Thursday is the day where gamescom is usually the least busy out of all the days that are open to the general public. But it is still far from empty! That’s the reason why we completely skipped gamescom last year. There was also nothing there we had really wanted to see, so we only went to the Guild War 2 community party in the evening. This year, however, we wanted to see gamescom as well, even though again, there was nothing we really wanted to see. I don’t need the Guild Wars 2 demo, for example, when I can just play the beta weekend event on my home PC. Thankfully, they opened more halls this year which meant that the crowd got to spread out a bit more and I think the paths between the booths were also a bit wider. The only hall that was so crowded you could hardly move was the merchandise one. Very weird if you ask me!
It took us a bit longer than planned to arrive in Cologne (1,5 hours drive) as there had been quite some traffic on the roads. But we have also spent several hours in a traffic jam once a few years ago, so that was nothing in comparison. We decided to park our car in a parking garage close to the venue of the Wildstar Community Event in the evening, so we would not have to park our car in two different spaces (which would have cost more) and walked to gamescom from there. I really love that walk as it leads over a big bridge and you can see the Cologne Cathedral from there as well as overview a part of the Rhine.
Once inside the gamescom, our first stop was the computec media booth. As subscribers of one of their magazines, we got a little goodie bag there. Unfortunately, it was mostly stuff we will throw in the bin this time. Very ugly cheap green plastic sunglasses from “Just Dance 2014”, for example. A copy of “Sacred 2” and a magazine guide for Minecraft from last year (original cost: 10 €) are the only two useful things. Unfortunately, we don’t play Minecraft. But eh, it was free, so I won’t complain.
Directly next to the booth was the XMG booth where Rocketbeans were set up. This is something that non-German speakers probably don’t know. Or maybe you have seen the name before as they are quite popular on Twitch. They are German only, though. We watched them for a bit, but you could only see them and not hear them as they were inside a “glass cube” and streamed live on Twitch from in there. It felt a bit like a trip to the zoo and we were watching the animals inside their cage. ;)
We also watched a guy at the Cyberith Virtualizer booth for a bit. He had just gotten into what looked like a “baby walker”. It did look interesting in how his own movements got translated into this fantasy world we could see on the screen. He moved and turned around and what he could see through his Oculus Rift changed accordingly. What did not seem to work too well was the actual “walking” part. The guy walked and walked and walked, but the image on the screen showed veeeery slow movement, if the “character” moved at all. I feel it needs to be polished still, but the general idea is really nice and it did look impressive nonetheless!
So, I actually tried a game. Well, “tried”. The thing is – and the reason why I don’t care much about long queues personally anyway – that I want to *know* what I’m doing and I need time to read the tooltips and to get into the game. I want to do that in my own time without knowing that lots of people are waiting for their turn right behind me. Since this is not possible at gamescom anyway, I tend not to play anything and just watch others playing. But there was one booth where several gaming stations were empty. Unfortunately, all stations are prepared for right-handers with the mouse on the right side and I cannot play like that. Some even have asymmetrical gaming mice making it even harder for me, even if I get to put the mouse on the left side. On that note: Thank you, NCsoft, for having symmetrical mice at the community party, so I could just put the mouse on the left side of the keyboard and play! But this is also my personal problem with being unable to handle a mouse with my right hand and an aching wrist and so on. Still, it’s not much fun, right?
Anyway, the games in question were Van Helsing: Final Cut and Warhammer 40.000. We only looked at the screens, but what drew me in was that it looked like a Diablo-clone. And I mean that in the most positive sense! We actually thought it was Warhammer 40k on that side of the booth, but it turned out to be Van Helsing. Either way, I wanted to give it a try! I really like this genre and if it hadn’t had that resemblance, I may not even have looked at it. But I did, I picked up the mouse and killed a few mobs. That was more than enough for me to determine: Yes, I’m interested! I want to know more! Unfortunately, there was nothing. No flyers or anything as far as I could see. But at least, they had the names of the game everywhere, so I can use my google skills. :p
“Warhammer 40.000: Inquisitor – Martyr” – sounds a bit weird if you ask me, but there you go. IGN also posted a gameplay video a few hours ago. If you’re interested, have a look!
And then “Van Helsing: Final Cut“.
