The Game Awards are the closest thing we seem to have to the Oscars, where the video game industry's heavy weights come together to celebrate the best gaming has to offer. This year saw Blizzard's Overwatch take the ultimate prize for the game of the year, with Inside taking best indie and best art direction. DOOM also picked up winning trophies for best action and best music, with Forza Horizon 3 taking best racer.
The Jezzies aren't for that. While we do have an official (and serious) Best of 2016 games awards coming up soon, I felt the need to celebrate some under-appreciated aspects of this year in video games. These categories were chosen with the help of Windows Central Xbox forum users and pals on my Twitter feed.
Without further deliberation, here are the 2016 Jezzy Game Awards, presented with joy, sarcasm, and pain.
Best Game Deserving of a Sequel but Probably Won't Get One Award: ReCore
We got a lot of new IP in 2017, from Tom Clancy's The Division to Quantum Break, but the industry's shift to perpetually-updated Games as a Service combined with the sky-high expectations set for new franchises seems to be squashing the potential for game concepts to survive past their first entry.
ReCore sits at a punishingly unfair 63/100 rating on Metacritic, limiting the chances of it ever getting a sequel. And it is a damn shame. ReCore might not be perfect, but its blend of companion-heavy action combat, vibrant art style, and addictive platforming is a winning formula that could easily be rectified with a more ambitious sequel, with the budget to match.
ReCore represents a humble idea with a ton of potential, given its open-world format, unique robot progression systems, and whimsical characters. Fans of ReCore can only hope for more this sort of thing, perhaps in vain.
Best Video Game Companion Award: Far Cry Primal's honey badger
When we discuss video game companions, many immediately think of Fallout's resident canine, Dogmeat. For all of Dogmeat's faithfulness, loyalty and intelligence, none of these traits can compete with the raw, unbridled fury that is Far Cry Primal's honey badger.
Far Cry Primal allows you to tame all sorts of Mesolithic creatures, from sabertooth tigers to wooly mammoths, but the prehistoric honey badger trumps them all by being pure evil. The honey badger doesn't forgive, it has no sympathy and knows absolutely no mercy. It simply kills with a violent rage that would give DOOM's hell creatures pause, emboldened by the harrowing cries of its victims. And you can command and tame one in Far Cry Primal. Awesome.
Best Worst Character Award: Final Fantasy XV's Prompto
Everything about Final Fantasy XV's Prompto is maddening. From his Hot Topic pop punk attire to his incessant bad jokes, insufferable positivity, and obsession with selfies. Prompto is my antithesis, my nemesis. If there is one character I'd love to see battle, and lose, to Far Cry Primal's honey badger, it is Prompto.
Warning: FFXV Chapter 1 minor spoilers are ahead. The worst thing about his constantly chipper attitude is that it's all a front. Prompto reveals his inner emo during random conversations with Noctis during motel stops in FFXV, whining about high school inadequacies to the main character, who should have far more important things on his mind — like saving the world. Prompto reveals his self-obsession during these little chats, shrugging off the fact that the Niflheim Empire has probably vaporized the high school he hated (along with his classmates) during the game's first chapter. What a jerk!
Prompto's one saving grace is that he is FFXV's weakest character, meaning that you get to see him die. A lot!
Biggest WTF award: INSIDE
Seriously, INSIDE... what the hell. There are no words. It must be seen to be believed.
Most Epic Cash-Grab Award: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Deluxe Edition
To make up for the most disliked reveal trailer in YouTube history, Activision decided to add some salt into the wounds by forcefully bundling a huge space combat mod into its launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.
Dubbed "Infinite Warfare," the space mod for Modern Warfare that literally three people asked for sent the price of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered skyrocketing (get it?), forcing gamers to fork over extra to get their remastered nostalgia fix.
Like all video game controversies, this led to all sorts of memes on Reddit and other sites, where users took to posting their begrudgingly purchased Legacy Editions, with Infinite Warfare MS Paint'ed over on the cover. We doth protest, but we handed over our cash anyway, as usual. Good job Activision!
