Welcome to our final predictions for The Game Awards' nominees list, set to be fully revealed come Monday! We're already worked through a lot of categories, and now we're ready to release what our predictions are for the nominees of the last five: Game of the Year, Best Role Playing, Best Multiplayer, Best Sports / Racing, Most Anticipated Game.
As always, remember we are listing games we think will be nominated, not games we personally found the best this year. One last time, let's get to it!
Game of the Year
This is the big one folks. Awarded for the game that delivers the absolute best experience across all creative and technical fields.
Developer: Tango Gameworks
By all accounts, Hi-Fi Rush shouldn't have worked. It's a game that combines two genres, rhythm games and spectacle fighters, from a studio that specialized pretty much exclusively in horror games, with game and art direction that goes against what the AAA space is doing at the moment, and which was released literally the moment it was announced. And yet, the game delivers in every aspect: tight controls, lovable cast of characters voiced by an A+ cast, fresh art style, superb boss design, all wrapped up in a package that doesn't overstay its welcome. The only real negative against the game is that the cosmetic options are unlocked long after they're relevant. Most other years, this would've an easy win for GOTY, but 2023 is absolutely packed with high-quality titles. Still, Hi-Fi Rush deserves the win just as a way of telling the industry "This! More of this, please!".
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
People might knock Tears of the Kingdom as just "more Breath of the Wild"; hell, I was ready to do just that. But as I think about it now, I'm starting to believe that's not very fair. Given this game features more enemy-types and better bosses, expanded locations to explore, new abilities to experiment with, and an even more robust story than what came before it, "more of the same" is a very surface-level complaint. With Link's adventures taking him to the skies above and the depths below, the surface is just the beginning. Breath of the Wild won Game of the Year in its time, so the other contenders better steel themselves, 'cause Nintendo is lookin' to take back its crown!
Baldur's Gate 3
Developer: Larian Studios
Baldur's Gate is one of the fullest packages the gaming industry as seen in a long time. Massive sprawling worlds filled with countless secrets? Check. Gripping narrative and characters that make you crave more of it? Check. Wonderful soundtrack and world design? Check. The fact that this game was not on many people's radars at the start of the year, only for it to become one of the best selling games this year by word-of-mouth and how much fun playing it is shows that Baldur's Gate 3 is one of this year's strongest Game of the Year contenders.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Spider-Man 2 is more of an evolution rather than a revolution when compared to it's predecessors. It doesn't do anything new or ground breaking, but it does improve in just about every over the two Insomniac games that came before it in the series. The one thing you could argue is slightly weaker is the (very subjective) story, which is a bit rushed in its third act in our opinion. Other than that, the game keeps the fun of the previous two titles, offering the absolute best traversal system in any superhero game, fluid and satisfying if a bit repetitive combat, and a vibrant recreation of New-York to swing around it (well, minus the Chrysler building, which was on vacation during filming). Looking forward to the DLC for the game, especially the one that'll vastly expand on the 19-inches of Venom.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon
Developer: FromSoftware Inc.
Looking at past editions of the Game Awards, every main From Software game was nominated the year it came out except for Dark Souls III in 2016. As such, it's a pretty good guess to say that Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon will also be nominated, and for good reason. The game has tight controls, an amazing soundtrack, a gameplay loop that's a ton of fun and very different from what the studio has released in the last decade, and a costumisation system so in-depth, you can recreate any mech you want, from the original Gundam to Megas XLR's titular giant robot. It's not a sure-fire win, considering it's stiff competition, but ACVI is aiming FoR GOTY with it's oversized scope.
Final Fantasy XVI
Developer: Square Enix
Final Fantasy XVI deviates in quite a few ways from what fans of the series have gotten used to, and that might impact your enjoyment of the game. That doesn't take away from the fact that it's a very well-put-together game, with an engaging combat system, great story, banger soundtrack, and breathtaking set pieces and boss fights. The single playable character doesn't detract the depths the other inhabitants of Valisthea have, and the darker tone works well with the low-tech, traditional fantasy setting of the game.
Best Role Playing
Awarded for the best game designed with rich player character customization and progression, including massively multiplayer experiences.
Baldur's Gate 3
Developer: Larian Studios
Baldur's Gate 3 is one of the few games that can truly make you feel like your in 100% control of your character. With the sheer amount of dialogue options, many of which tied to certain backgrounds or classes, it makes playing as your character not only feel unique, but also encouraged due to the inspiration mechanic. Even beyond dialogue there are countless ways to be your character, whether its pickpocketing every single person alive as a thief, playing music for people to earn some money as a bard, or being incredibly antisocial and chasing children around as a wildshaped owlbear. There is a good chance that if you can think of a character in a fantasy setting, you are going to be able to roleplay them 1 to 1 in Baldur's Gate 3.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
Developer: Summerfall Studios
Stray Gods plays similar to recent Telltale games: You're mostly watching a movie, with a bunch of dialogue options and branching paths throughout. You're here for the story, not the gameplay. What Stray Gods does to set itself apart is the musical element. During your journey, there will be segments where the characters will burst into song, and you'll have to decide which way the song goes. The choice transitions fairly seamlessly with what came before it, and it gives the game a lot of replayability. Your choices will impact the narrative in quite a few ways, so be careful what path you choose.
