Gamescom 2016 Highlights: Death of the stage show

Gamescom came to Cologne again this year, with leading content creators displaying their wares to the gaming press as well as thousands of gamers from all over the world.

Cologne played host to Europe’s equivalent of E3 once again this year, with leading content creators displaying their wares to the gaming press as well as thousands of gamers from all over the world.

Some major announcements regarding releases, cancellations and delays were made, and a lot of games were shown off to the general public. Most notably, however, the concept of the on-stage press conference appears to be fading away (Sony and Microsoft conspicuous by their absence), with publishers choosing to (logically) go down the significantly more cost effective live streams.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from this year’s event.

Blizzard wins the show

It seems that the masterminds behind Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft, and more recently, Overwatch can simply do no wrong — be it with their games, the promotion of their games, or adapting to the ever-changing needs of the video game playing public. Their stream of content at Gamescom this year was phenomenal, covering the length and breadth of their catalogue, with great footage, which included interviews, tournaments, behind-the-scenes snippets and show-floor awesomeness.

As you would expect, Overwatch got some special attention over the weekend. Fans got a sneak peek into “Eichenwalde” the new German-themed hybrid battleground, which is arguably the most intricately detailed map we’ve seen in the game so far.

We also got to see “Last Bastion,” an amazing animated short (and probably my favourite one), this time featuring Bastion, everyone’s favourite transforming turret.

Finally, we were able to witness history in the first major Overwatch LAN tournament (with a prize pool of $100,000), with team Rogue emerging victorious over REUNITED in the finals of The Overwatch Atlantic Showdown Invitational.

Gamescom 2016 Overwatch ESL Blizzard 720

Rogue emerged victorious over REUNITED in The Overwatch Atlantic Showdown finals

Zombies Never Get Old

It appears that one can never have enough zombies. Predictably (or shockingly, as the case may be), the Zombies in Spaceland mode in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare were revealed. It looks like a comedy/science fiction movie from the eighties (which is definitely a good thing), with four characters, who look like they’ll all have some interesting backstory, fighting off hordes in a disturbingly themed amusement park.

On the other hand, the announcement of Metal Gear Survive was not particularly well received. The first post-Kojima Metal Gear game is a four-player co-op experience featuring zombie-esque foes set in an alternate universe. Yes, this is actually a thing. See for yourself in the video that follows.

EA doesn’t pull its punches

As the only publisher with any semblance of a stage show, EA showed off gameplay from its major franchises including Battlefield, Titanfall, FIFA as well other EA Sports titles.

The definite highlight was gameplay from the Sinai Desert map for Battlefield 1 featuring tanks, an armored train, biplanes and horses.

The FIFA 17 segment kicked off with a remix of Blur’s Song 2, which is sure to bring back memories for those of you who spent several hundred hours playing FIFA 98 RTWC. They also showed off all the game’s new features and showed off its new graphics engine. In addition, German football superstar and cover star of FIFA 17, Marco Reus, makes a guest appearance and gets a few 2v2 games in with the show’s unnecessarily exuberant hosts.

It was also announced that EA is actively considering remastering Mass Effect. Now, whether or not the first game in particular is remaster-friendly is up for discussion, but there’s definitely a big fan base on console, which might make it a good business decision for the trilogy collectively.

Rise of Iron

Destiny’s Rise of Iron expansion drops next month, and Bungie showed off some of the new features that were going to be added to the game’s Crucible PvP game mode. The addition of private games is something the community has been clamoring for since day one, and it’s finally coming. A short documentary video also gave us a glimpse into the creative process behind Rise of Iron — it seems that Bungie is really listening to its community and taking feedback into account.

Final Fantasy XV Delayed

Final Fantasy fans were given the bad news that the latest installment in the series would see at least a month’s delay, with the game being pushed to November from the earlier release date of 30 September. I’m all for game delays (unless on the lines of Duke Nukem Forever or Half-Life 3), particularly if it gives developers additional to refine the experience and iron out problems instead of shipping an incomplete product.

On a positive note, we got see just over an hour’s worth of gameplay from Final Fantasy XV from Gamescom.

Bandai Namco wants to scare you

On to some games you’re probably not following. First, there’s Bandai Namco’s Get Even, an atmospheric first-person horror/mystery. The focus seems appears to be on the game’s audio using Auro-3D acoustic technology, which you’re likely to have experienced only at a movie theatre previously.

Next up is Little Nightmares, an adventure game featuring all the things that gave you bad dreams as a child. The game’s creepy art style, use of lighting and sound design combine to deliver that horror-filled LittleBigPlanet experience you wish someone would finally get around to making.

Harely Quinn and Deadshot in Injustice 2

Despite Suicide Squad’s failure to impress the critics, it seems to be making some decent bank at the box office, reminding us all that it’s never too late to shamelessly piggyback on Hollywood (which shamelessly piggybacked on our beloved comic books in the first place). Anyway, Injustice 2 is going to be better for it.

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