I remember at a former gamescom we had stood in line to see what was inside the XCOM booth before its expansion “Enemy Within” launched. After waiting for quite some time, we were led into a dark room with bean bag chairs – very comfortable, but too dangerous to put them there at gamescom where you’re at your feet all day long… we didn’t want to leave anymore afterwards! On a sidenote: We just decided to buy a bean bag chair for our living-room. :p But back to “Enemy Within”: We were shown a video of the game, including the silly “I hold a controller in my hand and act like what you’re seeing is live right now and not staged at all”. And now, on to XCOM2 and back to gamescom 2015: The line had been relatively short. I think we waited for about 20 minutes or so until we were let in. It was a bit of a disappointment to see they had benches in there which were, of course, much less comfortable. On the flip side, they could fit in a lot more people at once which led to shorter queues. Once again, we were not allowed to take pictures or film the video. Of course we weren’t, because IGN has a report and the video uploaded now. If you want to see what we have seen, click the video below. Unfortunately, this has the guys from IGN talk all the time while we actually got to hear the in-game sound, voice-overs and all that together with some explanations on what we were seeing.
Of course, we also stopped by the Guild Wars 2 Twitch booth. In fact, we went there twice. This was when we first got to talk to Gaile Gray, who is the Forum Communications Team Lead for Guild Wars 2. We did not play the demo, as we both rather play the beta here at home. But it was still nice to watch others play for a bit and watch the ArenaNet team interact with the players.
At some point, we made the mistake of checking out the merchandise hall. It was horribly crowded in there. Yes, crowded-crowded! Narrow paths, booths with lots of people around them wanting to buy stuff and of course, everybody who walked along there watched what was available at the booths, so everybody walked slowly. It felt like ages to get through. And we went there twice, because we had been looking for something, but then ended up not buying anything after all. Close to that area was the food hall which we used to have lunch. The downside of the day tickets at gamescom is that you cannot leave the venue. If you do, you cannot get back inside. So you either need to bring your own food (not really a smart idea if you’re carrying your food in warm halls all day long) or buy what they’ve got there. Healthy food? Ha, you wish! We opted for the wannabe-Asian food of baked noodles with vegetables and soy sauce. A classic where you can’t go wrong, I guess. As usual for gamescom, there was a queue. Thankfully, there were two dishes on the menu: Baked noodles with vegetables and soy sauce – and baked noodles with vegetables, chicken and soy sauce. So we did not have to wait very long as they handed out the food in record speed. It was actually quite good! I would have assumed the noodles would be bathing in oil, but that was not the case. Of course, it was still super expensive, but at least, it was tasty.
We also later had crêpes (I chose the kind with applesauce, sugar and cinnamon while bookahnerk had the traditional “Nutella” ^^) and really bad coffee. Ever since I’ve stopped drinking my coffee with milk (oddly enough, I get sick when I drink coffee with milk, but milk on its own is no problem) and sugar (if I have coffee with sugar now, I have two distinctive tastes – coffee AND sugar, but not sugared coffee), I have come to realize how many bad coffees you are actually served. And that one belonged to the very bad category. It goes without saying that I still drank it all.
But back to the games part of gamescom. Overwatch. Bookahnerk would have loved to try it, but the queues were ridiculously long, even past 6 pm (gamescom closed at 8 pm that day). The convention has just become too popular and while tickets were sold out, they started letting people in past 2 pm as soon as enough other visitors had left the venue. However, we did get to see the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion “Legion”. I knew it would get crowded, but I was still surprised to see how many people had gathered there. Unfortunately, it also got very hot then. In general, the AC kept the temperature in the halls at a very nice level and it was very comfortable to walk around the booths (except for the merchandise hall and the hour around the expansion announcement). The announcement was one of the highlights for me. They started by showing off the trailer for the original vanilla World of Warcraft, then the expansions’ trailers in the appropriate order. So much nostalgia and lots of cheering and applauding from the crowd! And then, yes, I admit, I had some goosebumps when they showed the newest trailer and I saw Illidan. I immediately recognized the shape of him, although that’s not too difficult considering we have an Illidan figure in our glass cabinet in the hallway. We left after the trailer, because we had seen enough and needed to walk over to the Wildstar Community Event. But it looks like it will be a solid expansion. It will not bring me back, though. As long as World of Warcraft remains a sub-based game, it just wouldn’t make much sense. I just play too many MMOs as it is (with Wildstar currently being the exception because it will go free to play this fall).
One last anecdote before we end this blog post: Back in vanilla World of Warcraft, bookahnerk had one character slot reserved with a night elf hunter, waiting for Blizzard to release the “hero classes” as he wanted to make that night elf hunter into a demon hunter. As he said during the announcement: It only took them 11 years. – Better late than never, right? :)
This post is part of Blaugust 2015.