This year, we were fortunate enough to attend EGX 2017 at the NEC in Birmingham again, allowing us to sample some of the titles that are out now, and coming soon. This year was particularly special as it was the tenth anniversary of the event which has grown significantly since it began boasting a footfall of 80,000 visitors. We wanted to give an overview of some of the games we were lucky enough to get our hands on over the course of the weekend so let us begin!
Assassins Creed Origins- Ubisoft – As you may have all gathered by now… I’m a bit of an Assassins Creed fan. In previous years I have become concerned that Ubisoft may need to consider retiring the franchise before fans get sick of the format. However, when Origins was announced, I was overjoyed because I loved Egyptian history when I was a child and the idea of our assassin being a Medjay in a stunning setting had me sold straight away. Having the demo at EGX was handy for me as it gave me a little taster of what was to come. I played at the Xbox booth which provided the XBOX One X E3 alpha demo in 4K according to the sign. I’ll admit that because of how old the demo is, it looked a little buggy and the 4K just made the demo look a bit blocky. With the game out shortly, I wondered if I should be concerned, but I am confident that the final game will be wonderful the combat and content look great. I can’t wait to get my hands on the Collectors Edition on October 27th!
Call of Duty: WWII – Activision – I did make sure that I was at the front of the queue on Thursday for the demo gameplay of this Call of Duty as I refused to queue for 3 hours for another CoD game with the World War 2 skin… even if there are no more jet packs! I hadn’t experienced the new look and feel of the game so was quite interested to see their take on the time period. We played domination and it was fun running around this new game space. The game has great graphics and a highly effective sound scape to give you the look and feel for this warfare which is so well documented and in my opinion needed to be well executed. It does that, but at the end of the day, it is another CoD game. Fans of the franchise will hopefully enjoy the journey back in time and I may well get it one day, but after being burned by Call of Duty last time, it will take a lot of get me to go back.
Detroit: Become Human – Quantric Dream – I have been looking forward to Detroit since it was announced. I loved Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Until Dawn, all of which share this gameplay style where your choices matter and time is of the essence in making your decisions. I was actually surprised that the demo was available as I fully expected to be watching someone else play the demo so I was pretty grateful to Sony for having this at their booth! The demo was gripping, suspenseful and pretty much everything I was hoping for this game. I was fortunate enough to play again as the Sony staff were determined to get the ending where everyone walks away from this scenario and no one managed to get it! I got 2 different endings and was ok with my outcomes because I achieved the objective by any means. The motion capture and performances were great, graphically the game is very impressive and I am now really looking forward to the game finally being ready!
Far Cry 5 – Ubisoft – If you love Far Cry, you’ll probably love Far Cry 5. I think the cult idea might be my favourite of the series so far and seeing fanatics driving around intent on killing anyone who doesn’t follow their beliefs is pretty horrendous so you don’t feel too bad about taking them out with your new sidekicks. The graphics look great, the side kicks are a little tricky to get straight away unless you get a good amount of time to test them out but look to be well received although dog may get annoying after hours and hours of use. Overall though, it is another Far Cry game and the format doesn’t look to have changed that much since 4 with roving gangs of cultists driving around in their trucks and with areas to liberate, you’ll have plenty to do but hopefully the story will keep you interested.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War- Warner Bros – Fans of Shadow of Mordor will hopefully be looking forward to Shadow of War. I still need to play Mordor because I’m a terrible person who has so many games on the go that I haven’t had a chance to get stuck in but it is a game I am looking forward to playing! So with that in mind, I wanted to have a go on War to remind me to get my butt in gear and get cracking! I found the demo quite tricky because there wasn’t a whole lot of direction in terms of what the buttons are and as a XBOX controller noob, I never press the right buttons! There was a choice of objectivesfor the demo and I tried 2 of them in order to get an idea of what was to come. I rode a Drake in one instance but failed miserabley as the manoeuvring wasn’t entirely fantastic making it difficult to burn the enemies from the safety of the sky over the top of the fortress. Hopefully this will be better in the final release as I found the drake looked a little blocky and the animation sometimes stopped which made it look like more like the T-Rex in the original Tomb Raider. The second time I tried storming the fortress, which started well but as I didn’t know what I was doing, I was getting heavily punished by the dodge mechanic. It was still really fun and I eventually gave up and just ran around the map killing things which was awesome. I’m sure the finished product will be great and thoroughly enjoyable so I do look forward to playing it again someday!
PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds – Bluehole Studio Inc – I have never played PUBG before. There I said it. I know a lot of people that do and I now understand when people say they had a ‘chicken dinner’ last night they don’t mean an actual meal consisting of poultry. I thought I would give the XBOX version a go as a way of convincing me I should probably commit and pick it up on Steam so I can play with people. The demo set up just dropped you in a game which is fine but if you haven’t played before, it might not be a great first time experience. I died within 2 minutes and didn’t pick up a whole lot of stuff and I was pretty dissatisfied with that outcome so thought I would have another try. The second time around I didn’t see anyone for a good 7/8 minutes and even ran towards gunfire in an attempt to get a kill but eventually I realised that I should probably be heading towards the next player area as the blue wall which I assume meant death was getting closer. I was run over by a truck while crossing a field. No kills. My first experience wasn’t that great but maybe I’ll still get it on PC as I don’t have an XBOX.
Sea of Thieves – Rare – I really dislike queuing at EGX. It’s long, boring and tends to result in my mood deteriorating pretty quickly. Luckily, I had some amazing queue buddies and my Switch which kept us entertained for the 2 hours or so we queued for Sea of Thieves and all of us were saying that it better be worth it in the end. I can confirm that it was. In short it was amazing, brilliant even. The game looks great and coupled with the fun concept of sailing the seas with your friends pirating just makes things all the better. The execution is pretty solid and it was thoroughly enjoyable to play with friends. I liked that everyone would need to pitch in to get the ship where it needed to go and you do need to work as a team to successfully avoid sinking or getting blown to smithereens. As someone who doesn’t have an XBOX, this has made me want to get this title on PC so I can Cross Play with my XBOX friends as it will be amazing.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole – Ubisoft – I have to be honest and admit that I have not yet played The Stick of Truth but I will be picking it up because if Fractured But Whole is anything to go by, I need this game in my life. We all know that South Park has no shame, pushes the boundaries of political correctness and as a result is absolutely hilarious. The turn based combat was actually quite easy to pick up and get to grips with considering that I really dislike turn based combat usually (hence why I have never played Final Fantasy and just watched others play!). The demo was gross and brilliant as it was set in a strip club and our heroes need to get information in order to find the stripper then need. I really enjoyed the demo and even went back a second time so I could give it another go. Really can’t say anything more at this stage because I would just like to play it now!
Star Wars Battlefront 2 – Electronic Arts – I love Star Wars. I enjoyed Battlefront to begin with but after a while I stopped playing and when I tried to go back to it, everyone was elite level and impossible to play against. With Battlefront 2 inbound and with the addition of a campaign mode, fans will be able to get their hands on heroes old and new and test out the new multiplayer set ups. It is still Battlefront in the way it plays but the access to vehicles and heroes has changed which makes them feel a little more accessible as you earn battle points allowing you to actually access them now rather than racing to an icon only to miss out because someone else got there first. I managed to get enough point to play as Rey which was really fun and allowed me to demolish a lot of people before I got finished off. The new character load outs work quite well too with your choices or assault and heavy and so forth, each providing support and the opportunity for more points to be earned. Sadly we lost our battle which may have been down to not really knowing what we were doing but hopefully, as with all games, players will get to grips with it pretty quickly and have fun returning to the Star Wars universe.
Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo – I was a little skeptical about a new Mario game, especially one in which Mario would be thrown into the real world. I thought it sounded like a gimmick and a desperate attempt by Nintendo to try and keep the Mario franchise fresh. I was wrong. It’s really fun and actually a really interesting way of presenting this Mario title. There is a great mix of old and new Mario in there with lots of objectives and mini games as you explore. There are some open world areas and some which are a little more linear in their direction. I really enjoyed running around as 3D Mario before moving through a pipe and taking on an 8 bit mini game and emerge as 3D Mario again. There was a good mix of simple and more difficult activities and once you have the hang of it you’ll storm through and hopefully have hours of fun doing so!
Sonic Mania – SEGA – As the game is already out, I felt I needed to play the demo as sadly we have not had a chance to pick up Sonic Mania yet and we now know we need to! Not only because it will be amazing on the Switch with the added bonus of being able to take it with you but because I need to get better at playing Sonic. I’m only going to keep this short because quite frankly it is like the old games, only better! The game looks great, runs smoothly and still retains the Sonic charm that we know and love. Definitely a must buy so I should try to find some pennies down the back of the sofa so we can get it!
Knowledge is Power – Wish Studios – I’m normally not one for the video game quizzes as I’m more of a fan of actually playing a trivia game with cards and perhaps a board. Previously, I have actually actively avoided quizzes in video game form but have to say Knowledge is Power was actually quite fun. This is a new Playlink title whereby player use their phones/devices and play on the TV. Initially you will choose your avatar character and take a selfie so your friends can see who you chose to be and you’ll move through the game voting for the category you would like and then choosing your answer and hoping you get it right. The game awards you points for a right answer and then the game lets you know that you can choose to hinder your friends by covering the answers in goo or removing letters just to make their lives a little more difficult. You earn points and eventually the winner will be decided allowing the game to deliver the winner with a scroll of knowledge with a little nugget of information you may not have known before! Definitely a good potential party game if you fancy it.
Hidden Agenda – Supermassive Games – When Hidden Agenda and Playlink were announced I thought it would be a really interesting concept allowing you to work with and against your friends while playing a game in which decisions will impact the overall outcome. The game seems to have the same level of suspense as Until Dawn and requires quick reactions from the group in order to avoid certain thingsfrom happening such as setting off traps. The hidden agenda aspect works really well as one player get an agenda they need to try and complete. It certainly keeps you guessing as to whether you’re making the right choices or whether someone is leading you to make a particular choice. There is also a takeover mechanic which is quite fun as you can take control and make your decision count but other players can also do the same which causes some interesting rifts. We didn’t guess who the person with the agenda was but we prevented them from completing it… mainly with my well timed takeover. It works well and at this stage, I would definitely look to get this game to make gatherings a little different!
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – Quick insert from Kuniku now – I didn’t attend EGX as press this year, as I was actually working as an Exhibitor, which meant I didn’t get much time to cover as many titles, and Lefranzine has already covered most of the games I played. But I did call dibs on one title, and that was Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.
I adored the first title in the series, it combined my love of games, specifically RPGs, and my love of Studio Ghibli into one of the most adoreable and beautiful games to bless the PS3. When Ni No Kuni II was announced, it was instantly at the top of my list of games to be excited about. EGX was the first time I got my hands on the demo, and it was stunning on the PS4! The gameplay has changed somewhat, going from more turn based RPG, to a more action based combat system, which seemed to have some sort of Pikmin thing going on. I loved everything about it, and can’t wait to spend all my money on the collectors edition in January! Only thing I thought was odd was that it wasn’t voice acted, something I was, for some reason, expecting it to be. But that doesn’t really take away from the fact that January’s release could see a very early claim to 2018’s game of the year for me!
