The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) came and went, but my, what a wonderful time it was. This will serve as an exclusive look into how I spent my PAX weekend.
Going in, I had two primary goals. Network as a content creator, and have fun as a consumer. It’s often hard to find a balance between the two, but without the pressure of being an exhibitor I was able to achieve that.
The good thing about these sort of conventions/expos is that you always get a feel for the sort of climate and direction that this industry faces. For instance, this year at PAX East two very prominent themes were virtual reality and multiplayer.
For VR, it’s obvious that with consumer versions of the Oculus and HTC Vive now being available, developers are getting all over the new medium. Even my school, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) had an HTC Vive demo available to play. The Playstation booth had appointment only sessions with Playstation VR. Unfortunately, with limited time and quite a bit of ground to cover, I had to miss out on that experience.
If there were ever one company that you could say honestly knows how to take PAX by its horns and ride it for miles, it’s Blizzard. Every year they do something spectacular and attention drawing, and this year was no different. On many fronts, Blizzard exhibited some super interesting projects in the works, as well as keeping the emphasis strong on their pre-existing titles such as Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. One panel I went to was actually focused in its entirety on the upcoming Warcraft film. We got a special inside look at the upcoming film, and got to have a Q&A with the director where we were able to figure out his direction, as well as his sense of very deep obligation to keeping the franchise’s sanctity while still following his instinct as a film creator. At the end we got a never before seen trailer which really showcased these beautiful sets and incredible action sequences. I had never seen anything quite like it, and after attending that panel, I am fully convinced that Warcraft may be the first truly amazing video game movie. It’s a large cross to bare for certain, but if that goal could be achieved, it would pave the way for generations of fantastic film storytelling for games.
Perhaps the biggest thing Blizzard had going for them this year was the Overwatch booth. For those who weren’t crazy about long lines, with a lot of ground to cover, there was immediate satisfaction in seeing the incredible Blizzard sanctioned cosplay of many of Overwatch’s unique characters. But that’s not all. They managed to cram two huge decked out cars into the show floor as well. Their booth was simply incredible. Some friends and I actually got to chat with the cosplayer for Tracer for a little bit towards the show’s closing time. After that discussion it was clear to me, that Blizzard above all else, knows their audience, and has a marketing team most companies could only dream of.
Blizzard aside, Bethesda actually had quite a bit going on too. Showing off Doom, which has been a title of excitement for many dating back to last E3, though hype died down quite a bit after the multiplayer beta. Perhaps the more exciting game was Elder Scrolls: Legends, which had just been unveiled a mere day or two prior. This Elder Scrolls spinoff title seems to be heavily inspired by Hearthstone. Despite this, the game seems to be foregoing the deceptively simple marketing approach and wishes to create a complex digital card game experience using the Elder Scrolls IP.
Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t stop by the Nintendo booth. There were many interesting titles there, from Metroid Prime: Federation Force, to Kirby: Planet Robobot, and the new Star Fox. Star Fox Zero was the main title of the show, given that it launched that very weekend. Perhaps my most interesting Nintendo game from the show was actually Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem has reached its final form in this musically themed RPG. It was without a doubt one of the most unique games at PAX this year.
My experience at the Nintendo Booth was much more exciting than I expected however! While waiting in line to play Tokyo Mirage Sessions, I was asked to be on Nintendo Minute. Which for me, was a really big deal! I got to answer trivia questions about Nintendo IP’s such as Kirby, Star Fox, and Metroid. Some of the questions were genuinely tricky even for an aficionado like myself. I also won a cool Mario lanyard. I don’t know how they guessed I was a Nintendo fan. To see me on Nintendo Minute, click here.
Now onto the indies! I saw three titles in particular that I’m interested in highlighting.
Moon Hunters, which I plan to write a full article on, is an RPG personality test. That’s right. I just said that. The game brings you through trying combat scenarios and guages your personality based on the way you resolve conflicts. Hands down the most interesting game I played.
Bacon Man, which I already highlighted in a previous article. If you’d like to read more on Bacon Man click here.
Another game I got to see was Due Process. I actually got to talk with the lead animator about this game, and it was incredible. While I’m not much for tactical shooters myself (I lack the coordination) I found the games concept to be very unique. So much goes into planning each phase of combat, making it arguably one of the more intellectually demanding shooters I’ve seen.
That about concludes the exciting stuff I got to see and do at PAX! For more exclusive coverage of events like PAX, keep reading, and stay tuned for more from the GAME ROOM!!!