I love going to events; there’s always so much to do and see, so many games to play, and so many new people to meet. Of these, arguably the biggest in the UK is EGX 2018 (otherwise known as Eurogamer Expo) with thousands of people descending upon the Birmingham NEC to play the latest games and enjoy some of the brightest experiences in the industry.
All of the big guns were here; Square-Enix, Sega, Nintendo, and of course Sony with all of their most recent and upcoming games. All of these (apart from Sega) had stages with various shows and demonstrations, giving huge insights into future titles (including a fantastic live demonstration DOA6) and running tournaments and games with the public.
There were also, of course, a copious amounts of indies across three areas; EGX Rezzed, Tentacle Zone, and Leftfield Collection. These three areas were absolutely brimming with creativity and intrigue, with some of the most interesting ideas and concepts in gaming today. In these areas you could be a bunny with a sword, a mech, a skydiver, or a hundred other things besides.
Rounding off the event were several stands of merchandise, ranging from official merch stalls representing the big developers and publishers to some fantastic stalls of fan-made art and general memorabilia. Also the huge stalwarts of officially licenced merchandise, Numskull Products were there with a great selection of their products, including their fantastic ¼ scale Pac-Man arcade cabinet, which is beautiful to behold and to play.
Then, as this is a gaming event, the ESL (eSports League) stage and a stage entirely devoted to the Capcom Pro Tour EU Finals. I didn’t catch any of the events on the ESL stage, but the CPT showing was as incredible as it was in previous years. There were some incredible matches, dramatic upsets, and the use of some characters I really didn’t expect to see such as Falke. The EU Finals were fantastic viewing and a definite highlight for me.
Now, how about those indies? I played a fair few, but now I’ve had a few days, I wanted to bring up a couple that I really enjoyed from the event. I can’t cover all of what I played, but I definitely had to talk about a few of these …
Indie Hands-On – Billie Bust Up
I was drawn to this immediately just based simply on the aesthetic, but I got far more from it than just a beautiful looking game. Billie Bust Up is a character platformer, inspired by 3D platformers of the 1990s such as Banjo-Kazooie. Playing as a cute goat with a sword and her tiny fox companion Oscar, the player has to use their different abilities combined to explore the various game worlds available.
The build at EGX was a very early build and as such was quite sparse, but it struck me how solid the game is even at this early point. Apart from a few issues with the collision detection for the wall-jump mechanic, the game played so smoothly and every movement was satisfyingly weighty. The aesthetic as well is wonderfully polished, with fantastic character designs, enemy designs, and beautiful animations.
After a short chat with the developers, I established that the game is aiming to come to everything (yes, including Switch), and that it will follow a lot of the better tropes of the 3D character platformer genre, such as hub worlds. As far as I’m concerned, even though this game is a long way off yet, Billie Bust Up is definitely a game to watch in the future. You can find more information about this game here.
Indie Hands-On – Override: Mech City Brawl
Who doesn’t like piloting mechs and beating the hell out of other mechs, whilst destroying the cityscape around you? This is the general idea of Override: Mech City Brawl from The Balance Inc. and Modus Games. The player picks their chosen mech from various visually distinct characters and basically hammers the other one or ones until they have no remaining HP.
The basic fundamentals of the game play have the two punches and two kicks attributed across the shoulder buttons, with specials mapped to holding another button then pressing an attack button. You can build meter for using the specials by hitting your opponent and levelling the cityscape around you, and you can always guard if it starts to get a little hairy. Or, if it turns out even worse for you, each mech has their own unique super attack that can be executed at low health.
This might sound all pretty archetypal right now, but the game has four player co-op and competitive player, the former of which can place all four players in the same mech controlling each appendage, which I didn’t get a chance to play but sounds fun in a “slowly-hating-your-friends” way. Couple all of the above with a bright and clear aesthetic and you’ve got a really solid game that you can actually play on December 4th. Find out more here, should you want to know more.
Indie Hands-On – Arcade Spirits
Last but not least, is this wonderful 1980s-inspired dating sim and visual novel from Fiction Factory Games. Brought to the show by PQube, Arcade Spiritsplaces you in an arcade as quite literally anyone you would like to be. The first thing the player gets to do is create their character in the game world, allowing a staggering amount of choice, including the fantastic addition of allowing players to select their pronouns for the game.
What then transpires is your first day in the arcade, meeting the various characters (of which many are dateable) and interacting with them. The game develops from there, giving the player various narrative choices to begin their slow courtship of whichever character they wish. It’s all standard fare in terms of both of the genres it is gunning for, but just how refined the game feels, even at this early stage can’t really be ignored.
The same goes for the aesthetic of the game in both the sound and visuals. The sound design is incredible, with all of the sound effects tying in with the 80s visuals, and the music doing so to an even greater extent. The characters are all fantastically designed and unique, the arcade itself is wonderfully well executed too. Arcade Spirits feels in every way like a labour of love, and I can’t wait to play more than merely a demo of it, which you can play right here.
Those were my indies, and that was my EGX 2018. I played a lot of games, spent far too much money, and didn’t sleep all that much. My personal highlights for the event were Kingdom Hearts III, the Capcom Pro Tour, and Team Sonic Racing. It was three exhausting days, but I loved every moment. Here’s to the next event which I’ll obviously cover right here!