Per a PCGamer writeup, Valve has announced this year’s Steam Awards shortlists and I think they’re pretty fair, considering games released this year and games with a rather long life being included in the nominations list.
So in this post, I’m just going to fire from the hip and fill out my ballot before voting begins on 22 December based on what’s been listed in the PCGamer article. There’s quite a few categories and the post is pretty long as a result, so I’m going to place the list after a jump. (In other news, the lowercase esports podcast rides again, sometime after sundown on the East Coast.)
I’m bolding winners and italicizing runners up.
The ‘Villain Most In Need Of A Hug’ Award
- Borderlands 2
- Dead by Daylight
- Far Cry 3
This villain always came across like a dangerous guy and but voiced as if he was two crazy degrees away from normal, thanks to voice actor Michael Mando. Perhaps a hug would be the perfect way to disarm him? I have no idea.
- Far Cry 4
Pagan Min was a lame villain, but he wasn’t short on ego and personality, not to mention a particularly personal connection with the protagonist. In the context of the game’s story, a hug would almost certainly set things right from the start.
- Portal 2
GLaDOS was an evil, funny, twisted sentient AI, but not a villain that would benefit from a hug. I mean, I dunno. She’d probably wouldn’t understand.
The ‘I Thought This Game Was Cool Before It Won An Award’ Award
- Euro Truck Simulator 2
This game has a pretty big case to make for taking this award, but I’m not quite sure it’s unique enough of a game to claim victory here. This game is a spacefaring version of Terraria and probably deserves a pat on the back more than an award.
- Stardew Valley
Reinventing Harvest Moon for the current age of gaming is an impressive feat that not only inspired a lot of layers to follow the hype for the game, but buy the game at launch. The continued ramp-up of excitement for the game that is following the console ports and updated gameplay features is a breath of fresh air for the game that should be recognized this year for these reasons alone.
The ‘Test of Time’ Award
- Age of Empires II HD
Okay. It’s AGE OF EMPIRES II. It’s been ported to work with modern operating systems and nothing has been seriously touched in the meanwhile. How do you one-up a legacy as deep as this game without being something like StarCraft or Command & Conquer? And they’re going to be releasing a new expansion adding more civilizations to play as? Microsoft has outdone themselves by not only bringing this classic back but revitalizing it.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Due to the game’s popularity and its game world’s scale, not to mention its ever-growing library of mods, Skyrim will more than likely end up winning this category, but I’m not exactly convinced that it should. Sure, being able to make a single-player game fresh nearly every time you sit down to start one is a good thing, but when you’re still playing by yourself… without turning the game into Dragon Age, I don’t see how you can make Skyrim super exciting to play again—unless you’re intentionally refreshing your memory of the game.
- Sid Meier’s Civilization V
IV is more appropriate for this category than V, wouldn’t you think?
- Team Fortress 2
It’s okay, people of Steam. You’ve done your part to try to tell Valve that they should fix TF2. It’s too bad that they never will, but it’s cute to think that you’ve tried. I miss TF2 before they ruined it with a million fucking different items that make a given class play completely different.
The ‘Just 5 More Minutes’ Award
When was the last time a CSGO game took five minutes that didn’t involve a surrender?
- Rocket League
As far as the games on this list go, Rocket League is the only title that can claim to offer a complete and whole experience within the literal span of five minutes, since that’s how long the typical game takes to play. I mean, this isa no-brainer for this category, right?
- Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Why would you bother pushing something else back five minutes to complete a plan you’ve been developing in Civilization?
- Fallout 4
As a game in which quick saving is a thing and you can save pretty much anywhere, being able to take five minutes to finish a quest and return to your home settlement to tidy things up before you save and quit is a realistic feeling that I’ve experienced quite s bit when playing Fallout 4. Especially now that the collection of scraps is more important than ever in the latter DLC packs, being Abel to make sure you’ve got them stored is just as important as remembering to collect them.
The ‘Whoooaaaaaaa, dude!’ Award
- Bioshock Infinite
HAHAHAHAHA—not in a million fucking years will Suicide Simulator ever win an award from me aside from maaaybe ‘Most Cringeworthy Rationalization For Suicide In A Game You Should Be On Drugs For.’
Never has a game’s opening sequence been so supremely orchestrated to illicit a guttural ‘FUCK YEAH’ from the player than ever before. Multiplayer gimmicks aside, you have to play this shooter campaign. You have to experience how a classic shooter reimagined should properly play like.
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I know it’s not popular to praise the game in which Konami obliterated Kojima-san’s soul, but I still think that there are some great moments in the game. Most of these moments, however, are constructed by the player, and not by a scripted cutscene or a storytelling moment. The tension of sneaking into enemy occupied areas in the early game (before you develop the sneaking suit) is joyously relieved when you hear ‘mission accomplished’ over the cod—er—radio.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The ‘Game Within A Game Award’ Award
- Garry’s Mod
Garry’s Mod exists for DarkRP and PropHunt. Please name one other cool thing that came out of Garry’s Mod this year. Because I can’t fucking name one.
