EGX has always been a big draw for gamers all over the country to come together to check out some of the biggest and best upcoming games. In a change from previous years the event has now moved from London and the now flattened Earl’s Court to Birmingham’s NEC. JoypadAndMe have always loved the community of gamers that attend EGX and this year was no exception. With developers like Ubisoft, EA, Activision and many more showing up to show their wares, EGX 2015 was set to be another great event. Over the 4 day event we managed to get three of our team to head down and check out what was going on. Graham, Gareth and Ashley took a look at what was on show and give us some of their thoughts below.
Just cause 3:
Just Cause franchise has always been a great piece of distracting, destructive fun for me. I initially played the original game purely because I was bored with other games I had and it was the closest to hand but once tried I was hooked. Hearing that a third instalment was coming to the PS4 was music to my ears and a game I was really looking forward to trying out at EGX. I was really happy to find that I wasn’t disappointed in what i saw either. From the outset of the demo everything looked crisp and bright, the demo also had smooth gameplay. Massive amounts of destructive landscapes would probably be the understatement for this game. The staff showing off the game kept telling us that the three most important words to remember were: Blow Shit Up. That’s exactly what you can do. Towns, villages, oil refineries, military barracks and so much more can get taken to the ground in the most unique and explosive ways, drag a boat behind a helicopter and then use that to detonate an oil tanker, yep no problem. Hang upside down underneath a satellite dish while throwing C4 at passing drug cartels, easy-going. I have to say that I had so much fun playing Just Cause 3’s demo that I seriously considered just jumping back in the queue and going again. The demo did exactly what they wanted it to by making me want to play so much more that I have to get the game. Fairly intuitive controls in the way that with grappling hooks, guns, explosives and the ability to do so much that it will take a little getting used to but you will figure them out fast enough that it won’t take away from any of the enjoyment that you will have with this title. In the end I think that Just Cause 3 can be summed up thusly: Guns, cars, grappling hooks and many, many explosions.
Gareth and I decided to check out the upcoming title Alienation in the PlayStation booth. Strangely it seemed that more people were interested in playing the likes of Metal Gear Solid V which had already been released than to try out this unreleased housemarque title which I think is a shame as smaller titles such as Alienation can provide great gaming experiences but get overlooked by bigger and more marketed titles. Alienation is a top down shooter that admittedly looks and plays very similar to one of their previous titles called DeadNation. The gameplay itself played just like DeadNation with a similar map and enemy attacks as you move around. Gareth and myself managed to try this game out just how it was meant to be played, in co-op mode. Co op works well with both players blasting anything that moved. It would be hard to properly judge Alienation at this time with what we saw as we would need to see more of the xp system and how the game develops through the game as we only managed to play one level but I think this will be another Housemarque success.
I have to admit, before EGX I had little interest in The Division for some reason. It wasn’t a game I intended to check out really but a good friend of the site that now works for Ubisoft was there showing off the game and invited us over to check it out. It’s a good job he did too as for me it was the surprise of the show. There was a nice polish to gameplay in a way that although the locations were meant to be run down and desolate urban environments, they made sure that you could see all the details and what was around you unlike other games that we have seen that have been set in similar locations. Good use of AI and PVP play. In the demo we played, they showed off the use of AI opponents that you go up against to begin with and have to dispatch at a good pace before being put up against other PVP players. It felt a good way of getting used to the environment, the weapons and the controls while still playing a proper portion of the game before testing your skills against a real enemy. Good range of weapons and accessories. Each character has their own specialist loadouts which although we have seen in other titles, still adds a good dynamic to the game that aids tactical play with your team mates. Minor overcrowding on the screen i.e. HUD and text while playing but this could just be personal taste and considering the game isn’t out till March 2016, there’s still time to alter and tweak any little bits if they need to.
What we do have to say is a big thanks to Jaymes and the Ubisoft team for letting us check out The Division and not only that but we had a dedicated member of their team go through the whole demo with us, showing us exactly what to be doing, what to look out for as well as answering any questions that we had about the game and the build itself. I’ve been to a few events now and this was probably the most well demoed title ive played in the way that the staff knew what they were talking about and were happy to go through it with you on a small-scale. One demo staff member for every three players was a great scale. I’m also happy to say that the game was playing off PlayStation 4 consoles and not on a PC build which many believed. How do we know this? We were shown the PS4’s in use so no doubts there. Well done Ubisoft on a great showing and actually making me change my mind about a game entirely.
