Player 2 Vs The Game Awards 2023 Part 2

Player 2 Vs The Game Awards 2023 Part 2

It’s that time once again, another Geoff Keighley job, one that is filled with awards, celebrities with little to do with the gaming industry, and a myriad of announcements to keep us all sufficiently hyped up for the year/s to come. Join Playe 2 editors Paul James and Jess Zammit, as the duo break down each, and every one of the announcements and touch on the award recipients, cameo appearances, any controversies, and more. 


Paul: I’ve touched on overplayed games at Keighley events a few times now, and Warframe is another one of those. Geoff’s hip-pocket must be bulging due to the levels of cash they offer him to show this game off, because I cannot imagine that at this point, new content is bringing in many new players, and is simply engaging current or lapsed players. Easy one to skip.

Jess: Agreed, very easy one to skip. I agree with every point Paul has just made. It’s gotta be about the money.

Banishers: Ghost Of New Eden

Paul: I’m low-key excited about this one. There’s reason to be hesitant given that Dont Nod can still be a bit inconsistent in the quality of it’s output, but at the same time, everything that I see from Banishers impresses me. Either way, the game’s launch isn’t too far away so I’ll have some more definitive thoughts soon enough

Jess: I still love Don’t Nod. I’ll still try anything they throw at me, and most of the time I’ll have a great time with it. They are masters of storytelling. This story of star-crossed lovers seems like it’s going to be right up my alley, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Ready Or Not

Paul: I will admit, I don’t know much about Void Interactive, and so I don’t know if the pedigree of the team is one I can trust or not, but the game itself wasn’t overly inspiring much within me. I mean, it could be fun, but also, how does it play, what are these loose psychological elements teased? There’s more unanswered too, so I guess I’ll just wait to see what else is to come for the game.

Jess: Without knowing anything about the game, this trailer of ‘here come the men with guns, ready to shoot and kill’ without much else didn’t really inspire. It’s possible they’ll add something to pique my interest, but for now? Nah.

Tales Of Kenzera: Zau

Paul: Abubakar Salim gave us all what we’ve been looking for more from these kinds of showcases – humanity. He was so genuine, his message was so heartfelt, and to top it off, the game looks stunning. April 23 isn’t too far off either, which is exciting for all parties. Geoff, please, for the love of all good things – more of this in the future. It doesn’t have to be people still grappling with their sorrow over their parents, but more humanity. Please.

Jess: Behind every game, there is a story of how and why it got made. It seems like such an obvious thing to recognise, but The Game Awards struggle with the concept so much, and people are starting to tire of it. Please celebrate devs. Let them tell their stories. I care so much more about why someone poured their heart into making something than I do about seeing a flashy trailer. The game itself looks great – similar to the upcoming Prince of Persia game, but offering something a little different.

Lost Records: Bloom & Rage

Paul: This feels far more like the Don’t Nod that we’re familiar with from Life Is Strange than Banishers, and thus, I feel more confident in the final quality of the game. Whether I get around to it though is probably more determined by the games that launch in the same window, but otherwise, I don’t mind what I saw

Jess: This is 100% a Jess game. It has big Life is Strange energy, big queer, coming-of-age energy, and I’m all about it. Like I said – I will follow Don’t Nod to the ends of the earth. This is one of the most exciting trailers I’ve seen so far.

The First Berserker: Khazan

Paul: They almost had me… until it became clear that The First Berserker: Khazan was another Soulsborne, and then I noped on out of there. My hope is that we get the accessibility features in the form of difficulty settings (akin to Star Wars Jedi titles) to give those of us who don’t like the Soulsborne grind, the opportunity to take in everything available, because this game otherwise looked pretty great

Jess: This is, unfortunately, another one that is likely to fall off my radar pretty quickly. I do like the art style though – I’d be happy for more games to look like this.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Paul: The main theme performance was certainly nice, but the full trailer, the one that was released alongside the performance at the Awards was what caught more of my interest. It contains snippets from a range of different characters that will all join the party and be playable in this new entry and lightly teases the direction we’ll be headed in narratively. February 29 cannot possibly come soon enough!

