Now listen very carefully, for I shall say this only once. I’ve never been to a convention before EGX Rezzed. I know! How can I call myself a game reviewer if I’ve never stepped foot into the wonderful and hectic world of convention living? Well, that has now changed, thanks to Gamer Network for organising an amazing event.
EGX Rezzed is a three-day event held in East London’s Tobacco docks and hosts over 175 playable pre-release games, ranging from the independent developers up to the AAA games. 2017 EGX Rezzed was held from Thursday 30th March to Saturday 1st April, which is very well planned if I do say so myself. This allows you to have a Sunday to unwind after the manic that is a gaming convention. Trust me, you’re going to want that Sunday after attending a sold-out gaming convention on the Saturday!
For those of you (like me) who have never been to Tobacco Docks before let me let you in on a little secret. There are little to no hotels situated around this area. Within this area, you’re looking more at self-catering apartments, which for some may work well, for me, I like to have my bed made every morning and a full-English buffet waiting for me when I wake up. I’m a princess, I know. So, I ended up staying in the Holiday Inn Express which was around a 15-minute walk away, not too bad, but may be difficult for those with walking ailments. Tobacco Docks is easy enough to get to, if you’re taking public transport all you need to do is get to Shadwell Station, this can be done by either getting the London Overground or the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), from there you simply walk south towards the convention, simple! If you’re driving or taking your magic flying carpet, you’re going to have to sort out your own directions, I can’t help you there!
The first day of the convention (Thursday) was unsurprisingly a little quiet compared to what I thought a convention was going to be. There weren’t many queues and some developers were even inviting me to try out their games rather than looking to take a breather. It was great for the lucky few of us with press passes as we could go and try out all the new and exciting games without having to wait in the queues. This meant that we could give the game our full attention without feeling watched or pressured to move on, which meant a better experience for us. For those without press passes they seemed to really enjoy this aspect too as it all seemed very laid back and relaxed on this day. The other great thing about the Thursday was that the talks and panels that EGX Rezzed held weren’t as packed as the other days. It was more likely that your question would be answered and that you would get a detailed answer from one of the many developers giving talks rather than a rushed two liner.
For the larger, more well-known developers/consoles (Nintendo/Sega/Xbox/Unreal Engine) they were provided with their own rooms away from the hustle and bustle of the main areas. Nintendo were busy showing off their new Switch, which allowed me my first time holding the teeny tiny controller away from the console (it’s so small!). The great thing about this area was that it was showcasing indie developers alongside the Switch. I was roped into playing a game called Overcooked with 2 strangers where we had to work as a team to get food out on time. The great thing about this experience? I walked away from there with 2 friends because of the amount of laughter we had playing! To mention another game on the switch to keep an eye out for would be “De Mambo”, I played this game alongside the developer and won! I think he took it easy on me because I was press but I walked away with bragging rights and a real love for the Switch and the games available on it.
One thing about Thursday that should be noted, if you want to try out any of the new tech/VR this is the day to do it. The other days you will be waiting for far too long (if you’re slightly impatient like me) also, because the tech is being used so much it must be put on charge on a more regular basis, which means more time waiting. I tried out the Omen PC by Windows to play the very popular online multiplayer Overwatch. I can quite happily say that this experience will stay with me for a while. If you haven’t played competitive local matches and want an insight, this convention will give you an amazing insight into this world. 6 of us on one side and 6 on the other with the latest in PC gaming tech and a thirst for the win, the adrenaline was pumping not to fail. What I was amazed by was that this was being streamed worldwide and that the game was being live commentated! What a rush!
Alongside the major players and indie games there was also an amazing careers fair area where Universities and Institutes were showcasing their student’s talents. In this area, there were separate talks about how to best get into the gaming industry and how best to stay in the games industry with the changing times. It was an amazing area with some brilliant minds showing off some games which I wouldn’t have thought about in my wildest dreams. So, if you or anyone you know is interested in getting into the games industry, EGX Rezzed Careers Fair is where you want to head.
Friday was, as expected, a little busier than the Thursday, but still nothing like I expected a convention to be. I realised at this point that the Thursday of the convention is technically the “press” day. As most press will get there early, try out all they need to try out and not come back. This means that the developers are on their A game at the start of the convention. You could see on Friday that some of them were starting to waver a bit with their pitches. However, the buzz that the crowd was generating kept me going!
