Live Event: Eurogamer Expo, ExCel London, October 17th – 20th, 2019
Welcome to my annual EGX round up! Over the next few thousand words you’ll get to read about this year\’s event, and more importantly, what games I played. So, grab yourself a cuppa and take a few minutes out of your day to see what I thought.
There were a couple of big changes to EGX 2019 including, where and when it took place.
When I first started going to EGX it was held at Earls Court in London. It was later moved to the NEC in Birmingham. I was particularly happy about this as I live about 40 minutes away on the train. However, this year EGX took place at the ExCeL in London. My initial thoughts on the venue were mixed. Traveling is a big part of getting there, and it meant we got a train to London and then caught the tube and DLR to get to the ExCel. I don’t mind traveling, but expect a lot of walking and fighting to get on the various modes of transport.
The venue itself was fine, although a little bit out of the way. There were plenty of different places to eat and drink, but we were a little isolated meaning we were stuck with what was there. The halls themselves were fine, but they did seem a bit smaller than usual. If you are thinking of going to EGX and don’t live locally, I would suggest you budget for at least £300 to factor in travel, accommodation and food costs.
EGX has traditionally been held in September, but this year it was moved to October. Again, this is fine, but the additional delay means a lot of the bigger games are already released or due for release within a matter of days. It will be interesting to see if next year\’s event is moved back to September with the release of PS5 and new Xbox. Both consoles are due to be released around October/November, so having a show before they are available to buy makes more sense to build excitement and anticipation.
My other observation was the lack of “big boys” from the videogame world. Microsoft and Ubisoft were not at the show. Quick to take advantage of this absence were Nintendo and Sony who had massive stands! Overall, it felt like we were in a transitional phase between the current generation of consoles and the pending release of new consoles next year.
It sounds like I\’m having a bit of a whinge, but I absolutely loved this year\’s EGX for a number of reasons. They include:
- I spent 3 days with my best bud Wayne, and caught up with awesome friends Pete and Tom.
- Met John Robertson who signed my daughters copy of his book The Little Town of Marrowville.
- Played a sit down hydraulic vintage arcade version of Space Harrier which was awesome!
- Watched an interactive version of the movie DOA: Dead or Alive, where people were invited onto the stage to play the videogame whenever a fight took place in the film. Wayne and I went on stage and he kicked my ass!
- We played a ton of games and had fun!
So, without further ado, here are the games I played over the course of 3 days.
Imagine a side scrolling version of the classic Spy Hunter and you will have a decent idea of what to expect with GEARSHIFTERS. The game features procedurally generated levels and offers ‘rogue like’ gameplay meaning plenty of variety. There are upgrades available for your vehicle, and different enemies including boss battles. I really enjoyed GEARSHIFTERS and look forward to when the game is released in 2020 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
HyperCore is described as “Rhythm Bullet Hell” and quite frankly I couldn’t think of a better description! That’s not to say the game is bad; far from it. The truth is that I was completely useless at HyperCore! You control a spaceship hurtling through hyperspace. The aim of the game is to avoid the numerous obstacles that come straight at you. As I mentioned, I was shockingly bad at the game however, watching Wayne play was like watching Rain Man count cards! Music will play a huge part in the game and Wayne looked like he was in a trance whilst he was playing. If you like bullet hell games and loud pounding beats, then HyperCore will be the game for you. HyperCore will be released for PC in the near future.
Have you ever wanted to slalom down a mountain in a bathtub whilst wearing a traffic cone on your head? If the answer is yes then Tony Slopes will provide you will hours of fun! Based on games like 1080° Snowboarding and SSX; it’s fair to say Tony Slopes doesn’t take itself too seriously. Made by a family of 5, (including mother and grandmother) Tony Slopes was a great laugh and a lot of fun! Tony Slopes will be released for PC in the near future.
