Last weekend I saw the Tobacco Dock in London transformed into a mecca of gaming as the unwashed masses descended to try the latest indie games and a choice selection of some of the best upcoming AAA titles.
Before we delve into what caught my eye at the show, let’s talk about these game shows in general: they’re amazing and there aren’t enough of them. Back when I was but a young man Sony hosted the Playstation Experience for a few years in London’s Excel center and I attended every one. It was a chance for the company to get its most loyal fans excited about upcoming titles, a chance for devs to meet fans and give away swag, and most important it was just a celebration of everything that made Playstation gaming great. Playstation Experience attracted big names too and I will always fondly remember getting to see Hideo Kojima talk about Metal Gear in person.
Unfortunately, Playstation Experience went away and though the game shows in the UK are of a high quality, they’re few and far between and not quite on the grand scale I remember from back in the day. Besides EGX Rezzed, there’s the main EGX show in Birmingham in September and that seems about it on the large scale side of things. Where’s our E3, our TGS or our Gamescon? From the sheer number of excited fans I saw at Rezzed there’s definitely a hunger for video game specific shows out there and it’s not fair that America gets shows seemingly every month while we have only two or three a year to look forward to. The gaming industry in the UK needs to make more of an effort to attract the biggest developers to our shores to show off their wares; hell some of the biggest studios are based in the UK…why aren’t we courting Rockstar to show off the next GTA first at a UK show? MUST. DO. BETTER.
But complaining aside, let’s talk about what was good at Rezzed:
One of the biggest games at the show, Bloodborne certainly did not disappoint for Triple A production values. True to form the new From Software IP was refreshingly difficult with an Arkham-esque combat system that critically lacked any sort of lock on. I chose a loadout with a swift axe and a firearm and gleefully shot the enemy in front before taking a swipe at the foes approaching from behind, making sure I moved the aiming analog stick in the precise direction I wanted to deal the blow. Unlike my earlier playtest of The Order: 1886 (which I still thought was pretty decent), as soon as I’d finished Bloodborne I immediately wanted to have another go because the game had got its hooks in me in that lil 10 minute demo. If the finished title can grab me like that then this might be the grand exclusive Sony have been waiting for.
Total War: Attila
I’ve always been a fan of the Total War series and felt it to be one of the most tactically rich experiences you could get in gaming. Attila continues that rich vein of form and long time adherents won’t be disappointed. In my demo I played as a Roman chief trying to defend a vulnerable Gaul from Attila’s ravenous army. I thought i’d be clever and sneak my entire cavalry round the back of Attila’s army while my infantry met them head on and catch them from the front and the back simultaneously but ofcourse the enemy AI saw me coming and simply charged down the hill at my horsies before any support from the slower infantry men could turn the battle in my favor. You just can’t get that level of humiliating defeat in other titles. With all this praise in mind, I must say that very little feels different from previous Total War games and Attila will have to pull out all the stops to be better than Rome: Total War the series’ finest moment. Hopefully more time with the game will reveal greater iterations on the classic format than the demo revealed.
Games like Discstorm were the reason to come to this particular show, a small indie title which I hadn’t heard of before but quickly shot to the top of my one to watch list. A simple but hugely addictive combat arena game where you fight three of your friends in a series of disc based death match minigames. It feels like one of those titles you’ll be jumping into over and over again when you have mates round and we need more of those types of games in our lives. Alongside Discstorm, EGX Rezzed showed off titles like BroForce and Magicka 2, games I feel will be lead the way in the multiplayer indie scene.
Famed Worms developer Team 17 had a room to themselves at Rezzed and a good thing too because they had a lot on display. The Escapists looked like an interesting prospect, a top down sandboxy RPG detailing the trials and tribulations of prison life. It looked lighthearted and fun, exuding charm from every pore and promising the player a thoughtful challenge when it comes time to escape.
Devolver is another big platform that had a room to itself and was representing some of the most interesting games at the show. If you like The Sims then you’ll enjoy Space Colony which is riffing on that theme. As you’ve probably guessed from the title it’s set in space (on a moon base to be more exact) and seems to have a bit of tactical depth, something that The Sims was sorely lacking. It was a bit joyous to see my character having a disco in a lunar hab and one hopes the game is full of these little treats. On the more innovative side of Devolver, Salt looked like a title to watch. It’s a game set entirely on a fictitious social network and even the few minutes I played had me hooked into the story.
Radial-G: Racing Revolved – Or my first go at VR
A lot of the Indie developers at the show were rocking the Oculus Rift so I jumped at my first chance to get my hands on VR. The game on offer was ‘Radial-G: Racing Revolved’ a futuristic ‘Wipeout’ esque space racer. The game itself didn’t blow me away; don’t get me wrong, it’s nice arcady fun but felt a bit derivative and not something i’d normally choose for myself. The only reason it stands out from the crowd is the fact that you’re using Oculus. The headset itself was nice and comfortable and once i’d donned the chunky headphones I was in a world of my own. In spite of the inherent cynicism that’s a hallmark of my generation, I was pretty blown away by the level of immersion I was experiencing. Rather than viewing the beautiful world the dev had created through the window of my TV screen, here I felt I’d been plonked straight into that world and could explore it in any direction at my leisure.
In terms of gameplay it added a unique element to the racer: as the field of view is now wherever you want to look, I could see a lot more of the upcoming track and adjust my race accordingly. As I mentioned, the game itself didn’t blow me away but the possibilities of VR, assuming it’s executed correctly, could be the dawn of a new type of video game. Something like Myst or Journey or any of those grand sweeping exploration games would be right at home on a VR device and I can envisage myself getting lost in the virtual world for hours. I hope Oculus and other devices like Project Morpheus really take advantage of this pretty special technology and get some truly innovative game developers to forge appropriate adventures. If they do, i’ll be at the front of the queue with my wallet in hand.
These were some of my personal highlights at Rezzed but probably my biggest takeaway was just how many games were on offer. I’m very much a one ecosystem person and have been happy in the Playstation family for over a decade but there were so many indie titles on show that made me realise just how diverse gaming is at the moment. Straight after the show I dusted off my STEAM account and started downloading demos of some of the games I didn’t get to try at the show, so thanks for reading, I’m off to try Gratuitous Space Battles
One game I haven’t mentioned but really REALLY enjoyed was upcoming Blizzard MOBA Heroes of the Storm. It was everything you’d want from a DOTA-esque game, but with all of Blizzards sense of pace and style… a really special experience. If you’d like to try it for yourself we have two passes for the closed BETA to give away her at T.A.P. These passes come with 5 game keys so you and four of your friends can experience the game as it was intended: in all it’s multiplayer glory.
To enter just follow the simple instructions here.
• The competition will close at 20:00 GMT on Monday, March 23rd and winners will be selected at random.
• This competition is not affiliated with Blizzard and only apply if you’re a UK resident as the keys are region locked.