2018 has been filled with so many memorable moments in gaming; from the releases of heavy narrative experiences like God of War and Red Dead Redemption to seeing a single mode of a game take over the pop culture landscape like Fortnite has, it is a year we will not soon forget.

The Game Awards 2018 are set to air tonight, December 6th, at 9 PM EST/6 PM PST and it is set to be a night of celebrations towards gaming’s achievements this year, and also gives fans a peak into what is in store for the future. With over 30 awards set to be presented this year, more games than ever will be receiving the recognition they deserve for developing an experience that has greatly affected the medium we all love.

With that said, here are Bonus Accessory’s official predictions for the Game Awards 2018:

Game of the Year

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Celeste, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Monster Hunter World, Red Dead Redemption 2

This might be the most difficult Game of the Year debate yet since the show has become an annual event. Normally, you will have two games that stand head and shoulders above the rest that are nominated (not that the remaining games aren’t good), and it becomes a two dog fight. This year, every single game on this list has the caliber to take home the crown. Red Dead Redemption 2’s success of balancing an open world with a deep narrative is the standard moving forward. Monster Hunt World’s deep hunting and crafting systems are unique and continuously fun for new and old players. MArvel’s Spider-Man checks every box a game should have when deciding if it’s “fun”, with excellent traversal mechanics and fluid combat. Celeste’s tight platforming and touching narrative story of overcoming self-doubt have set a new precedent for independent games. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey evolves the series in ways that outclass all previous entries for miles. Yet, the more I think about it, God of War checks every single one of the themes that are present in the other nominees (to an extent). It’s the most complete package on this list. From the stunning, single-shot presentation, to the gut-wrenching narrative, to the depth and complexity found in the cast of characters (specifically Kratos), everything is done in a fashion that is at theatrical level that we had not witnessed in gaming until its release. Sony Santa Monica hit a massive grand slam with their reintroduction of Kratos and the God of War mythos, and it’s an experience that will not just be remember in 2018, but for years (even decades) to come.

Best Ongoing Game

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

There is absolutely no question about it: Fortnite is the biggest story of 2018, not just in terms of gaming, but possibly pop culture. You want to talk about a game that has transcended mediums, and brought gaming into the family’s ecosystems? This is it. We haven’t seen a craze like this since really Guitar Hero, where everyone wants in on the action. What Fortnite does best is make itself approachable at all angles. From its bright, vibrant cartoonish art style, to the quick turnaround of getting into the next game, everything in the game makes you feel like you can pick it up can play it. You died? Oh well, good try! Just hit A/X/Click twice to get back into the next game. That’s it. With the constant updates, ever evolving modes of play including multiple licensed inclusions (i.e. Thanos mode in April), rotating inventory of cosmetic-only items, to listening to player feedback unlike most ‘games as a service projects’, Fortnite continues to make waves and grow its popularity, and it doesn’t look like its stopping anytime soon.

Best Game Direction

A Way Out, Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2

This is another category where a multitude of titles could easily win, but I think this is where we see Red Dead Redemption 2 get its recognition. The award is presented to a game studio for outstanding creative vision and innovation in game direction and design, and I can’t think of another studio that promised and delivered that exact experience more than Rockstar with Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar set out to create a vast, opening and breathing world, full of life and originality, through telling the story of the dying wild West. Every point they set out to hit on, didn’t miss, and it truly did change the landscape of open world gaming.

Best Narrative

Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Life is Strange 2: Episode 1, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2

It’s crazy to think all of these projects that were nominated released in 2018. All of them, each in their own right, fits the mold with the strength of their narrative and story telling; but God of War is the narrative I couldn’t stop thinking about. Cory Barlog and his staff of writers crafted a story that was so touching and heartbreaking at times, that your connection with the characters almost feel authentic. A few times I had to put the controller down and walk away due to the heaviness of the narrative. It’s an aspect of gaming I’ve continued to grow closer to as I continue my growth through adulthood, and the story Sony Santa Monica might be the best telling I’ve experienced yet in the medium (and might be the best for quite some time).

