The Rant's first annual Video Game Award Winners Announced
Forget the glitz and glamour of the major Game Awards show broadcast a few weeks ago; The Rant's Video Game Awards are here to present the real winners to the people.
Here, we don't give out awards for making a game ruthlessly difficult and having your hardcore nerd fanbase insist it's brilliant and rewarding when in fact if you strip it of its difficulty it's merely a decent action/adventure title. Nor do we revere a mind-numbingly dull game which is a glorified mail delivery simulator for 90% of its excessive runtime simply because it's made by the "genius" that is Hideo Kojima.
No, The Rant's Video Game Awards are all about the games that us normal people love to play.
A few disclaimers to note: first, only titles available on the Xbox One and/or PS4 are considered here (sorry Nintendo, but we all have to grow up sometime); second, as the winners are chosen by a single person, the awards (like all awards) are highly subjective and if your favourite game wasn't chosen that doesn't make your opinion any less valid; and third, winners don't receive a trophy or actual reward, other than some free publicity on this obscure website.
So without further ado, let's get to the best (and worst) of gaming in 2019.
Game of the Year
Remedy Entertainment/505 Games
2019 was filled with some surprisingly good games as developers worked overtime to squeeze every ounce of power from the aging hardware present in the current generation consoles. Though first party titles from Microsoft and Sony were few and far between as they gear up for their next console launches in 2020, third-party releases stole the show this year and none were better than Remedy's incredible Control.
A third-person action/adventure game with a heavy narrative focus, Remedy created one of the most interesting and carefully crafted worlds in gaming history inside the "Oldest House", the supernatural setting of Control. It's truly a marvel in game design with its gripping story unfolding at a brisk pace as you explore its incredible metroidvania-style levels that shift and evolve in front of your eyes.
The game plays like a dream with its combination of slick gunplay and paranormal powers in highly interactive environments that immerse you fully into the bizaare but oddly grounded world around you. Remedy asserted itself as one of the greatest storytellers and most creative studios in gaming with Control, and if you haven't played it yet, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy right now.
Runner-Up: Apex Legends
It's not every day that a free-to-play game is a genuine Game of the Year contender, nor that a single developer has two games nominated in the same year, but Respawn isn't one of the best developers in the business for no reason.
Apex Legends is the battle royale game for players who don't like other battle royale games - simplified and snappy looting, fast and satisfying FPS gunplay, squad-based combat with hero-shooter abilities and perks, balanced and surprisingly deep systems, and the revolutionary "Ping" communication system make Apex Legends one of the most fun multiplayer experiences you can find.
If you haven't played it yet, what are you waiting for? It's free.
Honourable Mentions: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Gears 5, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Platform Exclusive of the Year
Winner: Gears 5
With a new console generation looming just beyond the horizon, many of the biggest first-party studios in Sony and Microsoft's stables are hard at work on titles for their next-gen consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony have thus had a pretty barren year when it comes to first-party releases.
Sony's biggest offerings have come in the form of Days Gone, a solid but unremarkable zombie action game, and the ridiculously hyped Death Stranding - while diehard Hideo Kojima fans will insist on its nuanced brilliance, in reality it's a painfully boring slog for the vast majority of its lengthy runtime and sports the kind of convoluted and silly storyline that you'd expect from Kojima (ie. it's overrated crap).
Microsoft didn't fare any better with Crackdown 3, a title that had been in development hell for many years and ended up delivering very little of what it had initially promised all the way back in its 2014 announcement trailer. It was not good, to say the least.
The return of one of Microsoft's flagship franchises, Gears of War, delivered in spades however.
Gears 5 delivered an exceptional campaign that even brought in semi-open world elements and side missions for the first time in Gears' history, harkening back to its horror roots and delivering an action-packed thrill ride. Its meaty multiplayer and co-op components meanwhile offer tons of content for series fans and newcomers alike.
Coupled with extremely polished and refined third-person shooting mechanics, stellar graphics and sound design, and a ridiculous amount of content, Gears 5 easily takes the crown of the best console exclusive of 2019, even if it didn't face much competition.
