It’s been over a week since the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in one of the UK’s largest cities, Birmingham, open its doors to EGX 2017. EGX is the UK’s biggest gaming event which spans across 4 days and welcomes developers, players, and enthusiasts alike for a long weekend of top-notch gaming.
This year’s show celebrated EGX’s 10th birthday so there were lots of things going on and some really big names turned up to show off some games and join in the fun. From Ubisoft showing off the latest in Assassin’s Creed Origins gameplay and Rare giving the UK a look at Sea of Thieves to ASUS showing of the latest in liquid- cooled gaming laptops, there was something for everyone.
I just wanted to share with you are a brief account of my time at the expo and some of the games I saw (I couldn’t possibly write an account of all of them as there were so many!).
Day One – Glory to Esports!
ESports in the UK is gradually becoming more and more popular amongst gamers so it was no surprise that there was going to be a few eSports over the weekend but what was a surprise was that the ESL was setting up a showcase. The ESL Arena at EGX was the first eSports event of its kind to be held in the UK. It featured ESL Premiership Finals for major League of Legends and CS: GO where winners could get their hands on one of the prizes in the prize pool of over £20,000.
Another interesting game I discovered, wasn’t too far away from the eSport arena and that was a mobile/figure/trading card game called Lightseekers. The game has been developed by industry veterans PlayFusion and proved enjoyment on multiple levels. The mobile game, action figures and trading card game all come together to create a very vibrant and clean looking game which can be played by anyone and appeals to many. In my opinion, the card game was epic!
One thing I always make sure to do at EGX events is to check out the National Film and Television School‘s (NFTS) showcase. Each year, the students doing their Masters degree in game design show of their games to the public. You can always count on the NFTS to show some incredible talent. This year, the indie force was strong with these guys and you should totally go and check out the eight games they were showcasing.
On the bill today was also a talk from none other than Andy Serkis (aka. Gollum in Lord of the Rings, and Caeser in Planet of the Apes) about the game his production company, The Imaginarium, is currently working on called Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier. The talk was about how motion capture can be used in video games and what the game has in-store for players.
Day Two – Switching Back and Forth
Today was the day for a press exclusive look at RiME on the Nintendo Switch. I do not yet own a Switch was it was great to get my hands on one and to be playing such a lovely game like RiME was even better! I got to talk with Remy Chinchilla, producer at Madrid-based Tequila Works studio about the game itself and the transition to Switch.
Then it was a chance to look at the past and future of a beloved game franchise that is stuck in many a gamers mind. Creative director and creator of the Oddworld IP Lorne Lanning gave a talk about the latest game in the series, Soulstorm. Attendees got to see the first ever teaser trailer for the new game as well as hear from the creator himself a bit of backstory to the whole series and look at Oddworld society.
I take it that you have heard of Square Enix, right? Well, do you know about the Square Enix Collective? It is a platform for indie games to get seen and published through a series of public votes. The games that get published are all done so because the public properly wants them to be. Every EGX event features an astounding showcase by the Square Enix Collective and this year was no different. Included were newcomers to the group Octahedron, Fear Effect Sedna, and Battalion 1944.
Day Three – All About Indie
The third day of EGX was completely sold out this year. It was really busy but I got to check out some fab indie games in the Rezzed section of the event. First up was a platform game called Lost Words. This game really caught my attention. It follows the journey of a girl through the pages of her diary. The story itself is told by Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of literary legend Terry Pratchett, and uses some very interesting game mechanics to overcome obstacles in-game.
Later on in the day, I got to play a superb story-driven adventure by Swedish developers Midnight Hub. Lake Ridden looks like it is going to be a beautiful game once it is released on PC in 2018. It is full of supernatural suspense as well as taxing puzzles that all contribute to a really heartwarming story about ones girls search for her little sister. I spent a good deal of time talking to the studio’s creative director and CEO talking about the development and inspiration behind the game and they were all too happy to chat about it.
Finally, the last indie game I want to tell you about it Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. You may have already heard of it because it has been around since 2013 when it was released on XBox One and then later on PC. But the reason it was at this years EGX is that publishers Wired Productions are bringing it out on PS4. The game follows a young boy called Max who has to rescue his little brother Felix when he is kidnapped through a portal. I love the animation and artistry of the game and can’t wait to let my kids have a go at this one!
Day Four – Checking out the Big Guns!
I made sure I spent a day looking at the more popular games of the event. It started with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. I can’t tell you how fun it was to go back to playing characters of Final Fantasy games from the past. Naturally, I chose Cloud Strife (because Final Fantasy VII is my all time favorite!). If you haven’t heard about Dissidia yet you should know that it is a fighting game where all the characters you can choose from are from the entire Final Fantasy franchise. It is not due to release until Q1 2018 so this was a great opportunity!
Next was a trip to Ubisoft. Out of all the games they came with, these were only two that interested me: Assassin’s Creed Origins and South Park: The Fractured But Whole. And I was impressed with both. I have to admit, I haven’t played Assassin’s Creed in a while and definitely prefer the older ones but the setting and feel of the new one intrigued me. You’ll find out for yourself when it is released at the end of October but the changes to gameplay really made sense.
As far as The Fractured But Whole was concerned, I was going to play it and enjoy it as soon as I sat down. I’m not afraid to say that I am a huge South Park fan and really enjoyed its predecessor The Stick of Truth. It was crude, it was rude, the demo was something should never be done but, like they always do, they have done it and it was hilarious. Not long until it comes out on October 17th so, if you like that kind of thing, make sure you check it out!
Once again the folks at Gamer Network pulled off an amazing weekend with a fantastic line-up and much more besides. If I mentioned every single game I played over the course of the show, we’d be here forever! I didn’t play any bad games at all and each one had its own merits. Now it is time to look forward to April when EGX Rezzed, the indie-only event, opens its doors to the public at London’s Tobacco Dock venue.