Best Art Direction

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, God of War, Octopath Traveler, Red Dead Redemption 2, Return of the Obra Dinn

Octopath Traveler is one of the unique games to release this generation, specifically in its art style. Admittedly, I’m not a huge turn-based RPG fan. I dabble with the Pokémon series still from time to time, but I feel that approach to combat is dated. Still, I picked up Octopath Traveler, knowing it might not speak to me; and while those aspects still didn’t completely hook me, what did is the art style. The environments are around you are crafted as if you had entered a living and breathing pop-up book, sprinkled with elements of a model aimed for a science project. Even the dullest of colors in the world popped, shined and glimmered within the fast landscapes. The uniqueness factor is what pushes me to believe that Octopath’s art is in another category comparatively than the other nominees.

Best Score

Celeste, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Octopath Traveler, Red Dead Redemption 2

Ghostly chants, nordic bellows, and ominous melodies fill the room when you start your adventure with Kratos and Atreus. God of War’s soundtrack is like a puzzle piece you didn’t realize you needed until you see it missing from the board. Do me a favor, pop open God of War and try to leave the music off for a few minutes, then turn in back on. The difference is quite polarizing. While the other nominees in this category do have stellar musical scores and soundtracks, none fit better than God of War’s does.

Best Audio Design

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Forza Horizon 4, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2

Marvel’s Spider-Man is a game that you don’t realize the amount of intricacies are taken into account until you focus in on them, and that rings true specially for the audio design in the game. The specific moment that takes the cake for me is when you realize that each line of dialogue for Peter Parker that Yuri Lowenthal recorded has two versions: one for when he’s normally talking, and one for when he’s exerting energy (web swinging, fighting, etc). You may not notice it at first, and that’s because it is so natural. That’s what anyone would sound like in those moments if you’re having a conversation. Personally, this is a first time experience for me in the medium when it comes to a title’s audio.

Best Performance

Bryan Dechart as Connor; Detroit: Become Human, Christopher Judge as Kratos; God of War, Melissanthi Mahut as Kassandra; Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan; Red Dead Redemption 2, Yuri Lowenthal as Peter Parker; Marvel’s Spider-Man

Piggybacking off of the last category, I think no one aligned better with their character than Yuri Lowenthal did with Peter Parker. Lowenthal provided fans with a performance that was purely authentic to what fans of the Marvel character would find in any medium, only he may have set the bar for it. What I think he did best is making the portions in which the character plays as Peter, and not Spider-Man, interesting. Normally moments like that in super hero video games may causing pacing issues with the overall story arch, but Lowenthal provides a compelling performance that charges the character with an emotional authenticity that is hard to find in a game in a similar genre.

Games for Impact

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

While I expected to get a great platforming experience out of Celeste, what I didn’t expect was to feel such a connection with the story. Self-doubt, anxiety and depression attack a lot of people, including myself, and overcoming the inner-doubts that encompass us at times can be very difficult, but watching the growth of Madeline in Celeste really inspires me to keep pushing when some days get harder than others. Matt Makes Games not only designed a beautiful platformer, but one of the most impactful games this generation.

Best Independent Game

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

Celeste has set a new bar for independent games, both from a gameplay standpoint and narrative approach. The experience Matt Makes Games crafted in early 2018 has still left a lasting impression on me, months later, and even after completing the game the thought of my first experience playing it pushes me to come back. Plus, the depth fo post game content with the B-Side tapes and tracking down all of the difficult strawberries gives players a whole new palette of experiences that most indie games usually don’t provide. While it may not win the title of overall game of the year, Celeste has proved to the industry that indie gaming isn’t just a fad or a small sect of gaming; it’s the real deal and will have its moment in the sun very, very soon.

