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EB Games Expo 2013 – An Overview

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EB Games Expo 2013 was certainly a thing that happened. If you don’t know, EB Expo is perhaps the largest congregation of top of the line impending video games in Australia. Housed in Sydney from October 4th to 6th, OnlySP’s southern hemisphere correspondents Damien and I were lucky enough to turn up and soak in the atmosphere, and the inevitable morass that 38,000 people results in, all Saturday. Aside from the crowds, costumes, neighbouring One Direction concert, and innumerable lost children, there were, of course, games. And games are our business.

All games mentioned in bold will get a write up in the coming days, plus more.

Booths definitely splashed out this year. Sony had a second (rather rickety) story, where the PlayStation 4s were housed, quite literally, above all the old tech. On the precarious perch were games such as Knack and Killzone Shadowfall. Microsoft likewise had two stories, although their bottom floor had Xbox Ones and their top floor had Titanfall playable.

All images official EB Expo

All images supplied by official EB Expo

While we’re doing tit-for-tat, Sony had a branded racing car and a handful of racing cockpit setups to test out Gran Turismo 6. Microsoft, meanwhile, also had a branded racing car, but, instead of racing booths, they had a Titanfall titan. Because Titanfall.

The Warner Bros. booth went with a DC vibe, with a life size statue of Batman, and the new Superman costume. WB were plugging the upcoming Arkham Origins hardest of all, with a hefty showing for Dying Light backing up Bats.

EA had a number of games, most of which were outsourced to other booths. Most notable was Titanfall, but they also had FIFA and Need for Speed: Rivals smattered around the showroom floor. EA’s main base of operations was located at the tank. Yes, the tank. Seems like everybody at game conventions has to have a tank these days. Around said tank was the Battlefield 4 booth, clad all in black.

The final big black-boothed shooter was, of course, Call of Duty Ghosts. Needless to say, it was pretty much the most trafficked booth of all. Minimal show, minimal bluster, all business, Ghosts sat along the very back wall of the expo, like the handsome brooding guy at the night club, attracting all the damn attention away from the immature little kiddies on the dance floor.

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Ubisoft actually had a dance floor, with actual dancers, as is the norm for their Just Dance booth. Professional dancers mixed it with the great unwashed, taking a handful of eager volunteers on to the dance floor to shake their proverbial groove thangs. Also at the Ubi booth was Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, with a rather giant picture of Kenway in full regalia being painted live throughout the day. It looked pretty damn boss by about 5pm.

Nintendo had a relatively small showing this year, with a number of Wii U and 3DS games available to pick up and play. The main attraction was the small tourney stage Ninty had at its disposal, with Nintendo representatives MCing Pokemon battles, Mario Kart 9 races, and new Mario 3DS speed runs. One thing Nintendo knows how to do is create a family friendly community spirit, and it did that with aplomb.

Being EB Expo, a huge space was reserved for the titular store. Servicing the multitude of interested purchasers, the store took orders and preorders and sold merch and games. Unsurprisingly.

An area that saw a dramatic expansion this year was the community hub. Spread across a number of stages, the hub focused on community panels, discussions, and Q&A sessions. There was always something interesting going on and, while we didn’t really attend any sessions (well, Damien caught the InFamous Second Son dev Q&A), the crowds seemed completely engrossed.

Perhaps the cutest addition to this year’s Expo were the adorable balloon statues. Surrounding the kids’ activity area were some amazing game-related balloon sculptures. Made up of dozens and dozens of balloons twisted together, the statues were the coolest balloon animals I’ve ever seen. My favourite was the beautifully detailed Spyro, but the Sackboy was a close second.

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I am, no doubt, leaving many things out, such as the indie dev stalls, the League of Legends championships, various hardware company booths, and the fireworks display, but there was so much there and so little time and so many games to play. Over the next few days, Damien and I will be posting our impressions of those games we played and saw, and bring you the heads up for all the hottest (and not so hot) titles to keep an eye on, as well as our hands-on opinions of the PS4 and Xbox One.

Former Editor in Chief of OnlySP. A guy who writes things about stuff, apparently. Recovering linguist, blue pencil surgeon, and professional bishie sparkler. In between finding the latest news, reviewing PC games, and generally being a grumpy bossyboots, he likes to watch way too much Judge Judy. He perhaps has too much spare time on his hands. Based in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on twitter @lawksland.

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Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash

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Co-op gaming

Over the years, jolly co-op gaming has been in decline, especially from AAA developers. Several recent games have been standouts, such as A Way Out, Strange Brigade, and the Far Cry series, though the latest pioneers of co-op gaming will likely come from the indie community.

While exploring EGX Rezzed, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of mutual enjoyment as gamers came together to play a plethora of team-building games. Among these games were some of my personal highlights including We Were Here Together, Cake Bash, and Phogs!

We Were Here Together

We Were Here Together is the latest co-op adventure puzzle game by independent studio Total Mayhem Games.

