The Game Awards has become the defacto final note for the video game industry each year. 2020 was no different, and despite the effects of COVID throughout, the show still offered plenty of new games, fresh footage, and more indications of what to expect in 2021.
Last year’s event was especially eye-opening. Apart from some cracking performances from CHVRCHES and Grimes for Death Stranding and Cyberpunk 2077, it was also the place where Microsoft revealed the Xbox Series X. I still find it weird how Microsoft used someone else’s show to reveal the name — and look! — of their next-gen console, but anyway.
Before the show began, Ghost of Tsushima was announced as the Player’s Voice winner. It’s the only award that is completely determined by fan votes. That alone was contentious, as the voting site was potentially hacked after The Last of Us 2 inched ahead.
Awards aside, a string of high profile games already announced they’d be coming to the show. BioWare announced they would be showing off more Dragon Age 4 footage, while the new map for Among Us would be revealed. Nier Replicant was confirmed beforehand, while the maker of A Way Out, Josef Fares, would be debuting It Takes Two this year.
The biggest award, Game of the Year, was expected to be hotly contested. With a lineup of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Hades, The Last of Us Part 2, DOOM Eternal, and Ghost of Tsushima, it’s one of the most fought out GOTY awards in years. Speculation before the show was that Last of Us 2 was a strong favourite, particularly given its runner-up status in the public poll and strong critical reception at launch.
The preshow began by awarding the Best Score/Music award, a category that was won by Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Devolver Digital’s Nina Struthers then rolled out to announce Devolver’s own Game of the Year award skit, which naturally just featured a string of games published by Devolver Digital.
The award ended up going to Loop Hero, a game that hadn’t been announced until … now. Which is a pretty neat twist on doing a reveal. The game is due out sometime in 2021.
The next reveal was for an intriguing exploration adventure game, with a character capable of jumping into the bodies of other animals. It’s called Tchai, a game that’s inspired by the region of New Caledonia.
A few awards were then announced, starting with Best Family Game. Animal Crossing: New Horizons took that category home, the first of several categories its nominated for.
Best Community Support, a game filled mostly with competitive shooters and battle royales, was won by Fall Guys. Best Debut Game, a category for independent studios’ inaugural games, was won by Phasmophobia.
That was followed up by the announcement — although this was revealed earlier this morning — of Myst for the Oculus Quest 2.
After a cracking musical performance from Persona 5: Strikers, we got the first gameplay debut for NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, which is still the most cooked name I’ve seen ever. (You can watch the full video on YouTube — it’s age restricted, so I can’t embed it here.)
It’s due out on April 23 internationally, unlocking in Australia on April 24.
Interestingly, the next game reveal was actually from a virtual band: OFK.
The esports awards for the evening then began, with League of Legends winning Best Esports Game. The industry’s best esports coach was then awarded to Zonic, the coach of the Astralis CS:GO team.
Best Esports Event was then awarded to the League of Legends World Championship 2020, while Sjokz was awarded Best Esports Host. G2 Esports then took out Best Esports Team.
Stephen A. Smith — a basketball commentator — then announced the winners of the Best Esports Athlete, taking a swipe at the Dallas Cowboys for being terrible along the way. Showmaker from Damwon Gaming, the South Korean League of Legends team who became the first South Korean League world champions since 2017.
The first gameplay of Century: Age of Ashes then debuted, offering some fairly pretty dragon-on-dragon action. The action was pretty fast paced — which makes it pretty bad for compressed screenshots. (I’ll update this post with the official trailer when that’s available.) Century: Age of Ashes is out on PC in February 2021.
Geoff Keighley then appeared in some bright hi-tops to kick off proceedings proper. There was no studio audience this year — nominees were tuning in via Zoom, with various performances also being beamed in live from studios in the US, London and elsewhere.
Things kicked off with the latest Super Smash Bros Ultimate character, with Sephiroth joining proceedings.
Sephiroth will be added to Smash Ultimate in “December 2020”, most likely before Christmas.
Brie Larson then attended to announce the winners of Best Performance, a category for the best voice acting and physical performances in games over the last year. The Last of Us 2‘s Laura Bailey took home the win — beating out rival Last of Us 2 actor Ashley Johnson, who played Ellie, as well as performances from Hades, Ghost of Tsushima and Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
A cinematic trailer from The Initiative’s upcoming game, featuring drone footage going through what looks like a city wracked by urban military warfare. It’s a reboot of Perfect Dark, but has no release date yet.
Turtle Rock Studios’ next game was up, formally revealing the first footage of their Left 4 Dead-style co-op shooter.
It’s called Back 4 Blood, the game that was announced last year but had been kept under wraps for a while. The first gameplay trailer played shortly after, and it’s … modern Left 4 Dead. The visuals are a bit brighter, the art style’s cleaner for 2020 with just enough stylisation to make things pop out of the dark environments.
Bigger enemies have obvious weak points, but there’s also much larger zombies that burst out of the ground, like a Gears worm, who can’t be dealt with immediately.
The game will be out in June 2021, with an alpha for Back 4 Blood going live next week. An update was then announced about Scavengers, a 3v3 PvE and PvP third-person sandbox game (which also got DLSS in the past week). The official closed beta is going live from today, with signups — 50,000 in total — being taken through the official website.
Sumo Newcastle then played a trailer for Hood: Outlaws & Legends, a medieval multiplayer heist game. Early access for that is kicking off on May 7, 2021. Nintendo then played an Indie World trailer, showcasing Hades, Untitled Goose Game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Undercooked 2, Stardew Valley and Cuphead.
Best Ongoing Game, a category for games as a service titles, was then outlined. Surprisingly, after swigging a beer, No Man’s Sky took out the award over Fortnite and Apex Legends.
The first footage for The Callisto Protocol aired, a game Keighley announced as a title “you’re not expecting”. With some Dead Space-esque horror vibes and a character stuck in a dark cell, as well as some of the best Alien-esque teeth I’ve seen in a game since Alien: Isolation.
Alex Walker is the editor of Kotaku Australia and is known for his work covering video games, industry issues, technology and esports. He has written for ABC Technology & Games, games.on.net, PC Powerplay, Techly, Gizmodo Australia, Lifehacker Australia and more.