PAX Prime is an odd experience when you go with a family. Everyone has different interests, so you have to split up at times if the party is going to get the most out of the exhibitions. “Oh, you want to see Ubisoft’s The Crew before we grab some lunch? I want to see Ryse: Son of Rome.” Sometimes, you have to be willing to compromise because every bit of the show floor looks like the image above. It’s just a crowded mess.
Yesterday, PAX gave us some big-budget gaming. For the final day, let’s wrap things up with a look at some other games.
After the jump, the family that attends PAX together, plays together.
In this case, instead of standing in line to see either game, we wound up wandering over to see the Privateer Press area. They had Warmachine and Horde out for people to sample. The guys working in that booth deflected questions about Warmachine: Tactics, the successfully crowd-funded videogame version of their property, by encouraging PAX attendees to try the original analog game. There were a few Kickstarter participants that had never actually seen the tabletop miniatures game, so moving little dudes around and rolling dice was a novelty. My son, who is nearing on fifteen, looked agog at the minis. “Did people actually paint these?” he asked. “Like, these don’t just get painted by a machine or something?” Aw, he’s still adorable as a teenager.
Nexon and Splash Damage brought Extraction their upcoming free-to-play shooter that was earlier known as Dirty Bomb. You can see the roots of Brink in this game. The environments are less shiny and the character models are less exaggerated, but the back and forth pace of the matches feel familiar. Unlike Brink, there’s no parkour and the guns feel solid. Shooting an enemy is immediately satisfying. People aren’t bullet-sponges like they were in Brink and the weapons lean away from being spray & pray ammo-hoses. My teenage daughter’s assessment was less charitable. “Why would anyone play this instead of Call of Duty or whatever?” Indeed, my daughter dear. Indeed. I’d pat her on the head, but she would just elbow me.
Warner Brothers Interactive was using PAX Prime to show off their games. They brought Infinite Crisis and Guardians of Middle Earth. Infinite Crisis, developed by Turbine, is a MOBA with DC comic characters from alternate universes like vampire Batman and fat Joker. I’m not kidding. Guardians of Middle Earth, developed by Monolith, has been out on consoles for a while, but it just launched on Steam. It’s a MOBA with characters from The Lord of the Rings. They also added some made-up characters like Martin Freeman and Orlando Bloom. My wife rolled her eyes at these and commented that there were “too many of these Dota games.” Apparently, even some of the developers agree. There was a panel at PAX Prime discussing the proliferation of the genre and how to not fall into the trap of just iterating on the leaders.
That’s a Mectoid from XCOM: Enemy Within. The Mectoids are what you get when the alien Sectoid invaders fuse their bodies with machinery. Don’t scoff because you’ll be able to do the same thing to your human troops in the upcoming expansion to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. As the official trailer shows, the expansion will mix up the tried and true strategy of slowly creeping your troops around the maps. New powers and new enemies will require a more aggressive playstyle because the resource needed to make the new stuff will be time-limited. Take too long to gather the Meld, and it will explode destroying your chance to get the precious substance. My son wanted to try it out in the 2K area, but decided to hold off so the new additions will be a surprise to him when he gets it. He wisely chose the path of the non-spoiler.
My daughter had no such reservations when it came to checking out the new content Gearbox brought for Borderlands 2. The demo consisted of the boss fight from T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest. The Bloody Harvest DLC will be the first of three Headhunter packs for Borderlands 2 that will task players with simply killing a boss to get a wearable head. Spoiler alert! The playable area on display was Halloween-themed and consisted of a grueling fight with a pumpkin-headed boss straight out of Charlie Brown’s nightmares. My daughter deemed it “badass.” The Gearbox folks were keen to make sure everyone knew that the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 comes out on September 3rd. It raises the level cap to 72 and features the Digistruct Peak Challenge, a winding ascent up a mountain while under fire from waves of enemies.
This is Bethesda’s area. They brought Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Elder Scrolls Online. My wife and kids knew nothing about Wolfenstein other than it’s that game with the Nazis. I just nodded because I wasn’t about to try to explain the alternate timeline and the history of the franchise. There are some game genres we all agree on, but not simple shooters. I still love them while my family feels things like health kits and power-ups are too old-school.
My wife is a huge fan of Oblivion and Skyrim, so The Elder Scrolls Online is right up her alley. She’s intimidated by the MMO trappings, however. She says that giving her Skyrim with MMO mechanics is a recipe for disaster. She’s afraid of becoming one of those MMO addicts you read about even though she’s never played one. The recently announced $15 a month subscription fee makes it easy for her to resist. Thanks for that decision, ZeniMax Online!
My son wanted to see The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for the Wii U. He played it on the Gamecube recently during what he called a “retro” gaming urge, but decided that he really needs to get it in HD. According to him, “HD is better.” I wanted to debate with him about that, but seeing it in glorious 1080p at PAX Prime left me with no arguments.
At fourteen, my son is right at that age where games he liked last year is “kid’s stuff” to him now. Except Pokemon. He can’t stop collecting those little beasts. We traipsed around PAX Prime for a bit and finally found the Pokemon X and Y area tucked under some escalators. The new addition to Pokemon is the ability to raise them to “mega-evolved” status which adds more frills, feathers, or spines to their appearance. My son tells me this is a good thing. My wife and daughter just shrug.
Finally, we leave PAX Prime with some games to look forward to, a couple of T-shirts, and sore feet. Unfortunately, the one thing PAX didn’t definitively settle for us is the question of which console we should get. Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or Wii U? I’m kidding. It’s the PC, of course. I win!