This day was the Indie Room day for me, I only left this room for 2 reasons, to eat and use the bathroom. Other than that, I fell in love with the buzz that this hall and its attendees produced. This was without a doubt the biggest room in the entire convention and must have held a total of at least 50+ games within its 4 walls. Alongside the games there were merch stalls and 2 stalls specifically that I fell in love with. Kantan Living was a small stall that I visited each day of the convention. It sells Japanese plushies, drinks, sweets, badges, snacks, everything! Each time I visited this stall the 2 vendors greeted me like an old friend and we talked and talked about convention life and their business. I would highly recommend checking out their website if you’re interested in all things Japanese (www.kantanliving.co.uk). The other stall is a t-shirt selling stall simply called Tee Turtle. If you are a fan of individual T-Shirts with colourful and fun prints on them I would tell you to look no further than this company. Some of their prints genuinely had me laughing out loud and saying, “That is so ME!” I may have come home with a few more t-shirts than I left with! Luckily, they aren’t just a convention stall, they have an online store too! Seriously, go check out www.teeturtle.com.
The Indie Room on Friday was a buzz with excited chatter about what the best game was, and frustrated grunts of those that wanted another go on their favourite game, but because it was so popular the queue was that little bit too long. Here are the games that stood out the most for me:
- Deckbound Spears is a simple multiple game where you run around the screen trying to kill the other player with a spear. It’s that simple. But me and my competitor were howling with laughter and had such fun playing this game.
- The Mimic is a great single and multiplayer puzzle platformer that makes you think differently to solve the puzzles. You need to unlock doors and mechanisms by using an alien creature that mimics your movements but also wants to kill you, yay!
- If you haven’t yet played “Oh…Sir!” the insult based game, I would seriously recommend it. To put it bluntly it’s a game where you must out-insult the other player. Just play it, it’ll make sense.
- Dad Quest is a must play for any parent out there. The humour and game play is just hilarious in its bluntness and dry humour.
There were tons more that caught my eye and that I really enjoyed but if I ended up listing them all this review would be longer than it already is.
Saturday was naturally the busiest day of the convention, but with the convention being sold out I didn’t feel too constricted or overwhelmed by the amount of people. The only downside about this day is that some developers set up too late into the day and some didn’t even come back. You could tell that the developers were all tired and were sick to the back teeth of repeating their pitch over and over again.
I will stand up for Saturday though, if you’re a cosplay fan, this day is the day to go! EGX doesn’t have a dedicated cosplay stage or arena, but that didn’t stop people from dressing up and showing off their skills.
Saturday is also the day to go if you want the true “convention” experience, because of the amount of people and the buzz. It was the only day where I started to think “Wow, so this is what a convention feels like”. Unfortunately, this does come with some obvious drawbacks, long waits, stock starts to dwindle with the vendors and if you’re an introvert being in the smaller rooms with loads of people may not be your idea of a good time.
For my first convention, I would highly recommend EGX Rezzed as a stepping stone into the convention world. It was amazing to be a part of something that over 15,000 other attendees also enjoyed. It was eye opening to see how many games there are on offer and how many of them I really enjoyed! Also, if you end up getting a bit tired from being up and down on your feet all day you can quite happily find a nice quiet spot to just sit and take in the atmosphere. EGX Rezzed, thank you for sparking my interest in the world of conventions, I’ll be seeing you next year!
For those of you who haven’t yet dipped your toes into the pool of convention living I want to give you a few tips if you are thinking of attending EGX Rezzed next year:
- Get your hotel booked up FAST – Hotels will get booked up very quickly around this time as convention goers, organisers and developers alike will want to stay as close to the convention as possible.
- Bring a packed lunch – Seriously. The food at the convention made me want to cry. The cheeseburgers cost a hefty £5 and tasted like salty cardboard. So, on Friday and Saturday I stopped by a local convenience store and bought myself a packed lunch.
- Bring water – You will get thirsty and there are no water fountains that I could find. It does get hot in the rooms with the computers and people both generating heat, trust me, bring water. You can thank me later.
- Get there as early as you can – If you are able to, get to the convention first thing on Thursday as the developers are ready to impress, on Saturday their energy reserves have dwindled and they look like they just want to go home.
- If you can, stay outside of Tobacco Docks and train it in – When walking back to my hotel in the dark I didn’t feel the safest in that area. So if you are travelling alone and don’t feel safe just ask a fellow con-goer to help you out.
- Talk to people – Everyone there is at the con for the same reason you are! Talk! Make friends!
- And most importantly – HAVE FUN!