Eurogamer Expo 2015
Written By Zantalin, Manxy, The Bard, Alvarus and Bassie
Edited By Bassie

OK, so Eurogamer Expo (EGX) has been and gone, and many awesome people were met and many awesome games were played. At the time of writing this, it’s been less than a week since the event, and we’re already preparing for the next one, ah the gloriously busy life of a Dark Cleo employee.
​I majorly enjoyed EGX this year, the event was, in my opinion, marvelously laid out and took full advantage of the hall space of the National Exhibition Centre. Each of the major game companies/publishers had their own space, with enough room between them for effective crowd flow. Likewise, the indies were separated into their own areas, more on this later.
One thing that really stood out though was all the ‘extra stuff’ put on by companies to promote their games. By this point, I’m used to the more mundane things – posters, mascots ect, but this year it seems people went all-out. From the replica vehicles of Mad Max, to a mock Victorian clock tower by Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, to a full-on Warhammer Fantasy Battles tournament promoting the latest Total War! This last one deserves special mention, and not just because I’m a Wargamer. Creative Assembly, the minds behind Total War made the bold decision to include a homage to the tabletop game that inspired Total War: Warhammer, and it payed off big time. They only had a couple of boards at the event, but every time I walked past the area it was busy, especially on the weekend when the event was at its busiest. It’s no small feat to bring a niche thing like Wargaming into an event that’s traditionally entirely focussed on another aspect of gaming, trust me, I’ve tried! On a related note, it was awesome to see Esdevium Games there with their board and card gaming area. Like the Creative Assembly wargaming section, the Esdevium area always seemed packed with gamers who seemed to be having the time of their lives.
​Of course, as with any event of this scale, Cosplayers were there in force, with a masquerade happening each day, and the weekend masquerades carrying major prizes!
Now, I should probably talk about some of the games. Most of the indies will be covered in their own articles, so I’ll focus on the triple-As.
The hype train was in full swing at EGX this year, with Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5, Tomb Raider: Rise of the Guardians, Mirrors Edge Catalyst and two new games from Tom Clancy, to name just a few.
I’ve got very mixed feelings on Battlefront, and will be waiting for it to be released to say more. I want to like it, I really do, but there’s something about it that just doesn’t feel “Battlefront”. Mirror’s edge, on the other hand looks and feels awesome. It’s a very fast-paced game, which is fitting, but the controls feel a lot tighter than the first game, and the first person parkour still absolutely rocks. Now, Just Cause 3. I’d probably give this game the title of “maddest AAA game of the expo”. That series has never been one to take itself too seriously, but with the addition of the wingsuit and the fact that now you can have 4 grapple-tethers active at once this latest instalment hits an all-time crazy high point!
However, this time it wasn’t just me attending on behalf of our Glorious Overlords. This time, I had a team. A team with a very particular set of skills. One might even say… an A-Team.
This article is a collection of our experiences at the 2015 EGX, highlighting some of our most memorable moments of the four day event, with individual titles covered in a selection of other articles.
First, one of our newest reviewers – Manxy, who attended Friday-Sunday:​
Manxy
“Well EGX Birmingham has come and gone and with an attendance of 75,000 people all sorts of game developers clamber to grab the attention of all sorts of gamers. Be it with a true scale Tie Fighter located in the centre of the hall to advertise the brand new Battlefront, or a simple sign above your booth showing your passion project to your time in the arcade playing classic fighting games such as Streets of Rage, EGX has it all.
The first thing you get as you walk through the door and queue is watch a video showing what exactly is in the hall and the top ten picks by the comedy duo of Jack and Dean, which helps deal with passing the time until you are let into the exhibit itself. Once in you discover yourself located in the retail section of the hall filled with all sorts of goodies that any gamer could want (I myself picked up a lovely black on white print of Samus) with the big triple A games located right behind. From here it is only a quick run to the Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo areas each of which seemed to be trying to out due each other with large TV screens alongside huge sound systems (Nintendo won in my opinion by making the smart move of also including charging stations for your 3DS).
