EB Expo 2017: Convention floor preview

EB Expo 2017 kicks off in earnest this weekend, bringing a whole convention floor and an EB Games “Mega Store” to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Surfers Paradise and today Geek Mountain was there on the convention floor to bring you this sneak preview of what tomorrow and Sunday have in store!

Firstly we want to thank EB Games, PlayStation and Five Star Games┬áin particular for making us so welcome at the Friday afternoon Media preview along with all the exclusive Ultimate Gamer pass holders that managed to snap up the $449 full Expo experience tickets before they sold out, but importantly, how is this year’s EB Expo shaping up for the gamers and fans that will be flocking through the doors tomorrow?

Games:

So many games, too many games, all of the games!

While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, today we didn’t manage to play everything that EB Expo has on offer and we had virtually no crowds to contend with.

Lots of the gameplay demos are for AAA titles due to release between now and the end of the year, but it’s a great chance to get your hands on the titles you’ve only seen at E3 and GamesCom, or that you’re still trying to decide if you want to buy in the coming months.

Personally my top 5 games experiences at EB Expo were:

    1. 5. Ashes Cricket – Even though the PlayStation exhibit had AFL Evolution available to play, an Australian made game for a strictly Australian market, I firmly believe that Cricket is the most Aussie sport in videogames. 2017’s Don Bradman Cricket 17 was a success from Aussie developers Big Ant Studios, and their follow-up Ashes Cricket utilises that same engine but with the advantage of a fully licensed international cricket deal, with good likenesses, facial captures and animations of the current men’s and women’s teams from Australia and England. I played this more than any other game on the show floor and still didn’t play long enough to get good, which is a good sign!

 

    1. 4. Skyrim VR – Skyrim is my favourite game of all time. I think most VR is over-rated. I’m sick of the incredible developers at Bethesda rehashing Skyrim over and over for new consoles. And yet here we are! This demo was well and truly stripped of many of the game’s features, with teleportation instead of full movement (an option when playing VR with a controller) and with more advanced gameplay like inventory, looting, blocking and 90% of the other elements of the vast Elder Scrolls blockbuster disabled for the sake of trimming the experience to a 10 minute convention demo. I got a little out of sync with the sensors at one stage, the swordplay wasn’t half as satisfying as you imagine actually swinging your arm in VR might be, but even still the experience of strapping on that headset and being so completely immersed in the mountain landscapes and the living breathing world of Skyrim made this one of my early highlights. The player character is totally overpowered in this demo, but you haven’t experienced power until you’re raising your hand and incinerating your enemies with Flames in Virtual Reality.

 

    1. 3. Far Cry 5 – Yeah I know, I love the Far Cry franchise, but this game is gorgeous even without VR or a giant showcase screen and this demo left me wanting to spend more time in the wider open-world. The fishing challenge was cute, but I’m definitely playing the main demo again tomorrow!

 

    1. 2. Shadow of War – The anticipated sequel to Shadow of Mordor probably doesn’t need much in the way of hype, but it’s so much fun to actually play. Well worth a visit to the Xbox exhibit to take on the challenge.

 

    1. 1. Android: Become Human – Hands down the most gripping and interesting demo I’ve played in recent memory. Android: Become Human has the intrigue and character driven narrative that are the hallmarks of Quantic Dream titles, but executed so superbly in this demo that none of it feels forced, repetitive or gimmicky. PlayStation have a genuine exclusive on their hands with this one.


Games like Assassin’s Creed Unity, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Call of Duty: WWII, Super Mario Odyssey and Forza 7 are definitely worth the crowds they will be pulling again tomorrow, but those 5 games (4 if you have no interest in cricket) should definitely top your list.

Virtual Reality:

I gushed a little too much about Skyrim VR already, but if you’re a fan of the new Virtual Reality frontier and the hype surrounding it, you’re in luck. PlayStation has multiple VR headsets ready for you to experience, with four vastly different titles to play.

The long velvet ropes will no doubt not be nearly long enough for the huge queues of people that are desperate to try out PlayStation VR at EB Expo, especially considering how few people own the hardware themselves, but be prepared for some teething problems despite the long lines.

Of particular note for me was Bravo Team, a flagship PlayStation VR title that boasts co-operative military FPS, utilising the cover system to cleverly mask that it is an on-rails shooter. This allows for the players to sit still while playing and use both hands on the simulated VR weapons instead of moving with a controller, however even in the limited session this afternoon it’s clear that Bravo Team will be fuel for a multitude of hilarious gifs and videos once the embargo on gameplay footage lifts. For every smooth playthrough of co-op coverfire, there’s a poor soldier with his arms around the wrong way trying not to shoot himself in the face.

If you’ve got the stomach for horror and only the patience to line up for the VR experience once this weekend, I heartily recommend The Inpatient. Not utilising the light-wands makes it the least vulnerable to tech issues alongside the racing simulation, but it’s a psychological survival horror title with all the immersion that Virtual Reality can bring. Horrifying.

What else is there?

From the preview session alone we can tell you that there’s all the usual stores and hardware displays that you should expect from a gaming convention, along with tournament and free-play areas galore.

For the high roller Ultimate Gamer Pass holders there’s also an exclusive chill-out area, but for everyone else be prepared for a long day on your feet, as the seating will be at a premium and there’s less unused space for eating and hanging out than at some of Australia’s other conventions.

Compared to today, the weekend will also boast the vibrancy of cosplayers, both amateur and professional, some working booths, some sharing their passion while enjoying the Expo and many of them hoping to win the Just Cos’ Cosplay Competitions on both Saturday and Sunday.

 

So is it any good?

It’s hard to judge the whole Expo on the subdued exclusivity of the media preview, but the hall is packed with plenty of stalls, the crowds will no doubt bring the same great energy they do to every major convention and there are some seriously great videogames to play.

My biggest personal disappointment so far was that none of the “Ultimate Gamers” complimented my straight-up awesome Portal 2 shirt today, but I’ll be bringing a little cosplay of my own tomorrow, so we’ll hope to see you there!

If you’re going to be at the EB Expo this weekend, or you’ve got requests for what we spotlight for the rest of the event, join us at the Geek Mountain Base Camp and have your say!

About the Author

Rick Haseman

Rick Haseman

Rick is an Actor and a Software Developer with absolutely no free time thanks to his love of games and hobbies from Video Games, Board Games, RPGs and LARP to Comics, Books, Cosplay and Movies.
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