December 8th marked the date of The Game Awards 2022 in Los Angeles – the tenth one to date. The Game Awards are sometimes described as the Oscars of gaming, but they’re closer to being a marketing event than anything that might actually advance the medium. Although maybe the Oscars are like that too. I dunno, I just play video games.
Creator and showrunner Geoff “Dorito Pope” Keighley tweeted earlier that the show would be shorter than usual: a mere two and a half hours. The main draw of the show are the reveals, but it doesn’t make sense to watch the whole thing just to see if they shadowdrop Fortnite 2. Regular people don’t have time for that. Fortunately, I’m here to help. I’ll summarize the whole event, focusing on big reveals, so you can easily catch up whenever you like.
To be clear: these were real announcements. Much of what the Hard Drive does is jokes, but here in Minus World, it’s all real, all the time. I’m going to be extremely sarcastic about it, though.
I was watching through Steam, since the overlords at Valve promised to give out one free Steam Deck for each minute of runtime. I didn’t win one, so the offer must have been rigged, but the bright side is that the Steam chat publicly posted the usernames of the winners, so everyone was able to congratulate “MILF Hunter” on their free Steam Deck.
The Game Awards 2022: Pre Show Announcements & Awards
Reveal: Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania. This is the first announcement? May as well call it here, there’s no topping this. Dead Cells has been doing well for itself, recently adding a boatload of indie game guests like Slay the Spire and Terraria. Exploring a genuine Dracula’s castle is a big step up, though I guess the Belmonts haven’t had much else to do lately. Releasing Q1 2023.
Best Mobile Game: Marvel Snap. First award of the night goes to Ben Brode’s follow-up to Hearthstone. Well-earned – it’s not so simple to invent simple games.
Reveal: Vampire Survivors (Mobile). It’s addictive, and now it’s free. That sounds a little dangerous, but anyone who hasn’t felt the pull of a triple treasure chest can now indulge on their phone. They slipped a “don’t you guys have phones?” joke in the reveal, which is a bit dated by now, but I still laugh every time (because I’m still mad at Immortal). Out now.
Reveal: Valiant Hearts: Coming Home. The original stylized WWI adventure came out in 2014, so this is a long time coming, though fans might not have been expecting a mobile game. Coming soon.
Reveal: Returnal (PC). A well-regarded sci-fi roguelike adventure. Originally for PS5, but no one could find any PS5s so the devs had no choice. Coming soon.
Famous cyberman Ninja stars in an ad about playing Xbox on Samsung TVs. He says it’s “smooth” and “responsive” and I guess we have to take his word for it. There’s also an ad for an It Takes Two merch store, starring an adorable elephant doll that gets dismembered.
Best Fighting Game: Multiversus. Surprising, but none of the big-name fighters were around this year. It’s a good game, but it’s nothing like a traditional fighter.
Reveal: Hellboy: Web of Wyrd. Looks like a third-person action game, and it’s shaded very, very heavily. They’re trying as hard as they can to make the game look like comic art, even putting Mike Mignola’s name before the title. It’s a good look so far, but they’ll have to keep it up for an entire game. No release info.
“More like hell yeah boy, am I right?” says the presenter. This is the sort of thing I’m here to shield you, the reader, from. Next are the esports awards.
Best Esports Game: Valorant.
Best Esports Athlete: Yay. A Valorant guy.
Best Esports Team: LOUD. For League of Legends.
Best Esports Coach: BZKA. Pronounced “Bazooka.” Another Valorant guy.
Best Esports Event: The 2022 League of Legends World Championship.
I don’t follow esports, so this means little to me. I can justify saying so, since all five of these awards were read out rapid-fire, so I suspect they mean little to the Game Awards as well.
Reveal: Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain. A Horizon-themed way to experience a robot dinosaur personally punching you in the face. Releasing February 22, 2023 for PlayStation VR2.
