The Game Awards 2015 Summary & Review – Good Games, Good Music, Good Times!

So the Game Awards came back for a second round this year with The Game Awards 2015 after what I though was a pretty solid debut last year, and overall I would say it was another very solid showing. Geoff Keighley was once again great presenting many of the awards and we *did* get to see a lot of great new games/footage as well as take up some great discounts on games. It all felt a lot like a big thank you to all the gamers out there around the world and I really enjoyed that.

The highlight of the evening for me was the tribute to Satoru Iwata, where they showed a brief montage of pictures of him before bringing out Reggie Fils-Aime to give a moving speech followed by an emotional performance from Ben Harper. I couldn’t find a video including the performance from Harper, but I’ve linked the rest of the tribute directly below. RIP, Satoru Iwata.

A heck of a lot of great announcements were made, so below you can find my quick thoughts of the entire thing.

The Announcements

What was perhaps the biggest news of the night was that Double Fine revealed that they are crowdfunding Psychonauts 2 for release in 2018. Interestingly enough, the crowdfunding is being done through a new site called Fig. It operates very similarly to other crowd-funding sites, but the catch is when you donate you are also investing in the game and will thus make money off the game once it releases relative to how much it sells and much you invested. Pretty cool.

We already knew about Far Cry Primal, but the show gave us a new gameplay trailer that really showcased the game’s visceral and brutal setting. It looks like they are taking the best parts of Far Cry 4 and making an entire game based solely around those parts, and I am 100% down for that!

Remember The Elder Scrolls Online? No? Me neither! However, Bethesda is pulling a stunt with the game that is sure to get a lot of people to check the game out from now until early January, as they revealed that playing the game during that time will make you eligible for a chance to win $1,000,000. No joke! All you have to do is fill out a form on the game’s website and have an active account.

The folks at Naughty Dog are hard at work on the new Uncharted game, but that didn’t stop them from releasing a new clip of footage that reveals a new character in the game named Nadine Ross. Drake tries to play it cool, but quickly ends up getting his butt kicked a little in what was a gorgeous looking cinematic. Drake really has aged!

It wouldn’t be a gaming event without learning that Telltale Games is taking on yet another major license and turning it into an episodic adventure, but this reveal is one of the biggest yet. Telltale is taking on none other than BATMAN in a new game that is slated for release next year.

There were rumors that the big man himself, Shaq, would be making an appearance at the show and the rumors were true. Shaq announced a new eSports league as well as the winner for best eSports team, but the real news was that the classic Shaq Fu from 1994 is being remastered in Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.

Quantum Break also made an appearance, getting yet another cinematic trailer to sink your teeth into. Hard to judge a whole lot from a cinematic trailer, but I’m still really looking forward to Remedy’s follow-up to the fantastic Alan Wake.

Oculus’ Palmer Lucky came out being his naturally goofy self, though his big reveal was that Rock band VR is coming to Oculus Rift next year. Seems kinda cool, but at the end of the daythe game still plays just like Rock Band always did, just now you can turn your head and see people around you. Next!

I had posted recently that Shadow Complex Remastered had been leaked for PC, and that turned out to be true. However, what I did not hear is that they are releasing the game for FREE throughout the holiday season! Also, the game *will* be making its way to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners, too.

A brief alpha gameplay trailer was also revealed for Star Citizen, which looked pretty cool but nothing to really go crazy about.

You thought the Telltale Games news was over, didn’t you? Nope! It was also revealed that a spin-off series called The Walking Dead: Michonne. It’s Telltale, it’s their Walking Dead series, so of course it looks pretty good.

Another rumor that ended up being true was that Rocket League is coming to Xbox One. I already said this recently but I’ll say it again: this is awesome. Rocket League was the surprise hit of the year and I believe that as many people as possible should be able to play it.

Definitely some great announcements to witness, but now it’s time to see who were the big winners of the evening for gaming. Scroll down for a complete list of games/devs/people who went home with awards (marked in bold):

The Winners

Game of the Year

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  • Super Mario Maker
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Developer of the Year

  • Bethesda Game Studios
  • CD Projekt Red
  • From Software
  • Kojima Productions
  • Nintendo

Best Shooter

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Splatoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront

Best Action-Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Best RPG

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale

Best Fighting Game

  • Guilty Gear Xrd Sign
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Rise of Incarnates
  • Rising Thunder

Best Sports/Racing Game

  • FIFA 16
  • Forza Motorsport 6
  • NBA 2K16
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
  • Rocket League

Best Multiplayer

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Rocket League
  • Splatoon

Best Indie Game

  • Axiom Verge (Tom Happ)
  • Her Story (Sam Barlow)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios/Microsoft Studios)
  • Rocket League (Psyonix)
  • Undertale (tobyfox)

Best Family Game

  • Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Lego Dimensions
  • Skylanders SuperChargers
  • Splatoon
  • Super Mario Maker

Best Mobile or Handheld Game

  • Downwell (Moppin/Devolver Digital)
  • Fallout Shelter (Bethesda)
  • Lara Croft Go (Square Enix)
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Capcom)
  • Pac-Man 256 (Hipster Whale/Bandai Namco)

Best Narrative

  • Her Story
  • Life is Strange
  • Tales From the Borderlands
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Until Dawn

Best Art Direction

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Bloodborne
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Best Score or Soundtrack

  • Fallout 4 (Inon Zur)
  • Halo 5: Guardians (Kazuma Jinnouchi)
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (Justin Burnett, Ludvig Forssell, Daniel James)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Gareth Coker)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Marcin Przybylowicz, Mikolai Stroinski)

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch – Chloe Price (Life is Strange)
  • Doug Cockle – Geralt (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
  • Mark Hamill – The Joker (Batman: Arkham Knight)
  • Camilla Luddington – Lara Croft (Rise of the Tomb Raider)
  • Viva Seifert (Her Story)

Games for Change

  • Cibele (Nina Freeman)
  • Her Story (Sam Barlow)
  • Life is Strange (Dontnod Entertainment)
  • Sunset (Tale of Tales)
  • Undertale (tobyfox)

Industry Icon Award – Westwood Studios co-founders Brett Sperry and Louis Castle

Fan Voting

Most Anticipated Game

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Quantum Break
  • The Last Guardian
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Fan Creation

  • GTA 5 – Targets (Hoodoo Operator)
  • Real GTA (Corridor Digital)
  • Portal Stories: Mel (Prism Studios)
  • Super Mario Maker e-Reader Levels (Baddboy78/theycallmeshaky)
  • Twitch Plays Dark Souls (Twitch Community)

Trending Gamer

  • Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles
  • Greg Miller
  • Markiplier
  • PewDiePie
  • Total Biscuit

eSports

Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Dota 2
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
  • League of Legends

Player of the Year

  • Peter “ppd” Dager (Dota 2 – Evil Geniuses)
  • Syed Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan (Dota 2 – Evil Geniuses)
  • Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer (CS:GO – Fnatic)
  • Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok (League of Legends – SK Telecom T1)
  • Kenny “KennyS” Schrub (CS:GO – Team EnVyUs)

Team of the Year

  • Evil Geniuses
  • Fnatic
  • Optic Gaming
  • SK Telecom T1
  • Team SoloMid

That concludes my brief thoughts/coverage of the Game Awards 2015! Again, I was really pleased with the show and felt a lot of great-looking games were announced and a lot of great games ended up winning awards. Of course, this being a judgmental website this article wouldn’t be complete without a judgment, so my judgement for The Game Awards 2015 show is…

CONDONE

You Can Now Join The Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online Open Beta

Ubisoft has revealed that the beta for Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online is now open, meaning that any lowly peasant can join without needing any kind of special pass!

The free-to-play online strategy RPG has been in alpha and beta phases for several months now, and a new update is being added to coincide with the launch of the open beta that adds a new PvP mode called War Game. In this mode commanders go head-to-head using specially constructed decks that will yield big rewards.

An official release date for EndWar Online has not been revealed, but if you want in on the beta all you have to do is create an account by clicking right here.

Here’s The Launch Trailer For Xenoblade Chronicles X

The sequel to the incredible Xenoblade Chronicles launches this week, and to commemorate the occasion an official launch trailer has been released. The trailer showcases a lot characters and locations featured throughout the game, which so far has garnered glowing acclaim.

Xenoblade Chronicles X launches exclusively for the Wii U on December 4th, 2015.

Final Fantasy XV Playable From Beginning To End, Now Being Polished

An update has been regarding the state of Final Fantasy XV, which went into a lot detail on what is next for the highly-anticipated game.

