We recap the major news from gaming’s night of nights!
Part I: The Awards
Best Action Game: Dead Cells (Motion Twin)
Runners-up: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Destiny 2, Far Cry 5, Mega Man 11
Despite lacking the budget and/or name recognition of the other nominees, Dead Cells released to massive critical acclaim (including from our own Cav Gallagher) and that quality was enough to see it top the competition.
Best Action-Adventure Game: God of War (Sony Santa Monica)
Runners-up: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Although some commentators were surprised to see the recently-released (and hugely acclaimed) Red Dead Redemption 2 lose out, God of War is a deserving winner – just as any title in this category would have been.
Best Family Game: Overcooked 2 (Ghost Town Games/Team 17)
Runners-up: Mario Tennis Aces, Nintendo Labo, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Super Mario Party
Food brings people together!
Best fighting game: Dragon Ball FighterZ (Arc System Works/Bandai Namco Entertainment)
Runners-up: BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Soul Calibur VI, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Arc System Works’ prowess in the fighting game arena was on show with two games nominated (BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle being the second), and Dragon Ball FighterZ is a worthy winner: a brilliant fighting game using a brilliant property.
Best role playing game: Monster Hunter: World (Capcom)
Runners-up: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Octopath Traveler, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Given that it was also nominated for Game of the Year, Monster Hunter: World was the front-runner to win its genre as well.
Best sports/racing game: Forza Horizon 4 (Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios)
Runners-up: FIFA 19, Mario Tennis Aces, NBA 2K19, Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
Forza Horizon 4 is a polished title with plenty of events to keep players coming back for more. It’s one of the most visually stunning games on console and offers something for everyone.
Best strategy game: Into the Breach (Subset Games)
Runners-up: The Banner Saga 3, Battletech, Frostpunk, Valkyria Chronicles 4
From the studio that brought us FTL: Faster Than Light, Into The Breach is Metacritic’s best-reviewed PC game of the year and so it’s no surprise that it won on the big stage.
Best Esports player: Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, Echo Fox
Runners-up: Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao, Oleksandar “s1mple” Kostyliev, Bang “JJoNak” Sung-hyeon
McLean provided one of the moments of the night when he accepted his award in his SonicFox costume, saying “I’m gay, black and a furry – pretty much everything a Republican hates”. McLean is a star on the fighting game circuit, and his victory in Dragon Ball FighterZ at EVO 2018 was nominated for best esports moment of the year.
Best Esports team: Cloud9, League of Legends
Runners-up: Astralis (CS:GO), Fnatic (League of Legends), London Spitfire (Overwatch League), OG (DOTA 2)
It’s always hard to snub a history maker, and Cloud9’s performance at this year’s League of Legends World Championships was just that – the first time a North American team has made the semi-finals since Season One.
Best Esports game: Overwatch
Runners-up: CS:GO, DOTA 2, Fortnite, League of Legends
It’s fast-paced, it’s got variety, and it’s all in first-person… What’s not to love?
Best Esports Event: League of Legends World Championship
Runners-up: ELeague Major: Boston 2018 (CS:GO), EVO 2018, Overwatch League Grand Finals, The International 2018 (DOTA 2)
The month-long event featured a number of upset results, the first Chinese world champion and the first player to win the Finals MVP from the Jungle position. It also saw the debut of a League of Legends-themed augmented reality K-pop group, K/DA, and was the most watched esports event in history – surpassing even the Super Bowl’s peak viewership.
Best Esports Host: Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere
Runners-up: Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez, Alex “Machine” Richardson, Anders Blume, Paul “RedEye” Chaloner
The Belgian has been a workhorse throughout 2018, hosting the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in the European region, as well as the World Championship, the Mid-Season Invitational tournament and the 2018 All-Star event that just came to a close.
Best Esports Coach: Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu, Cloud9
Runners-up: Cristian “ppasarel” Bănăseanu (OG), Danny “zoric” Sørensen (Astralis), Dylan Falco (Fnatic), Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi (Team Vitality).
Although his team didn’t have a great start to the season, Reapered guided his largely-new team (five of its eight players joined the team in the middle of this year) to rebound and reach the World Championship semi-final.
Content Creator of the Year: Tyler “Ninja” Blevins
Runners-up: Benjamin “Dr. Lupo” Lupo, Ali “Myth” Kabbani, Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Guillermo “Willyrex” Díaz Ibañez
Was anyone ever going to beat the walking, talking, record-breaking advertisement for hair dye?
Best Esports Moment: Cloud9’s comeback win in triple overtime against FAZE in the ELeague
Runners-up: G2 beating RNG at the LOL Worlds, KT Rolster and Invictus Gaming’s Base Race at the LOL Worlds, OG’s massive upset of LGD at the DOTA 2 finals SonicFox’s side switch against Go1 on Dragon Ball FighterZ at EVO 2018
No matter the game, no matter the level, you can absolutely never overstate just how epic a triple-overtime win is.