Shooter of the Year
Winner: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Now it may be a bit confusing to see the runner-up for the main award lose out on the top spot in its own category, but as a pure shooter, Modern Warfare is simply unmatched.
Though its multiplayer maps leave a lot to be desired and its Spec Ops mode is disappointing, Modern Warfare delivers one of (if not the) best campaigns in Call of Duty's history. In a return to form, Infinity Ward has crafted one of the smoothest, slickest first-person shooters ever and its story is an adrenaline rush from start to finish. The attention to detail (particularly with its weaponry) and the production values are simply astounding.
Its impressive multiplayer suite has something for everyone and will keep fans coming back for more well into the new year, especially given the regular content updates (including maps) which are all impressively free of charge. There is plenty to love for series fans and even players who abandoned ship thanks to the relentless churn of sequels have found themselves drawn back into the Call of Duty fold.
It's nice to see Infinity Ward back at the top of their game at long last.
Runner-Up: Apex Legends
Although it doesn't quite offer the variety and depth of content present in Activision's FPS juggernaut (it is a free-to-play game after all), Apex Legends is nonetheless a superb shooter in its own right.
The fast-paced and sleek shooting present in Titanfall is replicated to great effect in Respawn's battle royale (sans-Titans and wall-running) and its tactical squad-based gameplay expertly balances strategy, skill, and the luck of random loot drops into its skirmishes.
Perhaps Respawn's biggest triumph though is their revolutionary "Ping" system - it's an incredibly useful and effective yet simple to use mechanic that will hopefully be copied by every team-based shooter in the future.
Honourable Mentions: Borderlands 3, Metro Exodus, Rage 2
Action/Adventure Game of the Year
Remedy Entertainment/505 Games
I really can't say enough good things about Control. Remedy has crafted a bonafide masterpiece and the less time you spend reading about it instead of playing it, the better.
The action feels superb and can often get chaotic, but the variety of paranormal powers at your disposal combined with your versatile service weapon give you all the tools you need to dispatch the diverse cast of enemies you'll encounter during your time in the Oldest House. Exploring the metroidvania-style environments and unlocking new sections of the Oldest House is also a blast, and there's tons of hidden areas and collectables to make it rewarding.
Excellent boss fights and a brilliant collection of mini-boss encounters further enhance the immersive experience and make Control the best and most memorable action/adventure game of the year.
Runner Up: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Respawn has definitely solidified itself as the best developer of 2019 by delivering not one, but two Game of the Year contenders in the same calendar year.
In its second offering of 2019, Respawn turned around the sinking ship that was EA's Star Wars license by releasing easily the best game of the last decade set in a galaxy far far away.
Combining elements from various popular adventure titles like Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and Dark Souls, Fallen Order lets fans experience a faithful Star Wars journey with a group of new characters including the game's hero Cal Kestis.
From the stellar combat to the exhilarating set-pieces to the emphasis on exploration and the surprisingly good storyline, Fallen Order delivers everything that Star Wars fans have been begging EA for since they first got the license. Hopefully EA can keep the momentum going in the new year.
Honourable Mentions: Devil May Cry 5, Gears 5
Multiplayer Game of the Year
Winner: Apex Legends
Apex Legends is simply put the best multiplayer game out there right now. Its simple premise is executed brilliantly with simplified looting and upgrade systems, excellent shooting mechanics, and a colourful cast of characters that boast an assortment of special abilities.
Strategy, skill, and a little bit of luck are the keys to success in Apex, and thanks to the brilliantly simple "Ping" system, even if you choose to play solo and are paired with two people without mics, communication is still a breeze.
Respawn has added plenty to keep players coming back for more, including three-month long seasons which have each added new playable Legends along with a slew of other new additions (including a gorgeous new map) and special limited-time events which offer different modes and variations of the two massive maps featured in the game. If you're looking for an addicting and engaging multiplayer thrill-ride, look no further.
