Game of the Year
Only the best of the best are nominated for the prestigious Game Debate Global Game Awards Game of The Year title, and there can be only one. We are all looking for that one supreme game that dropped our jaws over the past 12 months. Nominees are usually highly competent in every facet that makes a title brilliant and all of them are video game titans that stand above the rest. These titles reach the lofty heights where the Half-Life and Elder Scrolls of gaming history dwell. They push the industry forward, innovating with rich new features and exceptional gameplay, all the while perfecting mechanics that set the template for every other title to aspire to.
Death Stranding is bold, ambitious, and more than a bit messy. It’s Kojima unshackled, which is every bit as divisive as you’d expect. What follows is incredibly mechanics-driven open-world title, one in which layer upon layer of systems are gradually introduced to both complicate and aid the journey from A to B. Death Stranding ends up feeling totally dynamic, one-of-a-kind, where the emphasis is on the journey itself rather than the destination. Wrap all that up in one of the craziest videogame stories we’ve ever seen, throw in some fascinating online connectivity and co-operation, and the end result is comfortably one of the most unique AAA titles we’ve seen in years.
It almost feels like cheating for Capcom to take one of the greatest games of all time as the template but Resident Evil 2 remake is, top to bottom, a masterclass in how to take a classic and update it for the modern gamer. Resident Evil 2 is a brilliant rendition of one of the finest survival horror experiences of all time, complete with gorgeous visuals, revamped navigation systems, and some of the most iconic locales ever seen in video games.
The holy duo of Respawn meets Star Wars has not disappointed. Jedi: Fallen Order is a Sekiro-lite sci-fi blockbuster and definitely the greatest Star Wars game for a decade. Tapping into the core of what makes Star Wars so damned appealing, Jedi: Fallen Order is a planet-hopping adventure through eye-popping environments, intense action against iconic baddies, and a thoroughly addictive Metroidvania-type gameplay loop.
FromSoftware may have carved themselves a well-worn niche but it’s when it’s as good as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, who are we to complain? Building on the Souls template, Sekiro adds increased verticality, faster combat, simplified character progression, and combat which focuses on expert parrying. FromSoftware have set a tremendously high bar for themselves but Sekiro does them proud. The world design is excellent from top to bottom, while a number of boss fights have entered the pantheon of FromSoft greats. The satisfaction to be felt from finally toppling the hard-as-nails final boss is an experience that’s difficult to beat.
We didn’t know what level to set our expectations for The Outer Worlds but we ended up being a whole lot more than pleasantly surprised. The Outer Worlds is the Fallout game we’ve been waiting for since Fallout 2. It’s often amusing, always self-aware, and its planet hopping nature lends a sense of adventure which called to mind the glory days of Mass Effect. Obsidian may have played it safe with The Outer Worlds but the end result is consistently captivating and, at long last, an RPG which doesn’t grossly outstay its welcome. As the months tick by, Microsoft’s acquisition of Obsidian seems an increasingly wily move.
Control is comfortably the best Remedy game since Max Payne 2 and may well be the best Remedy game ever. It's astonishingly beautiful, both technically and artistically; from top to bottom, beginning to end, Control is a feast for the senses. Tantalisingly, the very concept of folklore and urban myths being believed into existence is a truly rich template from which this franchise can build. The super-powered combat is just the icing on the cake, adding destructive flair to an eerily immersive experience. It’s rare to finish a game and already find ourselves lusting after a sequel.
This time last year we were sat around lamenting Titanfall’s commercial failure with no idea what Respawn could turn its intention to next. Then Apex Legends happened. Announced and launched on the same day, Apex Legends’ launch was a real ‘be there’ moment. The F2P battle royale’s popularity has waxed and waned during the year due to Respawn’s admirable refusal to crunch for new content, but the core of this sci-fi shooter remains as slick and addictive as it’s always been.
Phwoar, where did this come from? ZA/UM have knocked it out of the park with their game Disco Elysium, a stylish noir RPG with an absolutely mind-bending degree of open-endedness to how you go about solving cases as a detective. Disco Elysium is the sort of RPG masterpiece which will be talked about in the same breath as Planescape Torment, Baldur’s Gate and Divinity: Original Sin 2 in the years to come.
Nothing, it seems, stops Fire Emblem’s surge to Western success. Intelligent Systems’ acclaimed tactical strategy series was almost dead and buried, given one last chance to succeed in the West with Awakening. The rest, as they say, is history. Byleth has risen from the ashes. Fire Emblem: Three Houses revamps the well-worn turn-based tactics, ditches the weapon triangle, and goes all Persona/Harry Potter on us with a giant school to explore between bouts, as well as pupils to teach.
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers isn’t just one of the best MMO expansions of all time, it’s arguably also the greatest Final Fantasy experience ever. The story’s top drawer, the raids are epic, and the whole thing builds on a 6-year story arc packed with pay off after pay off. This is the culmination of a staggering journey for Square Enix, and a shining example for how single-player style narrative can find a home in traditional MMORPGs.
Total War: Three Kingdoms is the most successful game in the franchise’s illustrious history, and deservedly so. The tried and trusted turn-based campaign and epic-scale real-time battles return, this time set across the sprawling landscape of ancient China is various warlords vie for control. Creative Assembly have lavished Total War: Three Kingdoms with a sumptuous painterly art style, as well as delivering on fantastic strategising and diplomacy following a few missteps in previous titles.
Anno games can often be accused of flying under the radar; of doing ‘just enough’. Not so Anno 1800, a magnificent example of Blue Byte’s series at its finest. This is city building at its most luxuriously addictive, carving a journey from tiny settlement to bustling cityscape (and beyond). Anno 1800 is the sort of game made to play alongside copious tea consumption, plotting trade routes, building up housing, and importing animals to your world famous zoo.