Love it or loathe it, the industry is changing. There are fewer big-budget, boxed releases than ever before, which is a symptom of the high risk medium in which we currently reside. However, while the shelves at your local GameStop may be starting to thin, there is a wealth of creativity blossoming on online shopping plazas like the PlayStation Store; from Tokyo Jungle to inFAMOUS: First Light, there’s something for absolutely everyone. Sony’s big Gamescom press conference this week highlighted this change, as it pointed the platform holder’s spotlight at a selection of incredibly imaginitive first-party ventures, each unlike anything that you’ve ever played before. WiLD was the highlight.
Sammy Barker, Editor
In a Guildford office some years ago, the top dogs at Supermassive Games gathered in a glossy boardroom and came to a single, simple conclusion: let’s make Sammy Barker’s dream game. Don’t get me wrong, Until Dawn doesn’t look like it’s ever going to set the world on fire, but the PS4 adaptation of the ex-PlayStation Move exclusive of the same name is right up my alley. Its intentionally dodgy dialogue, angst infested teenage caricatures, and unexpected jump scares all really appeal to me, and it’s nice to have a release that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Indeed, I get the impression that this is the type of title that David Cage would make – if he wasn’t so chronically obsessed with the word ‘emotion’.
Robert Ramsey, Associate Editor
Gamescom 2014 saw me torn between two fantasy RPGs: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Both look great for largely different reasons, but in the end, I've gazed deep into the breach and pulled out BioWare's upcoming adventure as my pick of the show. Sporting what appears to be a very rich open world and more quests than you can count, I'm really starting to get hyped for the November release, especially after those intriguing Gamescom trailers. It's no secret that, for many, the Canadian developer's first PS4 title is something of a last chance after the disappointing second game in the series, and as such, it feels like the developer is throwing everything that it can into this hopefully glorious sequel.
Ben Potter, Video Editor
As I had hoped in our Gamescom predictions article, Bloodborne had an impressive showing in Cologne. There was grime, darkness, and murky Victorian architecture; horrifying foes, towering bosses, and, perhaps best of all, we got to see it in motion – and boy was it pretty. The gameplay trailer also allowed us to see the shotgun used in combat, proving itself to act as more of a shield parry-esque stagger-inducer than a damage-inflictor, which verifies that the tactics at any Souls game's core are still present here. You already had my curiosity and attention, Bloodborne, but confirm a co-operative mode and I’m all yours. Some may say that Sony's conference lacked star power, but for me Hidetaka Miyazaki's twisted PS4 exclusive shone bright enough.
Jamie O’Neill, Retro Editor
RIME and WiLD showcased visually inviting landscapes, but the new Gamescom exclusive that I'd like to draw attention to is Alienation. The debut trailer had prominence as the penultimate showing at Sony's press conference, because of the Finnish developer's pedigree at forging arcade shooters. Described by Housemarque as "part Dead Nation spiritual successor, part brand new concept", it's a top-down sci-fi shooter, presumably using twin-stick controls. Alongside supporting your allies with four-player co-op, the game has an interesting invasion mechanic as well. Housemarque's PS4 hardware wizardry from Resogun ensures that blasting mass alien throngs – and utilising laser spewing weaponry – will light up our screens with particle effects and pyrotechnics.
Kell Andersen, News Reporter
I have a confession to make: I only want to play RIME for its graphical style. I don't care if its gameplay is dull. I don't care if its story is nonsense. I don't even care if it gets consistently bad review scores. I just want to look at its gorgeous vistas forever. And then I want to look at them some more. And then some more. Ahem, I'm not a proud man. In all seriousness, my favourite games are the ones that whisk me away to another time and place, and Tequila Works’ latest looks like it will do just that.
Indie is becoming a somewhat misleading phrase in a sector that’s rapidly adapting to market realities. It once referred to small two or three people teams making sidescrolling platformers with pixel art, but that’s not really the case anymore. Properties like RIME and The Tomorrow Children are being funded and published by the PlayStation maker, with the aim being to diversify the PlayStation 4’s portfolio, while also plugging the gaps between those big, tentpole exclusive titles. These aren’t lesser experiences because they’re not being shipped in a box, though, and Wild Sheep’s abovementioned feral foray is evidence of that; it may not be being constructed by a team of 1,000 people, but it’s no less ambitious.
