By Russell S
If you have visited most PC gaming websites recently then you may have heard mention of the Rezzed show that was in Brighton, UK. It was a PC gaming show co-hosted by Rock Paper Shotgun and Eurogamer showing off a mixed bag of games from Indie to AAA, with hourly talks by various developers including Peter Molyneux and Day Z creator Dean “Rocket” Hall. I was at the show and Adam asked me to share my thoughts on the whole experience.
During the last few weeks of build up to the event new names were being added almost daily for games that were going to be playable, and the devs doing talks. I met up with a friend of mine, Del, at the venue and I don’t think either of us were really sure what to expect. I guess the best way to summarize the day would be to say that we both thoroughly enjoyed it and we’d both go again!
I didn’t play every game or go to every talk so I can only offer hands on experience of the things I got to do, and offer impressions of the others I just saw. The show itself was made up from 3 (4) areas. There was the main game hall and an area cordoned off for over 18s only where the shooters like Battlefield 3 and Far Cry 3 were hiding. There was also the conference hall for the dev talks and the XCOM room.
The game hall was pretty well laid out full of PCs and moody dark lighting. There was enough light that I didn’t trip over and break something so that was a bonus. I’ll call them banks of PCs because I can’t really think of a better word, but each bank usually had a line of 4 or more PCs on each side with big banners above the computers. There were 2 columns of these banks filled with a variety of 22″-27″ monitors plus peripherals. Now, it’s funny after walking around and seeing all the games for a few hours that you can get quite snobby. “Pfft, 22″ monitors – make an effort please!” or “Is that an XBOX controller…. WTF?” Still, it was a good display from all involved on the gaming floor. The conference hall was as you’d expect – a big hall with a lot of chairs, big projector etc. The XCOM room was a small curtained off area of the main hall with about 30 seats and 2 big TV screens.
The thing with these kind of shows is that you never really know where to start. If you’re like me you would probably do a couple of laps to see what’s going on then make mental notes to revisit the areas that interest you. And so it was I found myself back in the indie section numerous times. The seats were normally taken by another curious gamer, but I don’t think I ever had to wait too long. It was often just as much watching other gamers experience these often bizarre titles as it was to play. Some of the Rezzed crew were doing a tour armed with a TV camera. While I was “playing” Proteus, and I could hear them over my headphones trying to explain it to the potential audience “So this here is Proteus, where you kind of explore. And stuff.” I think that sums up Proteus perfectly actually. You just kind of explore. And stuff. Very Zen.
This is also another reason why the indie section was so appealing. You could sit down at any of the games on display and just play. The banks that made up the section all had big white walls and all of the indie devs had written the game instructions on them. Proteus’ instructions were “1) Put headphones on 2) Explore”. The Cat That Got The Milk’s instructions were “How to play: Up arrow, Down arrow” – this was a fun game to watch and so simple, yet to watch people play was infuriating. I’d say this area was the most enjoyable for me – the devs on hand were not just helpful but smiling and watching people play their games.
Quite a few of them taped marker pens to the walls so you could add comments too. I liked that – a very cool touch! There were plenty more games in that section, and I can’t name them all but I did either watch or play quite a few of them. It was fun, and most noticeably the players in the indie area were smiling, the players in the AAA areas were concentrating. Hmmm.
So, that nifty, yet subtle little link brings me on to the bigger budget section, a fair few of which are AAA titles. A lot of big names there, and a big percentage were sequels! I have no idea why the new IP seems to be a lost art these days, but such is the way of big publishers. Anyway, the big FPS games were there, a few MMOs and that most rare of creatures – games that weren’t sequels.
Rift, TERA & The Secret World all had a presence, and all looked very nice indeed. It’s very hard to give an opinion of an experience of an MMO in an environment like this purely because of the nature of MMOs. With these games you are likely to invest a big chunk of your time, not just the story but in learning how to maximise the character you play with various builds and tactics against the various mobs. Sitting in an open hall with a small audience when you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing doesn’t really give you the best feel for the game. That said, I think it says a lot about the game when you get the feeling that you kind of know what you’re doing after 10 mins of random clicking. TSW got me closest to that in my limited play time. It helps that I’ve played the hotbar mechanics of most MMOs before, but each game still has their own take. Tera was by far the prettiest. Rift was funny. I sat down and carried on playing with some character that another gamer had created. I think I was level 8 or something, and managed to work out how to find this quest he left logged in.
