THQ Gamescom blowout: Biomutant gameplay impressions, Townsmen VR’s charm and Fade to Silence impressive survival narrative

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Before I even boarded a flight THQ Nordic had already blown me away at this year’s Gamescom. With the most varied gaming line up, from AAA blockbusters to quirky VR titles and anything else in between, there really was a strong effort here to show that the publisher is back and better than ever. So what was on show? Plenty.

Biomutant

Save the biggest for first. I was unable to capture but this included gameplay video is the exact demo that I played! First thing you’ll notice? Character customization. Nothing drastic but enough to be fun and add personalization to your furry avatar. The world on show here is very unique. It’s almost like the weird fusion of animated hit Kung-Fu Panda and Mad Max. But then you experience combat and suddenly Bayonetta flies in to make it a threesome. The blend of fast paced movement, guns, kung fu flair and your mutant abilities are reminiscent of both Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. Apply this to a world brimming with charm and danger and you have Biomutant. The narrator is a really wonderful example of this charm. He never distracted you from gameplay but mixing his commentary with environmental hints and you begin to get a sense of what has happened to the world around you and what is still to come.

There’s also a heavy focus on scrap, gadgets and crafting. In the demo this only came into play very briefly with the mech suit (duck face FTW) but the brief trailer shown had further emphasis. Biomutant is an ambitious game and the demo really shows this. The sense of scale added by the mech suit and boss fight is a totally welcome addition and a clever indicator of how gameplay will stay fresh through. There is a lot more to explore in Biomutant. The demo and trailer at the end are intriguing indicators of just how grand this project is. All I can say is that I was totally blown away and I’m incredibly excited to get to see and play more when Biomutant launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in Summer 2019.

Townsmen VR

Please, please watch this trailer. Townsmen VR is something special. Remember the charm I mentioned in Biomutant? Townsmen absolutely oozes this. Best of all? You’re at the centre. It’s your story. Your world. You can create your own nonsensical fun. The world and even the controllers react completely to your actions and inputs. You will drown people. You will flick cats across the island. In Townsmen you should never ask why, ask why not instead. It’s entirely your paradise. Until you have to defend it from enemies of course. This adds more aspects to the game, it isn’t just a simple city builder but instead a world. To move you’ll literally crawl around your island with the controllers. The interactivity is the absolute star of the show. You can pick up villagers and move them to new jobs, defend your island with artillery, spin windmills to increase production, control the weather with your fingers and even just drown your population. Without punishment. It’s the interactive, wacky refresh that the city building genre has been waiting for and it’s literally only possible thanks to VR.

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Fade to Silence

Fade to Silence wants to be a lot of things. Due to this I wrote a lot of notes in the first half of the presentation. In the second half I couldn’t keep up. Why not? Captivation. Again THQ are doing something special, taking a pre-existing genre and absolutely mixing it up with others and throwing in AAA polish as the icing on the cake. At its core it’s a survival game. However it isn’t a survival game in which you just attempt to last as long as possible, there’s a highly important narrative here that you’ll be uncovering. To do so you’ll be granted six lives, the justification of which is directly tied to the story and even acts as an explanation for the chaos erupting around you.

Your decisions will be vital to your survival, as will how you deal with various other perils. This includes weather; from blizzards to tornados, starvation, freezing and the various enemies which will hunt you. As you progress, upgrades will help your cause. One of the upgrades I was most intrigued by was the sled and your wolf pack. This allows transportation of much heavier items as well as giving the player access to more areas. On top of this there will be base building and resource management, strategic action combat and even cooperative play.

Wreckfest

Wreckfest is actually already out on PC so there is plenty of information readily available! If you’re excited by destruction derby or any rally racing games, even Twisted Metal, Wreckfest has something that will appeal to you. Honestly, it’s pure carnage. It’s even advertised as no rules racing and it manages to look beautiful while doing so. The console versions are launching 20th November and there is a ton of new content on the way to celebrate that, including new vehicles like the double decker, a new track and tons of new customization options. There’s also a full career mode with challenges and rewards which is always refreshing as games continue to march towards being online only and service based.

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Desperados

This was an excellent surprise. Luckily the gameplay shown builds on the exciting trailer and really does show how important tactical set up will be. This is a real time strategy game where you’ll use your team of five to solve a series of objectives. There was a heavy focus on stealth in the demo, you’ll be maneuvering through enemies and avoiding their cones of sight as you do so. If you get caught alarms will be raised which could lead to a whole host of outcomes. If you’re unprepared you’ll simply be outgunned. The environment will be very important as you make your way through areas, you’ll have to use it to your advantage as much as possible to keep your distance from enemies and ensure they don’t gain a tactical advantage. You might be worried about developer, this is a niche genre after all especially on console. Luckily THQ are working with German game studio Mimimi Games, who are the masterminds behind Shadow Tactics. I really enjoyed the footage shown and I think both fans of the franchise and RTS genre will be pleased when the game launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2019.

Generation Zero

This is a pretty exciting and interesting one. Effectively THQ are giving you a sandbox world to explore, kill robots, uncover story and more totally at your own pace. Set in an alternate 1980’s Sweden, you’ll battle against the hostile robots which have infected the land. You can do it alone or you can play in a group of up to four. The nature of the game is to ensure that every experience will differ and you’ll never have the same fight twice. Rather than being another simple run and gun, Generation Zero emphasizes that the odds are against you and encourages guerrilla warfare. This wasn’t a game I was expecting to have any interest in, but after hearing about the lore based world where you can piece together what has happened to the world, I was incredibly intrigued. I love this approach in games and I’m intrigued to see it apply to a genre out with the walking simulators or action RPGs. Look out for the robot invasion of Sweden on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2019.

That’s all folks. It was a very impressive performance from THQ at Gamescom this year and I really did enjoy every minute of both the presentation and hands on gameplay I got to experience. Let’s hope my opinions don’t incur any WAR or FURY.

Image result for darksiders 3 gamescom

Darksiders III

Of course I didn’t forget. Darksiders III is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One on November 27th! What can I say about it? I’m excited. The first thing that was pointed out is that the combat is slightly tighter, making it slower and more deliberate. As you’re playing as Fury this time around, you’ll have to think more tactically and utilize her many magical skills instead of just sheer brute strength. This brings more flexibility to tactics and gameplay and less ‘button mashing’. From what I played I noticed a difference right away. Combat reminded me of a middle ground between God of War 2018 and something way over the top like Bayonetta. It’s a welcome change that will remove some of the problems with repetition that the first two Darksider’s titles had. Even the UI was simply cleaner and more pleasant to look at. Refinement is the key word for this sequel. That isn’t to say it’s only tiny improvements from Darksiders 2, it’s much more. This really did feel like the franchise is taking a huge leap forward rather than just another incremental step.

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That’s really the end now. THQ deserve a lot of praise for not only bringing quality to Gamescom but for bringing variety. No other single publisher out there has the quantity, quality and variety that I’ve seen from THQ, and I could say that even if I only included three of their titles. I actually missed out Monster Jam, Saints Row and even Let’s Sing 2019. Let’s hope they build momentum from here and we continue to see and hear more.