Gamescom 2019 in Review

The world’s largest gaming event and trade show occurred last week in Cologne, starting with the Opening Night Live event on Monday August 19th, hosted and organized by Geoff Keighley. As that livestreamed event was where the majority of the event’s major announcements came from, it is the centerpiece of this coverage, and the remainder of the news from throughout the next week will be quickly summarized afterwards. That overview may not be completely thorough but I will happily update it further at anyone’s request.

 

Gamescom Opening Night Live 

Geoff Keighley briefly introduced the show and commented. on how the production of the opening night event. Throughout the roughly two hour show, Keighley pushed hard on emphasizing gameplay showcases in comparison to the heavy presence of cinematic trailers at E3 2019. He then proceeded to introduce Rod Ferguson from Gears 5 developer The Collective. 

With Gears 5 coming out in only a few weeks (Sept 10th), a Story trailer plays (following the tradition of very distinct musical choices in Gears of War trailers, this has Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole). They elaborate on multiplayer details, including previously announced crossover with Halo characters and updates to the Horde mode. Gears POP! is finally releasing on Thursday August 22nd. 

A highly intricate cinematic trailer is the world premiere for THQ Nordic’s Comanche, a new entry in a helicopter sim series. Gameplay trailer follows up. 

Need for Speed: Heat was announced the previous week by EA, leading into its first gameplay showcase here. The trailer presents several systems, from customization, to dealing with the costs of damage to your cars, and a GTA-esque notoriety feature where police attention is attracted and needs to be evaded during nighttime street-racing. 

Kerbal Space Program 2 was announced to be coming in 2020. 

Little Nightmares 2‘s announcement trailer premiered next, coming in 2020 to all current consoles including Switch. There is a new player character who will be working alongside the first game’s protagonist. 

There were a few intermittent segments on Gamescom’s 2019 Awards, one featuring a developer from the currently in early-access game builder Dreams, one focused on Nintendo via Link’s Awakening, etc. 

The first gameplay footage was shown from Predator: Hunting Grounds, Sony and Illfonic’s asymmetrical multiplayer FPS title that was originally announced during the May Sony State of Play stream. 

A new story trailer for the soon to release Monster Hunter World expansion Iceborne plays. Iceborne was later announced to be having its second PS4-exclusive crossover with Horizon Zero Dawn, with Aloy returning as a playable character alongside new material from HZD’s Frozen Wilds expansion. 

The show immediately transitions from Iceborne to another trailer for an independent multiplayer first person shooter called The Cycle. The trailer has a strange bent of focusing on the corporate culture of the developers behind this game, Jager (Spec Ops: The Line). The game is said to actively, simultaneously mix PVP and PVE gameplay in an ‘innovative’ way. 

Life is Strange 2 Episode 4, which released later that week on August 22nd, played its trailer next. 

After a year of financial struggle and quick cheap series revivals to soften that blow, like the upcoming Super Monkey Ball HD rerelease, Sega, partnered with Amplitude, announced an entirely new society-building strategy game coming in 2020 called Humankind, which has inspired the question of whether it could be a serious challenge to Civilization’s dominance in this realm.  

With Borderlands 3 coming in mid-September, it had a quick preview discussing horde-mode multiplayer and the recently announced campaign character voiced by Ice T. 

Independent German developer Rockfish Games announced a sequel for their acclaimed roguelike space shooter Everspace to be releasing sometime in 2021. 

A new trailer for The Witcher 3 Complete Edition on Switch announced its release date as October 15th, 2019. Outside the main livestream, this was accompanied by an extended gameplay demo that has been widely reported as showing the game to be very well-optimized and consistently performing well during combat and other gameplay. The only major compromise is the overall visual fidelity. 

FIFA 2020 was briefly discussed, with an emphasis on international street football being practiced in the previously revealed Volta story mode and a clip from said story. 

This was followed by the announcement trailer for a new sci-fi first person shooter called Disintegration coming in 2020 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, from V1 interactive, an independent studio co-founded by Marcus Lehto, co-creator of Halo and former creative director at Bungie. 

THQ Nordic had a new trailer and demo for the top-down co-op dungeon crawler Darksiders Genesis. Nordic has a montage overviewing all of the games they previewed this year, including the Destroy All Humans! remake and Desperados III. 