​Journeying to the other side of the hall we enter the 18+ section of the hall which was truly Ubisoft and Square Enix’s playground showing of the next few big games such as Tom Clancy’s The Division and Assassins Creed Syndicate (also the only place with less than an hour’s queue for food). With the larger open areas it allowed for more thematic displays so passing through the doors you immediately find yourself in a stylised version of Victorian London only to wander a few yards and look around to see a destroyed New York!”
​For those of us that wanted to actually play games and not just queue for the entire event, the far right of the hall coming into the hall is just right for you here Rezzed, Leftfield and Indie Megabooth left their mark filling this spot with as many different games as possible, with the actual developers of the games within arm’s reach if needed (good for me as I seemed to end up breaking or crashing every game I played). Of course the definition of Indie has become a bit estranged over the years and located right on the edge of the Indie area was one of my show stoppers: Elite Dangerous a full on space combat game that was set up with flight stick controls to really make you feel like you were in a space combat game (the only thing missing was an Oculus to make it complete).
Next, Zantalin, who only attended the Saturday of the event. Unfortunately, he was unable to stay longer due to other concerns.
​Now with Mighty Number 9 I was looking forward to it, but with it being demoed at EGX I can see why they have delayed it as it was meant to be a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series. But with Mighty Number 9 itself you were playing against the boss through the entire level, for each level so by the time you were at the boss level you know what to expect whereas with Mega Man you had no preparation for the boss. This was my main gripe though, but I’ll probably still pick up a copy of it just to see whether I like the direction of Mighty Number 9.
Now with everything else YIIK I found to be fun with inspiration from Final Fantasy and Wario Ware. From what I had a chance to play at EGX as a western take on games like Final Fantasy which is really awesome. Warhammer: Total War is essentially Warhammer Fantasy the PC game and in the demo game it is Dwarves Vs. Green Skins and if you played in hard mode and one you get a Warhammer: Total war shirt.
Guns of Icarus: Alliance is essentially a standalone PvE version of Guns of Icarus (also really fun but with more friends) where you and team mates cooperate with each other to fulfil objectives. For example, an objective could be to destroy oil rigs.
​Zantalin
“During my day at EGX I had the chance to play YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG(PC), Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade (iOS/Android), Mighty Number 9 (Wii U Edition), Era (PC), Guns of Icarus: Alliance (PC), Homefront: Revolution (PS4, Xbox One and PC), Warhammer: Total War (PC), Steam world heists (3DS) and Unboxed (Xbox One).
Now all of the games that I have played at EGX were fun. There were a few exceptions to this but even then they still have their merit for example Era.
Era although the game was still in alpha so it will still change over time was the fact that it felt like Pokémon, but with people with magic powers using a number of different elemental types, as well as this the graphics did seem difficult to compare to. However, this aside the concept of the game was that everyone is online, and as time goes along the world in which you play in will develop and is shaped by the player’s choices and that as a concept I really like and don’t see much in games.
Steam World: Heists is a steampunk robot themed 2D-sidescroller shooter, on the 3DS. The premise of the game is to explore the procedural generated world discovering areas whilst combating robot pirates on the way in space ships that look like they are weakly bolted together. Overall I found this game to be fun as a random play through once in a while.
Next is Unboxed where you get to play as a box in a series of game modes such as race, collecting golden tape and blowing the shit out of everyone else that’s a box with rocket launchers and the like.”
​Alvaris
