The Best of Gamescom 2019: Games & Hardware
Gamescom may not be quite the biggest show in the gaming calendar – E3 still holds that throne – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to get excited about.
Not only has the show seen big new game reveals – hello, Disintegration – it’s also seen plenty of trailers and news for other upcoming titles, along with hardware announcements from the likes of Asus, Alienware, HP Omen, and more. Here are our favourites from the show so far.
John Wick Hex
Game adaptations of movies are nothing new – even if it’s been a few years since their heyday – but good game adaptations of movies remain rare. John Wick Hex is almost certainly one of the good ones.
Writer and director Mike Bithell (of Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular fame) is behind this prequel to the John Wick movies, which sits somewhere between XCOM and Superhot.
It’s essentially an isometric strategy game, but instead of being turn-based, every action has a time cost, with time only flowing while those actions play out. You’ve got to think not only about how to kill, but how to kill efficiently – do you just go straight for your guns, or duck and roll before jumping out for a melee strike?
It sounds complex, but it’s deceptively simple once you get into the flow, and it’s all geared towards one purpose: making you play (and feel) like Wick himself. It’s breathtaking.
Read our full John Wick preview to find out more.
Carrion is the deranged new ‘reverse horror’ game from Polish studio Phobia and indie publisher extraordinaire Devolver, and it’s something pretty special.
A horror game in which you play as the monster – a spectacularly grisly, gloopy, tentacled blob thing – Carrion is essentially a Metroidvania title. You explore the dark environments, squishing pesky humans along the way, backtracking as you unlock new abilities like shooting webs to hit remote switches, or invisibility to avoid tripping optical traps.
But it’s the monstrous side of the game that makes it really special. The dissonant, atmospheric soundtrack is punctuated by the screams, crunches, and squelches of the humans that get in your way, and there’s something special about lurching around the maps, hurling victims and objects around in a gory maelstrom.
Carrion will come out on PC and consoles some time in 2020.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
The original Final Fantasy 7 held a special place in the heart of many gamers, and we’re confident that excitement and adoration will be replicated with the Final Fantasy 7 remake. Even if you didn’t play it the first time around, the game doesn’t look or feel like a game that was originally created back in 1997 and doesn’t rely on nostalgia like other classic games appearing in 2019.
That’s because it’s being recreated from the ground up by a combination of the original developers and younger developers that played – and loved – the game the first time around. The game looks stunning and, more importantly, the combat is phenomenal. Whether you like to pause time and plan your next move, or go all-in and play it like a live-action game, Final Fantasy 7 has you covered.
It’s one of our most anticipated games, and we cannot wait to play more when the first installment is released on 3 March 2020. Find out more in our Final Fantasy 7 Remake preview.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Dragon Ball FighterZ would be a tough act for any game to follow, so it’s probably a good thing that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is something completely different.
The action RPG lets you play as Goku (a.k.a. Kakarot) and other fan favourites across the original Dragon Ball Z storyline – at least as far as the end of the Cell Saga, and most likely beyond.
We saw and loved the game at E3, but the Gamescom demo sealed the deal with the reveal not only of Cell, but also that Gohan, Vegeta, and more will be playable across the campaign. We got to thrash Cell with Super Saiyan 2 Gohan, and the fully 3D aerial combat feels properly special – though we’re still not sure how deep the game’s RPG side will really be.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will hit PC, PS4, and Xbox One in early 2020 – read our full preview for more.
After years of trailers and teasers, the Cyberpunk 2077 release date is finally nearing. And despite not being able to go hands-on ourselves, a BCD session with developers CD Projekt Red showcased the phenomenal open-world RPG that the company has been working on for quite some time.
It features a magnitude of mechanics and systems that interact with one another, and there’s a focus on freedom – freedom to choose your abilities, freedom to choose your focus and, just as importantly, freedom to customise your character in any way you’d like. As long as you’ve got the money to pay for the clothes and other items, of course!
The combat looks fluid and satisfying, the game is visually breath-taking (just like Keanu!) and it boasts a variety of things to do aside from the main campaign. It’s one of the best demos we’ve seen at Gamescom 2019, and we cannot wait for it to be released on PC and consoles on 16 April 2020. For more, take a look at our Cyberpunk 2077 preview.
