Gamescom 2016

I haven’t been heard from for quite a while… again. But this time, it’s because I’ve moved to Germany, not because the respawn time is too long. And, of course, I went to Gamescom, yay! So, after coming home, I got the most original idea, which nobody else has, had before or will have — write about my experience. Let’s do it.

The event itself

Gamescom was held in the Koelnmesse, which is in the city of Cologne. And, judging by the picture on top, a smaller building would’ve been unacceptable. The event started Friday 19th of August, and ended Sunday 21st. The stands were put into different halls, sorted by their categories, i.e. the big companies got halls 6–9, while indies got halls 5 and 10. But, a picture’s worth a thousand words, (You hear that, Medium read time calculator? Take that into account.) and I don’t really know what else to write except other basic facts, so, here you go.

Now for some games

The Dropzone stand

Dropzone was my favorite game on Gamescom 2016. It’s a mix between a MOBA and an RTS. There are no teams, you only get 1 opponent per match, but each one of you has 3 giant robots called “rigs”, which all have different attributes and special abilities.

You have 15 minutes to get as much points as you can, and that 15-minute timer I like, because it makes a game of Dropzone be much quicker than most other MOBA games, which is a good thing, since they can last for more than an hour. “But how do you actually get points?”-you may ask, and I shall answer. The point of the game is to collect a valuable resource named Core, that you get after eliminating a nest of Kavash, who are the local hostile alien race, and uplink it using an Aperture Science Stationary Uplinking Device ™ (probably), which is located in the center of the map.

But a rig can only hold one Core at a time, and while it’s uplinking, the rig can’t do anything, leaving itself open to enemy fire. And if a rig is destroyed while uplinking, it drops the Core, which can be picked up by your foes. But every match players also get extra objectives (i.e. first to destroy an enemy rig gets 2 points), which can actually be game-changing. You can also capture control points, which give you info about locations of Cores, enemies etc. around a small radius, which is crucial if you want to win, because you might want your foes to be away, killing Kavash, while you uplink. And for the stand itself? That’s the coolest-looking stand I’ve seen in a while — it actually looks like a military base, and the basics are not just told to the visitors, but shown as classified footage in a soundproof room, so I can’t show it to you, because they will find me.

The Crossout stand

Crossout is a car-combat game by Gaijin Entertainment, the creators of War Thunder. But this one is with a twist — you actually build your own car!

“But Robocraft did that!”-you might exclaim, and I will respond like this — In Robocraft, you build with cubes, but in Crossout, you actually have to salvage parts and build a car with them, i.e. put a V8 engine and a minivan cabin on the chassis. But that’s a car-combat game, and what’s a car-combat game without weapons? Crossout has an extensive arsenal, ranging from machineguns to bazookas to chainsaws. There are also additional parts which can be installed, like an ammo crate or a scope. But you shouldn’t just put every part you see on a bunch of 8x4 frames — every part has weight and all weapons and utilities consume energy. The weight a car can hold is determined by its cabin, and power is generated by a generator — and that generator better be protected, because it explodes when destroyed. But the cars don’t only have a health bar: each part you attached can be shot, destroyed or chainsawed off.

To prepare for all those unfortunate events, you can test-drive your car before taking it to battle, which is also important for embarrassment avoidance. But you probably won’t get embarrassed, because the devs designed the game, so no car is incorrect, which I can confirm, because the car I built (the picture in the top-left) got me victory in most matches I played. And I did the exact opposite of what I told you — I put every part I saw on a bunch of 8x4 frames. Oh, and they also had a war truck on their stand.

The Steep stand

Steep is a snowboarding/skiing/paragliding/wingsuiting simulator by Ubisoft. But it doesn’t just give you a bunch of tracks — Steep gives you a whole mountain to explore.

The mountain has drop-off zones and challenges scattered across it, so if you are just free roaming, and then you suddenly develop a craving for a challenge, you can go through a challenge ring, and start it. And I like the challenges, because they just start — no extra loading times, no countdown, you don’t even stop going, the challenges don’t break the flow. Now, about the gameplay itself. The game is fast-paced, yet surprisingly calm — especially the wingsuit mode. The vehicle physics are very realistic — which means that the controls might take some getting used to, but it’s very satisfying once you get the hang of it. But… the physics of everything else are, dare I say, Skate 3-like, so expect a lot of getting stuck on rocks. Actually, don’t, because the game isn’t out yet. That also means that I’ll forgive the physics, because they probably will be fixed in time for the game’s release.

