Every year in December, the Game Awards roll around and remind us why we all love video games. From the ridiculous T-shirt-and-blazer outfits the developers wear on stage to the lavish musical performances, the awards are a treat to watch live. It’s a big-budget celebration of all things relating to interactive media.
While the Game Awards are ostensibly about, well, the actual awards they hand out, most gamers tune into the event to see the “World Premiere” trailers and find out what big-name games are coming in the next year. From new DLC to upcoming games, there’s plenty of fun stuff on display every year during the annual event.
The Game Awards have even started to take some of the shine off of E3, the big summer gaming expo that used to serve as the hobby’s biggest event. A few years of shaky shows – and the biggest publishers like Nintendo and Sony pulling out of the event – have given much more attention to the single-evening Game Awards, which provides a huge stage for some of the most important reveals in the gaming industry. Let’s look at some of the biggest headlines from this year’s event!
Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania
The excellent 2D hack-and-slash title Dead Cells is getting some Castlevania-flavored DLC. The new expansion will see the beloved roguelike Metroidvania title cross over directly with one of the games that helped inspire it. The original Metroidvania, Symphony of the Night, has been a massive influence on indie games for nearly thirty years. It’s only right to see Dead Cells paying homage directly.
The new DLC will introduce two new biomes to Dead Cells, each modeled after the classic design of Dracula’s Castle in the long-running Castlevania franchise. Characters like Richter Belmont and Alucard will also appear and offer upgrades like the iconic Vampire Killer whip, holy water bottles, and other weapons from the series.
The update also comes complete with a huge new library of songs from Castlevania that you can use as the background music in the new biomes and the base game. If you’re a diehard Castlevania fan, you should check out this update – it’s probably the closest thing we’re getting to a proper 2D Castlevania for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of indie titles that became critical darlings, the stellar roguelike Hades is getting a proper sequel. Hades 2 will be the first sequel from developer Supergiant Games, a rare offering for the fiercely independent studio. Supergiant has previously indicated that it avoids making sequels to keep its games fresh and free from the corrupting influence of big-budget game design.
However, it seems the rich world of Hades was too good of a setting to walk away from after only one game. In the sequel, players will control Mellinoe, Zagreus’s sister and a queen of the underworld. She’ll face off against Chronos, the father of many of the Olympians and the personification of time in Greek mythology. He inhabits the lowest levels of Tartarus after losing to his children during the Titanomachy, the great war between the Olympians and the Titans.
The sequel will feature a handful of new characters who weren’t depicted in the original, like Hecate, Nemesis, and Apollo. There’s still no word on whether Zagreus or his allies will make any cameo appearances in the game or if the sequel will focus solely on Mellinoe and her circle of allies and enemies.
Ken Lavine has been making variations on the same game since 2008’s excellent BioShock. That’s not a dig – BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite are some of the best games ever made. However, it is a bit ironic that the next title Levine is directing, Judas, seems to share so much DNA in common with the BioShock franchise after how much ink he has personally spilled over how different his next project was going to be.
Call it BioShock 4, call it Judas, whatever… as long as it’s fun. And from the first trailer, Judas looks like a downright blast. It’s got the strung-out, deranged enemies, the otherworldly setting, and the horror undertones that push all the right buttons for fans of the director’s earlier work.
It’s clear from the game’s visuals that it’s heavily inspired by the original BioShock. It features superpowers that look cool from a first-person perspective, dynamic lighting, and a somewhat cartoony art style that somehow enhances the creepy visuals instead of detracting from them.
Destiny 2: Lightfall
The next Destiny expansion, Lightfall, is going to take the franchise to some dark places it’s never been before. The storyline will see the Guardians pushed further than ever before to protect the Traveler and the Last City, and players will square off once again with the might of the Cabal. Oh, and players can have grappling hooks now.
The latest addition to the game from Lightfall will be the new element, Strand, which will join Stasis as one of the “Darkness”-aligned elements to contrast Solar, Void, and Arc, the “Light”-aligned powers. This will give new elemental powers to all three of the game’s playable classes, the Hunter, Warlock, and Titan.
Developer Bungie also reportedly plans to overhaul the seasonal updates that have been keeping Destiny chugging along between the big, yearly DLC updates that inject new content annually. Stay tuned to the developer’s announcements for more information about the coming changes. Suffice it to say, the most diehard Destiny players are going to love where Bungie is taking the game with the coming updates.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order surprised everyone when it came out back in 2019. It was the first genuinely good Star Wars game to come out of EA in the entire ten years the developer greedily hoarded the exclusive license to make games based on the mega-popular sci-fi franchise, ably marrying Dark Souls-lite combat and Metroidvania progression into a decidedly excellent 3D action game.
As such, fans were delighted to see the first trailer for its sequel, Survivor, debut at the Game Awards this year. Protagonist Cal Kestis is back for another adventure, and you know it’s going to be serious this time because he has a bear now. You show ‘em, Cal.
The trailer gives us a glimpse into what kind of journey we can expect this time around. We briefly see Cal crossing swords with a pair of Jedi hunters who seemingly know how to mix it up with lightsaber-wielding opponents. The trailer also features plenty of shots of our hero slicing up B1 Battle Droids, the kind that made up the bulk of the Separatist army in the prequel trilogy. Time will tell what this means for the hotly anticipated sequel’s storyline.
Death Stranding 2
Hideo Kojima, the director behind beloved franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Zone of the Enders, had a nasty public breakup with publisher Konami back in 2015. This split spelled the end of the legendary Metal Gear series, but it didn’t stop Kojima from striking out on his own, inking a deal with Sony and creating the gonzo 2019 masterpiece Death Stranding.
With the otherworldly and exposition-heavy game behind him, Kojima has turned his sights to expanding the universe of Death Stranding into an ambitious sequel. Protagonist Sam Porter Bridges, played by Norman Reedus, is back once again – as is the now decidedly decanted BB, his adorable companion from the first game.
In the aftermath of the first game, during which Sam managed to connect the long-isolated communities of the United States, it seems that new villains have cropped up and seek to use the death-defying technology of BRIDGES to their own nefarious ends. Fans of Kojima’s idiosyncratic direction will surely be elated to see a new game from his nascent studio.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty DLC
Finally, it’s here: Cyberpunk 2077’s upcoming DLC update, Phantom Liberty, received a reveal trailer during the Game Awards. Although 2077 was released in a sorry state and became the biggest laughingstock of 2020, developer CD Projekt Red put its money where its mouth was and rolled out a series of bug fixes and updates to make the game into one of the best open-world RPGs on the market.
With the newly updated version of Night City finally ready for players to explore, Phantom Liberty couldn’t be coming at a better time. Fans are eager to dive back into the game after watching the smash-hit anime adaptation, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, and CDPR quickly obliged fans by adding missions and cosmetic items based on the anime to the video game.
The new update will star Idris Elba as Solomon Reed, a brand-new character to the Cyberpunk mythos who will work with V and Johnny Silverhand on a dangerous new mission. The add-on’s storyline will likely see V getting tangled up with the government of the New United States of America, the de jure government of the setting that often plays second-fiddle to the megacorps who really run things. The DLC will come out sometime in 2023.