Reveal: Post Trauma. This looks and feels a lot like an old Resident Evil or Silent Hill, with its fixed-camera awkward running down dark hallways. Keep an eye out if you’re into that. Its initials are P.T. if that means anything. Coming to PC and console.
Reveal: Viewfinder. A space-manipulation puzzler in the vein of Superliminal, where the terrain is based on your perspective. In this game, you can take photos which, when held in front of you, convert into fully 3D chunks of land. The effect is striking when applied in-game. Coming soon to PC and PS5.
New Trailer: Atomic Heart. A trippy adventure-shooter-RPG in an alternate Soviet Union. Feels a little like if Fallout didn’t even try to make sense. Available February 21, 2023.
Reveal: Scars Above. Get it? Like “stars”? This is a third-person planet explorer similar to Returnal, but its scanning features, rocky beasts, and frigid/cavernous environments remind me of Metroid Prime. Available February 28, 2023.
New Trailer: Relic Hunters Legend. Top-down co-op shooter like a multiplayer Nuclear Throne. Closed beta signup is open on Steam.
The presenter pauses to point out a “Verizon Ambassador” with an odd bow tie, and I think of the Persian messenger from 300.
Reveal: Among Us Hide and Seek. A new mode for the ever-memeable social deduction game in which the killer doesn’t have to pretend anymore. Crewmates are forced to do their little tasks while a report on who’s just been murdered scrolls across their screens. Fun! Releasing December 8th, 2022. It should be out by now.
Reveal: After Us. After Among Us is After Us, in which a girl made of light explores a trashed, polluted wasteland. Grass sprouts where she walks, like Okami without the dog (although there is also a dog). Everyone loves a good “restoring nature” game, and the environments on show in the trailer are nice and varied. Releasing Spring 2023.
New Trailer: Replaced. It’s sort of like the HD-2D style of Octopath Traveler, using sprite artwork against 3D backgrounds, but the animations are much more detailed. It’s a beautiful game – hopefully the gameplay’s good. Releasing 2023.
Best Family Game: Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Not forgotten here. This is the category they put into the Game Awards to make sure Nintendo always gets to win at least one.
New Trailer: Street Fighter 6. Shows off some wacky minigames for the create-a-player, some kind of tag-team combat, and four previously unrevealed characters: semi-classic Dee Jay, dancing diva Manon, powerhouse Marisa, and evil wizard JP. Releasing June 2, 2023.
All of that was the pre-show. At this point, Geoff takes the stage, and the real show begins. I can barely tell the difference.
The Game Awards Main Show: All Awards & Announcements
Suddenly, Al Pacino is here for some reason. “I don’t play a whole lot of video games,” he says. Yeah, I had a feeling. But he’s here to present the award for Best Performance, which kind of almost makes sense.
Best Performance: Christopher Judge, for playing Kratos in God of War: Ragnarök. He gives a heartfelt, yet extremely long speech. They try to play him off after a while, but it only makes his words sound more dramatic.
Reveal: Hades II. This is the bombshell of the night, being Supergiant Games’ first ever sequel. They said they’d never do one, and yet here it is, a follow-up to their narrative-rich roguelike. Even just seeing some of the gods that didn’t appear in the original – in this case Apollo, god of the sun – is a thrill. Hopefully this will live up to Hades‘ legacy. No release info yet.
Reveal: Judas. From Ken Levine, creator of Bioshock, and yes: it looks like Bioshock. Flames shoot from hands. Space-themed this time. To be fair, it seems more deranged than usual, even for Bioshock. There’s a lot of weird art that can be generated at the junction between corporate advertisement, deep space, and disrepair. No release info yet.
Reveal: Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon. The raunchy action game becomes a charming third-person platformer, stylized like a storybook. I have no idea why they would do this. Releasing March 17, 2023 on Nintendo Switch.
After some miscellaneous ads, there’s a musical interlude of “Blood Upon the Snow” from God of War. When I came back from my pee, the singer had been joined by someone playing an utterly screwed up instrument that looked like a wooden box with a big turn-crank. (It’s called a hurdy-gurdy.)
