Formally known as EuroGamer Expo, I attended EGX 2014 and braved many of its intimidating long queues to get my hands on the demos, albeit short demos, of some of this year’s and next biggest upcoming games.
I was only at EGX for one day, I spent 7 hours there and the majority of that time was lining up and occasionally shuffling a few feet forward every ten or so minutes.
I managed to get around to playing the demos I set out to but as mentioned they were very quick experiences, so rather than try to draw out each one in its own article I’ll condense what I played down into one easily digestible piece and tell you what I thought.
Far Cry 4
Developers: Ubisoft Montreal
Release: November 18th EU/NA, 20th AUS 2014
Platform: PS3/PS4/Xbox360/XboxOne/PC (Demo was running on PS4)
First up is Far Cry 4, having really enjoyed the previous game I have high hopes for its sequel.
Running in one of the PS4 booths it looked crisp and clear. I recall watching footage of Far Cry 3 a while ago, running on PC at max settings and it reminded me of that, I was very impressed with the visuals of the PS4 build. Being cross-gen it’s not going to be built with just the PS4 and XboxOne in mind and likely won’t take full advantage of their hardware. This said it shouldn’t have any excuse not to run smoothly on the newer systems. That said I didn’t notice any graphical issues whilst playing, everything did indeed seem to be smooth; the frame-rate and animations all seems to be consistent.
The section I played in the demo was a typical “Outpost” mission, common in the FarCry games. Basically the task at hand is to capture the area by eliminating all the enemy’s patrolling it.
You can go in guns blazing or stealthily, I chose the latter and snuck in via a grappling hook up a rock-face.
Once inside I quietly dispatched a few enemies with silent takedowns and even sabotaged a jeep, cutting its brakes so it rolled down a hill and into several enemies. This I liked and hope to see more stealthy sabotaging in the final game. After a while I was spotted and things took a turn, I found myself on the roof of a hut, picking off enemies with a heavy machine gun until a helicopter swooped in, not only deploying more ground troops but opening fire on me.
From what I played it felt very much like more of the same from Far Cry 3 and I mean this in a good way. I really, really enjoyed 3 and Ubisoft seem to have captured the same gameplay style again.
Will I buy it:
Definitely. I already had high hopes and the demo only sealed the deal further.
Developers: The Creative Assembly
Release: 7th October 2014 (worldwide)
Platform: PS3/PS4/Xbox360/XboxOne/PC (Demo was running on PC with Oculus Rift)
Another game I’m excited about: Alien Isolation.
A survival horror game on-par with Outlast; having no offensive weapons at your disposal and hiding from enemies to survive. Rather than play it on a typical screen I decided to try it out on the Oculus Rift, the queue was over an hour-long but it was worth it for a new gaming experience.
After sitting down and having the big hunk of plastic that is the Oculus strapped to my face I viewed a short tutorial on how to use the motion-tracker in the game. Then I found myself in an eerie, poorly lit corridor of a space station. Initially I though “okay, the alien isn’t going to appear for a while until I get my bearings, right?” Nope. After opening the first door I see in the distance a huge alien beast stomping around, passing right by me. This instantly unsettled me. The 3D, coupled with the head-tracking and surround sound headphones made it very intense.
I moved around the area, discovering dead bodies which I could kneel down by and have a good look at by physically leaning forward in my seat. Suddenly the lights went out and my motion tracker started to bleep, all I could do was run but I just wasn’t quick enough. The screen jolted and I looked down to see a spiked tail impale me and a long-fingered hand reach around and grab my face.
This experience was so new and incredible to me. Being a fan of horror games I have a generally high-tolerance for the scares but this level of immersion had me feeling very uneasy.
The sensation of looking down and not seeing your own legs is very strange, your body feels like it’s not there. I was also at a disadvantage as the PCs running the game had Xbox 360 controllers, which not being used to, I fumbled the buttons which ultimately led to my in-game death. The game itself looked fantastic, the lighting, the sounds of course the terrifying alien creature are all credit to the developers obvious passion for the franchise.
Will I buy it:
I’ll be definitely buying Alien Isolation on PS4 but as awesome as the Oculus Rift is, I’m just not a PC gamer, however if Sony’s Project Morpheus can offer the same experience on PS4 in the future I may consider that as an alternative.
Dead Island 2
Developers: Yager Development
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: Spring 2015
Platform: PS4/XboxOne/PC Demo was running on PC with DualShock4 controllers
This particular booth had rows of four monitors set up where four people played together in a custom co-op area.
