This weekend (25-27 September) Birmingham's NEC arena will be taken over by the UK's biggest video game show: EGX. The huge event will showcase all the biggest games coming out over the next few months – from Halo 5 to Star Wars Battlefront to Rise of the Tomb Raider to Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Each with their own massive queue.
If queuing for an hour at a time to play a game you'll almost certainly buy in a month or two anyway doesn't sound like much fun, EGX also has a big area dedicated to indie games, where there is a wealth of unexpected delights to discover.
IBTimes UK attended day one of EGX 2015, and came back with five games attendees should definitely seek out on the show floor and keep an eye on over the next few months.
Gang Beasts has long been a trade show favourite, with its doughy brawlers drawing bigger and bigger crowds with each event it turns up at. Last Fight bares some similarities – players fight in simple 3D arenas – but with more structure and sense.
Developed by Pirana King, Last Fight has a simple fight control scheme (one button to attack, one to throw, one to jump, rush, block and a special) which makes it easy to master and instantly accessible. Each stage contains objects to throw and collect – with three of a specific item transforming the player into a powerful mutant form.
Visually it's a treat and the gameplay is tight, offering players a sense of mastery and control something like Gang Beasts rarely does. It's a nice halfway point between deep 2D fighters like Street Fighter and something akin to the WWE wrestling games. LastFight could well be the next great shared-screen multiplayer game.
LastFight will be released in 2015.
Black & White: Bushido
Another game which may become a local multiplayer favourite, Black & White: Bushido is a ninja stealth game pitting light vs dark, which makes cool use of the two shades to show the flow and progression of a battle.
Having selected my ninja (a heavier, more powerful samurai versus a more traditional ninja with a katana) I played a two-on-two game of capture the flag. Players on the black team will be harder to spot in the dark areas of the map, while white players are header to spot in lit parts of the screen.
The screen is split between light and dark in a fractured way which changes each time a side captures a flag. Should the black team do so, more of the screen will become dark, and so on until either side has filled the screen and then captured a final flag.
With double jumps, wall jumps and one-hit kills, Black and White was a fast-paced, exciting, smart and compelling game.
The game will be released on 2 October via Steam.
Esper is already available on the Samsung VR Store (and will also be heading to Oculus Rift), but it's worth checking out as a nice introduction to virtual reality. Set in the 1970s, Esper is a neat little puzzle game that focuses on manipulating objects in a 3D space.
Players are cast as one of many people around the world who have developed telekinetic abilities, and who is being used in a series of tests conducted by a mysterious organisation to discover the extent of that power. There's a hefty dose of Portal, with some Stanley Parable too, but all that is window dressing.
The core game tasks players with using their telekinetic ability to pick up and move objects. This is done with the touchpad on the Gear VR's headset, or with a controller on the Rift. You tap to pick up the object, then use head movements to move the object around. At first you're given a Rubik's Cube, but soon you're manoeuvring balls through glass tubes and throwing objects with a swipe forward on the touchpad.
One of the few VR games I've played on the Gear to really explore a 3D space. Esper 2 was announced at yesterday's Oculus Connect event.
Located in the Nintendo area rather than the indie booth, Lovely Planet is a colourful first-person shooter for Wii U about speed and precision. Rather than bullets, the player fires cubes from a bow at various targets across short worlds rendered in pastel hues.
The one hit kill nature and need to kill all enemies to complete a stage, makes precision and timing of the utmost importance. Players are required to learn patterns and move quickly as enemies and obstacles get progressively more intricate. There are enemies who fire homing projectiles, friendlies that if you shoot result in mission failure and large apples that you need to hit before they hit the ground (for some reason).
It's like one of those police shooting ranges with the pregnant women and stereotypical burglars who pop up to test your reaction skills, only if you dropped a ton of acid before entering one.
Lovely Planet will be release in December via the Nintendo eShop.
Punch Club is weird. Very weird. It's a fighting-focused life-simulation game in which you play a character who trains in his garage, has a job to attend to during the day, must buy groceries and who eats burgers out of trash cans before entering a hallucinated (we presume) fight with a sewer crocodile in ninja garb.
There is something unique about Punch Club however that makes it moreish. Fights play out automatically based on a range of attributes you build and fighting moves you acquire and put into slots before each battle. There's a skill tree, special moves and wealth of pop culture references from Fight Club to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the demo only scratches the surface.
If you want a fighting game that's part RPG, part mobile management game, part Shenmue and part Rocky (to be fair, who hasn't dreamed of such a game?) then Punch Club might be for you.
Punch Club is set for release soon on PC and mobile.