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    Final Weapon Awards 2023 – Excellence in Storytelling

    With 2023 coming to an end, it’s time for the 2023 Final Weapon Awards! There are a total of eight awards we will be giving out this year, which are the following: 

    This article will showcase each Final Weapon staff member’s pick for Excellence in Storytelling, which recognizes a game that went above and beyond in crafting a narrative that cohesively blended together with the characters and world. With that, here are our picks for the Excellence in Storytelling Award.

    Staff Excellence in Storytelling Picks

    Andrew – Final Fantasy XVI

    Clive Rosfield in Final Fantasy XVI

    This year has been filled with many RPG releases with a variety of stories and characters. The game I felt that had the best storytelling/narrative is Final Fantasy XVI. Experiencing this story, I felt a range of emotions. I cried, laughed, got angry, and was joyful. This game did an excellent job at making me care about the story, characters, and the surrounding world. I also felt that the pacing of Final Fantasy XVI‘s story was excellent. There was a good balance of intense and slower-paced sections that created a dynamic experience for the player.

    Itch – Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

    Armored Core VI Soundtrack Available Now

    Some may find this to be an odd choice, but out of all the games I have experienced this year, I enjoyed the story of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon the most. Sure, I have very little doubt that the writing of Baldur’s Gate 3 is nothing short of outstanding. Unfortunately, that is a game I have yet to experience, and as such, I currently can’t provide my input on it. 

    It’s what Armored Core VI does with so little that makes its narrative so appealing to me. The delivery of the story may come off as dry and depersonalized at first, but by the end, I found myself caring quite a bit about the game’s faceless cast nonetheless. Every character has a distinct personality and it becomes increasingly intriguing to see how they react to 621’s actions.

    Overall, the narrative of Armored Core VI presents some very interesting themes and ideas despite the over-the-top mecha action taking place. While the themes it presents aren’t really anything new to the series, the execution of the story is refined compared to many previous titles. After three playthroughs, the game left me with some thought-provoking questions, and I believe that’s worthy of recognition. 

    Noah – Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Future Redeemed Matthew and A

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed was not only the end of a decade-long journey but also the culmination of a story that took a quarter of a century to tell. Tetsuya Takahashi closed off the story that started with Klaus and the Experiment with Future Redeemed, a thrilling tale set long before the events of Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

    The expansion follows Matthew Vandham and A, who are searching for Matthew’s lost sister Na’el. The two join up with Nikol and Glimmer, two soldiers from Keves and Agnus colonies. Eventually, Shulk and Rex, protagonists from Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, joined the party and made this DLC truly a dream come true. Future Redeemed revealed plenty about the origins of the universe, made me lose my mind with a radio, and had an unreal tease for what’s to come. I’m looking at you, suspicious blue comet.

    Saras – Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

    In a year filled with brand new experiences and stories that pushed the medium to a level that has never been seen before, it’s hard to believe that an expansion could have the same level of impact as Alan Wake 2, Spider-Man 2, Baldur’s Gate III, or The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. However, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty surprised me. Cyberpunk 2077 is already a game that has an incredibly powerful narrative. With Phantom Liberty, though, the bar set by the base game is met and exceeded.

    Phantom Liberty includes a brand new area of Night City, rich with its own lore and backstory. New characters are featured that have their own motivations and character arcs. The game introduces these characters and manages to flesh out their characters in a twenty hour campaign. More than that, the story manages to not just surpass the original story, but fit within the confines of the base campaign. Plus, with the addition of the new endings, the last moments of Phantom Liberty had me staring at the wall for a few minutes in a mixture of awe and horror.

    Soul – The Legend of Heroes: Trails Into Reverie

    The Legend of Heroes Trails into Reverie launch trailer

    The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie finally released in English this past summer, and the story absolutely didn’t disappoint. It was incredible to experience the story from three different perspectives while tying up loose ends from previous Trails games and opening up new story threads that will be explored in Trails through Daybreak. Rean and Lloyd are excellent protagonists, but C’s party brings an interesting new dynamic to the series. Moreover, dozens of characters had their opportunity to shine, thanks to the amazing Daydream scenarios. I was thoroughly moved by the story of Trails into Reverie, and I truly felt like being of a fan of the Trails series up to this point was worth the many hours of investment. Trails into Reverie is the definition of excellence, and I wish I could play through that story on a blind playthrough again. 

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