Gaming Roundup – 15 Minutes of Awards in a 3 Hour Show

Hello! Welcome to the Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, The Game Awards round out the year!

Game Awards – The Awards

This week was Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards, otherwise known as the Gaming Hype Machine That Occasionally Hands Out an Award Here and There, but that’s not as catchy. Here are all of this year’s award winners.

Here are the esports results:
Best Esports Game – League of Legends
Best Esports Coash – Zonic
Best Esports Event – LoL World Champs 2020
Best Esports Host – Sjokz
Best Esports Team – G2 Esports
Best Esports Athlete – Showmaker

Elsewhere in awards adjacent to the games themselves, Content Creator of the Year went to Valkyrae, who I’d previously never heard of, but all I know is Alanah Pearce was robbed.

While we’re on community, Fall Guys won Best Community Support, which makes sense because, honestly, have you seen their Twitter presence? It’s great.

Bringing it closer to the games themselves, Games for Impact was awarded to Tell Me Why, most likely due to it covering the topics of trans identity and mental illness through the eyes of two siblings who seek out their past. Very well deserved in my opinion.

In the genre categories, Best VR Game went to Half-Life: Alyx, because of course it did. Best Sim/Strategy went to Microsoft Flight Simulator, while Best Sports/Racing went to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. And Best Fighting Game went to Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate in a category that made it clear that 2020 has been a bad year for fighting games since most of the nominees were updated versions of older fighting titles.

Best Family Game went to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, its only award and honestly a shocker considering it’s the most important game of the year (I will not be disputed on this). And Best Debut Game went, surprisingly, to Phasmophobia.

Looking to the past, Best Ongoing Game went to No Man’s Sky, and provided one of the moments of the night as director Sean Murray frantically tried to stop drinking beer when his game was called out. Looking to the future, Most Anticipated Game went to Elden Ring, which should with us in roughly 10 years knowing George R.R. Martin’s track record.

And then we get to the games that won in multiple categories. Final Fantasy VII Remake and Ghost of Tsushima each got two nods, with the former getting Best Score/Music and Best RPG, while the latter got Best Art Direction and the Player’s Voice Award. Hades took away Best Action and Best Indie Game, while plucky underdogs Among Us won Best Multiplayer and Best Mobile Game, another well-deserved choice for both categories.

The Last of Us Part II got everything else. For some categories, this is fair: Laura Bailey won a Performance award for her portrayal of Abby, while the Innovation in Accessibility award is definitely a good choice for the game pushing so many options out for disabled players.

But Best Narrative? I’d disagree with that, along with Best Game Direction and Game of the Year, due to my massive issues with the story’s pacing and lack of real heart like the first game had. Best Action Adventure and Audio Design I could argue either way, particularly with the other nominees making strong cases for themselves too.

So there we go. The Last of Us 2 swept the awards despite being decent but fundamentally flawed. You do you, games industry.

Game Awards – The Reveals

But the Game Awards are, oddly, not about just awards, and a number of reveals were made last night. Occasionally, in between the 80% of filler this show frequently has (seriously, Keighley, learn how to structure a show, it’s been six years now). Apparently it’s utterly essential to have an appearance from the Swedish Chef or a generic trailer for Genshin Impact (apparently reminding us all it exists I guess) or Tom Holland showing up to introduce Nolan North, the actual person presenting the award. Plus all the pointless musical interludes too. This year felt shorter than last year, but even then you could have still stripped at least an hour out of the show without too much trouble.

But when that’s not happening, sometimes some announcements get made.

A new Smash Bros character was announced. It’s Sephiroth, following Cloud into Smash Bros Ultimate! My hope with his presence is that maybe Final Fantasy will get a much more representative music selection now, adding to the frankly pitiful selection that’s in the game currently. Some English voice acting for Cloud would be nice too but maybe I’m asking too much here.

EA showed off some teasers for Bioware franchises people actually care about, and didn’t mention Anthem once. Dragon Age…got a trailer. And also, Mass Effect “will continue” according to a trailer that said basically nothing else. My hope for Bioware fans is that these two projects will be good, but I’d recommend remembering Andromeda before getting too hyped right now.

Some games got release date announcements. Medieval sneaky multiplayer game Hood: Outlaws and Legends is out in May…in Early Access…no, some people can play it three days early…I don’t understand this announcement. Just announce a date in a straightforward manner, please.

Elsewhere, Sony’s memory-looping sci-fi shooter Returnal is coming on 19th March, while Sega’s Civilization-baiting Humankind is out on 22nd April. Meanwhile, Oddworld Soulstorm has been pushed back to sometime in Spring, missing out on a 2020 release date.

Some games are getting new releases. A special updated Switch release of flawed arty game Sea of Solitude, labelled the Director’s Cut, is out on 4th March. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is an enhanced upgrade of the EXCELLENT Disco Elysium, releasing in March, with existing players on PC getting the additional content for free. Capcom, meanwhile, are reviving Ghosts n Goblins with a remake on 25th February, alongside a retro throwback collection called Capcom Arcade Stadium.

