EGX Rezzed 2019: A First-Hand Account (Reggie Reviews)

The Wind-up and the Pitch

As I strolled through London’s Tobacco Dock, ingesting the numerous sights and sounds, I was struck with a sense of awe only an event on the same calibre as EGX Rezzed can produce. Upon finally breaking free of the queue, I eagerly anticipated all that lay ahead of me.

Come 10:30, I feasted my eyes on Giga Wrecker Alt. A console re-release of Game Freak’s Cyberpunk-inspired action game which takes its colossally destructive physics engine and runs with it.

A mere hour later, it was time for me to take my seat among passionate, and aspiring games journalists and heed the wondrous words of wisdom from Eurogamer Editor Oli Welsh, Deputy Editor Wesley Yin-Poole, and Intern turned Reporter Emma Kent.

A further three appointments followed this at 13:30, 14:30, and 15:30 for Stainless Games’ ShockRods, R8 Games’ Pacer, and Joysteak Studios’ Songbird Symphony respectively.

While the first two titles mentioned above feature fast and frantic vehicle action of two disparate kinds, it was Songbird’s adorable aesthetics and self-aware charm that had truly captured my heart by the time I was Manchester-bound.

Everyone from Sony to Nintendo was in attendance at EGX Rezzed 2019.

Throughout this reflective evaluation, I intend to achieve the following:

  • Provide the latest developer and publisher information on the titles listed above as well as my own personal opinions on their quality.
  • Relay the most insightful slices of information on how to break into games journalism by Eurogamer’s finest.

So, sit back, relax, and prepare to be transported to an Expo packed with gaming bliss.

Giga Wrecker Alt / 10:30 – 11:00

Bursting through the doors of the Xbox Showroom with youthful enthusiasm, I began my search for Giga Wrecker Alt. However, there was not yet a representative on site to match my enthusiasm. Eventually, a representative from Renaissance’s PR team arrived and booted up a new game.

Although my experience with this title was not hands-on, I was still able to formulate my own opinions on it through careful observation.

Firstly, the game’s aesthetics are a cross between Cyberpunk and Anime with futuristic technology and a diverse range of hair colours filling the screen. This results in a world that feels right at home on screens both small and large.

Furthermore, this an action title that requires a refreshing degree of thought and strategy as not every enemy can be defeated with the same tactics. This should keep players on their toes, annihilating the boredom that arises from the use of a dominant strategy.

As the rep blasted their way through a rather lengthy tutorial, with thanks to the title’s chaotic physics engine, they proudly threw more info dumps my way than a Hideo Kojima cutscene.

Giga Wrecker Alt releases in May on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

Referring back to the physics, he explained that the development team leaned into its chaotic nature. Witnessing Greg’s surroundings crumble and crash around him made this apparent. The catharsis I felt observing must have only have been amplified for the man controlling it.

Throughout their playthrough, the rep jested that the narrative is unashamedly Japanese. All the melodrama a story about a girl gifted a cybernetic arm generates will be present in the full release. I hope the development team uses this to put fun at the heart of the narrative.

Get Into Games Journalism Panel / 11:30 – 12:15

A sea of determined games journalists looking to hit the big time. A panel comprising the two elites in the Eurogamer offices, and the young woman who successfully broke into their ranks. Casting a keen eye over all of this is yours truly. A notebook in one hand, a pen in the other, I recorded their razor-sharp counsel which I shall now share with you, dear reader.

Throughout the session, Wesley reinforced the importance of video game reporting and building a solid reporting portfolio. While he and his colleagues believe other forms of games journalism to be perfectly valid, a reporting portfolio will allow aspiring games journalists to tower over their competition.

How best can one compile a reporting portfolio you may ask? Emma Kent let her secret loose. She spoke of how embedding oneself in a wide array of gaming communities assists in contact acquisition. Maintaining a close eye on social sites like Twitter and Reddit should make the discovery of these sites no hassle.

As Eurogamer Editor Oli Welsh reinforced, assembling a wealth of professional contacts takes years, underpinning the importance of establishing oneself in the lower profile communities, Emma mentioned. Oli went on to state that it is people who form the subjects of the best gaming stories. So, get chatting with anyone who will lend an ear.

The main lessons to be taken away from this are twofold: get out into the world and find the real people behind the real stories; do not fear reporting as it provides that all-important edge.

On a completely unrelated note, Negan’s Baseball Bat was up for sale.

ShockRods / 13:30 – 14:00

Appointment time drew near once more. However, what awaited me with this appointment contrasted greatly with the one that came before. Where previously I was but a mere observer, this time around I was immediately put to work. Seizing the mouse and hovering my fingers over the keyboard, I readied myself to dive into Stainless’ visceral arena shooter.

Upon concluding my first playthrough, I dove right back in. Partly to gain a thorough analysis, but mostly because I was not ready to terminate my time with the title.