Best Debut Indie: Stray. I’m sure Stray is a fine game, but Vampire Survivors was robbed. Later, Stray will win Best Indie as well (spoilers), making this award extra pointless.
New Trailer: Destiny 2: Lightfall. It’s hard to tell what’s going on here. It looks like spacemen shooting each other with lasers, but that describes half of all games that exist. Apparently this is PvP for Destiny? That’s a pretty big deal, if they didn’t have it already. But this isn’t even a reveal, just a new trailer. Releasing February 28, 2023.
New Trailer: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Revealing that this game includes the late Kevin Conroy’s final performance as Batman. Unfortunately this version of Batman seems to be an insane murderer. Nice knowing you, buddy.
There’s an interlude about a developer from Innersloth who’s a street dancer under the name “Dr. Robotnik.” Completely irrelevant but still kind of interesting.
New Trailer: Party Animals. First revealed in 2020, this game has been rebuilt and is just about ready for release. It’s a party game in which animals slap each other to death. The trailer is packed with old memes, including a reference to the ancient movie 300. Talk about dated! Releasing 2023 on Xbox and Steam.
Reveal: The Last of Us Part 1 (PC). Honestly, I thought this was already on PC. Releasing March 3, 2023.
Best Adaptation: Arcane: League of Legends. I’d have given this one to the Cyberpunk adaptation, which seems to have saved Cyberpunk single-handedly, but that’s meta-analysis. I didn’t actually watch any of these.
Reveal: Star Wars Jedi Survivor. Sadly not a spinoff of Vampire Survivors. Star Wars games have been doing well lately, but I didn’t see much in this trailer I haven’t seen before. It should be a solid (and extremely high-budget) game, though. Star Wars is often at its best when the focus is on a down-on-their-luck adventurer versus the universe. Releasing March 17, 2023.
Reveal: Earthblade. From the team behind Celeste. The graphics are similar too, giving the appearance of Celeste‘s well-liked platforming, but with the addition of monster-stabbing. It’s not a bad pitch. Releasing 2024.
New Trailer: Dune Awakening. We knew about this sandy MMO already, but here’s some new footage. Is it gameplay footage? Who can say. The ornithoptors look great though. No release info, but you can sign up for the beta.
New Trailer: Forspoken. I listened very closely for cringe dialogue in the trailer, but they kept quiet this time. Don’t be fooled, though: it’s still in the game for sure. Hopefully the action will be fun enough to overpower it. There’s a demo available now on PS5, so you can find out for yourself.
New Trailer: Genshin Impact. The game’s already out and no details were given in this trailer, so I don’t know which of it was new information. The last five seconds are a girl who looks over a ledge and then runs away. Geoff says it was “a sneak peek at Yaoyao, an upcoming character,” and I realize those five seconds were supposed to be hype. Sorry Geoff, I’m spoiled from Smash Bros. reveals. It’s not hype unless at least three people die.
Reveal: DS2. Death Stranding 2, to be specific, but they keep calling it DS2, which just makes me think of a Nintendo DS with three screens. This is a huge announcement, mainly because it’s huge when Kojima does anything. The reveal trailer is a window into the hard life of a single mother, with motorized unicycles and babies that cry black blood. What’s the gameplay like? We don’t know, and we probably won’t know until the game’s out. And maybe not even then.
Norman Reedus is in the game as Old Sam, but we don’t see him doing anything in the trailer. He might not be making deliveries, or he might not even be the protagonist. It’s best to just wait and see what happens with this one. There’s also a wonderful Kojima-styled character with a red mask, a single Dr. Octopus tentacle, a see-through torso like one of those cool controllers, and a guitar. No release info yet.
Reveal: Immortals of Aveum. There’s no gameplay here, just some magic plates spinning around. The game is apparently a “magic shooter,” and the signature weapon is an enchanted gauntlet. It’s not so far-fetched; Bioshock also uses “spells” in first-person combat, as does Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. It’s a good way to add variety to the genre. Releasing 2023.
Best Narrative: God of War: Ragnarök. It feels like it should have been Immortality. Did I play it? Well, no, but it looks like it’s the kind of game that should win awards.
New Trailer: Tekken 8. “The first-ever gameplay of Tekken 8,” says Geoff. But wait, I thought its original reveal trailer was gameplay. Was that a lie? Was I lied to? Anyway, here’s the actual gameplay. There’s not much. Most of the trailer is cutscenes, with just a few short segments of returning characters beating on each other. That’s probably fine, since fighting game fans are great at taking lots of information from just a few frames of animation. No release info yet.
Best Art Direction: Elden Ring. That’s fair. Scorn is visually striking, but Elden Ring is a lot bigger, had more room to fail, and didn’t.
Best VR/AR Game: Moss: Book II. Everyone just wants to be a rat.
Best Sim/Strategy Game: Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. This doesn’t feel fair, putting Mario + Rabbids in the same category as Victoria 3. Imagine simulating a living world economy and losing anyway because the competitor’s game has Mario in it.
Best Community Support: Final Fantasy XIV. I remember when their Twitter account was taken over by a clumsy space rabbit. That was a good time.
New Trailer: Nightingale. “A first-person PvE open-world survival crafting game,” says Geoff. Just throw it on the pile, I guess. It looks neat – combining mythic beasts and ancient ruins with Victorian dress and little parasols that let players hover like Mary Poppins. But I still laughed during the “hit rocks with pickaxe” montage. No release info yet.
Best Game For Impact: As Dusk Falls. Games For Impact is an odd category focusing on socially-conscious games. As Dusk Falls seems like an ambitious effort – a lengthy narrative drama with multiplayer attributes, somehow. Steam reviews, however, mention that the game ends on a cliffhanger. Buyer beware.
New Trailer: Baldur’s Gate 3. Some would say this game is already out, but it’s not fully released yet. This trailer, besides showing off some cool mimics, also includes a final release window: August 2023. It ends by teasing the return of a classic Baldur’s Gate character, but few people seemed to recognize him. Of course I did, since I’m a cultured gamer. It was (googles nervously) Minsc.
Reveal: Wayfinders. It looks a lot like Torchlight, which is a lot like Diablo Junior. The trailer featured a bunch of characters playing at once, so they might be leaning more towards Lost Ark. “Play it next week,” says the trailer, with beta access coming soon.
Reveal: Fire Emblem Engage Expansion Pass. Four waves of content featuring cameos from other Femblems. I don’t know why “Our game will be released without all the content, which will cost extra!” is a good selling point, but that’s just how it is these days. The game releases January 20, 2023 on Switch, and three of the four planned waves (I’m so tired) will release in 2023.
Thatgamecompany and performer Aurora have teamed up to run a free concert after the Game Awards. It’s finished by now, so check it out if you’re interested. Fortnite did it first, though.
Next is the Diablo 4 section of the show. Halsey comes on stage and performs “Lilith,” including more profanity than will actually be in Diablo 4. This is followed by an impressive animated sequence of a great battle between the forces of Good and Evil, including some stunning angelic powers. All of this is wasted on me because I don’t love Diablo for its cutscenes. I love Diablo because you kill a skeleton and 3 gold comes out and goes clink. And that did not happen at any point during this Diablo presentation. Halsey can do a whole stage show, but all they really had to do was strum the Tristram guitar once. It would have been much cheaper. Releasing June 6, 2023. Pre-order for open beta early access, whenever that is.
Best Sports/Racing Game: Gran Turismo 7. Since I complained about Strategy and Simulation games being judged together, it’s only fair that I acknowledge Sports and Racing shouldn’t be judged together either.
Best Multiplayer Game: Splatoon 3. Beating Call of Duty, even! It’s a lot bigger in Japan than it is here, but its influence can still be felt.
Best Audio Design: God of War Ragnarök. Another one for big K.
