– a first glimpse of the AAA titles at gaming expo EGX
If you’ve read our Ten Most Exciting Indie Games Of EGX list already, you’ll know NME headed to London’s ExCeL last weekend to develop thumb blisters at EGX 2019, the UK’s biggest videogames event. But we didn’t just play indie games. Oh no. We played a ton of the most exciting new AAA titles in the world right now. Here, for your ease of reference, we’ve pulled together the ten most talked about big games at the expo. Are you excited? We’re excited!
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare
Despite the finished game being out this weekend coming (that’ll be October 25), Activision were cagey about showing us all that much of the 16th title in the iconic First Person Shooter series (the phrase everyone is kicking around is ‘soft reboot’) with EGX players being limited to a one-round death match. It felt… well, it felt very Call Of Duty, unsurprisingly. Still, the fanbase seems to be holding out a lot of hope for the campaign of the game, with a return to action for one Captain Price (although now being voiced by Barry Sloane and not Billy Murray) and a plot allegedly filed with mature themes and resulting moral quandaries. The game features child soldiers. Expect to see that on the cover of a tabloid any day now.
EGX’s other most wanted FPS saw hefty queues for hands-on time – we queued just over an hour – but the resulting orgy of demon-slaying-hyperviolence that met us once we finally got into the playing area means that we can confidently say we regret not one thing. Bethesda’s follow up to 2016’s reworked DOOM was supposed to be released next month, on November 22, but now has a settled released date of March 20, 2020, which frankly, is going to be a frustrating wait from now until then. If we close our eyes we can still see our chainsaw carving a demon in half. We can still hear Mick Gordon’s incredible sci-fi heavy metal soundtrack. We can still taste demon blood on our lips… sorry, got a bit carried away there.
Speaking of queues, Square Enix’s Marvel adaptation was, by some distance, the most in demand hands-on experience of the weekend, which saw us wait for around about three hours to get our mitts on the 25-minute opening sequence, playing as Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow. With the opening segment wrapping up just as the main premise for the game was getting laid out, we left thirsting for more. Was it worth the damage to our knee ligaments? This is a big question, to which we would reply: what would you do to actually feel like one of the Avengers? We’d certainly stand-in line for three hours. And then some.
Iron Man VR
Okay, we’re going to be upfront about this; NME didn’t actually have a bang on this one ourselves. Why? Because we’ve got a rule that we don’t like feeling discombobulated in front of crowds of thousands of people, flailing around with PlayStation Move controllers and feeling a bit like someone could come along out of nowhere and kick us in the shins (there’s some kind of childhood trauma thing going on here, apologies). But… well, Camouflaj’s forthcoming Iron Man sim is looking all kinds of fun. We watched a host of plucky volunteers play through a tutorial. One guy who’d played it roared in our face, “I AM IRON MAN!” VR gaming desperately needs a system-selling title. Maybe this exclusive for Sony’s PlayStation VR headset is it?
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 2 – essentially the best Ghostbusters game in all but name, only starring the lankier Mario Brother – was a highlight of the Nintendo 3DS era, and so the third instalment in a franchise that started on the GameCube way back in 2001 is much anticipated. Rightfully so, we’d say, going on what we’ve seen of the new game. This time round you’ll get to play with Luigi’s multi-facetted ‘Poltergust G-00’ tool, a really fun looking ‘Scarecraper’ multi-player mode, while the addition of ‘Gooigi’ (essentially Luigi remade in ectoplasm) offers all new possibilities for puzzling and co-op play. Nintendo’s new outing for the ‘other’ Mario Brother looks to be a hit in waiting. It’s out October 31 – obvs – so not long to wait now…
Another game we didn’t actually play, with CDProjektRed preferring to herd a load of EGX attendees into a room and show them 45 minutes of gameplay instead, we came away from the presentation feeling more-or-less the same as we did going in. Cyberpunk 2077 – for those unaware – is an adaptation of Mike Pondsmith’s seminal tabletop series. It’s got Keanu Reeves in it. The soundtrack is done by ace Swedish post-hardcore legends Refused. And it’s being made by the people who brought you The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt, one of the greatest RPG’s ever made. And yet without actually picking up a controller and playing a while, we were left with a handful of observations worth taking with a pinch of salt until the day we can. The combat looks loose. The world in which it’s set – and maybe this is just the way it is when setting a game in a dystopian, largely synthetic future – feels cold and uninviting. Like we say, pinch of salt. Big handfuls of salt.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Coming your way on November 15, Game Freaks’ new Pokémon title is particularly notable for being set within a realm that’s based on Great Britain. It’s called Galar, but within said world there are buildings that ape landmarks like the Houses Of Parliament, there’s a nod to Dorset’s Cerne Abbas Giant, quaint thatched countryside cottages and a sprawling industrial revolution-styled steampunk area to explore. Characters use actual British slang too; hearing the word “telly” in a Pokémon title was an emotional moment! And yet, digging deeper, Sword and Shield appears to have delivered upon its brief of creating what a Pokémon game should be in 2019; one that caters for players of varying skillsets. Sure, while the game does ease you into its systems with real grace and charm, the existence of the Wild Area – the sprawling, natural oasis filled with wild Pokémon that’s really no place for newbies – can be seen very early in the game. It just being there as you learn and level up succeeds not in overwhelming the player, but giving them something to pitch at. We’re really excited about this one, can you tell?
Ring Fit Adventure
We said it in the era of the Wii Fit and we’ll say it again; where do Nintendo get off with invading our gaming time and trying to get us to jump around and do wholesome shit when we just want to eat fistfuls of Doritos and play FIFA? And yet the Japanese giant’s newest attempt to extend our lives is actually pretty fun. Essentially a strap to hold one Switch Joy Con to your thigh and a stretchy plastic ring to hold the other in your hands, what Ring Fit Adventure offers you is a variety of mini-games that provide a varied exercise experience. Then, at the heart of it all, there’s an on-rails ‘adventure’ that’s concerned with pure calorie burning. The game is actually out now and we’re probably going to give it more of our time. After this last fistful of Doritos.
No gameplay was offered at EGX, which we thought strange, but then everything about this forthcoming adventure game – coming November 8th, exclusive to PlayStation – from the brilliant mind of Hideo Kojima (he of Metal Gear Solid fame) has confounded so far. Trailers that begin with a child pushing it’s way out of a vagina while Mads Mikkelsen mumbles at it tend to do that – not that there’s much prior form of this – and while we can confidently say that Kojima’s new game looks to be the most beautiful videogame we’ve ever seen (you heard Red Dead Redemption 2), we still couldn’t tell you with any confidence what it’s actually about. Legit. Watch the trailer. Gasp at lead Norman Reedus’ craggy face digitally replicated in all it’s glory. Tell us what it’s about. Please.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Just over 20 years since its ground-breaking 1997 release, one of the greatest games of all time returns now dolled up, desperate to see if it can hold its own in the modern era. The story remains the same; you play as Cloud Strife, a former Shinra soldier who joins the AVALANCHE eco-terrorist group as a mercenary to fight against the Shinra corporation. Those guys are utter bastards and have been draining the planet’s life energy. But of course, there’s bigger things at play here. And here’s the good news; for the largest part, it plays much like you remember, only now features an altered ‘Active Time Battle’ system that differs from the original. The music remains vast and sprawling and we felt nostalgic feels within the opening moments of gameplay. We do have a few issues with the camera. It feels much more concerned with focusing on Cloud Strife’s arse than it does what you’re actually trying to hack to bits. But we think Square Enix might have done good here. You can decide for yourself on March 3rd, next year.
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