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The Ferret Reports: EGX 2015

September 27, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

This weekend is EGX, formerly Eurogamer Expo. This year, it was held at the NEC in Birmingham, and therefore was right on my doorstep. As a result, I decided to pop along and experience my first ever video game conference.

I would love to report on the wide range of games I experienced, but sadly I was only able to get a single day ticket on Friday as all the weekend passes had sold out. As a result, I got to play exactly three games. Which isn’t that great, let’s be honest.

When I walked in, the Nintendo booth jumped out at me immediately, so I decided to check out Star Fox Zero first.

It’s basically Star Fox, and everything you expect from that game. I’ve only played Star Fox 64 before (and Adventures, but that doesn’t count), but Zero plays a lot like that game with a few unique aspects of its own.

For instance, it gives you the ability to turn your ship into a walking chicken thing, which is amusing, but also useful at times. Initially from previews and such, it seemed that this was a level-specific thing, but in actual fact it can be done at any time, which I found to be a neat feature.

Control-wise, Star Fox Zero is a mixed bag. It makes full use of the Game Pad’s gyro controls and screen, but it’s a little fiddly. The gyro is used to move the targeting reticule around the screen, which can be confusing to get your head around as you’re essentially performing a 3D movement to control something on a 2D plane. Meanwhile, the main screen shows a third person view of your ship, but the Game Pad is a cockpit view, and you’re expected to use this occasionally for precision aiming, and looking back and forth between screens was a little awkward at times.

Hopefully these issues will be ironed out a little by the time of release (especially as it’s been put back), or maybe it just takes time to get used to.

Star Fox’s queue lasted about an hour, and in this time I ended up joining a game of Splatoon as it needed a couple of extra players and so they recruited from the Star Fox queue. It was pretty obvious that I was one of the few players who’d already played the game, as others were painting walls or struggling to get used to the gyro controls. My team won, which was a nice way to kill some time while waiting, but obviously I didn’t go to EGX to play a game I already own.

After Star Fox I made a beeline for Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, as this is a game I’m highly anticipating. I was a massive fan of the first game despite its flaws and despite how bad I was at doing the time trials, and so a sequel (or prequel…or reboot…or whatever it is) is right up my alley.

The queue was about 2.5 hours long, which is a big part of why I didn’t get to play much while I was there. EA were being incredibly restrictive on getting people on the machines too, which didn’t help the queue times; they were waiting for all players to finish before allowing more players to come in.

That said, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was a wonderful game, and well worth the wait. It looks stunning, and retains a lot of the unique design that made it stand out so much. The controls feel a little more fluid too.

But the biggest complaint against the first game does seem to have been addressed. The demo focused on an area of the city that you could fully explore and do multiple missions in any order, which suggests a much more open game, allowing the free running to be truly free. It stood in stark contrast to the first game’s linearity, so that’s genuinely exciting.

The final game I got to play was Xenoblade Chronicles X, which played very similarly to the original, but sadly I didn’t get to see much of the mech gameplay, which either wasn’t in there or I couldn’t find it. It looks like it’ll be a great game, but the demo didn’t really do it justice.

And that, sadly, was all I got to experience. I’ve heard that it’s at the NEC again next year, so I aim to try and hit it then with a weekend pass so I can experience a lot more of it. I wanted to check out Rise of the Tomb Raider despite the politics, and I’ve been curious about Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate despite my general indifference to the series the last couple of years, but alas, I never had the time to see them. In fact, I reached the Tomb Raider queue only to be told they were no longer letting people join it, even with about two hours left before the end of the day.

EGX was a fantastic event but I saw so little of it. Hopefully next year there are more systems per game so queue times can be significantly reduced, and hopefully I’ll be able to grab an early weekend pass so I’m not trying to fit everything into a single day.

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