Jess: I am notoriously not a Final Fantasy fan, so I never have much to say when these things are announced. But I do like both Nobuo Uematsu and Loren Allred, whose vocals famously appeared in The Greatest Showman. So I had a good time with the performance.

Apex Legends X Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Paul: I love Final Fantasy, that is well documented even by the previous comment, and will be expanded upon again shortly, but seriously? Pairing with Apex? This just isn’t a logical pairing that adds anything to either franchise I feel. Apex is great, Final Fantasy is extraordinary, but this is an oil and water situation. Keep them apart.

Jess: I got nothin’. Except that the Final Fantasy swords are cool to look at, and I’m excited for every person (including fictional characters) who gets to wield one.

Honkai Starrail

Paul: I feel like I’m uttering a slur every time I mention this game’s name. That said, Honkai Starrail was always going to feature, and unlike some other aforementioned titles, it hasn’t burned up all of my patience yet (even though I’ve not tried it out). We’re approaching that annoying, over-saturated point, but we’re not there yet.

Jess: I’m just never gonna be tapped into Hoyoverse, so I always fail to absorb anything from their trailers other than “well, that’s nice and colourful”. I did like the little pop-up book, though – that was cute. I was less of a fan of the moment it zoomed in on a character’s boobs, and they seemed to somehow move independently of her body when she was standing completely still?

Skull & Bones

Paul: I don’t know if I have it in me to be excited about Skull & Bones. The game has had such a tumultuous development period that I’m cynical about what it can be at launch. It’s arriving during an already stacked February as well, so it runs the risk of being buried at sea. I dunno, I need to see something that is a little less edited, and more of a solid, uninterrupted gameplay block before I can give this game a good chance.

Jess: I don’t even remember how long we’ve been waiting for Skull & Bones. In theory I’m excited, because who doesn’t like pirates? But I want to know more about what kind of game it actually is. After all this time, that still isn’t clear, and I feel like it really should be?


Paul: I’d heard that Dinga and the team were kicking around pre-show and were looking mighty suspicious, but I didn’t predict Blade. This could be a really fascinating scenario. No Xbox branding at all has set the console wars alight once again (like they needed much), a new game while Redfall still tries to emerge from its life-support, and fans clamouring for more Deathloop or Dishonored. It’s going to be an interesting road to launch that’s for sure! But I for one like what they’re going for!

Jess: Well, their last foray into vampires didn’t work so well – so I don’t know how it’ll go this time. But honestly, Blade is a great property to adapt – I could be very excited by this. I have to know more first, though. I’m glad they specified that it’s single-player and third-person – that immediately makes me more interested.

Last Sentinel

Paul: The futuristic setting of Last Sentinel looks superb, and aspects of the game give me Detroit: Become Human vibes (which I loved). There’s certainly more of an action bent that I’m all about, but what was shown has me super hyped – and the developer pedigree is there to give me hope that this will be exceptional.

Jess: Paul is right – definitely Detroit vibes. It looks like it might have a creepier edge to it though, which keeps things interesting. I once again have a lot of questions about this game, but am definitely feeling some hype here.

The First Descendent

Paul: I’ve seen bits and pieces about The First Descendent and have thoroughly enjoyed all of it so far, so consider me excited if the date is starting to narrow to mid-2024. I love some looting and shooting, and the world looks great!

Jess: I am very much here for the giant mechanical turtle thing that popped up in this trailer. There’s the makings of something cool here, but again – I want to know more. I’m saying that too much tonight.

Zenless Zone Zero

Paul: We’ve seen even less of Zenless Zone Zero than Honkai Starrail, and of course, Genshin Impact, but I’m about fed up with all thing Hoyoverse now. I know it’s making Geoff a lot of money, but seriously, push back a bit mate. They’ve got an audience that will buy whatever is fed to them, so just give us something else to change up the pace a bit.