After being announced as an exclusive launch title during the first livestream for Google Stadia, which once again is a service that expects to individually sell games without any local installment options and will not actually be focused on freely streaming, the indie horror game Gylt from Spanish studio Tequila Works (co-developer of The Sexy Brutale, one of my personal favorite games) was discussed in detail. It will feature exploration, stealth, puzzle, and action gameplay. 

A cinematic played for the new expansion Shadowkeep for the recently free-to-play Destiny 2, which releases on October 1st. 

From there, the show went directly into a cinematic trailer for the 2020 survival horror game Remothered: Going Porcelain, a sequel to 2018’s Remothered: Tormented Fathers. This sequel is coming to all major consoles at launch, with the first game being ported to Switch as of August 30th, 2019. 

Next was a montage from the ongoingly controversial Epic Game Store, showing off new titles whose PC releases will be exclusive to the service, starting with Oddworld: Soulstorm and continuing with Shenmue 3 and Control, among others. This served as a lead-in to some discussion for Magic The Gathering Arena, which was featured in this montage. 

Then there was a surprise launch trailer (shadowdrop reveal) for the Sony-published Erica, an interactive mystery game based in live-action FMV footage. 

After a quick DLC trailer for the most recent entry in the real time strategy series Anno, business-management sim Port Royale 4 was announced for a 2020 release on all major platforms, followed by a quick glimpse at an update for another RTS, Iron Harvest

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare built on its multiplayer reveal earlier this summer with the announcement of a larger playtest that started for PS4 on August 23rd, showing off five maps and emphasizing the new more tactical 2v2 mode. 

After the earlier announcement of Hideo Kojima’s arrival in Cologne, he was finally introduced on stage and began an extended presentation of Death Stranding featuring both cutscenes and unedited gameplay as part of the ‘climax’ of sorts for this event. This was accompanied by a montage that included footage of Keighley at the 2015 Game Awards where he pushed back on Konami’s blacklisting of Kojima from public events involving MGS V: The Phantom Pain, as well as the various previous reveals of Death Stranding over the past several years, emphasizing both the fraught history that informed the game’s development and Keighley’s personal admiration for the developer*. 

There were more extended gameplay demos outside the livestream, but in the videos (1, 2, and 3) they focus on explaining some of the lore and technology featured in the game’s narrative, as well as demonstrating maintenance and survival mechanics for keeping both Sam and the BB he incubates healthy and happy, some of which have attracted a lot of public attention, namely that the player character Sam needs to urinate regularly.

 

*Said montage was apparently in part a lead-in to the brief reveal that Geoff Keighley actually appears in Death Stranding in a minor role as a favor for Keighley’s support of Kojima. He plays someone that Sam makes a delivery to and keeps contact with throughout the game as part of a larger system of support and communication. Keighley performed the motion capture, but does not voice the character.


Indie/Other

Independent Polish developer One More Level (God’s Trigger) and publisher All In Games announced the cyberpunk first person action game Ghostrunner, which carries on the spirit of cult classic Mirror’s Edge and releases in August 2020.

Apparently I missed the info on this game coming out of E3 before its demo at Gamescom. Sorry about that! John Wick Hex is a strategy and resource management game from the studio that created Thomas Was Alone, set during John’s original years as an assassin, and featuring actors Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprising their roles from the film.

The developers of Rock of Ages demoed their new sci fi survival game coming in 2020, The Eternal Cylinder.

YU-NO, Hiroyuki Kanno’s 1996 visual novel that heavily influenced the development of later works in visual novels such as Fate and Steins;Gate, had a trailer for Spike Chunsoft’s October release of the game’s localized remake  on Windows, PS4, and Switch.

On Wednesday, August 28th, Yacht Club Games will be streaming a video presentation updating the public on their current projects, including the final releases in their current work on Shovel Knight, King of Cards and the fighting mode update.

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey had a new trailer leading into its August 27th PC release this week, published by Take-Two Interactive. The game isn’t coming to PS4 and Xbox One until December.

Ubisoft 

On August 20th, Ubisoft showed a new trailer for the latest release in The Settlers series, while announcing that it had been delayed from Fall 2019 to 2020.

