As another year comes to an end, it’s time to look back on this years gaming events and hand out some completely meaningless accolades. We’ve decided to change up the categories a bit from last year’s awards: ‘Character of the Year’ and ‘Best Multiplayer Game’ are gone and in their place are ‘Best Indie Game’, ‘Best Free-to-Play Game’, ‘Best Co-Op Game’, and ‘Best PvP Game’.
Welcome to the second annual and equally pointless BuffNerfRepeat End of Year Awards.
Service of the Year – Xbox Game Pass
The Xbox Game Pass has gone from strength to to strength in 2019, building on its already strong reputation after we gave it this very same award last year. The service evolved earlier on this year with the addition of an Xbox Game Pass for PC, which also brought on the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which combines Game Pass for Console, Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold into one reasonable monthly subscription, and there has also been an ongoing offer for new subscribers to get three months for just £1, which is a fantastic offer. Throughout 2019 the service has had a massive amount of fantastic new games added to its library, including the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Fallout 4, Wolfenstein 2, Devil May Cry 5, The Witcher 3, Life Is Strange 2, and PES 2020, as well as the likes of Gears 5 and The Outer Worlds, both of which have been playable through the Game Pass on their respective launch days. Microsoft is doing a tremendous job with their subscription service and we can’t wait to see how it evolves in 2020.
Honourable mention – Epic Game Store (you could argue that it isn’t a service, but free games every two weeks shouldn’t go unnoticed).
Disappointment of the Year – Anthem
Where do I even start? Anthem was massively hyped up and was highly-anticipated by a lot of people, and we even gave it an honorable mention in our ‘Most Anticipated Game in 2019’ category during last years awards, but to say it didn’t really live up to expectations would be a massive understatement. Riddled with crashes, poor quality-of-life choices, and a lack of core features, Anthem was negatively received by players, with our own Ricky saying in his review:
“When compared to other loot shooters it’s way below par, and now I’ve completed it I can’t see myself going back to it even when new content is released, as I can’t see the most frustrating issues being fixed. In a world where numerous other loot shooters are available it’s incredibly difficult to recommend Anthem above any of the others because, much like its loot, Anthem is simply underwhelming.”
Shortly after the games launch and amid all the fuss around it, reports began to surface of the game having a stressful and dysfunctional development, and BioWare delayed the release of a number of key features. Now, as Anthem fades away into obscurity and the tale of its disastrous launch takes its place in gaming folklore, rumours are circling that BioWare are planning to completely revamp and relaunch the game as either ‘Anthem 2.0’ or ‘Anthem NEXT’. If or when that will happen remains to be seen, but for now Anthem can be remembered for nothing other than being a colossal disappointment.
Honourable mention – WWE 2K20 (it was absolutely riddled with glitches, I still don’t know how it got through testing).
Best Indie Game – Disco Elysium
This should come as no surprise given the near-universal acclaim that Disco Elysium has received since it launched back in October. Developed and published by Robert Kurvitz’s ZA/UM, Disco Elysium is an isometric open world RPG where you take on the role of a detective who is tasked with solving a murder case, but after going on an alcohol-fueled binge awakens with no memory of who he is or what the hell he’s meant to be doing. Disco Elysium is stylish, thought-provoking, and features an enormous freedom of choice, but it certainly isn’t for everybody; the game is incredibly text-heavy, with combat being virtually non-existent. If you’re looking for fast-paced action and excitement then this isn’t for you, but if you’re happy to do a massive amount of reading to experience an incredibly detailed and immersive role-playing narrative adventure then you should look no further. It’s for these reasons that we’re awarding Disco Elysium with our Best Indie Game Award for 2019 – well, that and the fact that Ricky would literally kill us if we didn’t (he’s a big fan). Incidentally, the game is coming to consoles at some point in 2020.
