Pax East 2016 was a colossal event, showcasing over 100 exhibits from well-known developers like Sony, Microsoft, and Bethesda, to lesser-known devs like Tiny Build, Adultswim games, and Killbright.
Upon entering the venue at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center I quickly realized this wasn’t anything like your normal con. Of course you had your classic “I need to cosplay at every convention” type of attendants, but honestly everyone was there for just one reason, to game.
Pax East 2016 was my first gaming convention and it honestly left a great impression. I have never been to a con where I get first dibs to play unreleased games from the creator’s themselves. With that in mind, I knew there was going to be a few important games I would need to play and learned the ways of the lands very quickly, “get in line now or you won’t get to play Overwatch.” I won’t be able to cover my entire experience in this article but I can walk you through Pax day one, which is jammed packed with cool games and exciting moments.
Without further ado, here’s a break down of my Pax adventure:
Killing Floor 2:
This was the very first game I was able to play when I arrived because upon entering Pax I intuitively gravitated to the Sony booth, which took up a big chunk of the floor in the gaming area. The game itself was completely new to me, as I have never played Killing Floor 1, but after a few tries I became familiar with the design and the classic zombie-swarm playing mechanics. The game was made by developer Tripwire and highly resembles an Xbox 360 classic called, Left 4 Dead.
The premise seemed quite simple, survive hordes of zombies each round to make it to the next level. You are offered the opportunity to choose between different types of characters that have specific traits and ability’s that will prove to be helpful in extended game play. A few of the different choices in character advantages are medical types, beater types, and defensive types. Killing Floor 2 also gives you the opportunity to play the game in a 6-player co-op mode, and with all of the different character options available – the rounds could feel like a mini raid.
(Disregard the naked Zombies)
The game play was pretty chalky but also good at some points, and the control layout felt like I was playing Left 4 Dead. An aspect I didn’t appreciate about the game was how sluggish my character felt. I understand it is supposed to be a challenge for the user to survive an apocalyptic setting with hordes of zombies chasing after you, but how can you expect me to escape anything without having good mobility?
Additionally, I wasn’t offered a good arsenal of defense. The game is set up so you can upgrade your weapons/trinkets as you survive each round, so you would technically have to get through a few rounds before you find that the hordes are manageable in solo player mode. Over all – I enjoyed the game and I feel like it’s something I could play to kill some time here and there. It’s a quick pick-up and easy to get hooked.
King of Fighters XIV:
After Killing Floor 2 I made my way through Sony’s panel only to find they also had Unchartered 4 set up on multiple units. Right before entering the nearly 20-foot line I glanced over to see that KOF XIV only had a few people waiting to play it. I instantly shifted directions and headed to the smaller line where I waited patiently for my turn to be a King Fighters myself.
The first thing I noticed about the game was the design; the franchise had finally caught up to next-gen console gaming and was quite aesthetically pleasing. The game features 3D models on a 2D side scrolling back setting, much like The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact game, which gave it that retro fighting game feel I was looking for.
Aside from visuals, another aspect that drew me more into this game was the game-play itself, which was flawlessly smooth. Please take into account that I am huge Marvel vs Capcom gamer and have brushed up on the Street Fighter games throughout my years but I have always felt that King of Fighters was a very stiff game in terms of movability and flexibility for the user. This new version of KOF removed all preconceived notions of how it would run and ultimately played very well. I like to think the developers finally got the message.
In VS mode you are allowed to choose up to three characters to battle, which removes the whole “rounds” aspect of the fighting, a play style most fighting games have adapted throughout the course of time. Finally, this isn’t a game where you can spam moves for too long and win your match, the button combinations are strategic and most characters require training with to fully master their move set. Although, this doesn’t mean you aren’t able to pick up the game and win using button combos from other units like MVC or SF. They’re all pretty similar. The game is super fun to play, and is actually rumored to have over 45 playable characters when it drops.
With all that said, I’m sure you’re wondering how I did in my matches, well let me tell it to you this way, the guy I was facing literally brought his own “fight stick” from home, and I crushed him with one character on a regular Ps4 remote… I still had two other characters to use as back ups to clean up the remaining members of his team…
*Adjusts glasses anime style*
RWBY – Grim Eclipse:
Throughout out my journey roaming about the different panels, avoiding Uncharted 4’s deathly long line, and finding out Sony’s VR was booked for the day (cut me a freaking break here), I came across a huge RWBY poster and next to it was this beautiful gem of a game set-up across a row of gaming PC’s with Xbox remotes spewing from their USB ports, calling my name ever so gently… figuratively speaking of course.
I couldn’t believe it, a RWBY game? Already? This soon? Ok, enough with the dramatic impact, lets play the hell out of this game.
As soon as I pressed start I was transported into the world of RWBY. I chose to play with Yen because in terms of combat I think she’s one of the strongest characters, plus she just might be my favorite character next to Pyrrha Nikos.
The play style felt like someone took Devil May Cry, Dynasty Warriors, the RWBY Anime, Batman Arkham Asylum, & Bleach: Soul Resurrection and made a giant video game smoothie. Yes, it is indeed a hack and slash meta and I love it.
