There were a lot of excellent games at EGX 2018. I mean a lot.
Ubisoft had Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division 2. Sega had Sonic Team Racing and Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise. Square Enix had Kingdom Hearts III and Life is Strange 2. Nintendo had Super Mario Party, Pokémon Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And that’s just the highlights. There were hundreds more games crowded into the halls of Birmingham’s NEC, all of them vying for my attention. With a limited amount of time at the show, I didn’t get time to try everything I’d have liked to. But one developer’s booth stood out to me more than any other: Bandai Namco.
Boo to the queue
There are a couple of reasons why Bandai Namco’s offerings were the highlight of EGX 2018, and indeed, one of those was its stellar lineup of upcoming games – although we will get to those in a minute. The other is the way its booth was organised. While The Division 2 and Kingdom Hearts III had lines of up to two hours’ waiting time, I was able to walk up and almost immediately start playing Man of Medan and Soulcalibur VI.
This year, Bandai Namco did away with queues, allowing people to hop on and off consoles as they pleased. It seemed to work better. Several games, I was able to sit down to play straight away. Others meant just a short ten minute or so wait until someone else had finished.
But of course, it helps that the games on show were excellent, too. Set around an impressive centrepiece of Man of Medan‘s logo and a small staging area where Soulcalibur VI tournaments – among other things – were held, Bandai Namco had an impressively varied selection of games to show off: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Jump Force, My Hero One’s Justice, Soulcalibur VI, and of course, Man of Medan.
— BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment UK (@BandaiNamcoUK) September 23, 2018
A fantastic line-up of games
Okay, none of them may be quite as high profile as the likes of Assassin’s Creed or Kingdom Hearts. But I’m glad I didn’t spend two hours queueing for either of those and instead spent my time enjoying Bandai Namco’s excellent line-up of games. We’ve already had a hands-on preview of Man of Medan, but I was excited to be able to take it for a spin myself. The demo was around 10 minutes long, and put the player in control of Fliss as she explores an old, abandoned ship. Of course, being thrown straight into it, we had little idea of the context, but it didn’t matter. Man of Medan managed to deliver atmosphere and horror in droves, even at a packed expo.
My Hero One’s Justice, a game I didn’t know a great deal about before sitting down to play, was also pretty impressive. Partially because, playing head-to-head against Rich, I managed to win a few battles – and I never win against him in beat’em up games. If you’re familiar with the anime, My Hero One’s Justice will undoubtedly be much more of a compelling purchase, but even without any knowledge of the franchise, it’s set to be an enjoyable fighting game. The art style is superb, and the 3D environments to fight in, which destruct around you as you jump around and toss your opponents into walls, make the game stand out from the crowd. It’s a lot more fast-paced than some beat’em ups, and although the controls felt a little floaty at times, it was a lot of fun. Especially when I won.
Of course, stealing the spotlight for fighting games though, was Soulcalibur VI. Like all the Soulcalibur games that came before it, Soulcalibur VI is shaping up to be a lot of fun. Its control system makes it more accessible to most players, making it possible to pull of fancy moves without needing to input a ridiculously long string of buttons. While the full roster has not yet been revealed yet, the characters that were available were all great. From the scantily-clad Ivy to everyone’s favourite witcher, Geralt of Rivia, each character has its own fighting style, and the half a dozen or so I tried were equally enjoyable to play.
We’ll have more in-depth previews of the Bandai Namco games we tried over the course of the week. But as a whole, the company’s offerings at EGX has left me very excited for what the company has lined up over the next year or so. The games showed off start rolling out very soon – with Soulcalibur VI and My Hero One’s Justice both coming in October. They’ll be followed next year by Jump Force, and Man of Medan, which is one of at least four Dark Pictures Anthology games that Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco are signed up for.
It’s a very exciting time to be a gamer, indeed.