Check out our full photo gallery of the expo here.
This past Wednesday, September 10th, saw the annual video game extravaganza otherwise known as GameStop Expo, held at the Anaheim Convention Center. I, along with fellow Pop Insomniac Hera, had the opportunity to spend an entire day surrounded by some of the most anticipated upcoming games.
But first, everyone’s favorite topic: free things. Our press passes came with access to the VIP lounge and a swag bag stuffed full with Destiny and GameStop Expo t-shirts, a badass Batman cape that my brother has commandeered as his Halloween costume, and cute little Captain America and Thor figurines. We also ended up with a ton of stuff just walking around the show floor – so much so that we required a quick trip out to the car halfway through the event to unload our bags, only to get even more stuff afterwards. Among the goodies: tons of posters, Final Fantasy and Dead Island 2 drawstring bags, a Raving Rabbid collectible toy, keychains, lanyards, gift cards, Steam copies of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II (yup), and way more.
GameStop also had a mini-shop open just inside the Expo, selling all their usual goodies (like plushies, action figures, t-shirts, jewelry, a working Sky Hook replica from BioShock Infinite that I may or may not have drooled over for five minutes) as well as pre-orders for some of the games you may have demoed and loved on the show floor.
As for the games themselves, the first demo I settled into was Borderlands The Pre-Sequel!, which was about as funny AND fun as you’d expect by now from a Borderlands game. I got to play as Wilhelm, and tried to do a little bit of exploring, but my co-op partner (controlling Nisha, whom he described as “FUN AS HELL HOLY SHIT” to play) was impatient to get a’killing. So a’killing we got.
Nostalgia abound at the Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ReMIX booth, which had the Halloween Town world loaded up from Nightmare Before Christmas. I was pleased to find a small booth for Saints Row‘s upcoming standalone expansion, Gat Out of Hell, near the Kingdom Hearts set-up. A quick play through of that had me grinning ear to ear; I loved Saints Row IV for its balls-t0-the-wall ridiculousness, and Gat Out of Hell kicks that up about three notches. I spent my demo time exploring the map, hijacking as many burnt up, half-destroyed vehicles as I could get, and trying my hand at one of the flying challenges.
The flight system for Gat Out of Hell is a lot like that of Saints Row IV, except instead of simulated superpowers allowing you dash around and above the cityscape, it’s now the fires of hell sprouting from the ground and wings that have inexplicably burst from Johnny’s back. The lifeless citizens of Steelport from SRIV have been replaced by soulless, lifeless husks ambling sadly about, which made it so much more fun to run them all over with cars. It was even more fun to use the vast array of weapons available on them – like the Armchair-ma-geddon, which is predictably my favorite thing of ever. I mean, come on, it’s a La-Z-Boy with gigantic guns attached. I never thought Volition could’ve topped the giant purple dildo bat or the dubstep gun, but apparently I shouldn’t have doubted them.
Dead Island 2 – so bright. So pretty. So brutal. Seriously, the gore levels in this were insane. How else are we to deal with a zombie infestation, though?
And speaking of zombie infestations, Dying Light I demoed on the Nvidia Shield because there was zero waiting at the Nvidia stand and a long ass line at the actual Dying Light booth. (I’m impatient like that.) The weapons in Dying Light are pretty cool – one wrench type thing lit zombies on fire, while a fireman’s ax sent electric sparks through them. The demo I played limited me to a small area with sparse amounts of enemies and thus a very simple and standard zombie killing experience – but it was still pretty fun, especially once a horde of them started swarming you.
I ended up only watching a few rounds of Alien: Isolation (whilst eyeing the egg demo line enviously and wishing I had the cajones to go into a dark enclosed space myself to experience the game). Seeing other people go through it was pretty hilarious, though – they had a handy camera inside the egg that recorded players’ reactions and broadcast them to everyone outside. I got a big kick out of the flamethrower, one of the few weapons you’re able to use – but only against the humans and androids stalking around the ship. Isolation is primarily meant to be horror stealth/survival, so you’re supposed to escape the Alien rather than engage. Not that anyone actually did that. (I don’t blame them. Fire is fun.)
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham was a cute little game, with over 150 characters to unlock. I only saw/had access to a handful, but that was alright because I really only wanted to use Flash anyway.
The line for Evolve circled the booth every time I passed by it so I skipped out on waiting (again, impatient) but reactions from people who did play assured me it’s not a game to miss. Over at Ubisoft’s set-up, we caught part of a showing for Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Assassin’s Creed Unity. What we saw of Rogue focused on the naval aspect of the game with a long section of navigating around icecaps that, honestly, had me yawning a bit. There are wildlife to hunt, like penguins and polar bears, and you can explore frozen shipwrecks for treasure and for kicks. And to break up the monotony while you’re floating around the ocean you’ll be open to attack from gang ships, though, who can and will board your ship. Icebergs pop up from time to time that you can use for cover, or smash them open for pretty, pretty loot.
Next door was Far Cry 4, which was gorgeous. My demo set me up on a flying mission on a glider quite similar to the ones in Far Cry 3, so I basically split my time between swooping around a small settlement/village/base camp trying to shoot at tiny targets and gaping at the grassy hillsides. Seriously. So pretty.
Overall, considering the amount of games we had access to, the numerous awesome sights to see (like the Batman cape and cowl collection, which you should definitely check out on our Expo gallery post), and all the free stuff we brought home, GameStop Expo was well worth the time and money you’d spend. And though there was a healthy amount of people in attendance, it hasn’t (yet) reached overwhelming levels of bodies, which can only be a good thing. Less people means less wait time for the more popular games and less shoving through crowds to get to where you wanna go. Biiig plus.
If you love video games, you should definitely check out GameStop Expo next year. Maybe we’ll see you there!