Gamescom, Blizzcon and more: All aboard the hype train!

There’s nothing quite like a major gaming convention to whip gamers into a dribbling frenzy and kick off a new gaming blog is there?

After the bizarre motion control-centric theatrics of E3, most folks have pinned their hopes on this years brand spanking new Gamescom convention to deliver the goods in a big way.

If you believe the hype, and depending on when you read this, there’s a very good chance a new model of the PlayStation 3 – the fabled PS3 Slim – is just about ready to grace us with is presence. Not only will it be slimmer and lighter, it’ll also be considerably cheaper (yay!) you can put the pitchforks away now kids, that goes for you too Bobby.

Me? I’m (somewhat optimistically) thinking we’re going to be seeing the first wave of a relaunch and repositioning of the machine into a more mainstream space. Notice I said mainstream, not casual! I think it’s safe to say Sony’s got more up its sleeve than just the Slim announcement though. I expect to hear and see more of the now infamous “Wand” motion control technology displayed at E3. PS3 firmware updates, once popping up seemingly every few minutes are now conspicuous by their absence, and rumors abound of a mythical Firmware update 3.0 arriving that will be as much a jolt to the system as the 360’s recently released NXE.

Gamescom is also expected to bring with it some highly anticipated information regarding the PSPgo’s long rumored app store, supposedly heralding a new wave of iPhone-esque, lower priced, bite sized software that may or may not relate directly to gaming.

It goes without saying that this could potentially be a real game changer. The PSP has always been on the cusp of being regarded a true breakout success. it’s a marvelous piece of technology that’s received more than its fair share of unfair criticism and it’s even flirted with supremacy in the charts on the odd occasion, but few would disagree that it’s yet to really live up to its full potential. The next few days could well prove vital.

Xbox 360 fans shouldn’t feel left out though, just because all the pre-Gamescom chatter has centered around Sony doesn’t mean there’s no 360 news. Creeping past the rumor stage are leaks of an impending price cut for the top of the line SKU, the 360 Elite which will apparently now available for 300 dollars – conveniently in line with the rumored price of the phantom PS3 Slim!

Of course if this news has you bouncing off the walls in excitement you might just want to simmer down a bit if what I’m hearing about a reported UK price increase (however small) for the 360 Arcade is true. Let’s also hope that a price cut to the Elite, however welcome, doesn’t represent Microsoft’s ace in the hole. Considering the European focus of Gamescom (and how long it’s been in development) it’s not out of the realm of possibility to expect some news on Remedy’s Alan Wake. Hopefully we can also expect details on what Mr. Molyneaux and his Lionhead Studios are working on next, assuming their bizarre and somewhat cryptic teaser site is to be taken at face value (har! I made a funny!)

You should probably expect to hear something Halo related, if only because I can’t remember the last time we had a game conference where there wasn’t news about a new Halo game, sequel, prequel, expansion or piece of DLC.

Are you a Wii owner? Well… I’m not going to say don’t hold your breath, but don’t hold your breath.

And what’s in it for PC gamers? You really should be in for something of a treat seeing as how Europe is essentially PC-Land. I’ve heard that Crytek are ready to pull back the curtain on Cryengine 3 and Crysis 3, sending GPU’s everywhere scampering away in fear. I also expect EA and Bioware to show off Dragon Age, which comes out in under three months.

Speaking of Bioware, there’s a good chance we’ll hear and see more of their in-development Star Wars mammorpuguh, The Old Republic. However, if you’re like me you’re more excited at the prospect of seeing Star Trek Online (imaginative name there) in greater detail. Can you imagine what it would be like if we could somehow merge those two MMO’s into one big, massive nerdgasmic gamefest? Wookies and Bolians and Droids, oh my!

Then there’s NCSoft. With Guild Wars selling over six million copies it’s not out of the realm of possibility to expect that there’s going to be a Guild Wars 2. It’s also safe to venture a guess that NCSoft are crossing every digit hoping Aion: Tower of Eternity reaches similar levels of success. Having just gone gold, NCSoft is looking to show it off in a big way at Gamescom. My “out of the left field” prediction? Watch for either Aion, or Guild Wars 2 (or both!) to be announced for the PlayStation 3. Remember that announcement Sony made at E3 2007 about NCSoft MMO’s coming exclusively to the PS3? Yeah, well methinks the iron is just hot enough for striking.

While Guild Wars 2 is probably the most console friendly option for NCSoft, it’s hard not to be impressed by what we’ve seen so far of Aion. If the scope hinted at in this latest story trailer or this frankly bat-poop insane gameplay video are anything to go by it’s going to be a worthy addition to the MMO-scape. In fact, I have to admit that if we had to choose between WoW and Aion here at EpicToon HQ right now, there would probably be blood on the office walls, it’s that close.

Beyond Gamescom though there’s the elephant in the room… Blizzcon Babay! Cataclysm, Diablo III, Starcraft II, GASP! Might this just be the absolute best Blizzcon in the history of forever?

Rumor has it WoW’s latest expansion, Cataclysm, will bring major changes to Classic Azeroth, which will be revamped to take advantage of post Classic WoW gameplay additions like phasing and daily quests. Durotar looks like it’s going to be blown to oblivion, Orgrimmar’s probably going to be completely flooded and we’ve heard rumblings of new races (the Worgen and the Goblins) and even new race and class combinations. The level cap isn’t getting much a boost though, maxing out at just 85 but it sounds like Blizzard are going to make leveling more of a challenge, aiming for a greater sense of fulfillment when you gain a level. All you Onyxia fetishists can relax, it looks like the witch is back and she’s pretty ticked off, this particular raid having been tweaked and enhanced for Cataclysm. Did I mention Kalimdor and The Eastern Kingdoms will also be made flying mount friendly? Trays up the upright position if you please.

And hey, what if… no, I shouldn’t say it… but just what if Blizzard decide to show off that super secret next generation MMO that we all know they’re working on?

Without a doubt though, the absolute best thing about this years Blizzcon (apart from Ozzy) is that you can now live the dream vicariously through the magic of pay-per-view television. Yes, that’s right, experience the sights and sounds (thankfully not the smells) of Blizzcon from the comfort of your own couch for the low, low price of just $39.95! Operators standing by to take your order! Act now!

Okay, that’s enough hyperbole and speculation from me, at least for now, I’ll be back by weeks end to recap what went went down and you can all laugh and point at me because of how utterly wrong I was.

See ya Friday folks!


Randy Pitchford and Gabe Newell do battle to decide who gets to use the studio name “Gearbox Software” – It’s not as dumb as it sounds. Well maybe.

The toilet seat pet peeve… from a gamers perspective.

And finally, quite probably the most awesome videogame related thread there has ever been. (Warning, contains some spicy language. And David Bowie. Dance magic dance!).

-by Chris Coker

Photo by Stephen Matta / CC BY 2.0