Eurogamer 2013 Report - Friday 27th September
By Andy Urquhart
Earls Court from the outside is an impressive venue and it was clear simply from looking around at the throngs of people waiting to get in, checking out the cool lloking Surgeon Simulator Ambulance and avoiding zombies that this was going to be something special. The excitement was building against this impressive backdrop with it’s massive Wolfenstein banners, Call Of Duty Ghosts branded doors and possibly the biggest PS4 billboard advert ever. It was with great anticipation that we queued up for our press passes (probably the shortest queue of all). Upon aquiring these pink bands we met with Allgames legend Frosty and entered the arena for the first time. The arena was already bustling with people playing & watching games and even more people queuing to play.
We decided to check out the PS4 first and headed to the Sony area which was separated by low barriers allowing everyone to view the games being played from outside. While waiting there was a huge video screen hanging overhead showing trailers for PS4 games, PSVita games, PSPlus free game and PS3 games Beyond & Puppeteer there were also multiple playable Vita’s along the sides of the queues with current games like Little Big Planet, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale and Uncharted Golden Abyss among others available to play. This queue was approximately an hour and a half, which may seem extreme but upon entering you are free to spend as much time as you like watching and playing games, however you are given cards to exchange at the various stations in order to play the various games. We were given 2 cards each (as well as a nice PS4 lanyard) each of which allowed you to play 1 game from a list of 5 or 6 games, one being a AAA title (ie Assassins Creed, Killlzone: Shadow Fall, Knack etc) and the other being a smaller indie or PSN title (ie Warframe, Hohokum, Resogun etc). There were many small booths with the smaller titles littered about and we each had a feel of the PS4 controller before queuing again to get into the 18+ area (which contained Killzone: Shadow Fall, Warframe & Assassins Creed 4). There were also seperate sections for Driveclub and a combined FIFA 14/Knack circular console with about 15 PS4’s. I must state that everything in this area was playable (provided you had a card) and this felt very open and friendly. After queing for around another 20 minutes while watching the various smaller booths (we variously saw War Thunder - WW2 flight sim game which looked great when you were in the air, but closer to the ground the graphics of the ground level were poor, we also saw Knack and Hohokum which we will get to later)
Upon entering the area we had decided to each play a different game, Frosty had chosen Killlzone, Ali Assassins Creed 4 and I picked Warframe. Warframe had 3 consoles all playing in a co-op game against AI, there was no queue so I was able to play immediately (while Ali & Frosty had to queue again). While I was getting accustomed to the controller and waiting for 2 other players to join I had a good chat about the game with one of the Warframe employees who was more than able to answer all of my questions regarding the game. I had looked into the game previously and was looking forward to playing it on PS4 anyway. I would describe Warframe as an online 3rd person ninja shooter. You play as a Warframe which is basically an exoskeleton, and is customizable via upgrades you can either aquire through completing missions and objectives or you can choose to pony up and pay real world money for upgrades. Though I was assured that everything can be earned in game and is achievable without spending a penny. Two other players joined up with me in game and we had to protect a crashed pod. Running jumping and camera controls were incredibly slick and movement was very fluid, shooting controls were tight and the simple change in the R2 trigger was actually a revelation compared to the Dualshock 4. In addition to that Warframe also makes very smart use of the new touchpad on the Dualshock 4 (which going into Eurogamer i had felt could be somewhat of a gimmick) using 4 directional swipes to perform your special moves which drained a bar you could then refil y collecting orbs dropped by fallen enemies,. The specials reacted prefectly each time and it was not at all awkward to use the pad to perform them, in fact by the end of the game using the touch pad felt as natural as using an analogue stick. Working alongside the 2 other players we took out a few waves of opponents and I had a good wander round the map which had multiple levels and caves and whilst not massive was diverse and pretty interesting to look at. I must say also that this is a free game available day one on PS4 though you wouldn’t think it from looking at it as the graphics were excellent everything was crisp and sharp and there were no noticeable load times aside from to boot the game. The thing which really struck me about this title was how much fun it was just playing it and the fact that everyone will have this game and can play co-op is huge and I for one cannot wait to get on it with my friends. After the game was over I had a look around and saw the Ali and Frosty were both still waiting to play, I had a look at Killzone: Shadows Fall, which had 12 screens set up as an 8 minute multiplayer game (6 vs 6) and graphically it looked stunning. I decided to have a look at Assassins Creed 4 and joined Ali in the queue for it after waiting for around 20 minutes Ali finally got to play it and will tel us all about it in due course. Graphically again it looked great and everything seems to have gotten bigger and better since AC3.
