I divided this year’s PAXEast adventure into two days. Day One would involve playing all the games that I wanted to see during my trip. Day Two would be panels and just checking out the convention.
Friday had one hour before the start of the show for us Media-badge wielding attendees, so I immediately scanned the floor for that Big Game that everyone would want to play. I settled on Overwatch, the new Multiplayer FPS announced by Blizzard at Blizzcon.
The booth was set up so that four matches could be had between six-player teams. The demo consisted of an escort mission where each team had a shot at offense and defense. This was also the debut of Zarya, a pink-haired lady tank, and McCree, a grizzled sharp-shooter.
I had a ridiculously good time playing and actually didn’t suck too badly (on offense, at least). The really great part of the game was that during respawns, you could actually change the character you were playing. I hope this will remain in the final build of the game, because it is really convenient to be able to change your strategy mid-game if you find you need more DPS or another healer.
I also got my first Pinny Arcade pin from playing, so that made me pretty excited. (No, you may not have it)
From there I meandered over to Compulsion Games’ booth to try my hand at We Happy Few, a twist on the traditional survival horror game. The game draws many influences from 60s British sci-fi and is a gorgeous contrast between the dystopian subject matter and the bright colors and trippy graphics. I am really excited to see this game in its final form. I will also look into Contrast, released back in 2013.
The game did remind me a little bit of Bioshock. The game is all about compliance and the consequences of not being compliant. I spoke to one of the developers who mentioned that the game was intended to get you to learn from your mistakes, which I did. The inhabitants of the village you wander through don’t dig disorder, so any deviant behavior is likely to be met with some violence. And by some, I mean they will gang up on you and beat you to death with frying pans. You’ve been warned.
While checking my phone, I happened upon Cococucumber’s booth where they demoed the upcoming Planet of the Eyes. The game blends puzzles and strategy in the tale of a robot attempting to flee a planet comprised of eyes and hazards. I didn’t find it to be so complex that I wanted to throw the controller but complex enough that it made me think and re-evaluate my strategy. It is going to be a great game to get your mind off whatever part of your day troubles you.
As a side bonus, Martin and I had a really cool conversation about the grant they received to make the game and also the unexpected parts of building a game studio. He also gave me some pro-tips on how to play Dark Souls II, so maybe you’ll see me play that sometime soon.
While I did not have the opportunity to play, I looked over the shoulder of some other convention-goers on Day 2 who were playing Black Ice, a game that combines FPS with some Tron-inspired graphics. It’s seriously all neon and awesomeness and reminded me also of the Matt Miller quests from Saint’s Row 3 and Saint’s Row 4.
And in AAA Game news, there will be a new Borderlands: The-Presequel DLC coming the week of March 24th, which will be included in Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. This time around they are delving deep into the psychological scarring of everyone’s favorite mechanical ****-up, Claptrap.
Be advised, however, Gearbox will not reimburse your therapy costs from the inevitable psychological scarring that will result from playing. They promise, however, that this will bridge the gap between the end of the Pre-Sequel and how we find Claptrap in Borderlands 2.
They also showed the trailer for Tales From the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged, which will continue the story between Rhys and Fiona. This is tentatively slated for the week of March 17th and I am super psyched for it.
Other notable games that had a pretty serious presence on the floor was Smite, a MOBA based around the gods, which I will likely check out at some point because it looks pretty awesome and had a lot of people checking out at the show.
This year saw the triumphant return of Nintendo, which you may note was not present at last year’s PAXEast. They showed Splatoon, a battle involving colored paint.
Square Enix also had a fairly obvious presence and showed Final Fantasy XV.
Gigantic, from Motiga, also had a pretty large presence. This game is another online arena game similar in concept to League of Legends. I couldn’t get close to the booth but I did play Overwatch on the same team as a few guys from the studio, so that was pretty cool.
All in all, it seemed like there weren’t as many huge releases as last year and there were more booths dedicated to Hardware manufacturers and vendors than Game studios. One of the devices that seemed to have a lot of presence was the new Steam Machines, which were announced at GDC and were available for demo at various booths.
Did you see any games at PAXEast that I missed and are worth checking out? Let me know!