Published on October 15th, 2015 | by Tom May0
EGX 2015: Day Three Report
Welcome to our last report for EGX 2015! Technically the convention ran on for a full four days, but with much of Sunday spent dealing with packing and getting ready to go home, along with the usual mercilessly long queues that we’d come to expect, there wasn’t really enough content for us to drag this out an additional day.
So here’s Need To Consume’s consolidated Day Three Report where we finally dare to go near more than a couple of AAA games at once and find that some are surprisingly good, some are surprisingly bad (depending on who you ask), and some are just exactly what you’d expected.
What we played
Star Wars: Battlefront – EA DICE
Mica: The hype around this game was HUGE. Like, three hour queue huge. I got lucky and was let in 5 minutes before the general population, and knowing that it would be my only chance to give it a try I made a beeline for the Star Wars: Battlefront queue. I got in the first game of the day and was very excited to give it a go. I almost feel guilty, as my spot on one of those coveted tester seats could have gone to someone who would have enjoyed it more. It was very impressive, don’t get me wrong, but it just wasn’t what I thought it would be. You’re dropped into this huge arena with a blaster and you have to activate uplinks in order to take down the AT-ATs. The game just seemed chaotic to me, there are so many people in the match and you barely have time to aim before you’ve been taken out and have to spawn all over again. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, it’s just not for me, I’ve never been a huge fan of multiplayer shooters which is essentially what Battlefront is. Perhaps if I’d have gotten to try out the single player I would have come away with a different opinion, but from the multiplayer demo, it’s not for me.
Tom: I’d enjoyed the previous Star Wars: Battlefront games quite a bit back in the day, but I went into this reboot with tempered expectations, never having been a fan of Battlefield, EA’s flagship shooter series that appeared to be influencing the new Battlefront quite heavily. But I came away from the demo quite pleasantly surprised by what I’d seen. Much like the recent open beta, the centrepiece was the Walker Assault mode on Hoth, but I also found the time to try out the co-op survival mode on Tatooine via splitscreen as well.
The most immediate take away is that the sound and visual design are top notch, as you might expect from a DICE game, but the gameplay was surprisingly satisfying as well. The old Battlefront games show their age a bit these days with clunky controls and flighty, weightless combat, but this new entry updates the formula considerably without sinking too far into the Battlefield side of things.
Since most of your blasters (guns) fire lasers rather than bullets, you don’t have to worry about your ammo count or having to reload. Instead a bar charges up as you continuously fire and if you let it fill up, your weapon overheats. You get a last ditch attempt to cool your blaster down with a little timing-based minigame that’s lifted wholesale from the Gears of War games which’ll either instantly cool your weapon if you nail it (which can be tricky in the middle of a firefight), or make it take even longer to cool if you mess up. Or you can ignore the mechanic entirely and just wait those few seconds for it to become usable again. In the scheme of things, it’s just a flavourful coat of paint on the Gears active reload system but it just kind of works.
I have to admit that I was a touch overwhelmed the first time I played the Hoth level (though I’ve had time to try it a number of times since during the beta). 40 people shooting at each other is pretty damned immersive, but it’s also chaotic as hell. The Imperial side don’t have to worry about much more than shooting a lot of Rebels and generally giving their opponents a bad day. Meanwhile, the Rebels have to somehow coordinate to capture points, keep Imperials from recapturing them, and then try to topple a couple of massive AT-ATs in very short windows (depending on how long you held onto those points for). Lucky me, I was a Rebel during the EGX demo and I had no idea what I was doing. And I had a lot of fun despite the obvious imbalance and the crushing defeat that obviously ensued. Either that says something about the game, or how easily I’m swayed by some pretty, nostalgic sights and Star Wars noises.
The co-op experience was a lot more manageable in comparison, though I clearly wasn’t as good as the teenaged ace I got paired with. It felt a little short for your standard survival mode, though it appears that it was clipped to make it a demo that worked relatively well with long queues. Otherwise it was fine. The splitscreen feature worked quite nicely without too much of a hit in either graphics or performance.
Definitely looknig forward to trying out the full game in just over a month’s time!
Just Cause 3 – Avalanche Studios
Mica: After chatting to some of the crew from Square Enix whilst waiting to play, I learned that the unofficial tagline for Just Cause 3 is Blow Shit Up, and it’s easy to see why. The game begs you to destroy everything you possibly can, and gives you a ton of ways to do it. The tether function, where you attach a cable to various objects then retract it, forcing them together is a lot of fun and can be used to destroy in so many wonderful ways. The wingsuit was another thing I was hoping to try, but I couldn’t get the hang of the controls to utitlise it. You can speed around the area using your grapple, which is very handy for escaping enemies or the fallout of from the destruction you’ve caused! After playing for 20 minutes I decided to pre-order. It’s a lot of fun and is honest in it’s goal for the game: literally just blow shit up!
