Past gaming events: gamescom 2020, Day 1

gamescom 2020 lasted only four days, this time in digital-only form, but it already presented some interesting games in its Opening Night on Thursday, August 27.

[Photo: koelnmesse]

Despite devcom digital 2020 being in full or rather last swing, Thursday, August 27, 2020, was my first opportunity to get a glimpse at upcoming or recently released games. Thanks to Geoff Keighley, the Opening Night Live event had lots of trailers, although only a few surprises. Maybe the biggest problem was that after a rather fun and nerdy pre-show, what followed felt too much focused on identically-looking shooters and action games, while both the presentation and interview skills of Keighley left much to be desired.

Bandai Namco‘s action-adventure Scarlet Nexus sure looked very much like a Devil May Cry clone, only with cel-shaded and anime style.

Teamkill Media‘s Quantum Error didn’t seem much more than one’s standard FPS fare with sci-fi survival horror elements.

Ford’s Team Fordzilla P1 wasn’t very exciting news, as it was indistinguishable from any other racing simulation games, plus some not so impressive graphics.

CodemastersDirt 5 – Official Playgrounds at least looked like a lot of fun and proved that racing games don’t necessarily have to be realistic or serious.

The announcement of the Switch version of Frontier Development‘s Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition might not have been a surprise, but maybe the dinosaur park simulation game’s success will pave the way for playing Planet Coaster (see my review) on the go.

Raven Software/Treyarch‘s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War only offered a glimpse at the admittedly nice opening cinematics without revealing anything of the FPS gameplay.

Reflector Entertainment‘s Unknown 9: Awakening might also just have a teaser trailer without any actual gameplay, but maybe this action-adventure sets itself apart with its Oriental setting.

Sometimes games don’t have to be innovative, but simply know what they want, as the kick-ass attitude of id Software‘s FPS DOOM Eternal – The Ancient Gods, Part One certainly showed which franchise is still alive and kicking with heavy metal music and lots of gore, although the episodic DLC title might not be the best idea.

BioWare was at the top of their RPG game back when it was a genre so prevalent on PC, but without much success after the Mass Effect trilogy, it remains to be seen if Dragon Age 4 hits all the right notes.

Without many surprises so far, having Christopher Back to the Future Lloyd present Bossa StudiosSurgeon Simulator 2 was awesome, even though I would have loved to see another BTTF game instead.

Fortunately, the next surprise was even greater, because a new Sam & Max game is in the making, although HappyGiant‘s This Time It’s Virtual being a VR title might be even more niche than the original point-and-clicker (see my review) or the Telltale titles.

Considering that the Sam & Max trailer was highly cut during the opening night, making it difficult to make out what kind of game it was, Blizzard Entertainment‘s animated Afterlives story trailer for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands was excruciatingly long and pointless.

Gasket GamesWarhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground fared even worse, not only because of server problems that occured during the show, but also because I couldn’t even make out its title or what kind of game it was.

Toys For Bob brought a refreshingly different trailer with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time that finally included the koelnmesse/gamescom venue itself, although the presentation again suffered from connection problems.

People Can Fly‘s Outriders might not be the newest announcement and it looked very similar to a certain cover-based shooter series, but graphically this should be impressive.

Ubisoft Montréal‘s free-to-play multiplayer FPS Hyperscape felt generic, although its art style was nice, making this probably the closest to Ready Player One.

Tamsoft‘s Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions proves that soccer games can be quite exhilarating if done in an exaggerated anime style.

The Rogue Factor‘s Necromunda: Underhive Wars appeared to be a bit similar to Borderlands, only without the humor, and as it turns out to be a tactical RPG, maybe the action-packed and bloody trailer wasn’t the best to promote it.

Tuxedo LabsTeardown offered something different from Minecraft-inspired building and destruction, as having a heist theme makes it somehow fresh.

After having enjoyed Little Nightmares and Little Nightmares: Secrets of the Maw despite their flaws, Tarsier Studios‘ horror platformer Little Nightmares II has been on my must-have list for a while, not only since gamescom 2019, as it’s even creepier than before.

