My Gamescom 2016 experience started out with a trip to see UK-based development studio Rebellions shooter – Sniper Elite 4. The latest installment in the popular series feels familiar to that of previous titles, which in my opinion is a good thing. Sniper Elite is a formula that works quite well and shouldn’t be altered too much. The first noticeable thing with Sniper Elite 4 are its graphics, they have been massively improved when compared to Sniper Elite 3, with Rebellion opting to cease development for the previous generation consoles in order to focus on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Accuracy in-game has also been greatly improved with shooting an enemy corresponding better with the games iconic Killcam.
Sniper Elite 4‘s AI has also been majorly improved, reacting far more realistically now to what is going on around them. The games new additions include airstrikes. After being detected by the enemy, players that decide to remain in the same place for too long will find that enemy calling in an airstrike on them, which then proceeds to rain down hell on your position. Sniper Elite 4 will also be much bigger than its predecessor, with Rebellion’s product manager Sean Labode informing me that the demo level I got time with was impossible to complete in under an hour.
Next up, I met with Techland Publishing, who introduced me to a presentation of Torment: Tides of Numenera, an RPG blend of fantasy, science fiction and action, with a massive immersive world where everything and everyone has a story to tell. In Torment: Tides of Numenera, everything the player says or does will have consequences on how the story unfolds. Developed by inXile Entertainment, the studio behind Bards Tale and Wasteland 2, Tides of Numenera also has something that not many games these days offer… a GAME OVER! screen. The game is not shy about throwing players in at the deep and there is minimal to no hand holding, players can encounter a GAME OVER screen within the first 10 minutes of playing the game, however, whilst Torment: Tides of Numenera indeed features a GAME OVER screen, the reality of it is that death merely results in the player respawning in a different place to the original spawn, they’re toiling with us! Anyway, Torment: Tides of Numenera is the thematic follow-up to Planescape: Torment, which in all fairness I haven’t played myself but I will be sure to keep a close eye its development.
After that, it was onto the EA business lounge, where I was given a presentation of DICE’s hotly anticipated shooter, Battlefield 1, the short presentation showcased one of Battlefield‘s more solid core modes – Rush. After the presentation, I got to jump into the battlefield first hand to experience Rush Mode across the Sinai Desert, a map that features an enormous player controlled train, by far and away the biggest player controlled vehicle the Battlefield series has ever seen, it’s HUGE!!!.
While visiting the EA Business Lounge I was also treated to a presentation of Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2 single player campaign. The process of creating a single player campaign for Titanfall 2 was a challenging one for the studio says the developer. It wasn’t as simple as creating a linear story and then implementing elements of the multiplayer into it, instead, Respawn opted for a semi-linear path with different conversational options. Titanfall 2‘s story begins with the protagonist – a grunt, who is secretly trained by a pilot friend. During a mission to a planet, the pairs spaceship is attacked and crashes, resulting in the death of the pilot. But before he passes away, the pilot gives the grunt his helmet and ownership of his Titan.
Overall, Titanfall 2‘s single player looks very promising indeed, and not at all what I expected it to be, also ICYMI Titanfall 2‘s protagonist is voiced by Matthew Mercer whose previous credits include Leon S Kennedy in the Resident Evil series.
After the presentation, I got to experience Titanfall 2‘s Multiplayer first hand with a new game mode titled Bounty, on a map called Boomtown. The goal in Bounty mode is to fulfill bounties on certain enemies, whether that be grunts, spectres, titans or other enemies. Players must collect cash but in order to make that money count for your team, players must first deposit it in a bank (obviously). If a player is killed before achieving that, a part of the money they are carrying with them at the time is deducted. The winner of Bounty is the team with either the most money at the end of the match or the team that manages to deposit $5000 in the bank first. Points are required for players to spawn in their beloved Titan’s, which is slightly annoying and ultimately means you will have to earn your right to call in your sidekick or face being punished by enemy Titan’s. My gripe with the mode is that this feature could make for an unbalanced multiplayer experience as players fight for points in order to call in their Titan’s, with this implemented I don’t think Bounty mode will be the all out mech warfare that we saw with Titanfall.
With some time to kill, I decided to check out the Microsoft stand, where I would go hands-on with a Gears of War 4 gameplay demo. Gears of War 4 plays like a Gears of War game should with stunning graphics visible from the offset. The latest entry in the outstanding series see’s players placed in the shoes of the son of legendary soldier Marcus Fenix. The demo showed some new game elements including destructible cover, also at one point players can destroy a section of wood underneath some large pipes, which result in the pipes rolling down the battle field, smashing everything in its way. The melee feature, synonymous with the series has also evolved with executions now more brutal than ever.