Destiny 2 – Activision – I have Destiny, I play Destiny, I just wanted loot and I intend on sharing my thoughts on Destiny 2 soon. At EGX you had the choice of doing a strike or some Crucible at the event but our strike was already going before we sat down and by the time we had sorted our load out we lost 5 mins and were out of the running for any big prizes. The consoles were struggling and the stock characters could be altered too much which I’m sure hasn’t been an issue at previous conventions. I’m not sure why the build didn’t just have the best legendary weapons in each slot and stock armour which couldn’t be changed as we could sit there infusing and dismantling which isn’t really necessary for a ‘demo’. My tip for Activision, Bungie and Virgin would be to get more screens because it was always really busy with a pretty long wait time if you didn’t have a Fast Track pass (which only Virgin customers could get). The booth itself looked pretty nice with guns from the game and display Guardians under the Traveller but there needs to be more focus on making the experience itself enjoyable.
Worms: WMD – Team 17 – I loved Worms as a kid and would play Armageddon all the time on PC. I even used to put the disc in the CD player so it would play through the SFX and music while I was doing other things just because it would make me laugh. Now Worms returns and it is still so much fun! It looks great, still follows the familiar mechanics which works and doesn’t need to change but more important of all, it is still fun! I am really looking forward to this being on the Switch because again, it’s another title which lends itself to the portable console market as well as PC, XBOX and Playstation. I can’t really say much more other than get on my console already!
Yoku’s Island Express – Villa Gorilla – While perusing the Team 17 booth I came across this cute side scrolling 3D pinball platformer. I wasn’t sure about it straight away but as soon as I started playing I was sucked in and really enjoying it! You play a Yoku, a small postman who gets to work their way around Mokumana Island helping the locals and unlocking the secrets it holds. It’s a pretty game with lots of paths to take but still has that puzzle platformer feel which reminds me of a little of Rayman but is incredibly unique in its execution. Lovely graphics and audio to match, certainly an interesting title which will appeal to young and older audiences across the platforms.
Battalion 1944 – Bulkhead Interactive – In a world of Battlefield and Call of Duty, it can be hard to find new FPS multiplayer games these days. Enter Battalion 1944 with some fast paced action set in WW2. We played some multiplayer action on PC and it was fun to play once I got the hang of keyboard and mouse controls (which I’m still learning by the way). We played some Team Deathmatch and ran around the map trying out take out the enemy team. It is certainly enjoyable and is a pleasant return to the old school shooters for those of you who are done with the big boys who duke it out every year or so, maybe you should consider giving Battalion a go!
Octahedron – Demimonde Games – Octahedron is a precision vertical action game in which you create your own platforms to move up the level overcoming obstacles and traps that are there to trip you up. As you progress, the game will get more difficult but will allow you to unlock abilities allowing you to use your platform as a weapon. You think it sounds easy but it does require good timing and reactions to get through. I really enjoyed playing this demo! I found it challenging but really engaging as I was determined to overcome the obstacles in order to progress. Whenever I failed, I knew exactly what I had done wrong and wanted to make sure I didn’t do it again next time. Octahedron has a great soundtrack and is really enjoyable! It was also great to meet Marco at the event and let him know what I thought of the game. I would love to have this game on my Switch so I could take it anywhere I went so fingers crossed it’ll be available one day but it will be on Steam, PS4 and XBOX!
Fear Effect Sedna – Sushee – I haven’t played the original Fear Effect before but I have seen that this kickstarter project is set to be different from the Fear Effect of PSone. While Fear Effect was a triple A title back in the day, this will be an indie game! The four main characters from the original are in Sedna so if you played before, you may be interested in this take on the adventure. I did enjoy the demo with the interesting swap mechanic allowing you to move back and forth between characters to work together to resolve issues. Combat is quite quick and can be punishing if you aren’t on the ball (or if you’re just terrible at playing games like I am) but would be interested to see how the story progresses. The combat is in real time but can be paused to prepare attacks and heavily focuses on the tactical role-playing aspect allowing characters to combine their skills for maximum effect. It is going to be different to the predecessors but a lot of effort has been put in to show Sushee’s respect for the original game.
