Posted by Shaun Jackson
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Shaun Jackson

As summer draws to a close, we once again approach the gaming awards season, with the 34th annual Golden Joystick Awards giving us a chance to look back and celebrate the year in gaming.

The ceremony for the video games equivalent to the Oscars is set to take place on November 18 at the Indigo at London's O2 Arena. Save for a few categories, the awards are decided by public vote and you can cast yours by clicking here.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the big winner last year, picking up five wins in each of the categories it was nominated in, including Best Storytelling, Best Gaming Moment and the Game of the Year.

With a wide variety of AAA and indie titles, this year might be a tough one to call, but below are some of the categories and nominees you can vote for and some thoughts on who could/should win.

Best Original Game

In terms of originality, we're looking at games that do not rely on the success of a franchise, so you won't find Uncharted 4: A Thief's End or Fallout 4 among the nominees. Those listed include:

  • Tom Clancy's The Division
  • Firewatch
  • Furi
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • Inside
  • Soma
  • No Man's Sky
  • Overwatch
  • The Witness
  • Quantum Break
  • Abzû

The extremely popular Overwatch is a strong contender here, and while opinion may be split with Hello Games' No Man's Sky, the game does offer a fresh take on the space simulator experience. Underwater adventure game Abzû is also nominated, but is perhaps a little too like Journey to be considered original.

For me, Campo Santo's Firewatch should win in this category. It's tale of a fire lookout in a national forest, told through the radio communication of an unseen colleague, is both funny and sad, but more importantly it feels new and refreshingly different.

Check out the trailer below:

Best Storytelling

A game can live or die on the strength of its narrative. Good storytelling can elevate an average game to a great one, and if done right can impact players on more than a gaming level. There is a strong list of nominees in this category:

  • Firewatch
  • Oxenfree
  • Quantum Break
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Soma
  • Tales from the Borderlands
  • The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Zero Time Dilemma

Firewatch is rightly listed again, along with fellow indie hit Oxenfree, a game that, if it doesn't win certainly deserves an honorable mention. Its spooky tale of teenagers trapped on an island offered up alternate endings through its branching dialogue choices, while using an interesting time loop technique to keep players guessing.

Of the remaining nominees, there are two that stand out and in all likelihood this category will be won by one of them: Uncharted 4 or The Witcher 3.

Naughty Dog is excellent at what it does. The studio makes games feel like movies, both visually and narratively. From a narrative point of view Uncharted 4 is no exception, but while the writing is a real tour de force, I never really felt the same depth of emotion that Naughty Dog so brilliantly captured with The Last of Us.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt won this category last year, and in my opinion the franchise should win again this year. CD Projekt Red delivered an excellently written and perfectly crafted story in Blood and Wine, the final DLC installment of the game. The depth of content is amazing, with side quests that almost take on a life of their own, intertwined with a main quest line that builds up to an exciting and brilliant conclusion.

Best Gaming Moment

A category for those moments in gaming that make you drop your controller in amazement and say: "Wow. So that just happened!" There are nine nominees in all for this category:

  • Climbing the tallest building in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
  • Flying the Falcon in Star Wars Battlefront
  • Play of the game in Overwatch
  • Returning to Anor Londo in Dark Souls III
  • The Brotherhood of Steel arriving in Fallout 4
  • The Car Chase in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The ending of Inside
  • Unleashing the BFG 9000 in Doom
  • Unlocking the secret of Psalm 46 in The Witness

But for me, there is one clear winner and that is the car chase from Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.

Thanks to E3 2015, we'd all seen and been amazed by this scene, but seeing it in a demo and actually playing through it were two very different experiences. It was a perfectly executed set piece that left gamers feeling bruised, battered and breathless without leaving the comfort of their sofas.

The Uncharted series is well-known for this type of cinematic set piece, from the train wreck in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, to the plane crash in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. But with this scene, Naughty Dog really pushed its idea — and the PS4's power — to the limit. If this really is the final adventure for Drake, then the studio has left a real legacy behind with this single moment.

Game Of The Year

The big one, and with a year's worth of gaming goodness to choose from, there are no less than 16 titles that have been nominated in this category. Quite how the Golden Joystick panel has managed to whittle it down to these few is beyond me, but somehow they have.

  • Overwatch
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • Halo 5
  • Fallout 4
  • Dark Souls III
  • Doom
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Hitman
  • Inside
  • No Man's Sky
  • PES 2017
  • Pokémon Go
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • The Witness
  • Total War: Warhammer
  • XCOM 2

It's a tough one to call with such a strong lineup. From a personal standpoint, the winner for me is Fallout 4, the game that, while not being perfect, manages to keep pulling me back almost a full year since it was released.

In truth, any one of these games has a good chance of winning this award, but for the fact that this years phenomenon Pokémon Go has also been nominated. The way this game has exploded globally, transforming the fortunes of Nintendo almost overnight, is simply astounding. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the little mobile game wins out over the heavy-hitting console boys.

Remember, voting is open now, so cast your ballot using the link at the start of this story, and let us know what you think below!


Who will be the big winners at the 34th Golden Joystick Awards? Will you be voting? What games will you be voting for?