So it's new year and I decided I want to do an awards thing this year. The awards are arbitrary, the winners purely my subjective choice and may not even relate to the present year at first glance. Unlike my traditional Grumble awards, which will be coming later, this one is a bit of a more positive awards show.
Pokemon Go - I liked this game, I've put plenty of time into it and despite what certain people might say yes it is a game. From the Pokemon catching essentially minigame to the gym fights to the meta game element of choosing which Pokemon to power up and which ones to challenge a gym with it is a game. I've enjoyed it but yeh the constant crashes on my phone and the insane disparity in the Pokemon stop distributions locally for me lost it this award (There's almost as many gyms as Pokemon stops in a 30 minute radius round me)
Clash Royale - A game of fun strategy and planning which might have won this award had the latest balance change not basically been a giant turd which destroyed the power of the more tactical heavy damage decks and just made unit spam / Zerg Rush style decks far far superior. Just proof how one single bad update can break a games fun.
Yeh oddly this isn't the first Red Dwarf game on mobile (that being Red Dwarf Simulants revenge an ok bullet hell game from many years ago). Based on the 10th series of Red Dwarf called Red Dwarf 11 it's a game that presents an impressive array of essentially mini games which all contribute towards 6 adventures (with only 3 released so far). You might think giving a game an award when it's not fully finished yet is wrong but it runs well, it's got surprisingly good graphics and varied gameplay for a mobile title. I mean I'm running this on a Galaxy 3 tab and it's a game released in 2016 and it's running very smoothly there's some older mobile games that don't run this damn smooth on it. My only complaint would be the repetition of minigames 3 times per set before changing to another minigame makes them feel old quicker. It's a shame that the 3 stages of each set weren't just spaced out with other mini game rounds in between at least early on as where I've presently got to it doesn't seem as to require you to play 3 rounds of the same minigame or if it does it's blended the 3 rounds into one longer round with checkpoints more seamlessly.
It does have Mirotransactions to let you skip forward and unlock episodes right away (and I believe now to buy the individual episodes rather than the initial bundle price I paid) but it feels fine being able to buy chunks of content instead of it being some game charging for some premium currency stuff. I'm presently still on episode one and I've spent probably an hour so far on it so value for money wise it's doing pretty well.
A good high quality Mobile game that runs extremely well and offers varied gameplay. A true worthy winner of my Pearl in a sea of shit award.
Overwatch - Surprise, you didn't really expect to make it through a good games list without this popping up at some point. So why is Overwatch th runner up? Well the Free DLC characters and maps were nice there were a couple of let's just say flies in the ointment.
Firstly the Summer games with event exclusive lootbox item that couldn't be bought using the gold people had saved it lead to a lot of very justified anger at the fact there was no way to get the items you wanted and you had to keep spinning the RNG wheel. Well Blizzard seemingly listened and while not perfect the fact you can buy the special event skins from your saved up gold (even if it's 3x the cost and duplicates still only give the value of a non seasonal skin rather than 3x the gold value for dupes) is a big improvement.
The next big complaint was the levelling system creating the kind of system you'd expect in a free to play game with later levels taking far more exp and each level up requiring more and more exp until you reached 100. This caused people to binge on the game to get those early ~20 levels of lower exp requirement and levelling from 80 to 100 taking nearly 3 hours per level. Well Blizzard saw the problem listened to feedback and rebalanced the levelling system to keep the initial ~20 level fast leveling but also standardised the leveling after that point so each level required a set amount of eXP and not some increasing amount that made later levels a big grind.
Add to this additional improvements like the balance change, competitive mode, the arcade mode and the varied brawls and it has improved a lot. Finally the complaint about how getting lootboxes felt grindy and free to play was alleviated a bit of that feeling by giving a lootbox for every 3 arcade wins (up to 3 free boxes per week) plus the mystery duel win box plus the 3 vs 3 elimination win plus the main duel win (this month giving one for the main monthly duel too).
There's no arguing that Overwatch has improved since release just not as much as this years winner.
So initially when I first looked at this game I slammed it for its short length vs it's price point. Little did I know the developers weren't done with the game and in 2015 in to two fairly big free additional add ons and the soundtrack thrown in free too. Having played through both it's at least 60 minutes more gameplay (~30 minutes more per add on) so to put that into some kind of perspective they've just trippled the length of the game. That support and those add ons have really improved the game from a value stand point and I may well be doing a new review of the game in the future based on these add ons that have been given away free. Finally it feels like what was a high quality game is actually now becoming substantial enough for the price rather than being a high quality 30 flash in the pan of a game.
Wathdogs 2 - Ok confession time. I liked Watchdogs 1. I will admit the story round Aiden Pierce was awful and he was the least appealing character and the person whose story I cared least about. However Watchdogs 2 just does stuff better. Not perfectly but better. It doesn't take itself as seriously mostly for the better and has expanded the hacking options etc available.
Bloodgate - Ok I haven't waxed lyrically anywhere near enough about this game and it's not even out of Early Access yet. There was so much potential to be awful: An indie early access game with 3D models; based on a match 3 system; with roulette style loot boxes of random gear and needing to connect to a server to verify information. It should by all rights be a mess by somehow it all came together to make a game that I'm barely 1/10th through the Early access version and have already put in 14 hours.
With Daily quests to do and plenty of loot to get and no microtransactions in sight this is a real surprise as it takes a lot of the conventions of free to play games then goes "What if we removed most of what makes them shitty and reduce the grind by 200%?" The answer, a game that has real engagement behind it with a variety of different possible Hero builds to go for with the stats on the armour and armour and weapons that visually change the looks of your hero as you change their gear.
Oh and it's pretty cheap to buy too
Overwatch - Look the Zombie omnics were a cool different thing to the game even if horde modes are nothing new. I'm counting them as Zombie as much of the zombie idea is true and while not overly dangerous on their own their main danger came when you were distracted or over-run. just like proper Zombies should be
Corridor Z - Another game that on paper shouldn't work as well as it does. An infinite runner with zombies and some free to play mechanics without being free to play.
However it just works as seemingly gutting the free to play grind actually fixes many of a games potential issues and actually changes the game up a bit. As instead of taking the same character out again and again after a run they end up injured and while they can take 3 injuries before presumably they die; you can craft and make medi kits to fix them up, but it's far more efficient to just select another character for the run and by the time it's over the previous runner will have recovered. Add to that a story told via collected audio logs and even managing to put boss fight into an infinite runner and well you've got something pretty different. It's quite cheap and with a variety of objectives and even some fairly in depth risk reward mechanics (for an infinite runner). It's very much showing that used well Zombies can be used surprisingly well and actually spice up genres when used well.
Horizon Zero Dawn: - Ok I have a thing for red heads, and archery.......... ok and dinosaurs and robot dinosaurs . What I'm basically saying is I'm pretty sure Horizon Zero dawn is based on a sex dream I had aged 15 extracted from my brain and preserved till now only to be turned into video game.
Seedscape: - set to star a cute character with gameplay somewhere between that of Stardew Valley and Don't Starve, Seedscape is a game I really look forward to playing and relaxing while I do play.
Need to Know - A game I think people really do need to know about. While there is a game called Orwell but one upcoming game seems to go further and evokes memories long ago of an obscure little game called Papers Please trying to get through greenlight. How good it will be and how well it will hold up is up for debate but so far it looks like the game will be damn good, just have a look at the trailer for it.
Well that's been my list of winners for this year.
Prepare yourselves as soon it will be to punish the bad games and bonehead decisions of 2016 by giving them a Grumble award for their sins. Because in the end whoever wins everyone loses.