Once again the masses descend onto the NEC in Birmingham for four days of gaming, cosplay, tournaments and developer sessions. Here are a few more highlights.

Planes, Swords and Shields

Aside from Man of Medan, Bandai Namco had a number of other games at the show. Ace Combat 7 is the latest in the plane combat series and gets my vote for the prettiest explosion of EGX. Flying around is fun, as is shooting other planes out of the sky. It’s been a long while since I played an Ace Combat game and it seems to have not evolved that much. Though there’s not much you can do with a semi-realistic flight combat game. As has been the running trend of this year’s event, it does exactly what you expect.

Soul Calibur VI was another Bandai Namco game on show. It’s been a while since the last game in the series and now you get to play with Geralt. I chose to fight against him though with my series favourite Sophitia. It took me a while to remember the game had a block button but once I did it all came flooding back. Moves flowed really nicely, special attacks look impressive and providing there’s enough decent single player content (a real problem with fighting games these days) this could be a really great fighter.

The Difficult Second Season – Life is Strange

Free swag is always great, so receiving a free t-shirt for playing Life is Strange Season 2 was a nice reward, although I was happy just playing the game. The first season was incredible and while others may disagree, I really liked the short mini-season they did and the Captain Spirit free demo released a few months ago. But this is the big one, the big sequel to Life is Strange everyone was waiting for, and I really enjoyed what I played.

The demo plays out in what looks like the same house from Captain Spirit albeit with a new family. You’re given a set number of tasks to accomplish so you’re ready for a party, from asking your dad for cash to Skype calling someone I assume is your best friend. As with this type of game, there are choices to make and plenty of things to examine. Sadly the allotted time was up before I finished the demo and a quick look at the station to my right saw what looked like an argument occurring outside the house involving your father.

The only downside with this is that no headphones were supplied for the demo. Everything was subtitled but this is the type of game where you want to experience the full voice acting and music, especially as there’s a moment where you can just sit in your room and listen to the radio. This is already on my pre-order list and what I played definitely didn’t remove it.

A Couple of Indie Treats

The indie section was probably as bustling as it’s been in recent years with a number of titles, some already released and others were previous PC-only titles awaiting their console debut. A latter one I played was Aggelos, a retro-styled action RPG that I had a lot of fun with. It’s already out on Steam and received great reviews and is coming to consoles later this year, so that’s one to look forward to!

Afterwards I went to check out Curve Digital’s impressive line-up. The one I was drawn to the most was Velocity 2X. Now available on the Switch, I played it on PS4 and Vita prior to this and absolutely loved it. There was a recent Twitter thread from the developers Futurlab who said that they want to make a sequel, but can’t unless they sell a lot more copies. So you know what to do.

Anime!

And so we come to what was probably one of my games of the show and I never thought it would actually be Jump Force. The anime fighter from Bandai Namco brings together all your favourite anime characters (from Naruto, Bleach, Dragonball and more). It’s a behind-the-back 3v3 fighter that is stylish and looks surprisingly gorgeous. The art style, which creates these characters as how they would look if they appeared in our world is a strange choice, but one I feel pays off.

While it’s hard to get a handle on how deep the mechanics will be, or whether it will just devolve into button mashing nonsense, what I played interests me enough that it’s just jumped up considerably in my most wanted list.

So we come to the end…

As always there is a dedicated area which this time even had an Outrun cabinet.

At the end of my two days it’s hard to put into words how I feel about the overall show this year. There were definite omissions – EGX themselves were teasing the likes of Anthem and Resident Evil 2 appearing which never came to fruition, and not having Microsoft and EA meant there was more empty space on the show floor than I’m used to. That said, maybe that’s a good thing because the crowds around the big games meant the empty space was a safe haven for people that wanted to get away. From a games perspective there were plenty of decent games, some bad and others disappointing. Yet none I feel really blew me away that others have some years.

There also seemed to be more already released games around than previous years. Spiderman and Tomb Raider were the big ones and there were a ton of Nintendo booths around showing all the Switch games that are out now.

It was an odd show that’s for sure and it will be interesting to see what form it takes it next year.