EGX 2014 In Review

EGX, aka the Eurogamer Expo was held last week at Earls Court in London, from Thursday to Sunday. With an estimated visitor count of 80,000 people, it is the largest video games convention in the UK, and I was lucky enough to score tickets for the first two days. While I was there, I was able to check out quite a few good games. I’ll be talking about them individually, but I wanted to give a quick review of EGX in general before I began.

I’ve seen a few people complaining online about a lack of “atmosphere” at EGX this year, but I can’t say I agree with them. I’m no expert, given that I’ve only been to this year’s and last year’s evemts, but I feel compelled to say that I had a great time at EGX this year.

Putting aside the manic, fever pitch energy coming from the Microsoft booth, everyone I saw and met seemed chilled out, relaxed, and friendly. While there were some hefty queues – there was no jostling, jumping, or aggressive nonsense. The cynical side of me might suggest that latter part is down to Britons’ innate desire to form orderly queues.

Overall, it seemed to me that the showfloor was busier than it was in 2013. I remember thinking, several times last year, that there seemed to be a fair bit of empty space or gaps on the floor, especially on the upper level. This year however, it felt like there was more “show” on the show floor; there seemed to be more of everything. I think there was even a couple more merchandise stands this time.

The show floor was dominated by the big three – Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – who were all there in force. The Nintendo area was the smallest of the three. I found it interesting since they had their own merchandise section, which actually seemed to take up more space than their demo units. I say units quite deliberately, because while Microsoft and Sony had a number of theatres dedicated to various games, Nintendo opted for a series of single-machine units out in the open air. I must admit it made for a nicer experience, having a bit of space and fresh air (such as there was) rather than being cooped up inside the temporary structures favoured by Sony, Microsoft and most of the big publishers. It also allowed those in the queue and passers-by to actually see the games they were waiting on, instead of the same posters repeated every few feet.

One thing I would like to ask Nintendo, however, is who decided that the lighting on the display stand for the Amiibo figures should be brighter than the heart of the Sun. Seriously, the camera on my phone couldn’t take a picture at all due to the brightness. More than that, it was almost impossible to even look directly at the stand, it was so bright. I wonder if that was the point though, to stop too many pictures leaking out into the wild? If so, it still seems like a bit of a misstep to me.

I’m not sure if Sony or Microsoft had the larger area. Both were spread out, with each having a kind of central area with a stage and a projection screen for spectators. My gut says that Sony had the larger floorspace, although the downside to that was that I found it pretty hard to find where everything was, as the layout wasn’t the easiest to navigate.

The one thing that Microsoft had in abundance was whooping, screaming crowds and over-hyped MC’s, whipping them into a frenzy. Toward the end of Friday I saw people fighting over t-shirts thrown into the crowd as if they were a religious artifacts. Pleasingly, there seems to have been no recurrence of the transphobic comments put forward by the MC on the Xbox stage last year.

As is always the case, however, some of the most interesting stuff was taking place away from the big booths. Indie games at EGX have their own areas, the EGX Rezzed area and the Leftfield Collection. Whereas last year they were down on the show floor amongst everything else, this year they were on the upper floor with what seemed like a larger area overall. Whoever thought of moving them upstairs deserves a round of applause; stepping away from the noise and scrum of the main floor made it easier to take a breath and enjoy these smaller, generally quieter games in a way that made it much easier to appreciate them.

The Leftfield Collection in particular was much easier to move around in, especially given that last year it felt like there was barely space to move in single file. This year it was still a little cramped, but much better than last. The Rezzed area felt bigger than last year but more cramped. I think this was partly due to there being more games in the Rezzed area than there were last year, but also partly due to the layout of the area. I spent a fair bit of time at the Rezzed area, and I’ll get into specific details about the games I saw there in their own posts.

Until then, hopefully that gives you a rough overview of what EGX was like this year. I’ll be drip-feeding info on the games I played for the next week or two, so stay tuned for more.

 

Follow Craig on Twitter, @d20shapedheart or email him at craig@gfbrobot.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *