EGX Round Up – Player 2: Verity

My EGX experience may have been a little bit more steerage class than Sky Box, with a lot more queuing but it was no less enjoyable for it. I came away from the four-day conference with a sack full of goodies (Insert Coin’s £5 t-shirt lucky dip bags were a money pit!) and some spectacular game experiences, an unquenchable desire to upgrade to a next-gen console yesterday (just take my money already!) and the calves of a German bodybuilder. Did I mention there was lots of queuing?

Here are some of my highlights.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity
As a huge fan of the series, I was very excited to see what Ubisoft had done with Assassin’s Creed: Unity (‘The French are Revolting’ edition) where we are promised a fragile alliance between Templar and Assassin against the backdrop of the French Revolution. No playable demo was available yet but there was a theatrical demonstration to give you a flavour of the upcoming game.

It is great to see the series return to its roots in a historical European setting and in the demo, which took place in and around Notre Dame cathedral, they take full advantage of the architecture available. Our new assassin, Arno, seems slick and capable with a parkour style to match. He appears to be cut much more from Ezio’s cloth than that of rum-fuelled Edward or tears-before-bedtime Connor. He also appears to have acquired a much more powerful version of the Eagle Sense with an ability to see through walls and hear pretty much any conversation anywhere in Paris.

Missions flow more naturally with multiple solutions and entry points leading you to the main ‘black box’ target. No longer will blowing an eavesdrop mission because you accidentally fell off a roof into plain view, force you to desynchronise with the Animus. You will simply fail that sub-mission and have to look for another way to proceed. The route is yours to decide. If you want to leave subtlety by the wayside and wade in with a six-foot battle-axe leaving most of Paris’s guards dead at your feet, the option is there. Assassin’s Creed: Unity will be whatever you make it.

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
It was Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag except the main character had an Irish accent and there was lots of ice. Looks great and plays well but is really more of the same and with AC: Unity round the corner it seems a little unnecessary. If you want to continue the story though and would like to see some cameos from AC4 characters then this one is for you.

Borderlands: Pre-sequel
Everybody’s favourite unicycled, loud-mouthed robot is back and this time you can play as him. Yes, in a time before the vault hunters, when Jack was neither handsome or villainous and Dr Zed had yet to get into the lucrative vending machine business, there were still plenty of bandits and psychos who needed shooting and treasures to be found on Pandora.

In the playable level there were several characters you could choose from, all recognisable characters from the Borderlands franchise, but to be honest I only had eyes for little Cl4pTr4p. He is surprisingly deadly for  what is essentially a fridge on a unicycle but it as usual the acerbic wit and humour of the games that makes it just so much fun to play. Claptrap’s power was to run a file called Vaulthunter.exe which temporarily bestows on him the powers of the previous vault hunters in the game, usually in the form of a  mini-minion version of Claptrap and often singing. If you are a fan of the robot, it is glorious.

In addition to this, new anti-gravity zones on the surface of the moon make for an interesting twist on the shoot-em-up gameplay, allowing you to dodge and strafe in a variety of directions albeit somewhat slooooowly.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I have to be honest and say that my entire Witcher experience consists of playing Witcher 2 for about an hour and hating it, mostly because that entire hour was 80% cutscenes.

So, my expectations when heading into the Witcher 3 theatre were pretty low. That said, I was very pleasantly surprised with what Witcher 3 has to offer. The game play, of which there appeared to be plenty, consisted of a good amount of fighting, magic, crafting and questing. The developers promise that every action you take, in a quest, will have an impact on the world you inhabit.

The game world itself is vast (and promises to be the largest in any current RPG) and when you are outside of the cities, everything you can see on the horizon is a visitable location. Whether you should visit them at your current level is all part of the gameplay experience.

The primary plot again follows Geralt, for the last time according to the publishers, as he pursues an ashen-haired woman across the world in an attempt to get to her before his enemies do. He makes his appearance in the demo on horseback with a giant beast’s head slung across the saddle, so it is fair to surmise that as the title suggests, there may be some hunting to do as well.

The Order: 1886
Like Dean, I was quite excited by the prospect of this game having become a fan of steampunk settings since the first Thief. That said I was rather disappointed by the decidedly short demo that was far, far shorter than the queue.

Once you look past the cool names, pistol bullet-time and fancy boom-sticks it seemed nothing more than your average cover shooter. I was constantly shooting versions of the same rough-looking London type in a bowler hat for five minutes until I almost felt sorry for him. Hopefully there is more hidden below what the demo was showing me. The cut-scenes hinted at a fairly intricate storyline which may pack more punch in the full game.

Elite: Dangerous
Dean managed to wave his magic press wand and get myself and my Elite uber-fan companion a quick tour of the galaxy courtesy of the Oculus Rift and the most expensive joystick I have ever seen. It was an incredible experience – although nobody warned me that actually doing a barrel roll might give me motion sickness! It’s a game definitely best played before lunch if you’re on the Oculus.

With no prior Elite experience I quickly found myself being seduced by the endless possibilities and Han Solo-esque fantasies promised by the open-world game. Just point your ship at any given star in our galaxy and go explore, were the promises of game-maker David Braben at his Elite Dangerous talk, with your chances of meeting another player in the outer rim becoming infinitesimal. I might just be hooked.

Alien Isolation
I once had to stop playing Thief 3’s orphan/madhouse level at 2am because I was so terrified, so I think I can honestly say that I am not really the market that this game is aimed at. That said, once I knew that the demo was really a time trial competition I had to give it a go. As the game hosts pointed out, most people just die repeatedly, so really to win all you have to do is survive long enough to complete the level.

And that, good people of Ready Up, is what I did in the slowest, most painful, heart-stoppingly terrifying and drawn-out six minutes of my life of which I spent an inordinate amount of game time hiding in a cupboard, under a desk and behind a generator praying to all merciful deities for clemency and more than two shots worth of fuel in my flame-thrower.

It was by utilising these fine skills of weeping and hiding that is how I stand before you today a champion proudly clutching my winner’s T-shirt, a blurry photo of a score on a whiteboard and a permanent heart murmur.

If you are a fan of the Alien franchise or you simply enjoy the stress of a high-energy cardio workout whilst being permanently hunted in the dark by a vicious killing machine, then this is definitely the game for you.


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