Woo boy, what a day. When I looked at my completed Gamescom schedule and thought that I was going to have to hit the ground running upon arrival in Cologne, I had no idea just how accurate I was. As of the time of writing, I’ve been in the city for about 12 hours – 11 of which were spent walking for miles, standing for hours and trying to figure out where the hell to go. Add in a search for a mobile data SIM card and 4x AA batteries, as well as the consumption of at least half a metre of bratwurst and four beers, and you’ve got some sort of an idea of how the day has gone. Now that day draws to a close, and I sit here in my hotel room after a much-needed shower, nursing a migraine and a cup of berry-infused tea.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the juicy stuff: “Day Zero” of Gamescom: when all the publishers and platform holders invite the media to get an idea of what’s in store for them over the course of the show. By now I’m sure you’ve all had a chance to watch or at least read about EA’s press conference, so I won’t bore you with the details, but I thought it’d be a swell idea to talk you through some of my highlights (for all reasons) from their conference.
Let’s start at the beginning, with The Sims 4. I’m one of those old, fuddy-duddy people who was really into The Sims when it first hit the scene, but my interest in the series has waned over the years, and I’m sure that’s the same with many others. The Sims 4 is EA’s chance to revive the series and get in some new stuff, and it does look like that’s the idea with this latest title. There’s all sorts of talk about developing and influencing emotions, and I think that’s a smart direction for the series to take. Personally, I’m hoping for some real depth to the emotions rather than the surface-level stuff they showed off this afternoon, but I doubt the series or its intended market would care for such a thing.
Then, boom, Command & Conquer: EA’s sore point right now. They showed off a scripted multiplayer match between two German gamers that gave just a taste of what the game’s about. It looked pretty poor, to be perfectly honest: even C&C 3 appears to have a visual leg up on this new C&C, but I hope to get a proper look at it during the week; this brief presentation left a sour taste in my mouth that needs to be washed out with optimism. The idea of episodic campaigns doesn’t sound ideal, but it could work if there’s a decent level of quality there.
Is it okay to admit that I’m really looking forward to UFC? Well I am, because the team has a solid pedigree behind it (plenty of Fight Night vets on board) and I find the actual sport of MMA to be highly entertaining. I once watched a friend knock out a guy in the third round in a local fight, and it was hella exciting. Give me that, with a controller in my hands, and I’m sold.
Dragon Age: Inquisition. Eh, I’m interested, but I’m taking it easy with this one. While I find the idea of playing a leadership role appealing (there’s an ego thing at work there), I hope that there’s a good balance between the “management” stuff and the RPG stuff.
The PvZ: Garden Warfare “in-engine” trailer was so loud I think I’ve sustained permanent ear damage, but what I gleaned from it between cringing seemed good. I’m actually looking forward to this game, and if it can manage to infuse its humour and satire into the gameplay, I’ll be very impressed. Give me Team Fortress with plants and zombies, and I think we can get along.
Peggle 2! It looks just like Peggle! I can’t say much more than that, really.
So, Need for Speed: Rivals. Right? Right… The series has been on a steady downwards spiral and while I’ll never give up hope entirely, I’m not sure that I see anything here to convince me that this is a step forward for the series. I hope to be proved wrong, and when I get hands-on during the show that might just happen, but let’s just play it by ear for now.
And then there’s Titanfall. EA has no bones about touting this as their new star player, and I think that’s a smart move. It looks good. I love the shifting objectives, the Titans, the wall-running stuff. The map we saw in the presentation looked like it had a decent bit of height to it, and as long as sniper rifles aren’t made overpowered that could make for a really dynamic experience, especially with a big old robot bashing up enemies in the middle of everything. I get the impression that class development will be as important in Titanfall as it is in Battlefield.
There was a bunch of FIFA stuff talked about, but since this isn’t really my cup of tea (no berries), I don’t want to give the wrong idea by voicing any sort of ill-formed opinion on the matter. All I can say is these guys manage to squeeze more tech and increasingly better animations into the game every year, and, since the sport itself can’t change all that much, I’m sure those players who are really into their football games will appreciate every little new innovation.
Finally, there was Battlefield 4, and this last showing both excited and disappointed me. The whole “levolution” thing, as daft as that name is, seems like a great idea and reminds me of Motorstorm: Apocalypse in the way that the maps are going to constantly change, forcing players to adapt to the new circumstances or suffer. I’m all for a little chaos in my online shooters – anything to flush out the dirty campers. But then there’s the DLC stuff, and the continued focus placed on premium players over the smelly commoners who only spend full price on the game. This isn’t really the time or place to discuss the issue fully, but let me just say that having all five DLC packs already named leaves me feeling funny.
Aaaand that’s it for now. No Star Wars: Battlefront, no Mirror’s Edge; sorry. Stay tuned to NAG all day every day for the rest of the week, and feel free to follow me (@geometrix_za) and NAG (@nagcoza) on Twitter and like NAG on Facebook for up-to-the minute info, impressions and random thoughts.