Gamescom is Europe's answer to E3. It is a similarly huge event for gamers, with the biggest forthcoming titles on display for press, trade visitors and the public alike.

And we trudged the floors for the first few days to bring you the latest on the games and hardware to keep an eye on.

Here then are our highlights of the games and hardware at this year's show.

What is Gamescom?

Gamescom started in 2009 and is held annually at the Koelnmesse convention centre in Cologne, Germany. It generally runs in mid to late-August.

The first day (Tuesday 21 August) was for trade and media only, it then opened to the public from Wednesday 22 August. It'll run until Saturday 25 August.

Some companies hold press conferences and showcases at Gamescom but these have shrunk in number over the years.

Best of Gamescom 2018: The highlights

Although there were only one or two major launches, many of the games and devices at Gamescom 2018 were more playable than they were at E3 in June. These are the titles and products we played and saw that really stood out.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics cards

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On the night before Gamescom, Nvidia held a launch event for its biggest PC graphics card range refresh in many a year.

Using the all-new Turing architecture, the GeForce RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti cards will be coming out at the tail end of September and will offer graphics processing previously only available on supercomputers. And considering the 2070 starts at around $499, that's quite incredible.

You can read more about them here: Nvidia's new RTX 2080 cards: Your PC games will never be the same.

Destiny 2: Forsaken

We already played Forsaken's Gambit at E3 2018 but a new map was available to us at Gamescom and it reenforced our view that the multiplayer teamplay mode is the single-most important and fun addition to any online game we've encountered for years.

It helps that the team we were on this time around nailed it, winning both rounds. But just the idea of combining PVE and PVP play appeals to us so much, and you can try it for yourself for free on 1 September with Activision and Bungie announcing a free trial for 24 hours on that day, starting at 10am PDT (6pm BST).

You can find out more about Gambit and the story mode of the new Destiny 2 expansion here: Destiny 2 Forsaken initial review: Cayde's dead baby, Cayde's dead.

Starlink

If you thought the Toys to Life genre was dead and dusted, think again. Starlink will very much bring it back, making it relevant to today's games players with depth, playability and some of the coolest add-ons and accessories we've seen yet.

You essentially clip pilots and spacecraft to your controller, which are then registered in the game. And there are plenty of customisation options, with weapons and even the wings of your craft able to be swapped around. But where it really shines is in the gameplay. It's sort of a slightly simplified No Man's Sky crossed with Star Fox, as you get to fly above and on planets, performing missions and generally having a blast.

We can't wait to play it further. It'll be out on 16 October.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Ah Spyro. Is there anything cuter in gaming than the wee purple dragon? He certainly has a large, dedicated fan base and we think they'll be very happy with the Reignited Trilogy. It's not just a remaster of his first three platformers but completely rebuilt from the ground up, albeit with most gameplay elements wisely remaining untouched.

We got to play three further levels during Gamescom, to those we experienced at E3, and it gave us a good indication of how all three in the trilogy are shaping up. They certainly don't feel like games from the late 90s/early 2000s.

We even got to see an incredible indoor skydiving display by an expert wearing a Spyro inflatable ring. Amazing.

You can read more about the trilogy here: Spyro Reignited Trilogy initial review: The most lovingly created remaster yet?

Rage 2

Bethesda's appearance at Gamescom came off the back of successful outings at E3 and, of course, its own Quakecon so we didn't expect to see anything particularly new at the German show. But considering we hadn't played any of Rage 2 yet, we were excited nonetheless.

And it lives up to our expectations so far. You can watch gameplay footage of the section we also played above. It's the Eden Assault level that gave us an idea of how id Software's FPS sections will work and we're very impressed indeed. We're still to play and see Avalanche's open world and driving elements, but the sheer joy of force pushing enemies across the landscape in first-person is almost enough for us as it is.

My Arcade mini retro arcade machines

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We've been looking forward to getting our hands-on the mini arcade cabinets from My Arcade for some time and managed to do so in the back room of a stand at Gamescom. Each unit is dedicated to an individual classic Namco or Data East game, including Pac-Man, Galaga and Burger Time and stand 6.75-inches tall.

They are fully playable on the 2.75-inch LCD screen, using the joystick and buttons provided and can be battery or USB powered. Perhaps the best part is that each retro machine costs just £30 - a snip we thought.

Come the holidays, My Arcade will also be releasing a larger unit that will still happily sit on a desktop, but offers multiple games in one: the Namco Museum of titles. That will cost £130 when it is available later this year.

You can read much more here: My Arcade mini retro coin-ops could be the coolest things ever.

FIFA 19

The best part of the FIFA 19 Gamescom demo build was that we finally got to play a small slice of this season's The Journey. It is apparently the last chapter in the story of Alex Hunter (who is still just a teenager, incidentally) and EA Sports is going all-in.

