans?

John: Either that or eating Top Ramen.

Best Multiplayer Game

Nominees: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Destiny 2: Forsaken, Fortnite, Monster Hunter: World, Sea of Thieves

Tyler: Yeah baby, now we’re cooking with FIRE. Call of Duty: The Black Ops 4 is the best Call of Duty in many years. Like, maybe ever. They put in more online modes than ever before and cut out that bullshit single-player they’ve been cramming in my ass for the last decade.

Ashton: Again, Fortnite is going to stomp here, but I really wish it wouldn’t. Sea of Thieves should be nowhere near this list. Put it at the bottom of the ocean with the other dead pirate games that aren’t Black Flag or Sid Meier. For my money, I’ve had the most fun with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The Blackout mode is my favorite battle royale yet and feels amazing to play. Multiplayer is pretty standard, but still addictive.

John: God good, we finally made it. Tough selection here (not really), Black Ops 4 is the only game that should be on this list. You guys are talking about Blackout and multiplayer, but no mention of Heist? Heist is the shit, everyone should go play Heist.

Best Sports/Racing Game (So Racing isn’t a sport?)

Nominees: FIFA 19, Forza Horizon 4, Mario Tennis Aces, NBA 2K19, Pro Evolution Soccer 2019

John: Toss up between NBA 2K19 (gorgeous game), and Forza, but I have to go with Forza. Insanely gorgeous, beautifully detailed, and its the only game that makes me feel like I’m driving a McLaren.

Tyler: Tough choices on here. Mario Tennis for sure.

Ashton: Get Mario Tennis off this fucking list. Forza Horizon 4 isn’t just the best racing game of this year, it’s the highest-rated Xbox exclusive game for this generation. Not a high bar, but still, impressive.

Tyler: Highest-rated Xbox exclusive is a car game?

Ashton: For this generation, yes. It’s sad.

Best Strategy Game

Nominees: The Banner Saga 3, BATTLETECH, Frostpunk, Into the Breach, Valkyria Chronicles 4

Tyler: I played a few hours of Banner Saga 1 and same with “Frost spunk”, so it really comes down to these two.

Ashton: Frostpunk let’s me choose whether to bury the dead or use them for food, so it’s the winner for sure.

John: Psssh, I’ve totally played these games, and aren’t picking Into the Breach because its my only exposure here.

Best Family Game

Nominees: Mario Tennis Aces, Nintendo Labo, Overcooked 2, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Super Mario Party

Tyler: Gotta give it to one of the Marios again. He’s the best.

Ashton: How did Mario Tennis get nominated for anything? Overcooked 2 was just as fun as the original and helped give me an excuse to yell at my friends. Putting my money on that.

John: Aces is a tirefire that should never have been wheeled into existence. However, Overcooked makes me angry at my wife, so while its a good game, I dunno about family friendliness. Super Mario Party it is.

Best Fighting Game

Nominees: BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Soul Calibur VI, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

Tyler: Where’s Injustice 2?

Ashton: Injustice 2 was last year, but I’d like to nominate it again.

John: I enjoyed Dragon Ball FighterZ the most while watching EVO.

Best Action/Adventure Game

Nominees: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Tyler: Whoa, man. Tough, tough, tough. Here’s the thing… It’s Spider-Man. Red Dead will get its time.

John: Spider-Man was great and all, but I think it’s fresher in your mind. God of War had better combat, more interesting enemies, and a better story.

Ashton: Let’s see, Red Dead is going to win this category hands down.

Tyler: But what do you want to win?

Ashton: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the game I had the most fun with this year. I know, it’s blasphemy, but the combat system is smooth, everything works well, and the story is one of the best in the series (obvi Black Flag is #1)

Tyler: Jesus. On to the next…

Best Action Game

Nominees: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Dead Cells, Destiny 2: Forsaken, Far Cry 5, Mega Man 11

Ashton: Black Ops 4 is going to take this for me. I don’t miss the campaign, it was never a reason I was drawn to the series. This feels like one of the tightest entries in the series.

Tyler: Dead Cells or Black Ops 4. Both are fantastic.

John: As much as I love Mega Man 11, its hard to give this to anything but Dead Cells.

Best VR/AR Game

Nominees: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission, Beat Saber, Firewall Zero Hour, Moss, Tetris Effect

Ashton: What? We’re all rich enough to afford VR now?!

Tyler: Skip this shit.

John: Sorry, I was in the bathroom? What did I miss? Nothing? Ok, good.

Best Mobile Game

Nominees: Donut County, Florence, Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Reigns: Game of Thrones

Ashton: I’d like to re-nominate Magikarp Jump.

Tyler: Pokemon Go.

Ashton: Yeah, for real, where is Pokemon GO? I’ll say it, fuck Fortnite. Fight me.

John: Candy Crush Cream Soda Bubble Pop With A Cherry On Top Edition.

Best Independent Game

Nominees: Celeste, Dead Cells, Into the Breach, Return of the Obra Dinn, The Messenger

John: Dead Cells is a very well made game.

Tyler: Dead Cells. Celeste never clicked with me.

Ashton: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t played any of these.


Game For Impact

Nominees: 11-11 Memories Retold, Celeste, Florence, Life is Strange 2: Episode 1, The Missing: JJ Macfield and the Island of Memories

Ashton: Once more, can’t weigh in here. Also, Fortnite likely had the biggest real-world impact, it was just really negative.

Tyler: WTF is a game for impact? I played Celeste.

John: Hello, fellow kids, I ALSO played Celesete.

Ashton: Fortnite made kids steal their parents’ credit cards. THAT’S IMPACT.

Tyler: Yeah, and it got that Ninja kid on Ellen.

John: Moving on…

Best Ongoing Game

Nominees: Destiny 2: Forsaken, Fortnite, No Man’s Sky, Overwatch, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege

Ashton: Once again, Fortnite is going to win this one, but I wish it would go to Rainbow Six Siege. Originally I was going to leave them off, but they reversed their asinine localization decision this morning, so I’m going to give it back. This game has stayed in my heavy rotation for two years now and continues to put out great updates. That’ll do Ubi, that’ll do.

Tyler: Look at what Fortnite actually does, and I think it’s well earned. They have kept everyone engaged for a long time and they do it in really fun and creative ways.

Ashton: It’s pretty easy to engage people when a game is free. Fortnite is absolutely a good game, but in the end, not for me. Siege feels tight, has a higher skill ceiling, and is far more fun to both play and watch.

John: Siege has one of the more unique facets to it in the destruction mechanic. My major concern is power creep, and this year they introduced a character that absolutely breaks the game, forcing professional players to petition to have him removed from the game entirely. Each season offers a strong attempt at balancing, and they’re consistently trotting out great maps. Good job, Ubi.

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