Here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft’s booth at EGX 2017

We sent Connor Makar to EGX 2017 this year to tell us everything pertaining to Xbox One on the show floor. For those of you who don’t know, EGX is a trade fair held for video games in the United Kingdom each year. Think of it as a local E3 if you will. EGX this year had a major turnout for the Xbox One, a plethora of amazing games covered the show floor, and the few big titles running on the Xbox One X presented its power beautifully. In this feature, we’ll be covering how the Xbox One X plays. We’ll also run down all the AAA games that were playable at the show, that show off what to expect in the near future.

Xbox One X

First and foremost, EGX 2017 was the only place to try out the Xbox One X before its release in November. The games that made use of the Xbox One X include Assassin’s Creed Origins, Forza Motorsport 7, Sea of Thieves and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. This allowed for all the major Xbox releases to play as smoothly as possible, and be visually impressive while doing so. As someone without a 4K screen to play games on, it really added spectacle to the already enjoyable experiences.

One thing we noticed that fortified our hope in the Xbox One X was the constant 60 FPS performance during my time using the system on certain games. Be it during a ferocious storm or a hectic final lap in Forza Motorsport 7, we never noticed any frame rate drops. We were skeptical that for some of the more intensive sections, the Xbox One X would struggle to maintain a solid frame rate. But we’re happy to say that the worries were unfounded.

This is less important but till noteworthy. Having seen the Xbox One X first hand, it also looks good. It’s not as big as you may imagine it, and its sleek design certainly makes it appealing to glance at. So overall, we were very impressed with the Xbox One X in all its glory.

Forza Motorsport 7

Microsoft’s premier racing series speeds onto the Xbox One X with Forza Motorsport 7. Taking up a large section of the Xbox space at EGX 2017, Turn 10 Studios aimed to impress with their latest game and blew our expectations away. The game was a joy to play, as driving round bends and gunning down the race track felt exhilarating, which is not a new feature of the Forza series. As is the norm, the gameplay in this Forza game was up to par with the expectation the series has earnt over the years.

Forza Motorsport 7 also brilliantly showcases the visual capabilities of the Xbox One X, as it was by far the best-looking game at the Xbox booth. Rather than rushing through the track, we took the time to slow down occasionally, to look at both the cars themselves and the environment we were racing on. With the power of the Xbox One X alongside the 4K screens, we can certainly say that Forza Motorsport 7 is the prettiest game we’ve ever seen on a console. If you want a game to prove to friends and family that the Xbox One X was worth the price, this one’s for you. There’s no doubt about it.

On a final note, the weather system they included acts as icing on the Porsche-shaped cake, as it further emphasises the quality of the graphics this game presents. It may seem cliché, but this game in the rain is jaw-to-the-floor beautiful. It’s not going to outshine an incredibly expensive PC, it’s just not possible, but for a console it’s damn impressive.

Sea of Thieves

We were initially worried when we first saw Sea of Thieves. Its E3 presentation was fun of course, but we couldn’t help but wonder how much of what we saw was indicative of the actual gameplay experience. While these worries remain, as a 20-minute experience rarely represents a game countless hours in, getting our hands on Rare’s pirate adventure game thankfully laid most of our fears to rest.

Sitting down with strangers and exploring the seas was more fun than we expected, as we all had our individual roles to play that provided equal entertainment. While our new friends were on the deck looking for an island or enemy ship to raid, we were below deck hectically trying to drain the slowly rising water from our boat. While that may seem boring compared to the image of pirating you may have envisioned, we can’t deny the fun we had laughing alongside our new pirate friends. We sadly didn’t get too much time on solid ground, choosing instead to sail around care free, but from testing out the combat quickly before being kicked off the setup we feel it serves its purpose. The combat is by no means deep, but it allows you to fight like a swashbuckler and isn’t so shallow to be boring.

Most importantly, Connor did manage to shoot himself from a cannon before being told to stop playing, and we can confirm it is as fun…if not more fun…than what you may have thought. It’s a cute little addition that makes the game feel just the right amount of goofy. More importantly, it feels like some good old-fashioned Rare-flavoured amusement. It’s a feeling we haven’t had for a while, and we’re glad they’ve returned with a nice multiplayer game. However, despite these good impressions, we would still hold off on preordering it, at least until we can be sure about what the endgame is.

Super Lucky’s Tale

The final game that’s Xbox One exclusive was Super Lucky’s Tale, a cute puzzle platformer from Playful. For those who’ve already removed this game from their mind and disregarded it as a cheap kid’s game, hang on for a minute because it strides beyond the mediocre game you may have assumed it to be.

To be blunt, it’s a game aimed at children, that’s their bread and butter audience and it’s clear from just looking at the box art. That doesn’t mean it’s low quality, in fact Super Lucky’s Tale is covered head to toe in passion and polish. In particular, the art style is simply adorable. Every enemy, character and random creature oozes cuteness. Our favourite without a doubt is a pig right at the start of the demo, sleeping and snoring in the mud. Upon jumping on him, he wakes up momentarily only to fall back asleep. This doesn’t add anything to the game in terms of content, but it did make Connor audibly “awwwww”, and seriously became one of our favorite moments of my first day.

