ESGS 2017 Highlights: Gaming, Tech Enthusiasts Galore
Gaming fans and tech enthusiasts all over the country gathered for Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS 2017). It was a fun 3-day affair filled with tech showcases and games galore. Exhibitors came out to show their top gaming products from PC gamng to tabletop gaming, AAA titles to indie games. Join us as we show you the highlights of our fun-filled coverage of this year’s ESGS.
ESGS 2017: Highlights
What’s a convention without its booths? ESGS 2017 stays true to its name with its exhibitors that feature a wide range of products for various niches and interest groups. Hardware brands, artists, game developers, and food booths (!) are here for us to marvel.
PC hardware brands such as MSI, Hyper X, Zotac, and Thermaltake showcased their latest releases in their respective booths. People interested in modding their own PC can look at their impressive slate of motherboards, video cards, and custom-modded PC builds that range from awe-striking to flat out amazing. This is helpful for both neophytes and professionals in the realm of PC modding. Display brands such as AOC, Philips, and Viewsonic also showcased their new IPS panels, ultra-wide curved displays, and other new releases. Players can even check out how these screen fare with their favorite games such as DoTA and Overwatch.
Gundam Philippines has a large area for those who want to exercise their crafting skills. In their area, Gundam fans can come together and build gunpla models with other fans. This is quite a refreshing way to take a break from all the hardcore gaming and tech festivities.
Video Game Showcase: PlayStation
Playstation was easily one of the biggest booths at ESGS 2017. The recently-launched Call of Duty: WWII was the marquee headliner at the show, with Lead Art Director Joe Salud sharing more about now-released FPS. Other showcase games included Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite and Gran Turismo Sport. Niche games like Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet also entertained fans of the hit franchise. Several immersive VR titles were also available for play like Team Bravo and No Heroes Allowed!
The E3 build of Dragon Ball FighterZ was available for all the hungry fighting game (FG) fans. Attendees could play with the initial six revealed characters: Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, Freiza, Cell, and Buu. Although damage scaling wasn’t implemented for this build, there was still much action to be had at the two available PlayStation 4 consoles. Unfortunately, one of the controllers kept bugging out, truly hampering the experience for some on Day 1.
Ubisoft had a big space dedicated to showcasing their new game: Assassin’s Creed: Origins. It’s the tenth major installment in their ever popular Assassin’s Creed series. Putting on the shoes of Bayek, you run and climb your way around the mystical sands of Ancient Egypt! They had a number of consoles set up for the fans and maybe just those who were curious about the new game.
Ubisoft also had another booth for Just Dance 2018, which had a huge crowd hanging around to try the hit dancing game. It was filled with people either waiting for a turn to unleash their inner dancer or to watch people bust a move.
Square Enix: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV
Meanwhile, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT set up a series of three consoles, allowing for visitors to team up with each other to combat an artificial intelligence (AI) opponent. Somehow knowing the controls in English made everything a little more confusing, or perhaps the AI difficulty was bumped up a notch from TGS 2017.
In the meantime, Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV was pretty much the fantasy fishing game one could expect. There were large fish to shoot at with the motion controller until it was stunned. The challenge was when the player downed the gigantic sea dwellers. It took a modicum of skill to try to figure out how to cast the line to catch and reel in the defeated fish. What is perhaps most entertaining is that the game captured the intense panic of trying to get the target before it swims away.
Video Game Showcase: Monster Hunter Madness
Leading video game retailer DataBlitz brought an early Christmas gift to ESGS 2017 attendees: monster hunting. Capcom featured Monster Hunter: World on PlayStation 4 at the DataBlitz booth. Playing the English version was a lot less nerve-wracking than playing the Japanese version at Tokyo Game Show 2017. This time however, we tested the free-roam Exploration mode when no specific quest was selected.
Armed with the devastating Switch Axe, we set off tracking the fearsome T-Rex-Vulture hybrid, Anjanath, in the Ancient Forest. We opted to skip over the various options and went straight for the action. During the combat, helpful tips for using the controls of the weapons appeared on the upper right screen. The real kicker was when a Rathalos showed up in the map as well.
We took careful steps to not antagonize the Rathalos, by only attacking the Anjanath or leading the latter into the attacks of the former. Our team of hunters hightailed it out of the area once the Anjanath retreated. We followed it to its nest and promptly exploded a Large Barrel Bomb while it was sleeping. One final surprise of the map was that the nest of the resting Anjanath was wobbly. The ground undulated up and down, making traversal difficult whenever the Anjanath slammed the floor. Nevertheless, it was little respite for the beleaguered monster as we eventually laid waste to the target and carved its carcass for sweet, sweet loot.
Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World will release worldwide on January 26, 2018 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC with absolutely no microtransactions.
Video Game Showcase: Secret 6, Synergy 88
One of the homegrown game devs that put up an exhibit in ESGS this year is Secret 6. The Philippines and San Francisco-based studio partnered with many others such as Naughty Dog, and CD Projekt Red to help with their games. However, Project Xandata is proof that Secret 6 is more than capable of making a game to truly call their own. The game is a competitive first-person shooter with a customizable class system. Project Xandata also aims to bring great weapon variability to further cater to different play styles.
The Secret 6 shooter improved leaps and bounds since the last public build from ESGS 2016. The most obvious change was the aesthetics. Gone were the Tron-like wire-frame designs as the title shifts into a more neon-colored look that pops against the darker environments.
ESGS 2017 attendees had the chance to test out the Team Deathmatch mode, pitting teams of five against each other. Players could select from three classes: the well-rounded Marksman, the agile Assassin, and the powerhouse Juggernaut. The customization options were a bit staggering, from genders and colors to loadouts and abilities.
The game harkened back to the arena shooter style of gameplay, forgoing mini-maps and requiring players to hunt for ammo packs. The gameplay feels incredibly fluid with only a few niggles regarding jumping and placement, but still impressive considering its beta status. More experienced FPS players can find great satisfaction in the heated firefights that can occur, especially in the round areas and long hallway areas.
However, less mechanically gifted players can still contribute with good map awareness an team communication. For instance, a well-timed ultimate from the flank (from yours truly) can easily team wipe an enemy push that was destined to decimate the team. Secret 6 opened up its closed beta to the public by distributing codes to lucky volunteers. So check Secret 6 and Project Xandata out!
Video Game Showcase: Synergy 88, Boomzap
Another local group of game devs that came to ESGS this year is Synergy 88 . The creative studio has done work with a few companies like GMA, Toyota, and even CD Projeckt Red. Their booth this year included new games such as: Ang Panday, Barangay 143: Street League, La Luna Sangre, Spellstrike, Kuna, and Sabong. With the exception of Spellstrike, it’s obvious that the games are all sprinkled with a unique brand of Philippine flavor. Most of these games are mobile and can be downloaded and played. Meanwhile Ang Panday is still in beta and Spellstrike is a PC game that has been greenlit in Steam.
Strategy game fans can rejoice as Boomzap Entertainment rolled out the first look of their newest game, Last Regiment. The title is a turn-based, hex-board strategy that built on their last fantasy-themed strategy game, Legends of Callasia. Still in its alpha build, this ambitious indie game follows the journey of Olivia in a post-apocalyptic world inspired by the culture and technology of the 1700s. Basically, what if the Age of Exploration had dwarves, orcs and elves?
Players can choose from a growing roster of heroes, expand their territory with buildings, and combat the mysterious unknown. Unlike games like Civilization, the turns all happen simultaneously, making mind games and predictions even more crucial to success. The title is a premium game with no microtransactions with a fully fledged single-player campaign and multiplayer options for up to eight players. Creative players may even create their own maps to challenge the best the Last Regiment has to offer. Look forward to a more in-depth look with the developers at Boomzap Entertainment soon!
Video Game Showcase: College of Saint Benilde
College of Saint Benilde‘s game development course also came in to flaunt their stuff. They had a booth up with demos of the work of their students. The first game we checked out was Limbones which is a 2D side-scrolling platformer where you play as a skeleton. You can disassemble your skele-limbs and parts to solve the various puzzles.
Their second game, Apart, is a 3D horror/mystery Amnesia-esque game where you wonder around a house to solve a mystery. The third game is The Fat Prince where you play as a prince that can shrink or bloat his body. It’s a top down scroller where you can use his morph skill to solve puzzles. The last game we looked at was Seizmore Fin. It is a futuristic FPS game where you have a variety of weapons to get through waves of enemy robots. The weapons can be used for teleportation, time manipulation, etc.
While these games are unavailable to the public, it gives us a look at the country’s budding game developers.
Table Top Gaming
Other than homegrown video games that we’ve seen from the likes of Secret 6 and Synergy 88, ESGS also invited homegrown tabletop game designers to show off their games.
Roleplaying game fans were also treated to a homegrown tabletop RPG: Tadhana, an RPG that revolves around Filipino mythology. Think Dungeons and Dragons meets Aswangs and Tikbalangs; this game really hits home with its setting and characters, and proving that RPGs don’t have to always be rooted in foreign mythos to be fun.