Best Independent Game: Celeste (Matt Makes Games)
Runners-up: Dead Cells, Into the Breach, Return of the Obra Dinn, The Messenger
Although Celeste was up against some really strong contenders, it’s the only game on the list that was also nominated for Game of the Year, so this one was a pretty safe bet. Celeste is a great platformer with some really strong messages about mental health, definitely worth the award.
Best Debut Indie Game: The Messenger (Sabotage Studio)
Runners-up: Donut County, Florence, Moss, Yoku’s Island Express
John called The Messenger “both an impressive homage to the 8- and 16-bit eras and a novel take on a cult genre, magically fused into one of the most impressive and polished platformers in recent memory” – to accomplish all of that on debut is just phenomenal.
Best Mobile Game: Florence (Mountains)
Runners-up: Donut County, Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Reigns: Game of Thrones
It’s awesome to see a smaller game take out the top spot over some huge competitors like Fortnite, PUBG and even Game of Thrones!
Best Ongoing Game: Fortnite (Epic Games)
Runners-up: Destiny 2: Forsaken, No Man’s Sky, Overwatch, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Moving into its seventh season on the same night as the award, Fortnite continues to evolve, grow, and offer players more and more with each passing update and season.
Best Student Game: Combat 2018 (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences)
Runners-up: Dash Quasar, JERA, LIFF, RE: Charge
Best VR/AR Game: Astro Bot Rescue Mission (SIE Japan Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Runners-up: Beat Saber, Firewall: Zero Hour, Moss, Tetris Effect
Another one of John’s recommendations for the year, Astro Bot is “the PlayStation VR’s first true killer app,” setting the bar high for VR platformers going forward.
Industry Icon: Greg Thomas, Visual Concepts
This award is somewhat of a Hall of Fame induction, acknowledging people who have made a major impact on the industry, and Thomas’ work on the 2K Sports titles has done just that.
Best Art Direction: Return of the Obra Dinn (3909 LLC)
Runners-up: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, God of War, Octopath Traveller, Red Dead Redemption 2
Papers, Please developer Lucas Pope’s unique 1-bit puzzler (that’s not a typo) beat considerably bigger opposition for this award, again showing that thinking outside the box can be a good thing.
Best Audio Design: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)
Runners-up: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Forza Horizon 4, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man
Take note: you’ll start to see a theme developing in terms of the games nominated for these technical awards.
Best Game Direction: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Runners-up: A Way Out, Detroit: Become Human, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2
Rebooting a decade-old property with such a rich history is not an easy thing, so it’s hard to look past the job Cory Barlog and his team did in rebooting Kratos’ tale.
Best Multiplayer Game: Fortnite (Epic Games)
Runners-up: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Destiny 2, Monster Hunter: World, Sea of Thieves
Fortnite was the likely winner of this category, as the player base just keeps getting bigger and bigger and that doesn’t just happen.
Best Narrative: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)
Runners-up: Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Life is Strange 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man
There were some really strong narrative-focused games this year, so this one could have been close. The only one that we couldn’t see winning was Life is Strange 2, because it’s very hard to judge a narrative when only a fifth of it has actually been released.
Best Performance: Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2
Runners-up: Bryan Dechart as Connor in Detroit: Become Human, Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War, Melissanthi Mahut as Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Yuri Lowenthal as Peter Parker in Marvel’s Spider-Man
Another award for Red Dead; Arthur Morgan was one of the most memorable characters from this year’s amazing lineup, and Clark took out the award for best performance against tough competition.
Best Score/Music: Woody Jackson and Daniel Lanois for Red Dead Redemption 2
Runners-Up: Lena Raine for Celeste, Bear McCreary for God of War, John Paesano for Marvel’s Spider-Man, Joe Hisaishi for Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Yasunori Nishiki for Octopath Traveller
Given Red Dead’s earlier victory for Best Audio Design, it was hard to go past Jackson and Lanois for this award.
Games for Impact Award: Celeste (Matt Makes Games)
Runners-up: 11-11: Memories Retold, Florence, Life is Strange 2: Episode 1, The Missing: JJ Macfield and the Island of Memories
It’s more important than ever to acknowledge and discuss mental health, and while other titles have done that this year it’s hard to go past Celeste, whose impact was great enough to earn it a Game of the Year nomination.
Game of the Year: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Runners-up: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Celeste, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Monster-Hunter: World, Red Dead Redemption 2
A strong and successful reboot of a franchise with more than a decade of history, God of War came into this presentation as a firm favourite after having beaten all of its fellow nominees for Best Action-Adventure Game. It was great to see an independent title in the mix as well, and it would have been difficult to argue if any of the nominees had won the award.
Part II: The Reveals and Trailers
“World Premiere” Reveals
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Far Cry: New Dawn
Forza Horizon 4
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
Mortal Kombat 11
Sayonara Wild Hearts
The Last Campfire
The Outer Worlds
Fresh Game Trailers
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey
Dead by Daylight
Devil May Cry 5
Fortnite: Battle Royale – Season 7
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Persona 5
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
Kristian, Jake, Cai, and Abir contributed to this article.
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Also published on Medium.