Greetings one and all, and welcome to yet another unforgettable UNILAD Gaming Awards ceremony, coming to you live (not really) from the top of the Empire State Building (also not really).
It’s been a hell of a year for gaming. Fallout 76 has had an absolute nightmare in every conceivable way, God of War ended up being far, far better than it had any right to be, and Microsoft and Nintendo made history by allowing cross platform play for the first time ever.
But you’ve doubtless had your fill of glitzy awards and celebrations of hard work and innovations in the industry, so join us as we take a slightly different look at the last 365 days in video games.
Dad Of The Year: Kratos
Who could have predicted that Kratos – once the star of edgy revenge quests featuring buckets of torture porn and actual sex mini games – would finally settle down and become one of the most fascinating dads in gaming?
God bless papa Kratos and his beautifully rendered nips. From God of War’s opening moments right through to its epic denouement, we were treated to a man (well, God) who was dealing with the consequences of his horrific actions in the last three games.
Here, Kratos is no longer a dull singularly focused murderer, but a single parent who is constantly worried about how to set a good example for his son, after he himself butchered an entire pantheon of Gods that included his own dear old dad.
Best Digital Horse Balls: Red Dead Redemption 2
There’s no doubt about it; Red Dead Redemption 2 is a towering technical achievement on every level. An open world teeming with wildlife, fully fleshed out characters, lush, verdant greenery, and – of course – a whole lot of horse testicles.
Let us all bask in the staggering detail of Rockstar’s meticulously crafted equine knackers. When I close my eyes at night, I dream dreams of those digitally sculpted fuzzy plums, and my thoughts often turn to the man or woman at Rockstar who was responsible for gifting them unto the world – but I imagine this gift was not without sacrifice.
Imagine it was you getting home from a long day at Rockstar HQ. 12 straight hours getting the bounce and heft of the balls of the Hungarian Halfbred just right. A nightmare of a day.
During dinner with your partner, you once again find you have nothing to say about your day, save from the fact that – once again – you’ve been slaving over horse bollocks.
Every joke you make, every story you tell, is about horse balls now. You can barely touch the home made meatballs your partner made for you, and the creeping miasma which has infected your work life has started to come home with you.
Your partner tells you the game will be out soon and that the horse balls will become a viral meme. You don’t believe them. You drink heavily that night, and as you dream – between sobs – a restless dream of getting promoted to work on Arthur Morgan’s facial hair, your partner silently packs a bag and takes off for a destination unknown.
Anyway, congrats on the award Rockstar.
The “I Can’t Believe They Got That On Switch” Award: Every Switch Game
I want to make it clear that this category isn’t a slight against the Switch’s hardware. While Nintendo’s portable console is objectively not in the same league as the Xbox One and PS4, I am constantly amazed by the games they manage to force onto the handheld, using a combination of what I can only assume is savvy technical knowhow and actual sorcery.
The games that found their way onto Switch that forced me to constantly pause and rave to my wife about how on Earth they managed such a feat this year include Dark Souls Remastered, DOOM, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and of course Super Smash Bros Ultimate, which absolutely roasts my brain every time I think about it.
Seriously, if you told 10-year-old me that in 2018 he’d be playing a portable HD Smash Bros with nearly 80 characters and over a hundred stages – including Cloud Strife – he’d have burned you at the stake for being a witch.
10-year-old me was hardcore like that.
The “Boi/Boah” Award: Kratos/Arthur Morgan
Now, this one was tricky. For most of the year, “boi” was closely associated with Kratos and God of War, but then Arthur Morgan and Red Dead Redemption 2 came on the scene and upset the balance of this prestigious award that I only came up with a few days ago.
In God of War, Kratos gruffly declares “boi” a hell of a lot in reference to his son. In true internet fashion, this quickly became one of those “memes” that your nan loves so much.
But by the same token, cowboy Arthur Morgan displays a penchant for exclaiming “boah”, whether threatening citizens of the Old West for their money, jewellery, and hair pomade, or merely complementing his lovely horse.
So we’re left with an important question: Boi or Boah? Which is better? Well, in the spirit of Christmas I’m gonna say that Arthur and Kratos can share this award. The spirit and emphasis which both men lend to an otherwise unextraordinary monosyllabic word truly is remarkable.
The Western Decadence Award: Anyone Who Complained Waluigi Isn’t In Smash Bros Ultimate
Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai is undeniably one of the hardest working men in gaming. With each new instalment of the Nintendo fighting game he manages to go bigger and better, which is no mean feat considering every Smash Bros game to date has been an overstuffed love letter to dozens of different franchises that you can’t imagine will ever be topped.
