The Digital Fix Gaming's Generation Awards: Console of the Generation and Game of the GenerationPlatforms: All
The Digital Fix Gaming's Generation Awards come to a close today. This last week we have looked back on what was a superlative generation in gaming and seen a lot of great games celebrated. Now it's time to make things official. What defined this generation better than anything else?
Before we begin, let's look back on previous winners.
- Best Fighter: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch).
- Best MMO: World of Warcraft (PC).
- Best Sports: Rocket League (Multi).
- Best Battle Royale: Fortnite (Multi).
- Best Puzzle: Filament (Multi).
- Best Simulation: Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC).
- Best VR: Beat Saber (PSVR).
- Best RPG: The Witcher 3 (Multi).
- Best Gaming Moment: Kratos meets The Stranger, God of War (PS4).
- Best Technical Innovation: The Nintendo Switch.
- Best Studio: Naughty Dog.
- Best Performance: Roger Clark, Red Dead Redemption 2 (Multi).
- Best Score: Bear McCreary, God of War (PS4).
- Best Visuals: The Last of Us: Part II (PS4).
- Best Switch Exclusive: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
- Best Xbox Exclusive: Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
- Best PC Exclusive: Disco Elysium.
- Best PS4 Exclusive: God of War.
Now, without further ado, let's get to the main event.
THE CONSOLE OF THE GENERATION
Xbox followed up their world-conquering Xbox 360 with the Xbox One. It would be hard to deny this system was a letdown compared to its predecessors, with a notable lack of system-selling exclusives to define its era, the major selling point of the Xbox One was offering access to Xbox Game Pass.
Nintendo's groundbreaking home console and handheld hybrid has seen incredible success, the likes of which Nintendo has not seen since the Nintendo DS. With an incredible slate of first-party exclusives and the best indie selection this side of Steam, the Nintendo Switch has become the epitome of counter-programming against Sony and Microsoft, offering something utterly unique in an increasingly homogeneous market.
The clear winner. It could not be anything else. The PlayStation 4 has been a massive hit for Sony this generation, becoming the second-highest selling home console behind only the PlayStation 2, with a Murderer's Row of incredible exclusives like God of War, Marvel's Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima to name a few. No other console had a hit rate as strong as this one, you would honestly have an easier time naming the exclusives that flopped.
The PS4 did a lot of great things for console tech this generation too. It introduced VR to a wider market, making it available to more players than ever with a more affordable alternative to the likes of Oculus, and helped broaden player interconnectivity through their Share button and integrated streaming software, making it easier and cheaper than ever for gamers to share their favourite moments on Twitter or stream via Twitch.
It speaks volumes for the PlayStation 4 that the only console to outdo it is the PlayStation 2, a console that dominated its generation to the point of obliterating one of its main competitors. While the PS4 did not lay waste to Microsoft or Nintendo, it shows that was one of the only accomplishments it failed to achieve this generation, in terms of sales and cultural impact there was nothing its competition could do to match it.
The PS4 won by the largest margin of any category. It was an emphatic win and well deserved.
THE GAME OF THE GENERATION
- Andrew Shaw
The Last of Us: Part II (PS4)
It is no small feat to make a sequel to what many would argue was the game of the last generation and while The Last of Us: Part II did not quite reach that level here, it was arguably the superior game to its predecessor. The Last of Us: Part II was an audacious piece of storytelling, unafraid to take risks and court controversy in the pursuit of a story worth telling.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
Nintendo's latest entry in the Zelda series was a game-changer in more ways than one, changing the way Zelda games look and feel would be an accomplishment in itself but Breath of the Wild brought with it groundbreaking levels of open-world design that games are only just starting to mimic now. Breath of the Wild is not just one of the best games of this generation, it could be one of the most important.
God of War was a constant during this awards and with good reason. This game was simply unbeatable.
Its groundbreaking approach to blending in-game action into cut scenes, creating a cinematic 'unbroken shot' aesthetic, set it apart from other third-person action games and showed the true capabilities of the PlayStation 4. Its evocative score by Bear McCreary was unmatched in its ability to create something both mythic and intimate. They came together to create an unbelievable, captivating sensory experience.
The central performances by Christopher Judge and Sunny Suljic grounded the whole thing; perfectly depicting a tender, raw, and nuanced examination of masculinity and father/son bonds. Support from a perfectly squirmy and detestable Jeremy Davies and a conflicted, caring Danielle Bisutti lifted everything up to another level. The writing was note-perfect, communicating its big ideas without ever feeling like it is holding your hand. The character's behaviour and the in-game action told players as much about the story as the dialogue. It was a game that knew how to use every tool in its arsenal to tell its story rather than relying on cut scenes.
And what action it had to offer. The God of War series has always been known for its big set pieces and this instalment was no disappointment. Full of gruesome creatures and towering titans, the game had a story of small, personal stakes but always felt epic. But the action in the smaller encounters was every bit as essential, thanks to the game's world-beating combat system. This was a system full of incredible depth, the combinations of strikes and moves allowed for a lot of creative carnage. The first time I threw my Leviathan Axe at a faraway enemy's skull before calling it back to my hand, sending it through the back of an approaching enemy's head who was foolishly in its way, I knew this was never going to get dull. On top of the fundamentals being spotless is the level of customisation offered through your skill tree; the more you unlocked, the more versatile your murder options became. The game got better the longer you played it, which is not always a given with even the most sturdy combat systems.
God of War defined the advancements in tech and storytelling of this generation like no other; it showed what video games could achieve this generation and showed us the potential of what could be done in the next.