Best Mobile Game

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

Mobile gaming really has seen a jump in quality over the last two years, and Fortnite has embodied what the next phase of mobile gaming can be: working coherently with console gaming. The Fortnite experience is the same on your iPhone or Android, as it is on your Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC; and the best part, it’s completely seamless. Is it the most ideal way to play the game? No, not at all, but it works and provides every feature in-game that the other iterations of the game do. No matter how you feel about the game, Epic Games has crafted an experience that is just about perfect from what is advertised and what the player receives. How many other mobile games can say that? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Best VR Title

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Beat Saber, Firewall: Zero Hour, Moss, Tetris Effect

I’ll be honest, I’ve owned a PlayStation VR set for almost a year now (got my set as a Christmas gift last year), and I’ve probably played it for a total of 10 or 11 times. That’s not to say that VR isn’t great, it’s the exact opposite; I just haven’t found a game that spoke to me yet. I never get motion sickness, but with the VR headset I do get a bit light headed at times, so while experiences like Resident Evil 7 are technologically amazing and work brilliantly, it gets hard to play, so it has taken awhile for me to truly pinpoint what I want out of VR. Enter Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. Imagine the platforming elements of a 3D Mario title mixed with a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ puzzle element; then add VR to it. Peaking around walls, looking into nooks and crannies, all make the platforming elements so much more enjoyable and it truly has made me found what I want out of VR. Plus, take a look at the VR titles up for Game of the Year. Notice anything about them, in terms of what they have in common? All of them are available on PlayStation VR, which means developers and publishers are seeing how the VR market is growing and becoming more affordable at a casual consumer level, and is in turn driving these experiences to get into more hands. Exciting times are on the horizon for VR, especially for the iteration Sony offers for its PlayStation family of hardware.

Best Action Game

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

Dead Cells was an experience I was expecting to dislike. I traditionally don’t play many rogue-lites, nor do I approach many Souls-like experiences (though I do want to give the Dark Souls remaster on Switch a go in the near future), so Dead Cells didn’t seem to check many boxes for me; that is, until I tried it out. I try to support as many indie developers and publishers as possible. Having as many options in the gaming industry only provides for better content, and too often do I see experiences that deserve to see the light of day fall simply based on financing; so I pulled the trigger on Dead Cells, and man, does this game get addictive. Once you get a rhythm of how you want to approach the game, it becomes an experience that is completely tailored around your play style. You like to speed run and avoid as many enemies? Cool, doing that will open up more secret cells for you to upgrade. You like focusing on ranged attacks? Cool, buy this ability when upgrading to start with a bow. Don’t get me wrong, this game is a bear at times, with some of its steeper difficulty spikes, but the silky smooth combat and gameplay loop keep me coming back for more.

Best Action Adventure Game

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

Personally, this is where I think Marvel’s Spider-Man gets shown its love. I’ve touched on it before, but Spider-Man gave me the most enjoyable experience in gaming this year, from a ‘fun’ factor alone. Swinging through Manhattan, diving between buildings, fighting off waves of enemies while using unique and intricate gadgets gives you the experience of being bit by a radioactive spider, somehow not dying and gaining super human abilities (who would’ve thought!). Yet, I’m drawn to the narrative most overall. Outside of the early reviews for the upcoming Into the Spiderverse movie, this is hands-down the best Spider-Man story I’ve experienced yet. Insomniac Games has set up a universe that full to the brim in terms of possibilities and potential. If this is their ‘Iron Man’ of the MCU for Marvel’s new gaming universe, then are we truly in for a treat.

Best RPG

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Monster Hunter: World, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Octopath Traveler, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

While I didn’t sink the same amount of time into it as many of the other games I played this year, Monster Hunter: World still felt like one of the most approachable, yet complex RPGs to release yet. Giving players the freedom to explore a vastly beautiful new world, Monster Hunter: World gave an experience that both returning fans and new fans found welcoming. Tracking down huge beasts with a variety of customizable weapons and amor sets made the game deep and intriguing to me, who hasn’t touched a Monster Hunter game since one of its earlier PSP entries. With continuous free content updates and a PC port that launched a few months ago, it looks like World will be around for quite sometime.

