5 Things You Should Know About This Year's EB Expo

If you're making the trip out to Olympic Park today or tomorrow for EB Expo, then you're probably prepared to see a lot of costumes, games, merchandise and terrible food. So to help make the most out of your Expo Experience, here's five tips from the show floor.

Cuphead looks great, but ...

Minutes before we left the office, Mark and I were waxing lyrical about Cuphead. When a game takes visual inspiration from the Steamboat Willy Disney-era of animations, it's hard not to -- simply because there's nothing else quite like it.

The animation is smooth and there's an undeniable charm about the characters and bosses. The first level, for instance, features an angry potato and a furious carrot that occasionally tries to hypnotise you to death. Here's the problem though: the game's all boss battles, and while that's fine for a lot of people, it might disappoint those expecting a more fleshed out platformer.

As an aside, it's worth noting that the fire button is automatic and doesn't need to be tapped. That seems like the sort of thing that shouldn't need to be said, but judging off the amount of people I saw who didn't immediately pick that up it's probably worth knowing in advance.

Aussies? What Aussies

Everyone already expected the Australian contingent of EB Expo -- otherwise known as the Home Grown Gaming section -- to be smaller this year, but what we weren't expecting was a table with three games pitched next to the Academy of Interactive Entertainment stand. It was so apparently irrelevant in the planning that it was hidden behind the Australian Defence Force's recruiting efforts and didn't even warrant a light over the top of the three games, with the most visibility coming courtesy of rolling white image on a nearby TV screen.

Those Aussies were Mori, The Homecoming and Projection. I spoke to Mori's creator, Jared Hahn, briefly, which you'll be able to hear later (after I've finished editing and uploading the audio, anyway). But outside of that interview we, and the other journalists and freelancers I spoke to, talked about how EBX has more or less dropped off the indie radar entirely.

PAX Australia undoubtedly has a big part to play. Now that everyone is accustomed to the size and schedule of PAX, people are much more willing to factor it into their longer term planning. Purchasing a booth at PAX or even making the effort to attend often dries up the majority, if not all, of their spare funds, making events like EBX nothing more than a luxury.

Perhaps the closest EB actually came to honouring indies was the entrance for media and exhibitors. On the left hand side was Bethesda's booth, with a bombed out car, Pip-Boy and a gigantic Fallout 4 booth. On the right was a random Battlefield tank and a sign for Origin displaying freeplay sessions for, of all things, Battlefield Hardline. (No surprises: it was largely empty every time I walked past.)

In the middle was a booth for Rock Band 4 and, in front of that, four consoles playing Rugby Challenge 3 and Rugby League Live 3. In a weekend and a location that was set to play host to the NRL grand final, what could be more Australian than that?

Star Wars: Battlefront holds up well, and there's auto-aim

The primary purpose of EBX these days is to convince punters to pre-order, or at least retain faith in their pre-orders. It doesn't serve a great deal of use to media, since most of the material was already shown at Tokyo Game Show, Gamescom or even E3 (in the case of some games, like The Division). And that's for the games that are hands-on.

So for many, this will have been their first taste of Star Wars: Battlefront. It was the Walker Assault mode on Hoth -- again, not new footage by any means -- but it was nice to see it hold up in a 20 vs 20 battle on the PS4.

What was slightly less amusing was the slight auto-aim evident in the demo. It didn't occur often, but if you watch closely you'll see the crosshair snap to targets. In one sense it's welcome because the default sensitivity on the controllers, which is understandable given the setting, is inordinately high.

Occasionally, however, I'd snap to an enemy that was on the run, forcing me to flick the stick to unlock the crosshair. That'd almost always result in the aim going further away than I'd like, and then I'd have to readjust (usually with my movement, rather than the right stick, since that's a lot easier on a console).

It's not a deal-breaker by any means and it didn't happen that often in my playthrough. But if Battlefront is the only thing you're looking forward to at EB Expo -- and you typically play your shooters on PC -- then it might pay to know beforehand.

Cosplay is consistently the best part of the convention

Perhaps it's a little cruel, but watching the initial rounds of cosplay is equal parts hilarious, incredible and cringeworthy. Within the first minutes, I saw one of the most amazing costumes I've ever seen at a convention. Apart from taking years to put together, it also had LED lights in the gauntlet and a fully functioning plasma ball.

In the same five minutes, I also watched someone "cosplay" by wearing a Pikachu onesie clearly purchased from the internet. Someone else walked out while eating from a box of Tiny Teddies. I didn't know eating breakfast was part of their costume, but until John Robertson (whose delivery, if a tad ocker, is generally always fun) was made it so, they didn't either.

The Just Cos show, and cosplayers generally, always offers a good break from the commercialised nature of EBX. Given there's less happening generally this year, that break is even more necessary -- although if you're looking for something to do that doesn't involve queuing up at a major stand, the LEGO showcase and the mini-museum of video games are a nice foil.

Just remember people are watching

Whether you're walking around, sitting down at a booth or just taking a photo -- always remember there is someone, somewhere, paying attention.

It's not something that usually matters at a convention, unless you happen to be doing something out of the ordinary. Like the bloke above. (Hint: if you don't see it at first, take a closer look at the headphones.)

Enjoy your long weekend of gaming!


    So the headphones aren't backwards compatible?

    I took the closer look and still don't see it.

      The mic on the ear cup.

        Ah, couldn't see it on mobile. Although looking at how titchy it is I probably would have missed it on desktop too :P

          Yeah it looks a bit useless being a little stub.