It was revealed that the game is now playable from beginning to end, which gives the staff a birds-eye view of what they have so far. Beyond this point the game will now be polished and more advanced features will be added to improve and refine what they’ve got right now.

More importantly, it was said that the entire first half of the game is essentially completed. Learning this, it sounds like the game is moving along in development at a solid pace, and the light at the end of the tunnel is quickly coming into view.

Final Fantasy XV is easily one of my most anticipated games to come around in a longtime, especially considering my love for the PlayStation 1 games. The series definitely lost its way in recent years, but everything I’ve seen so far regarding XV gives me hope that the series can get back on the path of greatness once again.

Star Ocean 5 Delayed In Japan For Further Quality Control

Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness looks to bring back the Star Ocean series on last and current generation PlayStation consoles, though it looks like fans are going to have to wait a little bit longer for it to arrive.

Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness

Square Enix has revealed today that the in-development RPG has been delayed in Japan from February 25th to March 31st, 2016. As usual, the blanket excuse for the delay is that they are trying to make the game as good as possible and are aiming to improve the current game’s quality.

That’s a bummer for those in Japan, but it’s an even bigger bummer for us in the west where the game still doesn’t even have a confirmed release date. Typically the localisations for these kinds of games take several months, so I would expect it to release at some point in Q3/Q4 of 2015.

The New Xenoblade Chronicles X Trailer Is All About Survival

Xenoblade Chronicles X is probably my most anticipated game of the entire year, based solely on the fact that the original game is one of my favorite games of all time. No pressure on the sequel or anything, but it’s got a LOT to live up to. A LOT!

Anyways, a brief new trailer has been released for the game called Survival, and it gives a brief synopsis of the game while also showing off some of the game’s gorgeous locations. Humans are forced to flee their world and repopulate on an alien planet, which of course leads to some friction. And when I say friction, I mean that there are humongous monsters trying to eat them. Welcome to your new home!

Xenoblade Chronicles X launches exclusively for the Wii U on December 4th, 2015.

Condemn O.R. Condone – Fallout 4 (PlayStation 4)

Fallout 4 is finally upon us, with 2015’s perhaps most anticipated game being the series’ first numbered release since 2008. Bethesda’s massive RPG series has always been all about creating a complex and demented world and basically just throwing the player into it and seeing what happens. The post-apocalyptic settings always feel unique to the series, and even though the overall gameplay mechanics are something that Bethesda relies on regularly it’s always just enough to suck people back in. Fallout 4 largely relies on the same formula that Bethesda has been using for years, but there are just enough improvements imbued into what is my new favorite Bethesda RPG setting to put a very big smile on my face.

While the plot of Fallout 4 follows a similar road of Fallout 3 in that you are searching for a missing family member (this time your son instead of your father), the game is notable for showing life briefly *before* the nuke hit. You and your wife are a young couple who have a newborn son and are living a pretty comfortable life in the suburbs with a weird, floating butler robot named Codsworth. These moments of ease are very short-lived, however, as it isn’t too long after the game has started that you suddenly hear of the nuke’s impending detonation. You and your wife take your son and charge for the Vault and make it inside just in the nick of time. However, you are put into a cryogenic sleep for over 200 years, and during that time your wife was killed and your son was kidnapped. How pleasant!

It’s after this that you are thrown into the viscous, post-apocalyptic world that Bethesda are so masterful at creating. This time the game is set in Massachusetts, which is a big plus for me considering it’s my home state. You go through town’s like Boston, Lexington and Concord where everything has been decimated and overrun with Super Mutants, Raiders and all matter of savage animals and Synths. There are many big landmarks that you’ll come across along the way that are fantastic to behold, such as the game’s stronghold (Diamond City) being Fenway Park, the State House, the Freedom Trail and a lot more that are perfectly incorporated into the game’s gritty world. There’s just something even more visceral about a game’s setting when you know it’s based on an area you’re familiar with, and Bethesda did a fantastic job of bringing Massachusetts to post-apocalyptic life (or death, I guess).

While your main object is to find your son, as is always the case in every Bethesda game you will quickly get side-tracked with the overwhelming amount of stuff there is to do in this game. There are several factions that all have their own unique quests, tons of areas to explore and loot and now you can even create your structures! All of the useless crap that you would find in previous games in the series can now be utilized to craft things like furniture, power grids and crafting stations where you can create and customize your weapons, armor and aid items. You’ll want to do this to protect the people in your group, as they’ll occasionally have to deal with enemies and the better your stronghold the better their chances of survival. The crafting system isn’t perfect, however, as you only have your first-person viewpoint to place objects. This becomes very awkward when you’re trying to place something precisely, and I really think that an overhead perspective (or at least the option to switch to one) would have improved this part of the game greatly.