Despite being a kid’s game, the puzzles weren’t brainless. While playing we tried to consider how difficult a 10-year-old would find it and it would certainly put up a challenge. To progress through the demo, you needed basic timing and platforming. It’s about as difficult as the Banjo-Kazooie games, which is around the right amount of struggle to test a child’s skill.

The game runs well for the most part, with the exception of occasional frame drops when the screen’s filled with fireballs or large amounts of effects. While this sucks and acts as a black mark against this otherwise charming game, we doubt your little brother or sister will care too much if it drops slightly below 60 FPS. Apart from these occasional drops, the game maintains a solid frame rate and plays like a dream. Pick this up for your child, little brother or sister when it comes out. It’s plenty of fun and worth your time.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

The game with the highest ever concurrent players on Steam, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’s port to the Xbox One is highly anticipated and a major advantage over Sony if the port holds up. Thankfully from what we played the game ran well, with minimal problems. It’s certainly not perfect. Like the PC version, the game has some issues when the player count is high, but there’s no outstanding issues specific to the Xbox One version. This is great news, as there were fears that the Xbox One version would simply be an objectively worse product. However, as it’s up to par, the port has become a fine alternative without having to grab yourself an expensive PC.

There’s not too much else to add honestly, it’s a good version of the already good PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s up to the individual whether or not they’d rather use a keyboard and mouse or an Xbox One controller. However, since Microsoft may be adding keyboard and mouse support to Xbox One soon, that might not even be the choice. We’re interested to see how the weapon meta will change on the console, and as big PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds fans, we’re excited to spend dozens of hours fighting our way through droves of new Xbox One players.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

We haven’t kept in touch with the Assassin’s Creed series for a while, as Connor remembers finishing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and being content with the series. He cashed out his chips and walked away. What this means is that he missed several games worth of improvements, and only experienced later games through word of mouth. As someone coming back to the series, Assassin’s Creed Origin didn’t just get him re-interested in the series, it was the most enjoyable Assassin’s Creed experience he’s ever had.

As a fan of role-playing games and the numerous mechanics included, the innovations they’ve added acted as a fresh new coat of paint for this decade-old race car of a series. For starters, the revamped combat feels less like cutting through paper people without a chance in Hell, and more like a legitimate fight for survival. Think back to combat in previous games, where you can counter stab your way through 20 heavily-armed soldiers. Now if you’re outnumbered, you must play carefully to stay alive.

When not having tense swordfights, we were engaging in some good old-fashioned stealth-and-stab gameplay. In the demo, we came across a level-20 captain, who we assume was the toughest of the enemies we’d been fighting. We must assume, as we lured him to the side of a ship before pulling him off the side into the water below. This is by no means a new addition to Assassin’s Creed, but we were happy to learn that despite the reworked combat system, playing stealthily—like an assassin—is still rewarded.

The new loot system was also an awesome addition to Assassin’s Creed Origins. Rather than buying weapons from faceless merchants in forgettable stores, you find loot in the style of traditional role-playing games. This comes with the standard loot colouring, that being blue is rare, purple being epic, and so on. This gives your gear more value as no longer will weapons be just means to an end. They’re now interesting rewards for you to experiment with.

Lastly, we’d like to praise the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Origins. In our brief time with him, we learned a tremendous amount about his character without text dumps or needless exposition. We confronted a priest with a radical crocodile hat, who was beating a boy who lost his statues. Our character immediately questioned the boy’s crimes, and goes off to prove his innocence. This sound like the norm for these games, but it’s the little things that stood out. For example, the priest refers to you as a peasant. While Ezio might have just thrown back another snide remark, your character’s pride shines through as he gets confrontational with the man.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

We were huge fans of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It was a cool little side story in Tolkien’s fantasy epic that mixed an exciting combat system with the groundbreaking Nemesis system. We’re glad to write that this game is more of the same, with some substantial improvements. The combat for one, has had plenty of new additions including a whole new set of skills and snazzy moves to victimize hordes of enemies with. While previously the combat did a respectable job at making use of your character’s powers, Shadow of War’s combat turns it all the way to 11. In this game, you can fly around the battlefield like a force of nature, shooting a plethora of spiritual abilities to anyone around you.

The Nemesis system’s changes are also superb. Your crew of enslaved misfits and killers can now accompany you during assaults on Sauron’s multiple fortresses. The fortress assaults are themselves impressive stages for you to flex your personal muscles and the strength of your army, made even better by the individuality of your own unique captains. There’s not much more to say honestly, if you enjoyed the previous game then you’re sure to love this sequel to bits. On the off chance you haven’t got your hands on this series yet, this game earnt its place as one of the most anticipated games for the Xbox One.

Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter took the world by storm for good reason, it’s an addictingly good action game built around finding and killing giant monsters. With Monster Hunter: World, they take the series to its natural progression, improving the key aspects of the gameplay drastically. Starting with the monsters, this new title adds brand new creatures for you to kill like the intimidating Anjanath. This T-Rex-looking monster attacks you with his large jaw, legs and tail as expected, but also toasts everyone around it with the ability to breath fire. These monsters also have all sorts of interesting details that keep them fantastical, such as the aforementioned Anjanath’s extendable nose that it uses to track prey in its surroundings. These minute details while to some may seem insignificant, give Monster Hunter: World its unique pizzazz.