        Not that unusual...he probably isn't using it so doesn't want it in front of his face annoying him, so he's turned it away.

    I went today for the first time. They (EB) need to do a MUCH better job. We got to walk around for 5 hours watching everyone else play. They need to put timers on the consoles/screens so everyone is getting a fair play. Or else they need to advance the technology for the big games like Star Wars Battlefront, AC and UC4. They give you these wristbands, so why not create the situation where you scan at the booths, and then you get notified 10 minutes before your due to be at the booth on your mobile. You miss the call tough, or you can dismiss and you get another 10 minutes added (i.e. you now wait 20 minutes for the next round, then 30 etc.) we tried to cue for SW at 1pm and they had closed the line because it was a two hour wait and they closed at 3. I will NEVER go again. I am sure I have better things to do with five hours of my day/life. And don't tell me I need to pay more and get the express pass. This was a gift from my wife for Father's Day :) She wasted her money but I can't tell her that :)

      That's so shitty man. Sorry to hear u had a crappy day - even worse that u had to go home to your wife and lie by telling her how great it was :/

      Ouch... sorry about that. But as a regular for all the previous E2 that's pretty much how it works. And believe me there are timers. It's just that booths especially w/ the more popular games are *that* popular. Most game demos run anywhere between 5-15 mins each and they can't really cut it any more shorter =(

      It's pretty much like going to Disneyland or something where you really need to get to the game you want early or else your stuck in 1-2 hour lines.

      Personally I would have recommended just trying out the smaller releases where you can pop in an out like Dark Souls III, Lego Dimensions, etc. and then go to the gaming keynotes... sadly it seems there was barely any keynotes/presentations this year =(

    People are quick to forget what EB is truly like it seems. That's pretty disappointing.

      Not really... it's a piss obvious marketing excercise with all the "pre order naow!" stuff from the displays/presentations.

      That still doesn't stop the event from being anymore fun and a good mini E3 experience for the rest of us plebs though =P

    I went a few years ago and thought it wasn't a very good event for the money asked. I've since been to PAXAus (going again in a short few weeks) and prefer PAX by far. It's a much less commercial event, is much bigger, and the vibe is more to my liking. The catch is that I have to go to Melbourne, but I treat it like a short holiday.

    Indeed the indie booths were sadly lacking this year...

    In fact I would have to say this years E3 was definitely a bit of a drop from the previous years. There was even less developer keynotes/speeches which is something I was very disappointed on (Sony didn't even have one this year!... and I get the feeling MS musta really shilled out for advertising this year as well as there was a TON of MS related promos..) as I always appreciated the multiple dev presentations from previous years as it was a small mini E3 like experience... especially live on stage demos. More fun when you see multiple presentations of the same dev since it can change depending on how the live demos goes!

    That's not to say I won't go back nor was it any less fun. But I really expect EBGames to step up their game next year if they want to keep this event going.

    Oh the topic of cuphead btw...

    Ummm... I thought it was really more of a run and gun game ala Contra than an actual platformer. Boss Runs and minion waves are pretty much par for the course for that genre..

    Last edited 04/10/15 5:19 pm

    I had the UGP like I usually do, so I'm in a unique position to provide a little more insight from start to finish. it was still a fun year, certainly better run than the 2013 trainwreck, but not as well planned as 2014.

    Even the UGPs suffered. our loot bags had stuff generally more practical in them like a laptop cooling pad almost everybody could put to use (but not much in them), the food was not to their usual standards (my scotch fillet was twice as thick as the next and if the blood I'm almost certain it was too dark to see wasn't bad enough the chewy tendon in it was). there were technical difficulties throughout it but the pyrotechnics were awesome and john Robertson is a genius.

    moving forward, the Friday early media access went without flaw and staff knew what was going on. it was evident that the exhibition walkways were larger in some areas but it was ok cos most stuff was playable (fallout 4 wasn't which took a surprisingly large plot of prime real estate up to show a demo essentially unveiled at E3). i noticed that there were not a lot of big titles being shown off and that they put in a lot more merchandise stalls (like a useless stall to sell paintball sessions) than usual to fill space. I'm pretty sure the inflatable soccer thingy didn't get use at all and when they still had space they dropped in jumping castles hoping nobody would notice. cosplaying was limited to about 30 entrants, which didn't seem to matter cos there weren't as many cosplayers as usual anyway. intermission went smoothly. they ran out of chocolate for the chocolate claw machine on the first day after assuring us that it would be impossible, and the music drove us to the brink of insanity.... NO!, REALLY!!!

    Saturday had the umbilical brothers, but they didn't add an express line til after one brave and slightly distraught UGP lost their calm when told there was only a general admission line. Now, its common practice for UGPs to get in first for the best seats (we spend $749 for our passes so its not unreasonable) but this tradition wasn't observed as express gamers were mixed throughout the line which entered as it was. the umbilical brothers deserve an applause for trying to put on a good show, but two hours of john Robertson doing the dark room would have been much better. There were some good games, but I doubt anybody who were fortunate enough to experience the playstation VR would disagree about it being the real star of the show.

    The expo ended on the Sunday with no official cosplay parade being announced.

    on a final note: in all fairness, Riot not attending really did some damage to the expo, but it really shouldn't have effected the exhibition hall, so pretty much everything falls on the shoulders of EB Games on this one. fun expo but you could have played every big title there in a single day, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, may not be ideal but not every year is bound to be a big year for gaming.

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