Runner-Up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Modern Warfare is a brilliant return to form for the Call of Duty franchise. Its silky smooth and responsive gunplay, brisk pace, and attention to detail make it one of the best-feeling shooters around.
The wealth of options for its multiplayer suite ensures there's something for everyone, from intense 2 vs. 2 standoffs to massive 32 vs. 32 battles complete with vehicles and squad-spawning.
While it does have a few issues with its initial batch of multiplayer maps (mainly the prevalence of camping and spawn-killing) the steady stream of new content being added free-of-charge is continuing to offer a remedy to that problem and should keep fans of the enduring franchise satisified for the months to come.
Honourable Mentions: Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, The Division 2
Role-Playing Game of the Year
Winner: The Outer Worlds
Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division
It wasn't exactly a banner year for role-playing games (unless you're into JRPGs and Pokemon) but The Outer Worlds is nevertheless fully deserving of the title of best RPG of 2019.
Obsidian took the formula they used while working on Fallout: New Vegas and applied it to a space-faring adventure, combining the first-person mechanics and upgrade systems of Fallout with the self-contained semi-open world sandboxes of Mass Effect.
The story is engaging and well-written throughout, sporting a particularly dark and dry humour alongside a memorable cast of characters. It's also very polished and surprisingly bug-free for a game of its kind, making it the perfect remedy for those still disappointed by last year's dismal Fallout 76.
Fighting Game of the Year
Winner: Mortal Kombat 11
NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive
Admittedly, Super Smash Bros. was a blast to play growing up and its newest incarnation has picked up a lot of awards for being the best fighting game of the year, and may very well be deserving. However, since these awards are limited to the Xbox One and PS4 consoles, Nintendo's brawler will have to be content with all of the other awards and nominations it's picked up.
As for the older gamers out there, Mortal Kombat 11 has got you covered for all of your hyper-violent button-mashing needs. A surprisingly fun story takes you through various past eras of the long-running franchise with an impressive roster of classic characters plus a few new faces, and of course the fighting itself is better than ever with plenty of new additions and fine-tuning to improve on the rock-solid foundation the last two entries have built on.
Customizing your character's loadouts and unlocking new content is surprisingly fun (though the Krypt is more than a little grinding) and getting your spine ripped out by vastly superior opposition online is always a blast. Now if only they could retroactively remove Ronda Rousey's horrific attempt at voice acting from the otherwise well-produced game.
Honourable Mentions: Dead or Alive 6, Samurai Shodown
Racing Game of the Year
Bugbear Entertainment/THQ Nordic
With the Forza franchise taking a year off (likely to make Forza Motorsport 8 a launch title for the next-gen Xbox), the racing game throne was left vacant in 2019. Other popular franchises like Need for Speed had a glowing opportunity to fill the void, but it was a brand new IP that stole the show for racing fans this year.
Wreckfest is a throwback to the demolition derby and destructive racing fads of the 90's and early 2000's. Bugbear (the developers behind the beloved Flatout and Flatout 2) delivered the surprise hit of the year (in the racing genre at least) with its classic formula of vehicular mayhem and carnage.
The vintage demolition derbies and circuit racing are brought to the modern era thanks to impressive graphics and stunning deformation systems that regularly see your car transform from a plain-old coupe to a crunched-up, broken hunk of metal on wheels by the end of a race. Its superb handling and excellent assortment of tracks make it a blast to play and secure its position at the top of the racing heap. At least until another Forza game comes out.
Runner-Up: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Crash Team Racing, and later Crash Nitro Kart, are beloved kart racers which took the iconic characters from the Crash Bandicoot games and put them in an arcade-style kart racing game a la Mario Kart. Not simply a copy of Nintendo's popular series though, CTR and its sequels found great success and became classics in their own right.
Fast forward to 2017, and the Crash Bandicoot franchise was brought back to the fore with the N. Sane Trilogy, a collection of the first three Crash titles rebuilt from the ground up for modern audiences. With its massive success, CTR and its sequels were a no-brainer for Activision to give a proper remaster treatment to next.
With Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, developer Beenox completely rebuilt the beloved classic CTR from the ground up, giving it great visuals, remastered audio (though a classic soundtrack option is available), and superb handling. In addition to all of the original characters and tracks, all of the content from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing is thrown in for good measure, alongside brand-new content created just for the new game.
It was a surprise hit that injects a dose of nostalgia and arcade-y fun to the racing genre that has gotten increasingly serious over the years.
Honourable Mentions: F1 2019, GRID
Best Story/Narrative Direction
Remedy Entertainment/505 Games
If you've read my review of the game, it should come as no surprise to see Control pick up this award, and it's really not even close.
Remedy has crafted a truly cinematic masterpiece with Control. If there are any people out there who still argue that videogames aren't an art form, make them play Control and see if their mind doesn't change.
The direction and writing puts the vast majority of Hollywood movies to shame let alone other games, and the way that Remedy is able to ground such an odd story in reality is truly remarkable. Remedy's ability to turn ordinary objects into memorable boss fights and actually have them make sense is both hilarious and brilliant - one of the game's fiercest foes is a killer fridge, and I'm not kidding.
It really has to be experienced first-hand to comprehend just how well-done Control's bizaare sci-fi world really is.
Runner-Up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty is known for its emphasis on relentless action and its extensive multiplayer offerings, but the series has also delivered a fair amount of great FPS campaigns. After Black Ops 4 got rid of the campaign portion of the COD package entirely last year, Infinity Ward brought it back in a major way with its return to the fan-favourite modern setting.
In what is essentially a soft-reboot of the Modern Warfare sub-series, Infinity Ward's latest delivers a shockingly good story that touches on many issues surrounding modern conflicts, particularly the situation in Syria that has unfolded over the last few years.
Modern Warfare of course delivers tons of action and intense set-pieces over its 5-8 hour runtime, but its gritty approach is rooted in reality and often draws inspiration from real conflicts like the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound and Benghazi. It's easily the best COD campaign since Modern Warfare 2 and is well worth your time if you're an FPS gamer or a fan of modern war movies or series like 13 Hours and Jack Ryan.
Honourable Mentions: Gears 5, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, The Outer Worlds
Best New IP
Remedy Entertainment/505 Games
This one's an easy one - it's hard not to give the "Best New IP" award to the game that took home the year's top honours after all. If you haven't gotten the hint yet, Control is an amazing game worthy of any gamer's time, so go do yourself a favour and play it. And no, I'm not being paid to say that (though I wish I was).
The lovingly crafted world Remedy has created is uniquely bizaare yet startlingly grounded and just begs for more stories to be told about the FBC and its Objects of Power. Not only that, but Remedy's earlier work and a classic in its own right, Alan Wake, also ties into the Control universe.
Luckily, we won't have to wait too long for more of the series, as two story expansions for the game are primed for release in early 2020. Here's hoping a full-fledged sequel follows suit in the near future.
Runner Up: The Outer Worlds
Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division
While it may not have reinvented the wheel when it comes to its gameplay and style, The Outer Worlds is nonetheless a brilliant new gaming universe ripe with stories to tell and planets to explore. The Halcyon System is filled with unique characters and memorable situations, with a dark and dry sense of humour breathing life into its vibrant worlds.
Its critical and commercial success will hopefully lead to a sequel in the future, though it would likely only be available on Microsoft platforms given that Microsoft purchased Obsidian shortly before this game's release and will be publishing its projects in the future. Sorry PlayStation fans, but thank you Microsoft for putting more great games on Xbox Game Pass.
Honourable Mentions: Apex Legends* (kind of, since it's only loosely set in Titanfall's universe), Wreckfest
Runner-Up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
This one was a really close race, as it often is when AAA developers push consoles and graphics cards to their limits to create stunning visuals for the latest entries in their blockbuster series. Thanks to Modern Warfare's impeccable attention to detail and some trully mesmerizing lighting and particle effects, Infinity Ward takes home the top prize for gaming visuals in 2019.