Best Game I Expected To Suck But Totally Didn't Award: Layers of Fear
In the post-Amnesia world of me-too walking-sims-pretending-to-be-horror-games genre, I felt the urge to dismiss Layers of Fear immediately. I wish I hadn't, because it is the best Xbox One horror game released in 2016.
There are no combat mechanics, no run-and-hide systems. Instead, Layers of Fear drives the player forwards with a genuinely mystifying plot of family tragedy, professional stresses, and dark psychosis. Layers of Fear is a wonderful game not for the faint at heart, full of great art and ominous atmospherics, wrapped in an utterly twisted, and genuinely captivating narrative. If you're a horror fan, please give it a try!
Jez's Very Important Award For Best Gore: DOOM
This is a very, very important category (get it?). The artistry of violence is too often unsung in gaming, dare I say, even shunned by some outlets. "Games are too violent," they cry, but I say nay! Good gore gives weapons a sense of impact, a touch of immersive realism that elevates the way action games feel. If I shoot a demon in the face with a rocket launcher, I want to see viscera! I want to see bone fragments. Give me brain matter!
In 2016, DOOM shrugs off stiff competition from the likes of Gears of War 4 and Dead Rising 4 to take the crown. DOOMguy is so violent that he is feared by the denizens of Hell itself. Tear through enemies with the super shotgun, frolick in the crimson entrails from demons vaporized by the Gauss Cannon, and commit hell beast genocide with the utterly ridiculous BFG 9000. DOOM's violence is remorseless, unrelenting, and simply beautiful. It is this year's winner of one of my most prestigious and totally awesome awards. Congrats id Software!
Sean Murray Award for Most Overhyped Game: Everything
That's right, just like we learned in pre-school, everybody wins!
If 2016 taught us anything, it's that the hype train for video games is getting a little silly. The amount of wishful thinking, combined with the media's need to capitalize on that hype, those slick, highly edited trailers and, occasionally, outright lies about upcoming games led to some incredibly huge disappointments in 2016. While some games are certainly more guilty than others (far more guilty), perhaps it's time the industry took a step back and took a more considered approach to the way they induce expectations. And it would also help if we, as gamers, stopped buying into it so much...
Best Game in Jez's Endless Backlog Award: XCOM 2
...Unless that hype is XCOM hype, obviously! Fresh on the back of XCOM: Enemy Within on Xbox One backward compatibility, my excitement for XCOM 2 could not be understated.
I waited patiently to bask in its strategic, turn-based glory. Alas, soon after, the Fall-Winter games rush began, and in a whirlwind of first world problems, I found myself without the time to properly commit myself to this excellent game.
One day, XCOM 2, I will find you again, whiskey glass in one hand, controller in the other.
Don Mattrick Award for Best Villain: Quantum Break's Lance Reddick as Martin Hatch
My introduction to Lance Reddick was in the stellar crime drama The Wire, where he portrays a career cop, representing one of the least corruptible of the show's characters. I was intrigued to learn he would be portraying a villain in Microsoft's time-bending action game — Quantum Break — but I didn't expect just how well Reddick would take to the role.
Martin Hatch is the game's most mysterious, most enigmatic character, and the paradoxes surrounding his nature are a little maddening. It's all the more disturbing knowing Quantum Break probably won't get a sequel, leaving us with a huge range of unanswered questions. In the case of Martin Hatch, perhaps the inscrutability simply adds to the character's power.
Without spoiling, Martin Hatch reveals himself at the very beginning of the game, and as the game progresses, you learn that he's not simply a supporting character. In both Quantum Break's motion-capped in-game scenes and the game's well-produced live action sequences, Lance Reddick's portrayal of Martin Hatch is persistently cold, calculating, and downright unnerving. The character's mannerisms and quiet demeanor belie Hatch's avarice, driven by hidden motivations. While the entire cast of Quantum Break does a great job, Lance Reddick's depiction of Hatch gave the game (quite literally) new dimensions.
