Geoff Keighley, former host on video-game centered network G4 and current host of LIVE With YouTube Gaming, is taking on a new beast with his video game award show, The Game Awards. Beginning on Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. EST, the show features 18 categories spanning from Game of the Year to Best Independent Game.
You may recognize Keighley’s work with Spike’s Video Game Awards show, which understandably ceased to exist. So, in wake of Spike’s inevitable failure, Keighley took his time with a standalone awards show, available exclusively through online streaming services, like Twitch and YouTube.
I’ll break down my predictions and who would get my vote for each category below.
Game of the Year
Nominees: DOOM, Inside, Uncharted : A Thief’s End, Titanfall 2, Overwatch
MY VOTE: DOOM
My take: Seeing Titanfall 2 get a GotY nod is surprising, seeing as it has struggled to move 1 million copies and received little attention after getting caught between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Overwatch is a good arena multiplayer shooter, but I think Inside is going to be a favorite of judges this awards season. It’s almost as if Inside was the perfect Oscar candidate, but DOOM was a blast from the past and arguably the best single-player FPS campaign of the year.
Best Studio/Game Direction
Nominees: Blizzard, Dice, ID Software, Naughty Dog, Respawn
PREDICTION: Naughty Dog
MY VOTE: Naughty Dog
My take: Naughty Dog has been killin’ the gaming industry with Uncharted’s heralded run, The Last of Us‘ breathtaking story and the fun escape with Jak and Daxter. Their direction has been solid for years and there isn’t a better candidate on the board. A dark horse candidate could be ID Software for their recent work with DOOM, but the better track history favors Naughty Dog.
Nominees: Firewatch, Inside, Mafia III, Oxenfree, Uncharted 4
MY VOTE: Inside
My take: Noticing a little trend? Inside is shaping to be a huge award-getter in 2016. This category has its name written all over, though, as Inside is strictly narrative-driven. I think judges will give a couple of nods to Uncharted 4, but nothing about it will put the game over the top. Mafia III is one game I can see sneaking up and nabbing this award, but, like I said, Inside is a perfect candidate.
Best Art Direction
Nominees: Abzu, Firewatch, Inside, Overwatch, Uncharted 4
MY VOTE: Overwatch
My take: I spent some hours with Overwatch and was blown away by its art style. Being used to the Titanfalls and Battlefields of the video game world, Blizzard’s fresh level of detail to each character was refreshing to see. The characters were the driving force behind Overwatch, but there is part of me that believes judges will be partial to Inside based on name alone. It’s worth noting Firewatch, developed by Camp Santo, is a looker, as well. Camp Santo is a young studio with lots of promise.
Best Music/Sound Design
Nominees: Battlefield 1, DOOM, Inside, Rez Infinite, Thumper
PREDICTION: Battlefield 1
MY VOTE: DOOM
My take: The sound of a bullet zipping by your ears, a tank’s cannon blasting away enemy forces and the yells of a solider rushing their foe with a bayonet. All of this immerses the gamer inside of Battlefield 1, and Dice nailed each bit of sound within its latest shooter. Although, I found myself loving DOOM‘s soundtrack, which went from heavy metal to subtle instrumentals in tense moments and back to the thrashing of a guitar. The guns felt powerful and the splatter of gore on walls was nasty, as it should be. DOOM should win, but BF1 is most likely taking the sound design crown.
Nominees: Alex Hernandez as Lincoln Clay, Mafia III; Cissy Jones as Delilah, Firewatch; Rich Sommer as Henry, Firewatch; Emily Rose as Elena, Uncharted 4; Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4; Troy Baker as Sam Drake, Uncharted 4
PREDICTION: Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4
MY VOTE: Troy Baker as Sam Drake, Uncharted 4
My take: Firewatch and Uncharted 4 galore! Both of these titles owned the nominations for this category. The Uncharted series is known for its cinematic feel, and the series has mastered it through four games. Troy Baker is known for his versatile voice acting and did well enough as Sam Drake to earn my vote.
Games for Impact Award
Nominees: 1979 REVOLUTION ,BLOCK’HOOD, ORWELL, SEA HERO QUEST, THAT DRAGON, CANCER
PREDICTION: 1979 REVOLUTION
MY VOTE: 1979 REVOLUTION
Best Independent Game
Nominees: FIREWATCH, HYPER LIGHT DRIFTER, INSIDE, STARDEW VALLEY, THE WITNESS
MY VOTE: INSIDE
My take: I mean, this one’s written in the stars. Firewatch is a dark horse candidate, though.
