Welcome to part two of my article about the games I played at the premier games event, EGX 2019, that I attended a couple of weeks ago. If you missed part one you can find it HERE. Let’s jump right in, starting with a huge title coming next year…
Unfortunately, not playable at the event but instead was given a lengthy 45-minute presentation of actual gameplay footage, Cyberpunk 2077, from developer CD Projekt Red, showcased a mission within the game and within it, switched between two very different playable methods to accomplish the mission.
You play as V in the open-world metropolis Night City and from the offset, the game looks incredible. The level of detail and number of NPC’s on-screen really makes me wonder what sorcery CD Projekt Red is using for this game to work on current consoles. It is easily the most realistic and liveable city setting I’ve ever seen in a game before. I thought that Red Dead Redemption 2’s attention to detail was impressive but Cyberpunk 2077 takes it to a whole new level.
The demo itself had V liaising with a faction called the Voodoo Boys, in a heavily Haitian cultural section of the city known as Pacifica. You’re tasked with having to infiltrate another gang’s base to locate some crucial information. As expected, if you have played The Witcher 3 before, there are numerous dialogue choices that you can make throughout the mission that could potentially change the final outcome. Some of these dialogue choices will depend on your chosen character build too. The demo showed off two of these very different builds, which it switched between, to explain how each build affects how you can play through different exploration and combat portions of Cyberpunk 2077. The ‘Net Runner’ build centres around stealth and hacking systems, while the ‘Solo’ build was all about brute strength. I got major Deus Ex vibes watching how combat and hacking played out, however, I don’t feel the gunplay looked as polished and there was also some dodgy AI moments from enemies too. This was an early build of the game so I’m hopeful that these issues will be ironed out before the game is released.
I feel that CD Projekt Red really have something special on their hands but I’m cautious as to whether the power of the current console generation can truly achieve their vision. I really wouldn’t be surprised if we see a re-release on the next generation consoles that will create a smoother experience on the whole. With Cyberpunk 2077 releasing on 16 April 2020 we still have a bit of time to wait until we see if the game can fulfil its hype.
Marvel’s Avengers, from Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix, took a little bit of a battering when it was first showcased at E3 earlier this year. The main concern was that the demo didn’t showcase what the game was truly offering in how missions would be structured, and people complained about how the character models looked. At EGX 2019, I was able to get my hands on this same demo and I feel that the bad press it received was a tad harsh. It is literally the opening of the game and gives you a small snippet of experiencing each of the characters you play as, which of course includes many of the favourites that you have seen within the movies. However, this game is not connected to the movies in any way, hence why the character models differ. This backlash might have been avoided if the game had chosen to vary up the Avengers a bit and have a wider portrayal of characters and not just those seen in the films.
I couldn’t fault the gameplay and was very impressed with how different each character feels within their combat move-sets. Thor, with his mighty hammer, can slam and throw it at enemies, whereas Iron Man takes to the skies for a terrific flying set-piece, shooting off bolts from his hands and using the huge laser from his chest. With Hulk, it is all about the Hulk smash and this actually felt like the weakest combat mechanic that got a little boring very quickly. Captain America can throw and hit multiple people with his shield, while mainly using hand to hand combat and lastly Black Widow relies heavily on hand to hand combat too, but at a much quicker pace. She also uses her trusty pistol. The combat definitely feels like a blend of God of War, Batman and Spider-Man, which is certainly a good thing.
There was plenty of cinematic cut-scenes breaking up the gameplay sections and I was very impressed at how polished everything looked, especially the action set-piece in which Black Widow is fighting and holding on to Taskmaster as he flies through the sky, dodging debris and explosions. To think this is the very start of the game gives me great confidence that we will experience many more exciting and over the top set-pieces throughout the game!
Not playable in the demo, but shown in the latest trailers is Ms. Marvel (who is the only character not to feature in any of the movies), another playable character, and a central role in the games’ storyline. Her move-set, again, looks very fresh and unique, with her having limbs that can grow disproportionately. She looks like a fun character to play as and will help add the much-needed humour element to the game too.
I was really very surprised and excited by what I had played of Marvel’s Avengers. Most importantly, it was fun and felt very polished. It was easily one of the most popular games at EGX 2019 with a constantly long queue and a general buzz around it. There is still a bit of a wait for the game as it will be released on the 15th May 2020 for PS4, XBOX One, Stadia and PC.