The Indie arena

Epistory — Typing Chronicles

Epistory — Typing Chronicles is an adventure game, which is typing-focused, but in a quite original way.

You see, literally everything is controlled by typing, even the menus. You type the entry name to select it, i.e. type START to start the game. The game is about a girl and a fox, who are lost, until they are not lost, because a path to her hometown shows up. And then you realize how well thought-through the controls actually are. Of course, you can use WASD to move, but the game suggests you use EFIJ. At first this may seem random, but, if you look at your keyboard, you will see that resting your fingers on these keys actually puts your hands in a typing position, which is genius. So is the way the typing mechanic is introduced: the narrator says that the girl remembers the flowers of her hometown, and then you get a prompt to press space to go into typing mode, where you can type the names of the flowers she remembers to make them bloom (and give you some XP).

But then you encounter a meteorite with monsters in it, and that’s when the combat shows up, which also requires typing. Each monster has a bunch of words attached to it, and you need to type these words to kill it, before it reaches you. And there can be 6 monsters at the screen ate the same time. Then you go into a spooky lava cave, where you encounter a boss, who has words longer than 10 letters attached to him, while the other monsters are still coming. I’ve never typed that fast before in my whole life… And then the demo ends.

Dungeons of Rezrog

Dungeons of Rezrog is a dungeon crawler roguelike-but-not-really by Soaphog Games.

The game has tabletop aesthetics, with cardboard dungeons and characters, and even the occasional Not Coca Cola, which can be seen on the picture to the left. The dungeon-crawling aspect of the game is standard — get loot, level up, kill monsters before they kill you. But you don’t only get one character, but a party of five different classes, yet you can only use one at a time. If that character you took dies, he isn’t gone for good, but is captured.

You can take another character on a quest to rescue the prisoner, but if you both don’t manage to get out, both are captured, and so on. If all of your characters are captured, it’s game over, and you have to start again. But the next party you get is the heir of the previous one, so the loot is gone, but the level-up upgrades stay. The developer said that it would be impossible to beat the game with your first party, but no way will the game be boring — the levels are randomly generated every time you enter, even with the same party. The dungeons are also not just enter-exit, you also get an objective like “kill all the monsters”, or “save that guy”. And the guy you save in the tutorial will become your trader. Nothing special, but a nice touch. The game is on Steam Greenlight, by the way, so if you liked what you heard, go upvote it.

The retro arena

What is a game-related event without some old games that everyone says are the best games, but actually aged badly and will only do as time-killers in this day and age?

A game-related event that isn’t Gamescom, which had half a hall dedicated to all things retro. Walls were lined with the most tubular of things: C64s, NESes, uh… yeah. There were also arcade cabinets, but they weren’t along the walls. Of course, you could play some old games, but it was mostly focused on new things that are related to old consoles and computers. Radicool, dudeski! So, there were a lot of homebrews, but most of them weren’t good enough for me (mostly because their main feature was that it ran on an old computer) , except C64anabalt, which is Canabalt on a C64, and its main feature was that it ran on an old computer… oops. Well, all those other games were new titles, so you could get creative, but C64anabalt is actually a port, which makes everything harder. And if you ever saw Canabalt in action, you know what I’m talking about — it’s not a game to be ran on a C64, despite the pixel graphics. There were also arcade cabinets, including the 1983 Crystal Castles by Atari, all of the machines in perfect condition.

I’ve also encountered the Dragon Box, who created some great, but, unfortunately, overlooked retro-game related stuff, such as the Revo K101+, which is a GBA remake, that can also play GBC and NES games. They have also announced the GPD WIN and the Pyra, which are Nintendo DS-sized computers, the GPD WIN running Windows 10, and the Pyra running Debian. I got to try all these in action, and none of that is a hoax. OK, I should stop talking about Windows 10 and Debian in a retro-related segment. But what do I say, that can fit above the picture’s bottom? It was heartwarming to see a little kid (about 7) go up to one of the arcade cabinets and play Pac-man. It restored my faith in humanity… I did get under the picture after all…

More pictures here