Asus ROG Chakram
Gamescom always offers a mix of hardware and software announcements, and Asus went big on the former. Alongside a suite of motherboard and monitor updates, what caught our eye was the ROG Chakram mouse.
The first thing to notice is that this is no normal mouse – it also boasts a small joystick on the left hand side. You can use this as a fully analogue thumbstick just like on a controller, or instead use it as an extra set of four programmable buttons, setting different controls based on whether you slide it up, down, left, or right.
That’s not all though, and the Chakram has an exhaustive list of features: RGB lighting, custom logo plates, wired, wireless (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi), Qi wireless charging, fast wired charging over USB-C (12 hours charge in 15 minutes), a whopping 135 hours of battery over Bluetooth, replaceable click switches, 16,000 DPI, and even a set of different sized joysticks to swap in and out.
It’s unlikely to be cheap when it comes out – there’s no price or release date yet – but if money is no object then this might just be the one mouse to rule them all.
While the idea of adding real-time ray-tracing technology to a famously blocky game may seem odd to some, we think it’s the most transformative use of RTX tech to date. Minecraft RTX offers the core Minecraft experience with enhanced lighting, providing a more natural look to the game, without tweaking the aesthetic that gamers know and love.
Water looks and acts like water should, rays of sunshine gleams through shrubbery and, most importantly, light bounces off surfaces, naturally illuminating areas that would’ve previously been pitch black. This is especially noticeable in dark caves, where light from the sun can bounce around corners and provide natural ambient lighting.
It’s safe to say that once you play Minecraft RTX, the standard Minecraft experience just won’t be enough. To find out more, including release details, take a look at our interview with Minecraft’s Creative Director, Saxs Persson.
Disintegration is the first title from V1 Interactive, a small 30-person team founded by one of the co-creators of the hugely popular Halo series, and that influence is evident in both the gameplay and narrative of the game. Combining FPS and RTS gameplay, Disintegration looks to offer something unique in a market full of shooters of all shapes and sizes.
Offering both a full single-player campaign and an online multiplayer mode, Disintegration puts players in the shoes of Romer, an outlaw fighting against Radon, a powerful group of radicals forcing humanity to ditch their meat bags in favour of a robotic body.
We got the chance to go hands-on with Disintegration’s multiplayer mode at Gamescom 2019, and it really impressed us. Your character rides one of a selection of unique gravcycles above the battlefield while controlling specialised units on the ground, and in particularly tense situations, you can provide backup with powerful artillery mounted onto your cycle.
The switch between RTS and FPS is intriguing, and it’s something we’re looking forward to playing in 2020 when the game is due for release. Find out more in our Disintegration preview.
Planet Zoo is everything we wanted it to be, and so much more. It builds on the foundations of Planet Coaster whilst adding new and exciting features (some of which we can’t talk about!) and improving the overall user experience. Every element of the game has been carefully designed, with members of the development team collaborating with zoos around the world to make them as true-to-life as possible.
An interesting addition that we can talk about is the Franchise mode. It’s a new feature in Planet Zoo, and will let users from around the world buy and sell top-tier animals to enhance their zoo experience and improve the genetics of the inhabitants – you don’t want inbreeding, after all.
And, of course, the animals, exhibits, and environments look absolutely incredible. What more could you want from a zoo sim? Read our full review of Planet Zoo here.
Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero
The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Areo, aside from being a mouthful to say, combines the design and performance of the high-end Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 with brand new software and hardware to further enhance the audio experience. First off, the Atlas Aero is completely wireless, ditching the need for cables and providing the freedom that gamers want. It comes with a USB receiver that is plugged into the PC, and can be hidden within the earcup for safekeeping when not in use.
Aside from wireless connectivity, the Aero boasts the same cooling gel-infused earcups, 50mm drivers and a detachable high-quality microphone as the high-end variant. What stands out is the bundled software, offering a way for gamers to customise the audio performance on a per-game basis and enable advanced effects like Waves Nx 3D audio and SuperHuman hearing.
While the features on offer make the Elite Atlas Aero sound like a pricy purchase, it’ll only set you back £129.99/$149.99 once it goes on sale.
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