God of War v. (4) Monster Hunter World
At this point in the bracket, it’s a battle of inches. Who advances? A refined, beautiful singleplayer action game, or an open-world multiplayer roleplaying game?
Monster Hunter World has a huge advantage in that since it’s so close to release, we have a better idea of how great its shaping up. However, God of War comes from such high pedigree, it’s hard to believe it’ll be anything less than spectacular.
But if we’re talking about longevity, the Monster Hunter fever could go on for months if managed properly, while the potential fever for God of War is much more limited. Players can go on a gorgeous, emotional cinematic adventure with Kratos, but it’s the moments where you and your friends finally take down that Elder Dragon that’ll stick with you much longer.
Winner: Monster Hunter World
(1) Spider-Man v. (2) Dragon Ball FighterZ
Even at the start of 2018, it’s clear both of these are first-ballot GOTY contenders. But unfortunately in this video game climate, fantastic visuals and the Dragon Ball name will only get a fighting game so far in the video game award chase.
Although both games are based on existing IPs, it’s clear Spider-Man has the bigger draw. It’s more iconic, it’s more accessible, and it’ll certainly sell better. And even though it has a broader appeal than most Dragon Ball games, it’s unlikely that FighterZ’s appeal will extend much beyond the pool of fighting game and anime fans, no matter how well the game shapes up.
Additionally, Dragon Ball FighterZ’s singleplayer appears to be lackluster. There aren’t many details outside of the vague descriptions of Android 21, and while Arc System Works has done some great work with fighting game story modes in the past, it doesn’t look like it’ll shape up to be much more than a collection of battles against the AI.
It pains me to say it, but there’s no chance a Dragon Ball fighting game is getting Game of the Year from anyone.
(1) Spider-Man v. (4) Monster Hunter World
In our final round, we have two titans duking it out for GOTY. Neither of these picks are surprising, and both have the potential to sweep come award season.
I truly believe that if marketed correctly, Monster Hunter World could be the biggest game of the year. But that’s a big if. Right now, I don’t see it having that mainstream recognition where anyone outside of the gaming community is aware it exists. There hasn’t been a ton of press for it outside of traditional gaming circles, and save for a last-minute marketing push, I don’t see it achieving levels of success above 4 million units.
Spider-Man, however, is going to sell 10 million copies even if Sony never cuts another trailer. Sales certainly don’t define a game’s quality, but the crown of “Game of the Year” should go to the game that dominates that year’s conversation and is representational of the year it was released.
In 2018, I think people are burnt out on the open world multiplayer shtick, and although Monster Hunter adds unique elements to the genre, people are clamoring for more intimate experiences. Look at how Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey and Persona 5 cornered awards season last year while massive multiplayer titles like Destiny 2 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands fizzled. Spider-Man fits that cinematic singleplayer mold, and will transcend the stigma of “licensed super hero game” to become an all-time classic.