This past weekend, Pax East 2014 stormed into Boston once again and with it another great year of gaming begins. While there were some stand out products on display, there was a noticeable absence of triple A titles, mostly do to the fact that E3 is where many of the big games are announced and seen for the first time. Also absent, both Nintendo and Sony skipped the show, and Microsoft was there but without any groundbreaking reveals, or new titles for that matter, unless you count new maps for Titanfall a big reveal. However that’s not to say Pax was without its highlights, not by a long shot.
First of all, even without major reveals, Pax is more about the atmosphere than anything else. It’s a great time to share a love of all things gaming with like minded fans from across the world. I’ve written before that the best part of Pax is waiting in line and talking with fans and making new friends. The panels are another aspect that help to make the time enjoyable, be it the Storytime panel or the ever popular Rooster Teeth one, and for the first time at Pax East, Acquisition Inc, the Gabe and Tycho live D&D game with Scott Kurtz and new intern Morgan Webb. These panels make for a great distraction and a chance to get off your feet for a while after hours or walking and standing. On the show floor, Ubisoft, 2K, and Bethesda definitely had the biggest impact.
Ubisoft showed off their cross country racing title The Crew, the next Trials game and a video of Watchdog gameplay, but not a playable version, even though the game comes out next month? I this a sign that it’s still not ready or is Ubisoft just teasing us because this has been a must have title since it was first shown off 2 years ago. Ubisoft’s booth also had The Next Level on hand streaming live competitive gaming all weekend. Not to leave out the Frag Dolls who where on hand to guide gamers in all the Ubisoft products in a manner better than any PR rep could do because you can tell they have passion for the products they are showing off. They never make it seem like work and really get excited in discussing the lineup they are demoing.
2k brought one of the most talked about titles Evolve, a 4 on 1 multiplayer title from Turtle Rock Studios, the makers of the Left4Dead series. Four players take on the role of support, trapper, medic, and assault. The fifth player takes on the role the monster being hunted and victory is achieved when either the monster is killed or the monster kills the hunting party. The game definitely puts a heavy emphasis on teamwork to kill the beast, we played and after our medic and support were killed right at the beginning it was hopeless to think things would turn out in our favor, and one I’m not disclosing which one I was. 2k also showed off the next title in the Borderlands series titled Borderlands The Pre-Sequel, taking place between Borderlands and Borderlands 2. Fan favorite character Claptrap has been confirmed as a playable character in the game set to launch later this year.
Bethesda was on hand with the next Wolfenstein game, Wolfenstein: The New Order. Set in an alternate reality where Nazis win World War 2 and rule the world, you play as B.J Blazkowicz, a Army Ranger and one man army who may be the only hope to stop the Nazi reign. Bethesda also showed off The Evil Within made by the creator of the Resident Evil series. I’d like to tell you more about this but we were literally brought into a theater where a rep proceeded to play a demo without saying a word the whole time. It does look like a mix of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, with Resident Evils mechanics and the looks of a Silent Hill game.
The rise of E Sports was obvious as League of Legends had its usually strong showing on the floor, but right next door DC Infinite Crisis had a huge setup and ran a pro and amateur tournament throughout the Pax weekend. Blizzard was also on hand with their Heroes of the Storm which combines all the Blizzard universe into a MOBA game fans are sure to love. Twitch TV and The Next Level both offered non stop competitive action to both entertain fans and cause them to block the aisles causing huge bottlenecks trying to get passed their respective booths.
On the Indie front, TNGN favorites Secret Ponchos and Swimsanity were on hand with their last builds. Secret Ponchos has added new characters as well as unveiled two new levels for the show and also revealed that the game, which was set to launch on PS4 only, will also be available for PC on Steam. The spaghetti western, top down multiplayer shooter still looks and plays amazing with great 8 player competitive gameplay. Swimsanity has seen the biggest changes since we last saw it at the Boston Festival of Indie Games where it won two awards, adding a co-op chase mode as well as new modes and updated designs. They also announced a Kickstarter campaign to help get them to their goal of a January launch.
One of the best parts of walking the floor is finding games you had no clue existed, mostly in the Indie section that appeal to you. Robot Roller Derby Disco Dodgeball is one such game. Set in a Tron like world you control a jet powered robot though different clubs and skate park style levels in an Arena Combat Shooter. It just seems like the perfect game for Twitch combining action based gameplay and a sports like competitive style. It is already available on Steam Early Access and is worth checking out. Another game that caught my attention was Habitat, a space-themed strategy game set above Earth. You are placed in a last ditch effort to save humanity by building stations out of orbital junk and defending your floating cities against raiders and enemies. As you expand you will be able to unlock more advanced technology and possible unlock the secrets of what happen to cause the earths demise. It seemed similar to Kebble Space Program with realistic physics engine and a great sandbox mode that let’s you enjoy the fun of building and practice design concepts.
It could be argued that being before E3 means that this show has little to show as many developers are holding off showing off titles till then. If that’s the way you feel, remember that Pax is about more than just video games. Every time I walk by the tabletop section it was packed. The Bring Your Own Computer section sold out almost as fast a the show itself. The ESports sections had plenty of people viewing the matches. The panels, especially in the main theater were pack as always. There is so much too do with the show that you could never make it onto the expo floor and still make a weekend out of the event, but yeah, that’s crazy talk.