I love Eurogamer Expo. I have been going for a few years and it has always been great fun. I expected this year to be no different.
I was half right, in a strange way.
On entering the arena, it was a familiar sight. Bright lights, huge stages for Microsoft and Sony, slightly more understated by equally as large are for Nintendo and then everyone else dotted around! As usual, Generally though really it was a floor dominated by the big three.
For the first year ever, my heart sank. Sure, Nintendo had some amazing stuff (Splatoon was great fun), but the rest…. Really, I was bored of seeing huge displays with banging music and overly enthusiastic reps bouncing around within 5 minutes. Thank God for the first floor then!
After finding Special Effect and also the Replay areas on the ground floor (both of which are as awesome as always), I retreated upstairs to the press area – contemplating giving up on games forever if this was the best they had to offer. It was here that my faith was once more restored in the industry. The first floor housed two areas, the over 18s (which was again mostly dull – except for Dead Island Escape) and the Indie area with Rezzed.
Wandering around the little stands for the indies made me feel alive again. Every stand had either the developer or the owner of the publishing house stood at it, joyfully showing off their creations. No marketing pitch, no shows – just new and interesting games and the people that actually made them.
I first tried a game called Monstrum, a procedurally generated survival horror game. I tried it using the Oculus Rift (you know the tech demo toy that everyone has to have at events now), and I have to admit it was intense!
I then found myself at a stand being run by tiny Build GAMES. I had a chat with the owner of the studio to find that what had started as a games producer, had slowly become a small indie publisher – almost by osmosis. On display was Speed Runners (a really fun multiplayer game), Spoiler Alert (A game so bizzare you have to play it from finish to start to understand), No Time to Explain (Just bonkers and fun). Fearless Fantasy (RPG action) and BOID (a stripped back RTS that concentrates on fun over complexity). I could have played here for hours, with BOID being a particular favourite.
Another huge highlight of the Rezzed floor was a game called Over Ruled, playing like a 2D version of Smash Brothers on acid, this was possibly the most fun multiplayer game since Bomberman! With the rules changing on a minute by minute basis, it was just insane.
A pleasant surprise was also seen with what OnLive are up to at the moment, but that I will cover later.
I said in the title this was a day of revelations to me. Well. It turns out that I am bored with the way the industry is heading in the mainstream. AAA games are great, but they are getting heavy and tiresome in their repetitive nature. How many Call of Duty’s are too many? How many Assassins Creeds can we have before we all realise they are pretty samey after a while? The indie scene is where the real fun is. Sure, not everything is amazing, but at least they are taking risks and creating new games and new mechanics that the big boys just dare not risk.
If you are heading to Eurogamer this year, do your self a favour and make sure you go upstairs for a while! Also hats off to Eurogamer for another really slick show.