Developer: Avalanche Software
With enough customization to rival Kim Kardashian's wardrobe chamber, a room you can furnish to your heart's content, a sprawling offering of talent trees & more, all coiled around a world where choices matter, Hogwarts Legacy is a solid roleplaying game through and through. While its narrative exhibits some sore points, the core tenets of customization, progression, exploration and choice that make for a good roleplaying game are all here.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
While Starfield suffers from a few more problems than Hogwarts Legacy, this does not detract from the facts: The game is still a solid roleplaying adventure. We're very sure Starfield will receive a nomination, regardless of how many people describe it as "just Skyrim in space, but there's loading screens when you zone into a planet". Actually, it may be worth praising the fact that Starfield released with very few bugs compared to what you'd expect from a Bethesda game. Starfield is not a perfect game, which we acknowledge in its absence from our "Game of the Year" list, but it's still a strong contender for Best Role Playing.
Awarded for outstanding online multiplayer gameplay and design, including co-op and massively multiplayer experiences, irrespective of game genre or platform.
Super Mario Wonder
Mario games are always more fun with friends, whether that's with multiple players having a go at it on the same screen, or your sibling yelling at you to jump over some obstacles, which ultimately means you get hit by it. This holds true for Wonder, which offers a wide array of characters to choose from, even if they don't really affect the gameplay. Sadly, there's no online multiplayer, but you can help others on the web by reviving them, or by leaving helpful hints for others, a tactic that works wonders for Dark Souls.
Baldur's Gate 3
Developer: Larian Studios
Dungeons and Dragons is a game best enjoyed with friends, and that holds true for any digital equivalent. Baldur's Gate 3 lets you connect with your friends online and explore the Forgotten Realms together, even running around independently. You can even substitute any pal that can't make the session with one of the game's many companions, so long as said pal isn't the host. Hunting down Illithids is more fun when you do it with friends!
It's not every day that Valve releases a sequel, let alone one to their most successful multiplayer games. While technically an update to the already existing Global Offensive (and far beyond the second instalment in the series), this is too big an update to ignore, and we can all but guarantee it'll get nominated at the awards. While there were some growing pains, as is expected from such an update, it's very likely this version will be played as much as GO. And if it isn't, we can rest assured there will never be a Counter-Strike 3.
Developer: Gunfire Games
Remnant 2 surprised everyone this year, including its developers when the game ended up selling a million units in its first week. It sold so well for good reason: The "PvE multiplayer" is actually a boatload of fun. Its inclusion of archetypes (classes) in the sequel really breathed some much-needed individuality into the co-op experience, and coupled with game design that accounts for more players with increased difficulty, expanded in-game lore through full-fledged conversations between player characters and more. Bring a friend over for the boss fights, it makes them so much more engaging and fun.
Best Sports / Racing
Awarded for the best traditional and non-traditional sports and racing game.
Codemasters are… uhm… masters when it comes to the racing genre, as seen with the Dirt and Grid series. They've been helming the F1 games since 2009, and have only gotten better at it. The past four entries in the series have been nominated for this category, and we don't see why this time it would be any different.
Developer: EA Vancouver & EA Romania
Ah, football. The most noble of sports, where people must send a ball to the other side of the field while trying to- what am I writing here? It's FIFA! It gets nominated every year and never wins. The only difference this year is that EA lost the FIFA license and had to change the name. Moving on!
Speaking of Codemasters, they're the ones who were in charge of this year's World Rally Championship, or WRC, instalment, and they did a pretty decent job. The game offers 78 customizable rally cars and over 200 stages from across the rally's history, while also allowing up to 32 players to go up against each-other in cross-platform multiplayer.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's first reaction upon seeing the first Hot Wheels Unleashed game was "Well, this is gonna suck". Well not only was the game good, it was nominated in 2021 for this category, and it looks like history might repeat itself with the sequel. Turns out tiny toy vehicles racing on custom-made courses makes for a very fun time.
Most Anticipated Game
Awarded for recognition of an announced game that has demonstrably illustrated potential to push the gaming medium forward.
Author's note: Irrespective of actual game quality on release.
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
Developer: Square Enix
The second part in the very-well-received remake of one of gaming most beloved RPGs of all time, which looks to contain the biggest chunk of said remake and to answer some of the questions it posed? Yeah, not only is this getting nominated for Most Anticipated game, it's gonna win it!
Hollow Knight: Silksong
Developer: Team Cherry
One of the most anticipated indie games of all times, to the point that its audience is looking forward to any news about it at every major event. Is the hype gonna set unreasonable expectations for the game? Maybe, but that's only another reason why it's on the list here.
Developers: AKIRA, BANDAI NAMCO Studios, Tekken Project
Now considered a high-level e-sports game, Tekken 8 is bound to get a nomination here. Set to release January 26th of next year, Tekken 8 will be the first game in the series built in Unreal Engine 5, and also the first major fighting game overall, developed in the engine. With a renewed focus on destructible environments, Tekken 8 is attempting to up the ante and deliver a great experience for both players and potential e-sport viewers alike.
Roman numeral in the title of a Greek mythology game aside, Hades II is the sequel to the game that won 2020's Best Independent Game award and was nominated in 8 other categories, and currently has an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam. Yeah, I'd say people anticipate this one.
That's all from us for now, folks! We'll be watching the Monday livestream and keep you updated on the official list of nominees, but until then you can check out our other predictions:
- Best Game Direction, Best Art Direction, Best Indie, Best Fighting & Best Mobile Game
- Best Narrative, Best Score & Music, Best Ongoing, Best Action Game & Best Family
- Best Audio Design, Best Performance, Best Action / Adventure, Best Sim / Strategy, Best AR / VR
Who do you think will win Game of the Year? Let us know in the comments below!