Best Mobile/Handheld Game
Nominees: CLASH ROYALE, FIRE EMBLEM FATES, MONSTER HUNTER GENERATIONS , POKEMON GO, SEVERED
PREDICTION: POKEMON GO
MY VOTE: SEVERED
Best VR Game
Nominees: BATMAN: ARKHAM VR, EVE VALKYRIE ,JOB SIMULATOR, REZ INFINITE, THUMPER
PREDICTION: BATMAN: ARKHAM VR
MY VOTE: BATMAN: ARKHAM VR
My take: In the nature of full disclosure, I do not own any VR devices, but from what I’ve seen, Batman breaks that barrier for VR standards and blurs the line between reality and video game realism. I love what they’ve done with DC Comic’s starling hero of Gotham City.
Best Action Game
Nominees: BATTLEFIELD 1, DOOM, GEARS OF WAR 4, OVERWATCH, TITANFALL 2
PREDICTION: BATTLEFIELD 1
MY VOTE: BATTLEFIELD 1
My take: PHEW! This was a tough category. All of these games are highly-respected and any of them could take the title. While DOOM should win for GotY in my eyes, I think the action and grit BF1 offers is phenomenal. I feel terrible for Titanfall 2, because Respawn curated a game that I’ve enjoyed and continues to revamp my multiplayer experience. However, TF2 suffered from overshadowing due to its release date, which is something critics will take into consideration — or hardly take into consideration due to overshadowing, themselves.
Best Action/Adventure Game
Nominees: DISHONORED 2, HITMAN, HYPER LIGHT DRIFTER, RATCHET & CLANK, UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END
PREDICTION: UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END
MY VOTE: UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END
My take: Nobody said The Game Awards were perfect, right? This category bothers me because it bothers too much from its predecessor. It’s almost as if the judges created an Action v.2 category for the leftover nominees. Unfortunately for the other nominees, Uncharted 4 is winning on name alone.
Best Role Playing Game
Nominees: DARK SOULS 3, DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED, THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT — BLOOD AND WINE, WORLD OF WARCRAFT: LEGION, XENOBLADE CHRONICLES X
PREDICTION: THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT — BLOOD AND WINE
MY VOTE: THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT — BLOOD AND WINE
My take: The Witcher 3 has been one of the most critically-acclaimed RPGs of the last decade, and for good reason. It’s main storyline scratches the surface of what this title offers, and Blood and Wine expands on what fans of the series love: more Witcher.
Best Fighting Game
Nominees: KILLER INSTINCT SEASON 3, KING OF FIGHTERS XIV, POKKEN TOURNAMENT, STREET FIGHTER V
PREDICTION: STREET FIGHTER V
MY VOTE: STREET FIGHTER V
Best Family Game
Nominees: DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS, LEGO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, POKEMON GO, RATCHET & CLANK, SKYLANDERS: IMAGINATORS
PREDICTION: RATCHET & CLANK
MY VOTE: LEGO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Best Strategy Game
Nominees: CIVILIZATION VI, FIRE EMBLEM FATES, THE BANNER SAGA 2, TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER, XCOM 2
PREDICTION: CIVILIZATION VI
MY VOTE: CIVILIZATION VI
Best Sports/Racing Game
Nominees: FIFA 17, FORZA HORIZON 3, MLB THE SHOW 16 ,NBA 2K17 ,PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2017
PREDICTION: FORZA HORIZON 3
MY VOTE: FIFA 17
Best Multiplayer Game
Nominees: BATTLEFIELD 1, GEARS OF WAR 4, OVERCOOKED, OVERWATCH, RAINBOW SIX SIEGE, TITANFALL 2
MY VOTE: TITANFALL 2
My take: This is arguably the toughest category of the night. Poor Gears of War, it’s just paired up with really tough competition this video games season, and it doesn’t do enough to put it over the top — it’s just another good GoW game, but what’s exceptional about it? BF1 will get a bunch of votes, but I feel there’s a puppy dog love for Overwatch, a game that has revitalized arena shooters. But Titanfall 2 is my pick due to the sheer enjoyment I get out of hours upon hours of pilot and titan gameplay. It’s addictive, fun and the controls are tight. Each kill feels justified in TF2, and Overwatch is a bit too plain Jane for my tastes.