“There was a lot of excitement leading up to EGX this year, on the Triple A front especially. Games like Battlefront, Tomb Raider and Just Cause 3 have been on people’s lips for months. On that front however, Homefront: Revolution was a pleasant surprise. Forgoing the now traditional Call of Duty style of one man or squad against the world in a massive shootout, for a much more realistic guerilla warfare approach of sabotage and objective based warfare, I am interested in how they manage to transition from beta to the market release, as there is a lot of potential there. I wish I could say the same about Tom Clancy’s The Division, but the demo available to play at EGX felt very much like every FPS I’ve played since the release of CoD 4, and there needs to be a lot more in the final product for them to live up to the open-world experience that they talk about whenever discussing the game. It is the beta demo however, so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
​Now, as a small piece of advice for anyone who goes to these shows and spends the whole event queueing for the big names like Mirror’s Edge or Assassins Creed, don’t. Your legs will hurt, you’ll spend around 15 minutes actually playing games, setting yourself up for a show full of disappointment if they aren’t as good as you’d hoped. Instead spend some time scouring the indy area, because there is always a bit of gold hidden in there if you’re willing to look for it.
​This year, Ysbryd games are very much the new guys in the Rezzed area. But between Va-ll Hall-A, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, and Y2K: A Post Modern RPG they could very well be set to make a mark amongst the indy scene. Each of the three games offers a very different feel and style of play, whilst each offering deep and engaging storylines. Va-ll Hall-A in particular piqued my interest, a dystopian steampunk barmaid simulator in the vain of a Japanese visual novel. The dialogue was crisp and funny, the characters were distinct yet thematic, and the soundtrack provided a fantastic atmosphere to pull together the experience.
At the same time though, that style won’t fit everyone, so the presence of a game like Mushroom 11 emphasised what’s so great about the indy development scene, in that there is something for everyone if you’re willing to take a look around. Mushroom 11 had very little in the way of set story. At the same time though the simple concept lead to extremely complex and interesting gameplay that felt both challenging and rewarding whilst not feeling either impossible or frustrating, a real achievement in my book!”
Finally, we have our newest Recruit, our level one Bard. He attended to get some much needed experience points, and hopefully managed to level up after claiming his loot at the end of the weekend.
The Bard
“So, the adventure began at 6AM, I begrudgingly got up (Getting up before 8AM is heresy…) and picked up my prepacked bags with lots of caffeinated drinks, snacks and tickets and got to the train station and got on the train.
“WHEEEEEEEY, RUGBY TIME LADS! WHEEEEEEEEY!”
Crap.
The Rugby hoard had arrived, (5XP each). A mass of red surged onto the train and invaded my carriage, I kid you not, the carriage SWAYED under me as they thundered to claim seats, luckily a bunch of seats were reserved and they had to go on the next carriage along. Soon the train was rolling along.
After many hours of train travelling, I arrived and after meeting my co-workers at Hall 19. I was inside…
​(Does this mean GAME endorses Piracy?)
But the awesomeness doesn’t stop there, just around the corner from it…
It was an impressive setup, the hall was lined with booths, similar to the ones at every other con, but each place had a unique item appended to it, in the case of Star Wars Battlefront a FREAKING FULL SIZE TIE FIGHTER. (I squeed like the manly man I am.) The only sad thing was that while it was possible to go inside it, they didn’t have a ladder, shame, I saw some rebellious people walking around that could have done with some Imperial Justice.
​The first game in line was Assassins Creed Syndicate. The queue for it was fairly small compared to the rest of the day, only about a half an hour wait was needed before we got in and started being super stealthy assassins… With Grappling Hooks. WTF.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE fan of Assassins Creed, (Well, besides 3, but we don’t talk about that) but while I did enjoy the ability to sneak in in three separate ways or just go to town and paint the complex red, it was FAR too easy to just jump in front of some guards and leap away to a nearby rooftop and stab some poor lookout like if Batman had decided to go; “Sod this” and just batarang people to death. The weapons on display were nice, the gun was accurate (and loud) which was a good way to draw off guards for some sneaky sneaky stabby stabby in the corner of the complex. I settled on sneaking in with the help of a friendly guard, dodging past Templar guards while keeping the friendly guard disguised as a Templar was refreshing. But come the end of the demo, how do we off Whiny Templar Captain? A quicktime event…
*Sigh*