Though Modern Warfare may lack the artistic flair of some other titles, it's devotion to realistic graphics shines thanks to Infinity Ward's brand new engine - everything looks incredible, particularly in 4K on the high-end consoles or on a PC, from the individual shell casings flying out of an MP5 to the faint smoke rising from a piping-hot PKM to the spreading fire from a shattered Molotov Cocktail.
Character models are superbly detailed and even facial animations, which are always difficult to pull off convincingly but especially when aiming for realism, are fantastic. Not to mention that everything runs at a rock-solid 60 frames per second with virtually no noticeable texture pop-in.
Just make sure you clear some hard drive space...all those ridiculously detailed 4K textures have to go somewhere after all.
Runner-Up: Gears 5
Gears of War has always been a graphical powerhouse, and the latest entry is no different. Delta Squad has never looked so good, from the enhanced 4K fidelity to its wide array of impressively detailed environments that utilize a vibrant and beautiful colour palette.
The campaign really shines in the graphics department - the architecture of New Ephyra is exquisitely rendered, horror segments shine thanks to impressive lighting effects, and chainsawing someone in half with a Lancer looks even better than you last remember it.
Honourable Mentions: Anthem, Control, Death Stranding, Metro Exodus, Rage 2
Best Sound Design
Remedy Entertainment/505 Games
Is it really a surprise at this point that Control picked up another (metaphorical) trophy?
Though this category was hotly contested, the immersion that Remedy created in part due to its brilliant sound design and the incredible performances by the voice actors put Control into a league of its own. The haunting background chants of the Hiss fill spaces with tension before gunfire reverberates around the clinical hallways of the Oldest House, only for concrete to be ripped from the ground and hurled at enemies with a satisfying whoosh. Everything in the environment has weight to it, and that's hammered home thanks to its incredible sound effects.
There's also a badass segment featuring all-out action accompanied by a hardcore rock song (by the same Finnish band that created original songs for Alan Wake) that's worthy of an award all on its own.
Runner-Up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Infinity Ward really did pull out all the stops for its return to a modern setting, and their attention to detail is truly incredible when it comes to the game's sound design.
You can hear the individual casings hit the floor as you fire your weapon, and they even make different sounds if they hit a wall first before reaching the floor, or if they land on a different surface. Explosions are raw and powerful, gunfire sharp, the classic COD score altered and revamped to convey the desired tone.
Everything about it screams massive production values and it just adds even more weight to its stellar campaign and visceral multiplayer combat.
Honourable Mentions: Gears 5, Metro Exodus, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
And now after celebrating the greatness of gaming in 2019, we have to balance things out by talking about the worst of gaming this year.
Since most people (including myself) try to stay away from bad games and avoid them like the plague, there is no "Worst Game of the Year" award. I could never subject myself to trying all the terrible games that get made after all.
Instead, this is a look at games that failed to live up to the hype and the companies that issued a big fat middle-finger to their customers in 2019.
Most Disappointing Game of the Year
Anthem was supposed to be the next Mass Effect. It was supposed to be BioWare's triumphant return to form after a harsh few years had seen them lose their touch. It was supposed to be a grand adventure, EA's answer to the popular online looter shooter Destiny, just from a different perspective and with a larger focus on story. The hype leading up to its February launch was massive, and the game looked stunning in action...and then it came out.
A litany of bugs and server issues plagued its launch, crippling it for many players. Excessively frequent loading screens (even in the middle of missions), server disconnects, lag, and more became the subject of frustration for players, and even months later after multiple patches you could still encounter regular server issues and extended loading times.
But with the launch of a massive online game, some hiccups are to be expected. What wasn't expected was the bland, barebones story, the incredibly dull characters, cringey dialogue, grinding progression, and incredibly repetitive and dull mission design.
That isn't to say Anthem is a terrible game - its gameplay is decent, flying around in your javelin is good fun, and the graphics are impressive, but when compared to the promise it showed, the final result is incredibly underwhelming.
We thought we were in store for the start of a new franchise, but we got a mediocre and forgettable game instead. Maybe next time?