- Grand Theft Auto V
- The Stanley Parable
With a narrator narrating narration like that, it’s difficult to feel as if the fourth wall isn’t an invisible force of nature imposed on the all-knowing voice.
- Tabletop Simulator
If Garry’s Mod could support any tabletop game you could think of, it would have been developed into this powerful and extensive engine. With built-in support for popular games (from roleplaying to one-shot party titles), it’s hard to argue with making a toolset for online tabletop gaming accessible to everyone. A true game within a game.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I’m assuming this exists because of the various sexual situations that the main character can be thrust into throughout the available storylines. Like Ass Sexfect without the investment into characters.
The ‘I’m Not Crying, There’s Something In My Eye’ Award
- Life Is Strange
- To the Moon
- This War of Mine
- The Walking Dead
I’ve not played any of these games. Soooooo let’s move on.
The ‘Best Use Of A Farm Animal’ Award
- ARK: Survival Evolved
- Blood and Bacon
- Farming Simulator 17
- Goat Simulator
How does this NOT win the category? I mean, Tony Hawk Pro Goat Jumping for real. Add to the fact that they’ve been adding content to the game to allow for even more insanity, and you’ve got a nearly-never-ending time waster on your hands.
- Stardew Valley
To a SDV moron like myself, animals are expensive and tedious investments that can yield some tremendous profit after you’ve figured out how to make enough money with plants to start saving up for expensive upgrades and unlocks. Not quite center stage, but feels close enough to it after you visit their buildings everyday to make sure they’re fed.
The ‘Boom Boom’ Award
In DOOM, you can walk up to a demon, pepper it with a shotgun blast, rip its jaw off and then fatally slash it within the span of two seconds. How can that not be the winner of this category? If that wasn’t enough, give the chainsaw one chance and that should seal the deal.
- Just Cause 3
With its needy graphical engine and subpar optimization aside, the game has the most satisfying explosions I’ve ever seen in a game. With such beautiful fireballs able to be summon by the player’s command, it’s hard not to get carried away by slipping and gliding around enemy occupied positions in order to set up the coolest explosive sequence you can think of.
- Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Requires friends and also doesn’t actually feature on-screen explosions.
- Kerbal Space Program
A close third, in all fairness, but being able to control explosions (within a rocket engine) to several decimal points is more tedious than fun. The satisfaction in landing on the Mün is an awesome experience, until you look at the clock and realize it’s actually 6:25 and you’ve been trying your hand at amateur rocket science for the past six hours you should have been asleep.
The ‘Love/Hate Relationship’ Award
- Dark Souls III
This entire series deserves this award, simply because of how it returned the concept of ‘difficult but fair’ gameplay to the forefront of acceptable game experiences. When you receive the message ‘YOU DIED’ there’s no ambiguity about whose fault it was. It was yours. It was always your fault. You fucking idiot. If you rolled on the proper frame, you could’ve dodged the attack. But you didn’t, so you died. It’s always your fault. And that’s why this game is so great.
- Darkest Dungeon
- Dota 2
I can see why it’s on this list, but I don’t think you could really start to hate Dota 2 unless you’ve been playing the game for a couple of years and have hit your skill ceiling in the ranked matchmaking mode. But then again, that could resonate for more people than I realize.
- Geometry Dash
- Super Meat Boy
Similar to the concept behind the above take on Dark Souls III, Super Meat Boy is only as difficult as arcade platforms seem to be. Precise control, engine manipulation and even good spatial awareness are the only things you should be relying on in this game. While the ability to immediately start over might suggest the game is too optimized, getting to the end f a difficult stage still requires expert control of Meat Boy. You try until you get it, and then you do it all over again in the next stage. The only reason you fail at a stage, if because you’re not good enough to finish the stage.
The ‘Sit Back and Relax’ Award
- Cities Skylines
I can understand how city planning could be relaxing to some people, but not on that scale. Maybe on a smaller scale. Like a farm, perhaps.
- Euro Truck Simulator 2
- Mini Metro
This is the only game I’ve played of the bunch and I’ve bought it twice. First when it was released on iOS and the second time when it was released on Steam. I’ve been able to recommend it to friends as a simple, brain-teasing time-waster that ramps up the difficulty as the game goes longer. Combine with a bold, clean design, it’s hard to not hate this game.
The ‘Better With Friends’ Award
- Don’t Starve Together
- Gang Beasts
- Golf With Your Friends
- Left 4 Dead 2
This is the only game on this shortlist that I’ve played with other people… and it’s been a few year since I have played the game with other people. Maybe we should talk about playing through a ll of the campaigns for this game from start to finish. And then grab a couple of other people and do the same thing. We should do that. Because there isn’t any way I’m going to use the game’s built-in matchmaking to do so.