Jess: I really have no interest in Hoyoverse, as previously stated, but I will note that of all the games present at these awards, Zenless Zone Zero is the most fun to say.

Mecha Break

Paul: I’ve never been crazy about mech games, and Armored Core this year unfortunately gave me less reason than ever to be excited. It’s a shame, because Mecha Break looks kinda cool, but my mech goodwill is at a low, and so I’ll probably pass on this one unless it does something extra cool.

Jess: The closest I’ve gotten to being interested in mech games was playing Titanfall 2 (which remains a great game but didn’t inspire me to explore the genre further). Sadly, this probably won’t be my point of re-entry into the genre. But it looks like a solid mech game offering for those who celebrate?

Helldivers 2

Paul: Hey, PlayStation, hook a guy up with Helldivers already can you? I’m all in, on what the team is doing, and I loved the tone of the original game. This new title will undoubtedly open up the franchise to a larger crowd than ever before, and I’m excited to play with a whole new group of people (and launch my drop ship down on top of them for laughs of course)

Jess: I am a person who avoids playing games online as much as possible, so Helldivers is not going to be a series for me. Give me more of those single player games, please.

Warhammer 40K: Spacemarine II

Paul: Never been a Warhammer person, but each time I see Spacemarine II I feel a bit excited. This one looks genuinely great! Keen to see how it launches, at which point, I may feel the urge to check it out

Jess: I simply cannot keep track of what’s going on with Warhammer, nor will I try. Sorry everyone.


Paul: What a TGA deep-cut for GTFO to resurface. I couldn’t really care less about it these days, but it was funny to see it re-emerge. It’s certainly not going to pull me in, but it’s there for the community that still plays, so good for all of them!

Jess: I have absolutely no recollection of GTFO. But welcome back, I guess?

Den Of Wolves

Paul: Co-op shooting from those responsible for GTFO and Payday sounds exciting in theory, and I’m sure it’ll have its crowd, but it just doesn’t float my boat at all unfortunately. Have fun co-op shooter fans!

Jess: Ahh, they said the name of the game! But yeah, this one probably won’t be for me either. This is likely to appeal to a lot of people, but the studio’s pedigree doesn’t include games I’m particularly familiar with, and it’s likely I’ll give this one a miss too.


Paul: This is an extremely cool looking title. It’s the right kind of hard-edged sci-fi that I like, but of course, it was CG and so that tells us a great load of nothing when it comes to the playing experience. From additional reading, it’s a free-to-play extraction shooter, which doesn’t completely destroy my interest, but does leave it teetering. We’ll wait and see.

Jess: The trailer was fine, but once I heard it described as a “tactical open world extraction shooter” I was pretty done. It’s just not my bag.

Asgard’s Wrath II

Paul: Look, I won’t let the heartbreak of losing Sansaru to the Facebook get in the way of acknowledging an exceptional product in the original Asgard’s Wrath. It was a sensational title for VR platforms, and the fact that they’re working on a sequel is great news. Sure, I’m still bitter that they will never continue their work on Sly Cooper, but maybe someone else can one day.

Jess: I would get excited about this if I had any access to VR, but while I don’t, I don’t want to get too invested in something I know I won’t be able to play.

Fallout TV Series

Paul: The presentation of Fallout here was entertaining in parts, while the footage was awfully similar to what came out days prior. This is quite likely the outlet for me to get into Fallout as VATS can completely ruined the franchise for me in the core games. Keen for it to premiere next year!

Jess: I have a history of fully intending to, but then never following through with, watching these game adaptations. It looks cool, but will I watch it? Only time will tell. The series is also pretty big on bugs (in this case I’m specifically referring to the insect kind, but… you know), so depending on how hard they lean into that, I might have to give it a miss.

