This time last week, I was trying to figure out where on earth I was supposed to get my fancy lanyard with the pink bit at the bottom, to say that I was part of the gaming press and let me get behind closed doors for my various interviews, game presentations and hands on time.
Very quickly, I found myself feeling a little apathetic to what was being shown, and I’m not entirely sure why. Looking back to last Tuesday, when I was in attendance at EA and Sony’s press conferences, I came away from them both feeling generally quite happy with what they had shown.
However, both of them had generally reasserted their position; EA rolled out new demos and footage of FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, Titanfall and Plants vs. Zombies, whilst Sony went all out with reiterating their love for indie dvelopers and what they can bring to their platforms.
In fact it wasn’t that there weren’t any new games; Sony announced a ton of new smaller titles, from Shadow of the Beast and Resogun to Helldivers and Rime, yet stayed away from the games which they had already shown at E3 and before. They didn’t have a big surprise title from one of their core studios, and this left them a little trapped.
When it came to the behind closed doors presentations, there wasn’t quite enough juicy gossip and game demonstration to catch my imagination. There wasn’t that big new announcement which everyone really wants to get their hands on, but rather tidbits of new information in amongst what we already knew. DriveClub’s vision has been stated repeatedly, we know roughly what Knack is about, and The Order had only talk of Ready At Dawn’s – admittedly lovely – new game engine.
Many of the PlayStation’s new indie announcements were playable, but I sadly didn’t have time to see many of them for more than a few moments, and the developers were often unable to talk about them in depth.
Maybe that’s where my apathy stems from? Or, due to being TSA’s sole reporter in Cologne, it could be sourced from the fact that I didn’t have the time/appointments to see the games that amaze me? I missed out on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, and didn’t get to see Killzone: Shadow Fall either.
But there were a few games which really did capture my imagination. Wolfenstein: The New Order came out of nowhere and surprised me with its self-aware style of game design, whilst TitanFall really is as good as they say it is. Mad Max looks like it could evolve into a big winner, and The Division shows an incredible aptitude for comprehensive world creation from the guys at Ubisoft Massive.
The same could be said for Bungie’s Destiny, but this along with Mad Max and The Division, they are all just a bit too far off for the massed hands-on time which they would deserve. What they show was impressive, but I didn’t get to sit down and enjoy them, and had to take to the show floor to see what they had to offer with their presentations.
I have certainly found, as I write up all of the articles, that there were some excellent games on show. Yet, for every game which I really enjoyed seeing or playing, there was something on the opposite side, where – and I must stress, there was nothing I saw that was truly bad – they didn’t have a good example to show. Battlefield 4 struggled with not being able to truly demonstrate “Levolution” to its full potential; I also felt the same about Call of Duty: Ghosts and its dynamic multiplayer maps, though perhaps not as much.
That’s where the problem lies. These are all good games with high potential, but they were all in a very unfinished state. Some developers were able to work past this and show a great example of what they’re working on, but so many brought their game to Gamescom and I felt like I had to really search for the game’s potential and articulate it.
With the finalised console hardware soon to be in everyone’s hands (many games on show were still using PCs and target hardware) and more the matured/less hurried development able to come from that, fingers crossed that all the developers at next year’s Gamescom will blow my toe socks off.