Events, Reviews

EGX 2019

This year EGX moved from the NEC in Birmingham to the Excel in London. Whether you are a fan of the change in location or not, you can’t deny that EGX still remains one of the biggest gaming conventions in the UK offering opportunities for publishers and developers to showcase their titles, stages for content creators and influencers to do live shows and streams along with merchandise, retro gaming and tabletop gaming to get stuck in to. While DingleTheViking was working at the Fight Zone over the weekend, I queued to get my hands on some of the titles and went along to a couple of the gameplay sessions in order to report my thoughts on them. So without further ado, let’s get started:

Final Fantasy VII Remake – Now if you have been looking forward to the remake or have been paying attention you may well have seen the demo playthrough that came out a couple of months ago. At EGX, we had the opportunity to get our hands on this demo to try it for ourselves. As someone who has not played Final Fantasy as I don’t like turn based combat but has watched playthroughs previously, I was actually looking forward to seeing if I enjoyed the new combat system. I thought the demo looked great and ran quite smoothly with the controls being relatively easy to pick up quite quickly. When it was time to fight the boss, it did take me a few minutes to work things out in respect of swapping between characters when they are targeted with an unblockable attack or when a particular spell or ability would be useful. That being said, I made relatively short work of said boss and was the first person to finish the demo. But was it any good? Based on what I played, I can certainly see myself stealing it off the Viking when he has finished with it. With the option to switch to turn based combat, I might try it both ways to see whether the remake can convince me that it’s not that bad however I think the new combat system will be what keeps me involved. It’s certainly looking and feeling good though based on the demo.

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Death Stranding – There was no demo as such at EGX but with the release only a couple of weeks away I was a little disappointed that there was only a theatre showing the Tokyo Game show video which is available online. Sadly I am too short to be able to read the subtitles when sat at the back so I only saw gameplay again but had to try and remember what was being said at the time. I’m unsure what else I would have expected to be there however it would have been nice for there to be some sort of notice advising what was being shown as I noticed many visitors looking a little frustrated at queuing for it when they have seen it before. That being said, seeing the gameplay again did reignite my intrigue and I am still looking forward to seeing what the game has in store as long as we can all avoid the spoilers that are being leaked online now that some people have review copies.

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Medievil – Due to many life events going on, I sadly missed out on playing the Short Lived demo when it was available for Medievil before the show so it was nice to spend some time with the game at EGX! It’s been a very long time since I played the original and it does look great in its remastered glory. I have a soft spot for these classic Playstation titles that are making a return but I do think it will be great to introduce a new generation of young folks to Medievil as it is such a fun game. It feels good, it looks fantastic and will be a joy for veterans and newcomers to play! I don’t really think I need to say more!

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Dreams – While there were some spaces, I settled on a beanbag and tried some of the games that were made in Dreams. Dreams offers a game creations system for creators and multigame availability for players which is in interesting and potentially great idea. This will allow creative minds to unleash their creations upon others and for those who love to play to try out a multitude of games created in the engine. I found the games that were available fun and a little crazy. There was a title in which you have to switch flippers using the controller buttons to allow a ball to fall quickly. It was delightfully frustrating and fun all at the same time as it tested your reactions and controller knowledge in a pinch. The possibilities of this game are endless and I’m really interested to see what people can do with this potentially amazing tool.