Best Instrument of Death Award: Battlefield 1's Flame Trooper Kit
2016 was a gnarly year for video game weaponry. The gadgets of Watch Dogs 2, the occult powers of Dishonored 2, new toys in Gears of War 4, and the return of the BFG9000 in DOOM. However, not even Titanfall 2's gigantic katana-wielding Ronin mech could best my favorite Instrument of Death this year. Battlefield 1's Flame Trooper Kit.
A mere lick of the Kleinflammenwerfer's oil-spewing flame cannon sends enemy players screaming in all directions. The way to deal with a fire in Battlefield 1 is to drop to a prone position, but so few players do it, making it all the more enjoyable, all the more sadistic.
The Flame Trooper Kit also dons players with boosted armor, allowing a temporary stint of unbridled power. Catching a group of enemy players unaware with the flamethrower is so, so much fun, that it easily trumps 2016's other instruments of death. Congrats DICE!
Best Xbox Beard of 2016 Award: Josh Stein
As a beard bro (or, more like, too-lazy-to-shave bro), I always find myself impressed by a well-kept face of fur.
For this most prestigious of awards, I deferred to none other than Xbox head Phil Spencer himself, who's day-to-day knowledge and experience of Xbox Beards far exceeds my own. No camera can adequately capture the real essence of a good beard, after all.
After mere seconds of deliberation, Phil Spencer bestowed Xbox Community Manager Josh Stein (@Steinekin) with one of this ceremony's most important accolades.
Congratulations Mr. Stein!
Jez's Most Anticipated Game Award: Vampyr
While 2017 will see the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Mass Effect Andromeda break cover, we all know that these AAA behemoths will more than likely be worth the price of entry. But I find myself most intrigued by DontNOD Entertainment's Vampyr, which is part of an increasingly intriguing 2017 lineup published by Focus Home Interactive.
DontNOD is best known for the wildly popular graphic adventure Life is Strange, but Vampyr looks as though it could be far more ambitious. As an ARPG with combat that sits somewhere between Dark Souls and Devil May Cry, Vampyr takes place in a Victorian-era London in the grip of a flu pandemic.
Players must navigate a dark world, unravel a mysterious branching plot, and manage the health of the main character by choosing whether to save or drink the blood of the game's innocent (and sometimes, not so innocent) NPCs.
The mechanics, gameplay, and setting of Vampyr are intruiguing, but it will also be interesting to see whether DontNOD can crack the RPG genre, which is frankly crying out for new titles on Xbox One. DontNOT told me that they want to reclaim vampirism from the likes of Twilight, which is also, a very noble goal.
Jez's Favorite 2016 Game That Wasn't The Witcher 3 Award: The Flame in the Flood
And finally, we have reached the most important Jez Game Awards accolade, my personal favorite title of 2016! And that super important and authoritative honor goes to The Molasses Flood's The Flame in the Flood.
The Flame in the Flood is the best game you (probably) didn't play this year, created by a fresh indie outlet comprised of major industry talent. The Flame in the Flood is an excellent survival roguelike with a twisted and vibrant art style, with punishingly rewarding gameplay that launched earlier in 2016 via ID@Xbox.
The Flame in the Flood tasks players to guide Scout and her trusty dog, Aesop, downriver in a flooded, post-societal America. Procedural ruins, haunting forests, and wild beasts await Scout, who must use her wits and cunning to survive. I adored my time with The Flame in the Flood, which also features one of the year's greatest soundtracks (opens in new tab).
Lure deadly beasts into crafted traps, filter gross water, desperately hunt firewood and skin those pesky critters — The Flame in the Flood is as addictive as it is wonderful, and I simply cannot recommend it enough.
And that's a wrap!
2016 is drawing to a close, and 2017 is shaping up to be a really interesting year in gaming. More and more titles are shipping as services, with perpetual updates in exchange for cosmetic DLC. We have the next Xbox — Project Scorpio — on the horizon, and games like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 are all primed to make big debuts.
What were your favorite (or least favorite) game industry moments of 2016? What was your favorite game? Let us know in the comments!
Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
As for best stories, I would say Uncharted 4 and Mafia 3 came up a nice 2nd for the year for me (Uncharted on my PS4 and Mafia 3 on my Xbox one). I know this is an Xbox site but, no question moving over to the dark side is worthy for a few titles. The Last Guardian is one on the PS4 that I think I am going to grab, kind of waiting for that one but, due to the reviews, it claims a lot of bugs, so I will wait 4-5 months to get it. As updates should fix the game a little. Doom I own, I need to sit down and play it, I work and have a family, I am lucky if I get 10-12 hours a week to play, so I have to be very selective on what I play. My back log of games is getting kind of long, sigh too many great games too little time. ReCore was claimed with heavy issues so that is a MAYBE title for me. Thanks nice round up...
ReCore's issues with loading etc. have mostly been patched out. I kinda took it like a high-end indie given that it launched below full price. I still need to try out Mafia 3, I heard the gameplay was repetitive, would you say it's worth it for the story alone? Thanks for reading mate.
Mafia 3, It started to get a little repetitive after a while, with out giving out the story, Killing a boss, then you have to go through 3-4 smaller bosses (missions) before going to the big boss, kill him then repeat. Battles were pretty good over all, sneak attack or going in shooting, I found it make the game play enjoyable to a point. Over all, the story was pretty good, after you go through the first hour or so, it kind of hangs a little for a few more hours but, after that, it starts to get really good. The story keeps you going and I found myself really looking forward to the story ending. I am a big fan of the Mafia series, Played 1 on the PC many years ago and Mafia 2 was just an epic game (and even the DLCs were good for it), Mafia 2 had a big world but, you finished a mission, look at your map and there is the next place to go, besides small side things, there was only one step to go. Mafia 3 gave you options so diffeent parts of the story you could not only one place to go. I got to what is the END, and the mission would never show up, I had to go back on something I missed and finish it then it showed up. It even crashed a hanffull of times on the Xbox one but, over all, I really enjoyed it.. WHen it comes to games, I prefer the Story based games the most, I am a HUGE fan of the Uncharted series and "The last of US" are all on my all time fav games... Besides the issues with Mafia 3, I found it very worthy to play.
I'm gonna have to pick it up now, thanks for the detailed description
I need to start reviewing games... Then I can quit my primary job and review/play games for a living... in my 40's and I would LOVE to do that but, I am sure my wife would not let me to do :-/ No problem, it's a great game besides a little things...
Looked over your Twitter feed.... I am now following you, I am very picky who I add, and enough entertainment and gaming...right up my ally :)
Cheers bud! Send me a message and I'll follow back.
Do people in the industry care about The Game Awards? Fans don't really seem to care. It just felt like something artificially thrown together by some corporate suits. I never see anyone talking about it, either this year or last.
Yeah, it's not like there aren't a million of them anyway. Everyone's opinions are so different that it seems no matter who actually gets GotY from these things, there's a GotY release for most every major release later on anyway. Still waiting on a Fallout 4 GotY, in fact, and playing Shadow of Mordor GotY on my PS4P (though IDK who gave it GotY).
Haha, not me, that's why I threw together these awards for the luls :P
Your list was definitely more entertaining than The Game Awards.
Appreciated, maybe next time I'll make a video...lol
I care about The Game Awards only when Nintendo is going to show off new gameplay there like they've been doing with Zelda.
I haven't read a word of this, but just letting you know I'll be here to tell you you're wrong and dumb and the worst person ever later on. Those are the rules of awards.
Haha, such is the ridiculousness of vidya gaem awards.
