I recently had the opportunity to attend EGX 2019 – One of the biggest trade fairs for video games held in the UK. These events are cover an entire exhibition hall and allow attendees to try out unreleased games, recent releases, see cosplayers, watch panels, meet Twitch streamers and Youtube creators and much more.
This year it took place at the ExCeL in London. The past few years it had taken place in Birmingham at the NEC, but it had previously been in London. The location was not brilliant as it required making three journeys on the Tube and Docklands light railway, after arriving in London. It has to be said that it was worth the journey though and there are multiple hotels nearby, as well as links with London City Airport for those traveling from further afield.
The main attraction as always was the wide range of games to play. My personal favorite was the demo of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Unfortunately, photos and recordings weren’t allowed, but they did have a stand to take a photo with the Buster Sword nearby. The Final Fantasy VII Remake is shaping up very well. I did find there were some issues with graphics still, particularly regarding hair. The movement and combat worked brilliantly though. It’s possible to change character mid-battle and it works very smoothly. You can also order other characters to perform actions rather than doing it manually. Character movement seemed to feel unique between Cloud and Barret and I liked how some enemies required long-range attacks so it was better to have Barret take care of them with a gun, rather than using Cloud’s magic. The Guard Scorpion boss fight worked in segments where it did certain patterns and you had to react by attacking certain places or taking cover behind the environment. I noticed that elemental weaknesses remain a constant too, with electrical attacks being more effective.
I played a demo of the upcoming Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot too. While I expect I’d enjoy it for the chance to go through the story, the battle system did not feel too different from the previous Dragon Ball games to me. That said, I only got to play for a few minutes. It was visually impressive and played smoothly as the series often does. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t feel particularly new.
I visited Marvellous Games briefly and played Rune Factory 4 Special in their press area. I enjoyed that quite a bit, even if I did get beaten up by a butterfly-shaped monster. I’m told only 2 people beat her through the event. In the public area, they had Granblue Fantasy Versus on show, which I didn’t have a chance to play but the public reaction seemed very good.
PQube only had a small section this year, which was unfortunate as I often enjoy their games. I did get to watch some Cat Quest 2, but I decided to play at home as I already have it in my backlog. It is a cute looking game.
I did get the chance to play Unties’ upcoming VR piano game, Deemo Reborn. I found it worked very well in VR. I used to play the mobile game quite a lot, so I look forward to getting my hands on that one.
PlayStation had a large section as always. A new addition this year was a machine where you stood inside and trying to grab flying tickets. Anyone remember the Crystal Maze money grab? There were PlayStation specific talks on their own stage and other games, but aside from Final Fantasy VII, the PSVR section stood out the most to me.
It was full as always. They had eight games on offer, but I could only play Iron Man VR. It controlled incredibly well. I was surprised at how well it tracked too, particularly in the expo environment. It was recently delayed, but I think we will see a quality product at the end of it.
Nintendo had their own stage with people being brought up to play constantly and to win goodies. They had a number of their upcoming games too, such as Pokémon Sword and Shield. I decided against playing any of them as from experience the unreleased Nintendo games are always popular enough that you have to wait at least an hour if you don’t get there first thing in the morning, with early entry.
Events were hosted for the upcoming Cyberpunk and Death Stranding games too, but I did not get the chance to see them. I did not get to stay the entire four days and there was no way to try everything.
EGX hosted several panels in both the EGX theatre and EGX fringe theatre. These were run by people in the industry and some content creators and other related people. There were quite a few interesting topics – one which stood out to me being about strategy games involving people from Two Point Hospital and Evil Genius 2. I attended a few of them and it was interesting to see that some were put on by the community rather than the organizers.
As well as this, plenty of events were run inside of EGX. Gaming contests, cosplay shows and all sorts. The winner of the HP Omen Overwatch contest took home several thousand pounds and a new HP laptop, so some great prizes were up for grabs.
Outside of games themselves, there was a ton of equipment for sale and to try. Gaming chairs, racing rigs, computers and more. There was a lot of merchandise too, from masks to manga. If you decide to go, bring some spending money and you will find a ton of things that you will want to bring back.
Overall, I had a great time attending and recommend the event. I wish I had been able to take the entire four days in as I did previously, but we will see what happens in the future.
Nook has been gaming since the Amstrad and DOS. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.