This year marked our third Eurogamer Expo, and while we weren’t out in full force during the weekend the team still go to play on a wide range of titles.
Below you’ll find out my what I thought of the following:
– Killzone 4 (PS4)
– Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
– Lightning Returns (Xbox 360)
– Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds (3DS)
– Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
– LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Xbox 360)
– Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag (PS4)
– Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)
– Titanfall (PC)
Let us get this show on the road!
I’ve very much been split recently on which of the two incoming consoles to purchase first. The current fan favourite, Sony’s Playstation 4 or the console with the troubled launch fiasco, Microsoft’s Xbox One. I’m not going to delve into this particular debate right now, however I knew that the Eurogamer Expo would give me the chance to go hands on with both machines. Perhaps then a decision could be made.
Step up Killzone 4, my first taste of next generation gaming.
The Killzone series has been of interest to me in the past, however I’ve never truly got into the previous titles. A combination of the story, level design and using the Dual Shock pad have all contributed to me not playing enough of any of the Killzone games. Placing into my hands the new Dual Shock controller for the Playstation 4 I instantly felt like it was a pad I could use comfortably. As you may have guessed I’ve never been a massive fan of Sony’s pads (mainly in relation to first-person shooters) but their was something different about the new one. The shape has changed only a fraction, making the pad a little smaller with the touchpad appearing above the analogue sticks. The slight cosmetic changes have worked a treat as my hands felt instantly at home holding it. I’d not even started playing a game and already I was impressed, a marked improvement on the old Dual Shock design. While I’d love to see the sticks off-set, similar to the Xbox controllers I know that the position in which they sit is set in stone due to the pads heritage.
While I felt my way around the new controller the multiplayer map for Killzone was loading. The demo on display was loading the Wall map with Search and Destroy (two teams, one attacks while one defends which rotates during the match) being the chosen match type. Three classes were available to play, all of which included pretty standard loadouts based on the class. Assault being the bread and butter of all first-person shooters, with a decent mid-range rifle. If sniping is your thing then you’ve got the Scout class, and finally if you’d just prefer to rock out with a heavy weapon then you have the Support class.
Soon enough it was time to hunt the enemy. The map was fairly large and encompassed a number of trenches running around the centre of the map. Visually it didn’t feel like a massive update compared to the last Killzone on PS3, however I was impressed with the light rain effects and the general lighting being emitted from various lamps, lights and weapons. It also ran incredibly smoothly, even when the battles were at their most intense I don’t remember seeing a hint of any kind of slow down. The general layout of the map was good, with plenty of high vantage points and ways to breach different parts of the interlocking trenches.
My problem with Killzone was it didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. It looked good and played well, but the demo did very little to sway me from established multiplayer shooters. It can be forgiven to a point for wanting to play it safe. Killzone is a strong IP and a great title to launch a console with, but with Battlefield 4 landing soon and Destiny on the horizon sadly it just doesn’t do anything for me.
What the demo did do well though, was present to me the Playstation 4’s controller. Comfortable, responsive and even with in-line analogue sticks I felt as though I could enjoy gaming for long periods of time with it.
Elder Scrolls Online
I’m sure I’m not alone when playing Skyrim and thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be great if this was online?’. As it turns out it looks as though Bethesda were thinking the same thing, announcing Elder Scrolls Online.
The Eurogamer demo started with a little bit of character customization, and straight away you felt as though you were playing one of the single player classics. Stepping into the world that just oozes Elder Scrolls, from the general appearance and art style to the lore. It truly is Skyrim, but online, with other people.
If you have any experience with MMOs then you’ll be right at home with the default button configurations. I was soon left clicking to do my basic attack and right clicking to raise my shield. When unlocked a simply poke at the number keys initiated a special ability, which were well animated. The inventory worked well while adjusting and adding skill points was simply and easy to access. When an enemy, say, an archer attempts to attack you you’ll spot a small ‘cone’ appear in front of them, this shows the area of attack. Spot it early and you can attempt to get out-of-the-way before taking any damage.