Runner-Up: Ghost Recon Breakpoint
What a coincidence - another attempt by a big publisher to cash in on the games-as-a-service model, and another massive failure.
Unlike Anthem, Breakpoint was a sequel that had a solid foundation to build on. Wildlands took the Ghost Recon brand in a new direction, and although it wasn't exactly a world-beater, it was a solid open-world squad-shooter with AAA production values. Breakpoint then didn't have to do a lot to get fans hyped - with some modest improvements, a bigger focus on the story which was confirmed by the inclusion of John Bernthal as the game's antagonist, and the promise of more realistic gameplay, Breakpoint had everything going for it.
Somehow, Ubisoft fucked that up royally.
A poorly written and comically cliche story, terrible voice acting by almost every character other than Bernthal's, loot and upgrade systems that have no place in a Ghost Recon game, spotty graphics and a litany of bugs ensured that Breakpoint would signal the demise of the Ghost Recon brand. The gameplay itself was solid enough, but that couldn't save it from being a blemish on Ubisoft's record and forcing the company into delaying its upcoming releases to ensure they meet expectations.
Why Ubisoft would ruin the Ghost Recon franchise to turn it into another games-as-a-service offering when they already have a vastly superior one in The Division 2 I have no idea.
Honourable Mention: Death Stranding
Winner: Fallout 76's "Fallout 1st" Subscription Service
Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Fallout 76 is the game that keeps on giving. Not to its fans of course, but to people that enjoy laughing at just how bad a company can fuck over its customers and still somehow manage to retain a hardcore fanbase. This is the game that had its expensive special edition ship with cheap nylon bags when canvas duffel bags were promised, then accidentally revealed customer information (including addresses and credit card info) for some of the people that opened a support ticket to receive the promised canvas bag after Bethesda received widespread complaints. They did at least get their proper bags - over seven months later.
Last year's Fallout 76, which took the beloved RPG series into the online realm, was filled with glitches and issues that really showed the title was a quick cash-grab not even close to being fit forrelease. Fallout has always had plenty of bugs and rough edges, but adding in online play was a recipe for disaster.
Slowly, Bethesda tried to make it right by issuing frequent updates which also included some of the features that fans had been begging for since launch (and even before the launch), though their overpriced and extensive microtransactions didn't exactly endear them to the masses.
The last straw however was the introduction of the Fallout 1st program - a subscription service that included some of the most requested features (even from before the title's release) and locked them behind a paywall. To make matters worse, the subscription service is ridiculously expensive for what you get - it's $12.99 a month (or $99.99 a year) to play on a private server with up to seven other players, use a box with unlimited storage for crafting material (something that didn't require more than a few minutes of work for one of their programmers), a fast travel system, and some points each month to spend on the game's overpriced cosmetic items. A one-year subscription is more than the cost of a brand-new game even from a much more competent developer.
It was a comically greedy ploy to squeeze even more money out of their dwindling fanbase, and even some of the biggest Bethesda supporters abandoned ship because of it. Releasing an overpriced subscription service for a game that still has a litany of issues they've yet to fix is particularly audacious, but there were still a fair amount of suckers willing to pay for it. A fool and his money will soon be parted after all.
Runner-Up: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled's Addition of Microtransactions
The return of CTR may have been surprisingly fun hit, but it wouldn't be a proper Activision release without some sort of microtransaction buffoonery.
The game released with a ton of content for a reduced price tag given its nature, without any microtransactions in sight. There was tons of content to unlock, but when players started to complain about how slowly characters and skins were being unlocked, Activision only saw dollar signs.
Rather than fix the minor design issue, Activision instead introduced microtransactions that required forking over additional cash to speed up the process. Considering it's a remastered version of games that offered all of their content to players without asking for an additional penny after a gamer's initial purchase, it's especially silly that microtransactions would be shoehorned in after its release, but that is the state of gaming nowadays.
