That's right, friends, it's time again for the Jezzy Game Awards, the worst game awards in the world, that additionally, nobody cares about. But that's okay, because they're my awards, which makes them the best awards. At least in my mind, and my Mom told me that matters.
I figured we'd go with largely the same categories as last year (due to laziness more than anything), but they also align well with a general recap of 2017 in gaming. A year that saw microtransactions and "pay-to-win" mechanics rise to the fore in AAA premium games. A year that saw Microsoft criticized at almost every turn for a relatively weak games lineup. And a year that gave us innumerable disappointments, both in gaming, and in general. Thankfully, we also received a glimmer of hope in the form of the expectation-shattering Xbox One X. So hey, it's not all bad.
Without further fuss, let's take a look at the winners and losers (mostly losers) of this most important and relevant series of game awards, chosen solely by yours truly.
Best Game Deserving of a Sequel but Probably Won't Get One Award: Prey
I bang on a bit about Prey, a game that was largely overlooked both by gamers and critics earlier this year. Prey was a reimagining of Human Head Studios' old PC and Xbox 360 game, which blended first-person shooting with sci-fi storytelling. Prey, now in the hands of Bethesda and Arkane Studios, follows some similar themes, but is largely a completely new game, set in an entirely new universe.
Where some saw clunky shooter combat, I discovered a methodical, stealth-based shooter that rewarded players for abusing the game's dynamic systems. Prey isn't a run and gun shooter, it follows similar devices as Deus Ex, allowing you to level up, manipulate the environment and various intertwining game mechanics to your advantage. Morgan Yu isn't a super soldier, he's a scientist, studying an oily, alien-species aboard a gorgeous, deadly, and atmospheric space station. What could possibly go wrong?
I implore anyone who enjoyed the Deus Ex games to give Prey a go, maybe even on a higher difficulty, and play it with patience and puzzle solving in mind, rather than DOOM-like reckless abandon. It features some of the best world-building of 2017, with dark corridors filled with interweaving stories and narrative set pieces. This is one damn game that deserves a sequel, but probably won't get one. I haven't enjoyed a shooter this much since the original Bioshock.
Best Video Game Companion Award: Mugman
Cuphead took the world by storm a few months back, and the game revolved around the eponymous Cuphead... and his brother Mugman, as they fought to save their souls from the devil. Cuphead is a brutally hard game with gorgeous visuals, complete with 2-player local co-op.
I have to ask though, why is the game called Cuphead? Mugman has the same powers, he's in the same situation, yet he's relegated into the background. Cursed and relegated into Player 2 land. Luigi syndrome.
This award is for you Mugman, the unsung co-op character.
Best Worst Character Award: Destiny 2 Ghost "Nolandroid"
Destiny's "Ghost" companion was notorious for some terrible lines delivered by Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame. Although, after hearing Nolan North's efforts, I'm not sure Dinklage is specifically to blame.
Destiny isn't exactly renowned for its writing, full of convoluted story telling, and plot holes. However, playing through the sequel, I found Destiny 2's ghost dialogue to be woefully, painfully, miserably, pure cringe. Lines inspired by memes, terribly unfunny one-liners, and general fail. I'm persistently sad that I can't turn off Destiny 2's ghost. Instead I decided to just turn off Destiny 2.
Biggest WTF Award: Cuphead, basically everything
Cuphead is here for another award, and who knows, maybe more. There was no other game more deserving of this award this year, though.
Cuphead's art style is inspired by the uncanny weirdness of early 1900s cartoons, from the weirdness of Steamboat Willie to this relentlessly insane Japanese propaganda cartoon from 1936. Cuphead takes the frankly disturbing cartoon themes from decades past and dials them up to 11, featuring benign bosses like giant carrots, all the way up to transforming sentient cakes, giant evil moon faces, and a living fairground. Cuphead is mental, and PURE WTF.
Most Epic Cash-Grab Award: Star Wars: Battlefront II
Best Game I Expected To Suck But Totally Didn't Award: Windows Mixed Reality
Okay, so this isn't exactly a game, but this year, Windows Mixed Reality thoroughly won me over as a gaming platform.
The few games with WMR that are available are supreme, Superhot VR is truly visceral, designed inside out for virtual reality. Arizona Sunshine scratches the zombie survival fantasy like nothing else, too. There are also dozens of experiences available via SteamVR too, and more and more support WMR natively. It'll be interesting to see where Microsoft takes this technology (providing they don't kill it like Kinect... Groove... Phone... etc.)
Jez's Very Important Award For Best Gore: Butcher
When writing these awards, I tend to go with the first thing that pops into my head when asking myself the question. When it came to best gore, I immediately thought of Butcher.