Saber Interactive’s WWE 2K Battlegrounds‘ presentation might include some terrible facial animations and embraces the wrestling silliness, but it might also just turn out to be a lot of over-the-top (multiplayer) fun.

I haven’t been excited about a new Star Wars game (or Star Wars in general) after the new movies and that terrible Mandalorian TV show (see Disney+ watchlist: May 2020), but as a fan of X-Wing, and TIE Fighter, Motive Studios‘ space sim Star Wars: Squadrons might just be the next best thing the franchise deserves, with VR being a particular highlight.

Maxis Studios‘ DLC The Sims 4: Star Wars – Journey to Batuu is another genius stroke, bringing together two well-loved franchises, but in a family-friendly way that might just work.

Luis Antonio/Annapurna Interactive‘s thriller adventure game Twelve Minutes with a Groundhog Day time travel idea shows what the medium can be capable of, especially with the involvement of actors like Willem Dafoe.

Counterplay Games‘ action game Godfall, while being published by Gearbox and part of the Epic Games Store, had the visuals, but not the groundbreaking gameplay.

Digital ExtremesWarframe: Heart of Deimos adds just more on the pile of futuristic shooters, although there’s at least a bit of humor in it.

Override 2: Super Mech League might have some terrible rap music in its trailer, but having a mech brawler with weird-looking combatants should make for some originality, as long as it’s not another Rise of the Robots.

Hangar 13 GamesMafia: Definitive Edition has its work cut out for this reimagined action-adventure that was already great and memorable back in the days.

Can Ratloop Games‘ turn-based combat strategy shooter Lemnis Gate set itself apart from identically-looking FPS titles with its time loop mechanic?

Traveller’s TalesLEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga should be the ultimate collection and the definitive version of the franchise, including all the missteps after the original trilogy, just because of its humor.

Chasing Rats Games’/Frontier Foundry‘s Struggling might have reminded me of Heave Ho (see game release news), but it’s single-player and even I don’t know if I can take its sick presentation, as there’s something truly weird about its character, which might just be the point.

It’s always great to see classic games, in this case the RTS genre, made available with better graphics and gameplay tweaks as in Tantalus Media and Forgotten EmpiresAge of Empires III: Definitive Edition.

This was the moment I had to relax my hands without writing about any trailers…

But then Mediatonic‘s Fall Guys: Season 2, the multiplayer mayhem inspired by Takeshi’s Castle came along.

Respawn Entertainment‘s FPS Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond VR could be very immersive or very nauseating (especially after having watched the talk Maximizing the feeling of Comfort in VR by Minimizing Fatigue at devcom 2020).

Strictly Limited‘s Turrican Anthology celebrates 30 years of the classic action-platformer that still impresses with its pixel art and stellar soundtrack.

Bungie‘s Destiny 2: Beyond Light had just another loud and forgettable boom-boom trailer.

Insomniac Games‘ action-platformer Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was already teased at the beginning of the show, but after a slew of identically-looking and not so surprising games, there was finally some actual gameplay, which obviously didn’t look very revolutionary, but the dropping in and out of dimension mechanics should be something to get excited about.

So despite just watching the Opening Night on the first day of gamescom 2020, it was hard to keep up with the trailers, as one was bombarded with all sorts of new or old games. This was the first time I watched the show, and I think it will probably be the last time. It wasn’t just the samey-looking games, but also the way they were presented: no clear structure, redundant comments and interview questions that were mostly throw-away snippets of information. The time is better spent on browsing through the gamescom now partners’ pages or, in the case of a physical gamescom, after a long day of press appointments: just getting some sleep and preparing for the next day.

To be continued…

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About nufafitc

Being an avid gamer, cinemaniac, and bookworm in addition to other things the internet and new media present, I'm also very much into DIY music, rock and pop in particular. Writing short or longer pieces about anything that interests me has always made me happy. As both an editor for German website "Adventure-Treff" and UK website "Future Sack", I like to write reviews and news about recent developments in the movies, games and book industry.
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