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Game of the Year 2017 Day Four: Debut, New Characters, Story, and Styyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyle

We award the best debut, story, new character, and styyyyyyyyyle.

OK, yesterday was a whirlwind of emotions, but if you're here then that means it must be time for the fourth day of our proceedings. We've got another fresh batch of categories for you, available in the now-customary way. If you want audio, we've got a long podcast full of it. If you want video, we've broken that up into one video for each of the day's four categories. Here's that!

We also have a hot batch of lists from guests and the staff of Giant Bomb, as well as some video-based excitement, embedded below.

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OK, the winners are below these images, so don't scroll any further unless you want to read more about those! See ya tomorrow when we wrap this whole thing up!

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Best Debut

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

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PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds broke onto the scene and promptly broke out of its scene, attracting a gigantic audience seemingly overnight. It took most of us by storm, even in its early stages, making it a pretty easy choice for this year's Best Debut.

Many great debuts make you wonder about what'll happen next. Whether that's a sequel that continues a storyline, continued updates to further improve upon a sound concept, or even just wondering where the developers go from here. Will Battlegrounds maintain its strength in 2018? Will the growing popularity of the game translate into "esports success," whatever that means these days?

Anyway, predictions for this sort of thing can be all over the place, but regardless of how it goes, it's going to be fascinating to watch both the game and the genre that has sprung to prominence in its wake twist and turn into 2018 and beyond.

Runners-up: Cuphead, Night in the Woods

Best Styyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyle

Cuphead

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What is style? I don’t know. But I know what styyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyle is and it’s Cuphead. The game has a swagger and a rhythm that is manifested from its amazing visuals, outstanding soundtrack, and dedication to its source material. All the parts work in concert to the effect of making you feel cooler for being in its proximity. Even that damn pig shopkeeper has that special confidence that veers you clear of trying-too-hard road and straight onto styyyyyyyyyyle lane.

A lot of games try to wear their shirts inside out, or whatever kids do nowadays to be noticed, but Cuphead just stands out so effortlessly. I mean, you know you’re in for something special when the game opens with a musical number breaking down the main story beats from the menu screen. All that and you also feel like a total badass after you beat a boss. Now, that’s an investment in style that’s paying you dividends.

Runners-up: Persona 5, Yakuza 0

Best New Character

Bayek (Assassin's Creed: Origins)

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There's nothing special about a father who is out for vengeance. Couple that with the fact that, outside of Etzio, Assassin’s Creed hasn’t produced a memorable protagonist. That’s why expectations were low-to-nonexistant for Bayek, the Siwan Medjay and star of Assassin’s Creed Origins. But only a few hours into the game, you realize Bayek's depth as a character.

It’s when he’s with his wife that you see a romantic who wishes for peace in his land, but more importantly stability in his life. It is when he’s with other children that you see a father who can use humor to defuse tense situations while longing for what he's lost. And it’s when he’s with his assassination targets that you see a man who will not rest until he finds those responsible for destroying his life. Some of the best moments in the game feature Bayek conversing with those he recently dispatched in the Duat, Origins' take on the franchise's sort of "in-between" where souls are judged on if they are pure enough to pass into the afterlife. It's here that Bayek's almost Shakespearean monologues hold the most weight.

Bayek's relationships with other characters are engaging, but sometimes he really shines brightest as a character when he's out by himself exploring the world of ancient Egypt. The reverence in which he talks about the historic cities, the sacred tombs and monuments, and the gods that watch over them, make his actions as a defender of the people all the more believable. Hopefully Assassin's Creed Origins won't be the last we see of Bayek of Siwa.

Runners-up: Pascal (NieR:Automata), Damien (Dream Daddy)

Best Story

NieR:Automata

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On its face, NieR:Automata is a game about androids fighting robots on a ruined future Earth. The androids, who serve at the pleasure of the remnants of humanity, fight so that their creators might return to Earth, whereas the robots fight at the behest of an unseen alien invader. This kind of war is about as unremarkable a set-up as you'll ever find in a video game. We know apocalypses, we know about fights for humanity's survival, we know about churning through hundreds, if not thousands of generic enemies for the sake of glorious victory and also passing entertainment. None of this is special.