I love the Streets of Rage series; in particular Streets of Rage 2, which is one of my favourite games of all time! Streets of Rage 3 was released in 1994 and is widely regarded as a disappointing end to the series. Fast forward 25 years later and we are months away from the release of one of my most anticipated games for years! The level we played gave us the chance to fight with veteran characters Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding. Cherry Hunter is a new character and there are more characters to be announced soon. Fundamentally the gameplay is much like the original games and I\’m completely pleased with this. I’m happy for games to try new ideas, but you don’t want to stray too far from what made the originals so much fun. The graphics also look superb featuring vibrant beautiful hand drawn visuals. Another big part of Streets of Rage is the music. Unfortunately, we couldn’t listen to the music in Street of Rage 4 however, knowing that original series composers Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima are on board means it should be great. What gives me the most hope for Streets of Rage 4 being awesome is because it is being developed by Lizardcube who made the remake of the wonderful Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. A lot of love and attention was poured into Wonder Boy, and I\’m sure Lizardcube will do the same with Streets of Rage 4. To say I\’m excited for Streets of Rage 4 is an understatement and I cannot wait for it to be released for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in 2020.
Moving home is one of the most stressful things a person can do. Team 17 want to turn that stress into a fun experience with their new game Moving Out. It follows a similar formula to Overcooked. But instead of trying to keep your cool cooking and serving food, you and up to three friends must work together to clear a house full of furniture and load the van. We played a number of levels which showed off what we can expect in the final game. Some items of furniture can be carried on your own, whereas some require team work. This is where most of the fun and laughter takes place, especially when you are trying to move a corner sofa out of the house. There were a number of different levels, but I was most impressed with the spooky haunted house. Getting the items into the van is hard enough, so being chased by a ghost or watching the chairs run away as you try to catch them was extremely funny. Moving Out looks like it could be another couch (no pun intended) co-op hit and is due for released in 2020.
I love a good old fashioned top down racing game. Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road, Super Sprint, and more recently Mantis Burn Racing are all fantastic racers. So, I\’m sure you can imagine why Circuit Superstars caught my eye as I was walking around EGX. It certainly looks the part however; the one aspect of any driving games success is the handling of the cars. This is where Circuit Superstars didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Drifting around corners didn’t feel particularly smooth and I ended up crashing more often than not. Whereas Mantis Burn Racing feels fluid and intuitive, Circuit Superstars felt a bit clunky and unresponsive. I’m sure this aspect of the game will be improved when it is released in 2020 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
I’ve noticed in recent years 4 player co-op games are becoming more and more popular. Developers are realising that couch co-op games can be incredibly good fun and invoke memories of a time before playing online became the norm. Saying that, Undercrewed can be played online or locally with up to 4 friends. You command a spaceship and are able to customise it to suit your own style. For example, you can make your ship faster, but by doing so you sacrifice weapons and armour. Undercrewed was extremely easy to pick up and play and there are only four buttons where you move your character up, down, left and right. Undercrewed reminded me of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime which is no bad thing at all. The main difference with Undercrewed is the ability to build and customise your ship which offers a slightly more tactical element to the gameplay. Undercrewed was great fun and is available now in early access for PC.
I first played Aaero at EGX 2015 and was really impressed with the gameplay, which is a unique take on rhythm action games and on rail shooters. Fast forward to 2017 and Aaero is released to universal praise from critics and fans alike. You control a spaceship hurtling thought space and the music changes as you grind along lines of energy which are heading for you. The beauty of Aaero is in its simplicity, but it’s also one of those rare games where you enter a trance like state whilst you are playing. Put on some headphones, turn up the music to 11 and it’s no understatement to say you feel like you are part of the game. One of the biggest additions to Aaero 2 is the addition of 2 player co-op. During our demo we sat down and were treated to a visual and aural masterclass. The better we played, the more intense the music sounded and it was awesome! Of course, it helped that there was a massive bass speaker strapped to the back of the chair, which helped to immerse us even more into the game. Even though Aaero 2 is still very early in development, it looks to be every bit as good as the original game. The new 2 player co-op should make it a stone cold classic! I shall definitely be keeping my eye on this.
From the makers of Super Arcade Football, comes a top down racing game that takes inspiration from Micro Machines and Super Cars 2. Not many racing games feature a story, so I was pleasantly surprised to find one in Super Arcade Racing. You play as Mick who is forced to race to find your kidnapped brother. The story isnt going to win any awards for originality, but it helps to knit everything together and gives you a reason to keep playing. The game features 80 tracks, different environments and multiple upgrades for your car. The handling of the cars feels good, but the 16-bit style graphics were the main reason that kept me playing. The demo we played was using a regular controller however, there is a free version (with adverts) available now on the App Store and Google Play Store. I was really surprised how well the game plays with touch controls on my phone and I would definitely recommend you check it out. Super Arcade Racing is available now for PC and is coming to consoles in the near future.
