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.
Best Action/Adventure was then announced, with The Last of Us Part 2 taking out the win.
The next trailer was from Jo-Mei, makers of Sea of Solitude, announcing their game was being “fully reworked” for the Nintendo Switch. It’ll be out on March 4.
Shady Part of Me, a new game from publishing house Focus Home Interactive, was then revealed. It’s a puzzler with a particular art-style that has some great sketching and environments. Also, it’s out now.
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.
The Callisto Protocol is due out in 2022 from Striking Distance Studios. The CEO of Striking Distance worked on Dead Space, so no surprises about the inspiration.
Some Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide gameplay was up next, showing off what could be easily described as Vermintide co-op but in the grim-dark WH40K setting. It was listed as a PC and Xbox Series X/S title — no PS5 mentioned.
Ghost of Tsushima won Best Art Direction, while Best Action Game was awarded to Supergiant’s Hades. Half-Life Alyx, unsurprisingly, won Best AR/VR game.
Best Sports/Racing Game was won by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, while the publicly-voted Most Anticipated Game — also unsurprisingly — was won by Elden Ring.
The Fullbright Company’s latest game was up next. It started with a road trip and an animated character opening a diary, with narration talking about a grandmother who had stories untold. It’s called Open Roads.
No release date yet, but given the studio’s background, this one looks real intriguing. A Valorant montage then played, as did a quick accolades and DLC trailer for DOOM Eternal.
Disco Elysium then played a new trailer for Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, which will have new quests and voice acting for every single character. It’s out in March 2021, but existing owners will get it as a free upgrade. Nicely played, ZA/UM.
The next premiere was then Dragon Age, with some pretty wild environmental shots:
Futuristic Dragon Age was … not quite what I bargained for today.
Amplitude Studios then unveiled their new roguelike, with a completely fresh art style from their existing Endless games. It’s more stylised but not with the huge focus on high contrast lines like a Borderlands. Later gameplay showcased isometric, action-RPG gameplay, which is a huge departure for Amplitude.
It’s called Endless Dungeon; it looks real good.
Crimson Desert was up next, showing some medieval characters, castles and lands that looked right at home for fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. This is a third-person game, and the trailer showed some very sweet wind and foliage effects.
The combat shown had a charge/parry/dodge mechanics, with stamina metres showing in some shots. There was also some interesting melee animations, a character climbing to the top of a mountain by conjuring an icicle wall, some Monster Hunter-like beasts appearing, and a castle under siege towards the end.
The game is due out next Australian summer. There was no dialogue played during the trailer, which seems a bit … weird. Still, to see a new studio (from South Korea) get such major billing is neat.
Best Narrative was up next, with The Last of Us 2 winning again. The Swedish Chef then showed up, mumbled a ton, cried, pulled out a spoon, held a Game Awards Trophy made from crinkled alfoil.
The announcement was for — obviously — Overcooked 2, with the famous Muppet chef added to the game as new, free character.
The next gameplay was for the first season of Call of Duty: Warzone, which was most of what you’d expect: explosions, characters running forward shooting, tons of camera panning and movement, lots of battles in highly vertical locations, and what looked like venturing into a bunker. The content will be patched into Warzone on December 16.
The next gameplay was for Season, which easily stood out as one of the most eye-catching games of the show:
Gal Gadot then presented the nominees for Games for Impact, with the episodic Tell Me Why taking home the gong.
The next game then started with Vin Diesel as one of the cactors, showcasing an overgrown world with echoes of the Horizon: Zero Dawn forests. Minus the robot dinosaurs, though.
Just real ones.
Uh, it’s just called Ark. As in, this is Ark 2 and you play as Vin Diesel. What.
Studio Wildcard backed it up with another announcement, this time showcasing an animated series.
The cast for Ark: The Animated Series is nuts: Russell Crowe, Vin Diesel, David Tennant are just some of the characters in it. I didn’t get a full shot of the cast list, sadly.
Fall Guys then showcased new Christmas-themed costumes, levels and emotes for Fall Guys Season 3, which starts December 15.
More gameplay from Outriders and FIST — which is due out in autumn next year — then followed. Tom Holland and Nolan North then appeared for the next award, Best Multiplayer. Among Us won the category ahead of Warzone, Valorant and Fall Guys.
A “supernatural horror franchise” was up next, with Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games revealing Evil Dead: The Game. It’s due out next year, and it’ll be on the Switch as well.
Capcom was next, showing off the upcoming remake of Ghost & Goblins. Not sure how I feel about the art-style on this one, but it’ll be out Feburary 25. Capcom Arcade Stadium was announced too, and it’ll be out in February 2020.