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Predator Hunting Grounds – as a player of asymmetric horror game Dead By Daylight, Predator caught my attention when it was announced, however I wasn’t sure if it would work well on the basis that the Predator films are so well known and these types of games need an audience who will keep playing it. I played twice over the course of EGX trying both Predator and Mercenary roles. I will start by saying that I don’t play the Killer role in Dead By Daylight because I am terrible at it so I knew that my time as Predator might not be that impressive. The Predator has the ability to see heat signatures (which also includes a little amount of sound as you can tell which are players running around and which are NPCs), to cloak to blend with its surroundings and also had its trusty claws for stabbing and the shoulder cannon for blowing things up. There is also limited healing available should you take a few hits which also includes a second wind function allowing you to heal a bit and go back for some more spines. I have been told you can also self-destruct but I didn’t get to test that out. I found leaping from tree to tree fun, watching the players take on NPCs and occasionally firing a cannon blast at them to let them know I was there but sadly they completed their objectives and called in a chopper so I had to act fast. I actually fell down in the middle of them while cloaked and then couldn’t remember how to change weapons so missed an opportunity to kill more than one person which I did with reckless abandon but 3 of the 4 escaped which I didn’t feel too bad about for my first time out. The Mercs on the other had have to negotiate objectives, NPCs and the Predator which seems like a lot but actually makes you think about how you play. I tried to run and stab NPCs reducing the amount of noise I made compared to the others but eventually, you heard the familiar sounds of the Predator and I managed to get a lot of hits on him. The NPCs were a little glitchy in this alpha demo but when there’s someone actively hunting you, you just run and gun without worrying about that. I felt more in my element as a Merc but not being able to communicate with the team while playing meant I was just shouting that the Predator was in a direction but no one could react. If team mates go down, you have one chance to revive them so if 3 go down and you reach the marker, all 3 come back so you would need to decide when it’s time to use it. From playing the alpha, the game shows promise but I would certainly be willing to give it a go when it is finally ready.

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Cyberpunk 2077 – If like me you are already hyped for Cyberpunk, the opportunity to see more gameplay is always welcomed ahead of the release in April. Luckily CDPR and Bandai Namco arranged a 200 seater cinema for folks to book in for in order to watch 45 minutes of gameplay. It was roughly the same section that was shown a couple of months ago during the deep dive stream and Hollie Bennett narrated proceedings and explained some more of the mechanics while we got more of a look at some of the game play options when it comes to characters and ways of approaching situations. It was nice as someone familiar with Cyberpunk to see what you imagine from the TTRPG books come to life but also was a good way of explaining what to expect for those folks who are not as aware. The game looks stunning, the combat looks gritty and fun, the character creation and development is going to make for some interesting playthroughs and I cannot wait for the game to get here already.

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Doom Eternal – One of the booths that was the most popular over the show was Doom Eternal. The demo offered a chance to have a quick tutorial before throwing you into the game. I enjoyed my time with the demo, allowing the music, the graphics and the lust of demon blood take over as I blasted, chainsawed and punched my way through enemies. It feels like a natural continuation of Doom (2016) but with new powerful weapons and abilities, it’s feeling even more insane. The Praetor Suit has a shoulder-mounted flamethrower and your Shotgun has a Meat Hook attachment allowing you to pull yourself into enemies before blowing their heads off… also, double dash is pretty good too. I couldn’t help but get lost in the demo and it felt like it was over far too quickly and I wanted more… I can’t lie, I’m ready to slay some more demons.

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Marvel’s Avengers – Another title which saw long queues throughout the weekend was Avengers and after the initial announcement I was certainly intrigued by the concept of playing multiple super heroes in the Marvel Universe. I was unsure how well it would work but with the option to play through the campaign on your own or with friends choosing between which hero you want to be today sounds like it could work quite well. With regards to the demo, it’s essentially the gameplay we have seen before but it felt good to get my hands on it and try out the different characters. I was quite comfortable and happy with Thor, Captain America and the Hulk, they were fun to play as and whether you were smashing, hammering or throwing your shield at people, I really enjoyed playing as them. Iron Man I found to be a little clunky mechanically speaking as I tried to aim and fire but even more so when I unleashed the beam of energy from his chest as it didn’t seem to feel like it did very much. Out of all of the heroes, he felt the weakest for me. Black Widow was pretty good to play as and felt reminiscent to playing Batman in an Arkham game as you fired off gadgets and dodged attacks but it gave you an idea of the kind of boss fights that the game will also include. Overall, I think the game does show promise and the options to upgrade your gear, play with friends but doing high value target missions or teaming up for campaign missions are something that offer a little more than just playing a liner narrative. It’s one I would like to still try before I buy so to speak when it’s released next year but I’m hoping it will be a good all rounder once it is finished.

