Imagine a place where you can be yourself, free of judgement. Where you can talk, laugh and play with thousands of like minded individuals. A place where you can be in a state of child like wonder, previewing and sampling the latest offerings in gaming culture. A place where you can have a beer and get down with your nerd self listening to some Nerdcore. A place where you can meet – take photos with or possibly take home – some nerdy girlie, or geeky guy dressed up as an iconic character. Ultimately, a place where everyone is drumming to the tune of “lets play”. This my friends, is a little slice of nerdy heaven, and it is called PAX.
For the uninitiated, PAX is the great American gaming experience, held annually on the west and east coasts. It’s an event for gamers, by gamers. 70,000+ congregate to play to their hearts content (console, PC, or tabletop), peruse an E3 style exhibition floor (Publishers and Developers showcasing their latest wares), attend informative/entertaining panels, and rock out with their joysticks out at one of the many evening concerts. It’s truly an experience like none other.
So, anyway, PAXEast happened this past weekend in Boston, MA. This Nerd Bastard, along with my friend Phil, were in attendance, albeit briefly. A 3 day event, and our schedule only permitted us to attend a few hours on Saturday. Regardless, I took in enough to comment. I’d like to share my journey into gamer paradise with you, and discuss what juicy reveals are worthy of you’re attention.
Normally, I try to shy away from writing in first person, but I just have to give you a first hand account of what it was like stepping into this world of pure imagination. When you walk through the entrance of the Boston Convention Center, there’s this wave of excitement and wonder that over takes you. It’s like you’re 5 years old again, being over stimulated with sights and sounds… and that’s just the main entryway.
Breaching the threshold, I was greeted by two massive life-like statues of a warlock and icy-barbarian (dunno actual class name) from the game League of Legends. Awesome! Placed in the center part of the floor, was a ginormous diorama from the game Firefall, featuring two battle-clad warriors positioned in front of an in-motion piston/drill. This was a site to behold, and hear, as it made all sorts of deafening noises.
Above me was a movie- screen sized LED sign flashing various notices of the days panels, events and booths. Around me we’re hundreds of people checking in, attaining their entry badges and brochures. A few feet away, droves of people, many in costume, were filing into the main entrance to the exhibit hall. *laughs* Here I am, 50 feet into the building, and I’m already acting like a ADD spazoid, gitty with excitement. I approach the exhibit entry way, a floor to ceiling glass door and look down. There it is, below me, the main exhibit floor. Now, I’ve attended PAX before, but man, this view gets me every time.
Laid before me, was a sea of exhibitors – with booths, stations and set-ups, all of various extravagance. Making their way through these showcases, were thousands of people. It was so jam packed, that it looked (in certain areas) if anyone jumped they’d have gotten stuck. I took a deep breath, hopped on the escalator down and prepared myself for the wild game yonder.
Stepping off the escalator, our attention was immediately drawn to the Bethesda booth, where a massive screen lay over head showing a cinematic cut-scene from their upcoming Elder Scrolls Online.
I didn’t catch the whole sequence, but from what I could gather, a fighting bandit of sorts was playing “come catch me” to an army of soldiers, which was led by a bad-ass, red-headed elven babe. Regardless of whatever the story was, what widened our eyes was the stunning graphics. I thought I was legit watching a live-action movie. The detail and definition was astonishing! We eventually got demo the game, but more on that later.
We journey on. On our left was the central part of the exhibit floor housing Ubisofts station for Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Watch Dogs. We stopped to get our picture with the Splinter Cell standee, and would make our way back to preview the games later.
Moving on, we passed various merchandise booths, with local gaming stores hawking their wares (t-shirts, collectibles, games..etc). We even passed a 3-D printer station. Really neat seeing one of these things in action. I watched, in awe, as the printer heated up a spool of plastic and layered out a 3-D Ninetales from Pokemon. Now, I wouldn’t pay $1,500 for this machine, but it was neat nonetheless.
