Here comes our third day of podcasts with another batch of four categories for you to view! Or listen to! Or skip entirely and just scroll to the bottom of this article, see what won, get mad about one of them, and go about your day! We're all about options here.
Today we've got an audio podcast, which has been broken out into four video podcasts, some bonus fun, and some exciting top lists from the staff and friends.
- The audio version of the podcast is right HERE.
- Video: Day Three, Category One: Best World
- Video: Day Three, Category Two: PLEASE STOP
- Video: Day Three, Category Three: Best Wolfenstein II Moment or Sequence
- Video: Day Three, Category Four: Best Moment of Sequence
Got all that? OK, great. Here's a hot video for you!
As before, we're going to insert some randomly selected images below to ensure there's enough space between you and the award winners. If you want to go into the discussions blind, don't scroll down (tempting as that may be).
The worlds of the Legend of Zelda franchise have frequently been as memorable and important as any of its characters, dungeons, or boss fights. The sense of discovery and possibility that was introduced in the NES original has been present to varying degrees in later entries, but never as strongly as it is in Breath of the Wild. Whether or not Nintendo would be able to successfully bring Link to an open world was a topic of debate prior to launch. Not only were they successful, but they did it on a scale that’s just as impressive as when Zelda went 3D with Ocarina of Time. They managed to make climbing towers fun, allowing players to scan the horizon for potential points of interest rather than following objective markers on a map. Often, these scans would reveal mysteries and curiosities like dragons, floating structures, or a mysterious island. Your natural curiosity is almost always rewarded, as travelling to these points usually leads to a new quest, an interesting challenge, or a memorable character or enemy encounter. The world feels alive and full of possibility, and it’s all open for you to explore early in the game. Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule is such a massive achievement that it begs the question of what Nintendo can possibly do next to recapture this magic.
This has been a long time coming, but this feels like the year when publishers really started pushing beyond what felt like the old limits for what you'd put in a full-priced PC or console game as microtransactions. It's been very easy, up until this year, to look at blind boxes in games as a limited problem. Most games use them for cosmetics. People weren't forced to partake, and the benefits were stylistic at best. This year publishers seemed to forget all that and push into the sort of territory usually staked out by second-tier free-to-play games. The result? Threats of intervention from government officials, a angry mob that actually seemed to get something done this time around, and, now, this prestigious award from the likes of us.
Maybe we should have seen this coming a little sooner, but the way games like Star Wars Battlefront II, Need for Speed Payback, and Middle-earth: Shadow of War pushed past the cosmetics boundary and right into selling you things with real gameplay relevance makes those games worse. Even situations where no money changes hands, like Forza Motorsport 7's mod crates, end up cheapening the overall experience.
Hell, with games like this stacking blind boxes onto full-priced games, even the games that seemed more acceptable last year, like Overwatch, feel a little more sleazy now. Congrats to all involved, you ruined it for everyone.
Best Wolfenstein II Moment or Sequence
The Audition Scene
In a game about fighting Nazis who rule the world, there are so many ways you could include Adolf Hitler that would just come off as bland or perfunctory. He's the ultimate symbol of evil in modern history, and you really don't need to say much more than "Hey, it's Hitler" for people to get the point. But the dense, darkly comic scene in which Wolfenstein II chooses to trot out der Fuhrer is anything but obvious, and that's not just because it's a movie audition that takes place in a flying city on the planet Venus.
Wolfenstein II's audition scene covers a ton of ground in just a few minutes. It captures the grandiose pomposity of Hitler's idiot ideology and self-important manner of speech, as he prattles on about Jews and submission to authority. You see the logical extreme of a cult of personality that's assumed global control, as the deified leader continues to be treated as a god even as the infirmity of old age has him barfing and pissing all over the floor. It walks such a fine line between macabre and comic, with gratuitous violence deployed so casually that it's both hilarious and uncomfortable to watch. Throw in a ridiculous cameo by a certain other political someone (which seems to have flown under many people's radars), and the ability to kick Hitler's face in and receive an achievement for doing so, and you've got the most jaw-dropping scene in a game so full of them that it rated its own category. It's a great prelude for the direction we desperately hope this franchise is heading in a third game two or three years from now.
Runners-up: The death and return of BJ Blazkowicz, Returning home and confronting your father
Best Moment or Sequence
Route E (NieR: Automata)
NieR: Automata is a game about, among many things, sacrifice. Characters in the game are constantly finding themselves in positions where they're giving up everything for the greater good. Even though you as a player bear witness to these sacrifices, they are still one step removed. This changes, however, when the final sacrifice that must be made in the game is one that has very real repercussions for the player.
In a visual representation of the protocol that is in place to reset the games' protagonists on an endless cycles, you are put in the seat of one last hacking minigame - this time against the credits for NieR itself. After failing many times, against what seems like an impossible battle, the player can accept "help" from strangers. With this help, players can easily defeat the last obstacle in their way. Afterwards, they are asked to sacrifice their save data in order to help out another stranger in their situation. This isn't a symbolic measure, either. If the player accepts, they must watch as their game is scrubbed clean; all trace of 30+ hours of gameplay gone, minus one single title screen.