Today was day 2 of Gamescom. I spent somewhere around half the time we were there today standing in line. I’m going to need a week to recover from this, I swear. After getting what definitely felt like not enough sleep, I managed to crawl out of bed sometime circa 11am or so. There weren’t any presentations that I was really dying to see at 11am, so we decided it would be better to sleep in a little later because I’d been up torturing myself blogging all night. After slowly waking up and packing our bags, we headed to the gas station across the street to grab a quick sandwich and (to my utter joy) a bottle of Mt. Dew before driving to the Koelnmesse.
Traffic was quieter than the day before because it was a little later, and we actually ended up getting a parking spot that was closer than yesterday’s, about a 5 minute walk from the eastern gate. Large gates surrounded the parking area, and we were looking around wondering where we needed to walk when I spotted a gentleman waving his hands and shouting something in German. “Messe?” we heard him shout, and after we nodded, he waved us over through a gate that had been shifted aside so people could shortcut through. The eastern gate takes you through one of the quieter areas of the convention center, Hall 10, which is filled with a random smattering of activities that range from a bouncy castle (I’m not lying, I swear) to an amateur parkour setup.
A few escalators and somewhat confusing elevation changes later, we were back in the main area. As we rode the escalator down into the crowd, we saw a group of half a dozen or so people dressed as Team Fortress 2’s RED team, but they unfortunately dissipated into the madness before we could get their picture. Then we headed towards Hall 6. Destination: EA’s stage to see the producer presentation for Star Wars: The Old Republic.
12:45 It was definitely busier than yesterday. The central hall through the displays was packed with people attempting to move from point A to point B. I made a point to leave my small wallet at the hotel, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it being pickpocketed or lost, and when I saw the crowds, I was glad I’d made that decision. Heading towards the large TOR stage, we were able to get up close and look at some of the PCs demoing the game just over the wall. I know several people who are dying to get their hands on the game and having it be so-close-yet-so-far was painful.
The yearning was cut short, as we soon realized we were standing in the wrong place for the presentation and scurried to the back wall. The crowd thickened the closer we came, and no wonder, there were lightsabers on the screen, what better way to get the attention of a hall full of gaming fans who are likely Star Wars geeks in some fashion or another as well? These figures were also lined up on the stage.
They opened with the Deceived trailer, which I mistakenly called “Betrayal” in my tweet this morning, but hey, same gist. I was tired, okay?! Honestly, at first I thought it was a bit of an odd decision seeing as that was from 2009’s E3, but seeing it displayed on enormous LCDs is rather impressive. The cinematic itself is already pretty powerful, and while the sound was a bit overwhelming, the effect on the audience was palpable as everyone threw their hands in the air, cheering and whistling when it finished. The presenter then introduced Gabe Amatangelo, the Lead PvP Designer for TOR. He was very enthusiastic and was a good public speaker to boot, which is always a plus to me (I’m looking at you, Reggie Fils-Aime).
He stated that they’re currently demoing the Alderaan Civil War PvP map at Gamescom, which would be available for players on the floor. The wait is apparently a couple hours, and they’re also doing events where they invite random players in the crowd for PvP matches and something that sounded like Hotball but was rather hard to hear. I attempted to google to find some more information or see if it’s been mentioned anywhere else, but results of googling “hotball” are not pretty. Several spelling adjustments later, I discovered he actually said “Hutball,” which is a type of PvP where Jedi and Sith are randomized onto teams together to play a sort of deadly game of force soccer.
He also went into more detail about Operations, since they have the Eternity Vault Operation playable at Gamescom as well. Operations, from his description, sound like a TOR’s equivalent of small scale raids. With 8-16 players, you and your team need to work together to go against several challenges, from puzzles you need to solve in tandem to beating down epic bosses. Level 50 is the max, with many Operations forming part of the endgame experience.
On the smaller scale, there are Flashpoints, which are for 4 players. During these missions, actions and decisions that you make will actually have a tangible effect on how you experience the mission. They talked about the preordering process a little, with Amatangelo stating that “the earlier you preorder, the earlier you get in the early release,” which is in line with what we’ve heard about EA limiting the number of players at launch. To close out, they tossed Republic and Empire branded t-shirts into the audience, though we unfortunately didn’t manage to snag one. Then it was onwards to NCSoft again.
13:15 The epic wait for Guild Wars 2 begins. Like I mentioned yesterday, the demos are a whopping 40 minutes long. Braeden Shosa, the Lead Content Programmer with whom I spoke yesterday, explained that this is because they know that the fans have been waiting a long time to get their hands on the game, and they want to make sure that they have a fair chance to really get to play it and get a feel for the game. I can definitely appreciate this sentiment, and let me tell you, while the 40 minutes is an agonizing wait when you’re standing there, it flies by when you’re actually playing.
But there were 5 people ahead of me, so I had a hefty wait on my hands. Fortunately, not all of them used their allotted 40 minutes, so I ended up standing for “only” around 2.5 hours waiting to play. I also managed to stand in the one spot where the presentation screen was completely out of view, so I couldn’t even watch the NCSoft showings to entertain myself. So I sent Jochem off with stickers and told him to see if he could grab any neat photos.
Like I said, I’m saving my GW2 stuff for post-Gamescom, but I will treat you to some more photos! Jochem managed to catch the League of Legends match streaming over ESL.tv, FragX vs. fnatic. I don’t play LoL, so I can’t offer much in the way of commentary on the photos or the matchup, but it’s a fairly popular game to ask questions about on Gaming, given its focus on competitive strategy.