No Man’s Sky + Light No Fire

Paul: No Man’s Sky keeps on keeping on, but Light No Fire is of course a fascinating prospect. You have to hope that the team has learned from the failings in its communication of No Man’s Sky and so this time it’s a bit more reserved in it’s commitments, but time will tell in that regard. Trailer looked great though, and the idea of a planet sized planet to explore is an intimidating prospect

Jess: The journey of No Man’s Sky is truly a fascinating one, and anyone who isn’t familiar with it should look into it – there’s some great reporting around. I’m glad they found success that allowed them to continue developing the game they envisioned. Fingers crossed the lessons they’ve learned will make their next project an earlier success.


Paul: Stormgate is still looking pretty cool, especially for the lovers of all things Starcraft and Warcraft. Games of those lofty standards rarely emerge these days but with talent from both IP working on this new game, there’s always a chance that we might have a hit on our hands. Early Access in 2024 is a promising start.

Jess: It is looking cool! And Simu Liu is charming. I hope that Starcraft and Warcraft fans everywhere were thrilled with what this announcement had to offer.

Ark: Survival Ascended

Paul: I don’t really have it in me to care about the Ark IP to be honest, and so this new trailer washed right over me without it triggering anything. It did nothing for me before, and it’s having no impact now. Vin Diesel joining the second game won’t be doing much to change things either I suspect

Jess: At this point in the ceremony, I’m tired. And this trailer had giant spiders in it. And dinosaurs, which are obviously cool, but I also don’t want to murder them.

Final Fantasy XVI: Echoes Of The Fallen + The Rising Tide

Paul: That damn Ben Starr. We were chatting only two weeks ago about this DLC… AND HE KNEW!!! HE KNEW HOW CLOSE WE WERE! Either way, I’m super excited to wrap this up and get into Echoes Of The Fallen (which I cannot imagine is long considering the turnaround since launch) and then The Rising Tide (Fort Minor fans stand up!) in 2024. I get to continue dining out on 2023’s best game for a bit longer yet!

Jess: I’m happy for you, Paul, and for all the Final Fantasy fans out there. One day maybe I’ll be one of you.

The Finals

Paul: The naming convention is brilliant, the trailer stylish and very appealing, but being a competitive multiplayer shooter at its core means that Paul James has no interest whatsoever in playing it. Sorry The Finals

Jess: I do like the aesthetic, and the trailer was very flashy, but this falls into the category of ‘games I will simply never have time to play’. For those who like online shooters, this looks like a fun one, but… I am not one of those people, so I will simply wish you all well. And hey – it’s out tonight! What a nice treat for you!


Paul: Geoff must have seen something in this when BCD that we couldn’t in this trailer because Bellwright looks… perfectly fine. There was nothing bad about it per se, but at the same time, the game looked like any old Age Of Empires inspired title, and so I leave this trailer intrigued about what is to come but not inspired. A strange title to position in the showcase where it was because it wasn’t the hard hitter that was perhaps needed at this stage. 

Jess: The trailer certainly had a lot of buzzwords in it, but nothing too exciting. Seems like another one that might just fall by the wayside.

Monster Hunter Wilds

Paul: “IT IS FINALLY TIME!” is what I shouted since Geoff only apparently has that in him for FromSoftware developed titles. I’ve been hanging on the next big, Ultra-HD, PS5/XSX Monster Hunter for five long years. Monster Hunter Rise definitely satisfied the appetite a little bit, but this is what I’ve been waiting for… and I’ve got a minimum of 13 months still to wait, but man did Monster Hunter Wilds look great! The best bit is, outside of a Ratholos drifting by at the end, they’ve saved pretty much everything for future reveals! Monthly updates please Capcom! Hook it to my veins!