If you like your feelings games, as I’m now affectionately calling this breed of games. Open Roads is the new game from Gone Home devs The Fullbright Company, using handdrawn animation in 3D environments to tell a story about a road trip for a mother and daughter. Road 96 is also about road trips, but it’s all about fleeing a dictatorship. And then there’s Season, a game that’s going to be absolutely terrible to search for online, which appears to touch on themes of heritage and family legacy.

Other new reveals including dragon flight game Century: Ages of Ashes (launching in February), dungeon crawler Endless Dungeon, 2.5D platformer/brawler F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch, and a cowboys and monsters shooter from the Shadow Warrior devs called Evil West.

MMO Black Desert is getting a sequel of sorts in the form of Crimson Desert, which gives off some Witcher vibes but will, sadly, be an MMO. The Evil Dead is getting a brand new game, which gave off some Dead By Daylight vibes, if the camp counsellors had chainsaws and boomsticks.

And then there was the utterly bizarre trailer where Vin Diesel fights dinosaurs in what turned out to be an announcement for the sequel to Ark: Survival Evolved. Fan names already 2 Horizon 2 Dawn and Fast & Furious: Continental Drift, both of which are superior to Ark 2. There’s also an animated series, which Diesel is also in. I have no idea.

A Way Out director Josef Fares revealed his latest game, It Takes Two, which releases on 26th March. It follows his previous game’s concept of being an entirely co-op game, but this one is a bonkers surreal adventure starring a couple who’ve been turned into dolls by a possibly malevolent book of love. Looks excellent.

There are two spiritual successors from devs who left a big publisher to essentially make more of what their old publisher seemingly isn’t letting them do. Back 4 Blood is Left 4 Dead but now made by Warner Bros, offering up more 4-player co-op zombie shooting in June next year, while The Callisto Protocol is a sci-fi horror game headed by the former producer of the Dead Space franchise, releasing in 2022. And yes, I am ready for Dead Space but not really.

Finally, that mysterious title The Initiative are making for Microsoft got revealed (the one which they’re stupidly calling “AAAA” and that’s the last time I’ve ever saying that). It’s only bloody Perfect Dark! It’s back! The trailer showed what appeared to be a drone flying through a corporate office in Egypt, only to reveal the Datadyne logo and Agent Joanna Dark herself at the end. May be a while off, but I’ve got my eye on this one as a fan of the N64 game.

And that was The Game Awards! I suffered through it so you don’t have to.

Ori and the Real Forest

Not content with saving fictional magic forests, the Ori games are now working towards saving real forests too.

The recently-released physical editions of the Ori titles – Blind Forest and this year’s Will of the Wisps – for Switch will be temporarily raising money for preservation charity Rainforest Trust. Publisher iam8bit will be donating $25,000 as a base amount, while 5% of the game’s sales on Switch will add to that total until the 13th.

This doesn’t apply to all versions of the game, however. Only if you purchase the digital edition of Will of the Wisps from the eShop, the physical Switch edition of the game from any retailer, or the Ori Collector’s Edition direct from iam8bit. So no, buying it on Steam won’t contribute to the rainforest fund.

If you haven’t yet played Will of the Wisps, I highly recommend picking this up, as not only will you get one of the best games of the year, you’ll also be helping to save the world in the process.

And now, let’s go over to Mat to talk esports!

Bristol’s Big Plans for eSports

Hello friends, welcome to your last esports weekly round-up of 2020! The last few weeks have been important for gaming and the same can be said for the UK esports scene as well, here’s three of the top stories handpicked just for you lucky people!

Proposals have been put forward for a new creative technology education faculty and 1,500-seat esports arena in Bristol. Described as ‘world class’ it’s planned to be built at the West of England Institute for Specialists Education (WISE) Further Education College site in Bristol.

The proposal is by Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE) following an invitation by South Gloucestershire & Stroud College (SGS), which operates WISE. The proposal features a circa 1,400-1,500 seat esports arena with a global digital streaming capability. This technology will be designed and delivered by NLAE’s partnership with the global technology provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS will also be designing and participating in the delivery of the cloud-based education content to be provided by the new faculty. The technology provided by AWS will also allow SGS to deliver programmes remotely to classes at their other campus locations.

To top it all off Independent renewable energy company Vital Energi, will work with NLAE and SGS to deliver a zero-carbon energy solution for the new development.

The new faculty is set to open in 2023. Prior to that the WISE Campus is also planning to open a new £7m specialist technology and science building funded by the West of England Combined Authority in March 2021.

This is all exciting news. A few weeks ago there were proposals for another esports arena to be developed in Southport after asking school children what they wanted added to the area. We’ve been seeing signs of major investment in esports as an industry in the UK over this past year, some of which I’ve already covered in previous round ups, which is spearheaded by universities based on the interests of emerging generations. More infrastructure not only helps the industry grow but attracts global interest with more international tournaments choosing to host here in the UK. This has potential to turn esports into a major export for the UK, although this will entirely depend on external factors such as Brexit.