Tom: This was a huge disappointment. With the right mods Just Cause 2 was some great sandbox fun, even if it basically trivialised much of the game’s challenge. It seemed like Avalanche had taken the spirit of those popular mods on board for this sequel, but it felt barely apparent in the demo I got to play. Tethering objects together with grappling hooks was ineffective at best, the destructibility touted in the marketing was barely present, and the addition of the clunky wingsuit has turned traversal into a real slog. Ammo and explosives were super limited and the combat was a complete bore once the rockets ran dry. Maybe I was just playing badly or misunderstanding the controls, or it’s possible that the demo simply did a bad job of showcasing what the game was capable of. Either way I came away with a bad taste in my mouth and no desire to ever play it again.
On the other hand, the vibrant colour palette is really lovely and I didn’t get motion sickness after 20 minutes of playing it, so I guess that’s something.
Homefront: The Revolution – Dambuster Studios
Tom: I’m not sure anybody wanted a sequel to THQ’s death knell Homefront, but here we are and Homefront: The Revolution seems… surprisingly competent actually. I was about ready to write it off completely after seeing those hammy, self-serious trailers they’ve been running, but morbid curiosity (and a relatively short queue) led to me giving the game a shot. It’s unlikely to blow you away with anything new, though the modular weapons of Crysis are a nice inclusion, being both fun to use and also pretty nifty to see your weapon being visually reassembled.
If I had to be overly reductive about it – and I suppose I do – it’s Far Cry in a dystopic city environment. There’s a big emphasis on guerilla combat, you craft stuff, you capture enemy outposts to gain more control over the game map and to unlock new side activities. You’ve seen it a dozen times before at this point, so The Revolution is hardly revolutionary (ugh), but it feels relatively well put together for what it is. After the first Homefront, a by-the-numbers FPS, that’s pretty commendable.
Rise of the Tomb Raider – Crystal Dynamics
Tom: If you found the similarities between 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot and the Playstation-exclusive Uncharted series to be pretty striking, you’re unlikely to change your mind much with the sequel, which appears to be taking a step away from semi-open world survival bent of the first game towards the more traditional linear, tomb raiding, set-piece-a-thon that people have come to expect. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s executed with panache and the confidence of a practised hand that means it’s largely a pleasure to play.
Tombs, and the puzzles contained within, were pretty much all sideshows and distractions for the first game of the reboot. Here, they appear to be taking centre stage now that Lara is no longer stranded on a mysterious Lost-esque island and has properly found her titular calling. A large part of the demo involves water puzzles, though nothing so diabolical or anti-fun as the label ‘water level’ tends to conjure. Through a mixture of convenient levers and busting open makeshift dams with her trusty ice axe from her previous adventure, Lara controls water levels to traverse a temple of some sort to get to an ancient something. There was a low-res exposition-filled FMV artlessly jammed on to the front of the demo in an attempt to situate the player but to be honest it did more harm than good and left me none-the-wiser to Lara’s situation. Which isn’t really that big of a problem for a demo to begin with, so it’s something of a wasted effort.
The puzzles made me think a little without getting particularly frustrating, and the platforming felt nice and precise. The demo ends with a collapsing ruin set piece, as you might expect, and some light combat, which was totally usable despite the frantic situation. No silly deaths from platforming mishaps either, so the illusion of the set piece was maintained quite nicely.
It’s shaping up to be a quality game, though probably not worth the purchase of an Xbox One by itself unless you really can’t wait for it to be shared with PC and the PS4 at some point next year. Xbox One has their own Uncharted all to themselves for a little while. It’ll be interesting to see if that pays off.
Prison Architect – Introversion Software
Mica: After chatting to the developers on Day 1, I was really excited to give Prison Architect a go. First of all I have to mention the insane effort these guys went to with their display for EGX. I sat on a literal metal toilet to play the game, with a bloody flannel and razor at my feet. They went to huge lengths to set the scene of an actual prison cell, the only think that could have made it more authentic was the smell (which I’m really glad they didn’t try and emulate!). The game is the perfect simulator. The tutorial takes you through what you need to do and how to do it but also explains why. Fans of sim games should really give this one a go, and I can’t wait to get my hands on version one to try my hand at escape mode!