Strange Brigade – Rebellion – If you like Zombie Army Trilogy, you’ll love this! 4 new crazy characters embarking on a safari of weird and wonderful locations to take on hordes of evil! The demo was fast, fun and entertaining. I quite liked the difficulty and can imagine it ramping up if you play as a full team as the single player experience is good but team work always makes the dream work. I can’t say much else other than I really enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll be able to get a team together someday and work our way through the campaign! There isn’t much more to say other than give it to me!
Phantom Halls – Incendium – Phantom Halls is a side scrolling, survival horror with objectives to complete as you work your way through a haunted mansion maze to find your friends and survive the maze. It’s a charming game with an interesting concept which has been well executed. You search the mansion for clues and items including weapons and clothing which will help you fight enemies. The maps are procedurally generated too so the is the replay value there too and extend beyond just the mansion! Really enjoyable and with the Evil Dead content and more updates on the way, it’s a great game which deserved the greenlight. Available now on Steam for £3.33.
Insane Robots – Playniac – We did cover Insane Robots at Rezzed earlier this year but I wanted to do another shout out as Rob was back with the updated build and every time I turned up the booth was busy with folks getting to grips with the game which is fantastic to see as we really enjoy this game! It is an exceptional card battler in which you duke it out with randomly generated survival arenas in a tournament style single player campaign. Really recommend keeping an eye out for it if you fancy your hand at a deck building robot fighting game with a lot of hours of gameplay on offer for not only single player action but taking on your friends and battling it out!
I just want to also say how great it was to see some of the games we have covered previously and managed to catch up with such as Black & White Bushido, Inops, Dead Cells, Forgotten Anne, Oh My Godheads (who I have pleaded with to get their game on Switch!), Shu, Gang Beasts, HyperBrawl Tournament, Overcooked, The Turing Test, Black The Fall along with so many other indie games drawing big crowds and being so well received at the event. The Rezzed area and Leftfield collection have a lot of amazing developers offering great titles which you should take the time to check out. I would highly recommend downloading the EGX app and taking a look at the games on offer as try as we might, we couldn’t get around to every title on offer as much as we wish we could.
The retro areas were also popular offering a hefty dose of nostalgia showing those consoles from back in the day. It was lovely to see young people seeing an Atari or Spectrum for the first time! The tournament area was pretty big this year with ESL and Overwatch tournaments as well a small Nintendo Switch area. Twitch were kind of tucked away in the back corner this year and as a result, I don’t think I dropped in once which is a shame as when it was in the middle of the space, crowds could stop and see what was happening whereas they may have missed them completely this time around. The Fight Zone was popular as ever hosting the Capcom Pro Tour Street Fighter V tournament with ProblemX from the UK winning this time around. A lot of talented cosplayers showed off their skills this year and it’s always great to see the passion and talent these folks have and there were plenty of set ups for casual players to have a go too. EGX always bankrupts me and as usual there was a lot of merch on offer, Insert Coin were back and popular as ever so I’m glad I managed to get my Firefly hoodie and Hunter tee before they sold out but it was also nice to see Gametee, Blizzard and gamerlegends stands this year as well as some of the smaller stands selling retro games and even Viking drinking horns!
EGX felt smaller this year somehow but the crowds were still huge. As a result there were very long queue times for some of the triple A titlee for less than 20 mins gameplay time. The usual big Bethesda was missed (but not missing as Skyrim VR and Switch were available to play) and with Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein 2 out so soon, it would have been great to have a stand for those too so folks could get excited for the releases. Although there was a record attendance of 80,000 over the event, the amount of tickets available didn’t match what was on offer. So it feels as though the numbers need to come down and not increase in order for the event to be enjoyable and for people to keep coming back. For paying customers who want to play the bigger titles, queuing for up to 3 hours isn’t fun (unless you have queue buddies and maybe a Switch/3DS to pass the time) which means they miss out on indie titles too. With all that said though, we did have a great time and are looking forward to Rezzed and EGX again next year though as there are lots of wonderful reps and devs who make it all worthwhile.