Gamescom 2013: Our Top 10 Games of the Show
Written Monday, August 26, 2013 By Richard Walker, Dan Webb and Lee Abrahams
E3 seems like a distant memory now, but Gamescom 2013 is still fresh, all of its gaming treasures vivid in our collective hive mind. And with next-gen almost upon us, this year was a truly delectable gaming banquet for both current consoles and the upcoming crop, starting this November.
Some games came to Gamescom 2013 with the same code we'd already seen at E3 a couple of months ago (Mad Max, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, The Division and others. Destiny had a ViDoc to show), while some didn't come to Gamescom at all (Grand Theft Auto V, obviously), but of the games that did turn up with something new to show, there was plenty to shout about.
There was a lot to choose from then, which as usual, spiralled into some fairly spirited arguments. There were tears, fights, torture and even laughter, but we got there in the end. Here are our Gamescom 2013 picks
10. Forza Motorsport 5
There’s a reason why Forza 5 is one of Microsoft’s spearheads for the next-generation: because it looks bloody incredible – in terms of visuals, we mean. No guns, no blood, no guts, just incredible looking cars. It’s more car porn than Top Gear in fact.
Behind-closed-doors Microsoft and Turn 10 shined the light on multiple aspects of the latest Forza title, from the physics and new gameplay tweaks, to the career and Forzavista.
While Forza might not fully show off the potential of the Xbox One in terms of what it can achieve in terms of actual power, it certainly shows off what it can achieve in terms of incredible visuals.
9. Dying Light
Zombies are at risk of becoming a bit passé, and while Techland's previous efforts with Dead Island have been decent they have never quite hit the heights that we would have hoped for. So how do you reinvigorate the genre while still providing for plenty of head smashing entertainment? Easy, just throw in some parkour.
The new control scheme allows you to free-run your way around a vast open world, leaping atop nearby wreckage, vehicles and buildings with ease. It’s a world away from the lumbering and often awkward controls of Dead Island and makes avoiding zombies a much more enjoyable enterprise. Or it would, if the persistent day/night cycle didn’t see them turning into red-eyed, high octane killing machines come nightfall. As a horde of undead rush towards you, leaping across the rooftops, you get the sense that Dying Light has finally brought some much needed fear back into zombie slaying.
8. Battlefield 4
The question that was on our lips when we went across to Gamescom this year was quite simply this: “How could DICE one-up a toppling skyscraper in their new mode and map unveiling at this year’s Gamescom?”
The truth is, the Swedish dev couldn’t, and didn’t, but still delivered exactly what we wanted overall from the next Battlefield game: some impressive gameplay and interesting scenarios.
Paracel Storm was the map at the centre of their focus and it didn’t disappoint, especially as you watched the eerie storm descend across the map while war kicked off on the once picturesque island based map below. It was a truly epic sight to behold.
7. South Park: The Stick of Truth
It’s been sometime since we’ve seen what Obsidian has been doing with South Park: The Stick of Truth – 18 months in fact! – and a lot has gone on since then, what with the whole THQ going bump shenanigans and Ubisoft picking it up.
How has it changed? Well, it’s not changed that much, which is a good thing. The new eyes-on demo at Gamescom this year had everything we were hoping from a South Park game: the humour, solid gameplay – it’s turn-based, so it’s pretty hard to screw it up – and the authentic visuals and sound.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is like playing through your very own episode of South Park! Colour us supremely excited that we're going down to South Park soon.
6. Dark Souls II
Just the mere mention of Dark Souls is enough to bring a plethora of varied responses from anyone that has dared to venture into its calculating world. This is not a game for the faint of heart and thankfully (or not depending on your point of view), that brutal nature has been extended into the sequel.
Once again though, things are never difficult for the sake of it with all enemies and areas having their own quirks and weaknesses. Every death is a learning experience, every push forward is hard won and every foray will see you inch a few steps closer to your ultimate goal. Dark Souls was not a game for everyone but it was certainly perfect for those who valued ingenuity and intelligence, and mercifully it seems that Dark Souls II is following in the same glorious footsteps. Prepare to die, again.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order
MachineGames wore its Starbreeze pedigree on its sleeve with its Wolfenstein: The New Order Gamescom demo, showcasing an action-packed level from the game in which BJ Blazkowicz storms a Nazi castle.
Not only does the new Wolfenstein look jaw-dropping with the id Tech 5 engine's visual grunt, but the gameplay is the best kind of old-school and modern FPS mash-up imaginable, with more guns than you could conceivably carry, and more Nazi slaughter in five minutes than the whole of Inglorious Basterds.
Surprising, fun and genuinely exciting, The New Order prompted us to sit up and take notice.
Everything is connected is the mantra of Watch_Dogs and it only takes a few minutes before you are joyfully hacking into peoples mobile phones, learning about their shady past and then dispensing some home brew justice. Of course, you could also let them continue on their merry way and pick on some innocents just as easily, but the freedom and opportunities for fun on offer mean you will never be short of ideas.
When the police take too much of an interest you can hack nearby security barriers, traffic lights and bridges to slow them down, or your especially sadistic friends can do the same to you. The choice is also there to hack other players so you can get a cut of their nefarious profits. A brief hands-on is all it takes for you to embrace the wonderful mix of tech, combat and stealth in a grand open-world that seems well set to hack into your life. Just make sure to watch your back for hackers.
3. Dead Rising 3
E3 2013 was Dead Rising 3’s big unveiling, and while technologically impressive and supremely ambitious, the more seriously toned gameplay left a subsection of fans rather concerned that its wacky roots had been left behind.
Enter Gamescom 2013, a new build of the game and a focus on the wacky, and all is right with the world once again.
We’re talking combining vehicles to make monstrous contraptions, taking down zombies with a lightsaber while dressed as a medieval knight, and using a nuke-style bomb to blow up 400 zombies at once just for shits and giggles. It’s in your face outrageous, just how Dead Rising fans love it.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was a beautiful marriage of gameplay, graphics and storytelling, with Geralt of Rivia taking centre stage as the eponymous hero. It seems that for the sequel CD Projekt RED decided to hold absolutely nothing back, with a lush open-world environment that our morally ambiguous protagonist can explore at his leisure.
Every encounter feels like an event, and taking the time to wander off the beaten track can lead to bountiful opportunities. Of course every action you take can have repercussions, so that even when you think you may have done the right thing it could soon come back to be a gross miscalculation. If you can tear yourself away from such distractions then you can merely, - which is rather underselling it - enjoy a breathtaking quest for the nefarious Wild Hunt and settle a score. Geralt’s story may be reaching a conclusion, but you can rest assured that he is going to go out with a bang in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Respawn’s Titanfall shocked the masses at E3 with its fluent gameplay and dynamic switch from mech combat to on-foot combat. Gamescom allowed us to get behind the wheels per se and actually get our hands on the controller.
What can we say? Wow. It’s actually better playing it than seeing someone else playing it! Obvious, but true. With multiple classes to choose from with a whole array of different loadouts, the mech porn action blended perfectly with the parkour style free-running aspects of being a pilot to become one of our top games of the show…
Scratch that; Titanfall is our top game of the show, hands down. All that and even at this stage it seems that the balance is spot on. If there was ever a killer-app for this upcoming console era, this could well be it.
Stay tuned to X360A for all the previews, impressions and interviews from this year's Gamescom line-up. The best is yet to come!