Hades then took out Best Indie Game, while Best Audio Design went to The Last of Us 2. Best Roleplaying Game went to Final Fantasy 7 Remake, while Best Sim/Strategy was won by Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Best Fighting Game — awarded by the stars of the Cobra Kai Netflix series — went to Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate. It was then announced that Microsoft Flight Simulator would be coming to Xbox consoles in 2021, with a trailer playing showcasing the game running on the Xbox Series X.
The plane details looked pretty sharp, although immediately you could tell there was a drop in quality of the volumetric clouds and foliage. It’ll be coming to Xbox in the Australian winter, and the original Xbox One consoles aren’t listed.
Housemarque’s upcoming game, Returnal, then showcased some new gameplay.
A trailer then played for the new game from the makers of Valiant Hearts and 11:11 Memories Retold. It’s called Road 96.
Swedish whirlwind Josef Fares then appeared in a full mo-cap suit to promote It Takes Two. It’s got a strong high-fantasy cartoon aesthetic. Also bobsleds.
The game’s all about a couple who have been turned into clay, and to regain their humanity they have to find love again. But there’s a lot of co-op puzzling throughout, as you’d expect from a Josef Fares production.
It was Reggie’s turn to present the Innovation in Accessibility award, a category recognising games and companies that make their hardware and/or software more accessible for more audiences.
The Last of Us 2 took home another award — no surprise considering just how vast the game’s accessibility options were. Bethesda then announced that Oblivion would be coming to Elder Scrolls Online.
Best Mobile Game was the next award, pitting Among Us, COD Mobile, Genshin Impact, Legends of Runeterra and Pokemon Cafe Mix against each other. Among Us took home the award, their second so far.
Monster Hunter Rise, due out on the Switch in 2021, was up next. This game is going to sell buckets of copies in Japan. It’s out on March 26, 2021, but a demo will go live in January.
Troy Baker then showed up, beginning with a story from the set of The Last of Us 1 when Neil Druckmann asked the actors what they would have wanted to be if they weren’t actors. It was a lead-in for a performance of Future Days.
Next up was Flying Wild Hog’s next project, featuring what looked like zombie-esque creatures and a Wild West guns and protagonist. It’s Evil West, and is due out next year.
A new Scarlet Nexus trailer followed. It’s still coming out in the Australian winter next year.
After playing a pretty distasteful ad for HP’s Omen gaming brand — please don’t ever talk about gamers having better DNA, ever — the new Among Us map was revealed. Players can choose rooms to start in after meeting; there’s ladders, a kitchen, and an entire Airship. It’ll launch in early 2021.
Content Creator Of The Year was given to Valkyrae, the American YouTuber and first female content creator for US esports team 100 Thieves. Fortnite then revealed that Halo‘s Master Chief was being added to Epic’s ongoing metaverse, and he’ll be available from tonight.
Perhaps more enjoyable, Red vs Blue is also in Fortnite? What even is this game now.
The map the characters were on — Blood Gulch, a remake of the Halo map — is also being added to Fortnite‘s Creative Mode. It’ll support Creative Mode, which means more people are inevitably going to be playing Halo in Fortnite. Instead of actually playing Halo: Master Chief Collection. Which you can do.
And because that’s not enough, Michonnne and Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead were being added to Fortnite as well. A montage for Xbox Game Pass then played, revealing that the remainder of the Yakuza series was being brought over to Game Pass, meaning the entire Yakuza series (minus Like a Dragon) is now on Game Pass.
Among Us and Neoverse are also getting added to the Microsoft subscription, while The Medium — which was still refused classification last time I checked — will be a Game Pass title too. Cyber Shadow and Killer Queen Black are being added as well.
(Also earlier, there was a gameplay trailer for Elite Dangerous: Odyssey — you can see that below.)
An ad for Just Cause Mobile, a battle royale spin-off of the series — is coming out soon. We then got some gameplay from the League of Legends single-player game, Ruined King. It’s a mix of action platforming and turn-based tactics gameplay. That’s due out 2021, and it’ll hit all consoles and PC.
Keanu Reeves then showed up — with a lot less hair than anyone might expect — to present Best Game Direction. This was basically a battle between most of the GOTY nominees, with The Last of Us 2 taking out yet another category.
The final game reveal before the end of the show was a new trailer for Mass Effect, simply saying Mass Effect Will Continue. It was definitely not a trailer for a remaster, and Geoff Keighley specifically said “I can’t wait to see where Mass Effect goes next”.
I’m just going to leave this here.
bioware's absolutely wafer-thin reveals for new dragon age and mass effect games don't exactly inspire confidence in how things are going
— Luke Plunkett (@LukePlunkett) December 11, 2020
A montage of video game music then played, arranged by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The Last Of Us 2 was then announced as Game Of The Year, a logical conclusion given it won practically every other category it was nominated in.
This post is being updated live as more games are revealed, and more winners announced.