The Digital Fix Gaming’s Generation Awards: Best Fighter, Action, MMO, Sports, and Battle RoyalePlatforms: All
As the new gaming generation rises, we look back on the best of the 8th generation that is now winding down. First up is a medley of genres that made a big splash this generation. Please note, these are the results of a public vote and not necessarily the personal opinion of The Digital Fix.
Mortal Kombat 11
This has been a generation mostly comprising of punching recognisable faces, with few brand new fighting games breaking through from the niche. Netherealm had three such instances, and two made our list of the Games of the Generation.
Mortal Kombat 11 dialled the violence up to - well - 11. Along with adding some glorious series mainstays for good measure, such as the hilarious Friendships.
Learning from the mistakes of its predecessor, Injustice 2 came out of the gate, erm, flying. A mechanically sound, and incredibly fun, superhero fighting game, it’s never been more enjoyable to clout Superman upside the head.
Speaking of punching recognisable faces, who is more iconic than Mario? It probably can’t be disputed at this point that Smash Bros Ultimate is one of the best fighting games of not only this generation but of all time. With the return of (almost) everything we have seen before, including every fighter from previous titles, Sakurai promised ultimate and oh boy did we get “ultimate”.
All of the silky smooth 4-playing Smash-ing is here, along with the 8-player matches brought in with the Wii U version, team matches and more Pokémon, Assist Trophies and weapons that you could shake a Deku Stick at. Anyone with even a passing interest in the series will just be able to jump back into the action, this is Smash exactly as it has always been (for those normal people outside the hardcore wave dashing crowd at least).
With a robust single-player mode, (most) of the other modes you know and love, online lobbies, and the ludicrously self-indulgent stickers, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is by far the definitive game of the series. Couple with this the fact that the game keeps growing with more and more absolutely iconic and unique fighters, and we honestly don’t know how they could even begin with another title in the series.
Concluding one of the defining PlayStation sagas is a tough job, doing so in the wake of the game-changing Uncharted trilogy is even tougher. Uncharted 2 and 3 set the standard for action set pieces in games, it was up to Uncharted 4 to not only live up to those standards but also bring them up to modern standards with the power of the PlayStation 4 behind it, and the brilliant bastards at Naughty Dog pulled it off. Nothing the upcoming Uncharted movie does will match the visceral brilliance of the big car chase in Uncharted 4 so, honestly, why are they even bothering?
Insomniac’s definitive superhero game brought the unique thrills of being everyone’s favourite Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man into your living rooms and bedrooms. No video game had ever captured the world of Spider-Man with this level of dynamism. The combat system was cribbed from Arkham and refined to fit the Spidey style of movement and the web-swinging was peerless, getting around a massive open-world sandbox had never been this fun or fluid. It will be no surprise if Insomniac makes this list again in a generation’s time with either Miles Morales or the inevitable Spider-Man 2.
Uncharted 4 and Marvel’s Spider-Man excelled by giving us a refined spin on something familiar, giving us the best possible version of what those games could be. God of War did something entirely different, it gave us something new.
The combat system was not only new to the series, it stood apart from all other action games. The level of depth and versatility offered as you control Kratos was the best combat system video games had seen since Arkham Asylum and then came the presentation.
God of War’s unique one-take visual aesthetic completely changed the way gamers experienced on-screen action, seamlessly moving between standard gameplay and jaw-dropping cinematic flourishes, it made every fight feel like a challenge and a spectacle all at once. It dared to do something new and, miraculously, pulled it off.
- Andrew Shaw
The Elder Scrolls Online
After a messy launch, The Elder Scrolls Online pulled itself back from a fate worse than Conan Exiles, now offering a massively detailed online RPG that gives players a chance to explore the iconic worlds of Elder Scrolls with friends and strangers alike. Developers Zenimax Online arr constantly supporting the game with exciting new expansions, this is a game that managed to find a place in a competitive and ruthless genre and prove it had real staying power,
Taking the chaos of GTA to the online multiplayer was always going to be popular but I don’t think anyone expected this level of success. GTA Online became the backbone of the GTA experience this generation, completely overshadowing its base game by adding sprawling multiplayer heists, destruction derby arenas, and the promise of even more craziness yet to come. There is a reason GTA V is set to span three different console generations and it is entirely down to the continued success of GTA Online.