Frosty was still waiting to play so myself and Ali decided to leave this area and have a look around to see what else we could play, Ali decided to have a go on Hohokum while I opted for Knack.
Knack is a basiclly a simple 3rd person action platformer. The USP is that when you smash boxes and crystals you add the debris to your body effectively giving you armour and so the more boxes and crystals you smash the bigger you get. There are the usual jumping puzzles and various orcish looking enemies to deal with who variously attack, shoot or throw bombs at you. They are reasonably easy to deal with at first, though with larger groups they became much harder to defeat. Graohiclly it looks nice, handles as you would expect for this type of game and the physics of the debris gathering is well done. But that’s it, Knack sadly was nothing that I haven’t played many times before, even going back to the PS1 days. Of course this was only a demo but I found my self bored within the first few minutes, as a physics tech demo it works but sadly as a platformer/action game it’s nothing new and I have a sneaky suspicion that this will be heading to Playstation Plus before the end of the year so as a launch game I’d hold off and pick up something else for now.
We also saw FIFA 14 (it’s FIFA), Resogun (side scrolling schmuuuuup, which looked like fun, I can happily wait to play it as it’s coming free to PSPlus on launch day), Blacklight Retribution (another free, free to play game this time an FPS, it looked pretty decent) and Driveclub (again coming free to PSPlus and looked like it had been built specifically for that purpose especially compare to something else we will get to later).
Frosty played Killzone: Shadow Fall and had a blast with it grabbing a killstreak of 5 and helping his team win the game. He said the controls were great though he took a bit getting used to R2 to fire weapons rather than R1 as in previous games. We decided at this point to go and grab some lunch and discuss our thoughts on what we had played and seen. One thing became abundantly clear during our chat, the Dualshock 4 isn’t just a slight redesign (like for previous Playstation’s) this thing is a revelation. Frosty ordered his PS4 there and then.
When we went back to the arena we decided to check out the upstairs floor, which had another (different) Assasins Creed 4 demo the queue for this was huge so we gave it a miss for now and did the same with the Titanfall and Battlefield 4 queues which from speaking to people were both well over an hour.
We decided to check out the Watch Dogs live demo, which was basicly a live demonstration of a section of the game that has been shown off before, however the wait wasn’t too long as it was shown inside a cinema style booth with around 100 seats available. We witnessed some of the open world, the interface, the hacking and some of the different ways to interact with the environment as well as a random event resulting in a car chase and utilizing the environment to stop the criminal without killing him. That was all very cool and looked very very good running on PS4. At this point another player (also playing live) had hopped into the game and begun attempting to hack into the main players system, this led to a search for him and the player was able to block the hack. He then opted to get revenge on him, found him and began a hack of his own, player 2 then has to find and stop the hack, this led to a confrontation and a shootout in an alleyway in which player one was killed and the demo ended. Now the one thing that we all really took away from this presentation was that this game looks like an Assassins Creed game and even has alot of themes from the Assassins Creed universe, it looks like it uses the same control scheme and even uses the exact same map system. I for one would put money on this being a direct Assassins Creed tie in.
We then decided to check out the Xbox One and headed back downstairs. Again huge queues were abundant and some of the queues were even intermeshed, I’d put this down to poor layout planning. After some exploring the area we located a small section of just 5 Xbox One’s running FIFA 14 with a very small queue (it was back to back with the 360 version so it wasn’t immediately obvious that there were Xbox One’s to play it on). We queued for around 5 minutes and were then able to play. Ali is not a football gamer so was just playing around to feel the controller, but I regularly play FIFA and PES on various consoles over the years and these are the sort of games that I put hundreds of hours into so a football game is perfect for me to judge a controller on. FIFA plays well and looks great, it’s FIFA you know what to expect. Unfortunately the controller is a big let down for this type of game, the thumbs sticks genuinely began to hurt my thumbs after a few minutes, and you could say it’s my play style or what ever but I have never had this issue this quickly on any console ever. I would level the same critiscism at the Vita although for me that only occurs after a few hours of game time and given that it’s a handheld I can forgive it for that. The face buttons, D-Pad and options buttons are all perfect. The triggers for me were awesome as well the vibration feedback works well although I’m not sure that it adds much to the game and in addition the controller didn’t seem to vibrate aside from the triggers. However the real problem for me was the LB and RB buttons, these buttons have been vastly changed from the 360 controller and are now difficult to use requiring far more pressure to activate, and in fact the inner part of the button does not activate at all. These buttons also now click which makes them feel cheap and nasty on the otherwise (aside from the thumbsticks for me) very nice and fancy controller. They remind me of the original Sega Saturn controller which came with the console in Europe which I personally did not like and was very happy when they switched the controller entirely shortly after launch. Whether or not Microsoft will take feedback into account and do likewise remains to be seen.
