As another September draws near an end, I make my annual pilgrimage to the Eurogamer Expo, or EGX as they like to call it these days. I’ve travelled to London in the past, and more recently, have made my way to the NEC in Birmingham. For this year’s edition of the show, I am present for two day’s, and right here, right now in Birmingham, England *cheap pop*, I am delivering my Day One Report. Read on…
First up, a few thoughts on the show layout itself. The Eurogamer events team have clearly taken on board lessons from the old Earl’s Court days, and last year’s debut at the NEC by spacing booths out more and ensuring more eating establishments are available. I think there are two dedicated ‘in-show’ eating areas, along with the normal outlets hosted by the NEC. This is good news all around, as last year’s event felt especially crowded and claustrophobic. Due to the ever increasing size of the show, it does mean you have further to walk to see the big attractions, but this year, there doesn’t seem to be as many ‘WOW’ games to see. That may just be a side effect of the increased floor space, but this year the show floor seems to be dedicated to sponsors, Twitch and competitive gaming than ever before. While the crowds haven’t been too bad today, I have no doubts that over the weekend (which I’m skipping for more important things….like Progress Wrestling’s biggest ever show in Brixton!) the crowds will be horrendous. I think I’d rather take a Chicken Wing than get lost in those crowds again. Anyway, on with the games!
My first stop was to the indie section, no great hardship as they find themselves located right by the freakin front door! I quickly found myself at the Mode 7 Games stand, gazing longingly at people playing Tokyo 42. I waited a while, and I’m pretty sure a PCGamesN writer was playing before I was able to take a turn.
Soon enough, I jumped on and was quickly grinning from ear to ear. The art style is fabulous as has already been established by the announcement trailer. But seeing this game in the flesh is another story entirely, it just screams out to be played. Playing the game is pretty damn fun too, but sadly I managed to get myself a bit stuck. After completing a few of the early tutorial moments (shooting, jumping), I had to throw a grenade.
I could see what I had to do, simply time the release of the middle mouse button to the moment the arc of the throw was in the right place. Sadly, I got my timing wrong…all ten times. I only managed to kill one of the required goons, leaving the other to run around wondering what had happened to his buddy. I ran around trying find more grenades, even throwing myself off several tall building to restart from a previous checkpoint, all to on avail. I couldn’t even buy any more from the black market arms dealer, probably because this is part of the tutorial.
UPDATE – Paul from Mode 7 has confirmed there was a bug with the grenades. I shall return on day two to make further progress!
Despite my grenade woes, Tokyo 42 looks like a game I will love…then throw away in frustration…then love all over again.
The next game on my journey of the indies was The Signal from Tölva, the upcoming game from Big Robot Ltd. I picked up the demo after someone had completed the first few tutorial steps, and once I started to get to the meaty stuff…the demo ran out of time. Most distressing, but in my limited hands on time, I could tell this is going to be something special from next year’s indie scene. I hope to see this again tomorrow, and will write some further detailed impressions and thoughts on the game in due course.
I stopped by Mantis Burn Racing after the sci-fi adventures of Tölva. Arcade racers are two-a-penny these days, and so many show their face at EGX, and quickly fall by the wayside. I’m not saying Mantis Burn Racing is necessarily any different, but this one at least might be worth paying attention to. It is currently on Steam Early Access, and will be arriving on the consoles as well.
It’s a top-down racer, which can be tricky to master, both for the developer and as a player. However, Voo Foo Studios seem to have done a good job with an in-house game engine. The action looks good, and the cars handle well and all have a distinct visual style. There will ultimately be seven seasons of career gameplay, along with a wide variety of game modes and vehicle types to play around with, either by yourself or with friends – online and local co-op supported.
Oh my! That was one of my first thoughts upon stepping through the curtain to see Sony’s curated demo for Horizon Zero Dawn before letting us peasants go hands on with the game. Interest was so high for Zero Dawn that the Sony gang had been giving people time slots to come to the game, to avoid queues that would be out of control within the tightly packed Sony stand. I was lucky to arrive when someone else had missed their time slot and was allowed in. The curated demo was very impressive, but sadly the hands-on demo was different, and much smaller. Exploration was limited, and crafting and skill options were minimal. I’m certainly intrigued though, and will be looking at the game again another time here on The Reticule.
My next stop was to Motosport Manager and I spent about half an hour with this demo, taking a team through the Munich Grand Prix, all the way from free practice to a rain affected race. I loved every moment of it, it brought back so many fond memories of Grand Prix Manager 2, and gushed over the game to a developer. It was so detailed and I was like a kid in a candy shop. Again, I will hope to write about this at length another time.
I hung around the Sega zone a bit longer, and after a bit of queuing, I got hands on with Dawn of War III. I’ve played the previous games in the series, and like most RTS titles these days, I play them for a while and have a riot of a time…then put them down for one reason or another. I’m not saying I won’t enjoy Dawn of War III, in fact I am sure that I will have a great time with it. I’m just not convinced that I will persevere with it in the long term.
The demo pits your loyal Space Marines against some Eldar foes, and I pretty much got my ass handed to me. I had fun while playing, and I could see where I was going wrong. It is telling that I haven’t spent much time with any RTS for a number of years, as my strategies were woefully haphazard. I didn’t have enough resources to build up a strong army, and any units I did send out weren’t strong enough to tackle the alien foe. Safe to say, I was rusty.
The final game on my tour was Titanfall 2. I didn’t mind the first game…I just thought it was lightweight for the lofty ideals it had. The sequel might be better placed with a promised full campaign, rather than the mess we were given in the original. The demo played out across a straightforward control point style game mode, with a fairly uninspired map that didn’t do much for the free running extravagance that was the bright spot of the first game. I fear that in Respawn’s attempt to ensure the new game appeals to a broader audience, they are tuning down the good stuff and turning it into a CoD-light. I wanted the first game with some tightening of the core systems, I’m not sure from this demo whether I’ll get what I want.
That was it for Day One. On Day Two, I have a big choice to make – do I see Dishonored 2 or not? I’m at a stage where I’m happy to wait for the game to release, so everything is fresh and new to me. I will make efforts to see Battlefield 1, it looks like DICE have brought a different map to what we saw in the Open Beta, that will be interesting. Elsewhere, I do want to see Sniper Elite 4, but I’m not sure where else I will end up.