My day would continue over at the Focus Home Interactive booth where I would interview Dontnod Entertainment and Vampyr Art Director Gregory Z. Szucs, this was the highlight of my day. Gregory’s enthusiasm for video games and how he spoke about Vampyr really touched me. If I wasn’t already excited for what Dontnod had in store for us after the incredible escapades of episodic teen angst adventure, Life is Strange, I am now. Next up on the agenda was an interview with Eidos Montreal where I would find out more about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with one of the game’s producers, Fleur Marty. Again it was lovely to speak to someone who is clearly very passionate about making video games.
From there I went on to check out Alice VR, Alice VR is a sci-fi game featuring mind-bending puzzles. I played one preview level which offered interesting and challenging puzzles, unfortunately, the demo didn’t give me any insight into the game’s story but was impressive none the less. Visually impressive, with the combination of the puzzles Alice VR will offer a surreal experience in a futuristic reimagination of Alice in Wonderland. Speaking with the game’s developer I found out that Alice VR will be playable without a VR headset upon its release, something I found refreshing considering the current costs involved in purchasing a VR headset on today’s market.
After my experience with Alice VR, I headed over to visit Bethesda, where the publisher showed off some gameplay for Arkane Studio’s Dishonored 2 and Prey. Dishonored 2 takes place 15 years after the events of the first game, Emily is all grown up now and is fully playable in Dishonored 2 along with the returning Corvo. Throughout the gameplay trailer, I got a glimpse at some of Emily’s abilities, able to clone herself and kill 2 enemies at once. The gameplay trailer also highlighted the return of Delilah’s witches coven, from “The Bridgmore Witches” of Dishonored.
After Dishonored 2 we were treated to some gameplay from Arkane’s Prey reboot, showcasing the games cool weapons and abilities. First up was the Gloo Cannon, with this particular weapon players can freeze enemies with glue, preventing them from being able to shape change. The Gloo Cannon can also be used to get to hard to reach places, by shooting the cannon against a wall players can create a makeshift staircase. After using the Gloo Cannon players can then choose to either save enemies individually or set them on fire with the use of the Super Thermal Beam. Another skill featured was Mimic Matter, a skill that allows players to take the form of any object. For example, the player can change into a coffee mug before rolling through a small opening, which is pretty cool in my opinion.
On my way back to the Microsoft stand I took some time to play Ubisoft’s new I.P, Steep. Steep immediately grabbed my attention during Ubisoft’s recent E3 conference, it’s time for a new extreme sports game. My first impressions of Steep are that it plays very smooth, although its controls are slightly confusing at first, after some trial and error I was able to get on my board and glide down the mountain. The game offers a variety of ways to descend down the mountain, whether you want to do it by snowboard, ski’s, skydive or paraglide, it’s completely up to you. Steep features beautiful slopes with breathtaking surroundings, Ubisoft’s latest I.P is definitely something to keep your eye on.
I returned to the Microsoft stand once more to experience one of my favorite franchises in video games – Dead Rising 4, and the return of camera-wielding reporter Frank West. In my opinion, Capcom has made a very wise decision in bringing back Dead Rising‘s original protagonist, although Nick and Chuck were undoubtedly great protagonists I simply missed the confident and arrogant reporter in Dead Rising 2 and 3. Dead Rising 4‘s demo looked impressive and felt good, a real heaven for all you zombie slayers out there. Capcom has chosen not to implement the timer with DR4 and while it’s nice to not have to rush like a madman to reach the game’s various survivors, I cannot help but think that they have taken away an iconic mechanic from the franchise, it created replayability. The demo introduced the exo suit, a powerful suit of armor which is fully upgradable, allowing Frank to carry far heavier weapons. Frank’s iconic camera also makes a return and will once again be an important gameplay mechanic in DR4, also allowing players to take selfies.
My final stop saw me meet up with CD Projekt RED, for a presentation and hands on time with Gwent. The developer’s stand for Gwent was by far the most impressive of my time at Gamescom 2016. While most stands were modeled like an office, Gwent was themed like a pub with a big table in the middle for players to experience Gwent with real cards. CD Projekt RED opened Gwent‘s presentation by asking if anyone would like another beer – we were off to a good start. Whilst we enjoyed our special Gwent beer, the developer told us about the standalone version of the well received mini game from the Witcher 3. The first big improvement on the original version found in the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are its graphics, with the game’s battlefield boasting more animations, with players now able to obtain special cards with the mentioned animations. Some of the rules in Gwent have changed, for example, you are now able to re-draw 3 cards instead of 2 at the start of a game.
Gwent is nothing like any other card game around and depends solely on the cards and the player’s ability to bluff. This is where Gwent distances itself from other games in the genre like Hearthstone. Besides being ultimately a multiplayer game, Gwent will also feature a single player game filled with Witcher lore. This is one game to keep your eye on.