The Gamescom 2023 took place between 21.08-25.08 in Cologne, and I used the first public visitor day to get some impressions on the venue. Microsoft surely had the biggest booth this year and next to small entries like Under the Waves they put focus was on their X-Box-exclusives. Starfield was surely the most prominent game, but the long queues weren’t worth to play it that short before it got released. Age of Empires IV Anniversary edition could be played hands on as well as Party Animals. Ubisoft was showing The Crew Motorfest which did not really catch my interest as it appeared to me as if Ubisoft just wants to use the success of X-Box-exclusive Forza Horizon bringing a similar game on all consoles. This was confirmed as from the visual style and short gameplay I had a look it was missing something unique, and I doubt the quality of the Forza Horizon series can be reached. Bandai Namco had a big presence allowing to play Armored Core VI just some days before its final release. As the game made a good impression especially the design around the armored core booth was nice.
Same holds for Bandai Namco’s second big title Tekken 8 which also came with a bigger booth and enough consoles to play with acceptable waiting times. The short play session left a good impression on visuals, animation, and controls. Only 1:1 Versus-matches were playable leaving a bit of a doubt on the single player mode which leaves more questions to me from the initial trailers. Mortal Kombat 1 was also of high interest with long waiting queues, so I skipped it. Same holds for Payday 3 and Black-Myth WuKong: For both hour-long waiting times were present whole day.
Nintendo presented their current game lineup of games released in 2023, like Zelda: Tears of a Kingdom and Pikmin 4. I used the chance to play Sonic Superstars on switch which was playable also on other booths being a multi-platform title. One can say its about bringing Sonic back to the roots with of classic 2D-sonic games and one-button gameplay with fast looping and platforming. In the two test levels playable some more innovative or creative changes were missing. Overall Sonic Superstars made a solid impression and its worth a look for fans of the original Sege Mega Drive games.
Enotria: The Last Song from Jyamma games had a bigger stand also allowing to have a look to the souls-like game inspired by Italian folklore. As in the short time judging if the game can bring something new to the well-known souls-formula in terms of gameplay the visuals made a very good impression as the level demoed took place in a sunny Italian landscape, which would be a good contrast to all the dark dungeons and castles of other games of the genre.
Retro- and Indie-Area were further extended this year and were a real highlight putting focus on contact to developers and making Gamescom a more community-focused event. The indie area was quite crowded as lot of small booths were place next to each. However, in this setup it was possible to get a lot of impressions on many small games in short time
The presence of streamers, influencers, cosplayers, and higher focus on community is a good move not only to compensate the absence of big publishers and developers like Sony. It makes the whole event a more consistent event for gamers during public opening days and it is not just all about standing in long queues to catch a glimpse of new AAA-titles.
Sources: Photos: own pictures, taken on 24.08.2023 Gamescom-Logo: Koelnmesse/Koelnmesse GmbH, Messeplatz 1, Köln, Germany