Geoff Keighley, the spearhead of The Game Awards, said it himself: the 4th annual award show has finally hit its stride. This year’s show was a seamless three hours jam-packed with reveals and surprises. From an enigmatic, possible BloodBorne 2 tease to the unexpected Soul Caliber VI trailer, not a second was wasted, except for a hilarious couple of minutes that I’ll touch on in a bit.
Top Shelf Gaming had the pleasure of attending The Games Awards which carried with it an energy that I never felt while streaming past years’ shows on my computer. I talked about my love for cooking with The Millers from Kinda Funny and listened to Reggie Fils-Aime proclaim his enjoyment of Battlefront II despite the game’s controversy as he signed a fan’s Switch dock. I even caught the guitar pick of the Pheonix guitarist after their performance. Yet, there were even more memorable events from the evening. Here are my favorite.
5. Melina Juergens snatching the award for Best Performance
For the most part, there weren’t any upsets at the show. While this was a highly competitive year for games, there was never a moment where I felt an award was given to an undeserving game or team. The closest thing, however, was when unknown talent Melina Juergens scooped up the award for Best Performance for portraying Senua in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. She beat out seasoned game actors like Ashly Burch (Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn) and Laura Bailey (Nadine in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy), who both lent their voices and bodies to bigger games and characters.
Juergens was onstage earlier in the evening struggling to carry the heavy trophy when Hellblade won the Games for Impact category. However, her coworker manned the mic as she stood silently in support. It was unclear what her role was at the time. That’s why it was so memorable when the same woman was called back to take the stage minutes later, this time introduced as the voice of the titular Senua. Humbled, Juergens admitted in her speech that she was only the studio’s video editor and that this was her first acting role.
4. Carol Shaw wins the Industry Icon Award
“The first thing I noticed is that the graphics have gotten a lot better,” joked Carol Shaw, recipient of the Industry Icon Award, in a methodical drawl.
After watching a documentary-style video crediting her as the first female game designer, the white-maned gaming pioneer who started designing games for Atari in the 80s slowly shuffled her way to the stage assisted by a smiling attendant. Sweet and unassuming, Shaw then delivered an emotional and endearing speech where she thanked her old colleagues, her husband in the audience, and her mother at home. You could feel the collective hearts of the audience drop when she said, “I just wish my father was still alive to see this.”
“The video games have really progressed since I was working on them 35 years ago,” Shaw remarked in an endearing understatement that invoked laughs from the audience. She then reminded us that the classics are still fun to play no matter how primitive they may look compared to today’s standards.
If you hadn’t heard of Carol Shaw before The Game Awards, you weren’t alone. But after her speech, I wish I had known about her sooner.
3. The Kojima-as-heck Death Stranding trailer
After years of teases, we finally got our first extended look at what Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series, has been working on since his ugly breakup with Konami. Until this moment we hadn’t seen anything substantial from Kojima’s first project under his new studio Kojima Productions, Death Stranding, leaving fans to speculate on brief and weird teases. The trailer itself featured invisible aliens and big-eyed babies lodged in the throats of astronauts (maybe?). As we should’ve expected, the new Death Stranding footage left us with more questions than answers.
After the trailer, Kojima and Norman Reedus, who lends both his likeness and voice to the game’s main character, took to the stage. No new details were shared about the game. Instead, the duo used the opportunity to gloat that Kojima was back in the game industry and wasn’t going anywhere, addressing the crowd while aiming a theoretical sniper at Konami’s forehead.
After showering Kojima with praise, Reedus joked, or perhaps stated seriously, “I think I now have to go on the internet and try to figure out what I just watched.” Same Norman. Same.
2. The Breath of the Wild DLC announcement
Nintendo promised us two DLC packs for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild this year. With 2018 fast approaching, The Game Awards presented the perfect opportunity to unveil the fresh story content. Of course, Nintendo couldn’t just play a trailer. They flashed spotlights on the stage’s screen to emulate the energy beams of the four Divine Beasts from the game as they weaken Ganon before the final fight. The screen then lifted to reveal a silhouetted man standing behind a weathered Master Sword sheathed in a stone pedestal.
I immediately recognized the frame of the man and identified him as the producer of the Zelda series: Eiji Aonuma. I was the first one to cheer in the crowd as the light shone on him revealing what I already knew. He was dressed like Link in his Champion’s Tunic and dramatically pulled the Master Sword from the stone before swinging it around and holding it up in the air dramatically. Then the trailer rolled.
The trailer itself showed off new shrines, the ability to summon horses, and even a motorcycle for Link to navigate Hyrule with (actually a new Divine Beast!). And as I predicted on the drive to The Game Awards, the content shown off was available to download immediately.
The entire announcement garnered the biggest fan reaction of the night. Cheers erupted after every sentence Aonuma spoke. He chuckled each time the audience applauded, causing him to have to wait for us to quiet down before continuing. Seated just a few feet from where Aonuma was standing onstage, I tried to get his attention while his translator spoke. I waved at him at the end of his speech and you can see Aonuma, one of my idols, wave back.
1. Josef Fares f***s the Oscars
As big a fan of Zelda as I am, my favorite moment from the show will likely be the one people talk about for years to come. Indie developer Josef Fares joined Keighley to talk about his upcoming game A Way Out, stating at the very beginning that, “There are like passionate people, there are crazy people, and then there’s me.” Fares used the next several minutes to show us exactly what he meant.
As Keighley tried guiding Fares through questions meant to plug the game, nobody could have expected the outrageous things that would come out of the developer’s mouth. “The Oscars should go f*** themselves up!” he yelled to show support for The Game Awards as the superior award show. Humorously, he asked an embarrassed but collected Keighley if it was okay to swear.
What followed was an impassioned pitch of the game using all kinds of colorful language unbespoke of the setting. “This is insane. If the whole world will say ‘Your game is s**t’, I’ll tell them, ‘No, it’s not’. That’s how much I believe in it.” Perhaps, the funniest part of the whole ordeal was watching Keighley try to move the show along so the audience could actually watch the trailer. Fares always cut him off in favor of continuing his tirades. Luckily, we were all entertained by Fares’ boldness and, honestly, the trailer wasn’t half as entertaining.
Fares blames the jetlag for his eccentric behavior. I blame the alcohol. I got the clip queued up for you below.
While I missed out on some cool experiences for online viewers, like predicting the winners live on Twitch or having the luxury of downloading the Zelda DLC as soon as it dropped, I wouldn’t have traded my experience for anything. Besides, where else would I have got to wear a Mario hat and dance on TV to a live performance of “Jump Up, Super Star!”?
These were my favorite moments. Now tell me yours! Watch The Game Awards 2017 in full and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget that there are awesome sales available only until tomorrow morning, December 9th, on the Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Steam digital marketplaces in honor of the Game Awards.