Jess: See, the problem is, whenever I watch a trailer for a Monster Hunter game, all I can think is “wow, those monsters are so cool, I really would rather not hunt them”. So I’ll probably continue… not doing that? Unless someone would like to enlighten me, and tell me that hunting monsters isn’t actually the premise of these games, in which case I’ll happily reconsider.

The Award Winners

Paul: I mean, they got 12% of the overall showtime, so there’s not much to say about the winners. Alan Wake 2 stole a few off of Baldur’s Gate III that I wasn’t expecting which is great for Remedy, Spider-Man 2 tanked, and Tears Of The Kingdom did what was expected of it. It was mostly predictable in the end.

Jess: I disagreed with a bunch of them, but eh – it is what it is. It was a year stacked with incredible titles, and while I would have loved for Zelda to win them all, it wasn’t going to happen. This was Baldur’s Gate’s year. Honestly, the most notable thing about the winners for me, as Paul has alluded to, is how little we heard from them. It was deeply disheartening to watch Geoff rush through categories, announcing winners and congratulating the studio, and moving straight onto the next one. Can we really not give everyone a chance to make a speech, particularly if it’s their only award of the night? Could we not do with one less Hoyoverse trailer?

The Guests/Performances

Paul: Though there were a few celebrity cameos, almost all had some link to a game, making it an easier pill to swallow. The musical performances were great, though I don’t love the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth performance, largely because it’s music for an upcoming game, so those listening haven’t had the chance to develop a connection yet. Of course, Kojima got all of Geoff’s spotlight, I think Geoff sees the jokes, but doesn’t realise that it’s well beyond the point of a joke now. Let’s dial things down a touch champ.

Special shoutout to the absolute joy on the face of Sam Lake during the Poets Of The Fall, “Herald Of Darkness” act!

Jess: It was truly what I expected it to be. Mostly men, and then when women were allowed on stage, they weren’t given the chance to go off the cuff and ad lib like almost all the dudes did. I’m tired of it. Stop letting celebrities wax lyrical about how they grew up playing games, and dedicate the time to letting developers give proper acceptance speeches. Games are amazing and important and there are stories behind all of them, and I want to hear those stories. I’m not interested in watching high profile people speak from their position of privilege about their huge AAA games anymore. Those awards that were presented by past winners? Do more of that. Those Future Class feature shorts? More of that too.

Final Thoughts

Paul: Look, The Game Awards, at least in it’s current form, cannot be what everyone wants them to be, which is a celebration of the creatives, budgets don’t allow for it, and so if you want that, got to DICE and the Golden Joysticks. Maybe we should be branding it “Winter Game Fest… and a Few Awards too”, but it is what it is. The showcase was good, largely well paced, and gave us some juicy morsels to chew on for the next 12 months. It would have been nice though to see Geoff acknowledge the state of the game-dev scene with the mass layoffs of the year, I really think that was a poor decision on the team’s parts.

Jess: I see The Game Awards for what it is, but I really believe it needs to be better. It’s a flashy misrepresentation of what game dev is actually like, and it doesn’t respect its winners, or, really, any members of most minority groups. There were so many Fortnite ads during the ceremony. Could they really not have dedicated some of that time to letting those who worked hard actually be celebrated? And that’s without addressing the fact that The Game Awards apparently seem to exist in a world where we can just pretend that the industry isn’t going through massive layoffs and that the world isn’t at war and on fire. Sure, there were some good trailers – and I hope they build the hype devs deserve for their upcoming games, because this is one of the best ways for them to reach an audience. But at this point, I’m just tired. I want to be excited, but as someone who works as both a game dev and a journalist (and an advocate for diversity), honestly, how can I be? Paul’s right – it probably needs to be rebranded as something other than being an awards show first, because all this feels like is a string of trailers and ads interspersed with some pats on the back for the big guys. I beg you, Geoff Keighley, do better. Games deserve to be celebrated – but we can’t do that without acknowledging that the industry is built in a way that stops so many people from sticking around long enough to even come close to making it onto the stage.

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