SFG @ EB Games Expo 2016

October is a good time of year to us.

The coming of spring; NRL grand finals, music festivals/concerts, and this year,
the sixth consecutive EB Games Expo.

Held at Sydney Showground, EBX has been the closest thing to a large scale,
video game convention (E3, TGS, etc.) the Australian community have come to see.

For years, EBX has provided attendees access to all things gaming;
showcasing upcoming, recent and past (retro) games, relative peripherals,
eSports competitions and other attractions.

This year was no different. Well, not entirely…

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Thanks to Jarrod from Connect PR, a few of us were provided with the opportunity
to attend EBX as media.

I’ve attended previous years as an eSports exhibitor/competitor, but, as small as
it may seem to others, media accreditation was a score for us.

Early access to the venue? Why not? Hah.

With or without a media pass, all of us were going – taking in the exhibits and attractions, and without any doubt, to enjoy ourselves (naturally) at EBX.

Playstation

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First stop, our home console of choice, Playstation.

As you would expect, Playstation came ready.

Plenty of free to play stations for kids (LEGO Dimensions, Skylanders) and older (FIFA 17, Bound) with the addition of a multitude of VR titles as opposed to last year.

Driveclub VR, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare’s Jackal Assault, Batman Arkham VR and more, available for the masses to try.

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Driveclub (non-VR) was an instant trade-in, particularly because of the inability
to disable traction control, BUT, being immersed in VR was something else.

Now, I can’t recall if driving assists were on during the gameplay demo, but I was very much into it. Maybe it was because it was my first time experiencing VR, or maybe
because the seat was moving? It was moving right? Enjoyed it regardless.

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Moving from VR, we made sure to tick Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare off of our EBX list. Having early access was nifty, as we never really thought to invest our time in waiting for
2 hours for CoD, previous Expos

Let’s face it; most of the CoD crowd are only interested in IW because of the bundled
Modern Warfare Remaster. Bootleg platinum for both games.

However, I had no problems with IW.

With the limited time I had with IW, based on the first impression, it felt good.
Might have to elaborate come the multiplayer beta…

Horizon: Zero Dawn was also available to play at the Playstation booth.

There wasn’t anything particularly new showcased, but we were given a demonstration almost identical to what was shown at E3 earlier this year, followed by 15-20 minutes freeplay with the game.

The game looked amazing in person, and the gameplay felt pretty smooth if you asked me. I made sure to make good use of the Ropecaster. Heh.

Xbox

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The Box of X.

Called me biased but Xbox’s booth design didn’t have the same bright coloured
aesthetic as Playstation. That’s not to say Xbox was lacking because I think
they came to impress in other areas.

Plenty to experience, especially if you were lucky enough to join Xbox’s head honcho,
Phil Spencer, at the Xbox Fanfest.

For EBX attendees, Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4, and Dead Rising 4 were amongst
the handful of games showcased by Xbox.

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If you aren’t aware by now, I enjoy racing games quite a bit, so Forza Horizon 3
was a must play @ EBX.

Forza almost always wins me over with the car sounds, and thankfully, FH3 is available
on Windows 10, otherwise I would have to fork out the money for an Xbox One.

The cars sounded amazing on the Forza station, but the same can’t be said for the
in-game steering. Either the TV input lag was heavy or the steering wheel wasn’t calibrated correctly; the few of us could not keep our cars straight.

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We tried our hand at scoring some Xbox loot playing Dead Rising 4.

The game was fun, hacking at zombie hordes as the OG, Frank West, but with loot
on the line, I kind of lost myself in the moment…

…and no, we didn’t score any Xbox loot. Sadly.

Nintendo

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Nintendo‘s always holding it down for the young (or young at heart).

Excluding party favourites such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart,
Nintendo’s presence was a bit of a blur to us.

I was particularly keen to get my hands on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,
but I believe access to the game was only available to daily competition winners?

A bit of a letdown I think. Expected Nintendo to go no holds barred with TLoZ @ EBX.

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They did have Paper Mario Color Splash for those that were wondering…

Bandai Namco

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The Bandai Namco booth had a plethora of titles available for play.

Final Fantasy XV, World of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts 2.8, The Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4), Tekken 7 and Dragonball Xenoverse 2, all together on the open floor.

As far as I know, Bandai Namco has distribution rights to Square Enix in Australia, so having Square Enix titles at their booth was a given.

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Final Fantasy XV was the most popular of the lot, but with a dozen FFXV stations the lines moved pretty quickly.

I’m not a big FF head, so I haven’t played any of the FFXV demos prior to my time with FFXV, but I think I just might put some money down for this one.

Probably the most attractive game at EBX in my opinion, with easy to follow gameplay to match. I’m interested to see what the Sphere Grid style leveling system can provide with longer playtime.

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On to the fighting games.