Best Sports/Racing Game

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

I’m not a simulation racing guy, plain and simple. Cart racers? Hell yes, give me more; but racing sims just usually don’t tickle my fancy. While the concept of car sims are cool, I’m just can’t get hooked on the experience of tuning cars; that is, until Forza Horizon 4. To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have originally tried, but thanks to Xbox Game Pass receiving console exclusive titles day & date of launch, I said why not. Let me tell you, I’m quite glad I did. Maybe it’s the light hearted, stunt driver aspect of the game I feel when I play it; or maybe the breathtaking views of the United Kingdom I see through the revolving season, I’m not quite sure, but man, is it addictive. Having the freedom to roam the countrysides, then fly through quiet neighborhoods to then seamlessly transfer into a race makes this racing sim quiet approachable and the funnest ‘sports’ game I’ve played this year.

Best Multiplayer Game

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

I mean, what else is there left to say on Fortnite? It defined multiplayer gaming in 2018. What’s even better, outside of the points I’ve already mentioned on the game, is that Epic Games is putting so much money back into the game for players to win via their robust tournament system. Earlier this year, Epic announced they would be providing a $100 million prize pool for their first year of competitive play. $100 million. Like, with a ‘M’ and nine zeroes. Previously, the highest money pool in gaming was for Dota 2, when Valve paid out $38 million in total prize money last year.

Best Debut Indie Game

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

Before Astro Bot Rescue Mission came along and brought a whole new set of eyes to what VR could do using a non-traditional VR game, Moss owned the spotlight. The puzzler with small platforming elements is told from the perspective of a classic children’s adventure book, transporting the player into the world where they control a young mouse named Quill. This was the game that you gave to family members or friends who were afraid to use VR, and show them that VR isn’t just flying space ships and jump scares; there are actual heartfelt experiences available on VR, and for awhile I would even consider Quill to the ‘mascot’ of PlayStation VR due to the game’s exclusivity on the system at release.

Best Esports Game

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), DOTA 2, Fortnite, League of Legends, OverWatch

As a huge CSGO fan, it hurts me to say this: Overwatch was the best eSports of 2018. This isn’t a skill issue, or anything like that; more or less, one thing seals this award and that’s the Overwatch League and its attempt at transition eSports into a traditional professional sports team format. CSGO’s diversity is something that almost cannot be rivaled, but Overwatch’s professional league has translated to audiences so well, with the emphasis on cities having team like traditional pro sports franchises is a model that is finding success in the States. I’m curious to if it transfers to long to term success, but early indications look great, in my opinion. For 2018, Overwatch made the first major step that needed to be taken by a major eSports title to truly be viewed in the same rights as other professional sports leagues.

Content Creator

Dr. Lupo, Myth, Ninja, Pokimane, Willyrex

In 2018, when you think Twitch, you think Ninja and Fortnite; when you think of Fortnite, you think of Ninja and probably Twitch; no one has had the success and connect with a fan base as Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins has in a single year. Period. Now, I’ve known Tyler since his days in the Halo scene with Halo: Reach specifically, when friends would show me these incredible montages by him. Yet, after leaving the Halo scene a few years ago, I don’t want to say he struggled to find his niche per say, but he didn’t necessarily have a game he associated so closely with. Primarily it was H1Z1 for awhile, then eventually to PUBG, until he started playing Fornite towards the latter half of 2017. Everything changed after that. The growth he encountered was completely unheard of. Not only was he great at the game, he was entertaining. Soon enough, his stream fell on various celebrities’ radars who were fans of the massively popular game. On March 14th, he set a Twitch concurrent viewing record with over 635,000 viewers watching him play Fortnite with rappers Drake, Travis Scott and Pittsburgh Steelers wide-receiver JuJu Smith Schuster. Since then, Ninja has set a multitude of Twitch records, including in followers and subs. He has been featured on the cover of ESPN the magazine, making him the first eSports player to do so, along with signing an exclusive deal with Red Bull.

 

While we didn’t completely touch on every category, I only wanted to predict the ones I felt completely comfortable with discussing. 2018 has been an incredible years for not only single-player experiences, but for online multiplayer projects, and couch co-op games. Thank you 2018, for providing us with a plethora of amazing experiences, and the future gaming in 2019 is beginning to look oh so bright.

Also, Super Smash Bros Ultimate drops tomorrow, so go buy that. Small title, not sure if you’ve heard of it?

For live updates on the Game Awards 2018, follow us on Twitter, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.

 

 

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