A Day Out: Eurogamer 2015

Impromptu visit to the UK’s biggest gaming convention


 

Eurogamer has steadily made it’s way up to the ranks of high level gaming conventions over the years. This year it was hosted at the NEC in Birmingham, because it had outgrown Earls Court. It’s hard to say how many function halls it consumed and even then it was quite densely packed. I’ll admit, I have never been to Eurogamer, but I’ve been to comic/film/general geek conventions aplenty. 

Firstly; it looks like an absolute gaming paradise. There are towering stands displaying all the latest releases (and those that have just been released), there are lines of stalls selling so much gaming merchandise that you wonder how your wallet hasn’t already withered up and died. In the distance you can see the various big names like Microsoft with dedicated Halo 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider areas. Ubisoft had their own corner to sit in, full of Assassins Creed, Division and Just Cause areas. And then there was this:

Tie fighter, complete with pilot

Tie fighter, complete with pilot.

 

I’m not going to lie, the main reason I went to Eurogamer was for the chance to play Star Wars Battlefront. However, this was going to prove problematic. The que was 3 to 4 hours long. I wanted to play this game so, so bad. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was child and my Dad showed me The Empire Strikes Back. I spent so many hours on my PS2 (and still do, really) playing the originals, but I wasn’t going to que for that length of time for a game that 1) I would only get 15/20 minutes on, 2) I could see from a few feet away as people played, and 3) that was being released on beta in just a couple of a weeks time. I still really wanted to, and it looked incredible from afar. It looks like a well polished, immersive and most importantly authentic Battlefront game. There were doubts on it when DICE took the helm, but I have none in their capabilities to make this an incredible game!

Unfortunately the ques are what really get to you. There were so few games that had ques below 2 hours. It was difficult to weigh up how much you wanted to play a game and how long you wanted to que for it. It was no where near as fun, but you could watch some of these games from the walk way around the event. Games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider had excluded areas though (and with it being a timed exclusive I can kind of see why) and The Division was rather difficult to peek at, but for the most part you could see what was going on.

The real highlights came with the sneak previews we got of Hitman and Dues Ex: Mankind Divided. Hitman was first and it didn’t disappoint. Hitman has come a great distance since his 2000 release on PC. The scope of this game has increased massively. The power of the next generation of consoles has allowed it so rather than having 40 unique NPCs on a segment of the map as they did in Absolution, they can have up to 300. Each of these can react in their own way, giving different clues and giving different experiences of a session. This game appears to be heavily focused on exploration, and giving you tonnes of choice on how you want to handle. It seems aimed at the perfectionist, at someone who loves to take their time and who loves all the more control over a game.

Straight from that presentation we hoped onto Dues Ex. Having been a big fan of the Dues Ex series (besides one of them, *cough*) I was eagerly awaiting this one. Once again, this was a game of choice. The presenter made note of the fact that they had taken on board gamer feedback regarding the lack of pacifist boss fights in Human Revolution, and that this game allowed that kind of play through straight from release. For the most part it looked like a smooth game, but still that really odd ‘clunkyness’ to it. I’m not talking about frame rate drops, Jensen just looked like he was a bit heavy, as he did in Human Revolution. Customization and action on the fly was a big feature of this with the ability to change ammo types and augmentations without going to a menu. Like previous games in the series the plot is mold-able to your liking, which has stayed true since the first game. My only gripe with this particular preview was that most of the footage had been shown at E3. That being said, I’ve massively excited for it!

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By the end of it the only games I played were Destiny: The Taken King and the great old Timesplitters 2. The love shown to classic games was very clear. There were entire retro areas (including a different generation of console each with a different Sonic game on!) that paid homage to where gaming started for most of us. The Timesplitters console was set up in an area where each Sony console was able to be played. The game may be very, very dated by today’s standards but the level of fun is rarely ever matched!

All in all, Eurogamer still managed to be fun despite the que length. This was the kind of que length that even developers/publishers themselves felt was unfair on gamers. If you wanted to play the top games there, you would need a few days to do so. You could barely fit 3 games into a day with 3 hour que times, and even then your actual play time would 15/20 minutes a time. Going forward this needs to be organised a little better. The content shown was really good but it was all from existing franchises, it was a real struggle to see an original IP among the AAA titles. While we love the loyalty to some game series’, we also love new and creative games! It’ll be interesting to see what next years show will bring!


Event: Eurogamer Expo

Location: NEC, Birmingham, UK

Date: 24-27 Sept 2015

Capacity: Up to 20,000

Content: AAA titles, Indie titles, retro areas, merchandise


– Bean

 

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