Every September gamers from around the world gather at Earls Court in the centre of London for the Eurogamer Expo, a four day convention where the biggest and newest games and consoles are displayed for press and public to sample prior to release.
This year the expo sold out, and it was a challenge to fight my way around the convention center to try out the same things everybody else was desperate to try. With Xbox One and PS4 still two months from release they were naturally drawing the biggest crowds. Both consoles had a huge presence at the expo, and both were offering playable demos of some of the biggest titles, for only the price of an entry ticket and a hefty queue each time.
Having a press pack, I was able to enter the expo an hour before the public, which meant for a short while the queues were the smallest they would be for the entire weekend. The first thing I queued for was the Sony area, who handled their corner of the expo differently to the rest of the convention. They required everybody to queue to simply get close to the consoles, whereby you were handed a ticket and told you could only play two select titles. The first game I waited for was Killzone: Shadow Fall, which played like a generic current gen FPS. It didn’t seem to offer anything new to the genre from what I saw during my brief time playing.
The reason I say my playing time was brief is because I somehow managed to break the game. I was playing normally, minding my own business, and was killed by another player. My character simply then lay on the ground, and was unable to respawn.
The console had to be reset, thus ending my short lived time playing the game. One improvement the PS4 has over the PS3 is the controller, it feels bigger, and therefore a lot more comfortable to hold. For me, the PS2/3 controller was always a little small, so this change is welcoming. The touch screen was also not utilized during my time playing Killzone, nor was it put into use when playing my second game, Knack, a fun title, if not a little easy at times.
I spoke to one of the Sony representatives while watching somebody play Fifa 14 on the PS4, who admitted there had been a few teething problems during the first morning, and they were still working out the kinks. This was good of him to admit, as it’s not always expected that things will run smoothly from the get go.
After that I left the Sony area, and wanted to join some queues for Xbox One before the masses of public swarmed in to the convention center.
Microsoft’s set up was different from Sony’s in that each title was enclosed in its own ‘booth’ and required an individual queue. The downside of this was that bystanders couldn’t see gameplay without first queuing to enter the booth, apart from a few titles such as Kinect Sports Rivals which were in clear view. There were playable demos of Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3, Ryse, Kinect Sports Rivals, Fifa 14, Battlefield 4 and Forza 5, to name the big titles.
To see what I thought of the console, check out my in depth ‘Hand’s On’ article by clicking here. But to sum up what I say in the article, the controller is great, the graphics outstanding, and gameplay smooth.
There are always going to be comparisons between ‘The Big Two’, and as we are an Xbox One fan site it’s inevitable that I’m going to side with Microsoft, but I genuinely believe that what Microsoft offered was far ahead of its rival. There is a sense of ‘fun’ about the Xbox One which the PS4 just seems to lack. Maybe it’s the gritty and serious games which seem to be popular at the moment, but apart from a couple of smaller titles, the PS4 seems to lack the key ingredient which a console ultimately needs: FUN.
With Sony, we have very serious people walking around the convention center talking very seriously about games. With Microsoft, we have zombies staggering around scaring people, posing for photos and being killed by Judge Dredd (seriously). The staff seemed to be having a good time talking about Xbox One, which conflicts with the more serious tone from Sony. Neither are particularly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and of course opinion is purely subjective, but fun is what playing video games is all about, right?
And I certainly didn’t accidentally break an Xbox One.
Following the big two, I made my way across to the Oculus Rift and gave it a try. I’ve always been a huge fan of virtual reality, even going back to the days of the Virtual Boy, so trying out this Kickstarter funded piece of hardware was something I couldn’t wait to do.
It didn’t disappoint. Equipped with an Xbox 360 controller, pair of headphones and the Oculus Rift, I base jumped from the top of a mountain down across the ocean. The sense of realism was fantastic, and I even felt slightly wobbly sat on my little stool. Moving my head in several directions, I would move my head in the game, with near 1:1 movement. I was truly taken aback, and I cannot wait for the Oculus Rift to become available for consumers. If it’s compatible with Xbox One, then even better.
I couldn’t leave the convention without trying out Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Both games handle like their predecessors, but for fans of the series, that is only a good thing. Interestingly, there was very little queue surrounding the Nintendo area (apart from Pokemon X and Y) so it wasn’t too much hassle checking out what the Big N had to offer. Nintendo like to play it safe, which is perhaps why things were a little slower for them this year. Here’s hoping they fight back in 2014, when they will probably release the… 1DS?
There was so much going on at Eurogamer, and combine with that a sell-out crowd, it was impossible to see sample everything on offer. There was no Destiny demo, however they did have a life-size model of one of the characters, who you had to queue to take a photograph of – staff were stopping people from taking a photo unless the queued. Why?
Call of Duty: Ghosts had the expected crowd, Elder Scrolls Online was pulling in a lot of interest and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag was also entertaining the masses. On the whole, it was a very exciting convention and has just raised my interest more in getting my hands on an Xbox One at release. Microsoft had a great presence at the convention, and those who managed to play the console were coming away very positive.
The future is very positive for Microsoft and the Xbox One.
Article by - Mike Jeavons
Insert Date: 9/30/2013
Check out our Xbox One forums and discuss games!