The Daddy of them all still reigns supreme. With the release of World of Warcraft Classic bringing back nostalgic fans who pined for the simpler days of the original base WoW experience, more and more gamers have reconnected with this game and found themselves returning to Azeroth’s fully expanded experience as well.
Blizzard’s MMORPG monster remains the benchmark for all games of its kind, offering the sort of expansive worlds and in-depth games mechanics to keep players captivated for hours on end. Its current model of free trials until level 20 offers even more encouragement for curious gamers to visit this world and try it for themselves.
Excitement is high for the upcoming Shadowlands expansion, showing there is still plenty of life left in World of Warcraft, and it would be no surprise to see this title emerge victorious again when we come to the end of the upcoming generation.
- Andrew Shaw
Honestly, PES21 barely squeaked through this one. The next two entries got the majority of the votes. It was always going to be a race between the more simulation oriented FIFA or the superior gameplay and arcadey elements of Pro Evo and, in this case, PES21 came out on top.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
Resurrecting one of the most important games of its era came with risks; could it ever hope to match those same highs? Would it tarnish the memory of the original? Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 may not be a cultural gamechanger like the original but it remains a pure, brilliant gaming experience.
The clear, clear winner here. Rocket League was a monster hit when it was released for free on PS Plus, reaching the largest potential audience and winning them over immediately with its mix of racing and football.
There was nothing like Rocket League and it’s a testament to the games enduring and unique appeal that games like GTA Online and Fall Guys have copied this game in their own way.
Rocket League remains popular to this day, thanks to its free-to-play model, and that seems unlikely to change as we shift into the next generation.
BEST BATTLE ROYALE
Fall Guys / Call of Duty: Warzone
While the majority of the Battle Royale games we’ve seen generally involve the player trying to kill other players with a gun, Fall Guys went down a different route, with a fun take on the genre. Anyone who played this Takeshi’s Castle/Total Wipeout inspired game, where players control jellybeans in hilarious outfits across a variety of obstacle courses, all while competing against 59 other beans, is just so fun. Despite only being around for a couple of months before voting began, this game took the world by storm and rightly so, who knew being a jellybean could be so much fun?
Warzone wasn’t the first Call of Duty battle royale game we got this generation – that was Blackout – but since release it’s been the one that has consistently been one of the most-watched games on Twitch and been the most popular. This sophomore effort feels unlike any other, with the Gulag system giving players a nail-biting chance to earn another life, and the ability to get your customised guns easily, meaning that looting is less important, are just a few reasons why Warzone tied with Fall Guys for second place. And there was only ever going to be one winner in this category.
Gaining just over 25% of the vote, Fortnite was the clear winner in this category and it seems rather fitting that the game which popularised this genre is sitting on top. Pitting 100 players on an ever-changing island, where everything from Star Wars to Borderlands has been featured, and letting them duke it out on their own as part of a team, all while looting for resources and avoiding an incoming storm, Fortnite’s success allowed other games to follow the free-to-play route and pushed an obscure game mode from nowhere to one of the most popular in the world.
Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to deny just how much of an impact Fortnite has had over this gaming generation since its release. No other game has crossed the divide between gaming and other media and entertainment quite like Fortnite, from an appearance and later crossover with Marvel in Avengers: Endgame to hosting a Travis Scott music concert in-game, Fortnite is played by people of all ages and is playable on pretty much anything.
And that’s the thing, imagine at the end of the last generation, that one of the most popular games of the next 6-7 years would be a free-to-play game you can play with your friends, across a Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft console, as well as mobiles and tablets. Fortnite has revolutionised gaming this generation, for the better or worse.