Last weekend, we popped down to Birmingham. Not to sample their famous curry houses or to visit the giant Primark (we have yet to visit), but to pay a visit to the UK’s largest gaming festival, Insomnia 65. It’s the third time we had attended the event, the first being i61 when we were invited along by eBuyer Gaming, and the second visit was for the last event i64.
Our first visit truly was awesome, there were so many games and stalls to check out, they even had a mini Robot Wars arena and Drone Racing. We also managed to get into the BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) section to get up close and personal with gamers taking part in the Insomnia Masters tournaments. Our last visit to i64 however just didn’t seem to be as good. Whether it was just a lack of games that tickled our tastebuds, although there were some gems, I’m not sure. But it seemed more to be about making money off gamers, especially with how large the Battle Royale section was and the amount of Fortnite merch they were trying to push on the younger crowd.
Insomnia 65 seemed to have redeemed itself though, as it didn’t feel like the whole event was as pushy at trying to get you to buy stuff. Whilst the number of tech stalls still seemed to dwindle, and there weren’t as many games to check out as we’d have liked, it was overall a quite positive experience, with a copious amount of CosPlayers, particularly Borderlands CosPlay. And a large reason for that was because Borderlands 3 was one of the main featured games at the event. And getting to play that alone pretty much made our day, and was the main reason we wanted to attend. Although our time playing the latest instalment was short, it was still pretty awesome, but I won’t go on about how awesome it was now, we’ll save our thoughts on that for a soon-to-come preview.
Over the course of rest of the day, we got plenty of tasters of different games, from PES 2020 to the remaster of golden oldie MediEvil where I got my picture taken inside the head of Sir Daniel Fortesque for bossing it! Always a highlight of the festivals for us though is checking out the indie developers and their dedicated hive where they all hide out. Particularly fascinating was Papercut Mansion, who had gone to the lengths of designing their section so everything looked like it was made entirely of cardboard. A particular favourite this time round was Robot Champions, a delightfully frustrating but addicting multiplayer robot war game similar to the premise of Robot Wars, just without the customisation aspects and big names like Sir Killalot.
One underrated part of the festival is the board game section. It may not draw in as big of a crowd as some of the video games, or the charity stall with the cute little guide dogs, but if you take the time out to check out some of these games you’ll likely not regret it. We played a quick game of Yu-Gi-Oh Speed Duels and even got to take some cards home… This may have started something, as we’re now rewatching the original series and even getting back into the card game. There were plenty of others too from the likes of Asmodee Games, as well as a favourite from our last visit to Insomnia, the dutch national game Klask, which is seriously addictive and tension building.
As well as games there was also plenty of merch lying around, nothing out of the ordinary for Insomnia, but we did find a few nice buys. There were also plenty of free samples being given out of gamer energy drinks. There were two main stalls, one for G-Fuel which in all honesty tasted quite watered down, and another for one of the newer folks to the scene, Sneak Energy, whose drinks were much tastier, less diluted and to the distaste of some, extremely fricken sweet. We also met up with the lovely streamer Purple Dragon who provided us with some samples of X-Gamer for us to take away and try and in fairness, they were probably the perfect balance between the other two, full of flavour but not too sweet, and they gave me the buzz I needed to get through the next week of work as I sampled a different flavour each day. She even shared her 10% off code with us which you can use for X-Gamer too, just enter code DRAGON at the checkout.
The take-home message really is, that Insomnia did step its game up from what we experienced at i64 and overall the day was pretty great, primarily due to the big game releases and the chance to play them before they hit the shops. Otherwise, it is very expensive for what you can do, the camping aspect seems very cool but again there isn’t really enough to do to warrant staying so many days without repeating yourself unless you’re there to check out all the shows and maybe watch the esports tournaments as well. So for most people, a day pass would probably do. Then again, a weekend of hanging with friends that normally would live at the opposite side of the country and you don’t get to see too often is probably as good a reason as any to head there. Regardless, either way, it will never stop us going back for more!
In the meantime, check out the gallery below for some of our snaps from the event. Then all you need to do is stay cool and keep your eyes peeled for our Borderlands 3 preview coming very soon!
Until next time folks. Ciao!