Gamescom 2017, Part 3: Public Area, Hall 6

After surviving the crowds and noise of Hall 8 and Hall 9 at Gamescom 2017, the next public area, Hall 6, was another mindblowing experience.

First stop was Ubisoft, simply because a towering Rabbid can’t be overlooked. Sometimes size matters, especially when promoting a cool game like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Even if playing the game wasn’t possible due to so many people waiting in line, this was a perfect opportunity to stand next to a life-sized version of the big wrestling Rabbid, with a smaller Rabbid on top of it. It’s strange how this reminded me of a certain life-sized troll figure I saw at a The Witcher 3 booth, with the same posture.

AAA games were the name of the game(s) when looking at Ubisoft’s portfolio, with well-established franchises Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Blood Orchid, Just Dance 2018, and The Crew 2 being ever present.

Come to think of it, when I was waiting to enter the premises, there was even an advertisement in the sky for Far Cry 5.

Of course some titles weren’t made by the numbers, like RPG South Park: The Fractured Whole and medieval multiplayer battle-simulation For Honor.

Konami used to be quite a name in the industry with lots of great coin-up games and other titles, but it seems they played it pretty safe with Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 and Metal Gear Survive, the sports game I’m not particularly interested in and the multiplayer action title without Hideo Kojima taking part in also not being on top of my to-play list.

Speaking of big titles that were advertised in a big manner, EA obviously had the largest area for itself, and while it didn’t look much different from last year, it was certainly cool to see an X-Wing (complete with an R2-D2 unit) hovering over people’s heads.

If you wanted to join the dark side of the Force, then standing next to a very high TIE-Fighter and two stormtroopers was the next best thing when not being able to play Star Wars: Battlefront II.

It seems there was also Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes on mobile devices, but with all the Battlefield 1: In the Name of the Tsar, FIFA 18, FIFA Mobile hype going on, it was easy to miss something like this. However, it was near impossible to pass by the cool car advertising of Need for Speed: Payback. Unfortunately, no stunt show took place, and it would have been nice to take it for a drive, although with masses of people in the way, it would have been more like a stop & go affair.

Finally I went to see Bandai Namco which had quite a few anime projects, the biggest and most anticipated title being action-RPG Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom which had playable versions behind castle-like walls. As always, waiting queues were too long, but it sure looked fantastic, even without Studio Ghibli’s involvement.

Silly titles and anime fit together quite well, and even if they didn’t make me excited to play them, at least they got me interested what was behind them, e.g. Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing, and Naruto Bo Boruto Shinobi Striker.

The winner of the most nonsensical titles but with great artwork was Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet.

More franchise continuations were Project Cars 2 and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the arcade flight action pulling in quite a crowd due to its VR compatibility. Apparently there were also Tales of the Rays, Tekken 7 and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth: Hackers Memory, but I didn’t see the first one and the others were invitation-only.

Creepy puzzle-platformer Little Nightmares also made an appearance, but as it was already released, with the first add-on in season pass-form following suit (see the news for the base game and The Depths DLC in their respective articles), only a photo contest with the strange cook creature was behind the booth.

All in all, this was a no-play area for me, and even if there were some cool games on display (especially Star Wars: Battlefront II), I couldn’t find the time or motivation to have a closer look, as more public areas were waiting to be explored…

To be continued…

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GOG release: “CRYPTARK”

Alientrap‘s sci-fi shoot-em-up with roguelike elements CRYPTARK blasts through GOG’s DRM-free doors.

There’s something very satisfying about shooting lots of pixel aliens into smithereens, and this 2D indie effort achieves it with aplomb, i.e. flashy explosions, great voice acting, a thumping synth soundtrack and some generally nice 2D graphics. The idea of playing a heavily armed privateer who boards alien spaceships to scavenge and then destroy its core is quite good for some arcade action, and it seems that the crew member talk during missions gives it that extra bit of tension.

The alien spaceships are procedurally generated, and one can enter each mission with quite an impressive arsenal of 70 weapons and items, including frag-cannons, tractor-beams, flamethrowers and nukes. Of course these weapons are needed if one wants to survive the onslaught of cyborgs, robots and defend oneself against the security systems before destroying each ship and getting out alive.

