Roundtable: The 2023 Game Awards (and all the Reveals)

Geoff Keighley has been released from hypersleep to show us shiny video game trailers and inform us what the best video games this year are.

The Reveals

Swiftblade: Honestly, when it came to reveals, it felt like a bit of a lackluster year. It felt like most of what we saw this year was some sort of shooter trying to cash in on a trend that had already faded away or was on the way out, or it was a Fortnite related reveal. Have you played Fortnite? PLAY FORTNITE.

Marcy: I actually already forgot the majority of reveals. That’s not even hyperbole; I had to go look them up before working on this. It isn’t even meant to be a slight or insult, it is just that almost every game that seemed particularly interesting is a year or two away, and it is hard to have any sort of hype or excitement for something that I am only seeing a cinematic trailer for. I think actually that a main problem here is that the Game Awards has, in the past, been a place of big reveals, but now Summer Games Show has hit the stride for that, and this show felt somehow so rushed and manic over it’s nearly 4 hours that nothing stuck until afterwards. 

Swiftblade: Grumbling aside, there were some pretty cool reveals and trailers at the game awards. Sometimes Video Games are cool I guess.

TheChirurgeon: I think there were some neat things but yeah the Game Awards have a ways to go if they want to become “winter E3” and to be honest I don’t see that happening – the writing was already on the wall when it came to Nintendo and Sony just running their own shows. It’s also hard for me to get really excited about things happening in 2025 or later. But I had a good time watching it and there were definitely reveals I wasn’t expect and I’m now excited for, so overall it was a success in that regard.

Here’s some of the favorites from the show, with our thoughts about why we got excited for them.

Marvel’s Blade

Swiftblade: Normally, I’m not very impressed by video game teaser trailers where it’s all cinematic with no gameplay. These kinds of teasers are more of a proof of concept than an actual product to get excited about. Cinematic trailer pops up, I’ll nod sagely and think “I guess I’ll see that game eventually”, and move on with my day.

This trailer absolutely rips. As soon as I saw Blade’s teeth, I knew what we were getting and I was so excited. I still whisper “shit yeah” everytime I watch the trailer. Part of it is that it’s a new game from Arkane, a studio that has made great games in recent history and has an in-house style that gives me some idea of what the finished game will probably look like. The other part is that it’s just such a good collaboration. I had no idea how badly I wanted a game from the folks who made Dishonored about Blade until I watched the trailer and now I can;t wait. Really excited to hopefully hear more about this one soon.

Marcy: I mean, my real assumption here is just ‘Dishonored Blade,’ and I can get behind that. 

Swiftblade: Shit yeah.

Monster Hunter Wilds

Marcy: I’m a huge Monster Hunter fan, for example, but seeing that I have until 2025 just tells me that there isn’t even really a game yet. I know that Monster Hunter fans are very divided about some of the recent games and their swap from how the old Monster Hunter games played and operated, but I think that Monster Hunter becoming more successful and widely played has always been a great thing, and so I’m hoping for good things here. 

Swiftblade: Oh god that 2025 release date was a punch in the gut. Wild excitement about a new Monster Hunter, only for my wings to burn immediately away at the idea of a two year wait. My only hope is that it’s early in the year, like Monster Hunter World was. 

The little chicken guy seemed like a neat traversal thing though, and dangerously close to Chocobo territory. Square Enix Lawyers are on high alert.

Light No Fire

Swiftblade: Oh no it’s happening again. Sean Murray is overselling a game.

Joking aside here, the premise for Light No Fire is very ambitious and likely will come with some caveats to make the game actually work. For example, the selling point that the entire game takes place on a single procedurally generated location the size of Earth for every single player is absolute hogwash. There’s no server that could possibly run that.

But I bet they can make a pretty big map for me and my buddies to have fantasy adventures on. And when I watch the trailer, I don’t feel like I’m watching a proof of concept here like I was with No Man’s Sky. This feels like there’s actually a game here. No Man’s Sky had a really rough launch, but the team at Hello Games turned it into a nice and cozy exploration game that I enjoyed my time with. I’m looking forward to doing so again with Light No Fire.

 Sean Murray, don’t let me down here man.

