I had a splendid time at EGX this year at Earl’s Court, and despite referring to it as the Eurogamer Expo all week, I was happy to be there and impressed with what I saw. There were a few games which might have made it as my Game of the Show, but for one reason or another, they just didn’t quite do enough to convince me. My Game of the Show surprised even myself, but it was the one which clinched it after spending three and a half hours pondering the decision on my coach ride home.
I didn’t expect to see Dying Light enter the frame, I was expecting something like Battlefield: Hardline or even The Order: 1886 to appear on this list before the show started. However, after my hands-on with the game at the show, I realised that I had been largely ignoring this zombie survival horror game. It comes from Techland who are probably most famous in recent times for bringing the world Dead Island, but personally I remember them more for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger which I heartily enjoyed when I played it last summer. I’m hoping that Dying Light can prove to have a similar sneaking ability to truly catch my eye when it releases this coming January.
The demo I played at EGX was short, but gave me an insight into what to expect. There are melee weapons which deal some meaty damage to the foes while the pistol I was equipped with wasn’t the most reliable of tools for the job. Who needs it though when the hand-to-hand combat is so rich and fulfilling? Smashing zombies to pieces is always great fun, and even more so when you can do it with electrically charged tools. Traps are thrown in for good measure and I enjoyed setting them off and luring the flesh-eaters in. My concern would be that the setting and theme is too generic, time will tell though.
I first mentioned Bloodborne in our post-Gamescom thoughts, and so it is only fair that I talk about it again here. I’ll be honest, if the demo that I played on the show floor had been longer, then the follow up to Demon Souls and Dark Souls by From Software might have taken my top Game of the Show spot, as it is, the demo didn’t quite give me enough to thrust it up there. I was though, very excited by what I was able to experience.
The game takes some of the elements that makes the aforementioned titles stand out for many, while allying those themes with a world which appeals to me more than ever. This is the exploration of the city of Yharnam which has a strong-vibe of Victorian era London about it. There were top hats on the floor surrounding carriages and an inky blackness to the colour-palette that I found much more appealing than the grey dullness of Dark Souls 2. I can’t wait to get to play this at home and really invest some time into it, I just hope I can improve on my combat skills compared to my poor efforts with the demo.
Of all the games, I certainly didn’t expect Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to be my Game of the Show. I went into it in a more positive frame of mind than I have when witnessing recent entries in the franchise, and after my session with the game and developer session with Glen Schofield from Sledgehammer Games, I came away from the show feeling very positive. I certainly enjoyed my time playing the multiplayer, the movement is certainly reminiscent of Titanfall and Destiny, but as should be expected from a game that bears the Call of Duty name, it all feels much faster and sharper than those games. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great titles in their own right, but there is something about the Call of Duty formula which I admired since day one, and fell in love with when Modern Warfare rolled around. It was just a shame that the multiplayer action seemed to drag along as much as the singleplayer campaigns did, and the action in Advanced Warfare felt like a return to better time.
I will admit that I wasn’t entirely blown away by the team deathmatch side of the multiplayer demo, far too often I found myself walking around trying to locate the enemy. If you look at any of the gameplay already released, the maps have a certain frenetic feel to them. Now, I don’t know whether it was because of the small team sizes or if it was just the map, but things didn’t quite match up as I expected in this first test.
The second half of the multiplayer demo was much improved though, this was an Uplink map. Think of a fusion between real-world basketball and capture the flag from your favourite edition of Unreal Tournament and you should have an idea what I am talking about. This map was much more open than the first, but the routes between the opposing bases, and the location of the ball, meant that I was rarely waiting for some action. When it came, the guns felt sharp and well balanced (I tried a mixture of shotgun, heavy machine-guns and lighter assault rifles) and the joys of jumping around added the extra dimension Call of Duty has needed for some time. I have some slight concerns over the number of weapons and modifications that will make their way into the game as I think the ludicrous amount of combinations found in Battlefield 4 is more detrimental than positive, but hopefully the action will keep Advanced Warfare on track.
Glen’s discussion about the game was insightful and showed some of the determination and passion to create a great game that exists within Sledgehammer Games. They have been working on Advanced Warfare for three years and took the decision to focus on creating a great story that was centred on a central character, no more switching between different protagonists this time. Glen showed off a whole load of concept work and talked about how the team worked on the ideas and created the game that is coming in a few short weeks. Broad stroke concepts were highlighted before Glen showed how these were drilled down into further detail. He also touched on the story, the first Call of Duty game with a story I have cared about before release. Kevin Spacey is a big part of this, and the work the developers went into to ensure Spacey was happy to take on the roll was more akin to what we expect from big TV shows these days rather than games. Spacey’s determination to learn everything about his character led Sledgehammer to work ever more on fleshing out the details of the different characters.
I don’t know whether the singelplayer side of things would be shaping us as well as they are without the inclusion of Kevin Spacey, but the whole package looks great and I was very impressed with what I saw and played. Advanced Warfare is my Game of the Show.
I would just like to note at the end of this piece that Assassin’s Creed: Unity looked very sharp and like it would bring that franchise into the new-gen. However, it wasn’t playable, so I didn’t feel it was justified to include it on my list.