There’s a lot that goes into making a game really tick, from its visual design and sound to the narrative, but it’s arguably the core gameplay that is the most important part of a game. Other aspects can accentuate this, but it’s the core gameplay that makes something fun.
As we discussed this award – a new point of focus for us in this year’s GOTY deliberations – one game stood out from the crowd.
Many Spider-Man games have come out over the years, and most of them did a great job of nailing different of the wall-crawler experience. Spider-Man 2 had amazing web-swinging that is still thought of fondly today, while Shattered Dimensions made the acrobatic assaults of the webbed warrior so satisfying to perform. Insomniac’s take on Spider-Man, however, manages to out-do every game that went before and crafted a top-to-bottom experience that perfectly captures the fluid and flashy style of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
Swinging around the city never gets dull and I easily distracted myself for hours just traversing the rich landscape and doing backflips through the air. It’s rare that I find myself booting up a game just to move around in the world for a while to explore, unwind and just… exist. Spider-Man is one of those games.
Combat also kept me entertained from beginning to end. While the core of the experience isn’t entirely revolutionary, it manages to take the traditional wave-based action so many other games use, and sprinkle it with unique Spider-Man touches from his gadgets and his spider-sense. You feel like you’re really Spider-Man in every encounter you find yourself in, from bouncing off walls to swinging enemies into unconsciousness, and I never got tired of it.
– Miguel M
Monster Hunter: World – Runner Up
Monster Hunter games have always been notoriously overloaded with gameplay mechanics that seem baffling to the uninitiated. Monster Hunter: World doesn’t sway from this tradition, but it does the best job of the series so far in communicating what you can and need to do. Once you settle on a weapon, each of which almost feels like an entirely different game, you are thrown into a living and breathing world full of delightful touches.
What is really amazing about Monster Hunter: World, though, is how much depth there is in its gameplay loop. The process of hunting, gathering, crafting, capturing, and then moving on to newer and more deadly creatures continually throws new tactics at you whilst still remaining more accessible than ever. In single player this all amounts to a great deal of fun, but it is in multiplayer that it really shines (hence its Best Multiplayer award) as teams take advantage of many of the buffs, traps, tricks, and weapon variations to take down the big ass beasties.
There is so much more to Monster Hunter: World than hitting dinosaurs over the head with a ludicrously proportioned hammer, but that perhaps best sums up how gloriously fun it can be!
– Steve C
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Runner Up
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is just that, the best possible version of a Smash Bros. game, and as such it is some of the most fun you can have with other people. The series always felt a little at odds with itself – with both the competitive and casual players vying for dominance – but now it really is the best of both worlds.
Casual players will love the new items, the stage morphing, the huge World of Light adventure and the Final Smash bar. Competitive players have finely tuned mechanics, countless tweaks to the gameplay itself, options galore to set up matches just the way you like it, and the smug sense of satisfaction that only comes with ruining a fun game by taking it far too seriously. Either way, everybody is happy when eight players are throwing down with items on high and a constant shift between a huge stage and a tiny moving one. Chaos reigns supreme and it is an absolute blast.
– Jason C
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Dead Cells
- Guacamelee! 2