Butcher is a side-scrolling homage to DOOM from the team behind Soldat, combining fast-paced shooting with brutally violent pixel blood and guts. It's goretastic, and well worth a try. It's only $10 too!
Sean Murray Award for Most Overhyped Game: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (Xbox)
OOOH controversial, but yes. I don't actually enjoy PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) that much. While getting into the top 5 is a heart-pounding experience, such times are pretty few and far in between (at least for a newbie), and I'm just so damn impatient. I've had plenty of matches in PUBG that were basically 20 minutes of staring at the floor, picking up loot, and running through fields, only to get sniped by someone in the distance with better weapons.
Most of the time in PUBG, I'm just, well, kinda bored. I'm clearly in the minority here, as the game rapidly approaches 30 million players, but the biggest challenge I've found in PUBG is my own attention span and blind luck. And the bugs, oh my the bugs. Microsoft is giving this game retail distribution, AAA marketing, and even console bundles. Sure it's fun, but man, I'm already sick to death of hearing about the game. Drop $30, and you can join the hype train too.
Best Game in Jez's Endless Backlog Award: Ruiner
Ruiner's launch landed, unfortunately, smack in the middle of the Cuphead hype, and sadly got completely overlooked as a result.
Ruiner is a violent top-down brawler with a vibrant cyberpunk art style and satisfyingly addictive combat. Set in a dystopic future, Ruiner is a tale of vengeance, full of futuristic tropes and twists and turns. It's well worth it at $19.99, and it's one game I hope I can find the time to go back and finish really soon.
Don Mattrick Award for Best Villain: Sargeras in World of Warcraft
Finally, World of Warcraft's Legion expansion has given us a full look at the franchise's most notable evil, the leader of the Burning Legion, Sargeras.
Sargeras is a fallen Titan, whose charge was to aid his brethren in forming the cosmos. After encountering the full range of evil present in the universe, Sargeras decided that the cosmos had to be "reset," and purged of all life before it could ever hope to recover. At this point, Sargeras has been hopelessly corrupted by evil energies, and any noble goal he might have once had has been lost to madness.
Players in World of Warcraft can catch a glimpse of the dark titan after defeating the final boss of the expansion, Argus the Unmaker. Right before being captured by his titan siblings, the planet-sized Sargeras leaves a parting gift by impaling the planet of Azeroth, where WoW takes place, with a gigantic sword, which can now be seen in-game. No villains in 2017 can claim to have stabbed a planet in 2017, that's for sure.
Best Instrument of Death Award: Wolfenstein II's Ubergewehr
No words, just watch the clip above. Ubergewehr is German, and effectively means the gun above all other guns.
Jez's Most Anticipated Game Award: Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves went from being a hopeful curiosity to "omg I need this" for me this year, simply on the basis of the above video.
For a long time, it was never fully clear how progression and gameplay would work in Sea of Thieves. Every show I attended, people asked questions like "okay, but what do you do?" We knew there were epic naval battles, sword fighting with skeletons, sea shanties, and sharks, but what about quests and activities?
Sea of Thieves, developed by Rare and Microsoft, detailed just a glimpse at the systems that will be present in the game, including mercantile trading across the seas, treasure hunting for gold-hungry banking factions, and kill quests for cultists. We've also been given some hints about other systems on the horizon too, which has firmly put Sea of Thieves at the top of my pile for most anticipated 2018 game. Keep your spyglass on this one.
Jez's Favorite 2017 Game That Wasn't The Witcher 3 Award: Prey
Sorry to bang on about this one, but honestly, nothing dropped this year that I enjoyed more than Prey. The dark, weaving narrative, the atmospheric exploration, the methodical, thought-provoking combat, and wonderful sci-fi environments coalesced and delivered my personal ideal game this year.
Be sure to take a look at my full review if you're interested, or give the game's free demo a try. Play on a higher difficulty than you're used to, and use the environment to your advantage. Don't run n' gun, at least not until you level up and get more powers and perks.
Prey is pretty cheap on the Xbox store right now at $40, and well worth it for fans of Deus Ex, Dead Space, Bioshock, and classics like System Shock. I sorely hope, and, ahem, prey that Bethesda will give Arkane the opportunity to make a sequel. Get it? Prey? Sorry.
That's a wrap!
Thanks once again for tuning in to my amazing and totally important game awards, and hopefully we'll be back next year if I haven't lost my job in a black hole of World of Warcraft-induced gaming addiction.
What were your biggest hits and misses of 2017? Hit the comments. Either way, have a relaxing holiday season, and an awesome new year from me.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at 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!