I stumbled across Eldest Souls, from developer Fallen Flag Studio, mainly due to it having Souls in its title. Would this be another indie Souls-like game, and if so, how would it differ from those within the genre like Death’s Gambit and the newly released Blasphemous?
Eldest Souls differs by being very much an RPG boss-rush game and boy are the bosses very difficult! Much like a Souls game, to survive, you must learn the different attack patterns, have patience and take your opportunity to strike when safe to do so. These battles are incredibly intense. Action is fast-paced and you have to time when you dodge perfectly, as you only have so much stamina to do so before it needs to recharge. I found the light attack pretty much useless against the big wolf-like beast boss that I fought, so I had to rely mainly on my heavy attack to cause sufficient damage. Getting hit takes a ton of damage so you need to avoid attacks as much as possible. I was able to defeat this boss, however, in the next fight against a large armoured knight, I failed, even on many repeat attempts. I was able to get him to half his health and then he transformed, and his armour became a mass of dark tentacles that unleashed new attacks and he was just too much for me in my short time with the demo.
Not only do I absolutely adore the top-down pixelated visuals which depict a world of desolation so suitably well, but there is something hauntingly attractive about being a lone warrior having to enter the Citadel, an ancient prison of the Gods, to slay them all to gain new powers and restore order to the world. The level of detail in the scenery and environments is stunning; it’s a very pretty game even with the bleak setting.
Between fighting the Old Gods you do explore some of the Citadel’s surroundings that are incredibly isolated and creepy and has the odd NPC to talk to, receive quests from, and learn more about the game’s lore. One final thing that truly compliments the game is the eerie soundtrack which really set the tone of the game superbly.
There is no concrete release window for Eldest Souls but it will be coming to PC, with a console release possibly following that.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi is back, only this time he’s investigating a haunted hotel, rather than the usual mansion – despite the title – in Luigi’s Mansion 3 from Nintendo. Quite why scaredy-cat Luigi keeps donning his trusty vacuum cleaner, the Poltergust G-OO, to suck up more ghosts I’ll never know, but it does create a suitably fun game that will delight many a Nintendo Switch owner.
This was my first experience of playing a Luigi Mansion game and I was pleasantly surprised by it – the demo offered a good range of what to expect from the main game with it showcasing combat and puzzle elements, as well as, a boss battle. Much the same as the previous games in the series, Luigi first has to stun the ghost with his torch before using the hoover to suck them up. It takes a little bit of slamming them in the ground to weaken their life meter before you are able to catch them and you can even use a plunger attachment to help take down those annoying ghouls which have shields. New to the game is your green gooey doppelganger, suitably called Gooigi. Simply by a click of the right analogue stick, you take control of him and with him being made of goo, it means he can walk through spike pits and other obstacles that Luigi can’t. By alternating between the two characters you can solve the different puzzles on offer to be able to proceed or locate treasures.
The boss encounter, an armoured ghost riding a horse, takes a bit of skill with having to avoid his arrows while alternating between using your plunger and torch to stun him so you can get your attacks in. I found the game to be more difficult than I expected as there were times when I got quite overwhelmed by the ghosts, but it really is good fun bashing the life out of the restless souls.
I seriously don’t know how Nintendo achieve such wizardry but Luigi’s Mansion 3 looks utterly beautiful on the Switch. The lighting effects are especially impressive, and the level of detail within Luigi’s animations are an absolute delight. You can really see the fear on Luigi’s face and it goes a long way to make you really feel sorry for the poor guy for getting himself in such a gooey situation.
I believe Nintendo has another huge hit on their hands with Luigi Mansion 3 which was suitably released on the 31st of October, all ready for Halloween, on the Nintendo Switch.
Murder at Malone Manor
I was invited, via Twitter, by developer Whitepot Studios to check out their upcoming online multiplayer game – Murder at Malone Manor. The murder-mystery premise instantly captivated me, where Baron Malone has been murdered during one of his dinner parties at his Manor, and you have to work out which one of the guests did it.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to play the game in its true multiplayer nature at the show, with the main mode being for 3-6 players, however, the game can be played with a friend or solo, and the only option I had to try out was the solo mode. Even in this mode I could see the full nature of the game and get a good feel for it.