Grimm Eclipse is a great game to play for those who love the anime, and for those that aren’t that into it, I believe it still offers an array of components that will allow anyone to jump right in to. The fighting is quite intuitive and has evovled quite a bit since the games alpha and early beta forms. There are sets of different button combinations and super attacks that are geared to help you find your own play style and attack strategy.
Although the game is still in development and graphically it could be better, I am happy that it even exists. This goes to show you the amount of dedication and crazy following RWBY has acquired in such a short period of time. The awesome people who are a part of the franchise strongly believe in its success and support the fans by continuing to produce superb content.
During my time playing the game I was able to meet with a few of the guys behind this incredible creation and got some insider info as to the various struggles their team faced during the games initial creation. Lead developer Abe Robertson said, “A game like this was definitely a challenge to make with a small team, it’s something that would normally call for a team of like 30 people to help it come to life but we were able to do it with 5.” An admirable feat to say the least because the game is everything a fan of the anime would want. The developers also mentioned they hope that once the full version is released on Steam talks of a console version would hopefully follow. However a console of version of the game has yet to be fully confirmed; Oh well, a fan can dream of a brighter future.
After a few hours of playing through RWBY I made my way back to the Sony booth to see if maybe the Uncharted line had died down because people were tired of playing it…wishful thinking. I scurried along the sections until I landed on a PlayStation unit showcasing Kill Strain. This was an interesting game in terms of story and gameplay outline, but the actual game-play itself was something I didn’t find too enticing. The strategy behind the game was cool but I felt as though it didn’t play as the dev’s intended it to.
It’s an 8-man face off with teams of 4’s separated by bases. Every character has his/her own special ability and gets to choose a mutant to turn into at some point. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that while you are worrying about battling the other team, there is a team of mutants trying to convert the rest of the players in-game. Your goal is to either destroy the other human’s base or destroy the mutant base. Kill Strain felt like a a cross between Metal Slug and Titan Fall.
Your character acquires points by killing enemies and completing in game objectives which fill up a special bar that ultimately lets you summon a mobile suit for your character to dominate the playing field.
Graphically, I thought Kill Strain was lacking and could have had more bells and whistles. System wise, they could have taken more advantage of Ps4’s awesome computing system. Most of the time the game felt like something you would find in the Ps3 market place for free; I literally never knew when I was shooting my opponent on target or when I was getting hit until my character was utterly destroyed.
“How did you jump into that game without waiting in any lines?” Well, I had a friend who was saving a spot for me *winks*
I was so excited to get my hands on a unit and play the 8-man battle against Sephirot that I didn’t bother to notice my parade was about to be completely rained on – Square had only set-up the FF on gaming PC’s.
For starters I am by no means a PC gamer, I take pride in console gaming and only got into playing MMO’s when games like DC Universe Online and Final Fantasy Online became available on the PlayStation. So, with that said, I was in for quite a treat playing through the boss battle on a mouse and keyboard (someone please get me a Ps4 + controller, stat!)
The over all fight went pretty well until we got Sephirot down to half life, then things began taking a turn for the worse as my team of 8 dwindled away to a team of 4. As for me, I was the second person to be sent to the nethers due to my inexperience with keyboard gaming.
In the end we weren’t able to beat Sephirot and didn’t get the free in-game loot and a T-shirt Square was giving away to the lucky victor’s. A sad but true reality for not understanding the dynamics of PC gaming, but I still got to play the Sephirot challenge which was a goal I could check off for my “PAX adventure bucket list.”
Before playing the game I knew one thing was certain, it was purposely designed to be completely action packed and fueled with beautiful game-play; and that’s exactly what it delivered. I enjoyed every second I had with this title; it reminded me a lot of TF2 but with an easier mobility pattern, making the game new-user-friendly. The best description I can give Overwatch is that it’s a “first person shooter with an attitude.”
Overwatch is one of the only first person shooters I’ve ever played that feels like a mixture between a class based shooter/ and a MOBA. Every character has his/her own special ability and traits with set weapons and skills that are not interchangeable. To more fun to the mix, not every character is a full-blown DPS. You have Tanks, DPS’, and characters like Mercy (my favorite), which play a support role for your teammates.
An FPS game model focused on character roles makes for a well rounded collaborative shooter and removes the Call of Duty ideal “I’m a one man wolf pack so I’m gunna go fight in the front lines by myself” – no one likes the guy who’s always trying to be the hero.
Throughout my time playing I mostly gravitated to Mercy – the healer/support character I mentioned above. My main goal was to keep my team healthy and provide buffs and revives whenever possible, all while collecting as many points as possible for scoring and for my special bar.
Although I’m not really used to being the support type, it’s nice that even the healers in the game have a secondary weapon which causes DPS damage on any enemy; a trait that saved me from a few tight situations.
I was only able to play 2 rounds before having to switch with the next lucky person in line. In the end I feel like I didn’t get to spend as much time with the game as I wanted in order to fully understand all of the mechanics and how the teams work; I mean come on, the game even has emotes! What’s not to like? *Sighs* oh well I guess I will just have to wait for release date to continue my Overwatch journey.
And that brings my adventure to a bitter sweet end. Needless to say, my experience at Pax was extremely satisfying and well worth my time. I got to play and test out some pretty amazing games and talk with a few game designers and developers. I would give PAX East 2016 an 8/10 overall – maybe next year Square will bring some consoles in for Final Fantasy 14 players like myself to shine.