14:40 Still waiting. I sent Jochem ahead grab some photos of the PvP match between BOON Control, a well known European guild, and ArenaNet on the main ESL stage. He said the match looked amazing and was very exciting. BOON Control was winning throughout most of the match, but ArenaNet pulled through in the end.
15:30 Finally, finally, finally, I get my hands on the demo. Jochem was off grabbing me something to eat while I waited when the guy ahead of me decided to quit only 15 minutes in. As such, we have no photos of my character creation, seeing as he came back with his hands full and me fully refusing to eat seeing as I had GW2 in my hands after like 4 years of waiting. Here, have another teaser:
16:15 The 40 minute demo flew by, so I decided I should probably actually eat something. We went outside, snacked a little, and I finally was able to sit down after 3+ hours of standing. Though it was hard to get off the ground, we managed to haul ourselves back up and into the ESL area again, this time to…
16:40 …wait in line some more. This time it was for the Guild Wars 2 PvP demo. While the regular demo is 40 minutes long, the PvP demo is only 10-15 minutes with 10 people at a time going, so the line goes fast, or at least faster than the game proper. I held our spot while Jochem tried out Trackmania 2: Canyon. I haven’t sat down to try it yet, but the graphics at least look very impressive.
I ended up chatting for a while with a couple of guys standing behind me who I overheard speaking English. We talked a lot about Guild Wars 1 and 2, and I explained the Hall of Monuments to them, as the one who played GW1 had stopped after Nightfall. It was a fun conversation and helped to pass the time until we were closer to the entrance. I ended up giving them some Gaming.SE stickers as well, so who knows, maybe they’ll end up reading this!
Again, I must defer my discussion about GW2 gameplay, I’m sorry! But here’s a pic of the PvP area:
17:56 I saw a tweet that the Borderlands 2 live feed was going to start soon, so hoping to get into it, we aimed for the huge screen there. We were roughly 8th in line or so, and we had to wait for the Bioshock Infinite showing to finish. Next to the entrance, they were giving out more free Red Bull. While waiting, some woman came around and handed out 3D Duke Nukem Forever posters, including anaglyph glasses. I… I got nothing. Just make up your own joke there.
18:30 Finally, we get in. Then I promptly trip over a black rectangle that’s apparently part of a ground bench of something and get to simultaneously stumble looking like an idiot and bruise my shins! Awesome! Unfortunately, photos and filming weren’t allowed, so I have no pictures from the presentation, though I do have a lot of cool info, especially if you liked Borderlands 1.
From what I understand in googling, the live feed kind of crapped out and didn’t give much information, so I guess we ended up lucky in getting to see the game demo. The hotel internet here is awful, so I can’t check any of the posted videos to see if I was at the same feed or not. But we did get to see gameplay, so, bullet points ahoy! The presentation was in German, so I apologize if we missed anything, and if we were unsure of the translation, I’ll mention it.
- The UI looked pretty much the same, but the damage indicator that shows up on the side of the screen when you’re shot is now colored to correspond be blue or red to differentiate between your shield being riddled with bullets or your own meaty fleshbag. I found the blue to be a bit light, and Jochem didn’t even notice it until I pointed it out but it was also a snow level, so the entire background was white.
- There is a new type of weapon: Throwable. And no, not throwing knives. You are literally just chucking a throwable rifle at some guy’s head. The more ammo left in your weapon when you throw it, the bigger the boom. It then automagically reappears for you, from what I could tell.
- A new vehicle with a name I didn’t catch, but it holds 4 players. Most importantly, they have revamped vehicle handling!
- The Gunzerker’s ability to dual wield is not constant. It’s his class skill. So when you pop it, you have a timer shows up between your guns and counts down, as well as 2 ammo indicators. When the timer runs out, you’re back to single wielding.
- It will support splitscreen co-op and another of the new characters is Maya, a woman who seems also to be a Siren like Lilith. I’m not quite sure though, as he apparently said she was a Siren, but he also said later that all 4 classes were new.
- There’s a miniboss called Nomad with a midget strapped to his shield. This deserved its own bullet point.
- The presenter said something about skill points could be reallocated at any time now, but he didn’t indicate if there was a cost to it like the Borderlands 1 respec. Not entirely sure on the translation there.
- The graphical style remained the same, but it seemed like the draw distance was much longer.
- There’s a mission to fight a huge mech-type thing that has Roland from the previous game trapped in it. During the fight, the mech can summon some sort of airstrike from a… low-orbit moonbase or something. It fires flare missiles that explode with the brand name “Hyperion” and then fiery missiles of death rain down.
- You see a lot of enemies called Loaders, which are apparently fairly prevalent throughout the game. We saw Gun Loaders, EXP Loaders (get it?), and…
- A Badass Warloader. There were 2 flying robots with it that constantly healed it called Surveyors. They also healed other Loaders.
- There was a Vladov mingun weapon with 3 chambers that spun up and did ridiculous DoT.
- The demo ended with the Gunzerker getting blasted off a cliff by the Warloader and as he fell, he flipped up both his middle fingers.
- On the way out, I talked to the Gearbox employee there and asked if there were any plans to do anything about the hacking problems online where people create their own weapons to bring into games. He said he wasn’t sure, but it was definitely something they didn’t want to encourage.
19:00 We headed back to the hotel, went out to dinner at a small Greek place that had huge portions for very cheap, came back to the hotel, and collapsed.
5:18 That’s what time it is now. I need to get faster at putting these things together, seriously. Need to get some sleep and prepare for Saturday, which is by all accounts thus far, the busiest day. Follow me on my twitter account if you want to know where I am and what I’m doing throughout the day on the floor!