I’m very late with this, I know. There’s no need to tell me. Why do you always tell me? As the sun sets on yet another Eurogamer Expo (several suns actually – we’re coming up on four suns at the time of writing, but maybe we’ll get five before this goes up) it’s time again to reflect on the UK’s greatest gaming show.
EGX is always expanding, evolving, shifting and mutating. This year was undoubtedly one of the most satisfying in recent memory for me, largely perhaps because I very purposefully relinquished myself of the moral responsibility to play absolutely everything. Why? Well because that sort of goal is unattainable really, and unless you really love queueing and don’t just say you love queueing to appear more British, it’s an attitude that will leave you unhappy and in pain. Nope, this year, I took EGX at a stroll and I absolutely loved it.
Fortunately these days, the show is much nearer to my humble Leamington Spa based abode, so a single train journey can get me to the venue and another can take me home again. Bliss in comparison to traversing the distant people-blender that is London for sometimes several days in a row.
Also fortunately, the Rezzed and Leftfield indie sections of EGX have become utterly enormous, by comparison to their floorspace a few short years ago, and it’s here that I tend to hang my hat. Chiefly because the friendly devs that frequent their stands are more than willing to take your hat, and any food you might be willing to give them.
Having the opportunity to talk to the people making games in these small teams, dragging their creation up by the scruff of its neck and dusting it down and fiercely whispering in its ear for it to behave itself for the nice people, is the real appeal of the show, for me. Indeed, there’s actually quite a bit of disparity moving from the Rezzed section to say, the Sony stand, or the Ubisoft area. The walls get higher, the people become reps instead of devs, and the queues. The queues stretch out achingly into the distance, and even the shorter ones come complete with tiny invisible lumberjacks who immediately start furiously chopping at your legs the moment you join one. Or, y’know, something. I am coffee-addled and restless so do excuse me.
That said, I am being needlessly dissentful of the bigger stands and the AAA offerings because, after all, they bring the spectacles. A huge, mountable dragon, a real life Sonic, an enormous angry Rabid, and a Porsche of some description all headed up the big name sections of the show floor, and EGX nowadays just wouldn’t be complete without these referential extravaganzas.
Similarly, the reps on the handful of larger stands we visited were all super friendly; most notably the poor chap on Mario Odyssey who had to witness my Mario falling off a crane eight times in a row as I struggled to concurrently play the game and saw his ear off with my diamond-blade conversational platitudes. Anyway.
The show also featured a really significant eSports presence this year, with a large glossy ESL stand, alongside a number of dedicated competitive tournament arenas. eSports still fascinates me in a lot of ways; a result of being terminally uncompetitive myself I imagine, but I enjoy watching games I know (CS:GO) and marvelling at the Sky Sports-esque coverage leagues like ESL have garnered. At any rate, the velocity at which eSports is growing is an exciting thing in and of itself, and it’s hugely positive that EGX has spliced it into their schedule with a certain, increasing fervor. Bravo all involved.
The merch was expensive but kind of mesmerising in that way that it always is; and I still haven’t bought the headcrab hat. We all know it’ll end up resigned to the quarantine cupboard along with the deflated inflatable Portal 2 turret and the plushie Griffball. Still, if only I were made of money and spontaneity.
The VR offering at the show, across its various flavours, was predictably increased on previous years, with Sony bringing their giant PSVR headset stand along with them, and a number of indies having VIVE titles to show off (more on that in a different article). It’s another notch on the mast for the technology and the idea that one day VR will be the thing. It will keep growing in usability and affordability and at some stage it will be the norm, aka, the gateway to the next level of interactive gaming experiences.
I only managed to get up for a single day this year, but as ever, I can’t recommend Eurogamer Expo as a day or four out enough, so long as you’re really into this gaming lark anyway. I’ll stick up a few more posts featuring the titles I got to play as soon as I can, but seeing that my SNES Mini arrived today, don’t hold your breath. Maybe I’ll just unbox it on Twitch or something. You like that sort of stuff don’t you? #Content? Unboxing #Content? Some Youtubers could unbox their gas bill and you lot would go nuts for it.
More on Respawn soon you lot!