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Gamescom Day One: A Normie's Reaction

Gamescom is a gaming convention in Cologne, Germany that is currently running. It started on the 20th of August and will continue through the 24th. It claims to be the heart of Europe's gaming.  Which is funny, because until today, I hadn't even heard of it!

Obviously, I am not attending this event. Rather, I am basically looking at what games journalists and YouTubers have allowed me to see at this point and regurgitating it here to try to make a name for myself of something. Journalism, ladies and gentlemen.

Full disclosure: as it says up on top, I am a normie. I am a console peasant and a filthy casual. I am a gamer, but I'm not as hardcore as I was two decades ago, when I didn't have bills or a family or anything to keep me from plugging in and turning off. That doesn't mean that I don't have hundreds of hours logged into my favorite games, but it does mean I am picky about what I play. So let's go!


Like just about any gaming convention, Gamescom wants to give out some awards. The winners aren't terribly surprising, but there are a few gems in here. So let's go ahead and list them.

Note the parenthetical statement up there? Last I checked, Gears 5 releases in about three weeks (but more on that later). How can a game that isn't even out win Best Xbox Game? Sure, I suppose some journalists have received review copies and such, but I feel that calling a game that hasn't been released the best of the year is a bit... specious. But it is their convention.

That said, congratulations to all the winners. You get a pizza trophy!

(Some of) The Games (and my Worthless Opinions)

So, let's go ahead and start with the game I just mocked a little bit. As mentioned above, Gears 5 comes out in less than three weeks at the time of writing this. The trailer, in case you haven't seen it, looks pretty darned neat and I am always happy to hear some NiN, so no worries there. The game is set to explore a two-sided story: the war returning to Sera and what is going on with Kait. I'll be honest with you here, I'm not a huge shooter fan any longer and Gears of War has always seemed to me a wannabe Warhammer 40,000 game. Not my cuppa, but hey, if you liked the past Gears games, you'll probably like this.

*Author's Note: you will probably notice a pattern like this throughout this article. The author is openly biased against more and more of the same thing (says the Nintendo fanboy) and basically sees sequels as Spaceballs 2: the Search for More Money. But that is a topic for another article.*

In something that seems to be lifted almost straight out of Borderlands, each character in Gears 5 will have their own special ability. For example, Kait can go invisible to perform stealth attacks. These abilities are unique to each character and not each class, so, for example, no two Engineers will have the same ability.

But let's move on to a game that actually has me excited: the confusingly-named Skellboy. Is it meant to be a riff on Hellboy? Wouldn't Skeleboy make more sense? Either way, this is a charming little game where Skippy, a 2-dimensional very square skeleton, rises from the grave to save his kingdom by swapping body parts to unlock various abilities. I love everything about this game that I have seen so far, from the Paper Mario meets Minecraft art style to the concept to... Well, just about everything.

The one thing I don't love, however, is the gameplay in the trailer.  Either the controls are clunky (which I doubt) or whoever is playing the game has all the skill and talent of a pigeon. I mean this seriously. Look below and tell me that the level of skill here is acceptable at all.  I'm a normie and I'm pretty sure I can do better than that.

Kerbal Space Program 2 also looks amazing. I was a big fan of the original, and I loved watching my little Invader Zim-esque guys fly off into space as I botched yet another launch. Remember, people, losing is fun! Coming some time in 2020 ("some time" is never a good thing), it promises multiplayer, interstellar travel, and colony building. I can't wait, although I guess I have no choice.

Comanche is coming back from THQ Nordic. I wonder if the attack helicopter memes are going to come back as well.  You can check out the alpha at It looks like a neat game.  The game is multiplayer, featuring multiple attack helicopters attempting to achieve a number of objectives.

Now, let's talk about a major let-down in my opinion. Predator: Hunting Grounds is made by the same people as Friday the 13th and is another asymmetrical game, with one Yautja taking on four humans. I love asymmetrical games. Two of my favorite games include Giant: Citizen Kabuto and Dead by Daylight. I am a huge fan of the Yautja as well. But this game just... Doesn't look up to snuff. The graphics just seem outdated to me, for one thing, and from a gameplay perspective, constantly having to look up means controls are going to be rather clunky (in my opinion). Additionally, as I have noticed for any sort of asymmetrical online-only game, everyone wants to be the "strong" party. Perhaps IllFonic will do what they did with FXIII and make who plays the Yautja random, but even then, I'm just not impressed at this time.

Little Nightmares was a game that was Coraline-like in how cute it was and how disturbing it was.  While it was too short for my taste, Little Nightmares 2 looks intriguing. It now has Six joined by Mono and will feature some sort of combat, apparently using kitchen tools (which makes since with Six having her hunger pangs) and actual outside locations. I am genuinely digging the art direction as before.  Games like this are always really fun, even if they are short.

Perhaps the strangest trailer I saw doing my "research" for this "article" was for Humankind. What the heck is the Geico Caveman doing playing a keyboard? Why is that mammoth so freaking huge?  It took two or three watches to sink in, but then I got it.  This is like a version of SimEarth where you can advance humanity in multiple directions depending on what you want. Seems like a neat game, although who knows at this point? Also, it looks like the Geico Caveman got into a fight a while back. Poor guy.  Those giant mammoths can pack a wallop. Humankind is, once again, set to release "some time in 2020."

Borderlands 3 is set to compete almost directly with Gears 5, coming out three days later.  And guys, seriously, it has BILLIONS of guns.  Not just thousands, because that wouldn't be enough.  Millions?  Pfft, we are gunbillionaires here!  Honestly, my thoughts on that one fact are somewhat mixed.  Grinding is a thing I dislike, and having that many options means getting the optimal one will likely be difficult, despite what the devs might like to say.  However, as much as I'm not a fan of shooters in general, Borderlands has always struck me as visually amazing.  The art style shown in the trailer is wholly Borderlands and just as comic book-ish as I have always remembered and just amazing.  I seriously cannot wait to see what my cosplay friends will do with this.  Despite the little bits of drama that have popped up, if you have liked the first two, you will doubtless enjoy the third.

Something that has caught my attention, though, has been the revival of an old type of game, and perhaps a better version (in my opinion) of the walking simulator: the Interactive Thriller. I would argue that this started with Night Trap in 1992 and other interactive movies, but it is nice to see a bit of a comeback with Erica and Broken Porcelain. Both seem to be very similar to visual novels, but with less waifus and more plot.  I am definitely interested in both.

While these games are essentially choose-your-own adventure books with graphics, and this has actually been tried in movie theaters, I dig the idea. The animation in both looks smooth and surprisingly realistic, and I'm a big horror junkie in general.

I'm going to finish this off on one more positive note. Hideo Kojima is just a truly bizarre person and I would love to get inside his head (NOT THAT WAY!) for a few minutes. Death Stranding looks amazing. I actually did not realize Norman Reedus was in the game until, well, seeing him there.  Normie, remember? The gameplay seems very strange with all the freaky babies and the freaky ghost babies and I'm really wondering what is going to be the overall theme here, but I predict Kojima levels of strangeness and I am very willing to experience it. It is just interesting to me. I don't know.  There is so much potential awesomeness, although the ginormous backpacks in the gameplay video have me concerned about Reedus' spine. He needs that for whacking zombies.

All in all, I will say that the games I have "announced" at Gamescom 2019 have me excited. In case it isn't obvious, Skellboy, Broken Porcelain, and Erica have most of my attention, but the rest tend to look amazing.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines