EGX 2016 report: The UK's biggest game show its the NEC

Last week I attended the UK’s biggest ever games event, EGX 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham. This was my fifth consecutive year at the expo, and for me this was the best EGX I have ever been to in terms of the quality and variety of the games on offer. Yet the lack of any Nintendo presence was disappointing but understandable, with the Wii U on its way to retirement and the 3DS fading fast. Microsoft had a small display with Gears Of War 4, for example, but this show was all about what Sony had on show.

My first port of call was the Square Enix area. They really made an effort this year, with a huge playable line-up. There was only one place to start, and that was Final Fantasy XV. As a huge fan of the long running role-playing series I couldn’t wait to get my hands on and play.

I have previous played the Episode Duscae demo and its update, along with the Platinum demo, but this was so much better. I had 30 minutes with Noctis and his party and wished it was longer. I think we played an early section of the game, perhaps even the beginning. Players had to finish a few quest lines while our car, called the Regalia, was in for repairs.

The initial task was to defeat a few fiends who were causing some bother in the area. The real-time combat has been improved and feels much smoother now. You have access to four weapons which can be switched on the fly. You can do assist attacks where a team member jumps in and does heavy damage, blindsides an enemy for additional harm, or Noctis can warp strike directly into foes.

After completing a few missions you could get behind the wheel of the Regalia and go for a drive. The best part was adjusting the music on the stereo to play familiar Final Fantasy tunes. Also changeable was the attire of the party in the games menu screen, it might not seem like a much but I think it will be a popular feature.

I loved it so much I went back the following day and played it all over again. The game has been 10 years in the making and it seems like it has been worth the wait. The eagerly anticipated release date is now November 29.

Away from the games stood strategy guide makers Prima Games. I have always been a fan of theirs and own many of their back catalogue. With the rise of Let’s Plays on YouTube and online walkthroughs the humble strategy guide book is often overlooked. My preference has continually been for tangible goods. It is also pleasant to have a companion piece to go with your favourite games, and the last thing I want to do is consult another screen or monitor.

Some of the guides available to buy at the show included, The Witcher 3 Complete Edition, Star Ocean, and Dark Souls III. Although I didn’t pick up anything on the day I do have my eye on the walkthroughs for Dragon Quest Builders and World Of Final Fantasy, which they publishing next month.

In the Sony area was Outlast 2, I had never heard of this title before but it is a single-player first person survival horror game set in the desert at night time. You play as Blake Langermann who is exploring the murder of a pregnant woman, Jane Doe. I was only armed with a camcorder with a night vision mode to assist me and along the way I picked up a few conveniently placed battery packs to keep the power running.

All this time I was being chased by someone or something! I hid in a few lockers and there were a few jump scares, but in the end I was caught by some guy who brutally killed me. Not my sort of game but pretty entertaining, the game is set to be released in 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Last and my no means least was Gravity Rush 2, which was situated in the ‘Big in Japan’ zone. I played and loved the original on the PS Vita but the platform move to the PlayStation 4 was a savvy idea. You still play as Kat and the game reclaims the comic book aesthetic mixed with Japanese manga style storytelling. The demo itself was a tutorial style level as you shot around a Studio Ghibli-looking movie world with the power to manipulate gravity.

After learning how to get around I fought a few baddies and chased a bird who had stolen my kebab skewer. The whole town seemed more populated and lively than its predecessor. I wasn’t expecting the game to have Japanese voiced audio but there were English subtitles to compensate. Definitely a giant leap forward from its predecessor, it comes out on December 2.

Overall a brilliant show and roll on next year, as EGX are celebrating their tenth year.

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