We eat your words

Hands-On At EGX 2017: Day 2 – Cuphead, Monster Hunter World & More

Hunting monsters and...cupping heads.

We’re still here at EGX, though the hangover is something we could all do without. Here’s our thoughts on what we managed to play during Day 2.

 

Monster Hunter World

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So, I’m a Monster Hunter virgin. EGX was my first time playing a Monster Hunter game. Fellow gamers surrounding the stand began to bombard me with information about the complexity of the game and the hidden depth of the armoury, but I’m still trying to master “hit thing until thing falls over”. Surprisingly, it’s not as easy as that.

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During my time with the game, I tried two missions, opting for the beginner choice first. I’m not masochistic after all. Veteran Monster Hunter players will feel right at home with the formula here: accept a quest, track the monster, fuck the monster up. How you choose to do that and the weapons you wish to use is down to you.

Tracking the animal felt good.

Certainly, it felt more organic than simply heading to one location and murdering whatever poor soul decided to declare that area as their place of residence. Instead, you arrive at the monster’s general location and must follow tracks and secretions left by the monster. It’s a hunt, after all.

Of course, once you corner your prey, you can’t simply expect them to roll over and die. These goliaths that you’re stalking don’t intend on going down without a fight, and they can take a damn beating too. Taking on a monster isn’t so much as a boss fight as it is an intense struggle against an often superior force.

The organic nature of tracking the monster bleeds through into the actual hunting itself. Focusing on one body part in particular will permanently damage that limb, leading to situations where the monster attempts to retreat, dragging themselves away with a broken leg.

The environment and ecosystem also come into play. This early play session already establishes the rudimentary levels of a food chain. As you’d expect, bigger monsters feast on smaller monsters to gain health and other buffs. Monsters can also find themselves caught up in the environment, providing you with ample opportunity to deal massive damage.

Despite having only dipped my toe into Monster Hunter World, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with it. I was already quietly excited for the release next year, and the quick play session at EGX has only strengthened that. Those monsters better beware come 2018; I’m coming for you.

 

Cuphead

Cuphead game

There’s finally some context to most of that Dean Takahashi video, not including the tutorial failing; Cuphead is hard. Hard enough so that some players will struggle to beat even the opening levels and bosses on the default difficulty. That being said, I might have made things more difficult for myself by diving straight into the first boss fight on the non-simplified difficulty setting without playing the tutorial. If I do things, I do them foolishly.

If you’ve been living under a rock for about a year, Cuphead is the side scrolling shooter with a vintage art style that’s simply enchanting. You half expect Steamboat Willie to sail past, doing his little jig. That’d get a Disney cease and desist order faster than you can say “Walt Disney was an anti-Semitic”.

The gameplay is quite intuitive. A is to jump, X to shoot, shoulder buttons change your weapons. It’s a classic side scrolling shooter as you’re forced to learn the patterns of the bosses’ attacks. You do get infinite retries, and the game tells you how close you got to killing the boss, so the incentive to keep trying is high. It’s almost encouraging, as you can feel yourself improving as you play.

As mentioned though, the default difficulty is quite steep. If you’re impatient or simply lack the hand-eye coordination to truly excel at shooters like Cuphead, you should either stick to the simplified difficulty setting or just move along. Otherwise, you could be the unfortunate sod being lambasted on Twitter for spending 26 minutes being shite at Cuphead.

 

WWE 2K18

wwe 2K18 2

WWE 2K exists in this weird limbo state, where they claim to be realistic simulations of real-fake wrestling, until Seth Rollins glitches through the ropes and ends up outside the ring for no reason. The gameplay is still good, but it’s hard to buy in to this whole realism idea when Kane has his head stuck in the wall of Hell in a Cell.

The two matches played on the EGX build of WWE 2K18 weren’t the ridiculous glitch fests that you can find easily on YouTube. If anything, WWE 2K18 looks better and runs smoother than ever before. The wrestlers might be pushing to the point of the uncanny valley, but they do look phenomenal.

2K also appear to have improved the physics engine. Wrestlers now seem to collide with the environment in a more natural manner. One knee strike on the outside caused the back of AJ Styles’ neck to collide with the barricade. It looked brutal, and it would normally cause the game engine to roll around in its own shit, but it worked here. There was no wonky animations, it just happened in one fluid motion.

The actual gameplay remains mostly unchanged. There’s a new drag mechanic that lets you march around the ring with your opponent in various precarious positions, but we didn’t manage to pull those off in a match. No running powerbombs for me, only suicide dives and count-out victories.

WWE 2K18 still looks set to be the definitive wrestling game for the wrestling fan when it launches next month, but with these gameplay, engine and MyCareer improvements, this year’s iteration should be leaps and bounds ahead of 2K17. Should be, anyway. I’ve been wrong before.

 

Sonic Forces

After the extreme hype that was Sonic Mania, Sonic Forces was always going to be a tough sell. People really gravitated towards the return of the proper classic Sonic, whilst 3-D modern Sonic has been recently proved to be the proverbial garbage fire of the franchise. Generations was good but there’s been a lot of shite since.

Fans of Generations will be pleased to know that Sonic Forces adopts the same formula. You switch between modern and classic Sonic, tackling levels that fuse elements of 2-D and 3-D platforming whilst running really smegging fast.

Hitting full speed and barrelling through waves of robots still feels good here, even if we’ve been doing it for a decade.

The gimmick for Forces is the inclusion of your own created avatar, who comes complete with a customisable loadout. These gadgets that you pick before the level help you with both platforming and defeating enemies. If there’s replay value to be found with Sonic Forces, it’d be with the Avatar levels, as certain pathways are only available to certain gadgets.

The tag team levels are where Forces becomes inherently more interesting. The level we played saw Modern Sonic team with the Avatar to blitz through an Eggman factory. During this level would combine the speed boost of Sonic with the gadgetry of the avatar. Anyone with any fond memories of Sonic Heroes would get a kick out of these levels, and switching from Sonic boosting to flamethrowing your way through the robotic hordes is seamless.

Ultimately, Sonic Forces isn’t going to be as good as Mania. That was never going to be in question. However, Forces is making enough of the same right moves that Generations did in order to give long-time fans an enjoyable Modern Sonic romp. Colour me cautiously optimistic.

 

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Spoiler alert: it’s still fucking great.

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