Bringing together the best in gaming developers along with showcasing the best in indie talent; EGX was an experience not soon forgotten
Resonate returned to the Birmingham NEC for EGX 2018. The largest gaming convention in the UK showcasing new and upcoming releases in the world of video games. Attending EGX this year we managed to get our hands on demos of some of the more anticipated titles coming in the next few months. With a huge number of games to cover we will pick out some of the stand out moments. As well as the vast number of other activities to get yourself involved in at EGX.
The first developer we spent time with was Ubisoft who appear to have returned to their yearly release of Assassin’s Creed. Following on from the success of Origins after the series had become stale they are bringing the world of ancient Greece to life for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The game has beautiful graphics with the demo placing us on the island of Mykonos with the option to explore the island and infiltrate a camp to kill its captain or attend a large scale battle. The combat felt impactful and fun with the new spear of Leonidas allowing you to perform stuns, disarms and the infamous kick from 300.
However the stealth did not feel rewarding, an enemy takedown from behind only did 25% of their health making the whole point of stealth irrelevant as they would alert every immediately. A headshot with an arrow again only did 50% damage allowing for an easy follow up but no chance to take out other enemies without informing the entire camp of your presence.
The Division 2 demo gave us a hands on with a mission to take control of an area from the True Sons. Moving away from the winter setting of New York and setting the game in a brighter Washington improves the overall aesthetic of the game massively. The enemy encounters are now able to take place in much wider and more open locals instead of the mainly street combat of the original.
Fights having less verticality means that any high ground gives huge advantages and with an AI that conducts flanks and tries to out manoeuvre you makes the encounters more interesting. The Division 2 is one to keep an eye on with Ubisoft showing they have learnt from their mistakes at least from what we’ve seen.
Also on show was the much anticipated third instalment of Deep Silver’s Metro series with Metro: Exodus. Set two years after the events of Metro: Last Light, main character Artyom now travelling with the Spartan Rangers exploring more of the overworld in search of a new life. Taking what appears to be a less linear approach to level design the demo incentivised exploration providing ample opportunity for stealth in much grander scaled environments.
Weapon customisation plays a crucial role in gameplay with a huge number of attachments allowing you to upgrade your favourite weapons. All I can say is the game was beautiful and gunplay was tight and rewarding. I am personally extremely excited for this game.
Nintendo were out in force at this year’s EGX promoting the huge number of titles coming to the Nintendo Switch in the coming months. Holding live demos with audience members participating in some of their games on show. The big titles this year were Super Smash Bros Ultimate boasting every character that has ever appeared in a Smash Bros title, the roster is truly epic. With changes to mechanics and the game suits people who want to have fun all the way to the competitive scene.
Along with Smash Bros was Super Mario Party bringing back all the minigames we love and new game boards to play, along with a new game mode announced just before EGX which is full 4 player co-op. The third big hitter for Nintendo is the console Pokemon game
Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. Finally bringing the much loved series to home consoles from what was shown it is a full HD experience in comparison to the handheld counterparts.
Along with the exclusives comes several other titles making their way to the Switch, Dark Souls Remastered and Diablo 3 being two of the major games coming soon. With all this effort into getting triple A titles to the Switch along with exciting exclusives and a huge push for indie developers the future of the Switch looks incredibly bright.
Some other titles we manages to sample while at EGX this year included Kingdom Hearts 3 demoing a boss battle on Mount Olympus and more of the general level design set in the world of Toy Story. The combat was incredibly fun and the graphics were fantastic however nothing was given away story-wise the cutscenes there were comedic with good voice acting. It is certain many will be excited for this game after Kingdom Hearts 2 came out back in 2005.
Square Enix also brought a full gameplay demo of Just Cause 4 with a presenter talking through the footage adding a bit of comedy while people waited in queues for Tomb Raider and Kingdom Hearts 3. The game showed off the grappling hook with the new air lifter add-ons as well as the procedurally generated extreme weather effects that change how you can approach missions from sandstorms to tornadoes.
It all looks like a barrel of fun with the huge number of objectives and challenges to carry out in the open world sandbox of Solis.
Supermassive Games are returning after the success of Until Dawn with their horror anthology series starting with Man of Medan. The game takes place with a group of friends searching for a shipwreck from WWII, however things don’t go to plan and they end up trapped on this ghost ship.
The game follows a very cinematic experience interplaying cutscenes with gameplay and quick-time events. With branching story arcs where characters can die means that everyone’s playthrough will be different.
EGX does a fantastic job every year of showcasing the indie talent, with far to many games to play and passionate developers to talk to it is impossible to mention everyone. Some of the highlights we managed to sample include.
Timespinner an obviously Metroidvania inspired game was a fun 2D action-adventure game with ability to stop time to avoid enemy attacks or use them as platforms for jumping puzzles. The demo ended with a boss fight that made you use your time stopping abilities sparingly to avoid attacks and get behind the boss to deal damage. Overall a fun game out this week on PS4, Vita, PC and Linux.
The students from the National Film and Television School were invited to present their final projects which were demos for their individually created games.
The stand out was a game called Obviously Inappropriate Content a game inspired by titles including Papers Please and Metal Slug. The game had you as a game tester with the job of playing through a side-scrolling shooter pointing out bugs in the level. However the twist involves you censoring out issues that the government disagree with. Your colleague who rectifies the bugs and removes the outlawed content finds loopholes and it is down to you to decide whether to let them through for fear of being in trouble from those above you.
The developer informed us that the game was based on their experience of working in China and censoring out content that the government disagree with. A fascinating little game with a deep message that questions your moral compass.
With easily 50+ indie games on offer at EGX it is a truly fun experience. The indie developers are always happy to chat and express such a love for their work eager for your feedback.
Along with the game demos on offer there is an assortment of stores selling posters and other memorabilia. With PC component companies selling the latest in hardware and offering advice to those looking to get into PC gaming. There are also gaming competitions in fighting games, Hearthstone and cosplay prizes for people to come to compete in as well as watch displayed on stage and huge screens.
The cosplay stage had presentations all day from experienced cosplayers conducting talks on how to improve and information on using different techniques from sewing to leatherwork. Then there were the masquerades allowing people to show off their incredible work combined with fun performances to music.
The main theatre held host to some interesting panels with the chance to watch the developers demonstrate their games and audience member to ask questions. Some of the most interesting topics included the state of VR and how it can be used to make gaming for accessible to those with disabilities. The game Arca’s Path only required the movement of the head to play.
There was also a full demonstration of the new game from Media Molecule (creators of Little Big Planet) Dreams which allows the player to create their own game using a vast variety of tools. Some of the examples on display ranged from a platformer with puzzles to a full text adventure about a time loop at party with something unearthly residing in the attic. There were also some discussions that spread to the comedic with Fortnite vs PUBG and how the battle royale genre has grown with games like Call of Duty and Battlefield bringing their own versions as gamemode to their upcoming releases.
EGX made the effort to invite and host several university and developer stalls offering advice on careers in gaming along with a fun demonstration from the Midlands Police about cyber crime and how easy it is to acquire personal information from scam emails and things to watch out for if you are concerned.
In summary it was a fantastic year for EGX and well worth the trip. The queues for some of the bigger titles can be exhausting but honestly it is the indie section which truly shines. Resonate looks forward to attending in future.