Honourable mention – Satisfactory
Best Single Player Game – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
While the high difficulty levels of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice throw it into a “you’ll either love it or hate it” category, it cannot be denied that FromSoftware created a bit of a masterpiece. The game’s tremendous combat borders on revolutionary, having already been imitated in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and it gives you an unrivaled sense of satisfaction with every small battle that you win. Fantastic level design and the brilliant grappling hook encourage exploration, and the game’s varied and unrivaled boss battles provide both the ultimate frustration and the ultimate gratification – it’s been a long time since I’ve truly struggled with a boss battle, but Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice had me tearing my hair out on numerous occasions, but that feeling of frustration is outdone by the overwhelming sense of relief, joy, and achievement when you finally defeat your foe and can take a moment to wipe your brow and dry the sweat from your hands. It may not be for everybody, but if you asked me about my most memorable single-player game of 2019 then there’s only one winner.
Honourable mention – The Outer Worlds
Best Co-Op Game – The Division 2
We loved The Division and we couldn’t wait for The Division 2, naming it as our ‘Most Anticipated Game in 2019’ during last years awards, and we’re pleased to say that we weren’t disappointed, with Glen awarding it 9/10 in his review. The Division 2 improved on almost every aspect from the original game, with better gunplay, better enemy A.I., more activities, and more things to do when you reached endgame, all in another tremendous recreation of a major US city, with Washington D.C. taking centre-stage this time around. Not only that, but the game has also received a number of big updates which expand its content and give players more reasons to keep coming back. Splitting the Dark Zone into three separate areas may have been a bit of a mistake, as The Division 2 definitely lost some of the open-world PvP magic of the first game, but as a co-op shooter The Division 2 ticked all of the right boxes.
Honourable mention – Borderlands 3
Best PvP Game – Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment surprise-launched their free-to-play battle royale game Apex Legends back in February of this year and it became an instant success, reaching the 25-million player milestone within a week and 50-million players with a month. The game did a great job of standing out from its competitors with numerous quality-of-life features such as a ping system and the possibility to respawn teammates, features which even Fortnite went on to copy, which is surely the biggest compliment that Apex Legends could be given. Apex Legends has gone from strength to strength throughout the year, with Respawn being on the ball to ban cheaters quickly to keep the experience enjoyable, a new character added, a big level cap increase, and even a new map being introduced at the start of Season 3. We’re massive fans of Apex Legends here at the BuffNerfRepeat offices, and giving it our Best PvP Game Award was a no-brainer.
Honourable mention – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Best Free-to-Play Game – Apex Legends
There isn’t much I can say about Apex Legends here that I didn’t already say in the previous award. We decided that this was pretty much a straight shootout between Apex Legends and Fortnite, but given that we awarded Apex Legends the Best PvP Game award and have felt all year like Apex Legends has been paving the way for battle royale games while Fortnite has been slowly copying Apex’s distinguishing features (such as adding its own ping system, respawn function, and new map) it feels undeniable that Respawn’s shooter deserved the award over Epic Games’ behemoth.
Honourable mention – Fortnite
Game of the Year – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Again, there isn’t much I can say about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice which I didn’t already say during our Best Single-Player Game Award. While it may not be accessible to everybody, Sekiro’s combat system, level design, exploration, carefully-created boss battles, and challenging difficulty have all been meticulously crafted to form the most perfect and memorable game of 2019. While we may have only awarded it an 8.5/10 in our review (mainly due to its insane difficulty restricting it’s accessibility), we still feel that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an undeniable masterpiece and an example of how to design a top notch third-person action-adventure game, and the only game to have me punch the air in joy and jump out of my chair in delight for a long time. Receiver of widespread critical acclaim and winner of multiple awards, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the BuffNerfRepeat Game of the Year 2019.
