And thus PAX came to an end.
The more charitable conclusion is that I simply came during an off year. Or perhaps an off PAX. But what I truly want to say is that the show sucked. At least to this particular non-con going groupie. And I’m thinking that the allure of cons are getting diminished by the same forces that generated a niche market in making physical boxes for all-digital games.
The Twitch booth out on the show floor was extremely hard to miss. After a few minutes, the irony of my having spent a considerable amount of money to fly into the Boston snowpocalypse just to come to PAX and watch a Twitch stream in person was too much to bear. The same principle held for Overwatch and the new expansions to GW2 and FF14 – why stand in line for 2+ hours to play these particular games that will either be released or in public beta in a number of months? Maybe it made sense back in the days when we got our gaming news from magazines (remember those?), but not today.
I mean, they had a bunch of booths for iPad games for god’s sake.
Luckily, I came because of friends. PAX definitely had a better setup for free-playing various games than GenCon. But that was about the long and short of it. If I could do things over again, I probably would have bought a PS4 and just took a 5-day staycation.
Went to two major panels on Saturday, one after the other. First was FF15 and the second was Pillars of Eternity.
In regards to FF15, I actually haven’t been following the already-released information close enough to tell what was breaking news. The panelists mainly drove home the “road trip” and “Buddies” aspect of the game. Which, if I’m honest, probably wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if I were not hearing their passion in person.
There was a moment while watching the gameplay that I asked myself “is this a Final Fantasy game at all?” I never really played 12 or the 13 series, so I’m not sure if there’s a huge precedent for the sort of Action RPG gameplay I watched on-screen – especially the bit where he hook-shotted up a telephone tower to wait for his MP to regen. The panelists did sort of address this subtly as they mentioned the kind of themes common throughout the series, such as the hero never being alone.
It’s not that seeing the party run down a highway avoiding traffic or that the lack of an ATB gauge is throwing me off; FF7 and 8 had a number of similar high-tech elements, and they are amongst my favorites. Honestly, it could just be that the last Final Fantasy game I completed was FFX-2. This series went from being the single most important thing in my gaming life – I jumped on the original Playstation precisely because I was following Squaresoft – to something I pick up on Steam sales, like everything else. And so “Final Fantasy” to me is/was a game that defines a particular gaming epoch, or it isn’t one at all.
Baggage aside, the game looks great, the road trip thing could be interesting, party banter is always welcome, and the remixed music was pure nostalgia.
The Pillars of Eternity panel was pretty much the devs just playing the game for about twenty minutes. Which certainly isn’t the worst kind of panel, and there wasn’t much they needed to sell for me to be onboard in the first place. They even had an Oprah moment with the whole “check under your chair for a prize.” Everyone got a free upgrade to the Champion edition, assuming you purchase the base game, and a few got upgrades to the highest tier.
While Pillars is a guaranteed purchase by me at some price-point, the pause-based tactical combat really hit home how much I prefer the FFT or other Tactics game type. It’s fun queuing up that initial volley of attacks in these sort of CRPGs, but things quickly end up coming down to micromanaging one or two characters, at best, and hoping that a third character is actually going to finish their attack animation and drink a potion before they die. The devs mentioned that there wasn’t going to be anything much in the way of AI, so you are kinda left with the worst of both worlds.
One day to go.
I wouldn’t say this was the most amount of people I’ve been around, even at a convention, but still:
Place was packed, in other words. To be expected.
I didn’t actually stand in any lines, as while playing the new GW2 expansion sounds somewhat fun, waiting two hours to do so does not. The line for Overwatch was… well:
I missed a chance to meet some of the Wildstar devs at a local bar, but I’m not too tore up about it. We’ll see if any similar opportunities present themselves.
So, hey, I’m (hopefully) at PAX East!
I’m not sure yet what the internet situation is going be like, so you can expect either radio silence or frequent updates. Probably the former, let’s be honest. That said, I am fully prepared for the PAX schmoozing campaign:
Of course, if any developer scans the QR code the day I start reverse-pickpocketing these on their person, they’re going to see this post up top.
In which case… hello! Please send me all the review copies you have. Thank you.