However, it doesn't take long for that premise to start to unravel into something far more fascinating. In NieR:Automata, director Yoko Taro and the developers at PlatinumGames have built something incredible and unusual, a slick, action-heavy game that delves deep into themes of consciousness, existentialism, and the cycles of violence and death that permeate so much of human history. Moreover, it's not content to simply acknowledge these concepts and move onto the next big setpiece battle. Every corner of NieR:Automata is drenched in its creators' notions of what life and death mean within the scheme of this universe.

Of course the story of the game's primary characters--elite soldier androids named 2B, 9S, and A2--takes center stage, and the journey of discovery these characters go through is as harrowing and heartfelt as any great story in video games. But the smaller stories peppered throughout the game's three acts--though the game refers to them as individual play-throughs, it's better to think of them as chapters in a larger story--are often the highlight. All throughout NieR's open world are other androids and enemy robots that are struggling with many of the same questions as the lead characters. Some have founded entire little societies designed to emulate governing structures learned about in the archives of human history. Others are utterly alone, forced to wrestle with questions they seem ill-designed to try and answer themselves.

Throughout that story, NieR constantly folds in on itself, recontextualizing what you think you know about this world and those who fight within it in ways that are as often surprising as they are crushing. Yoko Taro isn't afraid to break the player's heart, often at times when it feels like hope isn't too far off, but by the time the final endings come to fruition, NieR still finds a way to send the player off with a glimmer of hope amid the hardship and horror of it all. NieR:Automata is as complete a narrative as we've ever had the pleasure of experiencing in video games, and a highly deserving recipient of our best story award.

Runners-up: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Night in the Woods

206 Comments

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Noelle808

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Noelle808 • 

Oh wow.

I'm know the crew is more passionate about Cuphead in general than Persona 5 (Which is fair, Persona falls off the rails pretty hard) but it's wild to me that Persona lost best style.

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Sravingmad

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RonGalaxy

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RonGalaxy • 

Bayek is a terrible character. wtf game did everyone play?

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pasta

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ZombiePie

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ZombiePie  Moderator • 

Y'all complaining about Persona 5 forget how that game goes on for forty hours longer than it should? Or how the Momentos cause the pacing to die a death by a million cuts? Or how Takemi's redemptive story arc is ham-fisted in the worst way possible?

That game is a whole lot of fun, but its story has problems. But nonetheless, I love you all the same.

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PlatonicWaffles

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Efesell

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Efesell • 

Bayek is a terrible character. wtf game did everyone play?

Bayek is rad as hell.

Also yes Persona 5 robbed ect.

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Cathryn

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Cathryn • 

I'll need to listen to the deliberations, but I don't like the same game winning best looking and best style. Also:

@jlaue317 said:

Persona 5 got ROBBED!

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Xeiphyer • 

Y'all complaining about Persona 5 forget how that game goes on for forty hours longer than it should? Or how the Momentos cause the pacing to die a death by a million cuts? Or how Takemi's redemptive story arc is ham-fisted in the worst way possible?

That game is a whole lot of fun, but its story has problems. But nonetheless, I love you all the same.

That's all story and gameplay! Nothing to do with STYYYYYYYYYYLE.

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Cathryn

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Cathryn • 

@zombiepie: This is all well and good, but literally that is not what that category is about. The story pacing doesn't matter for the style category.

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Edited By jlaue317 • 

@zombiepie: There are issues with the game, but I feel the style is the best since they have been doing this category.

Also you are awesome @zombiepie. Love your write-ups.

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falilth

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falilth • 

Persona 5 got ROBBED!

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kblosnack

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kblosnack • 

@zombiepie: that's fair criticism but I think we're talking about best styyyyyyyyyyyyyyyle.

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Efesell

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Efesell • 
@xeiphyer said:
@zombiepie said:

Y'all complaining about Persona 5 forget how that game goes on for forty hours longer than it should? Or how the Momentos cause the pacing to die a death by a million cuts? Or how Takemi's redemptive story arc is ham-fisted in the worst way possible?

