Welcome to the sometime annual awards ceremony for the 2015 Quarterlies! Our panel of judge (not pictured, left) has carefully considered all the nominations and Steve Harvey is about to reveal the lucky winners (not pictured, right), each of whom will receive (not really) a trophy (not pictured). Please take your seats.
After the jump, we’ll skip past the opening musical number.
The Award for Worst New Trend of 2015
The trend of remastering, rereleasing, and reprofiting has been underway for a while. But it really got going this year with Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, Darksiders Deathinitive Edition, The Crew: Wild Run, State of Decay: Year One, God of War III Remastered, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Homeworld Remastered Collection, Tearaway Unfolded, Zombie Army Trilogy, The Last of Us Remastered, and even Pathologic Classic HD. If people like your game enough, they’ll gladly buy it again. It’s like having to buy a Blu-ray of a favorite movie you only have on DVD.
The Award for Best New Trend of 2015
Remastering, rereleasing, and reprofiting. You do want Blu-rays of the movies you have on DVD, don’t you?
The What the Marketplace Will Bear Award for fools and their money being parted
Winner: Star Citizen
If people want to buy stuff in a game that prioritizes its business model over its game design, that’s their business. But when people are bamboozled into buying stuff in a game that doesn’t even exist yet and they therefore have no idea whether it’s a game they even want to play, that’s borderline predatory. Or ingenious. It depends on your perspective.
Runner up: Call of Duty Black Ops III and Star Wars: Battlefront
For all intents and purposes, a season pass that costs as much as the actual game over again is just a game that costs twice as much. I have determined that using math.
The Deja Vu Award for games I’m pretty sure I’ve already played
Winner: Just Cause 3
Back in 2010, Just Cause 2 was great. In 2015, it’s merely good.
Runner up: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
What makes Heart of Thorns good is exactly what already made Guild Wars good.
The Deja Vu Done Right Award for games I’m pretty sure I’ve already played, but not like this
Winner: Rebel Galaxy
Rebel Galaxy is to space fly/fight/trade games what Force Awakens is to Star Wars. It knows exactly how much familiarity stops short of breeding contempt and it know exactly how much fat to trim to keep things moving at a snappy pace.
Runner up: Warhammer: Vermintide
Left 4 Dead in the Warhammer universe, with Skaven rat people instead of zombies? Brilliant! Willard for a new generation!
Second runner up: Star Wars: Battlefront
It doesn’t matter whether you call it dumbed down or more accessible. However you describe it, it’s a DICE shooter for people who aren’t inclined to grind their way through a DICE shooter.
The I Was More Excited About This Before It Actually Came Out Award for games upstaged by their pre-release anticipation
Punishingly difficult, mandatory multiplayer, and repetitive grinding to unlock gear. I didn’t sign up for this.
Runner up: Homeworld Remastered
It sure does look good, but it’s also a reminder that RTSs shouldn’t bother with a Z-axis.
The Energizer Bunny Award for games that just keep going
Winner: Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Grand Theft Auto V
Among “old” games that easily hold their own against the games of 2015, Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, and Grand Theft Auto V are still going strong. I could have just played these all year. And probably next year, too.
Runner up: Atom Zombie Smasher
You ever boot up a “really old” game and rediscover that it’s so good it could have come out yesterday? Almost exactly five years ago, Atom Zombie Smasher was the first game reviewed on this site. It’s as good today as it was five years ago. Heck, better!
The Hey Where Did Everybody Go? Award for multiplayer-only done wrong
You can’t sell a game this unique at full price, especially without some sort of licensing tie-in to help sell it. And you certainly can’t build a player base by sowing confusion about the post-release content. Evolve deserved better.
Runner up: Payday 2
If there’s one thing worse than a bait-and-switch, it’s a bait-and-switch drawn out over several years. After masquerading as a self-contained game for months, Payday 2 clumsily introduced micropayments that affect gameplay.
The I’m Not Sure What Year This Came Out Award for confusing release schedules
Winner: Broken Age
Broken Age was released in two parts over two years. Welcome to the brave new worlds of crowdfunding, early access, playable betas, episodic content, DLC, and expectation management.
Runner up: Grand Theft Auto V
This year finally saw the definitive version of Rockstar’s 2013 masterpiece. The PC version.