Best Content Creator: Ludwig. Not sure what he’s most known for, but most recently he started an impromptu Smash tournament in response to the debacle with Panda. Seems like an okay guy.
Most Anticipated Game: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This is the stupidest award at the Game Awards, since it’s not based on any measurable quality of its nominees. Oh well – no one’s beating the sequel to one of the most well-received and influential Nintendo games ever made in terms of hype. Hopefully they deserve it.
Reveal: Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. It’s more Horizon. The HOLLYWOOD sign appears to get stepped on by a robot dinosaur. I’m surprised it lasted that long. Releasing April 19, 2023 on PS5.
The voice actors of Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us do a bit with their live-action counterparts. It’s cute, but knowing how things turn out for the two of them, it’s a little weird.
Best Action Game: Bayonetta 3. This has been a pretty good Game Awards for Nintendo. It’s a shame Doug Bowser has to accept all their awards though. He didn’t make all those games!
Reveal: Blue Protocol. It looks a lot like Genshin Impact. Published by Amazon – maybe they want another slice of the pie. Releasing 2023.
Reveal: Remnant II. Sequel to a well-received third-person action game. No release info yet.
Reveal: Transformers Reactivate. Wait, what? The trailer plays itself like a Halo or Gears of War, with space marines reactivating a damaged superweapon, but the weapon turns out to be a large robot man. No gameplay, but I’m curious what they’ve come up with. No release info yet.
Reveal: Behemoth. A VR game about climbing and/or fighting gigantic monsters. Feel the wind in your hair as you fall to your death. Releasing on Meta Quest, which used to be Oculus Quest before Zuckerberg got his mitts on it.
Free costumes in Fall Guys. It feels like it’s been ages since that game came out. What year is it again?
Keegan-Michael Key appears and starts to explain whether Toad’s cap is a hat, or his actual head. That would have been the real bombshell announcement of the night, but he was just making a joke. The mystery persists!
A new trailer for the Mario Movie plays. The Mushroom Kingdom is beautiful in motion, but Crisp Rat still fouls up the experience. It seems odd to watch a piece of media that’s great as long as the main character isn’t talking, but that’s how a lot of anime works already.
Next, Animal of the Muppets is here! He’s not the first Muppet to grace the Game Awards. Dr. Venkman and Beaker were last year. It’s nice to see them, but feels wrong somehow – like the Muppets are too pure to be associated with the vile game industry. I guess it’s all show business, huh? Anyway, Animal is a huge Soulsborne fan, and he hassles Hideo Kojima, so that was a good segment.
Best Music: God of War: Ragnarök. I’ll take it. They went to the effort to bring out the hurdy-gurdy, after all.
Reveal: Banishers. An action RPG from the Life is Strange team. It feels a lot like The Witcher – replace “banisher” with “witcher” in the trailer and it would be indistinguishable from a CD Projekt Red reveal. Maybe the emotionally-charged style of Life is Strange will be a fresh look at that type of game. Geralt isn’t the most expressive guy, after all. Bonus points for the trailer’s Bruce Willis moment. Releasing “end of 2023.”
Reveal: Warhammer 40K Space Marine II. You have a chainsaw and you kill the aliens. It’s a formula that works. I’d rather play the aliens, though. Releasing 2023.
Reveal: Meet Your Maker. Asymmetrical multiplayer. One player builds a level of Doom, the others play through it. It’s Super Doom Maker. In fact, “Maker” in the title might have been an intentional reference. This type of game looks and sounds very cool, but it can very easily lead to cookie-cutter builds and cheesy tactics that invalidate all the creative fortresses. I hope they make this one work. Releasing April 4, 2023.
Reveal: Blood Bowl 3. “Fantasy” football, featuring orcs and elves that kill each other and then go for the touchdown. They didn’t make it look too exciting in the trailer, but it’s an established property so if you’re into it, you already know. If this were a nominee, it would be in the Best Sim/Strategy/Sports/Racing Game category. Releasing February 23, 2023.
