For most UK gamers, EGX is the first opportunity to sample the industry’s biggest upcoming releases long before they hit shelves and this year – in the exhibition’s last showing at London’s Earl’s Court - was no different.
With last year’s event’s main attraction of having the sparkly next-gen hardware before anyone else now a distant memory, EGX 2014 was the perfect place for publishers and developers to flaunt their creative wares to an eager fanbase just in time for any prospective console owners yet to decide what shaped box might sit under their TV come Christmas.
With both Microsoft and Sony suffering from disappointing high profile releases since the launch of their next-gen machines, the grace period appears to finally be over with gamers expecting a higher level of quality behind those disarming sparkly graphical veneers. The Xbox One had a notably varied selection of exclusive games on the show floor with the episodic oddity D4 turning many heads, Forza Horizon 2 marking itself as the current zenith of open-world racing games and Insomniac Games’ hyperactive third-person shooter Sunset Overdrive all promising a strong close to 2014 for Microsoft’s big black box.
Sony conversely opted for a reliance on quality third party support with a particular focus on the recent survival horror revival as The Evil Within and Alien: Isolation sat comfortably alongside Naughty Dog’s remastering of the magisterial The Last of Us. For those looking to throw hands with an accompanying friend WWE 2K15 and Mortal Kombat X also proved a hit inside Sony’s inflatable tents with the latter in particular appearing to perfect the art of a brutally executed fatality.
It was Nintendo however that seemed most keen to steal the show at EGX 2014 with an intimidating amount of high quality offerings. While Super Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2 and anything involving a certain mustachioed plumber attracted the largest crowds, it was Nintendo’s newest IP, the riotous paint-em-up shooter Splatoon, that demonstrated most strongly that the Wii U is currently a prime hub for irreverent innovation.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the major console platforms the indies were also out to play with the PC and mobile market keen to out-think and out-charm its significantly more well-funded peers. Among the standouts were Volume, a quirky isometric stealth game from Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell, Lumino City, a point-and-click adventure with a unique textured aesthetic created by filming hand-crafted miniature models and Virginia, a Twin Peaks-esque interactive story that managed to contextualize its mysterious narrative despite the silence of its characters.
After spending two busy days at EGX 2014 and having some time to let the dust in my mind settle, there was one game, however, that took the crown of the best in show and two that came very close to the top spot:
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Dragon Age: Inquisition
A co-operative, traditionally single player fantasy RPG with up to four players battling out against legions of enemies? No, I’m not talking about Fable: Legends, which had an enjoyable but relatively unremarkable showing at EGX 2014, instead I’m referring to Dragon Age: Inquistion’s guided playthrough of its own attempt at a multiplayer horde mode.
With the game in its final stages of development at Bioware’s Edmonton offices ready for a November release that should hopefully bring with it a single player adventure eager to improve upon the mixed reception of its predecessor, the queue for Inquisition was immense. Some were prepared to wait for up to three hours to join the march against the darkspawn. Those that did tackle the arduous wait were treated to a slice of its impressively balanced, strategic, class-based co-op campaign that will be separate from the main single-player mode on release. I’m already looking forward to spending more time in Thedas as my pre-determined Dalish elf character The Keeper, a Dalish Emissary of the Ralaferin clan.
If you’d asked me before the show which game I would renounce all other upcoming releases for, my answer would have been the same as after I got a painfully brief foray into its Victorian-inspired world of steam, stone and player attrition.
Developed by From Software and heralding the return of Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki to the director’s chair, Bloodborne’s demo boasted the same sublime design ethos of the Souls series with a tweaked combat system that chooses to balance agility and furious offense with a cleaver and a blunderbuss in hand.
With swarms of infected beasts littering the cobbled streets of the game’s ruined city of Yharnam, Bloodborne is instantly recognizable in tone and design to fans of the Souls games. Yet, with enough gameplay innovation to stand apart from its already classic spiritual predecessors, Bloodborne is the biggest threat to Destiny to take the crown of this generation’s standout new IP, making it potentially the holy grail of the PlayStation 4’s gaming library and leaving it far and away as the best game of EGX 2014.