The title continues on from two previously released projects, We Were Here and We Were Here Too, with the former available on Steam for free. Set amidst a frozen landscape, the first two games centred on exploring a mysterious castle while solving puzzles as part of a two-person team. Players were separated throughout the playthrough until the final moments, which featured a touching scene where the puzzling pals would eventually meet to conquer the remaining conundrums.

We Were Here Together immediately shakes things up by starting the game with both players working together in the same environment. The EGX demo starts off outside of the castle grounds in an expedition outpost where two explorers suddenly receive a distress call from somewhere in the frozen wastes. Players must work together to decipher an incoming transmission and correctly pinpoint the distress beacon.

The location itself is the answer to a series of puzzles, requiring both people to work together. A great example of teamwork is one player adjusting an outside satellite while the other stays inside to alter the radio’s frequency until a voice can be heard. This is where the creative ingenuity from the developers comes into play as solutions are different for each playthrough. The puzzles themselves remain the same, but, by using the same example as before, the voice may only be heard on a different frequency. Similar situations where the outcome changes include changing co-ordinates and figuring out which key may fit a particular door.

Roughly one-third of the game will be set in a shared environment while latter parts will take place back inside the castle in a traditional, separated format. Two paths are laid out later for the players to choose between, providing avenues for replayability. The changing solutions also add to the replay value as it prevents veteran gamers from going back and telling their new partner the answers.

The moments where players are physically apart highlight one of the unique features of the game: the radios. Both characters are equipped with walkie-talkies so players can communicate with each other. Radios are a brilliant immersion tool as the mechanic works exactly as a two-way radio should, with the wielder having to hold down a button to speak and release to hear the other. The radio mechanic is optional, though, as players can simply use a third-party chat. However, the added difficulty and roleplaying add an extra element to an already rather tricky title.

We Were Here Together is a fun shared experience that proves a challenge for even the most seasoned puzzle solvers. The release date and price of the project are unknown at present, but the game will be available on Steam.

Cake Bash

During EGX Rezzed 2019, the Coatsink team had a glorious display full of plush animals, colourful scenery, and even a rather large and comfortable dog bed.

I was lucky enough to go hands-on with Phogs! and play a few rounds of Cake Bash with PR and Events Manager Jack Sanderson. Both games proved to be a real treat to participants, with Cake Bash serving a much-needed helping of raucous fun in a series of mini-games.

Not unlike many beloved party games—such as Mario PartyCake Bash is an up-to-four-player competitive game featuring several rounds of friendship-ending challenges. The design of the title instantly stands out with an adorable and vivid visual style that brings a certain charm to the characters and settings.

Before each round, players choose a character from a selection of delicious desserts as their combatant. During the demo, only two game modes were available, the first of which required players to gather falling pieces of fruit and throw them inside a giant meringue. A single point is awarded for successfully tossing a piece of fruit into the bowl. However, a rare golden fruit, worth ten points, will appear every so often. Competitors must be wary of descending fiery boulders that can briefly daze any dessert. These boulders can also be picked up and lobbed at rivals. Not only can enemies launch these rocks at one another, but they can also punch and beat each other to force someone to drop their fruit.

The second mode available was a race to gather the most jellies to become the tastiest treat. Player avatars run around an arena, gathering multi-coloured jelly beans to cover their chosen dessert, and the sweet with the most treats at the end wins. While the first game mode mainly had the individual focusing on their own points, this round directly pits people against each other as limited jellies can be found, and players can steal them by whacking opponents.

While the game looks stunning, gamers will have to wait until 2020 to get their hands on Cake Bash. The late release has allowed for an increase in scope and additional modes for players to sink their teeth into.

Phogs!

The other title playable at the event was an equally adorable project called Phogs! The game can be played solo or with a friend, as the player controls one or both halves of a two-headed dog. The two heads can be moved independently and are able to stretch, bark, and bite.

Phogs! is set in a dream-like environment where the ground is made up of soft duvet sets and pillows, while the skies are filled with tranquil clouds gently floating in the distance. The level designs are built in a way that eases the player into the various mechanics, offering something new or demonstrating different ways to solve puzzles. Early enigmas would require both sides of the dog to work in unison to pull an object or levers simultaneously. Later levels would add a glowing orb that can be used to remove dark shadowy walls or illuminate pathways to walk across. Even the orbs are based around the idea of working as a team as one side of the dog bites onto the light ball with the other opening their mouth to act as a torch.

The charming personality of the game really shines in the various character designs and their functions within the levels. One of the final missions of the demo featured a sleeping giant that dreamed of bridges in floating thought bubbles. Players could then use the camera perspective to align the dream bridge with a section of a missing platform to cross. Other cutesy critters include wailing alarm clocks that can disturb the giants, preventing them from dreaming up a way to progress. The clocks can be led to nearby beds where they will quickly start to drift off and stop ringing.

Despite the levels being fairly linear, additional tasks can be completed to gain collectable dog biscuits. These tasks often require the dog to present characters with a particular item, for example, bringing a storybook to an owl.

The whole experience with Coatsink was a delight, both games offering a mix of controller-clenching competition and jolly cooperation. Like Cake Bash, Phogs! will also be arriving in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.


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