The gaming show of the year is back. Thousands have flocked to Cologne in Germany and millions more around the world have been waiting with baited breath for an unbelievable reveal (Half-Life 3 at last?), we pass judgement on the announcements and pick a few of our favourites to give the official PTC seal of approval.
With no E3 to get in the way, Gamescom is soaking up a year’s-worth of anticipation from the gaming community, which comes with a lot of unrealistic expectations... What was your personal highlight? Was there something that disappointed you? Sound off in the comments or jump into our Discord for a chin-wag on the subject.
Gotham Knights | Liam Andrews
As expected, a lot of what was on show last night didn’t involve much actual gameplay, but there were still a few trailers and reveals that stood out. I most enjoyed the Gotham Knights villains trailer, which was, at least, created with in-game footage, if not full gameplay.
This was already on my radar, and the more I see the more I am convinced it’ll be good. I like the shift away from Batman, and baddies look like a good mix of supernatural and supervillain. I’m particularly excited to tussle with the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins, as they are a faction I have previously read about in comics but haven’t seen crop up in a game yet, as far as I’m aware.
Elsewhere, The Lords of the Fallen trailer looked very cool, and reminded me I probably need to try the first game again. Under the Waves seemed interesting, and I’m hoping it’ll be a narrative driven affair rather than a crafting/resource management sim.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker also caught my attention. It’s already been well received on PC and its launch on Xbox Game Pass means I’ll definitely be giving it a try. It was also nice to see some more High on Life gameplay, and while I wasn’t totally sold on the humour, it does look like enjoyable, silly fun.
Monkey Island | Chris Brand
The authentic pirate Guybrush Threepwood was a hero of mine growing up (and let's not forget he also moonlighted as a Jedi, Guybrush Threepkiller, in The Force Unleashed 2). Though Return to Monkey Island is only slated for release on PC and Switch (boo!) I'm hoping for an Xbox version at some point in the future, maybe even a compendium of all games to date. I can't be the only one champing at the bit for a Guybrush Threepwood collection.
The writing is crucial in any point-and-click title and Monkey Island always nailed the humour, not only with the wacky characters and interactions but also the, often ridiculous, puzzles and the unforgettable insult sword fighting.
I'm a huge fan of the series and feel that sweet nostalgia whenever there's a new entry. Monkey Island has survived for decades without the need for endless sequels and that's possibly why I'm so interested. Something about absence and hearts and fondue, I don't know.
Everywhere also caught my eye, in a way that's uncomfortably reminiscent of Fable. On the surface, it seems to promise a lot but we've all been burned before. I'm dubious of any game touted as a "GTA killer" because, so far, that particular franchise has no legitimate rival (sorry, Saints Row). Still, I'll be paying close attention whilst trying to avoid being splattered by the hype train.
Much of what was on show seemed like little more than teasers but each and every trailer was a welcome break from Geoff Keighley's stupid face, which we've already been subjected to far too many times this year.
With hot weather relentlessly overheating PS5s across the land, we decided it's time to cool down a bit, and what better way than thinking about the best ice, winter and otherwise chilly levels to lose ourselves in?
The ideal ice and snow experience should transport you into a wintery wonderland, perhaps there's a snowman, or some snow-covered trees? There's plenty to choose from, so which would you choose?
Let us know in the comments, or chip in on our Discord.
Sherbet Land – Mario Kart 64 | Liam Andrews
I always enjoy a good snow level, usually because they’re a departure from a game’s regular environ/setting and so have something a little extra special about them. I almost went with Cliffhanger from Modern Warfare 2 because of this. Up until that point, the series had taken place in a desert or woodland setting, so a mission set in an arctic tundra was a nice change of pace.
It was the same in the original Metroid Prime. The first few hours are spent exploring temple ruins and then volcanic underground caverns, so emerging from these comparatively dark settings into the open skies and snow-covered rocks of the Phendrana Drifts was a memorable moment.