Marcy: Sean Murray on X: “fuck” / Twitter

TheChirurgeon: Put this one down as “a game I wait a year on.” I liked No Man’s Sky a lot more when I picked it up in 2021 but even then I found myself wishing I had more to do narratively and a bit more direction to make the game feel like more than just running around hoovering up rock chunks to make a base that doesn’t matter on a planet I don’t care about. But putting everyone on the same planet might also help with that. Hard to say.

LEGO: Fortnite

Marcy: I will say that, although it wasn’t exactly a reveal, Lego Fortnite seems super cute and I’m curious to check it out with the group of friends that I play Minecraft with; just something kind of different and interesting to mess around with, without heavy stakes. I’ve actually seen some gameplay of the game so far as well from people streaming it and shockingly the game seems… kind of really wild and interesting, with lots of jokes about ‘The Dark Souls of Fortnite,’ so I’ve dedicated a bit of time to this. 

TheChirurgeon: It’s only a matter of time until my son discovers this and Fortnite is in our house.

Swiftblade: Get ready to learn Fortnite dances, bozo.

Arknights: Endfield and Zenless Zone Zero

Marcy: Also, it wasn’t part of the main show, but the Arknights spin-off Endfield got an announced date for their first Technical Test, which you can sign up for. Between that and Zenless Zone Zero, the two most interesting things to me are… free to play games, apparently. 

That said, Endfield is a “future” sequel to Arknights, set somewhere hundreds of years (About 500 I believe) from Arknights itself. The current PC specs for Endfield are kind of insane, so I’m curious if that is just for the test build or not. It looks gorgeous so far, though.

As for Zenless Zone Zero, this is the new Hoyoverse title that’s been out for a bit in Asia and has had a few test runs so far. If you like Genshin or Honkai Star Rail, you kind of know what to expect here: very slick graphics and some engaging gameplay with a gacha system of some sort. What I like about ZZZ is the urban aesthetic, which goes a little bit away from the fantasy aesthetics of the other two games, so I’ll at least give it a try when it launches. 


Marcy: Those already exist in Star Rail, my guy.

Swiftblade: Oh I didn’t realize these weren’t from Honkai. Well it seems like a great time to like gacha games, more honkers star rails for everyone. 

Marcy: Gacha games are actually really going through an amazing period but this probably isn’t the time or place for that talk, but Hoyoverse has made a huge impact on the market and other games are playing catch-up. (Also Honkai later won an award for best mobile game). 

Black Myth: Wukong

Marcy: Also, Black Myth: Wukong looks very solid. I love the aesthetic and Journey to the West is a story I’ve loved for a long time and enjoyed in a lot of different media representations of, so a game using that as backdrop for a dark fantasy style action game seems really intriguing to me. I want to see more of what and how the game works, and since it is one of the earlier releases coming next year, I hope we’ll see more soon. 

Swiftblade: Soulslike games are starting to really hit their stride as a subset of games larger than just stuff by From Software or a handful of other large developers. Between this year’s Lies of P and Black Myth: Wukong, I think we’re in a really exciting time for fans of this subgenre. 

Sega’s Next Generation of Games Montage


TheChirurgeon: JET SET RADIOOOOOOOOOOO Holy shit I am so hype for Jet Set Radio. I’ve seen plenty of spiritual successors and imitators up to now but it’s just incredibly awesome to see the original series get its long-awaited update treatment. The rest are pretty great, too – Streets of Rage has had a very solid recent update, but Shinobi, Crazy Taxi, and Golden Axe all look very fun. I’ve enjoyed the 2d Sonic revival but I’m very relieved to see Sega going back to some other franchises now. 

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go listen to the JSR soundtracks again.

Marcy: I find this really cool. I love SEGA as a publisher but not always as a company, and it is nice to see them kind of recovering a bit of the fun styles of games they used to make. I am curious to see if these live up to the hype/expectation, but I think as long as they are fun games that evoke the spirit of the earlier games, it should be fine. 

Visions of Mana

TheChirurgeon: I’m apparently the only one here – surrounded by PHILISTINES – (Swiftblade: Do I use the Mana to cast spells? I feel lost here.)  who’s a fan of the Seiken Densetsu series so let me just say I’m extremely hype for this. Secret of Mana is an all-timer for me, and you better believe I have an English translation of Seiken Densetsu 3 on a physical SNES cartridge. The art style here is wonderfully reminiscent of Secret of Mana’s protagonist and the cel-shaded graphics look great. I’ll want to see more, but I’m really happy they’re revisiting the series after a set of successful remakes and updates.

