|« Michael A. Cunningham Memorial Award||
Game of the Year
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Until 2018, Monster Hunter was largely seen as a niche series to western RPGamers. Monster Hunter: World changed that by featuring improved gameplay, stunning graphics, and an incredible attention to detail. In 2021, Capcom thrilled hunters yet again with a new title that brought all of the thrills of the series back to the handheld while managing to rival its predecessor in a few areas. Monster Hunter Rise impressed newcomers and fans with its polished and brilliant execution seen only in few Nintendo Switch games outside of Nintendo’s own releases.
Playing Monster Hunter Rise alone provides an exciting and challenging adventure, yet experiencing its epic hunts with friends elevates the fun even further. Working together to take down huge, furious behemoths never gets old when combat moves so smoothly. Furthermore, Capcom continues to release new monsters, quests, and rewards to keep RPGamers coming back. It should come as no surprise that most of us continue to play this game regularly after putting dozens, if not hundreds, of hours into it. Monster Hunter Rise is an epic action RPG that no Switch owner should skip, and it earns RPGamer’s 2021 Game of the Year award.
Under Naoki Yoshida’s stewardship, Final Fantasy XIV has gone from strength to strength, and after Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers earned our biggest prize in 2019, its no surprise to see Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker right up there again. Story-wise it’s perhaps the game’s most challenging project, as Endwalker seeks to provide a fitting conclusion to its biggest overarching story threads, but it passes the challenge with aplomb, as the magnificent localisation and writing — plus another superb musical score — help create a gripping and emotional narrative. Endwalker has ensured that Final Fantasy XIV remains as one of the pinnacle RPG experiences out there.
Persona 5 Strikers is one of the best Shin Megami Tensei spin-off games there is. Strikers earns its placing through an engaging story with a cast of characters Persona 5 fans all know and love, with some new companions that are just as delightful. It also sports a soundtrack that just slaps. This is on top of the game’s fast and furious combat system that oozes with style. Who knew Persona and Musou games would be a fabulous match? It’s definitely something we never saw coming! (Cue groans.)
by Phil Willis, Alex Fuller, and Sam Wachter