Reveal: Crash Team Rumble. They brought out the old Bandicoot costume to announce this action teamfight game. There aren’t too many details out yet. The trailer looks a little like a MOBA. Hopefully it isn’t; I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Releasing 2023.
Best Accessibility: God of War: Ragnarök. Based on the montage, they included a feature that completely alters the character models to be bright, unmissable colors. I can honestly say I’ve never seen that before as an accessibility option.
Reveal: Lords of the Fallen. Looks like your standard Soulslike. It’ll take some more detail to set itself apart. No release info yet.
Reveal: Crime Boss Rockay City. Feels like an off-brand GTA, but that’s not a bad thing; Rockstar takes forever to do anything these days. There’s room for more in the genre. The trailer features tons of celebrity actors, including Danny Trejo, Danny Glover, even Chuck Norris. I’m seriously curious how much publicity ol’ Walker is good for nowadays. Releasing March 28, 2023.
Best Role Playing Game: Elden Ring. Everyone else was robbed! No one plays Elden Ring like an RPG. It’s action-adventure and you know it! Bad call, Game Awards! Give it to Live A Live instead! Boooo!
Player’s Voice: Genshin Impact. In the days before the Game Awards, a bloody war was fought over the Player’s Voice category, which is decided entirely by popular vote. Adherents of the Sonic camp lashed out against the weebs of Genshin, prompting swift and painful retribution. Bribery corrupted the innocent voters, and forbidden bot techniques were deployed. At the end of all the carnage, Genshin Impact stood victorious. Genshin‘s not Game of the Year-caliber, but it really is better than Sonic Frontiers, whose claim to fame is being a Sonic game with an unprecedented one or two good qualities.
Best Independent Game: Stray. Disappointed our friends at Devolver couldn’t take this one with Cult of the Lamb, but you just can’t top “game with cat in it.”
Best Action/Adventure Game: God of War: Ragnarök. It’s starting to feel like the God of War Awards in here.
Best Ongoing Game: Final Fantasy XIV. Forget World of Warcraft, this game beat Genshin and Fortnite both. What an upset in the MMO hierarchy!
Best Game Direction: Elden Ring. Even when the Tarnished has no idea what direction to go, the game direction is always on point.
Reveal: Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. This DLC for the recovering Cyberpunk stars Idris Elba. More than once tonight, celebrities have shown up as selling points, and I’m not sure I like it. Having Keanu Reeves on board sure didn’t help Cyberpunk the first time around.
Reveal: Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. This is a big one. This mecha battle series hasn’t been seen in ten years. The pitch is simply: A Souls game but you’re a giant robot. It’ll be very interesting to see how modern FromSoftware builds a game in this style, using the experience they’ve built from their recent successes.
New Trailer: Final Fantasy XVI. That’s Sixteen. Yoshi-P calls it the “revenge” trailer, in which there’s a lot of blood. It still looks a lot like Final Fantasy XIV (that’s fourteen), which is a good thing. Releases June 22, 2003.
Finally, the big one. Former GOTY winner Josef “Fuck The Oscars” Fares arrives to deliver this year’s winner. “The hair on my body was all over the place,” he says. He meant he had goosebumps, but honestly I prefer how he says it.
Game of the Year: Elden Ring. I thought for sure it would go to God of War! But this feels well-earned. The team fired a huge shot of freshness into their well-loved but aging Souls formula, and not only did it work, it excelled. Devs take note – sometimes your game has to be cruel to be kind. Maybe add a few poison swamps.
But then that kid appeared and said that thing. That’s going to be the main thing people talk about from the show, now. Aren’t you glad you got to read about all the important advertisements in my recap, instead? Jury’s out on whether the kid is an edgelord or an anti-Semite. On one hand, there’s a chance this dude is yet another example of bigots becoming bolder in the wake of powerful, hateful people with similar views speaking out, marking a frighteningly rapid slide towards fascism. But on the other hand, we’re going to get a lot of surreal Bill Clinton/Elden Ring memes, so that’s nice.