EGX 2015: Day 2 - The Day I Met a Maker
The second day of EGX consisted of many conversations with many indie developers. This has now become my favourite thing to do, indie devs are so very passionate. I love listening to, and speaking with, people who are passionately speaking about things they are passionate about.
I even got to say a few words to David Braben, the CEO of Frontier Developments and creator of the Elite series, who is a very humble guy. Very refreshing to see in people who have done a lot for an industry, especially as much as he has done for the gaming industry, be humble.
Right, let's get to it, what did I see and play?
As an Englishman you will be surprised to hear I don't really like Football (or Soccer for any American readers). Doesn't stop me wanting to have a good laugh with a stranger, who also wasn't really into Football. We step up to the Xbox controllers, not really knowing what to do, so just press random a few times on the team selection screen. I end up playing as an English team, and he ends up playing as someone from Germany.
All I can say about FIFA 16 is that for the first time since FIFA 05 (not that I've played FIFA 13 through 15 mind) when I change the player I'm controlling it switches to the player I actually want it to, which was nice. Other than that, it's FIFA. So kick a ball around, and score if you can. It's a well made game, so fans of FIFA should be happy.
I love the Total War series, I'm not very good, but I love it. I've never played much Warhammer. I know more about 40k, but I think in the demo I played as the Orcs against some Goblins. I really have no idea. I did however notice one detail. When zooming in as far as you can, and watching the action from up close, the hits and kills are far more punchy. Charge with a physically larger unit, and enemy units will go flying, or fall to the floor. Not because they are dead, but because they have just been shoulder tackled by a 7ft character when they are only 6ft.
It looks and feels like Total War, and with the detail that you would expect from one, but in a fantasy world. Many people, including Creative Assembly, have wanted to bring the fantasy setting into Total War and now they have. Boy will both Warhammer and Total War fans like this one.
Orcs are ugly, Goblins are ugly, underground cities made by Orcs. Rather pretty.
Before my interview with the lead level designer, I got to sit down and play through the demo twice as two different characters. The Waywatcher, who has a bow and daggers, so is a nimble elf. The Empire Soldier, who has a 2 handed hammer and a repeater handgun, so is more of a lumbering tank.
So what exactly is Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide? Well I'm glad I asked, because I was going to say anyway. It's a 4 player team based co-op game. Inspired by the Left 4 Dead series, it also features an AI Director, who can be brutal or kind. It was both brutal and kind for me, throwing waves upon waves of enemies our way on my first play through, apparently we were just that good. And the second it was far easier, maybe we were terrible? But I like to think the AI director was just scared.
It's bloody fun! As in, there is a lot of blood. As it turns out killing rat creatures called Skaven is fun. Slicing them up with two fast elven daggers or clubbing them around the tail with a massive 2 handed hammer has been done before, but never so well. They have a mêlée focus in the game, and it's hard to do mêlée right in first person, and Fatshark are very close to perfecting it. Weapons feel like they have heft, or like they are nimble and fast, which is where most developers struggle.
Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide is coming to PC first, and will release on the 23rd October, with Xbox One and PS4 versions coming at a later date.
A nice mix between Distance (which I cannot recommend enough), and Audiosurf. You have to make sure you stay in the beat zone of the track, and drift or jump your way to a high score. Ah yes, did I mention Drive Any Track is played to music?
The track generation only happens once, when a song is selected for the first time. The MEGA (Musical Environment Gaming Algorithm) technology takes musical events and creates a track around those. This means if you generated a track first you create a sort of blueprint, then everyone after you who uses that song will download that blueprint, and be able to race on the same track.
Going faster than the beat will earn you a multiplier, to boost your score even higher! It's very much its own thing, you should seriously considering getting it. Scratch that, you should just get it, if this is your type of thing of course.
Iron Fish is a psychological deep-sea thriller that challenges players to navigate the dangers that lurk at the bottom of the ocean, where humans no longer have the upper hand.
You play as Cerys, and start to notice some weird things happening with the underwater wildlife, so you set out to uncover exactly what is happening.
Even with a few bugs, and the game not running as well as it will upon release, this ambitious exploration thriller is one to watch. You have two methods of conveyance, a submarine and your own flippers and arms. In your sub you are of course far more protected, but can't go into as many places as you are simply too big. You also move quicker in the sub. You then get out of your sub and swim, but are now vulnerable to sharks. Collect oxygen tanks to get some more oxygen, and survive longer.
Created by one man, this beautiful looking point-and-click adventure features a clown called Dropsy. Having been accused of murdering his mother in a house fire, the folks of the local town don't like him much. But as a clown you want to bring joy to everyone, and you do just that. Simply by helping people and giving them hugs you make Dropsy, and everyone else, happier.
The demo opened with a short cutscene showing how Dropsy's mother passed away, it turns out to be a nightmare. Upon waking up, I looked around the room, and found a picture of Dropsy and his mum, it was the anniversary of her death. Having lost my mum myself, this hit home, right in the feels. I then only played a short time more. I placed the same photo at his mother's grave, took my hand off the mouse, took off the headphones, and stood up. I wanted to experience the rest of the game myself, on my own.
There are no words in the game, or voice overs, only symbols. Once you understand what they mean, they are for more emotive than words could ever be. Dropsy is beautiful.
I've played Elite: Dangerous before, as I own it, but Frontier had it running on the HTC Vive. This I have not done. Well I left this world for about 6 minutes, although it could have been only 40 seconds, as time disappeared while I was looking around for the enemy ships to destroy. Having already tried out the Vive on day 1 of EGX, I knew what to expect. The ultra precise head tracking, the head movement and the smoothness that comes when running a high-end system. But this was different, I didn't only feel like I was in a space ship, I simply wasn't in the real world. I'd just been transported millions of miles away into an unknown part of the Milky Way. I wasn't in a badly lit room, with immense amounts of noise going on around me. I was where ever my ship was.
This sealed the deal for me, I now want the Vive in my life. I can't wait to see what the Vive's consumer edition will have in store for us.
Day 2 is over, but don't cry because day 3 is coming soon!
This was the day I suddenly realised how much I want VR in my house. While not all games will work with it, all the games that do work, work phenomenally well. The experience you get from the game is vastly improved when you 'are there', of course most games will require a powerful system to play VR, but give it a few years and most people will be able to run VR.
Let's see if we can make Day 3 even more indie focused, and have a final flair on day 4. Have a nice relaxed day with some mates, and get them to play some amazing indie games.