On the eve of the UK’s largest gaming event, we at Power Up Gaming are busy making our final preparations for our third consecutive EGX, and will be bringing you extensive coverage from the Birmingham NEC show floor.
Due to the massive scope of the expo, the vast array of titles and goings-on on offer at EGX may prove a little daunting to both newcomers and seasoned convention attendees alike. For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of some of the more notable happenings and upcoming games at this year’s gaming extravaganza, which runs Thursday (September 24) through Sunday (September 27).
EGX’s developer sessions, which mostly see key industry figures showing off various aspects of their upcoming games, have seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. In 2015, a total of 20 such sessions will be held, all of which will be streamed live via the official EGX YouTube channel. The one we’re possibly looking forward to the most is 20 Years of Play, a question and answer session with Sony executive Shuhei Yoshida, looking back at the launch of the PS1 and his memories over the last two decades of PlayStation.
We’ll also be in attendance at various VR talks on the likes of HTC, PlayStation VR and nDreams’ The Assembly, and are looking forward to sessions on the history of the Uncharted series and 47 minutes with the voice of Hitman’s Agent 47, David Bateson.
This year also sees the intriguing addition of a number of Rezzed sessions, which are geared towards game developers and offer advice on the various aspects of video game development. Excitingly, the likes of Rare, Naughty Dog and Deep Silver will all be participating in talks alongside a large number of indie studios.
Although we’re mostly looking forward to checking out the up and coming indie-developed games at EGX 2015 (more on those later), it’s undeniable that the huge selection of playable blockbuster titles on offer on the NEC’s show floor are certainly attractive, too, and are what will be getting most casual gamers through the gates. A few of the upcoming titles we’re looking forward to sampling are as follows:
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Although last year’s AC: Unity was a colossal failure due various bugs and a general lack of polish, Ubisoft look to be getting things right in 2015 with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. As a UK-based publication, we’re excited to see the iconic historical action/stealth series relocate to these shores for the first time. Offering players a chance to experience life during the height of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England, Syndicate will feature twin protagonists Jacob and Evie infiltrate London’s shady criminal underworld.
Just Cause 3
After a five-year hiatus, 2015 sees the return of the Avalanche Studios-developed open world series Just Cause. Unlike many of its contemporaries, realism is thrown out the window in Just Cause’s sprawling environments, with a focus on destruction, exaggerated physics and generally causing as much destruction and unrest as possible. JC3 doesn’t look like it’ll take itself too seriously, either, and that’s one of the main reasons we’re looking forward to getting hands-on with it so much.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The critically acclaimed 2013 Tomb Raider reboot was one of our favourite games of the year, and its sequel is one we’ve been hotly anticipating for quite some time, even in the face of some stiff competition from the likes of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Iconic protagonist Lara Croft, who received a sensitive and effective portrayal last time around after so many years as being seen purely for her sex appeal, is set to showcase her brains as well as brawn in the timed Xbox exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider, with an increased focus on stealth, sneak attacks and puzzle-solving.
Star Wars: Battlefront
While Power Up Gaming’s Scott Russell was largely unimpressed with the Gamescom demo for DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront, the rest of the team is eager to get hands-on with the upcoming sci-fi shooter ourselves, well ahead of its November launch.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Over two years after originally being unveiled at E3 2013, we’re finally getting close to The Division’s March 2016 release date. After numerous delays, we’re hopeful that Ubisoft’s mid-apocalyptic action-survival title won’t have suffered too much from its protracted development cycle, as its premise is a truly unique and intriguing one. Set in a massively multiplayer online New York as a pandemic grips America, players must investigate the source of the virus as the country descends into chaos.
Guitar Hero Live / Rock Band 4
After a lengthy hiatus, 2015 sees the resurgence of the rhythm genre, as both Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4 are set to release next month. As long-time fans of both series, we’re looking forward to seeing players take to the stage at EGX to show off their skills – and who knows, we may even try steal some of the spotlight for ourselves.