Why the drawn out introduction? Well, because we don’t actually know a whole lot about the release, aside from the fact that it’s a first-party exclusive being helmed by Rayman creator Michel Ancel. Described as an online survival game, the title is said to boast a map as large as Europe itself, and will enable you to play as both animals and humans as you explore its endless interactive options. You’ll battle the elements as well as others, all while forging relationships with your fellow species and nature itself, in an adventure that promises to surprise at every corner. As far as pitches go, it’s easy to see why this topped our public poll.
Alex Stinton, Reviewer
I hoped that we’d see the next game from Ninja Theory at Gamescom, and while we didn’t get any actual gameplay, the teaser trailer for Hellblade was enough to make it my Game of the Show. I have to admit that the Cambridge-based developer won my heart a while ago with both Enslaved and DmC ranking among my favourite games of the last generation, so while it’s still early, the promise of an ‘independent AAA’ title is really intriguing. I just hope that despite the generic name – how isn’t there already a game called Hellblade? – Ninja Theory manages to deliver the twisted world, deep characters, and brutal combat that it’s promising. Who knows, maybe it’ll cause more gamers to see the light and finally bring the firm the big commercial success that it deserves.
Ben Tarrant, Reviewer
If there’s a good way to get your game noticed, it’s to release it without an explanation. P.T. – the playable teaser for Silent Hills – is a horrifically scary experience (no, really, it’s harrowing) that’s ended up being the most fun that I’ve ever had with a horror game. That’s not a bad accolade for a demo that may not have any resemblance to the final product anyway – although I’m hoping that the first-person view sticks around. This is definitely my Game of the Show simply for stopping me from sleeping for the first time since Dead Space.
Graham Banas, Reviewer
I’m trying hard not to get excited for Alien Isolation after the previous disaster, but I just can’t help it. As a big fan of the film franchise, this appears to be nailing it. The atmosphere evokes the first film so well, and the visuals look so incredible that I'd be doing myself a disservice if I don't play this as soon as I possibly can. With a new cinematic trailer and bushels of gameplay from Gamescom, my excitement has never been higher. Hopefully The Creative Assembly can deliver; considering that we're now just two months away from the game’s release, I'm thinking that maybe the studio can.
Joey Thurmond, Reviewer
I was expecting Media Molecule to talk about its unannounced PS4 project at Gamescom, but was proven wrong with the unveiling of Tearaway Unfolded. This seemed improbable to me since the original relies on the Vita’s features, but the developer’s re-imagining of the game is so dramatic that it could be regarded as a sequel. It utilises the DualShock 4’s properties in creative ways, runs at a nice 1080p at 60 frames-per-second, and over half of the game contains brand new content. As a result of this, I’m actually more inclined to delve into the handheld version’s papery world before I play its PS4 relative.
Nathan Michalik, Reviewer
The original Metal Gear Solid on the PSone proved to me at a young age that video games can be much more than a fun experience. Combined with the cinematic graphics and amazing plot, it's a series that I have never been able to praise enough – or explain very well. The new Fox Engine in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks phenomenal, and an open world design is sure to add a fresh feel to the genre. I think that we're in for one of the best Metal Gears of all time – as long as Hideo Kojima doesn't get caught up in his other Phantoms.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the release looks utterly breathtaking, fusing the French style that will already be so familiar to fans of Ubisoft Montpellier with a fairy tale format. From idyllic grassy meadows to underwater labyrinths, it seems like the game will run the gamut when it comes to environmental variety. And according to Ancel, each and every area will harbour new and unfound secrets – even if you’ve visited them before. It’s brimming with potential, then, which comfortably makes it worthy of its position as our Game of the Show. All that Wild Sheep needs to do now is to come good on that promise.
What was your personal Gamescom 2014 highlight? Do you agree with our selections? Let us know in the comments section below.