OK, then! Game not getting a sequel: I was interested in ReCore at first, but after seeing its gameplay at E3, it looked really uninspiring. I ended up passing. Me, I expect the answer to be Quantum Break, if we stick to exclusives. I though it was a really good idea, and a solidly executed game (minus losing my save in the last 20% of the game), something I wouldn't mind seeing more from. Then again, I never got to see the end, so maybe it had a good conclusion with finality that isn't deserving of a sequel. I just liked the game and its mechanics, and would have liked another game that let your choices matter more, while also turning up the difficulty (there was almost no challenge to the game). Otherwise, I was stoked for DOOM, and hope the franchise sticks around. However, there was some clunky stuff in it that probably drove off diehard fans a bit, like loadouts. It really lacks for an online population, so I bailed before the Season Pass I paid for even got started (first Season Pass I ever bought, and it was instant regret). Still, I'd like that game to come back, preferably get even closer to old-school arena shooters (on-map weapon spawns and such), and trade a bit of the cool looks for stuff that is more inventive and different from the competition. Congested map design is killing my interest in multiplayer shooters. Companion: I've got nothing. I guess the Buddy system in Pokémon Go? I can't say I played anything with a companion this year. I guess you could call the assistant in FH3, Anna, a companion, but I also hate that thing. Worst character: I really haven't gotten to play a lot of 2016 releases to choose from. I'd probably end up picking from a game I didn't play, partially because I hated the character. Of stuff I played, it might be D.Va from Overwatch, I found her to be an unbearably obnoxious character. Then again, I didn't care for that game as a whole, still don't get why people are so in love with TF2 taped to a MOBA with almost no actual gameplay content. It's a solid shooter with content problems. WtF: I don't really get what the award here is. I mean, I guess I'd give it to the time BF1 spawned me as the pilot in a plane I had no idea how to fly, leaving me to flip the plane immediately and crash into the ground. It went so badly. Cash-Grab: I railed on Activision hard for what they did, it was crap. However, I still might take Turn 10 over them here, partially as a Lifetime Unachievement choice. They take a $60 game, and throw in the always-overpriced Car Pass. They make the $100 Ultimate Edition, and at the last minute, throw in "well, it's not QUITE Ultimate, we've got another $35 of DLC to sell you, but we're benevolent and only charge to $25 if you spend $100 first!" Turn 10 is definitely #1 in terms of biggest scam of a cash grab in gaming history though, with Forza 5's "Racing Game of the Year Edition." That infuriated me so much I almost wrote off the entire franchise. They really need to dial is back with the milking of fans, because it's getting old in a hurry. Expected to Suck: Pokémon Go, if we leave the Xbox realm. I actually quite enjoy it, though it still needs a lot of work. Sticking to Xbox, I think Titanfall 2 gets it for me. I heard terrible things about it, and didn't feel AT ALL compelled to get it. Playing the free weekend, I was reminded that the Titans are just a lot of fun. I still doubt I ever get the game, but it wasn't the joke so many made it out to be. It needs better maps, though that's every shooter now. Overhype: Yeah, it's Overwatch. The game just doesn't impress me. I like some of its core mechanics, but with 2 game modes and so many characters that are unused, it's a massive letdown. Shoot, I even say that as someone who wasn't interested in it from the start. I played during a free weekend, just because my friend wanted me to. The core game is more fun that I expected, but like Halo 5, a lack of good content surrounding it does a LOT of harm. Second-place, I'd go MW Remastered. I played the heck out of that game the first time around, but thinking back, I would like the maps and little else. I'm not rushing to revisit jokes like the M16's terrible weapon balance, the asinine Perks like Stopping Power, and a Riot Shield that illogically could eat rounds from a helicopter with no effort. Throw in the always-moronic CoD knife, and I'm happy in the present (where I don't buy CoD games). Backlog: Mine's not very full though I just bought some stuff for my XB1S and PS4P. I guess Dying Light: The Following, though that's actually DLC. I really want to get back into that, though I need to find someone (or someones) to play it with. I'd like to go into that with the option to play at night, which is a mess to do solo. I loved the base game though, so I picked up the Enhanced Edition for $20 at GameStop. Villain: I liked Hatch as well, yeah. Still, I feel that's my reacting to recognizing him from Fringe, rather than thinking there was amazing character development. Maybe I'd