For the fourth consecutive year, Power Up Gaming are spending the duration of EGX 2016 on-site at the NEC in Birmingham, bringing you the latest from the UK’s largest gaming convention.
Having learned from previous years that the already sizeable queues to demo pre-release triple-A titles only get worse when the weekend hits, we spent the vast majority of our first day playing some of the flashier blockbuster games the show has to offer in 2016.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Co-Op Endurance
To kick things off, we got hands-on with Rise of the Tomb Raider’s newly added co-operative Endurance mode, which launches alongside the long-awaited PS4 release of the game on October 11. Thrust into a harsh Siberian forest alongside your partner and meagre resources, the aim of the game is, as you’d expect, to survive from one day to the next (and the next), collecting artefacts and completing challenges as you try to stave off hunger and stay warm.
Hunting wild animals including rabbits, deer and boars with your trusty bow for food is extremely gratifying, as is finding shelter from the constant threat of packs of wolves, enemy soldiers and even snow leopards.
You can read more of our Rise of The Tomb Raider Co-op Endurance experience in our full preview.
It’s probably no secret to our regular readers that we at Power Up Gaming are massive pro wrestling fans. That’s not to say the annualised WWE 2K series is above criticism, however, with the past couple of years delivering mixed results. Although initial signs, such as the exclusion of the game’s popular 2K Showcase in favour of revamped MyCareer and Universe modes, haven’t been overly positive, we came away from our first hands-on with WWE 2K17 feeling rather optimistic indeed.
Pitting NXT sensation Shinsuke Nakamura against Seth Rollins in our demo match, the in-ring action and core gameplay felt much more fluid than last year’s entry, with the much-maligned stamina system not having as much a detriment on putting on an entertaining match-up as has previously been the case. Major and minor reversals, first introduced in WWE 2K16, have received a significant overhaul, with many more opportunities to carry out counters to your opponent’s more powerful moves and create some awesome, match-defining moments in the process. Superstars’ signature taunts can now be performed in a variety of locations, with different taunts having different attribute-boosting qualities for the first time, while fighting in the crowd and backstage has finally made a welcome return to the series.
Ultimately, after around 15 minutes of high-octane action and several dramatic signature and finishing move reversals, Nakamura got the pinfall after the Kinshasha to the skull of Rollins.
WWE 2K17 releases on October 11 for current and last-gen consoles.
From one (sort-of) fighting game to another, next on our agenda was the highly anticipated Tekken 7. Although we weren’t brave enough to enter one of the daily tournaments for the upcoming brawler, we were able to have a few exhibition bouts on the upcoming game, due for release in early 2017.
With a sizeable cast of both returning and new characters, including Street Fighter’s Akuma, the Unreal Engine-powered Tekken 7 is a vibrant, gorgeous fighter that perfectly demonstrates why the franchise has been so enduring since its 1994 debut. Stitching violent combos together is as rewarding as ever, while the newly added Rage Art and Rage Drive allow players to either enter or sacrifice Rage Mode to dish out critical damage with devastating manoeuvres.
While we were initially a little disappointed not to be getting the opportunity to play Mafia III, given its impending release, the team at 2K Games have done a fine job of setting up its EGX booth to resemble an old American cinema, complete with complimentary popcorn and all.
The demo video package opened by introducing players to the various districts of New Bordeaux (the title’s reimagined take on New Orleans), juxtaposing picturesque and vibrant locations with news shots highlighting the sinister criminal underbelly that operates in and around the city. We were then shown an extended gameplay trailer of a full mission from the game, which featured wise-cracking protagonist Lincoln Clay – a grizzled Vietnam veteran – seeking to put an end to Tony Derazio, a capo in the Marcano family mafia who had holed himself up in his penthouse suite.
The demo showcased Mafia III’s diverse and beautifully violent close quarters combat, with Clay switching between melee, stealth and armed combat seamlessly en route to slaying the sociopathic Derazio. Taking inspiration from all of your favourite gangster movies, Mafia III blasts its way onto PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 7.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Although we’re a bit over the inevitable annualised release of Activision’s Call of Duty by now, we took the opportunity to see what, if anything, has changed in Infinite Warfare. We’re going to assume that everyone is, by now, familiar with the fundamentals of the series, and Infinite Warfare doesn’t change those. It still feels like the Call of Duty you’ve come to expect, and many to resent.
That being said, there are a few notable new inclusions we noticed this year. You can now equip up to six attachments to your primary weapon without the need for any wildcards, and kill-streaks are no longer part of your class selection. Infinite Warfare sees the inclusion of a number of customisable combat rigs, each of which are suited to different play styles. For example, if you like lighting up your enemies at medium range with an assault rifle, the Warfighter is probably for you. If you’re more of a close-quarters combat player, however, then the FTL rig might be better suited.
Additionally, players are also able to choose from a selection of rig-specific traits. One such example is Warfighter’s Persistence, which stops your killstreak resetting upon death, although this comes at the cost of only being able to use each streak once.
Ultimately, Infinite Warfare does little in the way of innovation, and it seems to once again be a case of a slow evolution rather than revolution for the popular first-person shooter franchise. The title is scheduled to release on November 4.
To round off day one, we attended a live developer playthrough of Guerrilla Games’s upcoming PS4 exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn, narrated by lead combat designer Troy Mashburn (which you can watch in its entirety above). The action picked up three to four hours into the action RPG, featuring protagonist Aloy in her investigations into the cause of a number of machines in the world becoming corrupted and volatile.
The demo showcased a tantalising sneak peek at some of Zero Dawn’s crafting and combat systems – including a mini-boss fight with a terrifying Corruptor mech – and we are looking forward to getting hands-on with the title later in the week.