We may not have had E3 this year, but this summer didn’t go by without a huge game expo full of reveals. Gamescom returned as a live show this year, bringing a host of announcements via Geoff Keighley’s Opening Night Live show and a convention center full of playable demos. Digital Trends flew to Cologne, Germany this year to get involved with some upcoming releases and talk to the creators behind them.
Over the course of three days, we played dozens of games ranging in scope from big-budget sensations to hidden indie gems. The show proved that the video game industry is in a healthy place despite a year full of high-profile delays. With so many games to talk about and so little time to play them all, we’ve put together a list of the best games we played at Gamescom, including our pick for Game of the Show.
Game of the show: Moonbreaker
Moonbreaker is exactly what you want to see at an event like this: a left-field upset that completely steals the spotlight. Developed by subnautics studio Unknown Worlds, the strategy game debuted at Opening Night Live with a trailer showcasing its miniature-based combat, where players drag war hammer-as figurines on the battlefield. We were intrigued by that clip, but were blown away by the actual gameplay once we got a taste of it. The strategy part of the game feels incredibly tight, but what really impressed us was the game’s figure painting tool, a powerful system that allows players to easily create custom and detailed paint jobs for their figures just as they would in a real board game.
Our excitement for it only grew when we got more information from Unknown Worlds about the game. The developers told us some exciting details, discussing how Mistborn author Brandon Sanderson helped craft a rich story that the game will tell over the years, both in-game and through an episodic audio drama podcast. complete.
Every new detail we heard about the game over the weekend only intrigued us more to try it out when it launches into Early Access on September 29. Considering it’s the only game we couldn’t stop talking about this weekend, it deserves this game. of the Show slot.
dead island 2
When Dead Island 2 was leaked ahead of Gamescom, I was skeptical: “Wasn’t Dead Island that zombie game famous for having a misleading trailer?” I really didn’t understand why I should be excited about it until I got to play it. Developer Deep Silver Dambuster rescued the 10-year-old project from obsolescence by rebuilding it from scratch, a move the developer said he needed to make to achieve his vision. And what was that vision? Last butcher shop.
dead island 2 it impressed us with its procedural meat system that allows players to target a zombie’s body parts and carve them up in a grotesquely satisfying way. That is coupled with in-depth first-person melee combat that really allows players to take advantage of that gory system. As soon as I took a zombie’s leg off with a pitchfork, they sold me.
Despite not having a giant launch this fall, Xbox had a huge presence at this year’s shows. Smaller titles like high in life I got a brilliant spotlight as a result, but the best Xbox exclusive I saw at the show was penance. Developed by Obsidian, the 2D narrative game is a unique murder mystery set in the 16th century. It features eye-catching art and light RPG systems that have a real impact on the story. After seeing a preview of how it will play out, I left Gamescom excited to see a company as big as Microsoft support a small-scale project that is as charming as this one.
friends against friends
Sometimes the best games at events like this are the ones you randomly stumble upon while exploring the show floor. That was the case with friends against friends, which got a quick trailer on Opening Night Live. The multiplayer shooter features an ingenious deck-building system that allows players to sabotage each other in ever more creative ways. Play a card to enlarge an opponent’s head for a round, reduce their jump, or simply drop a nuke across the battlefield. After just a few rounds, I was already hooked on its crazy premise.
one piece odyssey
Despite never having seen the anime or read the manga it is based on, one piece odyssey he beat me at the show. He feared the project might be a low-effort cash-raiser, but he was happy to be wrong about that. It contains intelligent RPG systems that push players to make smart decisions each and every turn. Using a “rock, paper, scissors” damage system reminiscent of Fire Emblem, players have to constantly juggle party members in their lineup to make the most of every attack opportunity. For One Piece fans though, the real draw here will be seeing all of your favorite characters come to life in a 3D world, complete with voice acting. This feels like a huge effort project that will cater to gamers beyond its built-in audience.
lies of p
lies of p it was a rare success at Gamescom, with long lines waiting to get into its demo. Maybe players just had to see the Pinnochio-inspired Soulslike in action to believe it actually existed, I know I did. Fortunately, lies of p it is more than a strange premise; is an up-and-coming action game that features smooth but still challenging combat. It may just be blood borne-lite, but I found that I actually enjoyed the faster-paced action even more than most FromSoftware games. The fact that it stars a brooding Pinocchio is just the weird icing on the cake.
What the hell?
Earlier this summer, I was thrilled to learn that the team behind the excellent comedy sports game What Golf? I was entering the world of virtual reality. What the hell? takes the same idea as that game and applies it to baseball, with hysterical results. During my quick demo, I used the Oculus Quest controllers to blast my way through a series of increasingly wacky challenges. It started with me hitting a ball at a trophy and ended with me painting a statue of a stone horse, using baseball bats as brushes. I can only imagine where it will go from there in the final version.
Vikings on trampolines
Independent developer D-Pad Studio made a name for itself in 2016 with its hit platform game owl boy. However, the new game of his is much older than that. Vikings on trampolines is a modernized remake of a now-defunct browser game that was first created by one of its developers when he was 14 years old. As its title implies, players control Vikings who only move by bouncing off trampolines. The beauty of the project is that it is designed for gamers who often find games too complicated, since it is only controlled with a joystick. Based on my demo, that’s all you need to deliver a simple and fun experience with great pixel art.
gungrave gore It wasn’t the most sophisticated game I played at Gamescom, but it’s perhaps the one that made me smile the most. The over-the-top action game is a revival of a long-defunct PlayStation 2 series about a coffin-carrying, armored hero. The sequel retains the feel of a PS2 hack-and-slash, with players using their oversized weapons to rack up massive combos. It’s bombastic, bloody, and an absolute blast to play.
Gamescom’s huge Indie Arena booth was packed with exciting games, from the wandering people a Astrea: six-sided oracles. A game that caught my attention was Inkulinati. The “ink-based strategy game” has players draw animal troops on a manuscript and send them into turn-based battles. What’s especially charming about the title is that its 2D visuals look like medieval doodles moving on paper. I had as much fun watching other people’s demo as I did playing it myself.