agree even more if I finished the game (thanks again for losing my save, bro!). Instrument of Death: So many of those in DOOM. I haven't tried the Flametrooper Kit in BF1 to compare. However, your bare hands in DOOM might be it for me. Sweeping a guy's leg, then punching his head off is SO satisfying. Beard: Uhh...pass. Most anticipated: Hmm, is there anything I'm excited for in 2017? Ubisoft is dead to me, so my previous interest in For Honor is gone. I'm not sure how excited for Scalebound I am. Halo Wars doesn't excite me--if I want something strategy-based, I'll go back to Civ V, or buy Civ VI or Planet Coaster. Halo 5 was such an abomination that even if Halo 6 comes out next year, I don't know if I have interest anymore. After gutting studios from their gaming division and brutally killing my favorite game franchise (Halo), it's hard to say Microsoft has anything exciting coming on the software side. So, it's mostly a look at things for my new PS4 Pro next year. I'm stoked to pick up a baseball game at release. I really like what Detroit is doing, but doubt it's a 2017 game, same for Kingdom Hearts 3 (and picking 2.8 or the 1.5/2.5 compilations seems lazy). So, I might say Horizon: Zero Dawn is the one game I am 100% sure I want to get, and know it's coming in 2017. Favorite that wasn't The Witcher: Easy for me when I didn't go for The Witcher. Hard when I didn't go for much of anything. Again, I liked Quantum Break, but didn't want to replay a lost campaign, so I never finished it. I liked DOOM's core, but barely got into the campaign (IDK why), and the multiplayer's barren state got me out of there. BF1 is OK, nothing special. MLB The Show is a great thing to experience, but far from the masterpiece it was made out to be. Forza Horizon 3 is awesome, but needs a few more things to be perfect (like not overpricing DLC and generally gouging people for cash). Still, given a lack of games played this year, I think FH3 gets it for me. Lastly, we disagreed on some stuff. As such, you're stupid, and should be fired.
Haha, awesome reply. Perhaps I'll make a forum thread where people can submit their own winners for these categories. I did agonize over some of the "awards," for example, The Flame in the Flood might not be the "best" game in 2016, as in it doesn't have the broadest scope, most ground-breaking mechanics, most polished gameplay, etc, but it's one I keep remembering fondly, it's not often games do that to me anymore. It's a feeling, totally subjective, which is why vidya gaem awards are kinda silly in general.
I enjoyed this. Some fun picks here. Thanks Jez!
Thanks for reading James :)
FWIW I gave Activision £105 for Call of Duty. And I don't care.
CoD fanboy Richard Devine ladies and gents! ;)
YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM, MATE.
LoL my friend. LoL.
Title shows Jez loves himself ;)
Also Jez I find Ignis the most annoying for one reason; refusing to drive at night and saying the same thing all the time. RILES me.
SPOILER: Eventually Ignis will drive at night.
This is bloody brilliant. Nicely done, Jezzy! The Game Awards 2016 was hilarious to watch too, lol.
Haha, 2015 was AMAZING.
Thanks for this Jez, really good stuff. Nothing like seeing things from the perspective of a real gamer who has actually played these games, not a 'score' on metacritic or some random forum.
I'm about to check out The Flame in the Flood for sure, I'm surprised I totally missed it. Also hoping ReCore gets a sequel despite it's modest performance, we really do need games of that style in Xbox.
Any word on if Ori and the Blind Forest will get some kind of sequel, or a branch story or something?
Keep up the good work!
Hey, thanks for the kind words. I'm pretty sure Ori and the Blind Forest has had sequels either confirmed or teased, I think one of the contractors who worked on the game leaked that they were working on a sequel, I'll see if I can dig anything up on that.
Thank for this Jez, I've added a couple of games to my list to pick up in next weeks Steam sale :-)
Thanks for reading :)
LOL @ the Jezzy's! What does Activision win for thier Cash Grab award?! Please tell me its the right to not publish a COD game for 3 years. #amirite ...Put up a poll for the next years awards and maybe add the category Best Cross Play Game. As always, good read.
Thanks mate, will def look at ways the audience can participate in next year's if we do it again :D
i have a replacement for DOOM in the gore cateGORY. although i love doom and it is beautiful in every way. i think killing floor 2 actually did release this year and it is light years beyond any game as far as gore goes, considering it has it's own gore engine. it's fantastic. give it a whirl one day and don't let the intestines rolling down the stairs strip you up.
Ah, I admit I haven't played Killing Floor, no gaming PC here. Wish it was on Xbox.
Good article! Really enjoyed it and made much more sense then the video game awards!
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