This year you get to play three concurrent stories, as Hunter, his sister Kim and best friend Danny Williams. The last game touched on this, but you get much more of each character's path to success in the latest and last episode.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

While the playable maps for COD: BO4 at Gamescom were the same as on the recent beta, we got to play on a PC for the first time and the game looks properly stunning. It also works intuitively with a good gaming mouse and keyboard, as we discovered in our behind-closed-doors session.

To be honest, we're not the best COD PVP players, especially when out of our comfort zone when it comes to controls, but our Hardpoint rounds were great fun and very close, considering we played against a team almost exclusively made up of devs from Treyarch. We weren't quite as lucky in the Heist mode where you have to nab a bag of money as a team and take it back to an extraction point. No respawns in that mode really cost us.

Great fun though, nonetheless.

You can read more about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 here: Call of Duty Black Ops 4 initial review: Hardcore play of Multiplayer.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Another Activision game that really wowed us was Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, FromSoftware's new IP coming next March. It is truly stunning.

Mostly action-based rather than RPG, it still has undertones of the Dark Souls series, although BloodBorne also sprung to mind during our first play of a section of the game. Enemies require thought and a deft use of combos and attack methods to defeat. While a massive troll proved to be quite a foe until we realised that he was afraid of fire - something our shinobi character could conjure through pick-ups.

We suspect the final game will be as rock hard as most of FromSoftware's back catalogue and we heartily approve.

HTC Vive Wireless Adapter

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As well as an excellent Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot demo, HTC showed off its own-branded Wireless Adapter for the first time at Gamescom.

It requires the use of a PCI-e card installed into the master PC, plus a receiver/transmitter that talks to a T-shaped adapter. That attaches to the top of a HTC Vive or Vive Pro and eliminates the need to be tethered to the computer. The freedom afforded is great, even though it does strictly still need one cable - to a battery pack you clip onto a belt. It's all good though, as being free to move around more than makes up for any caveats.

You can read more about it here: HTC Vive Wireless Adapter initial review: VR cord cutting at its best.

Battlefield V

With the Battlefield finally returning to World War II, we got to play a large-scale multiplayer capture the flag session during Gamescom and came away feeling a little more aware of the horrors of that particular war.

It would be disrespectful to say we really understand what our grandfathers went through, but when you have been shot in the game, you can call for a medic to revive you. This is done in harrowing way, with your soldier screaming for help as he lays there dying.

Apart from that, there's lots of running around, shooting and some incredible sound effects - much like many Battlefields that have gone before. We can't wait to try out the single-player campaign too.

Hitman 2

The Hitman 2 gameplay demo available to us at Gamescom was the same scenario as the one at E3, but with more unlocked and a greater number of options available to assassinate a tech magnate and his daughter.

It feels very similar to the episodic series one of the Hitman reboot, but there are plenty of additions and graphical flourishes this time around. What's truly innovative for the games industry, however, is that if you also own the Hitman episodes, they will be upgraded to utilise Hitman 2's enhanced gameplay features and graphics when you purchase and play the new game. That way you can play the entire run from Paris to the all-new chapters in the best way possible. Superb.

Lego DC Super Villains

Warner's other big game of Gamescom was Lego DC Super Villains and we got to see some of the character creation that will start you off in the game.

We love the idea that you get to play as the villains for a change, and even more that you get to build your own devious despot to play as throughout. And, like other Lego games in the past, the amazing cast of other playable characters will ensure that you'll be coming back for more, time and time again. Even the rather odd Calendar Man from the early days of Batman will be available.

Dying Light 2

We already saw the hands-off demo at E3, but considering how excited we are about the long-awaited Dying Light sequel, we were more than happy to give it another viewing.

The game is similar to the first in that it is mainly first-person parkour based and is situated in a city crawling with the infected - this time in a fictional, more European metropolis than before - it has the new feature whereby your actions have many ramifications on how the game world turns out. There's no date for release yet, but Techland isn't going to rush what is already looking to be more than a worthy successor to one of our favourite games on this generation.

Dying Light: Bad Blood

Before the official sequel arrives, we will be treated to Bad Blood - indeed, way before considering it will hit early access from September. This is an online multiplayer PVP game using the original Dying Light engine but stands alone as a completely separate entity.

It is a Battle Royale game in that 12 players enter but only one can win, but killing your player opponents isn't the only way you can chalk up victory. You and your rivals have to collect blood samples from Infected hives dotted around the map, and when you have enough you can reserve yourself a seat on a helicopter at an extraction point. Only one can get out, however, and that's where the fun begins.

Amazingly, we won our very first Bad Blood game. That doesn't happen very often.

Metro Exodus

Having played an hour or two of the game at an event in London earlier this year we were eager to see if the Gamescom demo was different and were pleasantly surprised that it was.

A much darker level awaited, in tone and ambience, plus the opportunity to use a crossbow on enemies plus a lot of sneaking around. The game feels very complete considering it's not going to be available until next February.