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Zombie Army 4 – It’s been a little while since I last played Zombie Army and I managed to jump onto the demo for the upcoming release of 4 one morning but trying to play a FPS on console after months using a keyboard and mouse did not work out well for me! It looks, sounds and feels like your classic Zombie Army and before I knew it, I was overrun with zombies trying to shoot them back. If you are a fan of the ZA catalog then you will definitely want to get involved with this. I personally love playing these games with friends as I find it much more enjoyable however you will have the option for matchmaking online so you can play with others even if your friends aren’t online… of course, you could also play solo if you’re some kind of crazy zombie killer!

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Ring Fit Adventure- When the Nintendo Ring Fit was announced, I genuinely thought it was a joke but I love Nintendo and know how much they like to think outside of the box. There was an opportunity to test it out at EGX which I made sure I queued up for as, even though I was still aching from an intense exercise session earlier in the week, I wanted to see what it was like. You’d be surprised at the resistance the Ring has… now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly strong, but it certainly offered something to work against and while I dare say DingleTheViking would be able to push the sides all the way together, for someone with less upper body strength, it does give you a little bit of a challenge. The leg band for the other joy con was nice and comfortable so you can use the velcro strap to make sure that it is tight enough not to slip but not cutting into you. There are a couple of different modes within the Ring Fit cartridge which offer more exercise focused options or you can play mini games that still work on your balance and fitness but of course with some fun and games mixed in. I tried the mini games out and really enjoyed them as they were a little challenging, even on normal and even though I wasn’t necessarily having to ‘work out’, I still had to squat, squeeze and jog which got me moving. I really did like the Ring Fit and really hope people give it a chance like they did with Wii Fit boards back in the day. I did always wonder whether Nintendo could come up with an equivalent for the Switch and I have to say, while it’s a little quirky, it definitely works.

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Luigi’s Mansion 3 – It’s been a long time since I played a Luigi’s Mansion game and number 3 is lovely so far. I had a lot of fun with the demo, enjoying the puzzles, the challenges and the spookiness. It really is a delight to play and any fan of the titles will enjoy getting back into the mansion and hoovering up some ghosts. It’s looks great, feels good and is a lot of fun, especially when you gooey Luigi can be used to get to places that seem unreachable! There isn’t much more to say other than there’s some ghostbusting to be done and Luigi is the terrified plumber for the job.

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Roki – A delightful indie title I made sure to head over to the Rezzed section to try out was a lovely game about a young girl called Tove as she goes on a journey to save her family from Polygon Treehouse. With folklore, puzzles and monsters, the game will offer a variety of challenges and also promises to be an emotional experience. As Tove picks up items while she explores and puts them together to solve puzzles, you can also get lost in the story and the surroundings. I was quite happy wandering around the snowy landscape trying to figure out how I was going to help the troll under the bridge and then got distracted looking at gravestones before getting an idea of what was happening in the story (which I won’t give away). It really is a lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed the demo. It would have been easy to sit and play for hours if the demo hadn’t ended when it did. Keep your eyes out for this one folks because it certainly deserves your attention as it will be able to hold its own against the likes of titles such as Rime.

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Moving Out – Are you a fan of co-op party games like Overcooked? Well if you aren’t you should be! Moving Out is a new title from SMG Studio and Team 17 that offers up to 4 players the chance to help folks move their belongings and more by grabbing furniture, boxes and even farmyard animals and chucking it all into a van with the greatest care of course as you race against the clock. It’s great fun and with lots of levels with varying degrees of difficulty, you and your friends will likely be yelling at each other to try and move folks out as quickly as possible. I loved that some items needed two people to work together to get things out such as a fridge but you then had to negotiate doors and who needed to pivot, push or pull to successfully exit the building. It was surprisingly tricky at times but also hilarious. I can already see Moving Out being added to our party game collection for holidays with friends so be sure to check it out.

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EGX offered a lot of titles to play and sadly I couldn’t get around to more due to queues and events happening on some of the stages that I wanted to see. With Playstation Access doing their live streams and the other stages offering talks, panels, cosplay and live game play, there was a lot of see and do. It was a good weekend overall and we certainly can’t wait for Rezzed next year to see what is on offer.

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