Last thing to note, as a STEM geek, I’m loving the increased investment in specialist technology and science as well at WISE. Investing technology and science skills means more potential for homegrown talent and a wider impact of advancement of STEM worldwide.

New Stream for Competitive World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is a beast, dominating gaming culture for 16-years and counting. Yet as an esport it has a surprisingly small following for a game of its size and notoriety. However, that could change with the first stream of “Race to World First”. For the unanointed, Race to World First is the biggest event in competitive WoW as over 12 million people in hundreds of guilds worldwide fight to be the first to beat the new raid bosses released within the game by Blizzard. It’s an insane experience which top WoW guilds train all year for and stream on their channels to fans.

This new stream is created by a new organisation One True King, which comprise an ensemble of popular WoW content creators, aims to offer an unbiased, impartial broadcast that covers as many of the competitive guilds as possible across the world during the event.

In an interview with Esports News UK, OTK members described the event is an “incredible event […] unique to any game and any genre out there”, but was missing a neutral third party to cover the event without any conflict of interest. Usually, top guilds stream their attempt and some esports brands like Red Bull will give it coverage too, however, there has been criticism in the past with certain guilds receiving more airtime than others, or not appearing at all on certain streams. This is what OTK want to address.

While the event starts on 15th December with Mythic Castle Nathria and the start Season 1 of WoW’s newest expansion, the OTK stream will begin on the 14th December with a pre-game show. It’ll take place on Twitch.tv/Asmongold.

I admit, WoW is not my strong point and I said in my opening, the competitive esports scene for WoW very much stays within the community compared to other esport mammoths like League of Legends, so I can’t comment on the impact this would have. However, we do see a lot of content creators and esport athletes establishing their own organisations and brands, some which have major success, and some don’t. From what I can tell this is quite a super group within the community so it will be interesting to see where this goes. I for one would be interested to see a bit more competitive WoW on my Twitch feed! On a side note, Race to World First is bonkers and there’s a pretty interesting documentary about it which I recommend you watch.

British Esports Championships Generate Half a million Views

The British Esports Championships is a series of competitive video game tournaments for students aged 12+ across the UK and open to schools and colleges to compete. In an article on their site, the British Esports Association states that their Twitch channel has grown to more than 2,400 followers since broadcasts began in spring 2020, with more than half a million total views. Broadcasts regularly pull in 60,000 unique viewers, with 1,600+ average viewers watching student teams take part in esports tournaments.

They have announced that registrations for 2021 season are now open. Due to the winter qualifiers not taking place, all new schools participating will be placed in the second division of the competition which is due to kick off on 16th January. The games that will be included in the series are 5v5 League of Legends, 6v6 Overwatch and 3v3 Rocket League.

This is good news as it shows a growing fanbase for the grass roots esports scene. If you haven’t already, sign up to the twitch stream and show some love. I’ll probably be covering the series when it gets down to the top 16 in March next year.

That’s it from me, friends, now back over to you Leigh!

New Releases

Thanks Mat! Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit of a quiet week this week for general releases. Well, apart from Game of the Week but we’ll get to that.

Shady Part of Me stealth-dropped during the Game Awards, after months of having a general “hopefully in 2020” release date. It’s an artistic 2D platformer about a troubled girl who must work with her shadow to solve puzzles and venture through a strange surreal world.

Unto the End is a cinematic action platformer about a mountain man undertaking a long and arduous journey home through the icy wilderness. Intricate combat is at the heart of the game, with fights focused on brutal, slow and methodical blocks and parries.

Call of the Sea is a game that appeals to my specific tastes quite nicely. It’s a first-person exploration adventure set on a mysterious tropical island. It’s 1934, and you play as a woman named Norah trying to track down her husband’s expedition after he disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Expect a lot of puzzles and maybe a little supernatural weirdness, so therefore I’m totally on board.

Game of the Week

Fine, Cyberpunk 2077 is Game of the Week, largely because I know that if I gave it to anything else people would get mad. Plus, if nothing else this is a significant way to acknowledge that, yes, it’s actually out. I know, I’m struggling to believe that too.

You know what this one is. Based on the tabletop RPG, from the folks who made The Witcher, starring Keanu Reeves. It’s been attracting a bit of criticism for its bugs and a concerning scene that’s been allegedly causing epileptic fits, but underneath all that, it appears to be the game everyone was expecting. A vast open-world RPG set in a neon-drenched dystopia with far too much to do and a whole lot of people to meet.

It’s arguably the biggest game of the year, so it only seems reasonable to award it the final Game of the Week of 2020. But you don’t care, you’re probably already playing it.

And that’s it for this week! Next week will be the Games of the Week retrospective, as I re-examine all my Game of the Week choices for 2020, and Christmas week will bring you a slightly earlier than usual 2020 Roundup, where the 50 most notable games of the year get highlighted in all their glory. See you then!

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