Honourable mention – The Outer Worlds
Console of the Year – Nintendo Switch
We named the Nintendo Switch as our ‘Console to watch in 2019’ during last year’s awards and we feel that Nintendo has followed through with their signs of promise. The Nintendo Switch has had the strongest lineup of exclusive titles in 2019, with fabulous first-party games such as Astral Chain, Pokemon: Sword and Shield, Yoshi’s Crafted World, Super Mario Maker 2, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Cadence of Hyrule, and Luigi’s Mansion 3 all arriving on Ninty’s console throughout the year, and a number of stellar third-party titles such as Mortal Kombat 11, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Dragon Quest Builders 2 also appeared on the Switch during 2019. Not only that, but Nintendo also launched a new model of the Switch with a longer battery life for the same cost as well as a more affordable handheld-only model in the Nintendo Switch Lite. Ninty has absolutely smashed it out of the park this year, and that is why the Nintendo Switch is the deserved recipient of our Console of the Year Award for 2019.
Honourable mention – PS4 (Days Gone, Death Stranding)
Most Anticipated Game in 2020 – Cyberpunk 2077 (Releases Thursday 16th April 2020)
Cyberpunk 2077 has been eagerly-anticipated ever since it was first announced way back in 2012. The next game from CD Projekt Red, the legends behind the incredible The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Cyberpunk 2077 is set in “the most dangerous megacity of the future” where players will “become V, a cyber-enhanced mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant — the key to immortality.” Players will be able to “customize your cyberware and skillset, and explore a vast city of the future obsessed with power, glamour and body modification.”, and “the choices you make will determine the story and shape the world around you.” It looks incredible, and it’s also got bloody John Wick himself Keanu Reeves in it! Who can forget that new cinematic trailer from E3 which was followed by Keanu Reeves walking out on stage like a badass rock star. It surely has to go down as one of the biggest gaming moments of 2019, and here it is again just in case you want to relive it. “You’re breathtaking!”
Honourable mention – Halo Infinite (Releases Q4 2020)
Console to watch in 2020 – Xbox Series X
The latter end of next year will see the beginning of the next generation of consoles, so it makes sense for one of them to be our Console to watch in 2020, particularly given the relative lack of big exclusive titles on the horizon for the current generation of consoles. The Xbox Series X, which we now think will be just one model of Microsoft’s next generation (akin to the Xbox One X) sort of wins this by default considering that we currently only know a little about the PlayStation 5, although that does do Microsoft’s next console a bit of an injustice as we are ridiculously excited about it. Described by Microsoft as their “fastest, most powerful console ever” (I mean it should be right?), the Xbox Series X will feature “world-class visuals in 4K at 60FPS, with possibility of up to 120FPS, including support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and 8K capability” and will be powered by a “custom-designed processor leveraging the latest Zen 2 and next generation RDNA architecture” to deliver “hardware accelerated ray tracing and a new level of performance never before seen in a console”. Microsoft has also had the following to say about their next-gen console:
“Additionally, our patented Variable Rate Shading (VRS) technology will allow developers to get even more out of the Xbox Series X GPU and our next-generation SSD will virtually eliminate load times and bring players into their gaming worlds faster than ever before.
We are minimizing latency by leveraging technology such as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and giving developers new functionality like Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) to make Xbox Series X the most responsive console ever. Xbox Series X is also designed for a future in the cloud, with unique capabilities built into the hardware and software to make it as easy as possible to bring great games to both console and elsewhere. Xbox Series X will deliver a level of fidelity and immersion unlike anything that’s been achieved in previous console generations.”
It may look like a glorified speaker, and it could be mistaken for a PC tower, but the Xbox Series X sounds like an absolute beast. Launching in “Holiday 2020”, the Xbox Series X will also feature backward compatibility across four generations as well as compatibility with all existing Xbox One accessories, and Microsoft has also promised the “largest and most creatively diverse lineup of Xbox exclusive games in our history” following their shopping spree of game studios over the last few months. We already know of two of those games – Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II and, more importantly, Halo Infinite. Bloody hell I love Halo.
Honourable mention – PS5
And that brings an end to the BuffNerfRepeat End of Year Awards 2019. Is there anything you disagree with? Let us know in the comments below! We’ll see you in 2020 for some next-gen action and some more utterly pointless awards.