The game was originally released a few months back on Steam, but is now DRM-free on GOG with a 50% launch discount that will last until September 25, 10PM UTC. There’s also the soundtrack you can buy separately.

Official website

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Using the GOG links and buying the products also helps ;).

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Humble Bundle free games “Outlast” + “Outlast: Whistleblower”

The Humble Bundle Store‘s End of Summer Sale nears its end and gives away the Outlast Deluxe Edition.

As the offer is only valid until tomorrow, let’s make this quick. I already wrote about The Walking Dead: Season 1 being made free at the start of the End of Summer Sale, but it’s even more surprising to see two games (with Steam codes AND as DRM-free versions!) as freebies again to mark the end of it.

If you want to know more about hand-camera survival horror Outlast and its DLC Outlast: Whistleblower, feel free to read the Halloween 2013 review and DLC review which just show how good these games are. If you’re easily offended by violence and can’t stand body horror in closed spaces, stay away, though, because these are the types of games that will make your heart race and probably stop if you’re not careful enough. But if you’re up for it and want to experience an unforgettable trip into true survival horror, then grab the games before the offer expires in about a day.

Official Website

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Humble Capcom X SEGA X ATLUS Bundle

It’s time again for another cool gaming compilation, and Humble Capcom X SEGA X ATLUS Bundle fits the bill perfectly.

It’s less than a week to go, so let’s make this quick. The current Humble Bundle offers many classic or more recent games from the three Japanese companies, and there’s something for everyone, although Germany is (again) left out with one title…

Starting with 1 Dollar or more, the awesome medieval fantasy RPG-pinball (!) mix Rollers of the Realm, surreal storytelling brawler-RPG Zeno Clash 2, high-octane speed 3D platformer Sonic Adventure 2, swing-and-shooter action Bionic Commando, and modern-day satirical RPG Citizens of Earth are added to the Steam library.

For less than 7 dollars at the time of writing, the very fun (especially in co-op) arcade-action title Renegade Ops Collection, modern/classic platformer Sonic Generations Collection, must-have survival horror Resident Evil 4, awesome zombie-smash-em-up DEAD RISING, and FMV adventure game Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure are unlocked. It’s a bit strange to include the latter (already reviewed here), but as the publisher is ATLUS, that’s probably okay. German users will be sad to hear that Capcom’s zombies-in-the-mall splatter fun DEAD RISING won’t be available to them, but considering the high quality of the rest of the games, that’s maybe a slight consolation.

Finally, spending 12 Dollars or more gives you does-what-it-says Motorsport Manager and Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition. While the fourth installment in the action-adventure series is still quite good, the asking price is maybe a bit too high, and even if the sports manager seems to be quite good, I wouldn’t personally buy it, to be honest. Still if arcade action and some more modern examples of crazy gaming are your thing, then this is a pretty cool bundle, so get it before the offer expires in less than a week.

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Gamescom 2017, Part 2: Public Area, Hall 9

The next public area to explore on the Gamescom 2017 venue, Hall 9, was all about the big names in the gaming industry, but it had a few indie surprises as well.

I still remember writing about the public areas in 2013, which was quite an endeavor with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 taking up much time, in addition to all the press appointments. So this is a different approach, going through the halls in the order I visited, and it will hopefully give you some good impressions of everything that could be seen and played.

First up was Nintendo, and unlike previous years it wasn’t possible to simply try out games without waiting at least an hour or two, which was a shame, as Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was a highly anticipated turn-based strategy title with a very fun presentation. Just looking at all the Rabbids in Nintendo clothes was enough to raise a smile or two.

This definitely wouldn’t be the last time that I took a picture with the raving Rabbids, and there was an even bigger figurine waiting, but in Ubisoft territory.

Nintendo’s focus was on reiterating on its franchises, with improved Switch versions of Wii U titles like Pokemon Tekken DX or Splatoon 2 being no surprises. However, Super Mario Odyssey seemed to do things differently, placing Mario in the real world. Personally I was more excited about the 3DS game Metroid: Samus Returns, although waiting queues prevented me from trying it out myself.

