PopBucket’s Eurogamer Expo 2013: Awards and round up
The annual Eurogamer Expo hosted over 70,000 eager gamers this year at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. We were there in force ready to get our hands on the latest and greatest of games. Now that the Expo has come to an end, we here at PopBucket want to share with you our highlights from the show and most important of all, dish out the PopBucket Awards.
Batman: Arkham Origins
One of the first booths that we visited was Batman: Arkham Origins. We’re all huge fans of the series, so it was tempting to simply set up a little camp there and stick around a while.
The demo on offer to us covered some gameplay that we’ve seen in the latest trailers, with the player being thrown headfirst into a sprawling open world with a variety of optional objectives. Firstly I beat up some thugs on a rooftop, as they we’re not obeying proper health and safety guidelines. I then got an alert to a robbery in progress which I set off to foil.
One of the first new challenges this game had to offer was a new enemy type; a large thug wearing massive body armour that needs to be chipped away in order to take him down. Once I beat the thug and his mates (to the applause of the Joker cosplayer behind me) I was able to check out the new grappling hook that has the ability to link two objects (in this instance the thug and explosive barrel). This new tool was pretty fun to use, if not a little overpowered, thanks to its ability to take thugs out from a distance.
The demo concluded with Batman confronting the Joker before being introduced to Bane’s meaty fist. Batman: Arkham Origins was stunning to look at and I was reassured to see that it played very much like the previous installments that we’ve come to know and love. We can’t wait to spend more time with this one when it releases next month.
Dying Light is an FPS open world survival game filled with zombies who strive to murder you at night. After a brief instructional movie about the parkour controls I was set loose, and immediately died as I jumped off a three story building with nothing but a zombie to break my fall. As with Mirror’s Edge and other first person free running games, half the challenge was finding a way to go without falling. I got pretty good towards the end and even managed to pull off some impressive slides under trucks, before kicking a zombie into spikes before leaping up a building. The world itself was gorgeous to look at with nice lighting that made the world feel alive. It would have been nice to get hands on with a night time demo, when the zombies apparently become far more effective at hunting the player down.
The length of the queues for Titanfall were a great indication of this game’s incredible reputation, a reputation that is well deserved. This is pure nirvana for lovers of the FPS genre and I can honestly say that this was one of the most compelling action shooters that I’ve played in some time.
Blending the tight shooting mechanics of a Call of Duty title with the crazy jump physics and giant robot combat of Halo is a fantastic strategy, and sure to please. Boasting 64 players on the Xbox One (32 on Xbox 360), this series could well rival Battlefield and Call of Duty in the coming years.
It feels like something fresh and incredibly special after years of the same old shooters. Whether flitting through buildings or stalking an enemy Titan from the rooftops, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Fifteen minutes just simply wasn’t enough time to get to grips with a game that is deeper than some of the oceans that our new hero frequents. I quickly found my bearings and began my reign of piracy by hunting down any ship smaller than my own. This was also my first use on the PlayStation’s 4 new controller and the touch pad in the middle made it very easy to bring up the map through a simple pinch gesture. While scrolling through the weapons I had to play with, I found I could tell my men to sing sea shanties and so quickly changed my goals from piracy to drunken stag night style cruise, with me playing chicken with a water spout that had formed in a storm.
The demo was chock full of things to do and when I saw what everyone else was doing, they all had something different on screen. Some were attacking forts, assassinating targets, diving for treasure. Eventually the authorities started taking notice of my escapades and sent a hunter ship after me. We fired a few volleys back and forth before I downed their sails and went in for the kill. The ability to board enemy vessels leads to endless swashbuckling opportunities.
Armed with dual swords Edward feels more deadly than Ezio and more brutal than Connor. Sadly the demo ended before I could make the enemy crew walk the plank and I was back to being a land lubber until November.
Dead Rising 3
Dead Rising 3 was our first opportunity to get out mitts on the Xbox One console. Sat in a darkened room, we were guided through the basics by one of the game’s developers. We were introduced to the new weapon combination features which mean that you no longer need to visit a workbench to create new weapons (a massive improvement I’m sure you’ll all agree!). This new ability allows you to combine weapons on the fly plus it also utilises a recommendation system which points you towards logical item combos in you inventory. Again, extremely helpful.
