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Summer Game Fest started off on a really amazing foot. Being at the showcase was a dream come true, and I was able to see and meet so many amazing individuals. It was surreal. The day after the showcase, there is an in-person event called Play Days where media are able to check out some of the upcoming games coming out soon. And I was able to be a part of this illustrious event, and I am honored by the chance to be here.

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My first appointment was with Level Infinite/Tencent Games, to check out some of the games they are helping to bring to the table, and there are some really amazing ones that are coming which I can't wait for! Since there are multiple games, here is a quick roundup of the games I got to see and some thoughts on them:

Path of Exile 2

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The first game I went to go see was Path of Exile 2, which I am even more excited for than I was before. I got to play for a bit as the new character class, the Monk, and a taste of how it feels to play. The visuals are as stunning as they look, and it feels just like Path of Exile, with more refinement and some changed mechanics to make it significantly more enjoyable to play.

Wisdom and Portal scrolls are nowhere near as important as they used to be, while the game has an overall more accessible system for learning how to use the expansive skill tree, skill gems, and new ways to gain abilities. It all works together so well so far, and seeing how abilities work together seamlessly is extremely cool. I chose to use a lightning attack ability and mix it with this ability to put down a giant bell that can hurt anyone around it when you attack the bell to ring it. By attacking the bell with my lightning attack, it has a chance to electrify the bell, which can do lightning damage now.

Everything felt extremely fluid and a blast to play. I also got to play with a controller, which also felt pretty nice. This was Path of Exile, but it feels way more refined and easier to understand and play. The team is prioritizing accessibility with new ways to look up terms and better tutorials, so this entry will be easy for newcomers to pick up and learn.

I also got a chance to confirm that Path of Exile 2 is going to be optimized for the Steam Deck and is being considered. After playing it, this will definitely be one of the best ways to play. I am very optimistic, and I am so ready to sink in hundreds of hours.

Exoborne

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Next, I got to go see Exoborne, the upcoming futuristic extraction shooter. Now, after playing lots of Escape From Tarkov, my standards for extraction shooters are a bit on the higher side. After seeing Exoborne's presentation, and some gameplay, this could be the extraction shooter that keeps my attention.

What sets Exoborne apart from others, to me at least, is easily the weather effects. The way the weather can affect the entire map is astounding. I watched 3 tornadoes rip across the field, which picked up different people (who used their exosuits to glide around in the new winds), debris, and vehicles. There are also ways to customize your exosuit and equipment to withstand some of the weather effects, giving you the chance to surprise and take down opponents who are subjected to the changes in weather.

It is a third-person title that zooms into first-person when you are aiming down your sites, and vertically, it seems to play a huge part in how you traverse the map. The team is also finding ways to keep it very high risk in the short run while being low risk across the long run, which can make it feel more enjoyable to play over time, especially if you lose your gear. The adrenaline of running across a map, mixed with both high octane combat and customization/crafting mechanics, Exoborne looks like it will be one of my go-to titles for extraction shooters.

Dune: Awakening

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After Exoborne, I went on over to check out Dune Awakening, which is being developed by Funcom. The open-world MMO looks fantastic and extremely ambitious, but if anyone is able to pull it off, it will be Funcom.

Recently, we got to see the story cinematic trailer, which sets the stage for the narrative in which the game takes place. This is set in an alternate reality where Paul was never born, and his mother instead gave birth to a girl, and in turn, this changes the course of the entire world and events that take place. It's an extremely interesting premise and allows Funcom to really go all in with creating an intriguing premise for its MMO.

As for the gameplay, it looks really solid. It has some remnants of Conan Exiles, like how you climb on surfaces, the camera angle, and the general gameplay feel, yet it has its own twists to it. You are able to align yourself with different factions, which can unlock new perks the more you build a relationship with them. This also includes vehicles, which you can get access to if you are trusted enough. And all of this comes hand in hand with the combat, base-building, and crafting that fits perfectly in this title.

It was confirmed that almost all buildings in the game were made with the same kits you can unlock to build your base with, so if you see a landmark that looks really interesting, you can more than likely build the same thing yourself if you really want to.

Critter Cafe

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Then, I got to check out a smaller, but still very cute cozy game called Critter Cafe! It's an adorable title that focuses on a more laid back experience where you build up a cafe, meet and rescue little creatures, and work with them in your shop.

There is little risk when it comes to the game, and it was built to focus on just going at your own pace rather than trying to constantly complete quests or grind. You can customize your character, build out your cafe, set up events, and play little mini-games when fulfilling customer's orders. As for finding critters, you will hear about spots where they are, and you will have to venture out and complete a puzzle to bring them back with you.

The creatures are extremely cute and collecting them all will be a lot of fun. I can really see myself playing this in between game reviews when I need a break from some of the deeper and time-consuming action games that I have to play. This will be especially true with soulslikes, which I take 100x longer to beat because I am so bad at the game.

DeathSprint 66

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After Critter Cafe, I went right around the corner and got to try out DeathSprint 66. This is a fast-paced parkour running game where you will run along a track and have to jump, slide, wall run, and grind your way around a course and race against others.

Overall, the game feels very Mario Kart-esque. You race against others, you can pick up items to throw them off or kill them, but it does still have some differences that make it so much fun. A lot of the actions are automated as you go through maps. You do still have to push buttons to drift and crouch, but wall running, grinding, and a lot of the jumps are automated. This makes you focus more on the obstacles in front of you and taking down enemies, rather than trying to push the right buttons at the right time.

It was such an addicting experience, and hearing about how they want to expand the game with new maps, game modes (like some PvE stuff), and customization options is really cool. The game will start off with 15 maps, each one of them hand-crafted, and in the 3 maps I played, I was hooked. I am going to be watching this one very closely.

Parcel Corps

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Finally, I had a game that reminded me of the good ol' days that admittedly weren't so good. Before I started SteamDeckHQ, I had done some gig jobs, specifically DoorDash. It can be relentless with what you are expected to do, and it's even worse for Uber/Lyft drivers. Parcel Corps is a look into that brutal life and how the people working these jobs are treated, but in a hilarious and addicting way that made me want to keep playing, even when the flashbacks hit.

You are a delivery person who is taking up jobs from people around the city to deliver their packages to others. On your trusty bike, you will ride, grind, and push your way to deliver the package in time and expand your network so you can keep working and make more money. the gameplay itself reminds me of both Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi since there are modes you have to complete multiple jobs and go as quickly as possible while navigating the city and getting thrown off your bike by cars that just speed right through you.

Figuring out how to maneuver the bike did take me a moment, but I ended up loving it as I got the hang of it. The way you can utilize riding on walls, jumps, and speed to get around and overcome obstacles is really fun, and I am looking forward to playing more as soon as I can.

Level Infinite/Tencent showed off an impressive lineup of games and I am extremely excited for each one of these titles. Path of Exile 2's Steam Deck optimization is awesome, but it was hard to beat the sheer joy I felt playing DeathSprint 66. Regardless, I highly recommend watching out for each of these titles, and I look forward to playing each again on release!

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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