Marcy: I actually also like this series I just kind of thought it was super dead, so I’m at least curious. Secret of Mana was a big deal for me on the SNES, but I never really found myself as into the Mana series as I did Final Fantasy or SaGa. 

God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla

TheChirurgeon: This free DLC update for Ragnarok figures to be an arena mode for players to challenge themselves against. That said, as much as the bittersweet ending to Ragnarok was intended to be an end to Kratos’ story, I was just incredibly intrigued by where things could go next for Kratos in the future his wife had foreseen. If this gives us any glimpse of that, I’ll be very happy. And if it doesn’t, I’m always here for more banter between Kratos and Mimir.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero

TheChirurgeon: Before FighterZ came along and completely redefined the Dragonball Fighting game we had Budokai Tenkaichi, a more 3D-format fighting game that focused on flight and movement around massive arenas. The first few Budokai Tenkaichi games were a lot of fun to play but tended to have mediocre mechanics when it came to actually evaluating them as fighting games. I’m really hoping that this new entry (which seems to follow in their footsteps) offers a tighter experience. If nothing else, it looks amazing.

Swiftblade: I have no idea if they’ve ever innovated on these games since the first time I played Budokai, but I don’t think that’s why anyone’s here. Folks are here to mash buttons and hear teleportation noises, and good for Sparking Zero for giving the people what they want.

Marcy: Budokai games are hype as hell and I’m excited to play it just for the slick graphics that this trailer showed off. Of all the anime licensed games, Bandai-Namco have really managed to nail the DBZ aesthetic in game form, which is probably just due to the fact that Toriyama’s designs have always been very video game friendly (I mean, look at Dragon Quest). 

OD (Overdose)

TheChirurgeon: As someone who is not really a fan of Hideo Kojima – I like several of his games but they always get a bit too batshit for me and I check out when the Die Hardmanns start showing up – I was completely sucked back in with the reveal that Jordan Peele was collaborating on this. Kojima’s last horror project was the incredibly solid (and now legendary) Silent Hill Playable Teaser, and while I think he’ll generally struggle to keep up that kind of tension for a whole game (same with everyone else), I am very excited to see what kind of energy and new ideas Peele can bring to the table. He’s had an incredible run of horror films so far.

Swiftblade: Watching Jordan Peele walk out from that door was like watching the Boogeyman stroll out of my closet and I’m thrilled to see it.

Like before Peele emerged, I was a little on the fence. It looked weird, the trailer really didn’t give us anything to go on, and Hideo Kojima’s head was dangerously close to entering the orbit of his own ass. Like Rob said, I was getting some PT vibes from the reveal, but part of what made that reveal so exciting was the collaboration of creatives behind it: Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus with Kojima on a horror game is a dream team. PT got canned, but the dream team still got Death Stranding

So until we saw Peele, I just wasn’t feeling it. Just Kojima self-indulgent weirdstuff, no heat. Peele shows up? Oh, fiery hot. Big spicy. I look forward to Kojima and Peele giving me nightmares I didn’t even know I could have.   

Marcy: I like Hideo Kojima a little bit too much, to the point that I am sort of on the opposite side of the bell curve on it, in that I think he is really great until he is very annoying, but there really are not many people in the gaming sphere who have mastered ‘auteur’ as he has. I think it is honestly fair to say that Kojima is the only person who manages to do the ‘get inspired by movies and bring it to games’ in a way that works, because he doesn’t just make huge games filled with cutscenes (ok, he does that too), but he has the sort of director’s eye that can lead to some truly amazing things that you can’t find anywhere else. I love Death Stranding, I think it is one of the best games I’ve ever played and enjoyed, and MGS has always had a big place in my heart, so I’m willing to entertain whatever Kojima wants to roll out in front of me next; even when his projects are mid, they’re at least interesting. 

TheChirurgeon: I’ll give you that – Kojima is definitely an auteur. He’s basically the type of creator David Cage thinks he is.

