Whilst Craig has the pleasure of covering the first two days of Eurogamer Expo this year (you can read about his time at the event here – http://invisioncommunity.co.uk/2016/09/26/time-egx-site-owner/), I attended perhaps the busiest day of the event with my partner on Saturday.
As per usual, the place was bustling with different crowds of people, all with different objectives and things to see. Some were there for the games, others for the cosplay. Some people were just there to see Syndicate and get their faces signed. Live CS:GO internationals were on the menu too, along with board games, industry talks and numerous Subway carts to keep you fed. There were, however, some notable absences…
Xbox, Nintendo and Ubisoft were all noticeably unnoticeable at this year’s expo, which perhaps fed my feeling that the gusto wasn’t quite there this time around as it has been in the past. Previously, EGX was a big deal full of exciting things to see and do. This year, it felt like half of the show was missing, and that felt very weird indeed.
The biggest player in the hall this year was undoubtedly Sony. Prior to getting in, they were our main target for the day. PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation VR and Horizon Zero Dawn were top of the menu, but sadly we didn’t get to try them out. Sony seemed to have little interest in allowing press into the booth to preview their upcoming gear and titles. The only experience we were able to get of these was from a distance, over the shoulders of gamers willing to spend 2 hours in queues to play.
Thankfully, this was more a loss for Sony than it was for ourselves, as the exhibitors at other stands were more than happy to accommodate us. In particular, I would like to thank EA and Bandai Namco for the accommodating nature of their staff as we arrived with press passes at their booths. They both did all that they could in order to make us feel welcome, get us on their games and tell us about their upcoming titles.
For EA, the biggest draw was naturally Battlefield 1, with a decent crowd also trying the upcoming Titanfall 2. EGX was my first chance to try the new Battlefield, as I was unfortunately without Internet access during the beta. The new map which we played, The St Quentin Scar, was chaotic but full of atmosphere, and it made the World War One setting both believable and immersive. The realistic weaponry, especially the Scout class’ bolt action sniper rifle, truly compliments the gameplay experience. The tanks too are genuinely scary when they are coming at you; massive steel machines of distraction crushing everything in their path. Flight on the other hand is as questionable as ever on keyboard and mouse, and the behemoth on this map, the giant and deadly airship, seemed to play little part in the battle’s outcome. In all, I rated the game when asked as 7 out of 10. It was good fun to play, and I would love to play again, but the chaos and disappointing features made it difficult to rate higher after the 20 minute experience.
Bandai Namco was showing off the long awaited Tekken 7 at the show. My girlfriend and I are big fans of fighting games, and so this was very much on our list to give a go at Eurogamer. Tekken has always been my preferred fighting title, and the new game underlines exactly why. Distinct fighting styles which have lasted the test of time shine through with both characters new and old. The game looks better than it ever has before and feels much more fluid and fair from start to finish. Epic tweaks such as slow motion attacks make for an incredibly visual experience that could easily suck you in for hours. We only played through four fights on the day, but we could easily have enjoyed many, many more. For us, Tekken 7 was one of the highlights of the show.
VR made up a big part of our day too, with a couple of the new devices coming to the market being shown off around the expo hall. MVR have come up with a wireless VR headset for use with mobile devices. Used alongside a controller, this allows you to freely look around the game world whilst you play. Although the wireless experience was good, the quality of the gameplay image was poor, which let the setup down. Also, the response time was far too high for most gamers to tolerate. Much more impressive was ROVR’s setup, which involved and Oculus Rift and the use of a specially designed stand to play in. Wearing specialised footwear, you could genuinely walk around the game world as if you were truly there. Fallout 4 was being used for the demo, and it was astounding how reactive and accurate the setup was for gaming. The Oculus headset held the experience back somewhat with its poor resolution, but the concept and hardware used to make the gameplay possible was fantastic. The biggest drawback was its size; it wouldn’t sit snugly in your living room!
One of the absolute delights of EGX is that indie developers get to sit alongside AAA studios on the show floor; showcasing games made by both small teams and dedicated individuals alike. This year was no exception, and as per usual some of the upcoming indie titles looked astoundingly brilliant. We started off by checking out some of the games in the Leftfield Collection; the smallest indie developments at the show. Some of these were no less than mind-blowing.
All the Delicate Duplicates was the first game we checked out, drawn in by its glossy appearance and eerie-looking world. The game follows two protagonists who inherit some unusual artefacts, only to realise that interacting with them is affecting their minds and changing the very world around them. Simultaneously thrilling and engrossing, All the Delicate Duplicates is sure to get some serious attention after its release with its stunning visuals and intriguing setting and novel storyline. Developers Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell are readying the game for beta access in the coming weeks.
