Fallout 4 wins best game at Bafta awards

By Leo Kelion & Chris Foxx
Technology reporters

media captionBethesda executive Sean Brennan told the BBC he was surprised by Fallout 4's win

Fallout 4 has won the best game of the year at 2016's British Academy Games Awards.

It marks the first time its US-based developer Bethesda has won the prize. It did not win in any other category.

British indie titles Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Her Story both won three awards.

London-based Rocksteady Studios walked away with best British game for Batman: Arkham Knight, its third and final game in the series.

media captionThe Rocksteady Studios team on their win for Batman: Arkham Knight

John Carmack - the creator of Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and Quake - was also honoured with a Bafta fellowship, the academy's highest honour.

He now works at Facebook's Oculus virtual reality division.

Mr Carmack told the BBC there was a "very good chance" VR titles would dominate 2017's ceremony.

"Award shows like this will tend to be kind of bellwethers about where things are going," he explained.

"[The games] won't dominate the market for some time yet, but they will be the exciting things that people are talking about."

media captionJohn Carmack has been honoured with a Bafta Fellowship

Roaming the Wasteland

Fallout 4 is an action-focused role-playing game set in Boston following a nuclear war. It contains hundreds of hours of storyline to explore.

Like last year's winner - Destiny - it had not won a prize in any of the other categories before taking the top award.

The studio's European managing director said he had not expected the result, and recalled that although Fallout is now one of gaming's biggest franchises, it too started out small.

"I'm genuinely humbled to receive this on behalf of Todd Howard and Bethesda Game Studios," said Sean Brennan.

image copyrightBethesda
image captionFallout 4 can be played in first and third-combat modes

"You don't have to have the multi-million dollar budgets to make great games - I've seen a huge amount of evidence for that tonight."

Deserted village

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture had been tipped for the top prize after being nominated 10 times across nine categories.

It won three of them: game innovation, music and performer.

media captionEverybody's Gone to the Rapture had the most nominations of any game at the Baftas

The game is set in a fictitious Shropshire village in the 1980s and involves the player trying to find out what happened to the inhabitants who have disappeared.

Its pace is slow and the studio behind it said it wanted the title to have a distinctive English character.

"It was really important to us that it wasn't a chisel-jawed American hero going around fighting zombies," The Chinese Room's co-founder Jessica Curry told the BBC.

"It's kind of like the Archers," she added, referring to the BBC Radio 4 soap opera.

Video detective

Her Story also won three awards: best debut game, best mobile and handheld title, and game innovation.

image copyrightSam Barlow
image captionIn Her Story, players consult an archive of video clips of a woman being interviewed by the police in order to solve a crime

The game - in which players must try to solve a murder by sifting through a video archive of a woman being questioned by police - was developed by Sam Barlow.

The British 37-year-old said he had deliberately tried to do something "experimental" by focusing on an actor's performance to see if the idea would appeal.

Another award-winner with distinctive gameplay was Sundown.

image copyrightMild Beast Games
image captionSundown is a top-down game in which the characters are invisible unless here is a nearby source of light

Its developer - Mild Beast Games - has created a top-down stealth title in which characters are invisible until they are revealed by a light source.

Guns in the game shoot bursts of light rather than bullets.

The title took the the "ones to watch" prize for the Los Angeles-based developer.

Analysis: Adam Rosser, presenter of Radio 5 live's Game On

image copyrightBethesda

Was Fallout 4 taking the best game Bafta the oddest result of the night?

Arguably, but you have to bear in mind that while a panel of judges produced the shortlist, the top prize was determined by the wider Bafta membership taking a vote.

That wasn't the case for the other categories, which were chosen by individual judging panels.

The Fallout series has been nominated six times and this is its first win. So, while this post-apocalyptic retro-future holds the attentions of its fans, it seems it didn't grab the "experts" to the same degree.

Are the games too big?

If they are that might account for the lack of success the Witcher 3 had this year. Like Fallout that game presented an enormous world; rich in content and incident.

image copyrightCD Projekt
image captionPlayers control monster-slayer Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

That said neither game pushed the development of narrative nor involved the kinds of innovative approaches that the awards seem to favour.

Smaller games, built by smaller studios are, at least at the moment, much more likely to carry home the laurels.

Rise of eSports

Smite won the AMD eSports Audience Award - a new category that is voted for by the public.

The battle arena title is unusual for presenting its action from a third-party perspective behind each of the 71 gods the players can choose from.

This and other competitive multiplayer titles have become a popular spectator sport.

On Wednesday, it was announced that a new eGames international gaming tournament would make its debut in Rio during this summer's Olympic Games.

media captionDara O Briain discusses the Bafta awards with BBC's Chris Foxx

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