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The best of EGX 2015

Picking through the highlights of this year's show.

It's nearly done. After three days of drinking, chatting and, funnily enough, playing games, EGX 2015 is entering its final stretch, and we're all blearily considering the long trek home from Birmingham NEC. And what a year it's been! We've been graced by legends such as Sony's Shuhei Yoshida, been entertained by the Dragon's Den-esque Pitch Your Game Idea at the Rezzed sessions and discovered some new and exciting games at the various indie sections. What, though, have been the highlights? Here's a little selection of what's made this year's EGX special.

EGX Pick of 2015 - HTC Vive

Virtual reality headsets may still be months (or years) away from being fixtures in your home, but the current crop of headsets were here at EGX 2015: PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. VR has been around a while, but the brief moments of wonder it brings have not dispelled wider doubts about the technology's mass-market appeal.

Enter the Vive's suite of demos that allow you to explore an array of virtual spaces. Inside a booth not much bigger than five metres square you can don a headset and find yourself in another place. In your hands are the controllers you're physically holding, now dotted with options to navigate the world around you. The sensation of seeing the tools for manipulating the environment combined with the freedom to roam around the space and use them is immediate.

One of the first things to try is the Underwater demo that Oli saw back at Rezzed. Walking the deck of a sunken pirate galleon you can bat away shoals of fish before turning around to a see a double decker bus-sized blue whale looming from the deep, casting a shadow over the entire you and the entire vessel.

Next up in the demo playlist are experiments with 3D modelling, then a room-filling version of Flight Control where planes and helicopters buzz around, needing paths drawn through the environment for them to safely follow land on runways by your feet. Move too far towards the edge of your physical surroundings and a square mesh appears, indicating that you are approaching the room's limits. It's all very holodeck.

The session we played wrapped up with a Portal tech demo, complete with witty script and GLaDOS appearance. You wake inside the walls of an Aperture Science test chamber, your tentative movements quickly mocked by its testing computer. The experience highlighted the limits of VR as it currently exists - there was no firing and walking through portals of your choosing, and moments where you can simply misstep and fall into a digital abyss were ignored and passed over. But as an experience of being somewhere else, somewhere utterly imagined, while physically still being in the middle of the noisy bustle of the EGX show floor, it is the strongest proof of concept for VR yet.

Other highlights


Eitr wears its influences on its sleeve: even before you get your hands on this isometric action RPG from a two-man dev team you can tell there's a lot of Dark Souls that's been played in the south London house it's being made. Is that a problem? Not really, when it manages to weave the same spell as From Software's hardcore action classics, and Eitr's got a few tricks of its own too. Also, as you've no doubt already noticed, it's absolutely gorgeous, its dark, flame-lit dungeons seeming to have come from the best Mega Drive game you never played.


Thumper's been about for a little while, but it still managed to take a few of us by surprise when it turned up at the Leftfield Collection. Described by its developer Drool - two veterans of Harmonix who previously worked on Rock Band - as a rhythm violence game, what's clear about Thumper is that it's achingly cool. Some crazed middle ground between Rez and F-Zero with a light-show from Gaspar Noé, it's one of the most hypnotic, thrilling games on the show floor at this year's EGX.

Star Wars Battlefront

If you're going to judge the hype around a game by the length of the queues to play it, Star Wars Battlefront wins hands down. It's not hard to see why there's so much attention on Dice's foray into the space opera universe - the timing of the November release, just prior to the world stopping to watch The Force Awakens this December, couldn't be better, and Battlefront's well-placed to become one of the biggest games of the year. Good thing, then, that it's shaping up well, finding a balance between the older Battlefront games more modern multiplayer fare. Here's hoping, though, that it has a slightly smoother launch than Dice's last effort.

Total War: Warhammer

With the troubled launch of Rome 2 still fresh in the minds of Total War fans, it's been a relief to go hands-on with Warhammer nice and early. It also helps that this demo is some of the best fun you can have in an underground Dwarfen tunnel. Finding yourself ambushed by a large Greenskin force, you're unlikely to actually start the battle for a good 10 minutes, as you organise your troops into lovely, neat lines. This preparation is almost immediately undone as goblins, trolls and all sorts of bad things pour in from the various side passages surrounding you. It's chaotic and messy and some of the best Total War we've played.

Rainbow Six: Siege

How do you make an entrance after a prolonged absence? Do a Rainbow Six: Siege. Do tight, tense, solid shooting in a chunky world that blows apart with every squeeze of your trigger. Focus on an aspect of your terrorists-versus-special-forces formula and make that front and centre; Ubisoft knows what it wants Siege to be and that clarity of vision is welcome, refreshing and fun. It's hard to think of a multiplayer shooting experience that will offer a purer and more unfussy thrill.

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