Next stop was Deep Silver, with one very special person just getting ready for giving autographs: the great Yu Suzuki. He wasn’t only responsible for classic arcade games like Hang-On, Space Harrier, Out Run, and After Burner, but also for one of SEGA Dreamcast’s biggest hitters, Shenmue. Shenmue III will still take some time to materialize, but being able to see Suzuki in person, even if from afar, was awesome enough.

Deep Silver had many games on offer, and despite not being able to see or play any of them, there was something for everyone. Sonic Forces, Total War: Warhammer II, Yakuza 0 were established brands, while Agents of Mayhem, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and Ark: Survival Evolved offered something different for fans of the Saints Row series, historians and dino lovers.

Square Enix proudly looked back at a long history of JRPGs in the form of Final Fantasy titles, as a whole wall of fame illustrated the series’ development. This meant that Final Fantasy IX: Remastered and Final Fantasy X: Remastered fit the portfolio quite well. I played both for a bit, as I remembered finishing them back in the PS1 and PS2 days and having a lot of fun with the classic and newer gameplay. While the HD graphics weren’t real eye-openers and couldn’t hide the fact that animations couldn’t be much improved and that the English voice acting was still less from perfect, the atmosphere with a great score made it worth-while and should make them essential purchases for those who haven’t experienced the games. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT also looked great, if rather familiar for obvious reasons.

Final Fantasy IV: Online was still a big deal and had a lovely Eorza Grill location where one could sit down and relax for a bit.

Final Fantasy XV was an even bigger franchise event, as it offered VR and mobile versions to please every platform owner.

Fortunately if one wasn’t a fan of Final Fantasy, there was enough to get excited about, e.g. Life is Strange: Before the Storm, the prequel to a much-praised storytelling experiences I still have to review (after my second playthrough), Battalion 1944, and Lost Sphear, the latter of which had a fantastic soundtrack and a pretty European-style setting to walk through. The in-game text summarized my current status, though: “My back and my knees are killing me”.

An even more exciting proposition, especially for indie fans, was what the Square Enix Collective had on offer, e.g. Oh My Godheads or Deadbeat Heroes, two titles I would have loved to play, if it weren’t for the queues.

So it came as a surprise that when I turned a corner, a free slot for Tokyo Dark opened up. It looked dark and creepy, and despite my reservations about the anime style, my positive experiences with visual novels so far convinced me to give it a try. This was when I met Maho Williams from Cherrymochi who was involved in the game’s development. Funnily enough, it turned into a conversation or interview without me actually playing the game. If I’d known I’d have recorded it, but it was too loud, anyway, and the relaxed nature of the open-minded talk was a lot of fun. I already wrote about the game in this release news, so if you want to learn more, check it out. Let’s hope I’ll get a chance of reviewing it. It doesn’t happen often that one has the chance to talk to developers or the PR at a big booth like Square, and I personally think it’s much better this way, with bigger publishers supporting independent developers who can present their talent and discuss their games in person, just like in the Indie Booth, but more about this later…

There was also Forgotten Anne that had a certain Studio Ghibli vibe. So many games and so little time…

Sometimes it’s easy to miss booths with so many people around, which happened with Chris Roberts’ sci-fi space sim Star Citizen that I saw on my way to the next big publisher. I’m expecting great things from the guy who made PC owners upgrade their systems on a regular basis, and this looked highly impressive, although a release date is still far far away.

Amazon also had their foray into games with Breakaway, an e-sports MOBA title, but I passed it by to see the next and final booth in Hall 9…

… although having a short glimpse of what the Twitch community was up to was also interesting. Not really being that interested in the content creator world, it was still cool to see some developers speaking about their games, this time being Final Fantasy.

Warner Bros. was, as expected, all about the big names, like Lord of the Rings with Shadow of War which was already present in Hall 8, but which had a cool life-like figurine to look at.

Then there was Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 that also had a big tower to gape at.

If this wasn’t enough, then Lego Worlds showcased the most impressive display with the Cologne Cathedral in LEGO building blocks. And with this image it was time to say goodbye to Hall 9 and move on to the next…

To be continued…

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.

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