So how the solo mode plays out is a simple game of deduction. Each guest to the manor has a profession, such as a doctor or police officer, and you’re tasked with exploring the manor to find clues that relate to the profession of the guests. You can only find one clue at a time and can either return it to the dining room, which logs it, or discard it and try and remember what clue you found. You have a time limit as well, so I found myself with only 30 seconds remaining desperately just looking for clues and memorising them. The more clues you find that link to a specific profession means that person is likely to be the suspect to the murder, and of course, some clues can link to multiple professions so you really have to digest as much information as possible.
I was told that in multiplayer mode, one of you will play as the killer so you would be tasked to try and ensure certain clues about you aren’t logged back at the dining room table by moving around the evidence. The mode not only involves deducing who the killer was, but also which murder weapon was used. I can see how it would become quite chaotic and fun with everyone hunting for clues to piece the puzzle together and win. I was fortunate enough in solo mode to find the killer and it was immensely satisfying.
Also, the art style, though simple, is quite quirky and is very fitting for a murder mystery trope set in a wealthy manor. I really enjoyed my time spent with the game and feel that it would be an even better experience playing it online with friends. Murder at Malone Manor is scheduled for release on PC, and hopefully consoles too, by the end of the year or early 2020.
EVERSPACE 2 from ROCKFISH Games is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign (of which the details can be found HERE) and I was instantly attracted to the ridiculously beautiful space-combat visuals of the game when passing the stand at EGX 2019. I never played the original EVERSPACE, largely because even though I’ve always been a massive Sci-Fi fan and love anything to do with space-combat and space exploration, I’m really am not a fan of rogue-like games.
I’m very thankful that EVERSPACE 2, unlike its predecessor, is now an open-world RPG space-combat adventure game with a 20-hour-long campaign including various side missions too. You’ll be able to expand your private ship collection from an endless supply of different vessels and create a build by combining modules, weapons, devices and perks to meet your playstyle.
Combat is fast and fluid and unfortunately, I couldn’t give the demo full justice as I’m not a PC gamer in the slightest, so I did struggle to play the game on keyboard and mouse without controller support. I was also pleasantly surprised with the enemy AI as they did show a bit of actual intelligence and had different patterns to avoid my pursuit.
EVERSPACE 2 really is a visual masterpiece. Having an enormous battle in the shadow of a huge gas giant planet with asteroids all around you, while also weaving through broken ship debris is exhilarating. It’s easily the most gorgeous space-shooter I’ve ever played and I can’t wait to see what other visual delights this game has to offer.
With mere days left of the campaign, I’m confident it will reach its goal (which it did!) and is primed for a release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in the second half of 2021. A long wait I know, but as it is a very ambitious project it will be well worth the wait I’m sure.
The final game that I got my hands on at EGX 2019 was an indie title called Forgotten Sea from developer BetaJester as part of the Transfuzer stand on the show floor that brings together some of the best graduate development teams supported by the UK Games Fund.
Forgotten Sea is a sea-faring adventure game, where you as the protagonist, wake up on a beach to find mysterious numbered messages in a bottle telling the tale of a distant traveller, and thus you set sail to explore the sea for more messages to unravel the mystery behind this sailor.
There is no set path to follow while exploring the sea, however, you can be semi-guided to clues by following the direction that the light on your boat points to. After finding a couple of messages I was guided to a cave where things started to take a strange twist by there being a strange portal at the end of it. This portal transported me, and the world, back to a different season so I could discover more bottles to further piece the story together and not only discover the fate of the sailor but reflect on the life of the main character too.
Gameplay aside, I was also very impressed with the physics and motion of the sea. You could really feel your boat battling against the waves, especially in stormy weather. The soft colour palette is also a delight, and I could easily spend my time just sailing around the islands, enjoying the sunset and the pretty reflection on the water.
I found Forgotten Sea to be a very relaxing experience with an interesting story that cleverly unravels in brief snippets and entices you to want to continue exploring to discover more of the story. There is no set release schedule for Forgotten Sea as of yet but definitely expect it to be released on PC sometime in the near future.
This concludes the handful of games I was able to experience at EGX 2019. There are plenty of games to be excited for either coming later this year or in 2020 and beyond. The future is very bright on the gaming scene and it will be interesting to see if we get next-generation console games showcased at EGX 2020!