Gamescom was rad as all Hell. Personally, it was the first convention I’ve ever had the opportunity to cover, so setting aside the crippling anxiety that is flying overseas by yourself and staying in a stranger’s spare room (it was a really good price and he only stole one of my kidneys, very considerate) Gamescom was everything I wanted it to be. If I can be honest with you, I sat down to write this feature intending to start it off with “Pfffft, choosing my personal favourites on show is easy, I’ll get this done quick and go wash my car”.
I did actually start this piece off like that, but the longer I sat and thought about what I played and saw, I realised that I would have been lying. I kept rewriting, adding and subtracting games that had an impact on me only to remember something else that really stood out and totally reconsider. So this short list doesn’t even come close to quantifying all the games I got play during my time in Cologne but it does represent the ones I’m still thinking about a week later.
It’s everything I wanted it to be and even more. Bright, vibrant and rippling with the eccentric, irreverent energy the Borderlands universe is known for, Borderlands 3 successfully captured the feeling of playing Borderlands 2 all over again. What really stood out for outside of the now-iconic aesthetic of the game is just how great the gunplay felt. For all its boasting about the size of game’s arsenal, Borderlands has always had combat that was…functional.
Guns never really had an impact, with most of the weapon types sounding and firing almost identically to one another; the weapon variety was largely based on statistics rather than presentation. After my time with the game, it’s clear that the developers are really hammering home how unique the weapons are with nearly every gun I encountered not only playing differently but equipped with unique firing, reloading and chambering animations. It was a step up from what we’ve seen in previous Borderlands games and I’m excited to jump back into that world and get my hands on even more loot.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
I said it in my feature on my hands-on time with FF7R, but this is the game that made me eat my words. After maligning it for so long, doubting that it would ever see the light of day, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty playing it because not only is it real, but it’s really good. An in-depth reimagining of Final Fantasy 7, fleshing out maybe the most interesting world to have graced the series, Remake not only builds on the foundations laid by the original but provides a cinematic presentation both and out of combat that was exhilarating to behold.
The biggest surprise for me, I stumbled upon this little game during one of the quieter moments of Gamescom. A charming, colourful RPG with rogue-like elements, Yaga won me over with just how much love was clearly poured into the experience. It’s a folktale come to life, embracing the inconsistencies that often come with store passed down verbally. A dynamic combat system that was simple yet weighty thanks to a large variety of weapons and modifications, long-lasting consequences to your choices that reinforce role-playing and some damn fine voice acting, Yaga has stayed with me longer than many of the big AAA games I got hands-on with, so I wanted to include it in my list. It might not have the budget of some of the other entries here, but that hasn’t stopped Yaga from being a truly special game.
This was an easy one for me because in many ways it’s the game I wanted so desperately to play when I was 10 years old. It’s loud, audacious and just a little bit risky but I grinned like an idiot throughout my hands-on with The Avengers. While many people have cringed when the discovered how the game structured, with progressively growing power levels and loot-based grinding, I honestly couldn’t have cared less. Thor brought the thunder, Black Widow threw down with Taskmaster and Cap defied all physics with his shield; it was like a comic book come alive. While I’m still slightly on the fence regarding the game’s story, seemingly just a slight twist on the events of Civil War (again), I couldn’t have been more pleased with the gameplay. While the tutorial mission was understandably simple, what I saw was the groundwork for a combat system that could grow both vertically and horizontally to embrace a range of different playstyles. I’m beyond excited to see how this game evolves between now and release.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
I can see myself spending far too many hours sinking into MW’s multiplayer. The 2v2 game mode I was able to play was the perfect marriage of the quick, addictive gameplay CoD is known for with slower, more strategic tactics. The victor was never the person who could leap off the walls faster, it was the team that communicated and planned around the enemy’s movements. The only thing separating a win from a loss was communication and individual skill, rather than lists of perks and weapon modifications. I think it’s the rediscovery of what made the game’s multiplayer so revolution to start with the refinements of a dev team that seem dedicated to bringing CoD back to its hey-day.
There are plenty of other games I could have thrown onto this list but these are the titles that really revved my engine. I’m excited to get my hands on them again and offer up some more reflective thoughts once they eventually come out into the public space. Despite the front end of 2019 being a somewhat disappointing showcase of games, I have a good feeling that the back end of the year and the start of 2020 will have more than enough to keep gamers like you enveloped with entertainment and dorks like me enraptured with curious analysis.
Also, I still haven’t washed my car.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.
Last Updated: September 11, 2019