When we arrived at the event, one of the first things that struck me was the lack of creativity in the art being used. I didn't feel hugely excited to be there, apart from the huge amount of people attending, I didn't feel like I was arriving at anything special. I remember in the early days of Eurogamer, I used to feel like I was attending something out of this world, like gamers were finally being given something they had craved for years, but sadly this year for some reason, I didn't get that feeling.
One thing that has become around half of what EGX is in recent times, is somewhere for people to flog gaming merchandise. I'd estimate that approximately 40% of EGX 2017 was stalls attempting to sell gaming t-shirts, hats, figurines, coasters and just about anything they can. Although early EGX events would have some of these stalls, they were stalls that would make you stop to see what they sold. It likely helped that there were only perhaps 4-5 and each felt special, but also the items for sale just seemed better quality. I can't help but feel that this sad fact is one of the main reasons EGX just isn't the same experience it used to be.
Overall EGX appears to have sold out, seeming as if they are doing everything they can to make as much money as possible, rather than providing an entertaining experience for their customers. I couldn't help but feel that all the awesome little experiences are now being offered by the game developers and publishers. EGX themselves now appear to just offer a large building to host it all in. As I previously expressed, past events made you more and more excited for every step closer to the venue you get, whereas this year, I barely knew I was at EGX until I was actually in the building.
Upon entering EGX's area of the NEC in Birmingham, England we walked towards the usual press desk to collect our wrist bands (which they decided to call ‘industry’ bands this year) and were shocked and surprised to see they were giving out EGX Press lanyards and badges this year – this is a good thing for not just us, as devs take our questions a little more seriously, but also the developers can easily spot which members of the crowd have the potential to give their game some coverage – this should have been done years ago but we we’re glad press were finally getting a little more attention, even if Lewis and I only just deserved the title ‘Press’, we mostly ignore the AAA titles and just mess around on the most eccentric and unique looking indie or retro games we can find.
If I’m brutally honest EGX gets more samey and boring each year, maybe these types of events are meant more as a one-time treat and not a yearly visit? But I just have a feeling if Eurogamer themselves did some events and stuff instead of just leaving it up to the publishers and developers maybe it’d be a little more memorable each year? Right now the last 3 years blend together in my head and the only stand out memories are those Lewis and I created by playing silly games and pretending we’re taking it seriously.
The 3 stand out moments were mostly on retro games dotted throughout the expo, I played a jet fighter game where the seat and casing moved and shifted with your plane, something I didn’t know until I started flying, it took me by so much surprise that I suddenly became organically good at a game I’d never played and genre I hardly touch. Lewis also had an… interesting technique.
Next up was a classic DOOM LAN tournament that I kinda just stumbled in to, now I played DOOM – I’m 30 and have gamed as long as I remember, so I’ve played my fair share, but I NEVER played multiplayer, let alone competitively – so I thought it would be funny if I acted all cocky and say I was gonna smash all 5 other players (who were all taking the match, intensely seriously!), long story short I terrorised them all, 3 kills right off the bat and the other 2 plus extras after a respawn. I didn’t stick around to check out the scores after, but I must have had roughly 15 kills to 2 deaths. Beginners luck? Or the practice my reintroduction to classic Doom gameplay in 2016’s breath-taking offering brought me, I dunno, you decide – I don’t care enough, I just know it was funny as fuck.
The third memorable moment was a Heroes of the Storm tournament Lewis and I joined, we only did it to try win 6 free heroes that we already owned, but it actually turned out being incredibly fun, you could tell almost immediately which players were veterans and which were new to the game/genre. We immediately started smashing walls down, we had an (excellent) Cho-Gall combo on the team so I went with Auriel to support and Lewis went with Butcher to keep our damage up, along with a lone wolf Nova to cover our blind spots. I ended the watch with 6 kills, 20 assists and 2 deaths, Lewis ended on 13 kills, 15 assists and 1 death. I won’t go on explaining the whole match, but to whoever we played that afternoon, if you’re reading… Get rekt.
Besides those moments EGX is mostly forgettable, if you take the indie and retro games out, it’s a glorified beta testing experience that you wait hours in line to play, nothing else really takes your mind off that fact. Even outside props are now completely absent from the event. Stalls breed and grow each year and there’s no real show floor ‘of the moment’ experiences like there has been in the past. It kinda feels like it’s just completely lost its showmanship. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll keep going for as long as EGX throw free tickets at us, but while it remains like this – we’ll just focus on the ‘weird and wonderful’ and not the ‘wait to play three games and the day is over’ titles.
P.S – Where were the free energy drinks!?! >:(
Feel free to check out the video we made of EGX 2017: