The 2023 Game Awards Nominations Are In, and the “Best Game” Race Has Never Been More Competitive

Log on, gamers. We’re just weeks away from what will—at least if Geoff Keighley gets his way—be widely described as the Oscars of the video game industry. Now in its 10th year, the annual Game Awards hands out more than 30 trophies in a variety of categories (even Best Adaptation, for all the sickos who loved that Twisted Metal show on Peacock.) But as usual, all eyes are on the night’s top prize, Game of the Year, and 2023’s six nominees make for an especially strong group of contenders.

So which game will join God of War, Elden Ring, and, uh, It Takes Two in the Game of the Year pantheon? Let’s break down this year’s nominees, and why they do and don’t deserve the honor:

Alan Wake II

Pros: A long-in-the-works sequel that actually lived up to the hype. Genuinely scary, but at times also extremely funny. Part of a shared universe more interesting than anything coming out of Hollywood right now. Probably the closest we’ll ever get to a video game adaptation of Twin Peaks: The Return.

Cons: Where’s Alan Wake III?

Baldur’s Gate 3

Pros: The best Dungeons & Dragons campaign you’ve ever played, without any fussing over dice or pens and paper. The game is really big. You can hook up with a guy who turns into a bear.

Cons: The game is really, really big. (This would have been great to have at the height of the pandemic, but come on, Larian Studios, I have other stuff to do now.)

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Pros: Play as two Spider-Men for the price of one. Combat is more interesting and web-slinging still feels great. You can thwip your way over to Brooklyn and Queens now.

Cons: Briefly turns into a Gears of War clone starring Mary Jane for some reason.

Resident Evil 4 remake

Pros: Took a first-round draft pick in the Best Video Games of All Time conversation and, somehow, made it better.

Cons: Charged $10 for a side story that really should’ve been free.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Pros: Nearly 40 years since the original Super Mario Bros. dropped, and nobody else has figured out how to deliver pure fun like Nintendo. “Mario, but tripping on drugs every level” is the funniest idea for one of these yet. Also Mario turns into an elephant now.

Cons: The flowers won’t shut up. Mario says “Wowie zowie!”

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Pros: The sequel to what was, somehow, the best Zelda game of all time, and it didn’t fumble the ball. Shockingly pretty and smooth on increasingly outdated hardware. Justice for Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, I guess.

Cons: I swear, if that idiot makes me help him keep his sign from tipping over one more time…

Tune into the Game Awards on December 7 (if only to see what happens when a bunch of trolls score a huge GOTY upset by launching a grassroots write-in campaign for The Lord of the Rings — Gollum.)

Originally Appeared on GQ