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FireHawk Gaming at EGX Rezzed, March 30th, 2017, London

 

Well, this year, myself and Steve decided not to go the Shadwell DLR route in order to get to the event (probably because we missed… our Lewisham train), and so ended up having to go into Central London and back out from there – however, despite it requiring two changes and getting off at Wapping rather than Shadwell DLR, the journey was comparable to what we’ve done before. Slightly quicker, possibly, this time we were there before 10am. However, we (once again) had the same problem with regards to signage – once out at Wapping station, there was nothing to direct you to the event. However, as it was literally a straight path down Wapping Lane, almost, it was fairly easy.

Once again, as it was held in London, I can’t fault the public transport options – there were a couple of bus routes nearby, and two large Overground and DLR stations, of which both were easy to reach from both central London mainline stations and outer London mainline stations.

Once we got to the Tobacco Dock, it definitely felt quieter than it has been in previous years – rather than queuing for twenty plus minutes as we have done in the past, we pretty much went straight through after picking up our wristbands. Though I’m going to attribute that to us going on a Thursday and the fact we there early (or as early as one can be with a certain ‘south eastern’ region train operator).

After that, we went straight into my personal favourite section, the Indie room. The very first game that we came across was a 3D, top-down space exploring game called ‘Project Spacepunk’. From what we were playing of the game, it appears to be mostly objective based, with WASD movement, with mouse controls also – Steve said the game played fairly well.

The developers, Convoy Games, said that there were plans to eventually make the game open-world, with there also being three different factions that you could choose to join or play against. The game is quite heavy on the spaceship building side of things, and looked extremely customisable from that side of it. Steve did have a play around with his ship, and from what little that we had unlocked on our play through we had plenty of options, with what looked like a lot more to unlock.

After that, we took at a look at Guns of Icarus Alliance, and very immediately set upon by some very scary developers with wrenches! After that, we set Steve down to play the game – where we found that the game builds on the previously released Guns of Icarus. The game has a very heavy Steampunk flavour, which works extremely well for the setting.

We were told that the name for this game comes from the heavy emphasis on team work and co-operative play that the game has. The game relies on communication between players each player is ‘assigned’ a job for their airship – so there’s engineers, captains, amongst other jobs. There is also a faction system being built into the game, which looks to be quite interesting. We were also told that actions taken in the game actually have the effect of changing the world map in game for all players, with the changes being rolled back every three months, which I personally like the idea of, that you can see the changes being made by you in the game.

As it stands at the moment, the game also looks extremely customisable, with the developers also saying they’ll keep adding to the game once it’s released.

After this, I meandered over to Nomad Games, who were showing off their new game, Smash Up, and also giving out free Steam Keys for Talisman – I was instantly sold as a player of the original board game (…well, that makes me feel old). Anyhow, this time I was the lucky one of us two who got to play the game! Smash Up is a card game, where you have to choose between two different sets of card factions, which are smashed together, and then you’re set against either real players, or the game’s AI. And I can tell you, the game’s AI is tough to play against.

I personally went for a combination Geek/Zombie deck, and a lot of cards in that deck made me laugh with lots of references being made to various fandoms – I can imagine this would be the same for all of the different decks. The game itself felt quite tactical, and with the mouse based controls, played extremely well, with no lagging that was noticeable. Unfortunately, I had to move on after being destroyed by the AI, but I did feel as though there was a lot to discover in this game.

After that, Steve went over to take a look at Day of Infamy, from New World Interactive, with a focus on tactical World War II combat, with a large number of scenarios to play, Steve said although the game was a bit difficult at times, the gameplay itself was solid and plays well. He also gave a nod to the graphics, saying they were pretty good as well.

We then meandered over to Skatanic Studios, of RPG Tycoon fame , where they were showcasing their latest game, ‘Living the Deal’, a life sim game which feels very much like what would happen if Monopoly ever had a child with the Sims. We were told that the game was designed to be an almost call back to the older sim management games of the 1990s, although I have to say, it looked very much like the original Sims games on the PCs stylistically, especially in the sections where your character was in their own home.

Although the core of the game is more a business sim, where you have to progress as a city trader, there is also an in depth life management side of it, with consequences based on the choices which are made – do you take more time to feed yourself properly, but lose time to make money, or do you grab fast food in order to have more time for money making, but then suffer for that later? Although the basis of the game starts on the premise of yourself being in debt to your landlord, with the initial goal being to pay off that debt and make enough money to do so, the game seems to open up a lot as far as customising your apartment and whatnot after this first goal is completed.

We then moved over to having a go at ELEX, an open world science fantasy developed by Piranha Bytes. The game which was on show at EGX was an alpha version, but we both had to admit that already the graphics looked extremely good, with only a few minor graphical hitches being apparent. Steve then sat down for a go at the game, and lasted about a minute before dying (I think the longest he went without a death was 58 seconds, not that I was timing). The game seemed to have a very large choice of options as far as weapons were concerned. It was controlled by WASD movement and mouse controls, but Steve remarked that the controls felt a bit difficult, and somewhat clunky. Apparently the music seemed a bit strange, and didn’t quite fit the atmosphere of the game.

Of course as per tradition it seems, we trundled over to the Total War booth… and had a go on Total War: Warhammer, of course! We ended up playing a battle as the Dwarves versus the Orcs, and it was a good fun scrap… until the moment we managed to crash the game – that almost seems like FHG tradition now at EGX. As far as it goes, the game controls extremely well, the graphics are beautiful and is very detailed. There are also plenty of customisation options.

We then went over to the other game on show in the Sega room, which was Motorsport Manager, where Steve took the controls. The game feels like the Cycle Manager games of old, with a lot of micromanagement, where you craft your team and their machines, and then let them loose on the racetrack, occasionally inputting changes to tactics as the race progresses.

The game uses mouse and keyboard controls, which for the most part, are fairly smooth and were fairly easy to get a hold of. Although there are a lot of options available in the base game for the challenge mode, there is also Steam Workshop support – and this led to my one minor ‘what’ moment for the game – why is the only racetrack for the UK in the base game Guildford? As far as what’s presented goes, there is a lot of information about just about everything you’d ever need related to a race on-screen, and is very detailed. Going into a race is fairly smooth running, and we found no noticeable lag even with the graphics up high.

After that, we went over to take a look at the Paradox Interactive stall, where they were showcasing the Xbox version of the critically acclaimed Cities: Skylines. The game looked pretty good on the Xbox, but… the horror of loading screens! The game itself feels quite clunky on the Xbox controls, although saying that, I’m perfectly happy to admit I’ve also spent over a year playing around on the PC version, so any departure from keyboard and mouse controls feels a bit unnatural.

We then made our way over to their Stellaris booths, where they were showcasing the latest add-on, the Utopia update. The new content looks extremely good, and Steve was rather excited by the thought of being able to mix different fleet types together. The game still handles extremely well, with few noticeable changes being made to the controls that we saw.

(I admit here that I personally found the Battleship Potemkin references quite amusing)

We discovered that there were lots of options as far as customisation went, even with lots of different things happening on screen at once, there was minimal loading and minimal lag.

Steve mentioned that the redo of the weapons which were available was a lot better than previously, and made for much more tactical choices to be made, which was got the approval from him. Music was also quite good.

Overall, there was an awful lot to do at EGX Rezzed this year, and I particularly was impressed with the massive expansion of the indie developer area. Once again, we now have a lot more games on our radar.

Until next year, London…

 

Written by Karen

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