The This Came Out Already? Award for releases no one noticed
Winner: The Order: 1886
Look what Sony left on the doorstep. Nah, you can leave it out there.
Runner up: Rainbow Six Siege
I have a sneaking suspicion this might be the year’s best shooter. Why would Ubisoft sneak it out so quietly after the holiday rush? They should have thrown out a flashbang instead.
The Splat Award for the most spectacular faceplant
Winner: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5
Runner up: anything exclusive to the Xbox One
The For Pete’s Sake, You Can Stop Buffing the Finish Award for early access games that don’t feel like early access games
Winner: Offworld Trading Company
I blame this release-quality unreleased game for tricking me into trying other early access games. If early access is as fully formed as Offworld Trading Company, why wait for the full release? Unfortunately, it turns out most early access is indeed early.
Runner up: Darkest Dungeon
It’s in early access even though it’s mostly feature-complete, fully playable, and easily mistaken for an actual release. Which technically won’t happen for another 29 days. Can you tell I’ve got January 19 marked on the calendar?
The Rise from the Grave Award for use of full motion video at a time other than the 90s
A hilariously awful actor playing a detective investigates a mysterious suicide in an English village by grimacing and mugging his way through FMV interviews with people who aren’t grimacing and mugging. Move over, Columbo! Wonderfully cheesy in a way that’s only possible with actual human actors who aren’t wearing leotards with little dots glued to them.
Runner up: Need for Speed
The first-person perspective cutscenes play out like found footage in which you’re held captive by a bunch of stereotypically hipster and terrifyingly douchey twentysomethings. So painfully awkward that it’s got to be a joke. Or a horror movie.
The Never Open with a Showstopper Award for games that are probably good but I can’t get past the first level
Winner: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
If you thought Hotline Miami was too easy, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is for you.
Runner up: Bloodborne.
True to the Dark Souls tradition, I made it to the first boss, Father Gascoigne. I got no farther.
Second runner up: Infinifactory.
My friend had to show me the solution to the first puzzle after I insisted it was literally impossible. I’m still not convinced he didn’t briefly bend the laws of time and space just to trick me.
The “You Guys Go On Without Me, I’m Good” Award
Winner: A three-way tie between Guitar Hero Live, Rock Band 4, and Just Dance 2016
The “What the Hell Is…Ooooh!” Award for creating new genres
Winner: Crypt of the Necrodancer
A rhythm-based rogue-like. That is now officially a thing.
Runner up: Nom Nom Galaxy
Soup tycoon meets one of those ubiquitous survival/crafting games, but done by the irresistibly charming folks at Pixeljunk.
The Less Is More Award for elegance and simplicity in game design
Winner: Chaos Reborn
If you think you’ve seen everything in Chaos Reborn, you haven’t played it enough.
Runner up: Sid Meier’s Starships
Firaxis goes beyond Earth for easy-peasy tactical spaceship combat within a meaningful strategic framework.
The Nice Legs Shame About the Face Award for games that are really really great despite the annoying retro pixel graphics
Runner up: A Fistful of Gun
A nifty Western with a different control scheme for each character and an infinitely replayable rogue-like campaign.
Second runner up: Nuclear Throne
Broforce! Oops. I mean, Nuclear Throne!
The Steal This Idea Award for stuff more games should do
Winner: Rebel Galaxy
Rebel Galaxy lets you put your own music into context-specific folders that will play the music ingame. From now on, every space game should have the Interstellar soundtrack playing during non-combat and the Fury Road soundtrack playing during combat.
Runner up: Anno 2207
Thanks for letting me move any building at any time! Urban renewal was never so painless.
The Missing the Point Award for missing the point
ZombiU without the U is no ZombiU. Minus the awesome local multiplayer — WiiU gamepad required — Zombi is just another undead me-too.
Runner up: Kerbal Space Program
Playing Kerbal Space Program is an awesome way to learn about orbital flight physics. But Kerbal Space Program doesn’t include any way to learn how to play Kerbal Space Program.
The Truth In Advertising Award for aptly named games
Winner: Wolfenstein: Old Blood
From the publisher that brought us horse armor, here’s some B-side Wolfenstein stuff dumped into a standalone release.
Runner up: Prison Architect
Because the word “tycoon” never really felt right for these kinds of games.
Runners up: Armikrog, Mushihimesama, Funk of Titans