This weekend I joined fellow FBF’ers John, Dann and Psychic Dan at the first PC Gamer Weekender to try out some new games and gaze enviously at expensive hardware. There were a number of games available for play, some of which we’ve already covered in various articles and videos – do check those out. I imagine the others will be writing about their own experiences in separate articles so for now here are the games I played at the event.
Please note that all following screenshots are taken from official media sites for the games.
The first game we played was an interesting take on the familiar capture-the-flag formula. ArenHack is a first-person game where each player takes control of a robot with different abilities – jump pack, invisibility, teleportation, etc. They are then sent into an arena where there are objectives to accomplish. These include collecting power-ups, race to a certain location on the map or, of course, capture the opponent’s flag. There didn’t appear to be any shooting or combat, instead each player can gain extra abilities – called hacks – which can mess with the other players. For example, one ability completely inverts the camera so you are playing upside down, and another ability forces the player to move by jumping.
I very quickly found the opponent’s base – in this instance the opponent was Psychic Dan – and adopted a strategy of waiting for the CTF objective to appear, race into the base, nick the flag and hightail it back to my base. This served me very well for the first few rounds as Dan was still working out where things were. However I eventually lost the match because I hadn’t been paying attention to the other objectives. Dan had a particular knack for being exactly where he needed to be to reach the necessary locations, and so he won the game. And then it froze up because the win screen hadn’t been implemented.
This was a fun game, but it would benefit from more on-screen explanation and contextual tool tips as to what you can do and when. I had to have the abilities explained to me, after which I found myself enjoying it more. It’s definitely shaping up to be an enjoyable experience though.
BFF or Die
This one was a surprise to all of us. It had been put in Steam Greenlight the morning of the Weekender so even Dann had never heard of it. The concept is fascinating. Up to four players can take control of four creatures lost in time. What is different about it is that it’s played with two controllers, and each player operates a single thumbstick and a single trigger. The gameplay sees the time travellers running around a maze, avoiding enemies and picking up energy balls to restore power to their time machine. The maze is dark so one player has to operate a searchlight from the time machine to guide the others, so there’s a lot of communication required in order to make sure you work together and achieve your goals. Obviously we were doomed.
This was one of the only two games we could all have a go at. And again it was a lot of fun. We ended up spreading all over the maze, calling for light to see where we were and complaining when someone else got the light. There were other toys to aid us, most notably a hypnotism ray to send enemies to sleep and a decoy to attract them to a particular area. This led to some hilarity when we wanted the enemies to move somewhere to hit a button, only for them to be asleep and unmoving.
Of course, I made the mistake of opening a gate which release a bunch of enemies who quickly made mincemeat of us, so that brought that game to an abrupt end. It was enjoyable though and I suggested it would work for the EEPC Let’s Plays, so keep an eye out for that when it’s available.
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade
Now we come to possibly my personal favourite of the show. As you all know I’m a massive Warhammer 40,000 fan and seeing an MMO shooter where you play as a Space Marine was something I could not pass up. It looked fantastic – each character and building looked like it had come straight out of the source material. It sounded amazing – every thud of boots and blast of bolt shells was spot on. The game is based on the same formula as Battlefield – and by extension Star Wars Battlefront – but it was a lot slower paced owing to the size and bulk of the combatants.
I ended up playing as a Chaos Space Marine. Not ideal for a loyal servant of the Emperor like myself but hey, what can you do? I experimented with a few classes. Tactical, Assault, even a Devastator and a Captain – each one has their own unique weapons and play style, so it became a matter of experimentation. My finest moment was probably when as a Captain I was attacked by four enemy Marines and I managed to hack them all to pieces. It was a suitably epic moment. We did end up losing though.
I am definitely going to get this one when it is released. Fans have been waiting for a game like this for a while, especially since Dark Millennium was cancelled. We had Space Marine, sure, but it was incredibly linear. This looks like it might be the Warhammer 40,000 game to beat all others.
I managed to ask one of the devs if they would be including content from the Horus Heresy (an area of particular interest to me). The reply was that for the moment they would be focusing on the 40,000 era, however some elements of the Horus Heresy era would make an appearance – older versions of Space Marine armour for example. When they get established and the game is fully up and running they may look at other content options. So that was useful and interesting information to learn.
