EGX 2017: Tracks – The Train Set Game

There’s really only one word I can use when describing Tracks – The Train Set Game, that word is “delightful” and I think most will agree. It is the most chilled out game I’ve ever played.

I missed playing Tracks during the EGX event, but in the days which have followed – after one of the group I went with explained his time on the show floor with the game – I have purchased the game four times. That’s one copy for me and everyone else I went to EGX with. We were all so intrigued by our friends description of what he’d played, and since I’d somehow completely avoided buying a round during our brief visit to the Friday evening party, it had to be done. That is particularly evident when the game isn’t much more expensive than a bottle of beer was at EGX…

I’ve only spent an hour and a half playing so far, but the core controls can be picked up in a matter of seconds, there’s recently been an update to improve the tutorial a little too. The game looks gorgeous, which surprised me. Who knew a wooden train set and associated props could look so good?

Your imagination can run wild, sadly mine lets me down when given a completely blank slate, which is an option in Tracks. If you so desire, you can start with a single train and a single piece of track, with a large blank area to get creative. There’s also a “living room” level, where you can throw what look like giant sofa cushions on the ground to raise the terrain. There’s sofas, big screen TVs, dining chairs and tables. Like I said, delightful.

This isn’t Minecraft, or SimCity, but it does scratch that itch, a little bit, so if you’re into that sort of thing, or trains, or have small children, you must check this game out.

It’s in Early Access at the moment, with no definitive release window, but they do plan to support Steam Workshop in some fashion. Billed as “very much a sandbox right now” which I’d agree with, it’s already a very fun (if limited) sandbox at this stage, well worth the small asking price.

You can read more on the developers site about how it came to be. Here’s a few screenshots for you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

EGX 2017: Impressions From A First Timer

I’ve been meaning to go to EGX for a few years now, I finally made it this year for two days, Friday and Saturday, something of a work outing in the end, with four of us from the day job going along.

Thinking about it, this was my first experience of a gaming event in the physical world, not just my first EGX. What a sheltered life I’ve lived! It was a positive experience on both days, but with nothing to compare it to, the bar doesn’t have to be that high to start with…

I didn’t play much, I was happy to just meander around and soak up the atmosphere. I was a little surprised at the popularity (and presence) of stuff which is already available to buy, such as Destiny 2, which featured prominently.

Here’s what I did play though…

  • Forza 7 (on the Xbox One X in 4K, with a controller, very smooth)
  • Project Cars 2 (on a very small TV/monitor with a controller, also enjoyable, I was very bad at this)
  • Gran Tourismo Sport (in the Tron like steering wheel setup, then again with a controller; close tie with Forza 7, the first GT game I’ve ever played)
  • ARMS (on the Switch, great fun, almost made me want to buy a Switch!)
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (So bad at this, the demo ended due to a time limit)
  • Absolver (surprisingly satisfying melee combat, I’m intrigued)

There were a few big titles I didn’t play myself, as the queues were insane and I didn’t have the patience to wait, but my companions had the dedication; their comments in brackets.

  • Sea of Thieves (“Concerned about what there will be to do in the full release, lives and dies by the team, but it was fun.”)
  • Far Cry 5 (“Feels like every other Far Cry, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but…”)
  • Destiny 2 (“It’s more Destiny, I loved the first one.”)

Some stuff played by others in my group…

And some of the stuff I watched… I spent a lot of time watching people play, which I find myself doing more in general these days.

  • Star Wars Battlefront II (the PlayStation Access team live streamed this for a while, highly entertaining)
  • Monster Hunter: World (queues for this seemed big, never heard of it myself, it looked interesting)
  • Destiny 2 (didn’t feel compelled to play on console, still waiting for the PC release, fun to watch though)
  • Cuphead (guys I watched said “Damn, this is difficult!” and it certainly looked it)

The tickets for EGX are pretty cheap, the venue is huge. This is definitely something I will do again, probably the full four days, because I only scratched the surface.

It felt very much like everyone was just hanging out really, I particularly enjoyed chilling out reading a gaming magazine, sat on a beanbag with Destiny 2 in the background. I may have accidentally appeared in the background of an interview with a Bungie Community Manager!? I was only there for the free jelly beans!

We left a little earlier than I’d have liked on Saturday, so the Cosplay competition was sadly missed –  there was some great cosplay to be seen. I also didn’t get to see the Outside Xbox live show, or spend any time at all playing the many titles available in the retro area, which all looked fantastic. It was great to see how popular this was, particularly with the younger generation, who probably didn’t see any of the hardware when it originally released. The CRT televisions were nice to see too! My knowledge of Indie games is woeful, I wish I’d made time to visit that area.

If you’ve ever thought about going to EGX, but you’re put off by social anxiety, the location or something else, I can tell you the NEC is very easy to get to, you’ll also be in the company of (mostly) like minded people. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the obligatory image gallery, which is a bit ropey, as I bought a new phone the day before!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.