EB Expo 2016: Dishonored 2, Gravity Rush 2, More Lego

eb-expo-showfloorI attended the EB Expo using a media pass supplied by the organisers.

This year’s EB Expo continued the event’s shift away from gaming-specific content towards being a general pop-culture fair. It included the usual big-name video gaming exhibitors – all three platform holders (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo), major publishers such as Ubisoft, and hardware companies such as Logitech and Razer. It also offered a range of exhibitors from related fields, including science-fiction fan groups, artists and craftspeople, and the return of last year’s highlight, the Lego enthusiast group Sydney Brick Show.

More thoughts after Vault Boy:

I posed with this same Vault Boy prop last year.
I posed with this same Vault Boy prop last year.

Games

eb-dishonored-2-poster-2I enjoyed each of the three games I played: Dishonored 2, Gravity Rush 2, and Batman: The Telltale Series.

The highlight was the atmospheric, thrilling Dishonored 2 I played as new protagonist Emily, grown up in the years since the first game took place. Dishonored 2’s rich worldbuilding was on display from the demo’s opening sequence, a roller-coaster-like ride to the gates of a clockwork mansion. Inside, the mansion is occupied by human and clockwork guards, servants, and even a pair of very surprised guests waiting in an antechamber; its rooms are shaped and reshaped by pulling levers. Its villainous master watched — and commented on — my progress, at one point even taunting me for going the wrong way.

eb-dishonored-2-poster-1When the situation turned nasty, Dishonored 2 handed me a toolkit combining stealth, speed, and sheer power. A crossbow bolt to the head scrambled one clockwork robot and turned it against its allies, before I finished it off with a hail of bullets and sword strikes. I defeated another by stealth-moving to close quarters, then slashing it to ribbons.  Before my time with the demo ran out, I was trying to figure out a way past a Wall of Light – a force field that disintegrated anything passing through1.

Finally, the decoration of the Dishonored 2 booth deserves a mention. The walls were hung with in-universe posters – from advertisements to stern admonishments by the city’s duke – and I was greeted by staff cosplaying as Emily, two guardsmen, and a character I didn’t recognise. Very cool!

eb-dishonored-2-postersAfter playing the original Gravity Rush on Vita, I found Gravity Rush 2 to be comfortably familiar. Its premise was familiar, as I sent gravity-defying superheroine Kat bounding across – and over – vaguely European-looking streets. Its art and music were familiar: vibrant colours and comic-book-style cutscenes. Its controls were familiar. What was different was combat. Upon seeing combat in GR2, my first instinct was dismay; it was the weakest part of GR1, to the point where I shelved the game after a frustrating boss battle. GR2 revisits this to add several new elements – an auto-aim reduces frustration, a tap of the touchpad will cycle Kat’s fighting style through agile, regular, and powerful modes, and human and mech enemies have been added to the game. I also suspect that the game benefits from the Vita -> PS4 transition, which brings a larger screen and less fiddly controls. If and when I buy a PS4, Gravity Rush 2 will be high on my list.

I liked what I played of Batman: The Telltale Series (about half an hour of Episode 1), with the caveat that it’s difficult to evaluate long-running narrative games on a showfloor. After playing Telltale’s recent Tales from the Borderlands, the basic mechanics were familiar — a mix of dialogue choices, QTEs, and cut-scenes — and I liked what I saw of the script, for instance, Catwoman’s shifting emotional response during an early meeting with Batman. Worth keeping an eye on.

“That’s interesting…” moment: Realising that the excited commentators at an eSports event (hosted by Logitech) sounded exactly like the horse races.

Other works

The Lego on display was impressive. This is Hogwarts:

Lego HogwartsI love this garden:

lego-garden… and this Pokemon logo:

20161001_140322Weta Workshop, which designed props and costumes for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, is a regular on the Australian con scene – I first recall encountering Weta over a decade ago, at a Supanova (anime/movies/pop culture) convention in Sydney. Here is their Eowyn figurine:

eb-weta-eowynAnd here is a dwarven statue, complete with Fallout cosplayers in the background:

eb-weta-statue

Out of all the cosplayers present, my favourite was an elaborate Big Daddy from Bioshock, complete with a drill that spun when the helmet lights changed colour from green to red. It was so elaborate, the person inside needed help to remove the costume afterward!

eb-bioshock-cosplayer-2 eb-bioshock-cosplayer-1The Expo also contained quite a few stalls manned by independent creators, such as Gemwaith International (steampunk accessories and chain-mail pouches), Button Fox Crafts (costumes and soft toys), and Rocky Hammer Creations (art prints – including many cute Pokemon sketches). Finally, it included several science-fiction enthusiast groups (Star Trek, Dr Who, and Star Wars) and a LARP group, Rooty Hill-based Scy’kadia.

  1. Looking up how Walls of Light worked in the original game, and assuming they work in the same way in both games, apparently I could have passed by throwing enough junk to make the Wall  run out of fuel.
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