With that in mind, we’re giving the coveted Western Decadence award to every manchild who thought it was acceptable to harass Sakurai on social media over the fact that Waluigi isn’t a playable character in Ultimate, a game that features 74 different playable characters, and over 100 stages.
If you were a little disappointed that Walugi didn’t make the cut, but decided to keep that to yourself, you’re not eligible for this award. If you moaned and kicked up a real fuss on social media, you are eligible for this award, and you if you sent death threats to Sakurai over this (yes, that really happened), you are eligible for this award and one slap in the face from a large frozen trout.
That’s all from me, but I’m happy to hand this prestigious show over to my esteemed colleague (well… boss) Mr Mark Foster, who has a few more special awards for us.
The “YOU BLEW IT YOU MANIAC, YOU BLEW IT UP!” Award: Bethesda and Fallout 76
Wow, Bethesda really screwed the pooch with this one, didn’t they?
When video games’ own Todd Howard stepped out on stage at E3 this year, a cheeky glint in his eye and a hairdo that’s both feathered and deadly, he announced Fallout 76 like it was going to change your entire gaming EXISTENCE.
What we got was a broken, buggy, empty mess of a game that felt like it’d been designed by a toddler with a box of crayons and a loose sense of the post-apocalypse.
Thankfully the fallout (hur dur) from this is that Bethesda will be forced to get their act together for whatever it is they were going to do for The Elder Scrolls VI, because there’s not a chance they’ll get away with another disaster like this. Reddit won’t let them.
Get it together Todd, God damn.
Best Use Of Tuberculosis In A Video Game: Rockstar For Arthur Morgan
I’m just gonna go ahead and say that when Rockstar gave loveable outlaw Arthur Morgan the 19th century walking death sentence that is Turberculosis they killed any last semblance of joy I held in my cold, dead heart. Arthur was on a path to Redemption, Rockstar. THE CLUE IS RIGHT THERE IN THE TITLE WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT?
Watching Arthur slowly succumb to the disease that would eventually take his life was torture, and I’d have done anything to cup his rugged face in my hand and spoon-feed him the antidote while whispering “yer alright boooooah” in his ear. And I know I’m not the only one. On the plus side, I can now spot the early signs of TB at 10 paces, so I got that going for me I guess?
R.I.P. my gleeful childhood whimsy (died circa Chapter 2)
Best Death Rattle For Beloved Mainstay Of Video Game Royalty: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider – Lara Croft
Remember back when playing Tomb Raider was fun? No, Eidos Montreal don’t remember either, because they’ve ruined any love anyone had for that franchise with a trio of sub-par releases for gaming’s original heroine.
Actually, that’s not fair. The first reboot was solidly average. Much like a Crunchie. You probably wouldn’t buy one for yourself, but if somebody got one for you, you probably wouldn’t say no.
When you contrast the excitement you’d get for a Tomb Raider release back on the original PlayStation, with the apathetic shrug you’d give for one nowadays, you’ve got a real problem on your hands.
Is it time for Lara Croft to hang up the duel pistols? Will Tomb Raiding ever be fun again? Will the Butler get out of the fridge? Next time on UNILAD Gaming.
The “They Could Probably Turn That Into A Netflix Mini-Series And I’d Probably Watch It If There Was Nothing Else On” Award: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I mean, I’ve watched worse things on Netflix, haven’t you?
Best Use Of Geralt To Shift Copies: Soul Calibur VI
Gamers will buy anything with Geralt of Rivia in it. Developers realise this. Developers also have sales targets to hit. I think you can see where I’m going with this.
At this point, I’m personally offended if Geralt doesn’t show up in a game. Geralt in Monster Hunter World? Yup. Geralt in Super Smash Bros? Heck I’ll take it. Geralt appears in my room at midnight for a round of Gwent? Little spooky bro but you know I’m down.
Having the roguish Witcher show up in Soul Calibur VI as a playable character was almost a foregone conclusion, and he joins a long list of memorable faces to grace the roster including, Link, Spawn, Heihachi Mishima and,erm,Yoda and Darth Vader?
Who’s next then? Rumour has it bookies have stopped taking bets on Ugandan Knuckles making an appearance in Soul Calibur VII, so I think we can be confident about that one.
So that’s the year in video games, guys. I think we can all agree that it’s been 365 days.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.