If you’re into innovative media, however, you might want to look at MoKai, another game that attempts to spice things up by introducing AR, or augmented reality, into its gameplay. Devs tease MoKai as a tabletop game where you can summon monsters to either play in a puzzle or a battle arena. You can download the app from the Applestore or GooglePlay and see your cards and monsters come to life!
Card Games Galore
Balangay Entertainment is a local tabletop game designing group. They promoted their game titled Darna at ang Nawawalang Bato, a 2-4 player game where the goal is to find Darna’s bato in the deck. As for the specifics of the game, you can find the manual here. They designed the game to be a very simple, and short, entry-level game. They also mentioned how there is a renaissance in the tabletop scene recently with all the gaming cafes popping up here and there. This makes the atmosphere ripe for game designers like them.
Another local tabletop game presented was Hugot. Have you ever thought “I like Cards Against Humanity but I wish it had more feeeeelings“? Well, this game is for you. As stated, it has a CAH-like gameplay but made with the Philippines’ hugot culture in mind. You have prompt cards and answer cards and the best pair will be chosen by the hugot lord.
Ludus Distributor continued its thrust to make card games and tabletop games popular in the Philippines. At ESGS 2017, Ludus demoed several card games, including the ever-elusive Final Fantasy Trading Card Game (FF TCG). The appeal of the game was simple enough; it has Final Fantasy characters in it. However, the gameplay was nothing to scoff at. It has similar mechanics with other popular TCGs like Magic: The Gathering and Vanguard.
Players were allowed any number of Forwards (attacking cards) and only five Backups (non-attacking cards). However, resource management seemed to be the FF TCGs forte. These FF TCG unique mechanics, as well as others like Party Attacks and Summons, allowed for a very fast-paced game. Although it’s hard to predict the long term viability of FF TCG in the Philippines, Ludus strives to keep the scene alive for its most dedicated players.
The main stage is always buzzing with activity. This is the place to be when you want to watch things go down, and they really do. The Brawlfest finals are held on the mainstage for games such as Garrison: Archangel, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs Capcom, and the fan favorite Tekken. Winners of the Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 finals also won tickets to participate and represent the Philippines in Japan EVO in January 2018. How cool is that?
The fighting game community kept up the hype until the culmination on Day 3 where the top two Tekken players in the country — Alexandre Laverez (pbe|AK), and Andreij Albar (PBE Doujin) duked it out in a mirror match of Shaheed vs Shaheed. AK, the returning champion from last year’s Brawlfest defended his title as Tekken 7 champion in a 3-0 match, but in a pleasant surprise, both AK and Doujin will be representing the country in EVO.
Various games where also shown in the main stage, such as League of Legends matches and Just Dance 2018.
Games weren’t the only thing that happened on the big stage. Local personality Ryan Bang made an appearance on stage to host a little show and give out prizes. Chicosci performed on stage as well as part of Predator’s guest performance.
Watch out for: Taipei Game Show
Taipei Game Show‘s promoters also dropped by to promote their event, to happen in Taiwan on Jan. 25-29, 2018. As per the promoters, big-name guests and brands are yet to be announced. However, they visited ESGS to invite independent developers from all over the world to go to their event. This year’s Taipei Game Show appears to be e-Sports oriented, and the promoters’ visit is due to the fact that the country has quite an active e-Sports scene. Here’s to hoping they can invite media personnel to cover the event as well.
Fulldome.Pro introduced a brand-new experience to ESGS 2017: a 360° Dome Theater. They brought an immersive dome-based video projection environment that features 360° virtual reality (VR) environments. Curious visitors wore VR headsets and controllers to interact with a variety of different settings. These range from idyllic grasslands, apocalyptic wastelands, and even the microverse of molecules. The actual games themselves were basic puzzle games. Although simple, it was easy to see where the practical and gameplay possibilities can lead to. It was still a VR experience and are prone to the problems such as dizziness and nausea, so user beware.
ESGS 2017 was a fun experience for gamers, tabletop enthusiasts, and tech enthusiasts. This year, it was especially a great place to see homegrown developers and game makers strut their stuff. We’re hoping that this encourages more Filipinos to develop and publish their own games in the future. We’re also hoping that ESGS will up its game next year because we will definitely be looking forward to it! So stay tuned for What’s A Geek! and more articles on event highlights!
The Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit was held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on October 27-29, 2017. This is their fourth summit.