As I was watching Adventure in Aellion, I started to think “this would be perfect for my daughter and I!” Adventure in Aellion is an open world adventure game where you and friends can explore and work together to solve puzzles. The graphics are bright, colourful and work really well with the setting and style of game. There is no penalty for death except being respawned at the last checkpoint. As I was chatting to the developers, I watched two boys playing the game. One was struggling a bit with a puzzle and the other was helping him figure it out. This is the reason why I think it would be a great game for adults and children. Combat will be added to the final build and I was told the open world would allow at least 50 people to roam and explore together. I’m starting to introduce my daughter to videogames and she is currently intrigued by Roblox. I find Roblox hit and miss, (mostly miss) whereas I can imagine spending hours with my daughter exploring Aellion, working together to find treasure and new dungeons. Adventure in Aellion is coming soon to PC.
For me Windjammers 2 is the perfect couch game to play with your friends. It’s simple to pick up and most of all is a bloody good laugh! Essentially Windjammers is a fancy version of Pong or Air Hockey except you throw a frisbee. The sequel features new characters and stages, new power moves and online and local multiplayer modes. We could have spent hours playing Windjammers 2, mainly because it was so much fun. Windjammers 2 is due for release in 2019 for PC and Nintendo Switch.
The award for the videogame with the best name ever goes to Kung Fu Jesus! Kung Fu Jesus is a side scrolling beat ‘em up featuring trippy psychedelic visuals. Whilst I was playing it made me wonder if someone had slipped something in my drink! There are the basic moves you would expect from a fighting game including, punch, kick and jump. I was assured that more moves, such as grappling, would be added as the game continues to be developed. Kung Fu Jesus is certainly an interesting take on the beat ‘em up genre, promising RPG elements and different worlds to explore. I will definitely have my eye on Kung Fu Jesus when it gets closer to being released.
Call of Duty returns for its annual release and we had a chance to play some team deathmatch. In all honesty this wasn’t the most exciting mode we could have played, but it was good fun nonetheless. Personally, I like the setting and it’s good to be going back to the games that helped to define a console generation such as Modern Warfare 1, 2 & 3. The previous Call of Duty game: Black Ops 4 didn’t feature a single player campaign much to the annoyance of some gamers. Instead it had a battle royale mode which has been made popular by games such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. I’m happy to say that Modern Warfare will have single player mode, and if it is half as good as the original then it should be a belter. The other new addition is Special Ops which is a cooperative mode for players to work together to complete different objectives. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released on 25th October 2019 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Final Fantasy 7 was a watershed moment in gaming! Not only did it introduce Japanese RPG’s to a wider western audience, it also helped to be a defining title for the PlayStation. It featured an incredible soundtrack, superb graphics, mind-blowing cut scenes, memorable characters and a huge world to explore. I think Final Fantasy 7 is one of those games that even if you didn’t play it, you know something about it. I knew someone who sunk hundreds of hours into the game, and there are legions of fans who adore everything about it. So, it’s fair to say Final Fantasy 7 Remake has garnered a lot of attention and excitement amongst the gaming community. We played a small section early on in the game where you take on a boss. The graphics are the obvious update and they look superb. Final Fantasy 7 originally featured a turn-based combat system, whereas the remake now allows you to attack at will. There are still opportunities to utilise a turn-based attack, but you build up these by attacking enemies in traditional combat. It’s not as fluid as Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, but it still feels ok. I’m sure Final Fantasy 7 Remake will be a huge hit when it is released on 3rd March 2020 for PS4.
Despite some people thinking VR would be a passing fad, it is very much alive and well with a number of new games being released and developed for PSVR and other VR systems. The Sniper Elite games have been 3rd person games until this point however, Sniper Elite VR seems to be a perfect fit for a VR game. In the demo I played, I used the PlayStation VR Aim controller which acted as my rifle and machine gun. Aiming down the sights of the rifle was a particular highlight. As I lifted the controller closer to the VR headset, it automatically began to simulate looking into the scope on my sniper rifle. It all worked seamlessly and felt extremely immersive. The Sniper Elite games have become famous for the X-ray camera kills. Basically, if you hit a certain body part such as head, heart, testicles, (no I\’m not kidding) you will see a slow motion shot of the bullet penetrating the body. These are very amusing and watching them in VR after looking down the barrel of my rifle was awesome! Sniper Elite VR isn\’t on rails and you have full movement around the environment. Again, this helped to create an immersive experience as I peered around a corner to spot where the enemies were before I blew off their testicles! My only minor concern was the calibration of the Aim controller as it glitched on me a couple of times. Still, I\’m sure these issues will be ironed out when the game is released. Sniper Elite VR looks to be another excellent addition to a large catalogue of fantastic VR games.