But I’ve decided to go with Sherbet Land from Mario Kart 64, because, like most Mario games, it encapsulates the magic of snow/winter. It also happens to be a very good track, with a nice mix of enclosed and open areas and cheery music.
I always particularly enjoyed trying to jump the water inlets at the edge of the lake, which was great for shaving off seconds from your time if you could pull it off. The only annoyance were the penguins, which, while cute, could also be right bastards by getting in your way just at the wrong moment.
Winter – Bully | Chris Brand
It was a pleasant surprise when winter rolled around and I saw Bullworth Academy covered in snow. I imagine it was close to the feeling of someone seeing snow for the first time, blissfully unaware that the rather pretty white blanket which covers everything means that traffic is a bitch, certain places are inaccessible and some of the steeper streets are now one way unless you own climbing gear. Thankfully, video games rarely focus on that aspect.
In Bully, there's none of that Game of Thrones bullshit, winter simply means snowball fights. Just throwing a single snowball is enough to draw in everyone in the immediate area, similar to how you can start a food fight. These kids need very little encouragement to get up to mischief. It's a minor addition that lends a greater touch of immersion as, just like in our world, it's impossible for a snowball to be thrown unanswered.
Aside from having one more way to cause chaos, the winter season also stands out as it's the most visually distinct and that, small but unexpected, change is just enough to make everything feel new.
An honorary mention goes to GTA V. There's nothing quite like seeing a bunch of folks dressed as Santa Claus, beating the ever-loving Christmas out of each other with baseball bats in a frost-coated car park.
After getting excited about tiny fighting monsters earlier this year at the last Pokémon Presents, now we’ve got another update, it’s time to get hyped all over again.
This show brought us updates on upcoming in-person events, including the Pokémon World Championships in London, as well as a look at both new Pokémon and gaming mechanics from November’s Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
What are you most looking forward to in the pokéverse? Let us know in the comments, or join our Discord and chit chat there.
Tackle Gyms in any order | Liam Andrews
The ability to take on any gym you please at any time is quite an appealing idea. Pokémon Legends: Arceus gave us an open world to run around in, but the main missions happened in a set order, which is fine, as I don’t think linearity in games is necessarily a bad thing but being able to choose what to do next makes much more sense in an open world scenario.
It also just seems a bit more fun, and really helps solidify the trainer taking on the world vibe. Not only that, but without the need to follow a set path to the top it should help create a bit of variety between people’s playthroughs.
I’m intrigued to see if there will be any sort of difficulty spike with the gyms, or whether they’ll scale to match your current team’s abilities. While many players will certainly enjoy the challenge if the former scenario turns out to be true, it’s hard to see Game Freak promoting freedom of choice only for your ‘mon to be one-hit by much higher levelled opponents, so I think the latter is the more likely.
Pokémon Go Fest 2022 | Chris Brand
The urge to finally pull the trigger and jump into Pokémon Go has been gestating in me for some time now and it only grows stronger with each bit of news we receive. Pokémon Go Fest 2022 could very well be what pushes me to make the leap.
As I lack the means to travel the world collecting adorable animals, I may never be able to complete my Pokédex (for the uninitiated, this is a catalogue of all the creatures you've abducted. We both learned a new word today), but Pokémon Go Fest 2022 offers something I wouldn't usually be able to acquire, in Ultra Beasts. An Ultra Beast has appeared at every live event this year, for those lucky enough to attend in person. During the finale at the back end of August, all four of these Ultra Beasts will be available to all players worldwide.
Aside from the, magnificently-named, Ultra Beasts there's also Daily Adventure Incense which has tipped the scales further. This can be used once a day, lasts fifteen minutes and attracts Pokémon (even legendary ones) that don't typically frequent your 'hood. This could enable me to actually complete my Pokédex. Possibly.
Although I know absolutely nothing about Pokémon Go, or any other Pokémon title for that matter, I'm armed with the knowledge that Grookey is definitely the best starter, so here's hoping I catch him first.