As we made our way to the Capcom booth, we bumped into WoW expert and TBS King of the Nerds contest Danielle Nunez. I get her attention for 2 minutes and asked her about her time on King of the Nerds. She said it was a fun experience, but TBS created drama out of nothing. What you saw on TV was greatly exaggerated. She went onto say how she and everyone from the show are still friends and communicate regularly. I asked her what game titles at PAX she was most excited about, but said she hadn’t had a moment take any in. She flipped her Sythes and departed from my awkward, unprepared questions.
So, Capcom. Biggest announcement… a “new” DuckTales game set to be released this summer on PSN, Xbox Live and Wii U eShop and will cost $14.99 (1200 Microsoft Points). The reveal trailer for the game can be found here. The game will feature new voice work and added features. At first it was thought that this was a NEW video game but I can confirm, from Capcom, that the game is a full remake of the original NES game. Oh, an interesting thing I heard. Capcom is in discussions for a new Mega Man game but has not officially announced the project yet.
Moving past Capcom, we swung by the table top gaming area, just long enough to take a picture. Sorry guys, table top gaming ain’t my bag.
We made a u-turn and started hitting up some of sites on the right wing of the con floor. We made an unexpected pit stop at the Moga Booth. Some girl was like “hey, if you got a Android powered phone, get yourself a free Moga controller”. Hearing the word “free” our cheap asses filed right in line. Well, actually, being press we skipped to the front.
Moga is a controller that gives you console quality gaming on your android, smart phone of tablet. I was playing a Zombie shoot-em up game and having riot doing so. Game was impressive, for smart phone standards. Perhaps the Moga’s greatest success is the way it feels and functions as a quality controller, despite its tiny size and light weight. It just feels right. With 40 games at it’s disposal, and with big name publishers teaming up to release more, MOGA is a must-have device for any Android user.
Turning the corner, we hit up the Techland booth to check out Dead Island: Riptide. Since we didn’t set up a proper appointment, the powers at be wouldn’t let us get hands on and play through. From what I witnessed, however, the demo showed that it will stay true to the original with a few key changes. These changes include much more ammo, a better damage-modeling system and a new character in John.
So, now, we fully enter the Ubisoft area, where we checked out preview reels for Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Watch Dogs. Here are my respective recountments:
In Watch Dogs, players enter the dangerous world of Aiden Pearce, a new class of antihero whose ability to hack into any connected system could be his most powerful weapon. Whether it’s triggering a 30-car pileup by manipulating traffic-lights to trap an enemy during a downtown shootout or tapping into the city’s omnipresent security cameras to access anyone’s personal information, Pearce is capable of coercing and controlling almost every element of the world around him.
Watch Dogs goes beyond the limits of today’s open-world games by giving players the ability to control an entire city and monitor everything. It’s like GTA for the voyeuristic enthusiast. The hyper connectivity, and endless possibilities of this game are just insane. I dunno how enthralling the game play will be, but I can say it’s the most interesting cross-gen games currently in development.
Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag:
Hot on the sails of the popular naval battles from Assassin’s Creed 3, Black Flag charts the high-seas adventures of Connor’s grand-sire Edward Kenway and his time moonlighting as a member of the assassin order while leading a pirate crew.
The game looked repetitive on the assassination and stealth front. New aspects however, are fresh and engrossing. Sailing, boarding rival ships, steal missions, exploration, underwater shark fights… yeah, there’s enough substantial content, and refinement (can finally climb trees!) to make this a necessary installment.
After exiting the Ubisoft area, we were unsure of what else to check out. There were still a ton more booths, but majority were for games already out. Like League of Legends for example. Riot Games took up some prime real estate, and catered to a huge crowd, but all they seemed to be doing was giving away skin codes for the game. There were a dozen of indie developers, and we perused a few, but nothing grabbed our attention enough to blog about.
Majority of our remaining time was spent taking photos of Cosplayers. You can’t report back an event like this and not have a gallery of costumed nerds to share. Check out gallery below:
PAXEast 2013 summed up? Writing a review of PAXEast is a nearly impossible task. If you know about PAX, you know just how unspeakably amazing the whole shindig is. An abundance of decent, like minded individuals (70,000+ this year) and a plethora of places to go and things to see. Good peeps, good games and good times. A gamernerd’s mecca.