The Golden Joystick Awards are almost upon us. The awards themselves will be given out next week, 24 October, and you've got until 20 October to vote for the winners.
So let's engage in some cheeky platform advocacy. Here are our picks for the best (and most PC) games in each relevant category. Time to show the console gamers what they're missing.
Remember, if you vote in the Golden Joysticks, you'll be able to nab yourself a free copy of XCOM: Enemy Unknown—while stocks last.
Best Original Game
The PC is the breeding ground for new ideas, and that's reflected in the Best Original Game nominations. Broken Age not only features a clever protagonist-switching story, but sparked a Kickstarter revolution—making the crowdfunding site the de facto home of struggling and long-missed genre titles.
Then there's DayZ, Bohemia's unique, player-driven take on zombie survival. Or Nidhogg, the lo-fi local multiplayer game that perfects its simple, competitive combat. Finally, what about The Stanley Parable. It's meta-narrative of stories within a story promises plenty of secrets and surprises—all while being unbelievably funny.
Look deep into you heart. What do you desire the most? Is it The Witcher 3? It is according to 2013's Most Wanted award. It's back again this year, thanks to that delay, but has some stiff competition. Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4 and Evolve are all ones to watch, but, if you want a truly PC-focused experience, Elite: Dangerous is one of the most exciting games around. We've already had plenty of adventures with the beta, but the full release promises a whole galaxy full of possibilities.
Best Indie Game
There are so many great PC games here that it's hard to know where to begin. Broken Age? DayZ? Don't Starve? Nidhogg? Shovel Knight? The Stanley Parable? Towerfall Ascension? All are great choices.
Then there's Jazzpunk, which is currently holds the second highest score we've awarded this year. In Phil's 92% review, he called it a "remarkable, unique and lasting" comedy.
Best Visual Design
A strong category here, with plenty of fantastic and memorable aesthetics on show. South Park: The Stick of Truth managed to precisely capture the look of the show. In Transistor, Supergiant Games created a striking world, filled with beautiful detail. And then there's Hearthstone. Blizzard's card game oozes charm—with a board that longs to be touched and played with.
The consoles have a lot of presence here, but there are still plenty of PC options. If you're playing locally, there's little that can beat Nidhogg or Towefall: Ascension. If not, Watch Dogs multiplayer managed to provide some clever Dark Souls-like invasion panic to elevate an otherwise average game. Titanfall, meanwhile, was a quality modern shooter with both excellent parkour action and giant robots.
If it's soundtracks you love, the Banner Saga and Transistor are strong choices. Austin Wintory and Darren Korb have both made scores that add immense texture to their respective worlds. As for sound design, for all of Battlefield 4's problems, DICE's audio skills are unmatched in the FPS space. And, of course, we'd be remiss in not sending some praise to Assassin's Creed: Black Flag's enjoyable sea shanties.
Best Gaming Moment
Another chance to praise Assassin's Creed 4's sea shanties. Seriously, that game gave great shanty. What else? Wolfenstein's "timeline choice" added an extra layer to an amazing story-based shooter. Or there was the pure adrenaline thrill of calling in a Titan to instantly turn the tables of a Titanfall match. And, of course, Watch Dogs invasions—arguably the best and most interestingly systemic part of that game.
For something less conflict-centred, there's always the pure, child-like joy of Rayman Legends' excellent music levels.
As previously pointed out, The Stanley Parable did something genuinely unique—making a story about a storyteller, and giving you the opportunity to rebel against his tale. In response, the story warped and shifted, and at times became thoroughly dark and unnerving.
For something more traditional, Broken Age managed to take two seemingly disparate stories, and connect them via distinct themes of childhood, duty and otherness. Or there's The Wolf Among Us; the continuation of Telltale's reinvention, and an excellent take on the Fables comic.
Best Online Game
The PC's traditional area of dominance again comes through with a strong showing. This last year has given us plenty of great games in the online space, from the player-driven tension of DayZ, to the more defined polish of WildStar. Blizzard offered an extremely satisfying take on the CCG in Hearthstone, and War Thunder showed that free-to-play mechanics can happily support a dedicated community of online pilots. Even Final Fantasy XIV was reborn—shedding off its many problems to become an MMO with something to offer.
Studio of the Year
A tricky one. Blizzard gave us Hearthstone, laid the foundation for Heroes of the Storm, prepared for the launch of Warlords of Draenor and even pulled out some great April Fools. Bohemia continued their work on DayZ, and further supported Arma 3 with the brilliant (and free) Zeus DLC. Frontier? They continued to make one of the most exciting looking space sims of recent years—relaunching the classic Elite as a modern game more than capable of capturing widespread interest.
Innovation of the Year
Look, all we're going to say is that the Oculus Rift DK2 is laying the foundation for one of the most exciting revolutions in gaming. And that Twitch has completely changed the way games are viewed as both a hobby and as a sport. And that maybe both of these things are therefore more innovative than the Playstation 4's control pad, which is, when all is said and done, just a control pad.
Game of the Year
It's the big one, and so we're going to recommend... nothing. You're more than capable of deciding the best of the year—and should that game be a PC game, then that's all the better.
If you do need some help, keep an eye out next week for a series of streams for each of the Game of the Year contenders.