We then took a wander down to the Rezzed area to check out some indie games. First up I played Velocity 2X on the PSVita sequel to the excellent Velocity Ultra it played exactly like the first game in the vertical schmuup sections which is by no means a bad thing as these sections were close to perfect in Ultra anyway. What this game adds is a whole new gameplay section where you dock your ship and get out and perform a short 2D platforming section. It reminds me somewhat of the old Metroid games in terms of control but it does add in the trademark teleporting from the schmuup sections into these sections enabling short range teleporting through barriers etc, these sections work nicely to break up the levels and add a very interesting new dimension to the game overall and I for one cannot wait to play the final version of the game on both the Vita and the PS4.
We had another look around and decided to play The Room Two which was playable on iPad. This is the sequel to the Bafta winning game The Room, which is by far the best game I have played on iOs. Simply put it’s a first person puzzle game where you have to solve puzzle boxes in order to progress. The Room Two takes this concept and expands on it, with more complex puzzles, bigger rooms and more things in them to interact with. The Room Two will release first on iOs later this year.
After deciding to go and have another go on the next gen consoles we cam across a small section of PS4’s which were not enclosed in the huge PS4 section and didn’t have a massive queue to get into. We had a look at the various games running (and we actually came back and played them all on Saturday so will cover them on the Saturday article) but we were having a look at a game called Octodad: Dadliest Catch, which looked like a very odd game indeed where you play as an octopus pretending to be a human. The console opened up and we decided to have a go. Now prior to this I had zero interest in this game, however after playing through the demo in it’s entirety it has become a day one must buy for me, as it is easily one of the funniest games I have ever played.As I said you play as an octopus pretending to be a human and you have to get him ready for and get him to the altar on his wedding day while trying to act as human as possible, which is incredibly difficult being an octopus. You alternate control between his legs and arms and this mechanic really gets you making some hilarious moves at times.
Then it was time to check out another Xbox One game, this time Forza 5. The queue wasn’t to bad probably about 20 minutes. And the way the screens were set up it allowed us to get a really good look at both the Xbox One and the Kinect 2. Both of which are massive. The One is easily the biggest console I have seen in the flesh bigger than both the original Xbox and the 360 and the Kinect 2 which is just sat on top (and had zero purpose in the demo) is sizably larger than the original Kinect. This demo literally took 3 minutes to load for a 1 minute lap, which was very odd indeed and just staring at it’s various loading screens was rather boring. Once the game finally started I was blown away by how good the graphics were, far better than any similar games I’ve played on current gen. Forza plays well and uses the trigger feedback to decent effect, the harder you brake and accelerate the more the triggers vibrate. It’s a nice touch but it’s not something I ever felt was missing from driving games. I also noticed that the controller didn’t seem to vibrate anywhere else during my time playing however this is just a demo so could be in the final version.
Immediately after playing Forza 5 I spotted Gran Turismo 6 and decided to have a go while waiting for the others to finish playing Forza. Playing Gran Turismo 6 felt like playing Virtua Racing in comparison to Forza 5. The graphics looked very shoddy and I was quite surprised at how much I was aware that I was playing a “last gen” game. The PS3 controller also felt incredibly cheap and nasty in comparison to the PS4 & Xbox One controllers (and I have found the same since getting back and putting in many hours on various different PS3 games).
Myself and Frosty also played The Playroom which is the free software which comes with every PS4 and requires the Playstation Eye to use. It’s essentially a collection of minigames to get you used to the functions of the camera. We played this using controllers and our own bodies (quite literally in Frosty’s case) and there was not a move controller in sight. We played a game that was kinda like Pong it was simple but reasonable fun swiping up and down the touch pad on the controller to move the paddles. We had a play around with the robots in the controller game where you fire the robots out of the controller using the touch pad and can interact with them by kicking them hitting them or even lifting up the carpet underneath them, which is neat and shows the camera tracking your body rather than the controller (similar to Kinect). And we also played around with the floating robot where you can hit him around till he attacks you via electric shock (it shows a skull being electrocuted in place of your head on screen) or setting your hair on fire which you have to tap you head to put it out. All round fun free party games though they don’t seem to have much scope beyond what we played.
And that was it for Friday, we retired to the pub discussed what we played and had many drinks with Frosty, we also recorded something of a drunkcast and met up with our friends over at The Playstation Show UK
in a random KFC as all the pubs were shockingly closed. We had an awesome day and retired to the hotel for more drinks.............