A couple of games with hand drawn visuals drew our attention next. Indeed, it seemed that striking graphics were the real trend amongst this year’s Leftfield games. John William Evelyn’s upcoming game, The Collage Atlas, looked both imaginative and beautiful, using a carefully sketched artistic style to draw you in. The world is almost drawn around you as you travel through it, and this makes the experience incredibly immersive. Similarly, but with a somewhat darker tone, Arcfire’s upcoming title Foramina features a more white on black style that almost looks as if it has been etched especially for you to enjoy. You play with an unusual character, solving puzzles in order to explore an ever unfolding world and storyline. The EGX demo was short and sweet, but certainly set you up to keep an eye out for the game’s pending release.
Some of the most delightful games in the collection, and indeed the show, were the more comical ones on offer. First we tried TV Trouble, in development and on Steam Greenlight courtesy of Supercore Games. Originally created for a game jam, TV Trouble is a throwback to a 1967 production line, with you playing the technical role of a TV tuner. Your mission is simple; to set up and tune as many TV sets as possible in the given timeframe and score maximum points in the process. Simply, effective and funny, the game is a great casual indie experience.
Trapper’s Delight, developed by Shrimpcave Industries, was one of our favourite games from EGX’s indie selection. If you have played Ultimate Chicken Horse, Trapper’s Delight is essentially the 3D answer to that. It isn’t a straight copy of the original game, although the concepts are the same. You have to compete to get from A to B the fastest, also gathering as many coins as possible, whilst simultaneously stopping your opponents from achieving said goal. In order to do this, you can place a number of deadly-yet-humorous traps in their path during the prep stages of the game. These include acid and lava pits, shiruken launchers, fake bridges and various other tricksy means of disposing of ones enemies. The game is limitless fun and could easily keep you playing competitively with your friends for hours on end. Check it out on Steam now if it sounds up your street, as it is currently at 20% off!
Moving towards the larger indie games at the show, we first went and enjoyed some of the action at the Overcooked stand. Team 17’s frantic multiplayer chef simulator has been throwing nonsensical kitchens our way for some time now, but it still succeeds in drawing an impressive crowd and never seems to get old. From here, we went to check out Brawlout; an upcoming multiplayer brawler similar in style to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. games. The developers at Angry Mob Games were showcasing an all-action build of their upcoming title at the show, including a choice of uniquely designed and detailed characters to play with. The brightly coloured theme gives a false sense of friendliness in the game, but rest assured the battles which take place upon that backdrop are as hectic as you would hope for them to be. For brawler fans, this is definitely one to keep an eye on in the near future.
Simulators were making a mark at EGX this year too, one of which was Squeak Wheel and Positech Games’ upcoming title, Political Animals. In this political sim you can make your own animal avatar, and consequently lead them in their political campaigns to lead their fictional world. It’s a quirky concept, but with the publishers of the popular Democracy franchise behind it the game is quickly finding feet and drawing a worthy audience. On another stand, Skatanic Studios are showcasing their real-estate management sim; Living the Deal. Buying and selling property is the name of the game in this title, whilst also ensuring that your dodgy dealings pay off and you path to domination and success is paved without too many bumps in the road. It’s a unique idea, and it looks like it is coming together nicely for the team so far.
One final game which I would like to mention from the show is The Other 99. This survival title is shrouded in mystery, making it a little bit different to some of its competitors in the genre. This game isn’t all about crafting and killing; there is a genuine story hidden around the game world and it is up to you how you choose to follow it. The only clue you have is the note that you start the game with, which tells you that the answers you seek can only be obtained by going through the other 99. This refers to the other individuals on the island, who quickly become your hostile adversaries as you attempt to discover what is going on and how you came to be here. The game has a dark tone, but the need to try and survive is much more apparent and real than many other survival games manage to make it. You don’t have to fight either; exploration is as much an option and combat. It is an intriguing title that is well worth following for the avid survival game fan.
That is how my journey at EGX 2016 went down. It wasn’t the most exciting or elaborate event ever held under the EGX banner, but it did offer an insight into some great upcoming projects. Hopefully, if nothing else, you will have gained some idea of what is worth looking into yourselves after reading this. All that is left to say is thank you to all of the developers and publishers, as well as the organisers themselves, for accommodating us once again at EGX this year, and we look forward to working with you again in the near future.