Rebellion have found a winning formula of mixing fun cooperative gameplay and interesting settings with a twist. Strange Brigade took this idea in a new direction mixing 1930’s tally ho daring, where you fight mummies and skeletons whilst seeking out treasure. This was great, but let’s be honest; nothing beats shooting zombies in the face, especially Nazi zombies! Zombie Army 4: Dead War is a third person action adventure game where you fight off hordes of the undead alone or with a friend. I’ve played quite a bit of Zombie Army Trilogy and these games are generally best played with a friend or two. We played a short level and had great fun killing zombies and solving puzzles. There isn\’t much more to it, but I\’m absolutely fine with that as it was tremendous fun. Zombie Army 4: Dead War is due to be released on 4th February 2020 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up to not only be the hottest release of 2020, but also one of the most highly anticipated games for years! Although we couldn’t play the game hands on, we were able to watch a 45-minute live play session. To back up my claims about the hype for Cyberpunk, we had to queue up for tickets to watch the behind closed doors event, and the tickets were usually gone by lunchtime. Cyberpunk 2077 is a futuristic first-person open world action adventure from the makers of The Witcher series, CD Projekt Red. Your character is called V who is tracking an implant which could contain the key to immortality. During the playthrough we were shown around part of Night City which is where the story takes place. The setting itself was visually stunning ranging from huge corporate skyscrapers, to dangerous slum areas. Even the small section we were shown looked huge and it was explained we could go anywhere. Put it like this, I can imagine spending a very very long-time exploring Night City and everything it has to offer. During one section of the demo, V got on a motorcycle to travel around however, there is also the option to fast travel. One of the main things that struck me was the sense of danger around every corner. Night City contains different factions and all the characters we met seemed untrustworthy. I got the feeling we could be attacked or double crossed at any time. The decisions you make shape the game and world around you, so even though you think you are doing the right thing, the consequences of your actions will be felt throughout the game. This is a familiar trait of games made by CD Projekt Red and it is one of the reasons why I love The Witcher 3. As you can imagine, V can be customised to suit your playstyle, enhancements and skills. An example of this are the options available to you when you speak to people. If you come from a corporate background, people will respond to you differently compared to if you choose to be a street rat and vice versa. How you choose to customise you character will depend on how you play the game. This was shown extensively throughout the demo and we were told that you can play through the entire game without killing anyone. V had to infiltrate a heavily fortified area and stealth can be employed to take out enemies quietly, or you can go in guns blazing. Your enhancements can be used to interact with technology in the locality to either distract enemies or take them out. An example of this is watching a bad guy sparring with a robot. V hacked the robot which knocked out the bad guy causing a distraction so V could sneak past them. Another version of the playthrough showed how you can choose a strength option enabling V to force open doors and attack from another direction. The gunplay looked good, but it is difficult to tell how this will handle until we get our hands on the game. To say I was impressed with Cyberpunk 2077 is an understatement! The setting, graphics and level of flexibility to tackle the environment all look stunning. The 16th April 2020, can’t come quickly enough for when Cyberpunk 2077 is released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
The Marvel universe is bloody massive right now! Cinema goers have been bombarded with super heroes since 2008 with the release of Iron Man. Depending on how you feel about Marvel, you either breathed a sigh of relief now Avengers: End Game has come and gone, or you are in withdrawal craving more. If you fall into the latter camp then Marvel Avengers will definitely be for you. With the exception of Spider-Man, most of the Marvel superhero video games in recent years have been cheap cash-ins to try and capitalise on the licence. Marvel Avengers looks to be anything but cheap as the graphics and gameplay felt extremely polished. In the demo we played an early scene where there is an assault on a bridge. During the demo you get to play as each hero including, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and Hulk. As you would imagine, each character has their own set of attacks and special moves. Thor and Captain America handled particularly well with a mixture of hand to hand combat and ranged attacks using Thor’s hammer and Cap’s shield. The demo lasted for 20 minutes or so and was spectacular! The fairly seamless transition between heroes and set pieces all felt fantastic. My only slight worry is it seemed a bit scripted, and I wonder how the rest of the game will play after the initial opening, which let\’s be honest is designed to get your attention. The queues to play Marvel Avengers were insanely long, so I imagine lots of people are very excited to get their hands of this game. Marvel Avengers is due for release on 15th May 2020, for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
I’ve never played a Mario & Sonic at the Olympics game before, and to be honest I didn’t have high hopes. However, I was pleasantly surprised with what I played. The full game will feature over 30 events, but we got to try Archery and the long jump. Archery uses both Joy-Cons and you hold them as you would an imaginary bow and arrow. Playing against a friend adds to the enjoyment and we had a good time trying to outdo each other\’s score. The long jump took a twist as it was very similar to the retro Track and Field or Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. The graphics and characters are given an 8-bit make over, and there is the familiar button mashing to get your character to run faster. Again, playing against a friend standing next to you is great fun! Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 is due to be released on 8th November 2019.