​Also there as well as a whole bunch of Indie games like Mushroom 11, a marvellously quirky game where you’re a gelatinous mass that moves by shifting its weight around by cutting the excess off with an eraser tool. Set in a desolate post-apocalyptic world and going through an assortment of puzzles and boss fights, it’s a strange game, but certainly a good one.

Fallout 4 Vault Boy (I HAVE ENOUGH HYPE FOR THE GAME ALREADY BETHESDA!)
Mad Max’s Magnum Opus also made the leap back in time to grace us, funny, I didn’t know it had the DeLorean’s Time Travel capabilities. (So Shiny… So Chrome, it’s a joy to Witness.)

​There was also one last thing I’ve not encountered before at conventions like this… An 18+ area, so we could go see uncut footage and play games that weren’t toned down on their graphic content in case of a random tot seeing it and getting scarred for life.
All in all, it was a fantastic event, the ride back was uneventful and had a quest reward of sleep. It gave me the Well Rested bonus the next day.”
Bassie
As you can see everyone had an awesome time, it wasn’t just me!
There’s not a right lot I can say that hasn’t already been covered by one of the guys, or myself earlier, so I’ll leave you with the Team’s Picks, and Surprieses of the show. To qualify for Pick of the Show, the game must have impressed the team member beyond anything else there. To qualify for Surprise of the Show, the game must have surprised the team member. This could be a game that we had low expectations of that was actually awesome, or simply something that we expected to be good that was better than expected:
​Manxy
Top pick: Mirrors Edge, with it being 7 years since the first game a redesign of the movement mechanic and controller layout the movement feels so natural allowing for combined movement and fighting covering the weakness of the first game.
Surprise of the Show: Halo 5, with the rise of MOBA’s it was only a matter of time till elements fell into other games and with there now being creeps and mini-bosses in the multiplayer games it lends itself a different feel than the other Halo games.
​Zantalin
Top Pick: Unboxed, now this is my pick because I found it to be the most random game (but also most fun) I have played in a while. This is because (like I said before) you get to blow up other boxes shoot them down and essentially vaporising them in a variety of ways in the collecting of gold tape. As well as this I can see this as being more of a “party” game due to the nature of the game modes available.
Surprise of the Show: Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade is the surprise of EGX for me as it is a well-developed Tablet game that will be free to play (mostly) and is an on the rail, hack, slash and shoot game that actually looks better than the trailer as it features in game graphics (granted for the iPad). In the game you get to play as an imperial knight killing everything in your path towards the end of the level which will by the looks of it be a mech fight with another mech from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. In all I do like me some mecha fights and this won me over.

Alvaris
Pick of the show: Va-11 hall-a, very much a personal opinion, but this game is right up my alley and I will happily spend as many hours as necessary to explore every possible outcome.

Surprise of the show: Shu, a colourful platformer presented in a classic style that reminded me why I got into video gaming in the first place

The Bard
Top Pick: Out of all the games I played, I have to say that even with my distaste of the grappling hook, the return to form with Assassins Creed Syndicate is a welcome change of pace with more emphasis on stealth than some of its predecessors, giving objectives like killing less people and with the multi ways in to do the objective, earns my seal of approval.
Surprise of the Show: The Escapists: Walking Dead by Team 17, its set in the Escapists engine and feels just like a typical Escapists game, the difference is instead of guards and escaping from max security prisons, you follow the events of the comic book series of the brand. (The TV show is adapted from the books after all) It’s a surprising twist on the genre that is very fresh, unlike the walkers you kill. I look forward to the game.
Bassie
Top Pick: Total War: Warhammer. Did you really think it’d be anything else? The game itself is awesome, being classic Total War with enough Warhammer thrown in to really capture the feel of the board game. The unit animations look awesome, ranged combat and magic work really well, and you can bomb your enemies into oblivion with fliers, what more could you possibly want? Oh, and they announced it’s the first game in a trilogy…

Surprise of the show: Homefront: Revolution. I was honestly expecting to hate this game, but after playing it, I’m probably going to buy it! I’m not usually a fan of FPS style games, and was expecting another generic brown chest-high-wall simulator. What I got was an awesome mix of open world and tactical combat, modifying my weapon to suit the situation and generous usage of remote-controlled cars to deliver packages of C4 to my enemies. It was awesome, didn’t take itself too seriously, and earned its place as my Surprise of the Show.