A bit later than expected, but here’s my report of my trip to this year’s gamescom, which takes place in Cologne, Germany. It the second time I went, and if you haven’t read my 2013 report yet, you can do so here.
This time we went on a Friday, which we hoped would be a slightly calmer day than the hectic Sunday of last year. After arriving slight past 10am, thanks traffic jam, we assumed most of the crowd must already be inside. On the way to the entrance, we wondered why so many weirdly dressed people were walking away from the closest entrance. Arriving at the entrance, we went to the back of the queue, which didn’t seem bad. Until we reached what we thought was the end, but actually the queue continued two streets down the corner. After finally reaching the back, we noticed the queue moved at a decent pace and after half an hour we were inside.
Upon entering the first hall, was it not for the World of Tanks booth, we thought we went mistakenly to a League of Legends convention. Two big screens showed pro’s playing LoL while a crowd sat down around it. There was an nVidia booth were they surprisingly played LoL, thirty PCs were set up so you could play LoL and even outside was a big screen featuring LoL, sponsored by Media Markt.
After our original shock subdued, we sprinted to the next corridor, in fear of getting contaminated. The corridor seemed surprisingly calm (calm by gamescom standards) which was a big plus. The next hall, also having enough breathing room, was home of Playstation, Blizzard and smaller publishers like CDP Red, Bandai Namco and the guys from Farming Simulator. There were plenty of cool games playable, but sadly all with long waiting lines. What stood out though were all the cool props. The LBP3 planet was absolutely gorgeous and high quality, I thought the tractor was funny and it surprised me to see a Yu-Gi-Oh replica.
The hall after that was mostly devoted to Microsoft, Ubisoft, EA and Activision. Not much interesting was to be seen here, most of the stuff was behind closed doors due to age regulations. They did have Minecraft Xbox One Edition which looked like Minecraft. They did have some live gameplay for Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, which looked great but the German subs bothered me so we went on quickly.
Next up was Nintendo, which’s booth looked rather bland if you ask me. They didn’t have much interesting things to show, apart from Smash gameplay and Hyrule Warriors, but there were again long waiting lines for the latter and it comes out next month anyway. The rest of the hall was littered with smaller publishers and hardware companies. They did have Oculus Rift on display, which we wanted to try out but decided not to because of the two-hour line.
So on we want to the merchandising hall! This one was very big and had a lot of smaller indie games, of which we tried out a few. The merchandising booths had the usual stuff of many Zelda, Minecraft and Otaku items. The Square Enix shop sold posters where you had to prove you were 14 and over before being able to buy one. After checking out all the goodies and t-shirts, we strolled around all the booths for a few hours, just watching people play games.
Some of you also asked to comment on the food and the bathrooms. There were a lot of food stands, but it all was overpriced for greasy, unhealthy food and you had to queue for twenty minutes too. Examples of things you could get are a tiny box of noodles for €5.5, five measly spring rolls for €3.5, a 0.5 litre bottle of soda for €3.4 and brätwurst mit sauerkraut for an unknown price. Luckily I took my own sandwiches with me (I told you last year!) and a big bottle of Fanta, which saved me money to spend on merchandise. The bathrooms were also free of charge and were constantly being cleaned, although one stall was peed over so much I wonder if he managed to put some into the toilet at all.
Since we started getting tired and our money was burning in our pockets we went back to the merchandise hall. It was getting a bit crowdier but it was manageable thanks to the working ventilation. I picked up a Hyrule Historia which I’ve always wanted and a nice Zelda shirt with the same design as the Hyrule Historia cover. My friend picked up a Fault in our Stars t-shirt, which surprised me they even got stuff like that over there, since we didn’t see any Doctor Who stuff. Also: bonus points for gamescom banning the sales of swords, I found it gunny.
This is where it went a bit sour though. We called up our lovely private driver (it’s good to have family) and he said he was on his way and would be arriving in fifteen minutes. Stuck in a traffic jam, it quickly (more like slowly) became thirty minutes and after he noticed he couldn’t get near the entrance he had to drive an extra thirty minutes, and to make things worse it started to rain. Nearly struck by lightning, our driver had arrived and we went homewards. Wat normally should be a one and a half hour drive ended up in taking more than three hours, thanks to an accident on our own Belgian highway and an incompetent navigation device. But at least we got home.
All in all it was a nice experience, although I need further convincing to go again next year. The lines are just way too long to casually test out a game. If Zelda Wii U gets a demo though (and most certainly it will) I’ll take preparations for the long, long wait.
If you still have any questions about my experience, be sure to ask in the comments! I’m happy to comment on the various games I saw and my impressions of the booths themselves.