On the way to my next quest objective I thought I’d go kill some wasp-thing mob, but I died. After respawn, I tried again. I died. I respawned again and decided to ignore this pesky wasp. I met another mob. I died. I tried spamming every hotbar combo I could think of, and I just kept failing at being alive. I’m not sure if it was for pity or just comedy value but a Trion rep offered me a free Rift t-shirt. Being a person of inscrutable moral values I accepted happily without a second thought and turned back to the game. 30 seconds later the PC showed me a nice BSOD. I left very soon after – t-shirt in hand.
The FPS genre was healthily supported, but also kind of restrictive. Battlefield 3 was just hooked up to public games I think. I’m assuming that because there were 4 BF3 PCs and there was far more than 4 players in the game. Having never played it before, I wasn’t sure what the roles meant, I didn’t know the map or the objectives, and yes, I died again. A lot.
Serious Sam 3 had a nice map with no monsters. Very pretty, but why?
Far Cry 3 had a nice bank of PCs. I think I said it had 4 PCs running the game in a previous post I made, but after looking at some pics that were posted it seems there were 8. My confusion stems from this: Every time I walked past what I will refer to as PC 2, there was a half-naked tribal woman being very half-naked in full HD. And I’m not joking – whether this was bad (or good) timing I have no idea, but it’s like that scene was in a loop. I must have not noticed the other 4 PCs at the other end.
Aliens: Colonial Marines had 4 PCs playing as Aliens, and on the other side of the bank were 4 PCs playing the Marines in a 1 level demo. This had quite the crowd and deservedly so – it made for great viewing. My one comment – this game needs friendly fire! Oh, that would so add to the occasion amid the mayhem. You could hear the infamous radar blips all around the hall. Brilliant. The game looks great too.
Day Z had a huge crowd. That’s all I can say. It was heaving. There was a young chap answering questions. I’m pretty sure he was BIS staff or at least either a dev on the project or it’s #1 fan. He knew his stuff though and I don’t think he stopped to take a breath all afternoon from what I saw. That kind of passion was a highlight for me – I saw it in the indie section, and on another couple of stands. Awesome.
I’ve left this until last because I was so utterly, UTTERLY disappointed. This game was supposed to be the highlight of the show for me. I pre-ordered it a month ago because I want it so much. This game is Borderlands 2, and I feel violated. There was 3 or 4 banks of PCs running it on nice big monitors. Every single PC had an XBOX controller. Every. Single. One. That’s all – an XBOX controller.
I did have a go, but gave up after 5 minutes, I let Del take over. He was worse than I was, and quite honestly it made me sea-sick watching. I quizzed the guy with the BL2 t-shirt on about the XBOX controller, and I did manage to be polite. I was told it was the E3 build, and KB&M hadn’t been sorted out yet. OK. It will be sorted by 21st Sept apparently, and the PC version is the best one! It’s worth reminding ourselves that Gearbox swore that the PC version (aka; port) of BL2 would be optimised for PC in their famous love letter to PC gamers. But they only brought XBOX controllers to a PC games show? I’m now getting worried.
The last few games on show that I saw were new IPs.
End of Nations is an MMORTS. It looks fantastic, and the guy there from Trion was another of those passionate devs/staff members. The guys playing were controlling different squads in some huge conflict against the AI, and the Trion chap was pointing out everything on screen and what it was, what it could do, possible strategies etc. When a member of the dev team is so into their game, you can’t help but get into it too.
WarMage: Battlegrounds is a F2P browser game, in a similar vein to the hex battles of HOMM, Kings Bounty and the like. Another very passionate dev. I like the look of this game and I’m assured that everything you can purchase from the payment model can be earned in game. “Time in game vs laziness. It’s all good as long as you’re playing our game and enjoying it!”
Strike Suit Zero looks great fun – it’s a space combat thingamajiggy. I never got to play it because the seats were always full, and there was quite a queue. Use M&KB or joystick like Starlancer. Very pretty! Razer had a promo section too – 8 player Quake 2 DM tournament with each DM winner getting a prize. Yes, you read that correctly. Quake 2. Great fun.
The Bad: English weather, XBOX controllers, broken mice, BSOD
The Ugly: I had 5 hours sleep. It wasn’t pretty If there’s anything you want to ask please use the comments section and I’ll answer there.
Editor’s Note: The photos posted in this article were used with the permission of Rock Paper Shotgun.