Watch Dogs: Legion had a new trailer devoted to further demonstrating the recruitment and character-shifting mechanics.

Microsoft

After a previous Spring 2020 release window from E3, Microsoft had Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition’s release date announced as November 14 2019. It’s currently releasing on Steam, PC Xbox Game Pass, and the Microsoft store, but they stated that they are looking into attempting to port it to Xbox One. 

Romero Games’ Prohibition-era strategy game Empire of Sin received a new gameplay trailer through Xbox’s Gamescom presentation, after being announced during Nintendo’s E3 Direct.

After the recent cancellation of Minecraft’s graphical overhaul, Microsoft and Nvidia announced a partnership to bring a far less resource intensive ray tracing update to the game to significantly alter its lighting and textures.

Microsoft demoed both the forthcoming Battletoads reboot and Minecraft Dungeons. The former is officially still set for a 2019 release but nothing more specific, while the latter is coming in Spring 2020. 

Square Enix

After its polarized formal unveiling at E3 2019, Marvel’s Avengers finally released to the public the same gameplay footage presented there behind closed doors. This 20 minute preview, narrated by Kamala Khan, focuses on the game’s intro, where the heroes fight agents led by Taskmaster in an ultimately failed attempt to stop a terrorist attack, and presents each hero’s individual gameplay style alongside mildly refined character models.

The majority of the game’s main levels will be deploying the heroes one at a time so as to focus on each of their different gameplay styles rather than on teamwork and combining them. In coverage of this preview, the feel of throwing and boomerang-ing Thor’s hammer and Cap’s shield at and between enemies have been repeatedly emphasized as a highlight.

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered’s release date was announced as September 6th, less than two weeks from now as of this article’s publication. It is a digital only release. 

Nintendo

A video featuring Shigeru Ohmori premiered at Gamescom and was quickly released online, where viewers are taken on a tour of a railroad centered town in Pokemon Sword and Shield.

The previously announced Marvel Knights: Curse of the Vampire piece of the Expansion Pass for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, which adds Moon Knight, the Punisher, Morbius, and Blade as playable characters, was announced to be releasing on September 30th. This is not individually priced, it can only be accessed through the Expansion Pass. This update was also announced to be adding a new co-op focused Gauntlet Mode.

After previously being briefly shown during the E3 trailer, the Retro/2D Mode of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was discussed in detail. The game’s release date was announced as November 5th.

Nintendo and Square Enix announced and released the free demo for Dragon Quest 11 S, as of Thursday August 22nd. The demo contains approximately 10 hours of content, is designed to have its saves carry over to the full game, and provides a bonus pack with helpful items for the game’s early hours. 

A demo focusing on a garden-based level in Luigi’s Mansion 3 was presented, along with presentations and demos from the aforementioned Witcher 3, Astral Chain, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, the latter of which officially became available for pre-install on the Switch eShop. 

Last Monday, Nintendo also had its most recent Indie presentation, available to watch here. Many brand new games were shown off for late 2019 and 2020, but the biggest headlines were the shadowdrops of SUPERHOT and the Hotline Miami Collection, and the Switch port of Ori and the Blind Forest being confirmed and releasing on September 27th. 1

 

Sega

Remasters of Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 for PS4 were announced on August 20th, with the first being shadowdropped that day. Yakuza 4 Remastered will release on October 29th, and 5 will release in February 2020. 

Several interviews regarding the Panzer Dragoon remake that Sega is publishing has revealed several pieces of notable info about the game: a physical edition is planned but needs its own publisher to fund it, the game will not be sold for $60, a remake of Panzer Dragoon 2 is already in development to release at an undisclosed later date.

Persona 5 The Royal had a trailer setting its Western release window as Spring 2020.

Google Stadia

Plenty of notable news releases were timed to come out surrounding Gamescom, including the third Google Stadia Connect livestream, which presented new games for the service including Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs: Legion, and had the exclusive announcement of Orcs Must Die! 3 after Baldur’s Gate 3 earlier this year. As these games aren’t releasing until after Stadia’s launch, they will not be available on the service until its respective release dates. Google has continued not to give any specifics on how they will price individual games. The full list of new additions to the service from this video is as follows, with 2019 and 2020 games bolded:2

 

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