Right from the get-go, the old school influences filled me with a rare sense of glee. ShockRods places emphasis on constant movement and explosive, vehicular combat. There was no time to stop and smell the petrol which succeeded in sustaining my investment in the action.

Stainless Games have fully embraced the weird and wacky nature of the gaming medium. During my time in the industrial stage, I received a power-up that transformed my buggy into a bulldozer, incentivising me to seek out other unorthodox additions to my vehicle.  

Finally managing to pull myself away from the monitor long enough to nab an interview with the talent behind the game, I sought to unearth as much information as I could.

The Carmageddon developers explained that they wished to keep the action intense by throwing multiple players into a relatively small battle arena. Thus, ensuring that players will never be too far from their opponent, eliminating all breaks in the ferocious fights.

Including the industrial arena I set ablaze, there will be four environments in total. Among these are a Woodland area and a Western-themed area, each with their own unique hazards that encourage players to use the environment as a weapon.

ShockRods will release this summer with plans for post-release content including more vehicles and levels.

Pacer / 14:30 – 15:00

Aside from the always nerve-wracking ordeal of conducting interviews, I was placed under little duress up until my appointment for Pacer. Come 14:30, the pressure was pumped up to 11 as I was afforded the luxury of indulging in a genre I am consistently appalling at on the big screen: anti-grav racing.

Crashing and careening into every available wall and obstacle, I found this experience to be less enjoyable than the prior vehicular action, and not just due to my lack of skill.

Hearing the term “anti-grav racing” will assuredly conjure images of Wipeout in one’s mind. Indeed, the blistering speeds, tight turns, and sensitive controls are here in full force, constructing a gameplay experience that requires more than a meagre two races to master.

However, in my opinion, needing to barrel through the game’s environments is no bad thing. The futuristic cityscape lacks originality, and the other locations are devoid of detail. Ultimately, the game’s locales are forgettable due to a dire absence of charm and character.

That being said, speaking with a member of R8 Games clarified why these environments failed to catch my eye. As it turns out, a vast array of the game’s visual features were optimised by the developers. This was done to ensure that Pacer, which was originally titled Formula Fusion, would be more CPU efficient. As a result, they would be able to achieve a constant 4K 60FPS.

While on the subject of constants, maintaining a fair balance was one of R8’s top priorities. This included adding a penalty for every bonus associated with a ship to make every ship a viable option, leaving no player at a disadvantage.

Pacer Releases later this year on PC and consoles with post-release content set to arrive should the game achieve a sufficient following.

Songbird Symphony / 16:00 – 16:30

Alas, as the glorious day I had experienced thus far drew to a close, my final appointment for the evening drew near. However, when I arrived at the indie room, where I was then to meet a representative from PQube, all I found was a build of Songbird Symphony with no one around to enjoy it.

Sensing my opportunity, I took my seat and booted up a new game. The moment I made my exit from the main menu, I knew that I had made the right decision.

Immediately, I was won over by the game’s adorable aesthetics. Songbird Symphony is bursting with vibrant colours and creatures not unlike those in old Disney animations, setting itself apart from the more “realistic” aesthetics of its competition.

Do not let the game’s cutesy nature fool you though, for it is no walk in the park. Combat in this title is instead replaced with rhythm mini-games which are difficult to master. However, the satisfaction amassed from doing just that will motivate players to press on.

Post-demo-build-completion, I was confronted by the woman who had been peering over my shoulder during the majority of my playthrough. A PQube representative no less.

She proceeded to inform me that there is more to the rhythm mini-games than meets the eye. According to her, players can adjust their difficulty following an initial completion which is terrific for both those seeking a challenge, and those seeking a relaxed practice session.

Still in development by just three people, Songbird Symphony is slated for release on July 25th

The Bottom Line

All in all, it was a terrific day at EGX Rezzed 2019. The games on display were phenomenal. The conscientious individuals dedicating their time to the event could not have been more welcoming. The atmosphere was something that one must experience for themselves, and the memories will last until my lovely locks turn grey.

Had the tube not beckoned, I would have most assuredly stayed longer. Alas, it came time for me to return to (sunny) Manchester.

Although I loosed no change myself on their clothing, I will admit I was rather tempted.

Throughout the entirety of my seven-hour journey home, Game Freak’s Anime love letter was in my thoughts. The priceless advice of the Eurogamer staff circled the inner sanctums of my brain. Stainless Games’ spiritual successor to Carmageddon, and R8’s frantic racer easily outpaced my train of thought.

Above all, however, Songbird Symphony’s abundance of innocent fun helped take my mind off the bottom that had long gone numb.

Needless to say, with the finest new games on prominent display by their talented developers, and a multitude of insightful sessions, EGX Rezzed is an event no video game enthusiast should pass up. This is WillDoubleJ from Reggie Reviews, signing off.

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