That game is a whole lot of fun, but its story has problems. But nonetheless, I love you all the same.

That's all story and gameplay! Nothing to do with STYYYYYYYYYYLE.

Yeah Persona 5 does not deserve Best Story.

But it definitely deserves Best and Most Styyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyle.

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MattGiersoni

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MattGiersoni • 

Oh, hey, Bayek as best new character! Good choice, as someone who spent 80 hours with him, I fully agree. One of the best protags in AC in general, rivaling Ezio.

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Edited By mrfluke • 

Persona and yakuza got their respective nods, for that I’m a happy user

It feels like every game got their nods for their respective qualities (Nier for story, music and moment, cuphead for visuals and style, wolfenstein for its moments, Pubg for multiplayer and debut)

That the overall game of the year is either super obvious with Pubg taking it, or honestly, cuphead or Nier

Super curious to see tommorow who takes it

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Gyoru

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Gyoru • 

Best Style was the only category Persona 5 could have/should have won this year. Persona 5 had no chance in Best Story compared to the other candidates.

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Justin258 • 

I gotta agree with Cuphead getting Best Styyyyyyyyyyyle. I've said this somewhere on these forums before, but Persona 5's style is too busy, it sometimes makes things difficult to read, and it gets in the way too often. Persona 4's cleaner interface is much, much better.

Cuphead's style never sacrifices usability to be cool. It also manages to never sacrifice being cool for the sake of usability.

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micahpearson

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micahpearson • 

Persona 5 was a walk for best style. I couldn't disagree more with taking Cuphead over it. That is literally the only part of the game I liked.

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DharmaBum

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DharmaBum • 

Bayek's "YOU KILLED MY SON" shtick got tiring, but he's still a cool dude.

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flasaltine

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flasaltine • 

Persona 5 was robbed. Doom was Robbed. What is next?

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Mike

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Edited By Mike  Moderator • 

You guys remember that thing I said about the anime avatars losing their shit around GOTY time? IT BEGINS.

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Edited By RonGalaxy • 

Persona 5 is GotY in the same way Trump was person of the year when he was elected president. Maybe it's not actually the best game, but it's the most apt for the year we had. It's portrayal of the abuse of power in all levels of society in the context of 2017 transcends the importance of any other game released this year. It's a bit sad that no one seems to recognize this.

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tactis

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tactis • 

They need to cut the best style or best looking category, same game should not win both.

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deactivated-5c26fd6917af0

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deactivated-5c26fd6917af0 • 

I agree with the decision to give Cuphead best style. It can seem odd to give it to the game that won best looking game, but the cohesion and execution of its style is fantastic. Persona 5 has a lot of good style in it, and it is also well executed, but Cuphead has enough style to attract attention from people who do not even like that style of hard platformer. I did not notice the same thing from Persona 5.

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viking_funeral • 

@rongalaxy: Best new character is always bad. Remember when that giant bull guy from Dragon Age Inquisition won in 2014?

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Edited By DonChipotle • 

@mike said:

You guys remember that thing I said about the anime avatars losing their shit around GOTY time? IT BEGINS.

Anime avatars are well known bastions of Good Taste and Good Takes that the normies just can't fathom the amount of correct-ness contained in an anime avatar post.

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Gaff • 

So Persona 5 lost Best Styyyyyle (okay, opinions can differ), but Nier Automata won Best Story.

I'm fine with this.

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Edited By Efesell • 

@efesell: too much of assassin's Creed origins.

Even in the worst of the main storyline generic Mad Dad scenes i cannot make a Kratos comparison.

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Memu • 

Jason, Hollow Knight and Dead Cells are completely different games apart from both being platform side scrollers. They are not "in competition". I don't think Jason really played Hollow Knight. I don't think any of them did!

I kinda had the same thoughts as Vinny on Wolfenstein2 for Best Story. The individual moments in that game are amazing, but the story over all is just meh. I'd go with Horizon, Prey, Yakusa0 as the top 3 overarching stories.