The version we played is of course an early build so it was likely to have a number of bugs in it, some of which included early voice work which went from awful in one sentence to great in another, almost as if the sound files were in a right old pickle.
It was a relatively short experience playing Elder Scrolls Online for me as it crashed early on during my gameplay which set me back a fair few minutes. Of what I played I enjoyed, but again, like my experience with Killzone, it does little it convince me to choose this new MMO over my current favourite MMOs (namely Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy: Realm Reborn). I feel like Elder Scrolls is, at its core, a basic MMO dressed up for Elder Scrolls fans. If you really like the lore and such of the previous titles you’ll feel right at home here. If you are an MMO veteran looking for a new online masterpiece that will reinvent the genre however, this probably won’t be for you.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Controversial, but I actually liked FInal Fantasy XIII (well, most of it). In fact I quite liked Lightning, not only as she was a female lead, but also because she was (again most of the time) a good interesting character. XIII-2 however, I didn’t get on with at all, to the point where I switched it off and never returned to it. As a surprise to most, including myself, Square went and announced Lightning Returns, a finale to the XIII tale.
I’m not going to attempt to bring you up to speed on how the XIII story has unfolded to this point, but for whatever reason its all gone horribly wrong. Lightning finds herself in the show floor demo fighting Chaos while chasing the character Snow (from the previous titles) who has changed and would seem to no longer be an ally that Lightning can count on.
The game plays in a very similar style to the previous two titles from the mini-series, however you can tell Square have tried to up the action element, almost as if they’ve played something like say Devil May Cry and thought ‘we’ll bring some of this into Lightning Returns’.
The environments you find yourself running around in the demo are a little sparse in the way of interesting features. The level design seemed dull, and uninspiring to traverse through.
So, what about combat? Again, the fighting works similar to XIII’s battle mode, however Paradigms have been replaced with stances which can be switched multiple times during combat. Not only do your actions/available moves change, but so do your outfits. Switching stances certainly adds to the combat, finding out which set of attacks work better against your opponent at different stages, however the whole thing falls flat due to two points. The first being the ATB gauge. You can tell the developers have wanted to create a more fluid, action led Final Fantasy title, however the ATB gauge won’t let it. Perhaps in the full game this won’t be an issue, but in the demo the gauge emptied in seconds, leaving you stood there waiting for your gauge to slowly re-fill.
This led to my second grievance.
While stood facing my opponent, waiting for my bar to refill, the chaos inspired monsters were happily smacking me. The game makes you ‘feel’ like you should be able to dodge or at least move around the enemy, but you can’t, so you continue to just stand there.
I had a feeling I was going to be disappointed in Lighting Returns, and I was. Will it stop me from buying it? Sadly, probably not, being a fan of the series through thick and thin, but I hope the final product does a better job than the initial demo at getting my interested in a story which has twisted from a planet in danger to angels and demons.
Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds
Who didn’t like Link to the Past? A superb SNES classic which has stood the test of time (thanks to Wii’s Virtual Console). Why Nintendo decided that this year they’d bring out a direct sequel to the gem is a bit of a mystery, however I’m pleased they have.
2 different areas were available to play, one which had you running around an outside area in Hyrule and another in a dungeon. With time against me I pitted for the dungeon as I felt it would show off the new features better.
During the course of the gameplay you’re introduced to the ability to move into walls, allowing you to travel to areas seemingly impossible to reach. It also involved being flung into the air to different levels of the dungeon, another new feature not before seen in an isometric Zelda title. The look and feel of the Link Between Worlds is that of a classic Zelda, with hints of gaming revolution thrown in. The graphics are sharp and colourful, while the puzzles in true Zelda fashion has your little brain cells putting the pieces together.
My one minor gripe was the camera, as I feel as though it’s almost looking straight down on you, when really the camera should have really been moved slightly lower, still giving you an isometric view without as much vertigo.
