Over the Labor Day weekend I found myself in the beautiful city of Seattle, WA for this years Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). The expo is a giant gathering of all things nerdy, mostly video games with a splash of table top gaming as well panels, comics and other geeky things. More information about what PAX is and what the convention is all about can be found PAX Prime official website.
I was able to snag some tickets and head on up to Seattle for a whole weekend of gaming and fun. I’ve been updating you folks via my Facebook page and Twitter feed using the hashtag “#LadyAtPAX” all weekend. I’ve been showing off pictures, complaining about lines and talking briefly about what I was up to at the time. Below I will be sharing some more photos as well as more detail on the demos I was able to play and my overall experience at the con.
I spend the majority of the convention in the Expo Hall, the big area with all the game demos and booths, as my friends and fiance were all PAX Enforcers and had to work which left me alone for a good chunk of each day. Regardless of the fact that I was by myself a lot I still had a blast playing game demos, going to panels and experiencing all the convention had that interested me. I enjoy my alone time so honestly, it was pretty awesome.
One the first day I went to a panel titled “Women Surviving and Thriving in Games Media” which was hosted by Jessica Chobot, Tara Long, Naomi Kyle and others. The panel was all about how women in games media are dealing with sexism and harassment, which was right up my ally. I related to a lot of what they said and talked about which was really cool, knowing I’m not alone and that others are also working to fight this problem was super reassuring, and I even learned about how to deal with problematic situations which is something I really needed help with.
On day two I went to a panel titled “Not Here, Not Us: Examining Bullying, Harassment and Misogyny”. Much like the other panel it was highly informative. I again was able to relate to a lot of the issues discussed and learned even more tricks and tips to dealing with harassment and sexism. The part that intrigued me most though was how they broke down pervasive behaviors through psychology, as the panelists were mostly psychologists. It was a neat way to look at and figure out how to deal with the issues of bullying and harassment within the gaming community.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the video game demos!
Dead Island 2:
I had the chance to play through the 15 minute Dead Island 2 demo on two separate occasions. There were two characters available to play as in the demo so I was able to get a feel for both of them since they each had different styles of combat. I really liked the demo, as a fan of the previous Dead Island games I can safely say it seems that Deep Silver has really stepped it up for this title. The gameplay was a lot more smooth than past games and everything was super crisp. The demo was apparently pre-alpha so there could be changes made but I was really impressed, to say the least. My zombie killing quota was met for the weekend and now I can’t wait for the game to come out in Spring 2015.
The Order 1886:
This line was one of the coolest available since there was a lot to do in it. I snapped a few photos with a gun replica from the game and a life-sized Galahad statue that I could have sworn was a real person. There were also trailers to watch and other collectibles to look at while you waited, which was pretty nice since the line was pretty long. The demo itself was short, but sweet. If you have seen any of the footage that was previously streamed online by Sony then you know what the demo was all about as it was the same one that was shown awhile back. I was mostly impressed with the graphics as the transition between cutscenes and gameplay were seamless and gorgeous. Gameplay was fun, I only wish there was more of it in the demo but I got a taste and that was enough to make me want this game even more.
On the plus side I was given one of the “super rare” pins for the game since I was bummed about them not having a shirt in my size, so that was awesome.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game, it’s a PS4 exclusive horror title which centers around a group of young adults trapped in a cabin/forest area with some kind of spirit and crazy murderer. It plays out like a super cheesy horror movie, complete with a half-naked woman walking around alone shouting “hello?” while the killer stalks her. I found the demo to be pretty awesome as far as fear factor and gameplay goes, but I’m not a fan of cheesy horror movies and found the plot (or what little I saw at least) to be laughable. Not sure if I will be getting this game when it releases, it was pretty disappointing for me.
And now, to talk to you about Bloodborne (since he played it twice and I died almost immediately): Fysh.
Bloodborne immediately invokes thoughts of Dark Souls when you see it and when you play it. What is new and different is the setting, the visual quality, and some key gameplay changes that give it a distinct feel, though make it still feel akin to its spiritual predecessors. The overall feel of combat is a bit more fluid and sped up from that of the Souls games. You will notice right away that you can quickly dodge around, though this is in lieu of having any ability to block. Another key difference is the use of firearms, which will essentially replace magic from the previous games, but also allow a defensive option similar to parrying. If you fire a shot into the face of an attacking enemy just before they hit you, you stagger them much like a parry would in Dark Souls. This allows for a follow up critical attack just like parries do and to still have that defensive finesse as long as you have a bullet left.
