Final Weapon Awards 2023 – Innovation in Game Direction

    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 Innovation in Game Direction, which recognizes a game with incredible attention to detail and realizes the director and producer’s vision. With that, here are our picks for the Innovation in Game Direction Award.

    Staff Innovation in Game Direction Picks

    Itch – Street Fighter 6

    Street Fighter 6

    It’s really tough for me to say which game I played this year had the best overall direction.  However, if there’s one title I’ve played this year that has been the most innovative for a genre, it would be Street Fighter 6

    I love fighting games, but I always feel like they could be doing more to attract new audiences in ways that enhance the experience as a whole. Street Fighter 6 brings a lot to the table in this regard. It’s one of the most accessible fighting games I’ve played while still retaining fantastic core gameplay. 

    While the World Tour mode may not necessarily be a masterwork of game design, it’s still incredibly neat to see such an ambitious single-player campaign in a fighting game. It gives players an opportunity to experiment with the game in fun ways before fully committing to competitive play. Even if you aren’t into competitive play, the game still gives you a lot to chew on. 

    Additionally, Street Fighter 6 has some of the best implementations of online features I have seen in a fighting game. It’s both functional but also filled to the brim with things to do. I believe Street Fighter 6 raises the bar for fighting games going forward, and that’s something to celebrate.  

    Noah – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

    The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

    Six years later, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has straight up made Breath of the Wild feel like a prototype. It’s undeniable to see the sheer amount of direction a title of this scale needed, with three different layers of the map. Hyrule has never been better, with hundreds of hours of playtime available just to explore everything the game has to offer. The unique new abilities were incredible, with a hefty emphasis on creativity. I didn’t play any other title this year that wowed me as much as Tears of the Kingdom with its mechanics and world. 

    As I reflect on 2023, I’ve thought long and hard about how many more hours I want to put into Tears of the Kingdom when I get the chance. It’s a revolutionary title that puts an incredibly fitting final exclamation point on one of Nintendo’s best libraries ever. Eiji Aonuma, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, and the Zelda team combined to create a title that will be remembered for decades to come.

    Saras – Alan Wake 2

    Alan Wake 2 Key Art

    If you watch even a few featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage for Alan Wake 2, it is clear to see the passion and love that Remedy Entertainment has put into the game. The game is unique in its cinematic and gameplay style. For one, Remedy has always been able to balance live-action and in-game cinematics exceptionally well, but here, both look better than ever before. There is no uncanny valley like in prior games: both are used to a degree that allows Remedy to take full advantage of the unique nature of the gaming genre.

    It’s not just the cinematics either; the environments of Alan Wake 2 are a beautiful reflection of the world. Whether it’s the misty forests of Bright Falls or the nightmare iteration of Manhattan, Remedy invested a lot of effort in making each area feel unique. Based on the way the actors, directors, writers, and composers talk about Remedy and the game’s lead designer, Sam Lake, you really get the sense that in a year filled with layoffs and companies taking advantage of their employees, Remedy is truly a cut above the rest in being welcoming and fun to work with.

    Soul – Persona 5 Tactica

    Persona 5 Tactica

    I knew from the very first battle that Persona 5 Tactica would prove to be a really fun game from start to finish. Persona 5 Tactica is one of the most unique tactical games I ever played while still holding the gameplay systems I enjoy from Persona. Specifically, Persona 5 Tactica makes players approach familiar gameplay mechanics from a different angle, such as knocking an opponent out of cover to then get a “One More” and chaining attacks together. In terms of story, I think it’s one of the most intriguing projects for Persona 5, specifically since it tries some new ideas through the perspectives of Toshiro and Erina. The combat and story go hand-in-hand to make a very interesting game with the Phantom Thieves. 

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