Regardless of the camera, the utter charm of the game shines through. The new added features combined with classic Zelda gameplay looks set to be a winner.
Ah, the Wii U. After all of the initial backing from third parties again Nintendo’s home console is finding itself relying on it’s first party studios to create games to enjoy and excite. Kudos to Platinum Games though, as they prepare to bring out another Wii U exclusive (Wonderful 101 being their first).
Bayonetta 2 is a crazy, over the top slice of action. Visually striking combos, fast paced quick time events and not a hint of slowdown made this title one of my top three games of the Expo.
Using the same controls from the first game, Bayonetta fans can feel instantly at home. The gameplay demo starts with you kicking all kinds of ass on the back of a train before taking to the skies fighting off a massive mechanical looking beastie. If one word had to describe the (far too short) demo would have to be fun. Fast, brutal, mad fun. My only grievance here was that I would have loved to carry on and see how the rest of the game pans out, with the hope that the high intensity holds up throughout the entire experience, as a small part of my mind feels like this it could, possibly, become boring if each level plays out in a similar fashion.
Oh, and you can play the whole thing on the Gamepad’s screen if your TV is unavailable.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
I love the LEGO games. The charm, the accessibility, the humour. All of it. You are never too old for LEGO.
I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan than DC, and being a Marvel fan the recent films have left me craving for more.
So, when I heard that the two were combining. Well….
Although most of the other people I was queuing with were at least half my age that didn’t stop me from giving Traveller’s Tales new title a go. I’d seen the playable level before, during a recent gameplay video that had been published online. Playing as Iron Man and The Hulk you have to battle through little sand monsters before facing Abomination and Sandman himself.
OK, so it plays exactly like you’d expect…that is…like the past 3 or 4 LEGO games. The way they’ve re-created Marvel’s back catalogue of heroes and villains however is excellent (even if I did only get to play as two of them). With around 100 playable characters on offer in the final retail version all of the fan favourites (plus much more) are in there, including Stan Lee himself. While the demo didn’t surprise me it did remind me that in many ways I haven’t grown up much…
Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag
Truth be told I haven’t played a Assassins Creed game properly since the second one. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed number two (the first to a lesser extent) but always found that I was playing other stuff and never really got round to snapping up any of the titles that came afterwards.
I did however, dig the trailer and concept for Black Flag. A pirate assassin is totally cool, right?
While at the Expo I got to go hands on with the new AC and afterwards I felt as though I may have to preorder a copy once back home.
The demo of which I got to play started out on the Jackdaw, Kenway’s ship. I sailed around for a bit, picking up lost crew members and various odd bits of loot when I came across a small island (next to a much bigger island). Jumping head first off the ship and into the water without any loading or pausing impressed me. Hitting the shore I picked up an assassination contract and set about locating the target. A couple of kills later and I’m giving chase in my own ship as my target escaped on his, eventually leading to a ship battle. After blasting his ship to bits it was time to board. By this time I felt invincible, only, it turns out I wasn’t, as I got stabbed to death by the guy I was trying to assassinate along with 3 of his buddies.
While that may have ended my gameplay in a rather disappointing manner I was still rather impressed with how technically sound the title was. I had been playing it on a PS4 and it ran like a dream. Again, like Killzone, I believe graphically this title was on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360 currently, however I doubt it would run quite so smoothly. Traversing from boat to land and back again was seamless.
The combat is a gracious and enjoyable as I remember, and the ship battle was incredibly fun (don’t forget, I haven’t played the third one, so sailing a ship in an AC game was a new experience for me). From what I’ve read and seen from other parts of the game I think this could be a strong contender for a purchase.
Forza Motorsport 5
And so onto an Xbox One title, and sadly, the only game on Xbox One that I got hands on with (for reasons unknown, probably due to the queues to be fair).
Before I write about the game itself lets chat about the console and the pad shall we?