The tracking of monsters has also been significantly changed, with the inclusion of scout flies. These little creatures show players the path to a target by interacting with tracks left by said target. This puts a larger emphasis on the Hunter” part of Monster Hunter, as you actively scan the environment around you to find what you’re looking for.

Finally, the namesake of this new game, World, reflects the changing of the maps from connected small areas, to a single large environment. This for me was a major improvement and a no-brainer for the series moving from handhelds to consoles with far more processing power. It allowed for the developers to create large intricate maps, and removed annoying stage transitions that plagued the previous games in the series. As a standout game from EGX 2017, Monster Hunter: World may be one of the most enjoyable games coming soon to your Xbox One.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

We must take a moment to sing Bandai Namco’s praises with this game. It stands as one of the best fighting games shown this year, period. Too often in the modern industry we see games made purely for fiscal profit. It’s a natural occurrence in an industry whose life blood is money, which is why the obvious passion poured into every aspect of this game is so amazing.

The visuals themselves are the hook that will snare most players. Arc System are amazing at creating beautifully fluid animation. Compare the look of this game to the recently-released Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite and there’s no question which is more appealing to the eye. Despite the stunning look of this game, it’s backed up by deep and rewarding gameplay. While less complex than other Arc System games such as Guilty Gear or BlazBlue, it still has enough going on so that players willing to grind it out in training mode can discover a plethora of combos.

It also has the benefit of being a Dragon Ball Z game, allowing it to feature a wide range of iconic characters from Goku to Freza. If you’re not a fan of the series it remains a great fighting game, but if you’re a long-time fan of the series, they act as a bonus with countless references to the show. Overall, it’s a brilliant experience for those in the mood for some competitive action. We recommend keeping an eye on this one in the months to come.

Far Cry 5

The latest entry in Ubisoft’s much-loved first-person shooter series, Far Cry 5 continues the status quo with frantic gunplay and lovable, and sometimes crazy, characters. But does the latest explosive entry do enough to stand out above its peers? We’re willing to say so.

First of all, the setting that Far Cry 5 takes place in is genuinely fresh. The recent games have set a precedent of exploring places rarely touched by other video games, from the mountains of far eastern Asian countries to jungle-covered tribal islands. Modern day America seems obvious, but the area playable in Far Cry 5 takes everything typical of the southern United States and gives it a nasty case of evil Christian cult-itis. The ompanions you can bring along to your murder-fests all provide different benifts during combat. Nick dominates the skies in his own personal biplane, providing fire support for you during combat. Grace is your pocket markswoman, who has no trouble picking off people who mean you harm. She’ll bunker down in a high position and assist you during fights, like Nick but far subtler. Finally, there’s Boomer the dog. Boomer will assault people and bring you their weapons, which can come in handy when you’re running low on bullets. We picked Boomer, because if video games have taught us anything, it’s to appreciate our canine companions while we can. Remember Fallout 4?

As is expected in the Far Cry series, the action-packed moments are a bundle of fun. All the guns feel good to use, from the smallest handguns to the largest assault rifles. There’s also an unmistakable feeling of fun when you drive an American muscle car through a group of people, mainly due to the brilliant sound design on show with bullets flying through the windows or the thud as they’re thrown over the hood.

South Park: The Fractured but Whole

The last game Connor got his mitts on while stumbling around EGX was South Park: The Fractured but Whole, a hilarious spoof game based on the recent popularisation of comic book cinematic universes. Ubisoft and South Park Digital Studios blew people away with its legendary sense of humour translating perfectly to an amazing video game.

The sequel overhauls the gameplay from South Park: The Stick of Truth. Rather than remain a classic Final Fantasy-style game, South Park: The Fractured but Whole transitions into a tile-based system, adding a new aspect to think about as positioning has become very important. I respect that they didn’t maintain the status quo. Just like the cartoon, they pushed the envelope with their work.

Speaking of pushing the envelope, this game really pushes the kind of jokes you see in video games nowadays. South Park: The Stick of Truth famously was so out there, that certain scenes were censored in Australia and Europe. We don’t want to spoil any scenes we saw in the demo, but rest assured it’s just as raunchy as the previous title.

If you’re pining for a chuckle, we can wholeheartedly recommend this game from the impression it gave us. If you’re sensitive around certain topics however, we’d give it a pass until you can be sure you won’t get offended. We’re not saying this game will traumatise those with thin skins, we’re saying it will blow your pants off!

There you have it folks, that’s every major release from EGX 2017, apart from titles such as Cuphead that’ve been released since. This year was dynamite for Xbox One fans, chock full of games that radiated quality and a dedication to their fans. We certainly have plenty to look forward to in the coming months. At this time we would also like to thank Connor for going to EGX 2017 and providing all of this feedback. This preview would not have been possible without his hard work diligently playing, researching and writing about each game. He wrote about all the games and I edited his work.

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