Gamescom 2016 is almost upon us, it was an amazing event last year and an experience that we have thought about many times throughout the last year. To think that a 55 minute flight from the UK can bring such a rich experience was quite an eye opener. As a consumer we thought we would give you a handy survival guide so you can make the most of your stay next year. So sit back, take some notes and then open up a new tab in your browser and start planning your trip, as it is something you won’t want to miss!
Things are a little different this year, expect increased security thanks to the nutty fucks who go around killing innocent civilians in some twisted equaliser against western governments reigning down bombs on Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Syrian migrant crisis was the perfect opportunity for ISIS militants to slip straight through into Europe alongside genuine refugees who’s homes were decimated by conflict. There will be bag searches on each day of entry to Gamescom and queues are expected to be very long, if you can avoid bringing a bag with you, do so – it will help everyone get into the arena quicker.
Ditch the Cosplay
Another step up in security this year is that the event organisers are asking attendees to avoid cosplay wherever possible. Any Cosplay that involves swords, fake knifes and guns are banned from the event. There is a genuine fear in Cologne right now, the organisers are even asking attendees to avoid wearing any of this Cosplay around Cologne also, a clear indicator the city is on edge. But can you blame them? As I write this two suspects are on the run after a knife and shooting attack in Cologne.
It’s sad for us to say this, a year ago we wouldn’t have had this down as an essential. Stay vigilant at Gamescom this year. Last year we sneaked into Gamescom early, so we have our reservations about how tight security will actually be, we intend to test this out again this year, not to get the early inside scoop but simply because we want people to feel safe there and have a good time. Two thumbs up if we get thrown out! We have sent e-mails to the event organisers, we haven’t had replies on whether vetting has been carried out on the security themselves which is slightly concerning in our books. If you see anything suspicious happening in or outside of the event please inform security as soon as possible.
Now onto the less depressing stuff…..
Don’t Miss Your Flight
We’ll start off with the obvious tip first, a tip that we never thought we would have to include in this article, but one of our close friend websites had a torrid experience missing their flights to Cologne and in turn had to drive to Germany to be able to experience Gamescom. Always give yourself ample time to get to the airport, pre-prepare for traffic situations, pack your passports and if you are driving to the airport ensure your car is in good working order. On general admission days Gamescom gets extremely busy, we wouldn’t want you missing out on the great games on display.
Queues at Gamescom can get particularly insane. At one point we saw a 5 hour queue for a 13 minute demo of Need for Speed. We noticed some of the seasoned veterans picked up foldable chairs that fit nicely anchored to one of the side pockets of their rucksacks. Standing in one spot and moving yards for multiple hours is more tiring than walking, you want to be energised for the long haul so don’t make yourself feel uncomfortable if you can avoid it.
Don’t wait to get inside the exhibition centre before grabbing food and drink. Not only can the queues get quite big at Gamescom there is a window of opportunity to get smaller queues during lunch time periods and you can save yourself a small penny by packing bottles of drink and taking snack foods. We recommend taking a protein bar with you each day, regardless of how hot the arena is they will not melt and they are small enough to give you more than enough room to pack some handheld devices into your backpack to kill time whilst you wait to play the next hotly anticipated game! Bring one 0.75l bottle of water and 1 500ml sports cap energy drink. Water prices were 3.30 euro’s with some of the cheaper food prices such as Bratwurst’s costing just over 4 euro’s. If you are looking for a sit down meal we highly recommend waiting till after the show otherwise you will be paying easily 25 euro’s for food that is nothing more than average.
Check What is Playable Before Entering a Queue
One of our biggest criticisms of Gamescom was the lack of transparency from publishers. They rock up in Cologne with big massive booths only to show game play footage. This was evident with a number of publishers including Bethesda, Microsoft, Sony and Square Enix. Before joining a queue ask one of the attendants if the game will be playable. Don’t waste your time queuing to see game play that will only end up on YouTube a week later, it is a waste of your hard earned money.
6,7 and 9
The biggest halls at Gamescom are Halls 6, 7 & 9. Keep in this vicinity during the first few hours of the day to ensure you are in line to play the biggest games at the show. These halls by the afternoon are absolutely rammed, don’t make the mistake of checking out the shopping area or the family zone at the beginning of the day, this will only make getting on the biggest games harder.
Stick it Out!
Consistently throughout the 5 days we were at Gamescom we noticed a drop off in visitor numbers from 5pm. The show is open until 7pm. Give yourself enough time to join a queue before it shuts and take advantage of the lower queue times at this point to pick off key games that you want to check out. If you are well prepared you won’t leave early, you will still have the staying power to continue even after 15,000 steps.
Get in the Fast Lane
A number of publishers such as EA & 2K are offering Fast Lane passes, these are available at a fee but they will enable you to check out their library of games much faster. With some of the queue times we saw at Gamescom it would have only been mathematically possible for some attendees to check out 2-3 games in a single day, don’t make your trip to Germany an empty one. Pre-book Fast Lane tickets before you leave to take advantage of pre-booking discounts. Think of the Fast Lane much as paying for a Fast Track pass at a theme park. Even if it sounds absolutely ludicrous they would introduce such a system for a video game conference, it will be in your best interests to take advantage of this.
Want Swag? Don’t wait until the last day
Many publishers were giving out free T-Shirt’s just for checking out their games, there are a number of stage giveaways but there is never guarantee you will actually get anything for free in those. Take advantage of getting on AAA titles on the first two days of the show, don’t leave it till the last day as promotional materials will run out. If you see people walking around with massive bags don’t be deceived, just because people have big Final Fantasy bags or PlayStation 4 bags, it doesn’t mean there is much inside them. Microsoft did a great thing this year by giving out limited edition pins to those that played their big titles.
Don’t forget the Indies
Are queue times too big? Why not hop on by some of the ID@Xbox titles or Indie Booth’s there is amazing creative talent on display. If it wasn’t for indie developers, we wouldn’t have experienced for ourselves great games such as Super Hot and Cuphead, two games we believe will go on to achieve cult status to the levels of Limbo and Super Meat Boy.
Recon if you can
The event handling company behind Gamescom are not the best at informing customers what games will be at the show. Keep your ears to the ground on news aggregate sites to find out confirmations of what will be listed at the show, or better still why not turn up to the exhibition centre a day early and find a way in. We did! And it gave us a massive tactical advantage to not only get a feel for how to navigate the exhibition centre but to also know what will be in each booth. Be warned though, you aren’t meant to be there. The site is meant to be restricted to trade and exhibitors only, but security is particularly low. If you are asked to leave, be polite and walk out of the hall, if you are asked to leave multiple times, leave the exhibition centre completely otherwise you may bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
You might be walking around a big exhibition centre but all of the electronics and sheer mass of people amp the humidity of the venue. On days 2 & 3 of Gamescom temperatures in Cologne were above 30 degrees Celsius, be sensible and breathable clothing. If you are going to the event in Cosplay try something that will enable you to keep you cool, or just be prepared to be hard core and potentially light your Cosplay items on fire by the end of the show as you will absolutely stink if you go as a Stormtrooper.
Bring Hand Sanitiser
Want to stay MLG Pro at Gamescom? Keep healthy the whole time you are there by bringing some hand wash with you. This isn’t going to cover you completely though. Ensure every toilet break you wash your hands with the hottest water possible to kill as much bacteria on your hands as possible.
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