Something else I noticed right away is that you now use triangle to heal and you do so strictly with consumable items, at least in the demo. This allows you to always have a heal ready and not have to cycle through items to get to your healing goods. You can still two hand weapons by pressing L1, which causes your melee weapon to transform into a larger version of itself. If done in a combo, this extends the weapon while simultaneously attacking, allowing for tactical fighting style change ups on the fly.
Enemies behave in much the same way as they do in the Souls games, laying in wait to ambush you, springing out from behind breakable objects, and grouping into deadly mobs. Some of the enemies are quite vicious and agile, ans may have devastating attacks. If you are hit, and you are able to quickly retaliate, you can regain most of the health you lost, but this runs the risk of tempting you into leaving yourself open. I managed to make it to the boss on my second play through of the demo, and took out about half of his life bar, delivering an impressive critical attack, before the massive creature took me down mercilessly. The same level of challenge we have come to expect from the Souls games is very much a presence in Bloodborne. I can not wait to get my hands on the full game.
The Evil Within:
This was one of me favorite demos available at PAX. It was a 15 minute long gameplay video in which you explore an area and attempt to solve some puzzles while dealing with enemies. It was not only a lot of fun, but it gave me a great feel for what the game will be like. If you liked Resident Evil 4’s gameplay then you will like The Evil Within’s. Think of The Evil Within as having an updated version of RE4’s gameplay, which is really awesome. While most seemed to find the game scary, I found to be more creepy and atmospheric that jump-out-of-your-seat scary. The game was a lot of fun and this demo just further solidified my resolve for this game.
I did two things with Alien: Isolation, one was playing through a challenge in which I was placed inside a giant Alien egg alone and given three minutes to navigate an area without being seen and killed by the Alien which is stalking me. Only one person completed this challenge at Comic Con this year and I only saw one person complete it at PAX, though there may have been more. The prize was a super cool Alien-themed jacket and of course the pride of being one of the only winners.
Next I played the campaign demo for the game, which was my favorite demo of the entire convention. It was not only a very fun game to play but the demo lasted for as long as it took me to complete it. I got to take my time and really get a feel for the game. Alien: Isolation is a horror game that centers around Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, and takes place 15 years after the first Alien movie. It’s really atmospheric and has the potential to be a really frightening game. The gameplay was really cool, you have to sneak around and complete objectives in the demo without being caught by the Alien roaming the area. You can’t fight back, so sneaking and hiding are your only options. It was frightening and fun, everything I wanted from the game.
On the last day of PAX I took some time to play the Sunset Overdrive demo at the Microsoft booth. The demo featured a co-operative mode in which 8 players must defend two or three locations from the game’s enemies. You have eight weapons to choose from and can jump or climb around the environment, giving you lots of options when it comes to taking down the enemy. Style is something that matters in this game so standing still and shooting wont earn you points, placing traps and killing while running, jumping, sliding or climbing will. There was a challenge for those of us who were playing the demo, whoever got the most points and ended up in 1st place won a pin. Of course yours truly blew the other 7 players out of the water and won that pin. It was a fun demo and the game looks like it’s going to be crazy good.
I wanted to play more demos such as the ones for Evolve and Tales from the Borderlands but the lines were always closed or way too long. Most of these demos required me to stand in line for 1-2 hours just to play the game, so it was hard to play more than I did. I’m still happy though, I played a lot of great games and feel confident in my future purchases of most of these titles.
Aside from other random shenanigans, those were my primary experiences with PAX Prime 2014. I had a ton of fun and plan to go back next year, though I will hopefully be doing things a little different since I would like to get a media/press badge. Were you at PAX and want to share your experiences as well? Have any questions for me? Post any thoughts, question or additions in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from anyone else who went to the convention and/or answer any questions you may have for me!
(Note: All photos featured in this post were taken and uploaded by LadyCroft3)