Jurassic Park: Survival

TheChirurgeon: I think a lot of people are writing this one off but I think it looks pretty interesting. Though it’s not being billed as survival horror, I think this game could definitely lean that way, and the notion of playing a survivor left behind after Hammond and his crew flee the island is pretty great. I’ll take this over another bad movie sequel, anyways.

Swiftblade: Like many other millennial boys, Jurassic Park is one of my all time favorite films. Dinosaurs are very cool, they’re still very cool, and if you disagree with me I don’t know what to tell you. So as much as I’m a sucker for more dinosaur stuff, I was a little disappointed that the trailer was showing me a game where I couldn’t play as a giant murder lizard, and one that played it super safe by dancing exclusively in the shadows of the movies most iconic scenes. That stuff doesn’t interest me much, if I want more Jurassic Park I’ll just go watch the movie.

The gameplay after the cinematic stuff was way more interesting, I wish we’d gotten more focus on that. If we can get some Alien: Isolation vibes from the final product of this game, it could be a real treat. I’m looking forward to more.

TheChirurgeon: Oh man a Jurassic Park version of Alien: Isolation where you’re on a living island and the Raptors just casually start hunting you would be terrifying.

Swiftblade: I’d scream and piss my pants so much playing that game, day one buy.

Marcy: Does anyone else here remember Jurassic Park Trespasser? If you don’t, it was a particularly amazing car crash of a game that actually promised far more than it could have ever hoped to deliver in 1998, namely a huge open world, physics based gameplay, and other things like random events that would influence how you played the game. What actually came out was a broken mess of a dream. Trespasser had a lot of influence on things and there are even people today still trying to recreate and build the “true” Trespasser. Why am I bringing this up for a game that we only saw cinematic trailers for? Well, mostly, because I guess I am just curious if this will be the dream Jurassic Park game we’ve always wanted; I do not think it will be what Trespasser wasn’t, but I just find it very interesting quite how badly Jurassic Park adapts to things. 

No Rest for the Wicked

TheChirurgeon: A new game from the studio responsible for the Ori series is absolutely worth sitting up and paying attention to, and while there’s a pretty big genre shift going from Metroidvania platforming to top-down action adventure, this looks fantastic so far. I loved the art design behind the Ori games and that same wonderful flair is on full display in this trailer. Excited to see more.

Space Marine 2

Swiftblade: Oh God September, huh? Wow that game was just not finished.

TheChirurgeon: That’s so fucking far away. Although admittedly my big relief is that it’ll be out before next year’s World Championships. Hoping they’ll have some TVs and consoles set up to play at the event. They did that this year with the new AoS game but uh… that game isn’t great.

Swiftblade: Aw that’s not fair, Campbell liked it and he knows video game things.

Anyways, back to Space Marine 2, I’m going to be a wet blanket here and say a delay like this really brings me down on the game. A delay this long at the eleventh hour makes me think that the Focus Entertainment couldn’t figure out the formula that made the first so special, and when executives played the final product they decided that it sucked badly enough that it needed a whole extra year in the oven.

I’d love to be pleasantly surprised here, maybe this extra time is exactly what the team needs. But if they couldn’t make lightning strike twice for Space Marine 2, I dunno if they can do it with almost a year’s extra time. 

Marcy: I think this game is going to be at best mid, and is likely missing the window to have been something better than that.

TheChirurgeon: How dare you

Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga

TheChirurgeon: This is the big Xbox exclusive reveal for the event, following up on the 2017 action-adventure game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The original won a ton of critical acclaim so while I haven’t played it, the people going wild over this sequel trailer have convinced me it’s time to go back and give it a look.

Swiftblade: I also haven’t played the first game, but it looks real weird, I’m in.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau

TheChirurgeon: This looks like a really cool Metroidvania platformer with an Afrofuturist aesthetic that I think really helps set it apart in what has become an incredibly crowded space over the last few years.

Swiftblade: It’s technically unrelated to the game itself, but the speech that studio founder Abubakar Salim gave before the reveal was a very sweet dedication to his father. In a night that often felt detached and corporate, Salim’s words on his dad’s legacy was a personal highlight.

Also, he mentioned Golden Sun. That’s all you Golden Sun freaks got this year, hope you enjoyed it.  

