Gamescom is the largest videogame trade show in the world. Sound like a big deal? It absolutely is. Hundreds of thousands of people cram together in a convention center that's massive, but doesn't feel even close to huge enough. Need a frame of reference? This is the crowd in the main hall on Thursday -- what's supposedly the least busy of the three days it's open to the public.
Reciprocating the scale of the event is the size of the games that publishers have on display. That was the theme at gamescom 2014: Big. All the biggest titles are here, and given how close we are to the holiday launch season, they're looking the most polished that we've seen them yet.
In no particular order, these were Destructoid's top ten games of gamescom 2014, as explained by Dale North and myself.
It's easy to understand why everyone has initially opted to take a decidedly guarded approach to Alien: Isolation. Fool me once, and so on. But, after several hands-on sessions with the game (including three different extended sections), it's almost impossible to contain our excitement for Isolation.
Creative Assembly looks to have cultivated an atmospheric thriller that's actually deserving of the highest praise -- being compared to Ridley Scott's Alien. That's elite (and almost unspeakable) company, but all the demos we've seen nail what made the film so haunting. Turns out it's a considerably more terrifying experience when you're not just watching, but actively eluding this monstrosity.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Horses and cardboard boxes. Bikini model posters. Stealth and theft. Shit skids. It's serious and silly, stuffed into a highly anticipated next-gen package. At gamescom this year, we didn't see much more of MGS than we saw at E3, but seeing it again made me crave it that much more. But take your time, Kojima. If this is as good as we're hoping it is, it'll be worth the wait.
Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve lets you pick your play style. Prefer team-oriented action, or the god complex that comes alongside being a hulking behemoth? It doesn't matter which you choose, both look to be equally fantastic.
Evolve's four-versus-one asymmetrical multiplayer thrives because of one thing -- balance. It's remarkable how despite all the different character pairings and ability combinations there are, a harmony's always struck to never give either side an unfair edge. In the many matches we've played, it's constantly up in the air as to which will prevail, proving that it'll be an ideal experience for both solo and multiplayer goers alike.
Life is Strange
Both of Dontnod Entertainment's efforts, 2013's Remember Me and the upcoming Life is Strange, feature prominent female characters. The team says it isn't trying to "fix" the videogame industry, but it's just telling the stories it wants to tell. After seeing Life is Strange for an hour, it's difficult to imagine the tale being told from anyone else's perspective.
Thrust into the role of teenage girl Max Caughfield, Life is Strange is about exploration, adventures, curiosity, and in all likelihood, growing. As Max and her friend Chloe investigate the disappearance of a classmate, they'll investigate the world around them, too. What parts do they play in this existence? How do they fit into it? Do they even want to fit into it?
To complicate things, Max has the supernatural ability to rewind time. If an event played out to her disliking, she can take a mulligan and have another go at it. Not that it'll necessarily make matters easier. How can you expect a confused, inexperienced, misunderstood, and scared girl to make perfect decisions? All you can expect is that she'll inevitably grow.
No Man's Sky
Hello Games' Sean Murray told us that his studio was formed to make No Man's Sky. This is their dream game, satisfying their desire for a true science-fiction game with the ability to freely navigate the universe, exploring strange alien planets. It's a world we'll have to jump in to fully appreciate, but what has been shown so far has already captured our imaginations.
Assassin's Creed Unity
As the Assassin's Creed franchise commits fully and takes a leap of faith into the new generation of console gaming, it's impossible not to recognize the upgrades that the change in hardware affords it. Apart from a visual enhancement, Unity's Paris in the throes of revolution simply looks and feels more alive and complete.
This is essential for Assassin's Creed to take its next step. The series has always thrived on the playground that it gives the player. By creating a world that absolutely oozes dissent and uprising, Ubisoft seems to have reached a new pinnacle for the sandbox. And, that's precisely the element that ties the entire experience together.
Do you love From Software's Souls games? Great. Upcoming PS4 title Bloodborne is going to be your dream game. But, if you've never bothered, I still think this one is going to draw you in with how they've approached their formula with new combat mechanics, much more gore, and a seriously freaky world to explore. The new area and beasts we saw at gamescom this week have us even more excited (and scared) to start playing.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Yeah, Ori and the Blind Forest is gorgeous. Anyone that's laid eyes on even a screenshot of the game knows that. But, good games are a lot deeper than superficial aesthetic. Luckily, Ori is more than just some beautiful art.
Ori and the Blind Forest handles wonderfully as a platformer. With several different mechanics and abilities that open up through progression, it's a skill-based endeavor that challenges the player and taunts them into mastering its systems, but is never unfair. Those visuals are just the cherry on top. A giant, delicious cherry.
Yoshi's Wooly World
Soft, wooly eye-candy with Nintendo's platforming know-how made Yoshi's latest outing a crowd-pleaser on the gamescom show floor this year. Making the little dino the star of the action makes for a fresh experience, like soft towels just out of the dryer. Bllleh!
Two years ago, Sony showed a campy, horny teen horror PS3 game that would be played solely with a PS Move controller. Now, Until Dawn has completely transformed into a full-fledged PS4 adult horror game with a Hollywood cast and branching gameplay that can lead players to one of hundreds of endings. Oh, and it's legitimately scary. Most improved player award.
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