Once the gameplay demo started I was in instant awe at the improvements to graphics and animation courtesy of the new Xbox hardware. Faced with about 1200 zombies on screen at any one time, you truly feel like you’ve entered the apocalypse. Fortunately things aren’t hopeless as you start armed with a few superior combo weapons, like the Sledge-Saw (Sledge Hammer Saw).
Cleaving a path through countless zombies is wonderful fun but things get really silly when we were introduced to vehicle combos. This is exactly what it sounds like, enabling you to combine two working vehicles to create super modes of zombie-slaying transportation. I combined a Lamborghini-looking sports car with an ambulance to create a huge truck that fired explosive propane tanks from its bonnet (why not?!).
I can safely say that having followed the Dead Rising series from the start, I am delighted to see it enter the next generation in style. Bring on the next generation zombie apocalypse.
Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II would be disappointing if it wasn’t fiendishly hard. My first major blunder was strolling casually down a dark corridor (having forgotten to pick up a torch) to be confronted by a pant-wettingly scary demon that was about as big as my car. Needless to say, it ended badly.
My next few attempts went better and I even managed to reach the fabled Mirror Knight that I’d heard so much about. In my quest to vanquish him and win a cool Dark Souls t-shirt, I sadly failed. Fortunately Gareth from the team did manage it and in doing so, restored PopBucket’s credibility as hardcore gamers.
I was really impressed with the latest offering from the franchise and I can’t wait to give that Mirror Knight another go in the safety of my own home. Where I can swear comfortably.
Helldivers from Arrowhead, the company that brought you Magicka is hard, very hard. I first played by myself and was killed in less than a minute by bugs who bear a resemblance to the ones out of Starship Troopers. Playing as a team, while still chaotic, went a great deal better with us completing objectives and slaying bugs all over the place. Unfortunately when we found a bomb we couldn’t resist using it and ended up blowing ourselves to kingdom come. The game does a good job of encouraging team work but it’s perhaps a little too easy to screw over your team mates thanks to friendly fire.
As well as the big titles, we also got time to check out a number of indie games. We were really taken with the quality of all the games on show in the Rezzed section but there were a few that really stood out from the crowd.
Framed is an iOS game which sees you arranging pieces of a comic strip in the correct order so that your character can escape his pursuers. This game had a really unique art style and one of the most suspenseful soundtracks ever, which fitted the game perfectly. We are all eager to give it a download once it becomes available early next year.
War for the Overworld is basically Dungeon Keeper 3. But that’s not giving the Kickstarter backed game enough credit as the people who are devoting their time to the game have really done a fantastic job. Keeping the elements that would be familiar to any Dungeon Keeper player whilst modernising some aspects to the gameplay, it’s brought the “series” (if we can loosely call it that) bang up to date and is a must buy for any fan of the Bullfrog originals.
Forced was a four player tactical combat game which has you and three mates picking a unique warrior class and dealing death to endless hordes of nasties. Really good fun and a decent level of challenge due to its combination of combat and puzzle mechanics. Look out for this one on Steam and the Wii U.
So after playing all these games at the Eurogamer Expo, what can we say? Well, quite simply gamers have a lot to look forward to over the coming months. From big budget AAA first party games like Call of Duty: Ghosts to indie developers continuing to do wonderful job creating games like War for the Overworld and Shiftlings.
Every year we like to take a look back at the Eurogamer Expo and award the games that really made a mark on us. Let the drum roll for the PopBucket awards:
- Best original game – Framed (iOS)
- Best graphics – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
- Best singleplayer game – Beyond Two Souls (PS3)
- Best multiplayer game – Titanfall (Xboc 360, Xbox One)
- One to watch – Forced (PC & Wii U)
- Best in show – Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)
The Eurogamer Expo has now ended but you can keep the dream alive by listening to our Eurogamer Expo Podcast Special.