Street Fighter V:
Being JoypadAndMe’s resident fighting game lover, who was also too lazy to sign up for the beta, you better believe I made a beeline straight for the Street Fighter V section. Taking up my place on the nearby beanbag, controller in hand, I challenged my friend to a few matches. Then we came back and had a few more… And then a few more… and at that point my friends didn’t want to play anymore. Not because the game is bad, they just didn’t want to play me!
Immediately, the game feels much faster than previous instalment Street Fighter IV. Combos seem to be easier to accomplish for the new players; the graphics look fantastic, far and away exceeding most other games of it’s genre, and there’s a weight to each punch and kick. It feels great, that’s what I’m getting at. Unfortunately, I was only at EGX for a day, so I couldn’t get any extensive playtime. I only managed a couple of matches with new guy Necalli and the returning Nash, but I’m excited to play it again.
Call of Duty Black Ops 3:
I really don’t know what you want me to tell you here. It feels like Call of Duty crossed with Titanfall, which is exactly what it looked like to begin with. It doesn’t feel like a true revolution of the CoD model. Of course, it didn’t help that the controller I was using mapped the X button to R1 and vice versa. We started downhill and it never really got further. Don’t get me wrong, if you love CoD, you’ll find CoD Blops 3 to be very agreeable. Personally, there just wasn’t anything truly game changing.
Birmingham NEC felt like a much more open and relaxed venue for the EGX show. There was more room for people to move about and for games to be displayed. The lines to get in were much faster and seemed more organised than previous years back at Earl’s Court. What was quite strange and refreshing was that attending on the Saturday, we were expecting to see huge crowds packing the event to the rafters but although there were many people there, it didn’t feel over crowded. There were areas in the event that did but that was to be expected with big titles like Star Wars Battlefront having a massive TIE Fighter display to go along with their multiplayer game stand.
One thing both Gareth and myself were not impressed with was the 3 hour plus waiting times for a lot of the games. A game can be amazing but waiting 3 hours to play it is not something we should have to do. One a few titles like Star Wars Battlefront I can understand having a long wait time but with games like Need For Speed showing off and hoping to be a big seller this year, I was surprised that they only had 7 demo machines running. It felt as though the developers were putting all their time and effort behind one title and then scattering the others around in smaller numbers. It’s a real shame as I would have liked to see some other games but time constraints did make that more difficult let alone actually standing in a queue for three plus hours to play a game that will be out in a matter of weeks. With all the space they had in the NEC I think they could have set themselves out a bit better and utilised the space more but to be fair to them, this is the first year that EGX has been at the NEC and I can imagine that next year we can expect a better layout and hopefully faster queues.
The over 18 area felt much better than previous years. Before it felt somewhat dark and seedy whereas this year it felt more open, calmer and more professional. More time and space to check out games and talk to staff which was strange as this is the area we expected to be the most crowded. Maybe this indicates the age groups of some players for some games or the good job that the over 18 door staff were doing in keeping out younger gamers. Either way, we want to see more of this over 18 area being made to look and feel like the rest of the event and not as they had done in previous years at Earl’s Court when they made it feel dark and somewhat seedy. Well done this year.
It would be hard to finish off an impressions piece about EGX 2015 without mentioning the energy drink Tornado handing out free samples of their drink and its resealable can. Energy drinks at an event like this is just fuel for craziness. The vendors were handing out cans like they were going out of fashion. Every time you had an empty can in your hand or in your vicinity then a new one was thrust upon you. It took a day or too for my eyeballs to stop bouncing off the inside of my skull! As we went round we heard many different comments on the taste of the Tornado drink. I have to admit that I wasn’t overly keen on the ICE version but I drank far too many of the STORM version. I don’t even want to know how many I drank during the event but I know when I finally got back home there were 6 sitting in the bottom of my bags. I’ll keep those for my next gaming marathon!