TheChirurgeon: I did not in fact enjoy it. I want remakes of Golden Sun 1 and 2.

The First Berserker: Khazan

TheChirurgeon: I really thought this was going to turn out to be a new Berserk game and while I was disappointed to find out it wasn’t, the reason I’m excited about it is because well, it looked like it could be a new Berserk game. Great aesthetics, interested to find out more about this action-RPG.

Last Sentinel

TheChirurgeon: This is apparently an open-world action game. It’s set in Tokyo. You punch robots to death. I can’t tell much more than that about it, though. 

Swiftblade: Hey the robot lady that died was kinda freaky. Otherwise, yeah nothing much to say here.

Marcy: I found this trailer incredibly hard to stomach with a lot of current events going on at the moment, but it also told me literally nothing about the game either, so I am giving this one a pass. 

Mecha Break

Swiftblade: Fresh off playing Armoured Core VI this year, yeah shoot more robot games right into my veins man. I don’t care if this game looks like just discount Gundam, give me big shooting robots please.


Swiftblade: Starcraft died so that Simu Liu could tell you about what it’s like to be over thirty and release a game indistinguishable from Starcraft in the least exciting way possible. This sucks, man. 

Marcy: I feel like I forgot this game existed and being reminded it existed did not make me happy. 

The Winners


Credit: Larian Studios

Just a massive win for Larian Studios tonight, well deserved too. Baldur’s Gate 3 is an absolute triumph of a game, which at this point isn’t exactly breaking news. Almost every gaming news outlet has covered this game and gave it rave reviews, praising the story, characters, world, and gameplay. Many games before have tried to replicate that experience of wonder when you immerse yourself in a great tabletop RPG campaign, and what Larian has made here is the best digital replication possible. 

But just saying “Larian made a game that reminds me why Dungeons and Dragons is fun” belittles the accomplishment here. Larian made a game that replicates the best parts about Dungeons and Dragons specifically while vastly improving on many other parts of playing Dungeons and Dragons. Take combat, for example. I absolutely hate Dungeons and Dragons combat. I just don’t find it engaging enough to hold my attention, which is a shame because as a guy who likes war games you think that would be the best part. 

Larian made some important changes to the flow of combat, tweaked actions and spells a bit, reworked some classes here and there, and designed encounters and arenas with a discerning eye. What this all adds up to is a combat system that rewards creativity and strategic decision making to a degree I rarely get from tabletop Dungeons and Dragons. Especially in big boss encounters where the odds feel greatly stacked against you, I love forming some wild plan that makes me feel like the A-Team of the Forgotten Realms when it all comes together.  

Without going into a full review here, the game is great. It deserves every award it won tonight, and I encourage anyone reading this to try it if you have not. It’s a great moment for tabletop in the video game world, and congratulations again to Larian.

Oh, and shoutout to my boy Soken for winning best music for Final Fantasy XVI. As a longtime FFXIV fan, his music rocks and I’m glad he got recognition for it here.

Marcy: I actually was curious if Baldur’s Gate 3 would take every category or not. Alan Wake 2 is a really solid game, so it deserved what it won, and I can’t really say anything won that I didn’t really think deserved it.

Credit: ironmouse/The Game Awards

💖ironmouse😈VSHOJO💖 on X: “I have no words to describe how I am feeling right now. I am in utter shock. Thank you all so much for changing my life. This wouldn’t be possible without all of you. Thank you. I am truly honored.” / Twitter

I was really happy to see VShojo’s ironmouse take home Content Creator of the Year! After speaking to Zentreya earlier this year, it’s obvious that the women at VShojo are really passionate about what they do, and ironmouse works incredibly hard to create positive and fun content and works hard to show that major health complications can’t stop your dreams. Building the type of community and audience she has despite having CVD has always been inspiring, and she’s done a ton of amazing charity work. Also, as the only woman in the entire category, it felt nice seeing her win, and since she’s from Puerto Rico, that’s an even bigger W in my household. 


TheChirurgeon: I do not have strong feelings about this. They’re all good games. Alan Wake II is incredible and deserved the awards it won. I haven’t played Baldur’s Gate 3 but I’ve heard nothing but raving from the thirstiest weirdos online so it must be doing something right. Much as I loved Tears of the Kingdom it didn’t quite wow me the same way Alan Wake 2 did and its story was just pretty lame so just ending with best Action/Adventure title seems fitting. 

