It’s been interesting to watch the Eurogamer Expo grow over the years.
From the riverside of year one to the ever growing floor space used at the now familiar sight of Earls Court. How do they keep adding more and more? Only god, and the event planners know.
So, once again this September, I returned to the giant videogame box in the centre of London to explore, observe and queue for the latest titles coming from every corner of the gaming industry.
Nintendo, without apparently trying to, lured me in with a lovely open-plan introduction to the show floor. It felt very welcoming to approach and despite the polar opposites of Bayonetta 2 and Yoshi’s Woolly World, it worked, giving off the impression that the Wii U and 3DS are catering for everyone. Oh and there was a giant Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Wii U on stage for those who won their Smash Bros. 3DS qualifier. Let the games begin!
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
Getting hands-on with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (ugh, that title) wasn’t as impressive as I was hoping, largely down to the fact that I was brawling in the eShop public demo with Nintendo fans whilst queueing to get onto the show floor.
There was an almost full roster of characters to choose from but a few glaring omissions forced me to pick Mario. Usually my “main”, Mario is always the all-rounder choice but something is off this time round, he feels weaker now. Still, I composed myself from all the distractions, noise and friendly faces around me and soldiered on.
I did not win.
Overall, and you’ve probably read the reviews by now, Smash 3DS is an tremendous attempt at squeezing that entire game onto a tiny handheld. Will it be a stopgap until the Wii U version? Almost certainly from my point of view, but that won’t prevent me from levelling up my trophy cabinet now and carrying my save data across when that thrilling day comes.
Turning away after my bitter defeat, I spotted some energised Nintendo employees counting down to the end of a Splatoon match. Much to my surprise, Nintendo were demonstrating their new third-person paint ’em up – and their brand new IP. It might lack the character of older, more established Nintendo franchises but what Splatoon lacks in that department is made up for by a most refreshing take on a very well established genre.
Turf War was the mode in question which pits eight players (four on each team) against each other in a mission to cover as much surface area in your team’s ink colour as possible.
Starting on opposite sides of the map, which can be seen at any one time on the GamePad, players immediately start discovering every nook and cranny the level has to offer, splatting their goo all over the shop.
I was reminded many times that walls don’t count towards the percentage but helps dramatically for traversal when you turn into a squid. Yeah, that’s right: A squid.
Pressing ZL submerges your character into the ink splayed on the floor which gives you incredible mobility, allowing you to free-flow around the map in speedy fashion should you get acquainted to the control schemes quick enough.
Aiming in Splatoon was the biggest issue for me as it introduces a weird mix of analogue stick and tilt controls to aim where your colourful globules will end up.
It’s a bit of a mind-bending experience and feels like something they’ve thrown in just to prove a point that the gamepad is a necessary component for the game. Personally, I’d have prefered some consistency in my controls. Mixing analogue and tilting to aim my Super Soaker style weapon felt odd and overwhelming.
Only dying two or three times in a game of this style really was a refreshing experience and even though I was surprised to be told that this is “online only” I have confidence that Splatoon will feel like a full
package when the time comes.
By this point, I was in the mood for something a little tougher, so what better than a lady witch with a giant hair dragon to help me scratch that itch?
Watching people having far too much fun with the demo from the queue was making me more anxious to get my hands on the game by the minute and based on my time with this 15 minute demo (I skipped the cut-scenes to help the queue flow… just sayin’) is that the EDGE ’10’ is entirely justified.
I was a little thrown by the intense action the game thrusts at you and took an early death, but from here on out I was on a roll. Witch Time, crazy moves and summoning giant beasts never felt better and I genuinely was gasping, laughing and shaking my head at disbelief as to what I was seeing on screen. Platinum Games, you crazy geniuses.
Each year at EGX I like to venture into the indie tube which is usually too horribly cramped to linger in, so it was refreshing to see that this year the Expo had dedicated a floor to indie developers. Much more room to breathe and more time to play the games.
“It’s a platformer with Micro Machines style multiplayer” was pitched to me by one of the buddies and that’s all I needed to hear. SpeedRunners is a fantastic idea which could work much better in a more contained environment while you learn the mechanics.
Once it clicked though I found myself having a lot of fun running around, wall kicking and triggering shortcuts to force the other players off the back of a fast-scrolling and ever-shrinking screen. Local multiplayer for the win!
Suddenly it was almost time to get booted out the expo and in a last brave attempt, Cane and Rinse’s Joshua Garrity and I dared to queue up for one last videogame.
Quite possibly the most exciting one on the show floor for me, although possibly the one I knew the least about despite the excitement.
From Software’s Bloodborne is without a doubt a Souls game, but with enough changes to distinguish it from its eminent forerunners.
Choosing from one of four differing pre-made characters was far too much for my simple brain, let alone the nightmarish bastards that were waiting and primed to kill me within the demo.
Everything about how Bloodborne controls, looks and feels will be familiar to those who have played Miyazaki’s previous works as his directional influence can clearly be felt. I won’t spoil what’s coming for anyone, but trust me on this; Bloodborne game is solid, both in its difficulty and in its quality.
Overall my time at this years Eurogamer Expo was enjoyable but as time moves on I increasingly find myself overwhelmed with the show’s size and scope.
It’s great to see growth from such an event but I’m gradually finding that as I get that little bit older I’m looking for something a bit less hectic and energy-sapping.
Hopefully the Birmingham NEC – the new venue for EGX 2015 will help freshen things up a little, but with it being so close to Nottingham’s GameCity, I feel maybe that event might suit my tastes that bit better.