Journey to GamesCom, Part II

This blog post covers the second day of the journey of my brother Kenny and I to GamesCom. You can read part one here.

Ah, GamesCom 2017. The even so nice, we decided to visit it twice. We had tickets for both Thursday and Friday. After doing the rounds on Thursday we were ready to drop some precision strikes on our unexpecting enemies – the booths of the attendants.

Strange Brigade

Our first stop was at the Strange Brigade booth. This was partially a tactical decision. I’m sorry, Rebellion, but we were partially motivated by the short waiting line. However, the interesting looking booth also played a role. And the fact that we’d seen the E3 trailer at the Microsoft conference.

We got to test the Single Player, which pleased Kenny. He’s not much of a multiplayer person, as in “He hates playing against other people.”

Strange Brigade is a third-person shooter slash action game, set in the ’30s. The Strange Brigade is a group of four dashing British competitors of Indiana Jones with a better fashion sense, fancier accents and the ability and willingless to use real weapons. They are sent out to “investigate” mysterious happenings across the British Empire. In the episode we got to play, we were sent to Egypt where we were confronted with Egyp’s finest: mummies, angry gigantic statues coming to life, a lot of sand and dudes in cool Egyptian hats who were really angry.

The episode gave us an idea of what to expect: a fun, exciting action game that we’ll certainly be following up closer. The setting, gameplay and graphics all looked fine. The only “downside” was that neither Kenny or I had an idea what to do with the X prompt. As it turned out, we both tried to instinctively push the “X” button on our Xbox Controller. Which is a problem when you are using a PS4 controller.

Certainly a game to watch, especially with four-player co-op. Seems like an interesting adventure title!

Xbox One X Experience

Next stop; The Xbox booth! We lined up for the Xbox One X Experience. Apparently, you needed to get a “ticket” for a time slot. We missed that announcement completely. Didn’t see a sign about it whatsoever, but we were saved by two kind strangers. They asked if we had a ticket, we said “Uh… no” and we were handed one. Thanks, kind stranger!

After waiting for a while (and seeing the E3 press conference play on the screens that we’ve already seen before) we were taken to a small theatre. In there, we were treated to an eargasm as Microsoft used Dolby Atmos to blow our mind during a short movie about the Xbox One X. It was the same trailer we’d seen before. Or so says Kenny, who has an actual memory for those things. But it didn’t matter because the presentation was so mind blowing that we said to each other that we wouldn’t mind sitting there for half an hour. Just watching trailers.

We thought that was it, but we were wrong. We were taken to another room where we could try out the Xbox One X himself! We tried some World Of Tanks and got to play the brand new War Stories mode which might get me to install the game. I mean, who says no to free single player games? Not me.

While I can’t compare with World Of Tanks on the “Old Xbox One” the graphics looked crisp and smooth. And we finally got to use a controller we were familiar with.

But wait, there’s more! Because in the next room we were given a goodie bag, which included a Project Scorpio poster, Xbox One X Sunglasses (for enhanced solar rays), a Design Lab pin (Yay, pins!), some batteries and a month of GamePass – we’d rack up three months of free GamePass over the course of GamesCom. We also scored a set of Halo Megablox and Kenny got a pair of slippers. Unfortunately, they ran out of my size. But that’s okay. Real men dress up to play Xbox anyway.

Okay, that’s not true. I was just excited to get the rest of the stuff and I don’t wear slippers anyway.

Nerd Shirts

After testing Strange Brigade and the Xbox One X experience we fought our way to Hall 10, where we plundered the merchandise booths. We both brought home a few cool shirts from the guys at Game Legends (Feel free to sponsor me next time, so, y’know, I can buy more shirts!) that’ll be getting some airtime soon.

There is a lot of merchandise to choose from at GamesCom. In fact, the entire hall dwarfs that of ComicCon Brussels. Which, let’s be honest, was just a bunch of booths where you can buy gaming stuff. Except the offering at GamesCom is far bigger and far more interesting. If you are into gaming “culture” and Anime. And if you are not into gaming culture, then GamesCom might’ve been the wrong place for you to be at anyway!

After getting our gear, we went for a snack. We saw someone cosplayed as Cinderella order “pommes”. Ariel was also wandering around there somewhere. And there was someone with an… Onyx costume, where he sort of tried to strangle her like an Anaconda? Some people are into weird shit.

Virtual Reality Fruit Ninja

Kenny has been dieing to try VR since two GamesCom’s ago and we decided that Friday would be the day. We had spotted a booth with a short wait. Over at Lenovo’s Legion booth, he got to try the VR version of Fruit Ninja’s. He can now officially say he’s played every version of the game in existence.

He described it as a cool, interesting experience which was pretty immersive. I have a video recording of him waving his arms around in an attempt to slice fruit. Since he always drives to GamesCom I will not be posting that video. I don’t want to end up in the trunk next year.

Sea Of Thieves

Around 2PM we started queuing for Sea Of Thieves. We considered trying the game last year, but this would be the year. The line was suspiciously slow to move, however. We joked that this would be a four hour queue and in the end it actually took us four hours.

But that’s all part of the GamesCom game. You need to dedicate yourself to wait for a few hours for at least one title. Why else are you going to GamesCom? We entertained ourselves like old school gamers do, playing Tetris on the original Gameboy and the likes.

After a long wait, it was our turn. We got to play a mission under guidance of a Rare employee. She apologised for her poor English after she tried to help both us and a German guy. There was really no need to apologise, though. Other than not knowing the word “bucket” her English was actually really good. I almost felt bad for not being more responsive. But that’s just me! I hate speaking using words!

The first thing I noticed is that while there was a keyboard and mouse, you could also use the controller. They both responded immediately, which is cool!

We got to play a mission, so we teamed up and fared our ship to an Island where we fought a ship and searched for treasure which we returned. It was pretty entertaining and gave us a really good glimpse of the game. We’d timed the demo. No wonder this was one of the longer lines, because you were allowed to play for half an hour which is pretty amazing.

Playing Sea Of Thieves was certainly a great experience. Both the game and the booth looked amazing. And we didn’t leave with empty hands. While waiting we already got a Pirate Fan – or, as I liked to call it a fan for pirate fans -, a eye patch and a tattoo sleeve. I immediately abused this tattoo sleeve to give my dear mother a heart attack by Whatsapping that both me and my brother got a tattoo sleeve at GamesCom. It was technically true, which is the best kind of true!

After playing the game we also got a Sea Of Thieves themed USB Stick. I’m ashamed to admit that I still have to look whether my or Kenny’s copy contains the footage of the gameplay. Doesn’t matter, have kickass USB stick!

Forza 7

We ended the day on a fast note, by stopping over at Forza 7. It was already late and a lot of people had left already. But true veterans use that opportunity to snipe one last game. The line was really short, so we quickly got to try Forza 7. It feels like every other Forza game (sorry, Turn 10) but it looked amazing!

Oh, and kudos for the lady in the race jacket. That is one amazing looking Turn 10 / Forza 7 jacket; For a minute I thought she was cosplaying a race driver and playing the game. Nope. Staff in an awesome jacket and distributor of cool pins.

After Forza 7 we were tired and raced home. While on the way back, and trying to recover we already discussed next years’ GamesCom. Are we going again? That’s not even a question. The real question is “How many games are we going, and how amazing is it going to be next time.” Very. The answer is very.

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