I sat down with three other attendees and we were told that we have 10 minutes to kill as many zombies as possible. Then it began. I found myself in a large suburban area in the hills of California, the area was in a state of disrepair, overrun with recently infected citizens. The other players were here with me and we all split up and went our separate ways in the large map.
My character had a weapons wheel to select either a simple handgun, a machete or a fire axe.
Like previous Dead Island games it’s all about getting down and dirty with the melee weapons, so I opted for the machete and started hacking off limbs and heads with the most satisfying of ease.
Having only played the first Dead Island (and as recent as this year) I found it very familiar and easy to play. The music from the reveal trailer (“The Bomb” – Pigeon John) played during this demo, giving it a weird upbeat twist as I messily decapitated the undead. This same type of dark humour was present in the first game and is a tongue-in-cheek approach at the “zombie apocalypse” genre.
The game was running on PCs and a disclaimer before played said it was an early build of the product. This being said it did have noticeable screen-tearing but hopefully this will be smoothed out once optimised for each platform.
Will I buy it:
Very likely. Although a release for next year my interest is piqued, perhaps not a “day-1 purchase” but it’s something I’ll consider.
The Order: 1886
Developers: Ready At Dawn/Sony Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE)
Release: February 20th 2015
Platform: PS4 Exclusive (Demo was running on a PS4 unit)
The Order was the shortest demo I played at EGX.
I’ve been interested in it due to its Steampunk theme and attracted to it because it’s a brand-new IP for Sony. It’s a third-person, cover-shooter, not dissimilar to Gears of War in terms of the way you move and the way the character is positioned in conjunction with the camera.
I played a small section where my character and his team were fighting off large groups of what appeared to be regular humans, or at least in appearance they were, (they were likely some type of supernatural being owing to the theme of the game)
My only weapon was a large gun that fired clouds of phosphorous, which by itself doesn’t do anything to the enemies but the weapon’s secondary fire, a flare, when launched into the cloud, ignites it and incinerate enemies within its vicinity. I found this to be very cool at first but after a while the novelty started to wear thin and would have liked just a regular firearm to pick enemies off from cover, rather than having to shoot clouds at people. However I’m sure in the final game you’ll have the ability to swap your weapons.
The demo was pretty repetitive, as often these types of games can be; clear an area, move on, rinse repeat. The camera felt a little slow to move around although sensitivity can likely be tweaked in settings.
Visually the game looks fantastic, especially the character models, the grimy, dingy streets I navigated around were fitting to that era of London.
My main gripe with The Order is the “letterbox” effect the game puts on 16:9 screens. I understand the developers wanted a move “cinematic” look but it’s really unnecessary and to me, feels like a middle finger to all those people, including myself, who bought a nice, big LED TV to enjoy these awesome-looking games on and in full screen!
I just hope they add the ability to remove the letterbox effect as it’s somewhat off-putting.
Will I buy it:
Probably. I’ve not played anything revolutionary during this demo. As I said, the setting and theme is what attracts me to it but the gameplay is nothing new so far.
The Evil Within
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: October 14th NA/EU, 16th AUS 2014
Platform: PS3/PS4/Xbox360/XboxOne/PC (Demo played on PS4)
I had high hopes for The Evil Within but over the months it’s started to gain negativity about the final product’s quality.
It’s a third-person survival horror game directed by Shinji Mikami, creator of Resident Evil.
Initially when playing it it felt very “Resident Evil 4”, the old mansion I was in felt a little too familiar. For a game running on PS4 it looked very PS3, or dare I say worse?
It had muddy textures, a lot of texture pop-in and the frame-rate was often chugging along in places, I actually think the HD “Remaster” of RE4 ran better.
Visuals aside I actually found the gameplay boring. The humanoid enemies were very similar to the Ganados/Las Plagas enemies in Resident Evil 4, slow, dumb and easy to outmaneuver.
There are explosive traps you must avoid on the walls by crouching however the camera does you no favours and you end up tripping the bombs without ever knowing they were there.
I played the demo for a good ten minutes and I really wasn’t impressed.
I understand it’s likely to be early code I was playing and it’s cross-gen so I wasn’t expecting “next-gen graphics” but it looked… like crap. I just hope for their sake they’ve had enough time to optimise and polish it up before release.
Will I buy it:
No. I had doubts to begin with but playing the demo has made it clear to me this isn’t a game I’m going to enjoy. Looking past the visuals the actual gameplay just feels so clunky and old, like it’s just a Resident Evil 4 do-over but with supernatural themes.
Overall I had a great time at EGX and it was a great opportunity to play these games and get a feel for them.
Remember that all the games I played represent work in progress and my opinion of them may change once I play their finished builds.