30 games released before Christmas
30 games released before Christmas
The $500 million ‘shared-world shooter’ from Bungie has arrived. Release date: 9th September 2014
2/30 Hyrule Warriors
The first of a few big upcoming releases for the Wii U, Hyrule Warriors will see Link hack-and-slashing in Hyrule. Expect a closer likening to Dynasty Warriors rather than a typical Zelda game. Release date: 19th September 2014
3/30 The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The open world adventure which follows a detective with paranormal powers used to solve crimes promises suspense, mystery - and gorgeous graphics. Release date: 25th September 2014
4/30 FIFA 15
The best-selling sports video game franchise in the world is set to return with Lionel Messi as the cover star, all 20 Premier League stadiums and scarily lifelike players. Release date: 26th September 2014
5/30 Forza Horizon 2
Exclusive to Xbox One and 360, racing fans will get to see the roads of southern Europe – with three times more driveable areas than the 2012 original. Release date: 3rd October 2014
6/30 Super Smash Bros
Coming first to the 3DS, players will be able to smash the shell out of Nintendo characters such as Yoshi, Link, Fox, Mario, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Pikachu, Fox, Peach and Donkey Kong. Release date: 3rd October 2014
7/30 Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments
The UK’s favourite detective takes a Dostoyevsky turn, as he must make moral choices when he finds the culprits. Release date: 3rd October 2014
8/30 Alien: Isolation
There’s no doubt about it, this looks really scary. Set in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years prior to Aliens, the game follows Amanda, who is investigating the disappearance of her mother Ellen Ripley. Release date: 7th October 2014
9/30 Project Spark
For creative minds, Xbox's Project Spark offers players a blank canvas to draw on content to make events, games and music. Release date: 7th October 2014
10/30 NBA 2K15
2K Sports aim to make their new basketball release more authentic than ever. With Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder as the cover star, Crew mode will be coming back, and MY League introduced. Release date: 7th October 2014
11/30 NBA Live 15
Up against NBA 2K15 on the same day is this basketball title from EA Sports, who scanned 70% of NBA players for added realism. Release date: 7th October 2014
Exclusive to PS4, this racing release will see top speeds and atmospheric conditions - plus PlayStation Plus subscribers will get a free version. Release date: 10th October 2014
13/30 Skylanders Trap Team
The third release from the ridiculously popular-with-kids franchise will include traps where players can catch the bad guys and play as them. Release date: 10th October 2014
14/30 The Evil Within
In our preview, it’s been described as ‘a survival horror fan’s best worst nightmare’. Release date: 17th October 2014
15/30 Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!
The third game in the Borderlands series, and a prequel to the 2012 game Borderlands 2, and will see new weapons such as anti-gravity, freeze, and oxygen tanks. Release date: 17th October 2014
16/30 F1 2014
Based on the 2014 Formula One season, this racing game from Codemasters will feature the new Sochi Autodrom. Release date: 17th October 2014
17/30 Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
The other popular toys to life series will see superheroes join the team, including Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man. Release date: 18th October 2014
18/30 Fantasia: Music Evolved
Based on the music from Walt Disney's 1940 animated film, your body will control the rhythm and sounds. Release date: 21st October 2014
19/30 Bayonetta 2
The sequel to Nintendo's 2009 game sees Bayonetta battling the bad guys with smart combat and sharp graphics. Release date: 24th October 2014
20/30 Sunset Overdrive
The colourful comic style offering exclusive to Xbox One combines the feel of Sum 41/Tony Hawk with a random mix of mutants and energy drinks. Release date: 31st October, 2014
21/30 WWE 2K15
Sting, Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin will appear in the next wrestling saga, which will next have story mode My Career. Release date: 31st October, 2014
22/30 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
The 11 year-old military first person shooter series is about to become more futuristic, with characters that look more realistic than ever - plus, Kevin Spacey stars as the bad guy. The downloadable content for will be released first on Xbox Live. Release date: 4th November 2014
23/30 World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
The fifth expansion to MMORPG World of Warcraft will will raise the existing level cap from 90 to 100 and will introduce player-built, upgradeable garrisons - plus a tribute character to Robin Williams. Release date: 13th November 2014
24/30 Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Consisting of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4, this is obviously one for Halo super fans. Players will also get access to Halo 5: Guardians beta. Release date: 14th November 2014
25/30 Assassin's Creed: Unity
Set in Paris during the French Revolution, for the first time, four players can take on missions in multiplayer co-op, and there's also a new stealth option, which contrasts well with the fluid movement of the deadly Assassin. Release date: 15th November 2014
26/30 Far Cry 4
Set in a region of the Himalayas, you get to ride on an elephant with weapons, and invite friends to join you to play via PlayStation Plus, even if they don't own the game. Release date: 18th November 2014
27/30 Little Big Planet 3
Sackboy's got some new friends this time round in PlayStation's puzzle platformer, each with different skills opening up a range of different, and cute, challenges. Release date: 19th November 2014
28/30 Dragon Age: Inquisition
Bioware's RPG sequel to Dragon Age 2 will let players explore more than ever before - and there are several different major endings depending on your decisions in the game. Release date: 21st November 2014
29/30 Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal
The latest outing for everyone's favourite hedgehog sees the first released on the Wii U, and the second for the 3DS. The two games form the final part in Sega's partnership with Nintendo, following Sonic Lost World and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Release date: 21st November 2014
30/30 Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
The 3DS remakes of the 2002 Game Boy Advance titles Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire will be a must-have for Pokefans. Release date: 28th November 2014