We're halfway there! After yesterday's contentious set of categories, we're back with four more awards to dole out to some of the best (and worst) games of the year. As always, don't forget to check out the video recap of today's winners, and listen to our sometimes heated deliberations in podcast form, over on the GOTY hub.
With Nintendo’s lack of prominent new IPs in recent years and their long-running struggles with anything related to the internet, you’d be forgiven if you were skeptical of Splatoon when it was announced. Nintendo introducing a solid new series isn’t impossible to imagine, but one that requires the publisher to understand online multiplayer is a little more far-fetched.
We were thrilled to see that Splatoon actually pulled it off, delivering fast-paced and engaging multiplayer, reliable network connections, and an immediately likable presentation. Even our early worries about a lack of content proved to be wrong, as free DLC trickled out on a regular basis after launch. While Nintendo hasn’t officially said anything regarding the future of Splatoon, we hope that the enthusiastic response from fans and critics leads to more entries as the years go on.
Runners-up: Grow Home, Undertale
Batman: Arkham Knight (PC)
Every year we crown the hottest mess in a variety of forms. In some years, it's games that were so broken that they required apologies from the publishers. In some years, it might be an entire company that has managed to bungle things on such a massive scale that they overshadow any one game or moment. This year's winner has a little bit of everything. Actually... it has a lot of everything.
The PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight was so messed up that the publisher retracted its release. It was pulled from sale on Steam and at various retailers for months. Various apologies were issued. Interim patches that managed to fix some issues while seemingly creating others were released, so that the people who were "lucky" enough to buy Arkham Knight got to see some updates while the game was still off-sale.
Then it came back out, went back on sale, and it seemed like no one was happy. The publisher ended up starting to talk about the issues that are still being worked on while alluding the issues that wouldn't (or couldn't?) be fixed, and it opened up the refund window to let anyone dissatisfied with the game get a refund. That's all well and good, but when you total it all up, the ups and downs of Batman's latest PC outing is a hot mess. The hottest, in fact!
Runners-up: Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma; The Rollout of Skyrim's Paid Mods
After detouring into the realm of offline multiplayer for a bit there, it seems like playing games over the internet is rad again. The raddest? Rocket League.
While it's definitely one of those games that doesn't always work when you're teaming up with strangers, this soccer-but-good-because-it-has-cars-instead-of-soccer-players simulator has a good, low team size that makes getting a crew together easy. It's got a terrific mix of easy gameplay that makes you feel like you're having some success the very first time you play, and a high skill ceiling that lets the players who stick around pull off some amazing feats of sky-car-jumpery. It also rewards proper teamwork, once you start getting focused about getting better at it. Even when you're losing, the moment-to-moment action in Rocket League just feels great, which is more than enough to keep us coming back.
Runners-up: Splatoon, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Best Moment or Sequence
Kerbal Space Program - Achieving a Stable Orbit
3...2...1 Launch. You've watched your fair share of videos about Kerbal Space Program, but now this is your ship, your design that is hurtling towards the upper atmosphere. You've tweaked and tinkered after a few catastrophic failed launches, but seven more struts and five fewer solid fuel boosters seem to have fixed that pesky "explosion" problem. There really isn't any reason this design should work, and you understand this reality as you try to slightly angle your ascent to conserve some energy, but if it does work you'll have enough stored fuel to explore anywhere in the galaxy. Your ship is heating up now, but that's fine and the flames look pretty awesome. The first stage sputters and dies as it runs out of fuel and you eject it into the void. Six depleted boosters float harmlessly away. The ship is burning fully horizontal now towards the equator, but you're not sure if you're going to pick up the speed to avoid crashing back into Kerbin. You watch as your return trajectory widens on the orbital map until suddenly where once there was only an arching line aimed at the surface there is now a beautiful ring encircling Kerbin. You cut the engines, sit back, and enjoy the view of your ugly-as-sin spacecraft silhouetted against Kerbin. Maybe it wasn't the best strategy or ship design, but you did it. You're in no rush now. In your new orbit you have all the time in the universe to ponder your next, impossible move.
Runners-up: Life Is Strange - End of Episode 2, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - The Bloody Baron Quest Arc