A day at Gamescom 2023


Staff member
Okay, actually it was maybe half a day, or about 5 hours, but that doesn't sound quite as good for a title. Besides, similar to close proximity of a black hole, the gravitational field of an enormous crowd of people seems to distort space time anyway and my visit felt too short and exhaustingly long at the same time.

Last year, I went with two children in tow and on a Saturday, and barely managed to play one demo, which was Pentiment, because nobody else was waiting in the queue.
This year I thought I'd be smarter, get a weekday ticket (the luxury of having free days from night work) and be there at 10 AM before the other lazy gamers are either back from school/uni/work or out of bed.
But alas, one of the junior Krogans suddenly had a change of heart and wanted to come along, that meant starting after school. Fair enough, sharing fun across generations is always a good thing, and retrospectively a whole day would have been too overwhelming for me anyway.

A weekday ticket was 27€ for an adult and 19,50€ for students and others who qualify for a reduced price, and that included free use of regional transport in the area. Amazing in our case, because we don't live that far from Cologne and traffic and parking there aren't fun for backwater country kids like myself.

No queues when we arrived, neither at the mandatory bag search nor at the ticket scan. That was different last year on a Saturday morning, but back then I think there were still all those pandemic related distance requirements in place.

This is the plan of the halls:


And that's the crowd we were facing only in the small corridor between halls 6 and 9 on our way to get the age wristbands.


Obviously there were a lot more people in the most popular areas and the outside food court spaces. It was a huge, friendly, colourful and peaceful crowd, at no point did I have the feeling that I need to get nervous or feel unsafe, not even letting my 12yo kid run off alone (except for wondering how to find him again without a tracking device).

Speaking of the most popular areas, while the kid headed straight for the Indie area in hall 10, I thought I'd try to get my hands on the Starfield demo, but only a glimpse at the Xbox booth made clear that would mean spending the whole day in the queue. The same was true for the Cyberpunk2077 DLC Phantom Liberty, by the way, which was to be found in the same area. A huge poster was the closest I could get:


While I was there I thought I'd check out at least one of the small games like Under the Waves and maybe get lucky like with Pentiment last year, but it was just far too crowded, Xbox is a people magnet.

Alright, so instead I decided for now to simply soak up the atmosphere, be among the tribe of fellow gamers, look at the cosplayers, the impressively designed booths, and enjoy the general vibe of the entertainment area.

I know I like ESO anyway so I didn't want to waste time playtesting the new Necrom chapter, but I was happy to run into a friendly familiar face, even if he didn't allow me to borrow a book.


The biggest booths besides Xbox were probably Hoyoverse (irrelevant to me because my kids are no longer interested in Genshin Impact) and Level Infinite (Tencent), who this year didn't have a Metal: Hellsinger among their number, but the new cooperation between Ubisoft and Level Infinite, Assassin's Creed: Jade, their first attempt at a mobile game, seems to attract quite a lot of people. I can't possibly imagine playing an AC game on a tablet, let alone suffer free-to-play concepts with microtransactions, but whatever works for others, fair enough...


Finally, among their numbers, a game I had heard of and am still interested in, Nightingale! The queue was huge and in a different place, and I'm going to wait for clearer information because so much of the game has changed during its development already, but that gate attracted people for selfies.


Time flies, I needed to find the junior Krogan and get something to eat. I'm neither antisocial nor afraid of crowds, but somehow among many people I suddenly reach a point where my energy level drops from 100 to 0 in an instant and I need sugar or will start crying/growling at random people, and my offspring isn't really better. So I texted where he is and got the very precise, specific and exhaustive answer "where the indie games are". Great.


What you can see in this picture is about 5% of "where the indie games are"

At this point I'd like to direct people at the awesome Indie Arena Booth , the biggest shared developer booth in the world, at Gamescom 2023 with 154 developers from 30 countries.

Another big shoutout goes to Polish Indie Booth, very popular, a lot of games, which out of solidarity brought along the Ukrainian devs of Triomatica Games with "Boxville" and Sandman Team with "Through the Nightmares" free of charge.


I had to drag the little one away from that area and get some food and liquids into us, then he went back to this hall without any room for negotiations, on important business to speedrun an inventory management (?!) roguelike called Backpack Hero. I didn't even attempt to understand why that was so important and went off happily, with my mental energy restored to normal levels, determined to play at least one demo today, trying to decide which one that should be, when I walked right into it!

I didn't know Owlcat would be there with Rogue Trader!


Don't ask me why, but apparently RPGs aren't that popular (unless they're called Starfield of course), I spent only about half an hour waiting in the queue until I could play!
We only had 30 minutes time for the demo, so I didn't bother with character creation and selected a pregenerated Adept, which is supposed to be a more brainy class.

I started on the voidship, without knowing what a voidship is, being called to the Lord Captain, who was apparently very important and I pretended to know why... frankly, apart from occasionally reading their newsletters about Rogue Trader, I know nothing about the Warhammer universe and lore. There were Tech Priests running around on the ship, I had heard of those, and I know there's a God Emperor, and the ships travel through the Warp, which doesn't work like in Star Trek but somehow negatively affects the mind too. I was also the candidate to be some heir to the ominous Rogue Trader/Lord Captain.
The dialogues seem to give the option to read up lore along the way, which sounds reasonable to introduce people new to this world like myself, the UI looks intuitive enough, and my first tutorial fight was fairly simple, especially because I only had a pistol and a grenade.
The design of the ship, the general style of the environment and characters, and the visuals in general were easy on the eye, I liked them, and it felt like a game where I could quickly get into familiar controls and click and read through dialogue options that give enough choices for roleplaying. I can't judge yet the combat as I only participated in two fights, but I can understand @alice_ashpool now who during the first tests complained about the slow speed. Watching 20 people walk around and take their turns at shooting a pistol basically in slow motion was as excrutiatingly painful as watching a HoMM4 combat with a lot of creatures in real time without increased speed. But maybe in the final version it will be possible to speed up enemy turns, or I will use the time to go to the bathroom or get a fresh cup of tea. It's also possible that the knowledge of my limited time to test the demo made it seem slower than it actually was.

Nonetheless, of course I didn't see much of the game, but what I saw was enough to say that I like how it looks, I like how it's written, I'm sure the lore is worth getting into, and I hope they'll make leveling and combat interesting, I keep looking forward to it!

After that experience, it was time to get back to the Indie area, pick up the little one, take another walk around together, hear about his game success, buy him a stuffed animal in the merchandize area and take the train home an hour before everyone else decided to do the same.

An exhausting day, but totally worth it, especially after I knew what to expect as this was my second visit to Gamescom in general. If you plan to try many demos, go for more than one day, be there early, bring a folding chair and a lot of patience. If you only want to try indies, enjoy the feeling and look at stuff, one day is perfectly fine.

Until next time!


Staff member
Rogue Trader seems like a must-play game!

Indeed. I wish I could have played more, had taken photos while I played, or were better at explaining without screenshots.

The visuals were appealing, with the vibes of both space travel and old navigation, and the impression of the world and lore was new enough to be interesting, and yet the UI and mechanics felt familiar enough to click right away, even if I, unlike many here, haven't played Owlcat's Pathfinder games (yet).

I trust their ability to write, from what I have heard, and was happy to discover that I, being thrown into an unfamiliar environment with a combination of tech nerds and religious fanatics, could use dialogue to get information, without sounding like a complete idiot or getting encyclopedia-like walls of text from random people (PoE).
An interesting detail was that the text the dialogue partner gave was on the left side, then my choices for replies in a box next to that on the right. That's unusual compared to other games I have played, but I liked it immediately, because it looked less cluttered and easier to overview when choosing an answer than having everything arranged vertically.

On another note, Owlcat's latest newsletter confirms the possibility for co-op play and shows a companion trailer:



Staff member
I've just read the regional news and it's said that Gamescom this year had a total of 320.000 visitors, 55.000 more than last year. Business visitors were 31.000, 25% more than last year, half of those international.
To compare, PAX East had an attendance count of about 130.000 this year.
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