Sunday, March 8, 2015

PAX East 2015 Day 3

For the last time this year, greetings from Boston!

PAX East 2015 is now over.  Well, the showfloor closed at 6pm but there are still panels and events for hours to come.  But ain't nobody got time for them!

Day 3 was probably the most enjoyable yet.  I got to the BCEC early enough to finally get a parking spot behind the convention center..third time's the charm, amiright?  We were in the 9th queue line, so there hundreds of people in front of us trying to get into the showfloor.  As soon as we were allowed in, we made a beeline straight to the Oculus booth...but the line was already capped, with a 3-4 hour wait.  We had a panel to get to so Oculus was pretty much out of the question.  Because of the length of every line we had really no choice but to line up for the panel...

Which was a live recording of IGN's Gamescoop podcast!  Every year I've attended the convention I've also attended IGN's live podcast.  The panel consisted of Mitch Dyer, Brian Altano (BRRRAP, BRRRAP), Vince Ingenito, and Marty Sliva, was moderator and Boot Knocker Daemon Hatfield.  We were near the front of the line and had great seats.  The theme of the panel was "Game of the Decade" watch, as we're now halfway through the 2010s.  Daemon went year by year from 2010-2014, with the panel discussing the various previously-decided upon games.  This was an improvement from last year's panel, in which the topic was "best game of the generation," in which they fielded suggestions from the crowd for the duration of the show.  This change in format allowed us to hear these people speak and share their gaming knowledge with us, which is after all, what we're there for.

Without many big-tickets titles or developers to choose from, we went back to Nintendo's booth and I got some hands-on time with Xenoblade Chronicles for the New 3DS XL.  I've never played Xenoblade before, but I can tell you right off the bat that I'm not a fan of the auto-attack system; you pick what kind of attack you want Shulk to make and you just have to run up to your targeted enemy and he'll start swinging away.  The 3D was great and visuals seemed fine for something that ran on the Wii.

We then headed back to Microsoft's booth, with the goal of checking out Fable Legends.  I've never been a fan of the Fable franchise, and was doubly not interested in Fable Legends, upon it's announcement last year as a 4v1 cooperative action game.  4v1 is the "it" thing right now, I suppose?  The line was quite substantial; each demo lasted a solid 15-20 minutes, leading to an almost 3-hour wait.  Choosing Fable sealed our PAX fate.  I've gotta say that it was actually really quite worth the wait.  We were paired with three other gamers and had to choose who played the villain.   For the uninitiated, one person plays a villain, or more aptly a dungeon master.  They get a top-down view of the battlefield and are responsible for commanding enemy forces and placing obstacles and barriers to prevent the four heroes from surviving the arena.  The other four got to choose from a wide variety of characters and classes that fit a more traditional RPG/MMO design; DPS, tank, healer etc.  I chose a melee, DPS hero named Adrienne.  The right trigger controlled a standard attack, with the left trigger mapped to a ranged knife throw.  The Y, X,and A buttons controlled mana-based cool-down attacks that added variety to combat.  The left bumper allowed for a much-needed dodge maneuver.  Frequently the villain will rain down mortor strikes that made a dodge absolutely necessary.  For this demo, I was only able to communicate with the person beside me, but having voice chat and coordination will be absolutely key to victory; the villain can raise gates to separate team members and thusly unleash attacks on them.  Keeping the group together and supporting each other leads directly to victory.  I was very impressed visually and mechanically with Fable Legends and simply cannot wait to enroll in the beta and pick it up when it comes out later this year.

And that pretty much sums up my experiences with PAX East 2015.  While most major developers and publishers were MIA (perhaps at GDC?), we still managed to find some good stuff to check out.  I'd say the highlights of the weekend included the impressive Oculus Gear VR demos, the live recording of IGN Gamescoop and surprisingly, Fable Legends.  Even though I was a bit underwhelmed with this year's turnout, I cannot wait to make the drive again next year!  Oh, and this time, we're getting a hotel within walking distance.  I just simply cannot handle more traffic!  Till next time..

The Bearded Bullet.

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