I am currently on the train back from having a day out at the 2012 Eurogamer Expo in Earl's Court. The event seems to have become the big UK gaming convention and I have enjoyed going every year since its inception. Each time it is a good look around at the current state of the games industry and get a good glimpse at the games that are coming out soon.
All of the usual suspects were out in force and there is plenty out there already on most of these games. Here I will just give a bit of my own thoughts on what I saw and found interesting.
First up, Company of Heroes 2 is looking good. From what I played they have done little to mess with the game, except bring everything up to modern standards. If you enjoyed the original game, you will feel right at home here. The graphics have been spruced up to bring the game into the modern age, but all the classic components of CoH are still here; cover, suppression, emplacements, squads etc... However I hope Relic have something more up there sleeve, as there was little here that wasn't in the previous game.
Introversion's Prison Architect was also playable on the show floor and this game looks like a lot of fun. I haven't been hugely keen on Introversion's output since Darwinia, but this seems to be a very interesting new directory for the small indie developer. I was not convinced by the art style from the screenshots I had seen of the game, but in motion it looks a lot better. The game gives a very Theme Hospital (and a bit of Evil Genius) vibe, where the player has a lot of control over room placement and interior furniture placement. The game also seems to feature a lot more of a story component than I was expecting. The demo shown features the back story of an inmate as he is taken from his cell to be executed in the electric chair that you set up during the demo.
The creator of DayZ, Dean Hall, gave a very interesting talk about the future of DayZ, especially focusing on the standalone version that is coming before the end of the year. After a day of seeing mostly faceless video games, it was good to see a passionate developer be able to give a good insight into the game. I am still yet to play DayZ, but this talk made me super psyched to get in on the standalone version when it comes out later this year. It sounds like the key focuses for this initial release of the standalone game, are performance optimizations and to combat hacking which is a major problem in DayZ. After the release, depending on how well the game does, more developments will come in the form of new features and improvements. This will include the introduction of diseases that players can catch, and which can then also be spread by other players. This is due to the game's constant focus of "player vs the environment". Dean mentioned that he has no intention to mess with the PvP mechanics of the game, but instead wants to encourage players to work together by making the environment the greatest antagonist.
Grid 2 was also playable on the show floor and Codemasters seem to have developed the great feeling physics of the original game further. The driving feels great, still feels not too arcadey, but also not too punishingly realistic either.
Crysis 3 seems to have some interesting multiplayer modes available. On the show floor, they were showing a "Hunted" mode, where two players start as hunters. These hunters are permanently cloaked and are armed with a bow. The game players like tag, when a hunter takes out one of the other team, they also become hunted. The other team gain points by surviving as long as possible, as well as for killing the hunters. The mode proved to be a lot of fun. I gave Crysis 2 a miss, but I am tempted to give Crysis 3 a shot when it comes out next year.
Finally, the last developer session I saw was Hitman: Absolution, where the guys at IO were showing off the new Contracts mode. This mode allows players to create user generated missions out of the existing single player levels. They termed the system "play and create," whereby the player walks around the work and picks targets to assassinate. Once they perform these assassinations and exit the level, they can create a contract for those targets and other players can then try this mission. The terms of the contract depend on how the original creator performed the mission; if they were a silent assassin and only took out the required targets with nobody noticing, then this is how everyone else needs to try and complete the contract. This also extends to disguises, which allows players to make a contract which involves having to assassinate targets while wearing a chicken suit, which could be fun!
Overall there was a lot to see this year, but there was also a lot of queues... This was the first year that I felt that trying to see everything worth seeing in one day would be impossible. I did not have chance to try out the Wii U that was on show, or Dishonored, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Halo 4 just to name a few. Still, good show all!