Tekken 7 was also pretty popular. I think if they had a few small tournaments like Street Fighter V had the previous year, it would have had a large turnout.

EBX did have the same Tekken 7 setups as OzHadou Nationals, but it wasn’t as laggy.

Spending close to the whole weekend at EBX, I decided to use the time with T7
to learn Akuma. As far as I know, it was not Version C (nerfed) Akuma I was playing with, but regardless, Akuma!

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As for Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, I enjoyed getting a sneak peek of it, pre-release.

Whatever I remembered of the first Xenoverse, I had forgotten, so the game felt
(almost) foreign to my memory.

I look forward to the addition of characters such as Janemba and Black.

Shoutouts to Dragon Ball Super. Highly recommend you watch DBS if you have not.

Ubisoft

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Ubisoft was packing heat this year.

For Honor, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Just Dance 2017 and Steep were
the playable games at their booth.

A few of us were looking forward to giving For Honor a try, but the line was just too long. The line rivaled CoD, with players looking at a 2 hour wait beforehand.

Might have to wait for a beta demo of some sort…

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With the appeal of a shorter wait, we decided to play Steep.

The game was fun. Haven’t touched a snowboarding game since Cool Boarders? Hah.

However, this wasn’t just a snowboarding game. Wing-gliding, Skiing and other options of play were available, but it was a little bit on the glitchy end switching between things.

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Watch Dogs 2 and Ghost Recon were being showcased, but it was not for play.

We weren’t going to spend 20+ minutes waiting in line to sit down for another 20+ watching a gameplay trailer, even if our legs were incredibly sore…

Just Dance 2017 on the other hand, is a nice addition to the not-so-lit
(lighting, not the Travis Scott adlib) atmosphere of EBX? Vibes.

Logitech

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Logitech, to me, was an exciting booth to look at.

I’m not particularly fond of League of Legends, but they were able to use the game’s popularity to create a larger presence between the Nintendo and Xbox booths.
Plenty of competitions and giveaways in the process.

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They showcased their products in sleek fashion too. A few Counter Strike stations
to display their PC peripherals, and racing simulator stations for people to try their G920/G29 steering wheels.

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Forza Horizon 3 were on a couple of stations, with both a shorter wait time and much more responsive steering. A much better FH3 experience than what Xbox had.

If only I had my own G29… 😦

Other Exhibitors

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Unfortunately, we weren’t able to play everything.

This included Bethesda’s Dishonored 2, 2K’s Mafia 3 and EA’s…

…wait, EA wasn’t at EBX!

With Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 on the horizon, I expected EA to follow their
impressive presence from last year.

Maybe EA were hidden in the new exhibitor layout this year?
How about Blizzard or Konami? Who knows?…

Shoutouts to Academy of Interactive Entertainment. Unfortunate that the
student’s games were showcased around the corner of the big name giants…

Attractions

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It seems that EB Games has attempted to accommodate more space for various
pop-culture stalls and attractions.

Aside from the EBX Mega Store, plenty of items such as figurines, artwork, cosplay props, and more were scattered around the dome end of the EBX floor for purchase.

On the opposite end, the Poppin’ Popcorn Arena could be found, open for all to watch
live acts, Cosplay competitions and other showcases including XBOX’s Phil Spencer
with a special Keynote Presentation.

Can’t forget the free Mountain Dew, courtesy of the Mountain Dew Velodrone booth. 🙂

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If you happened to wonder outside the main hall, you would have come across
a second hall of games.

ESL’s eSports Arena took most of the spotlight within, with their CS:GO and
Super Smash Bros tournaments.

A Pokemon Zone and Free Play area with some cool retro stuff could also be found here,
assuming you chose to take a breather from the main hall.

Did I mention outdoor Laser Skirmish?

Our Top Picks for EBX

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Having shared our thoughts both during and post-EBX, I thought I might add
the crew’s personal favourites from the EBX weekend.

Dustin – Other than the obvious fighting game pick (Tekken 7), Logitech impressed
David – ^same!
Gerry – Free Mountain Dew… and Horizon: Zero Dawn
Murphs – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Final Thoughts

As each EB Games Expo passes by, we’re left wondering what the next one holds.

We had a blast (as always) at EBX, but as eager as we are for the next one, we’re not sure where this one ranks amongst the previous EBX experiences – and, no, it’s not at the top.

You would think they would aim for an EBX that’ll be “better than the last one”
Instead, it feels as if it’s going through a slow decline…

The absence of EA and other publishers have people like us on high alert.

Maybe some bridges have been burned?
Maybe the cost of floor space is an issue?
Again, who knows?

What we do know is, as long as EB Games are able to provide the Australian audience with the same level or (hopefully) better experience next year, you can expect to see us there!

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EBX is a wrap! The Sharks win the prem! Until next year!

– Dustin

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