Combat in Fallout 4 works largely the same as it did in the past, as you attack enemies in either a 1st or 3rd-person perspective with guns and melee weapons. However, the combat has been improved this time around, as everything feels more accurate and more on par with how many big-name first-person shooters control today. You also have the ability to get more strategic with V.A.T.S. which returns to allow you to zero-in on specific enemy body parts and then dish out the damage in a cinematic barrage of offense. The big change for V.A.T.S. is that it no longer freezes time while you are choosing your attack, as it instead puts the action in slow-motion. You’ll still have time to plan you attack accordingly, but wait too long and the enemy will get some attacks in before you execute. I actually liked this change as it kept the tension of some of the more intense shootouts (of which there are many) going strong.

Even though you’ll find all manner of crazy weaponry to defend yourself throughout your playthrough, you can get the extra power if needed by hopping into the beloved Power Armor featured on the cover. Doing this makes you a one-man army, with far greater offensive and defensive stats then you would regularly have. What keeps this being a game-breaking machine is the fact that it runs on fusion cores, which there are a limited amount of in the game. As a result, you need to plan carefully when you will use it, as fusion cores don’t last long at all. It’s basically like the armor that Tony Stark builds in the cave in the first Iron Man movie, as it’s an absolute beast but has a limited amount of time to wreak havoc before it’s useless.

Fallout 4 FEATURE REVIEW

This wouldn’t be a Bethesda RPG without some form of progression system, and Fallout 4 has changed that process significantly with the perk system. You now have a giant grid of perks that you can put points towards by gaining experience and leveling up, and if you keep on playing you can eventually acquire every single one. These perks do things like make you stronger or more persuasive in conversations, though they eventually funnel down to more specific perks like doing more damage with non-automatic pistols. You have complete freedom with the system and due to the fact that it’s so open and visual it allows you to customize your character with more control than ever before.

Even though Bethesda games are known for being incredibly buggy at launch, in my testing of the PlayStation 4 version I have experienced only very minor bugs and nothing to the extreme of the game freezing or crashing. The biggest technical shortcoming is one that many were bringing up even before the game launched, and that’s the game’s graphics engine. While this is undoubtedly the best looking game Bethesda has ever done, some of the character models are down-right atrocious for this day and age, and the animations and lip-syncing can be pretty wonky. Still, this is made up for thanks to the game’s fantastic design and voice acting of all of the game’s various inhabitants that is without question the best we’ve seen in a Bethesda game yet. Even the main character is voice acted for the very first time, which I thought was a huge improvement and adds a lot more emotional depth to the core experience.

Character interactions themselves have been refined and simplified compared to previous games, with you getting a handful of options to respond to the person you’re talking to and only a vague idea of what you’re actually going to respond with. You’re options typically range from seeking out more information on what the person just said, agreeing with them, disagreeing with them or replying with sarcasm. Some have complained that this has reduced the amount of really interesting conversations you can have with characters, but ultimately I felt it kept the conversations moving without babbling too much. Plus you can witness some pretty hilarious dialogue whenever you choose the sarcastic response. Your choices that you make in conversations are pretty important, as well, as you have the power to potentially avoid combat situations or get more information out of a person, especially if you max out your charisma stat early.

It isn’t ground-breaking, but Fallout 4 is nonetheless an incredible experience that is rivaled by few others in the industry. The post-apocalyptic setting of Massachusetts is consistently jaw-dropping, and the game’s plot deals with some pretty thought-provoking stuff regarding the humanity of synths and the best best interests for mankind going forward. It’s an incredibly dense world with plenty of content to tackle, with all of it feeling like an integral part to the game’s setting and lore. It’s a very scary world to live in and the various factions that are at odds with each other all have compelling arguments for their particular beliefs that make it hard to entirely side with one of them. Plus there’s the fact that the game is consistently a blast to play, with so many different mechanics for you to tinker around with and tweak to your liking. Simply put, Fallout 4 is a tremendous game that should not be missed by anyone with the means to play it.

CONDONE