Events Feature

EGX 2023 – Playing Upcoming Games In London

EGX is perhaps the biggest gaming expo in the UK. It takes place in London and is a great opportunity to play all sorts of current and upcoming games, learn more about the game industry, and more. ReedPop were kind enough to invite NookGaming to attend EGX 2023 as press.

Is EGX Back?

COVID was understandably rather challenging for in-person events. We attended EGX 2021 and several other gaming events that were certainly fun, but perhaps a little underwhelming in comparison to previous events. There was a lack of publisher support and no notable upcoming titles on display.

EGX 2023 is certainly starting to show a huge recovery though. There were plenty of upcoming big titles. Notably, Nintendo had a playable demo of Super Mario Bros. Wonder and SEGA had Persona 3 Reload, Persona 5 Tactica, Sonic Superstars, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. Call of Duty Modern Warfare III and Ubisoft’s upcoming Prince of Persia title were also featured.

Perhaps it isn’t back to EGX 2019 levels which had a lot more publishers, and gimmicks like Playstation with their ‘Crystal Maze’ ticket grab machine, but there’s certainly a lot to do and far more publisher support than in recent years.

EGX 2023 - Persona 3 Reload Line

Upcoming Titles Impressions

Of the big publisher titles, I managed to play Persona 3 Reload, Persona 5 Tactica, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Most of the big-name titles had huge queues as is normal for these events, and I was only there for one day. The ExCeL London where it’s held doesn’t always have a great internet signal, so I’d bring a book for the line or a friend to talk to if you want to try them all.

Persona 3 Reload had two demos to choose from; wandering a dungeon and some story with a boss at the end. I chose the dungeon. It certainly did feel like Persona 5, from the systems to the way the music fits into battles (which sounded a lot better than the versions I’ve heard online so far somehow). That said, the Persona 3 identity remained strong with the colors and theming. It still integrates mechanics from the original Persona 3 such as floors resetting on escape, places dotted around to return to the entrance, and so on. The dungeon entrance looked extremely similar too. My feeling is that they’re not moving too far away from the original outside of the updated mechanics, despite it being a remake, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Despite only playing a very brief 15-minute demo wandering a dungeon and fighting some enemies, I’m certainly feeling confident about the quality. As an EGX bonus, they also gave away posters and pin badges. Sadly, I missed out on the Fuuka badge, but Mitsuru is good too.

EGX 2023 - Overview from High Angle

Persona 5 Tactica was the only SEGA/Atlus game without much of a line. I suppose tactical RPGs don’t attract everyone, but it’s a pity. Impressions were certainly good here too. It’s just the little things that helped, like being able to move freely within range to see what works best before choosing a space and committing, how each character seems to have a unique skill that can be used very effectively with some thought, and having real benefits to knocking enemies down and surrounding them. The EGX bonus here was a Morgana pin badge.

I also really wanted to play Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth after enjoying Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Sadly, I didn’t have time as it seems everyone else had the same idea.

I was extremely lucky to be early and get at the head of the queue for Super Mario Bros. Wonder, as Nintendo always has extremely long waiting times at these events. This was quite a rushed demo, but I came away feeling like it might even match up to my favorite 2D Mario, Super Mario World. The new wonder flower mechanic made things incredibly hectic, it felt like there were plenty of hidden bits and pieces, the badges and challenges to unlock them seemed fun, and the mechanics felt great generally.

While not perhaps as big a name, I was certainly also excited to play PQube’s demo of the upcoming Konosuba! God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World! Love For These Clothes Of Desire. It was the first time PQube was showing it publicly too I’m told. I got to play this one more in-depth and felt it deserved its own post about my impressions and information about the game.

EGX 2023 - Indie Area

Plenty More Games

While those were some of the headliners, EGX 2023 was full of games to play, and most of them without much of a wait. To try out everything I was interested in, I would’ve had to stay a few full days.

The indie zone was quite sizable, ranging from indie publishers like Wired Productions or smaller titles like Little Goody Two Shoes published under big names like Square-Enix to games made by a single developer. There were small visual novels, casual puzzlers, huge sci-fi simulators, action platformers, and far more. If you like indie games, EGX is definitely a great place to try a good variety, often with the chance to speak to the people behind them directly.

VR had a good presence. Thanks to Tin Hearts new upcoming VR update, I got to try out the PSVR 2 for the first time. It was a fun experience too as a nice, relaxing, toy-room-themed puzzle where I had to physically move objects to move a line of tin soldiers onto the right path. There were a few minor elements I felt could have been improved, like introducing certain mechanics more clearly, but it’s coming out in the holiday season and they did say they’re still working on the game. It’s the whole 20+ hour game in VR too, making it one of the meatier VR titles on release.

Pico VR had a booth too. I looked at the Pico 4 ALL-in-One VR Headset before and was quite impressed, so it’s nice to see them being introduced to a wider crowd while Meta is also promoting the Meta Quest 3 elsewhere.

More to Play

Enjoy multiplayer titles? EGX 2023 had a LAN zone with all the popular titles and several others. There was also a tabletop zone for board games, though this wasn’t too active when I looked in.

There was a fairly sizable retro zone too, though it always hurts me when I see things like Xbox One listed as retro. Luckily, they did have plenty more in the way of arcade games such as Ghost and Goblins and Gauntlet II, and some rarities like a Virtual Boy with the older consoles.

One thing that stood out was Specsaver’s stand. They had a version of Sonic Superstars to play with changes to simulate reduced vision and hearing. They made it into a competition which seemed like a fun idea. Sadly, I haven’t yet recovered from the shame of my quarter-final knockout of the tournament at Weston Super Sonic and didn’t enter. That and I had to rush off to attend another event.

On Stage

EGX isn’t just about playing games, upcoming and not, though. Between the EGX Theatre and the Rezzed Sessions, there are quite a few talks about topics relating to gaming.

These do vary quite a lot. Some are more aimed at the general gamer such as a retrospective on Fable 2 with creator Peter Molyneux and a Q&A on the recently released Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Cosplay makes an appearance too, with an open catwalk for attendees to show off their costumes. That said, a lot of them were a little more specific, such as a talk on World Building Through Music and Narrative.

Quite a lot seemed to be directly aimed at people in or entering the game industry too. I imagine it’s incredibly useful, but a session on Claiming UK Video Game Tax Relief does seem to be of quite niche appeal. As well as the talks, there were game industry employers there too for aspiring applicants to talk to, and people doing portfolio reviews to help.

While the talks did seem quite heavy on the game-industry focus at times, some will be of wider interest. I couldn’t attend myself sadly, but the panel on Early Stage Games Marketing and the multiple talks on starting in the game industry did sound interesting.

EGX is certainly a great place to be able to hear from various people in the industry and others with something interesting to say. Admittedly, I might be a little biased here; I was on one of the panels a few years back.

EGX 2023 - Pokemon Merch

Spend That Money

As always with these types of conventions, there were plenty of stores set up happy to take your money. This was nothing too unusual. I found game merchandise and anime items mostly. Cosplay items, custom controllers, and all sorts of things can be found here.

There was also the occasional only slightly related booth, like Clix Therapy which sells heating pads for sore muscles. Great for gamers who sit at a PC all day in theory, but I have a few and found them overpriced, even at the special con price, and ineffective.

Final Thoughts

EGX 2023 was a great event. It’s still not at pre-COVID levels of greatness, but it’s getting closer and closer. There were upcoming games I was excited to play, things I couldn’t find elsewhere, and enough interesting things to do to fill several days.

Many thanks go to ReedPop for providing a press pass for this event.

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