The biggest surprise of the night went to Microsoft, who not only revealed the name of its upcoming next-gen console but its distinctive shape also. The company must have known it had something special on its hands because its monolith of a console immediately made an impression with viewers, and reception to its non-traditional form factor so far seems to be a hit.
The marketing for the next-generation of consoles has been odd this year, with Sony publicly revealing bits of info about the PlayStation 5 in a handful of Wired interviews, while Microsoft simply chose to show off the next-gen Series X in all its glory with a brief trailer. It almost feels like next-gen is already here. Almost.
Surprise: Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 Thrilled
Microsoft didn’t just reveal the Xbox Series X but also one of the games eventually coming to it. And, surprise: it’s a sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice by recently-acquired Xbox Game Studio Ninja Theory.
The trailer focused on its heroine Senua and showcased the same exceptional mocap technology that made the first Hellblade so memorable by having Senua lip-synch to a thrilling metal song. It was terrifying, it was awesome, and it’s coming to the Xbox Series X.
Surprise: The First PlayStation 5 Game
Although Microsoft stole the night’s next-gen crown during The Game Awards, the PS5 also made a surprise appearance, albeit a less splashy one. Gearbox Publishing and Counterplay Games announced a new looter-slasher called Godfall. What’s more, the two announced the game for PC and PlayStation 5 next year, making it one of the first game’s to advertise itself for Sony’s next-gen console.
Let Down: Not a Lot of Nintendo
While the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 made some splashes at The Game Awards, Nintendo was noticeably quiet. While there were surprises with announcements like No More Heroes 3, Bravely Default 2, and a new Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 3 DLC, there were no first-party announcements like last year’s surprise Joker reveal Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. We know Nintendo has other titles in its pipeline including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, and Metroid Prime 4. Alas, we will have to wait for another time to see more of those games.
Let Down: No Batman…
After teasing some Batman-related shenanigans back in September for “Batman Day,” Warner Bros. Montreal has gone quiet again. Although the timing of the teases suggested some kind of reveal this year, it looks like WB Games Montreal was fine to let The Game Awards pass without an appearance by the caped crusader.
Let Down: Or DC.
Every IGN Batman Video Game Review
Speaking of Batman, Rockstead also skipped The Game Awards this year. While in previous years the studio behind Batman: Arkham Asylum announced publicly that there would be no Game Awards announcement, this year the studio kept quiet, fueling speculation that this might finally be the year we’d see Rocksteady’s secret DC project. But like Batman, there was no word from Rocksteady this year either.
There’s always next year. Or E3. Or Gamescom. Or a Direct/Inside/State of Play. Or just a Tweet. Anything, Rocksteady, please.
Surprise: The Wolf Among Us 2 Lives
In August 2019, LCG Entertainment announced it purchased Telltale Games. While the former staff was laid off by the previous owners of the company, LCG did purchase the rights to the Telltale brand and its library of owned IPs. While the new Telltale can’t make games based on Marvel or The Walking Dead without renegotiating a new licensing deal with their respective owners, Warner Bros. has blessed the company to use its popular franchises.
Fast forward to The Game Awards when Telltale, along with developer Adhoc (which is comprised of former Telltale developers), announced The Wolf Among Us 2. The sequel to 2013’s The Wolf Among Us had previously been announced in 2017 but was canceled after the company effectively shut down. But now that it’s back, and the new owners seem to be taking another stab at a sequel starring classic fantasy characters living in modern-day New York.
Let Down: The Awards Cadence
Amid all the trailers and world premiers, it was easy to forget that this is supposed to be an awards show. At times it was hard to tell what was more important, the trailers or the awards, and some big prizes were handed out quickly and without much fanfare. Best Performance comes to mind, but even some of the more important awards like Games For Impact were paired with comedic sketches by The Muppets that failed to properly set up the mood for such a prize.
Surprise and Let Down: Fast and Furious Crossroad
The final announcement of The Game Awards 2019 was very unexpected, but the jury is out on whether or not that’s a good thing. The show brought out actors Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, two stars from the massively popular Fast and Furious movie franchise, who announced a brand-new video game set in the same automotive universe.
Developed by Slightly Mad Studios (Project CARS, Project CARS 2) and published by Bandai Namco, Fast and Furious Crossroads stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tyrese Gibson, all reprising their roles from the movies. Joining them are new crew members including Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery) and Asia Kate Dillon (John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum).
While the game sounds like a canon entry into the Fast and Furious lore, there’s something slightly… off about the reveal trailer. There’s a strong throwback vibe about the game that harkens back to the golden age of movie tie-in video games, including slightly off character models (Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto has seen better days, and frankly, better games). But it’s still early days and Fast and Furious lives and dies on the craziness of its vehicular nonsense, and not how Vin Diesel looks. The game is set to be released in May 2020, around the same time as the ninth Fast and Furious movie.
Those are our favorite surprises and biggest disappointments from this year’s Game Awards – what were some of yours? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out all the big news from last night’s show, as well as everything we know about the just-revealed Xbox Series X.
Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN. You can reach him on Twitter.