Live Events and Competitions
There will be plenty for competitive gamers and eSports fans to experience at EGX, with the Gfinity stand, Virgin Media Hexathlon, Capcom Pro Tour, and Dota 2 Challenge all featuring players battling it out for cash prizes. In somewhat more relaxed environments, Namco Bandai’s Project Cars will also be the focus of a multiplayer tournament, while a live Let’s Play of Nintendo world creation platformer Super Mario Maker is set to headline the developer sessions theatre on Sunday.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on Power Up Gaming over the past few months, you’ll notice that we’re very enthusiastic about the future of gaming and virtual reality. Alongside the developer sessions mentioned above, both the HTC Vive (in conjunction with SteamVR), and PlayStation VR (formerly the Morpheus) will both be on show at EGX. While the availability of each unit is extremely limited, with slots having to be booked well in advance, we’re hopeful we’ll be able to test them out for ourselves and decide if the future really is here already.
Arguably saving the best until last, we’re most looking forward to trying out the huge assortment of independently developed games on offer at EGX 2015. With both the Indie Megabooth and Rezzed Zone playing host to a ton of titles we’ve been looking forward to for some time – along with many we’ve never previously heard of but will probably love regardless – many of the games will be shown off directly by their developers, allowing visitors a more intimate experience away from the hours-long queues of the main show floor.
While a full list is available via the EGX website, we’ve compiled a list of just some of the games we’re looking forward to getting our hands on. We’ll also be bringing you a number of interviews with the people behind some of the more prominent titles, including the likes of Team 17, Pixelbomb and Rising Star Games.
Team 17 – Worms WMD, Penarium & The Escapists: The Walking Dead
Long-time studio Team 17, best known as creators of the classic Worms franchise, will have their hands very busy indeed this weekend, showing off a total of five games. Of these, we’re most looking forward to spending time with Worms WMD, sadistic circus extravaganza Penarium and prison break simulator-meets zombies title, The Escapists: The Walking Dead.
Beyond Flesh and Blood
Beyond Flesh and Blood from Pixelbomb Games is a futuristic horror/action title we’ve had a keen eye on since its first appeared on Steam Greenlight early last year. Set in the year 2281, BFaB takes place in a dystopian Manchester, of all places, and we’ll be getting hands on with the gory mech shooter ahead of its Early Access release on October 31.
Now with Oculus Rift support, we’re very much excited – and a little apprehensive – about experiencing the title in VR for the first time.
Mayan Death Robots
On first impressions, Mayan Death Robots – developed by two-man studio Sileni Studios – is very much reminiscent of Worms; over-the-top characters and turn-based artillery combat and all. With a beautifully unique art style, setting and combat innovations, however, the title looks to stand firmly on its own two feet. We’ll be bringing you our hands-on impressions of the game, along with a sit-down chat with its creators.
Upcoming SteamVR, Oculus Rift and PlayStationVR puzzle adventure The Assembly is a game we’ve been looking forward to ever since it was first showcased at E3 2014. The nDreams-developed title promises to be an immersive adventure where there are two sides to everything, as players must investigate the secretive organisation that is the titular Assembly. How mysterious.
In a market rather saturated by puzzle-platformers, Untame’s Mushroom 11 looks to set itself apart from the crowd with its unique puzzles and control mechanics. Players must guide an amorphous organism across brain-twisting obstacles, overcome swarms of bizarre mutated creatures and prune themselves to traverse the seven landscapes on offer and solve their challenges.
After spending a lengthy term on Steam Early Access, the full version of Prison Architect will be playable at EGX 2015 ahead of its full launch in a couple of weeks’ time. Introversion, the indie developer behind the prison construction and management sim, will take to the stage on Saturday to officially reveal the game’s all-new launch features and game modes.
Iron Fish, developed by Beefjack Studio and Dean Edwards, is an intriguing psychological deep-sea thriller in which players take on the role of oceanographer Cerys Harley, who sets out on a perilous journey to the darkest depths of the Pacific Ocean to investigate a disturbance to sea life. We’re excited about trying out the game’s demo, where we’ll be exploring a mysterious shipwreck in the search of lost schematics that seem to point to some strange goings-on – all the while trying to avoid a shoal of sharks that have turned up to feast on the remains of the doomed crew. Lovely!
Are you going to be in attendance at EGX 2015? Perhaps you’re an independent developer and want us to come and check out your game, or you’re just a gamer who would like us to cover a particular title. Let us know in the comments below!