The team behind EGX2021 has worked tirelessly! They have focussed their efforts on making this an event that’s fun, interesting, and above all else, safe! COVID-19 has altered the events landscape much more than anyone would like to admit. Yet this shouldn’t stop us from making the trip to the ExCeL Centre in London. Many major players are missing and the large space that’s usually full of colour and life appears stark and bare. However, this doesn’t mean that this year’s instalment should be ignored.
After much disappointment, sorrow, and isolation, this staple of the gaming calendar has arrived. It is the opportunity for like-minded individuals to gather together, and get hands-on with some amazing unknown titles. EGX2021 may be different from what most expected, but this slow-burning event proves that a phoenix can rise from the flames.
EGX2021 is remarkably uninspiring at first glance.
Having collected my press pass while navigating some minor confusion surrounding entry times, I gladly skipped to door S7 to get my first glimpse of EGX2021. Sadly, however, more miscommunication forced me and fellow press members and creators to wait in the foyer until 10 am. This wasn’t an issue, as a kind gentleman entertained us with magic and card tricks, so not all was lost.
10 O’Clock came and the curtain was finally raised. We entered and was greeted by a disappointing and rather flaccid fanfare. Compared with previous years, the arena was empty and bland, or so it first appeared. Yet, fortunately, Virgin Media and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout added some much-needed colour, energy, and life to this calm affair. With pumping tunes, mascots, lively staff, and the promise of a prize bundle if you won the tournament, there were many reasons to rejoice.
Sadly, I and my fellow teammates sucked at the game! Disappointingly, our dreams of a free PS5 and a year’s supply of Virgin Media went out the window. Though, the chance to take on the Fall Guy Mountain was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. A giant Wipeout style treadmill challenges competitors to sprint to the top to collect a foam crown. Each team has three minutes to stay on their feet, gather the crowns, and get back to the starting point. It was hectic, fun, and full of banter! This portion of the day was a raving success.
Focussed on indie titles and Steam.
The gaming industry is renowned for its triple-A titles, and many gamers rave about each exclusive they get to play. Yet, EGX2021 offers little in the way of triple-A games, especially if you haven’t turned eighteen! As you wander the enormous space, you are treated to a spectacle of university projects, new developers, unusual ideas, and well-established talents. There is also the odd smattering of high-end games, namely Baldur’s Gate III and Crysis Remastered Trilogy.
As for the rest, there is a wonderful presence from Team17, PQube, Goblinz Studio, and Mooneye Indies. Many of the developers and publishers were extremely excited about offering a hands-on experience with their creations, yet two stood out for their enthusiasm and flair. Sally Sheppard, a solo developer, has created a visual novel-like title called Spellbound: The Magic Within. And Not A Goose Games has entertained with its fun and frantic twin-stick shooter Cheftastic.
Console gamers will wonder where their piece of the pie is! Strangely, most of the games on offer are either Steam Early Access or mid-development projects. This, unfortunately, will leave many console gamers disappointed, as their favourite games will be forever out of reach.
Over 18s only, merchandise, and retro gaming.
EGX2021 has done a fantastic job at separating its key sections, and this is evident in the Over 18s only section. Reserved for gory titles, players will enjoy Call of Duty, Back 4 Blood, Deathloop, and more. ID and patience are required to enter this area as players have a maximum of 45 minutes to play the game of their choice. This section was well marshalled, disciplined, and was a credit to the organisers.
Gaming, retro action, and merchandise go hand in hand. So, fortunately, it’s a good thing that EGX2021 has this covered. With a vast amount of stalls for collectables, bags, accessories, and more available, there is something for every taste. The retro area spans pinball machines, NES consoles, and more, so you can relive good times while challenging friends.
EGX2021 has a live theatre and educational pieces, but it lacks that special edge.
You can’t fault the organisers for their efforts to put together some fascinating talks and educational pieces, yet it missed that showbiz edge. Previous instalments have wowed the crowds with exclusive game footage and Q and A sessions, and EGX2021 doesn’t seem to have lived up to this promise.
The lack of wow factor was disappointing, and I was left craving so much more. I needed my hit of unseen gameplay from triple-A titles, but that never appeared. This impacted the vibe of the event as many gamers come for a hands-on experience, but they also want to be amazed by never before seen footage.
EGX2021 is a slow-burner that is worth your time and effort.
You may initially be disappointed after you first enter the ExCel Centre, but I suggest you let this wash over you! If you discard the normal razzmatazz, you will enjoy a full-on experience of smaller indie developers, some excellent larger titles, and a friendly crowd waiting to greet you. Every developer is keen for you to observe their time-consuming work, so why not look at the full itinerary here! Jump right in, meet some hard-working indie developers, and experience so diamonds in the rough.