I’ve been a big fan of Luigi’s Mansion from the original release on Nintendo GameCube, and then the sequel on Nintendo 3DS. Both were great games, in particular Luigi’s Mansion 2 which was a perfect fit for the 3DS. It’s been 6 years since the release of Luigi’s Mansion 2, so fans of the series are very excited. And from what I played at EGX we are in for a treat! Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a puzzle action game where you must explore and battle spooky spectres. One of the new features is the ability to play local co-op with a friend using Gooigi. Gooigi can get to places that Luigi can’t, so he becomes a real ally in your quest to save Mario. If you prefer to play single player then Gooigi can be activated simply with the press of a button. The game looks gorgeous and has all the charm you would expect from a Nintendo game. Luigi’s Mansion 3 looks to be an essential purchase if you own a Nintendo Switch and are a fan of the series. Personally, I\’m really looking forward to its release on 31st October 2019.
You’ve got to hand it to Nintendo; they really want their fans to get fit! I’m sure a lot of people reading this owned a Wii Balance Board at some point and Ring Fit Adventure is the latest attempt to get people off the couch. Ring Fit Adventure comes with a Ring-Con and leg strap. The Ring-Con is basically a bendy circle that you squeeze and is used for arm exercises. A Joy-Con is placed on the Ring-Con and leg strap and is used to track your movements. There were two demos on show with one being a selection of mini-games, and the other being a full story mode. I was very impressed not only with the implementation of the peripherals, but also the type of games. I class myself as a fairly fit person, and after a few of the mini games I could definitely feel my heart pumping faster. Ring Fit Adventure was good fun and looks like it could be a great way for people, young and old, to get into shape. Ring Fit Adventure is available now for Nintendo Switch.
In my opinion The Witcher 3 is one of the greatest games ever made and I genuinely love it! I started playing it in 2015 on PS4, and then restarted it a couple of years later on PC. I still haven\’t finished it, and chances are I may start all over again with its latest release on Nintendo Switch. The fact that The Witcher 3 is running at all on Nintendo’s handheld console is a minor miracle and must feature some kind of witchcraft (no pun intended). Yes, the visuals are a scaled back from PC, PS4 and Xbox however, when you see the game running in handheld mode, you really don’t notice. I was blown away just being able to play the game on the go! Also included are the two expansion packs Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine, making this an essential purchase of a classic game. The Witcher 3, is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
I’ve heard many people say how good Overwatch is however, it has passed me by until now. Overwatch features a huge cast of characters which each have different abilities. From what I understand you could spend ages just mastering one character, let alone the 30+ which are in the game. My take away is that it is like a fighting game where each character has different special moves, and you learn how and when to use those moves. Think Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, but in a team based first person shooter. We played a quick game and to be quite honest I hadn\’t got a clue what was going on! However, like the Witcher, this is another excellent addition to a huge library of third-party games available on Nintendo Switch. Overwatch: Legendary Edition is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
So that was EGX 2019. 2020 is going to be massive with the release of PS5 and new Xbox. Personally, I cannot wait and I\’m already looking forward to next year\’s show. Thanks for reading and hope to see you at EGX 2020.