And that’s EGX done for another year. Rather than being at the NEC Birmingham, the event had moved to ExCeL London so thousands of gamers hit the capital between 17 and 20 October 2019 to get their hands on the latest releases and talk to developers about their projects.
After some calculations back in April, I found that over 45% of the games due to be displayed at EGX Rezzed had either appeared at the expos since 2017 or were already available for purchase. That figure has increased over the past several years and the line-up advertised on the EGX website didn’t do anything to buck the trend. This explains why my other-half and I were a little apprehensive as we drove into the city last Thursday and Friday; would what we would discover there make the trip worthwhile?
After appearing at both expos for so long it was starting to become a bit of cliché, I’m pleased to report that Gang Beasts was nowhere to be found this year. Instead I played several games which were promptly added to my wishlist. I first met Jonathan Nielssen in 2017 when he was at EGX with Falling Sky, and it was great to see him back with development studio Loeding and SNOW. Then there was Röki, a lovely-looking adventure by Polygon Treenhouse. More about both of those later this week.
The title I was most excited to see however was Beyond a Steel Sky: we’ve waited 25-years for a Beneath a Steel Sky sequel and it was great to finally get a chance to play the demo. It’s very different from the original but didn’t disappoint. Later in the day we attended a developer session by Charles Cecil where he discussed the making of the title, working with Dave Gibbons and his thoughts on adventures. I can’t wait to play to play the game when it’s released.
A huge retro section had been added to the schedule this time and many attendees headed over to get their nostalgia hit. I’ve written before about the problems with displaying retro titles at expos and it seemed like the organisers had put some thought into this: Replay Events implemented a great ‘library’ system. You chose your game from a bookcase, collected it from their desk and then found yourself a seat. It meant the consoles weren’t permanently occupied by the same people, and that we got some time with the original Devil May Cry.
I may have found three games I can’t wait to play but there were far fewer titles on display that appealed to me this year. It feels as if we’re experiencing a shift away from the narrative trend we picked up on at EGX Rezzed in 2018; the stands were full of platformers, hack-and-slashers, and more action-orientated projects. Since starting to attend the expos in 2012, it was the first time I came away from the Leftfield Collection without finding something niche I wanted to shout about.
Last week I’d seen comments left on the EGX Facebook page complaining about the increased focus on indie games this time around. Although not a bad thing in itself, there was much less big-budget stuff – in fact, out of the 36 titles included in the press bible I received before the event, 19 entries were already available to buy. The Death Stranding ‘experience’ was nothing more than a 20-minute video in a small black-curtained room; and that for Cyberpunk 2077 seemed to be closed more than it was open.
The Rezzed talks at EGX are usually one of my highlights but the schedule was disappointing. Those we did see ended up being slightly different than advertised, and some of the speakers seemed more interested in promoting their companies than sharing their knowledge of the topic. Overall, I’m glad I attended the expo this year but I’m sorry to say it was the most lacklustre one I’ve been to. Perhaps this has something to do it with being a slow year for video games and we might see more sparkle at 2020’s event with the new console releases.
Did you attend the EGX event? If so, what did you think of it and what was your game of the show? There’ll be more posts coming up over the next few days and in the meantime, you can check out our photo gallery below.
EGX 2019 photo gallery