The Weird Stuff

Swiftblade: Three separate weird celebrity appearances, truly we are blessed. First, we got Matthew McConaughey giving us the classic “I don’t have any idea why I’m here or what a video game is” schtick, and the saddest “alright alright alright” I’ve ever heard. Then, we got Anthony Mackie trying to channel a cult of personality rapport with the audience, a la Keaunu Reeves, and instead is just awkwardly pointing at a few people and shouting “Oh you know this guy knows”. It’s a train wreck and I could watch an hour of it. Lastly, Simu Liu shows up in a walking boot and tries to explain what its like to be over thirty years old to gamers. No notes. All three were terrible in their own special, sloppy way.

Oh, and Gonzo is just super horny for chickens and you know what? Good for him.

Credit: The Game Awards

Marcy: I decided to try and win the Steamdeck. I want everyone to know that at the time of this draft being written, it took 4 hours to get through the queue, and then I was told the competition had ended and I could not enter. I think maybe stop trying to give things away, Geoff. 

The show did feel very much more on rails than usual. I get that numerous concerns over timing, interruptions, and perhaps what people would or wouldn’t say on a global stage was a concern, but it made the show feel very difficult to stay invested in. 

I really don’t have much to say about the ‘cringe’ level; the Game Awards is becoming a more and more mainstream awards show, and if there’s anything they’re known for, it’s being filled with pointless pap and vapid, if any, statements about things that matter to their huge audiences. I think expecting much out of the Game Awards on any current event–particularly Palestine–was likely to lead one to disappointment, but I suppose it is nice to hope that this type of show can accomplish something with its massive audience and reach than it does. Instead, we got a lot of sound and fury.

Perhaps if anything in the shakeout of post-show discussion has come out is that the Game Awards have started to move more and more in line with big award shows like the Academy Awards which tend to struggle to represent anything other than the big names and corporate faces of things. This by far felt like the least developer friendly Game Awards show, with very little discussion of the First Class group or diversity initiatives as other shows have in the past. I am not cynical enough to believe that an awards show like this or a person like Geoff can’t have big impacts on things (I saw a lot of defeatism online and like, what’s the point? Just making yourself feel bad? Are you stupid?), but I also kind of went into it expecting nothing, and maybe being sad that I didn’t get proven wrong. 

TheChirurgeon: I’m just not convinced that it’s possible to have an awards show not have awkward, shitty banter and weird moments. They’re getting better at this every year but even the Academy Awards deal have real rough moments you apparently just can’t avoid. That said, you can definitely feel the tension at the event between “trying to honor the developers of the games we love” and “being a major preview event for publishers” and it feels like the latter is what pays the bills. I’m happy the awards are out there but I’ll admit I’m also not really watching for the acceptance speeches. 

Final Thoughts

Swiftblade: I love Baldur’s Gate 3 Sweep, but overall I just wasn’t really “wowed” this year. The reveals felt weak, with a few excellent exceptions. So much of what makes the Game Awards an exciting night to watch are those super exciting reveal trailers that get you pumped to play video games. Instead, I just felt the need to finish painting some Genestealers, and a reminder that Baldur’s Gate 3 rips and I should probably beat it. Also, don’t let Gonzo near any chickens.

Marcy: It was a Game Awards. We even got to see Geoff Keighly’s best friend, Hideo Kojima, so it’s kind of funny how that becomes a running gag at the show. I actually kind of tuned out for a big portion of the show; for something that felt so rushed on a schedule, it also ran for a ponderous set of hours. Congrats to all the winners, though; this was a big year in gaming, with a lot of huge titles. 

Pendulin: -OOOOOOOOOOO! Got a hot hand. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.

TheChirurgeon: It definitely doesn’t feel like 2024 is going to hit as hard as 2023 did, and that may also just be a sign we’re moving into a new generation soon. Then again, 2023 is just a very hard act to follow, and I think it’ll go down as one of gaming’s best years.

Swiftblade: Well, except for the mass layoffs. Those sucked. Games were great though.


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