Oculus Rift – Where’s My Skin
Something a bit different now. There was a stand advertising university courses in Games development and, as part of the exhibit, there were examples of the games that were being developed by students. One of these used the Oculus Rift. The game was a side-view platformer where you play as a skeleton trying to find why he was reanimated. The Rift comes in when you look around – you can see the entire level stretch out below you, along with enemies and their paths. It was a different idea. Psychic Dan had a go first, then I had a shot.
Again, it was fun. Seeing where you could go helped you to plan out paths that could avoid enemies and also let you see where collectible items were located. There were some strange things – for example if you hold down the jump button you would leap up to a platform then immediately bounce off. Striking enemies with a sword seemed ineffective, however I did seem to do a goomba stomp on one which seemed to get rid of him. Then I got stuck in the floor and broke the game. Go me!
There’s no website or media image for this one as it is a university project. It was interesting to see a different way of using a VR device like the Rift and it may lead to other unusual ideas.
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
This one is an old game rather than a new game, but it was in a section that had a few other older games and I’ve never played it, so I had a go. If you haven’t played it or seen it, it’s based on the House of the Dead zombie shooter games, only instead of a gun you have a keyboard, and instead of shooting the zombies you have to type words that appear on them. Now I fancy myself as a bit of a good typist and I think I did quite well. I did end up dying once and I had to spend some of my points to continue, but I’m blaming that on an unfamiliar keyboard. If it had been my own keyboard I would have trounced it.
It was silly and over the top, as you may expect, but it was a lot of fun to play. Each correct keypress shot the enemy zombies. What makes this game quite tactical is that once you start typing a word for one zombie you can’t change your mind and attack a different zombie until you finish the current word, so if a zombie gets too close and you’re still dealing with a different zombie you will lose health. When enemies start throwing things at you and you have prompts to press certain letters, again you need to finish what you are currently typing. It gets quite frantic, especially towards the end when you reach the final boss fight (name drop!).
I don’t think I would buy this game for myself but it was worth having a go just for the experience. And I proved I could type with the best of them!
A spinoff of the Resident Evil series, Umbrella Corps is a multiplayer first person shooter which pits two teams of special operatives against each other in zombie-infested buildings and facilities. There were several objectives to choose from, and the one we played was to retrieve intel. I didn’t fare so well in this as I kept on getting slaughtered by the opposing team, however I did manage to take down a fair number of NPC zombies. Then I watched horrible monstrosities crawl out of the mangled remains. And I shot them as well.
One interesting point was that melee attacks didn’t seem to be a default skill. I picked up a nasty looking bladed weapon and managed to go to town on a few zombies and at least one enemy player. It was implied that I could only do this sort of attack because I had picked up a melee weapon. We did manage to win the match though, however that may have been down to the abilities of the other team rather than any of our own skills.
Again I don’t think I would buy this one but it was enjoyable to play, even though I kept on dying. I’m not a huge fan of the Resident Evil series anyway so I’m happy to let this one pass by.
Finally, we turn at a game that was actually one of the first we played at the event. Worms W.M.D. – a twist on the classic Worms formula that introduces vehicles and buildings. We were all familiar with Worms – admittedly to varying degrees – and so we decided to have a go. The vehicles made their effectiveness immediately apparent. The helicopter, for example, can hover above the land and target enemies with its machine gun. The tank does exactly what you’d expect it to – blow stuff up spectacularly.
We each took control of a team (I was Team Gav – shout out to Gavin!) and, as usual in Worms, we each took turns trying to annihilate the enemy. I consistently failed to hit the proverbial broadside of the proverbial barn, in one case dropping a cluster bomb at my feet instead of lobbing it to the group of enemies. When it came back to my turn I looked through the list of available weapons and attacks, trying to find something that seemed suitably epic. I found an attack named “Armageddon”. I pressed it and the screen lit up as fireballs rained from the sky obliterating everything in their path. When the dust settled only one worm was left alive. And that worm belonged to John. Oh well.
Again I was able to ask one of the devs a question, this time about why they had moved away from the 3D games of the Playstation 2 era. He responded that those games went against the original pick-up-and-play design of the first few games and were too complicated to explain and learn for people who were new to the series. The return to 2.5D brings the series back to its roots and makes it more accessible for new players.
So all in all a very interesting and fun event. We were surprised at the absence of other developers – for example Frontier, who recently have been pushing Elite Dangerous hard, especially the upcoming expansions – and we saw that a lot of the available space was just not being used. Maybe next year more studios will join and we’ll be able to see even more new and exciting stuff.