Honourable Mentions: Anthem's costly Mass Effect skins in "celebration" of N7 day, Apex Legends' overpriced limited-time event cosmetics, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 adding microtransactions which included new weapons as well as XP and weapon XP boosts
Most Overrated Game of the Year
Winner: Death Stranding
It's no secret that Hideo Kojima, the man who created the Metal Gear Solid games, has always wanted to be a movie director. He does have a knack for cinematography (even if he regularly overdoes it) and some of his ideas have been revolutionary, even if many of his games are somewhat overrated.
The ridiculous hype and media fandom over the man in recent years however, is akin to what you see with certain Hollywood directors - you know the ones, they release Oscar nominated or winning films that are utter garbage but critics still insist they're brilliant.
Well in a way, Kojima's latest game is his completed turn into a pompous Hollywood director. Playing Death Stranding is like subjecting yourself to one of those "brilliant" artsy movies - sitting through an endless onslaught of tedium concocted by a self-aggrandizing director, a needlessly convoluted plot that may offer a few moments of intrigue that is quickly washed away by the mind-numbingly boring scenes in which it's offered, leaving the "sophisticated" viewers applauding its brilliance while the majority of the audience is left wondering what the fuck they just sat through.
I hate to break it to the gaming media, but a director who forces players to play through a mindlessly boring mail delivery simulation for the vast majority of a 40+ hour game is not a genius, he's an asshole.
To top it off, the ridiculous plot is being praised by the media just like they've praised Kojima's mostly silly Metal Gear Solid stories over the years. Somehow a dreadfully dull (the graphics are nice though, I'll give it that, which they had better be considering how little genuine gameplay there is) game is sitting at an 82 (out of 100) Metacritic score.
It's time to start drug testing game reviewers.
Honourable Mentions: Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Worst PR Move
Winner: Blizzard's Blitzchung Ban
I won't go into too much detail on the Blitzchung controversy simply because there's a lot to it and you can easily find out on your own, but to simplify: a professional Hearthstone player who calls himself Blitzchung won an eSports tournament hosted by Blizzard in Taiwan, and on a live-stream interview following his win sported a mask similar to those worn by protestors in Hong Kong and proclaimed "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times!" before the stream was cut.
Blizzard, in an effort to protect their business interests with China and appease Blizzard's part owner Tencent Holdings, immediately banned Blitzchung for one year and took away his monetary prize, citing a rule that prevents players in their tournaments from "offending the public or impugning Blizzard's image". They also banned the two interviewers who interviewed Blitzchung, despite the fact that when he appeared and proclaimed his support for Hong Kong they both hid behind their monitors and were apparently unaware that Blitzchung was going to make a political statement.
Massive public backlash followed, including waves of players unsubscribing from paid Blizzard services and many of Blizzard's own employees staging walk-outs. Blizzard shortly after reduced Blitzchung's suspension to 6 months and reinstated his prize money, and reduced the suspensions of the two streaming hosts as well, stating it wasn't the content of Blitzchung's statement that was an issue but rather his use of the interview to turn the event into a political statement.
Compared to other bans players have faced for making vulgar statements and obscene gestures on camera, that argument bears little weight considering how much worse his punishment was. Protests have continued against Blizzard, including an American team holding up a sign supporting Hong Kong and Blitzchung after they lost a tournament (which earned them a 6 month ban as well) and protests at Blizzcon, the company's annual gaming convention.
It may help keep their Chinese business interests safe, but let's not forget that Blizzard has made the vast majority of its money off of the capitalist and democratic nations that it just pissed off, not a communist authoritarian regime.
Runner-Up: Fallout 76's "Fallout 1st" Subscription Service
Not much more needs to be said about this one. An insultingly expensive subscription service that offers just a few of the features players have been begging for since before the game even released, while the product still has a litany of issues that haven't been addressed, was just one more controversy on the steaming pile of bad publicity that has been Fallout 76. Way to go Bethesda.
Honourable Mentions: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's PS4-exclusive game mode, Epic Games Store making certain releases exclusive to their clunky new games launcher on PC, The Game Awards nominating Death Stranding for nine awards including (hilariously) Game of the Year