Last year the Eurogamer Expo was the first chance many had to get their hands on the new consoles. This year, nearly a year into their respective lifespans and it’s a good chance for many to get their hands on new titles and see what these machines can really do. Whilst I got the chance to play many games and see many more, hopefully this will give those interested (or attending over the weekend) some early thoughts on the playable titles, opportunity to prepare for the event and for what they want to see. Firstly – it’s warm. So don’t take a coat! (or leave it in the cloakroom). Secondly, take some hand sanitiser (some people are SWEATY). Oh, and be prepared to queue, even if you have early access:
And then queue some more.
Once in, it’s over to you. I had a little wander and then headed for Driveclub. It was at Eurogamer last year where it was good and the handling needed some refining. I had a few goes on it this year and I came away happy that the handling seemed to be in a good place and am ready to preorder.
Its closest comparator is Forza Horizon and being released nearly next to each other it will be a frequent comparison made. It probably doesn’t look quite as nice as Forza, but the handling is heavier and more akin to PGR of old. I liked the social challenges that popped up while I was racing although there seemed to be a lot going on.
It’s probably worth stressing at this point that it’s hard to tell what builds the demos on show are from so aren’t necessarily indicative of final builds and it is tough to come away with a yay or neigh opinion on what is sometimes only a few minutes of play. Therefore these opinions should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.
I played this last year and it’s come on a bit. It looks really nice but they have slowed it down since last I played it. It still feels like a furious run from zombies with parkour added in, but not as fast paced as it did. This may or may not be a bad thing, it seemed to play fine although I did not like the combat. Melee combat in FPS games doesn’t do it for me, and when you hit a zombie with a weapon it can go into a slow motion view where the zombie’s skeleton becomes visible to see bones break. This totally broke the speed and pace of the game for me. If I have to hammer melee attack buttons I would prefer just to get it out of the way. It wasn’t well rendered either and looked out of place in the game. Weapons look interesting (an axe with a battery attached for electrocution, a knife with a flame on it) but the guns were lame, there wasn’t a zoom function and it felt like a token addition.
Interesting aside from Evolve, multi format titles were either on PS4 or setups with both machines. Alien Isolation had a fairly good presence with some dry ice on the over 18 section. Playable was a challenge mode where you had to avoid the Alien. It was tense, however I’m just not sure how much of a full game hiding from one alien will make. The rep said there were other threats which he couldn’t talk about (and proceeded to talk about) like “other humans and other things” and the best advice was to crouch and have the motion detector out at all times, and then hide lots. It doesn’t sound hugely fun, but it was tense and looked nice.
I’m a wrestling game fan so this is biased. I loved it, it looks fantastic and plays well. There were some frame rate hiccups but I beat the guy I was playing with so that was an added bonus. A much slower pace than previous releases, looking forward to this (although next gen release has been pushed back to end of November).
Wasn’t really interested in this but they had an interesting setup with one ‘teacher’ for each player. Opportunity to test two combat tutorials, basic and advanced. Wow! I was very surprised, thoroughly enjoyable, good idea of speed and movement, opportunity to play with thruster and joystick controls or a 360 pad (or an Occulus Rift!). This has got me very interested in Elite Dangerous, available in Beta now, release due the end of the year on PC (Mac support coming later).
MORTAL KOMBAT X
I really enjoyed Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice so had high hopes for this. It’s what you expect really and then some.
Very fluid, seamless interaction with the environment which will be interesting to see how that develops. Looked fantastic too and the bone-breaking scenes are unbelievably brutal. Lots of cheering from folks in the queue as they lined up to play this.
Some VIP passes helped jump the big queue for this which I was glad about as I was sorely disappointed. It is a very colourful, hugely generic 3rd person shooter with some on rail grinding bits. Weapons were innovatively named but roughly were shotgun, grenade launcher etc. The consensus among my group of three were that this is massively overhyped but I hope it’s a case of a small play with no tutorial doesn’t really do it for you. I found it tiresome moving around and shooting waves of samey looking zombie folks.
Big queues for FIFA as always, I didn’t play and probably wouldn’t appreciate how it differs from other entires in the series anyway. However, it looks spectacular on Xbox One and PS4.
FORZA HORIZON 2
The demo is out for Xbox One so most people will know what to expect however the Expo gave chance for another race in a Lambo. Handled well, looks great, some nice weather effects on show. This was pleasing since I had already preordered and preloaded on my Xbox One (fantastic!).
My biggest disappointment of the show. I thought this would be a serious racing contender of the year, however my first play on a PC was not good. A fairly generic looking Silverstone at a high resolution and a nice car model were ruined by horrific handling. Convinced it must have been the setup of the weird gamepad on PC, I tried the Xbox One then PS4 versions. All the same terrible highly sensitive handling. The rep was amazed on this feedback and talked through the handling extremes and setups, and I had another go. Same story – if you can’t move on a straight without spinning off the track, your handling model is too sensitive. I expect this is tailored more for steering wheels but didn’t get to try this, however the rep did not suggest it was not meant to be played with a controller.
OCCULUS RIFT – PIXEL RIFT
There were lots of Rifts kicking around the floor for various games. I tried a small Indie game called Pixel Rift (http://www.pixelriftgame.com). In the demo, I was sat in a classroom trying to play a Gameboy game whilst the teacher was trying to teach. There were small pellets fired at the teacher who got more annoyed the more I tried to play.
My experience was very different from a friends in terms of what happened, and was incredibly immersed in the environment (including an amazing part where I turned around from hearing a ‘pssst’ to find someone passing me a straw to fire pellets from). This was my first Occulus experience, and it was fantastic.
The Indie zone was upstairs and gave a good look down over the rest of the floor (including the incredible Call of Duty queue). Sony’s setup was very impressive with a blue aura and a nice selection of Indie games.
There’s more! Head to the next page for my thoughts on the rest of the expo…