Lets not beat around the bush, the console itself is massive. It looks powerful and expensive, yet I don’t remember hearing much noise from the machine itself (bearing in mind the loudness of the expo, so don’t take my word for it). The controller itself hasn’t changed all that much from the current 360 pad, aside from a few little touches, like the new menu buttons in the centre of the controller. While it still retains the weight and comfortable handling of the previous pad one minor point did instantly come to my attention. The pad has a matt black finish, not glossy like the one you may have now. It’s not a massive deal breaker however I did think that the pad ‘felt’ a little cheaper, almost like it wasn’t an official pad. I’m sure this is a feeling that will pass, but the feeling did strike me as soon as I held it.
Forza, graphically, is stunning. Is it a large leap up from 4? No, not really but the lighting effects are a notable improvement, bouncing off the track and the car as I raced around the circuit. While in the in-car view I found myself at a couple of moments blinded by the light of the sun as I came over a number of hills, adding to the realistic nature of the viewpoint.
The car handled really well, which leads me to a new feature on the controller, the impact triggers. While the pad itself still has a general rumble feature each of the two rear triggers now have their own vibrations. What this means in terms of racing on Forza is you’ll almost feel how well the car is accelerating with the right trigger, pull it too hard too fast and it’ll let you know by giving you a large amount of feedback. The same applies to the left trigger in relation to braking. Slamming the brakes on at the last moment will cause the trigger to erupt with rage. You instinctively try to handle the corners better so that you can improve the amount of feedback that you receive from the triggers.
Time to wrap up the round-up with a game that I had my doubts about.
I don’t particularly enjoy the Call of Duty games anymore. They are fun, don’t get me wrong, but my interest in them has dispersed, leaving Battlefield as my main game of choice when it comes to massive online FPS multiplayer games (sorry Halo).
From all the announcement videos released for Titanfall you couldn’t help but draw comparisons with Call of Duty, not only because of the heritage of the game’s creators, but also due to the nature of the game and its visual style.
Still, while the queue was probably the longest on the show floor I decided to go for it. Around 30 Street Passes later and I found myself watching a short video introducing me to Titanfall, giving me tips on how to play the game by utilizing the pilot (that is the character you control) to his full potential, making the most of his movement skills to travel across rooftops and such. It also introduced the different types of suits on offer that you could call down during the battle.
Picking up the wired 360 pad, it was time for Titanfall to impress me.
And impress me it did.
Before too long I was running sideways across buildings, hiding on rooftops firing down on enemy Titans, gunning down groups of players on the opposite side of the booth who were trying to play the game like you would Call of Duty (that is moving slowly, on the ground). Stepping into my Titan for the first time was fun, as was the carnage that ensured, launching out of my Titan moments before it exploded.
It didn’t feel like I was playing Call of Duty, which was a great feeling. It felt new, yet familiar enough to enjoy from the outset.
The fun didn’t end straight away after our team lost ether, as the epilogue kicked in, giving surviving troops on the losing side time to escape on a dropship while the winning team had to stop us from escaping. A death now ends the game for you. Luckily, for me, I managed to get to the dropship in time and in return, although my team lost I was awarded a fair amount of experience points for my trouble.
So, as brief as that was, that was my round-up of the main titles I played at the expo. I think it would only be fair to try to pick out a top three, so here goes…
3rd Place: Assassins Creed Black Flag: With plenty on offer in the full retail release, and now that I’ve played the game I can safely say Black Flag will be the first Creed game that I’ll purchase since the second one. It’ll have to wait until I have my next generation console however, as I feel the power of the new consoles will improve the general open world performance.
2nd Place: Bayonetta 2: On the face of it this title may not have much depth, but the demo left me wanting more. Pure fun and a delight to play.
1st Place: Titanfall: I had my doubts on whether or not Titanfall should be on my gaming radar, however after playing it those doubts have been disregarded as nonsense. From what I’ve played this is a replacement for the short, fast rounds of multiplayer combat you’d usually get from the Call of Duty series.
Has the expo made up my mind on which next generation console to choose? It did, in a sense, but that can wait for a future article!