Well, this year’s show was an odd one, that’s for sure. In the eight years of PAX East being held in March, never once was the show besieged by less than optimal weather. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some years it has been downright frigid, but snow and ice? Never.
I mean, I do live in New England, so winter is a constant threat until like mid-April, but still, it’s March, go away. I guess my luck had to run out at some point though, huh?
I used to go all three days, but I’ve since reduced that to just Friday and Sunday to give myself a buffer and a day of rest on Saturday. Typically, I always went as early as possible, got a good spot in the queue line, and stormed in when it opened at 10. This year however, knowing I’d be sticking around later in the day on Friday, I decided to go in a bit later. Unfortunately this year, a snow storm decided to move in as well, which really hampered travel.
Around 10:30 I decided to leave the house and head into the big city, though for me, I have to jump in a highway to head in. It seemed the longer I was on that highway, the more intense the snowfall became, and signs every few miles continued to remind me to leave enough room for the plows and to prepare for a winter storm later in the day. Things were looking grim and of course, knowing that I faced some travel later in the day along with potential for Friday highway traffic to be worse than normal due to the storm, I was forced to turn around.
So yeah, I missed my Friday show and I wasn’t terribly thrilled to have been sidelined by Mother Nature and the lingering Old Man Winter. Thankfully, I ultimately made the right call however as the snow continued to fall throughout the day and the roads eventually became icy. Even though it sucked missing out, it was better safe than sorry. Plus, I still had Sunday so not all was lost.
So what did I see and do?
Though I wanted to attend the Mass Effect Andromeda panel on Friday, it was thankfully held in the Main Theater, which meant it was being streamed on Twitch allowing me to still check it out. A good chunk of the panel showed Liam Kosta’s loyalty mission, played live by Ian Frazier, lead designer on the game. The crowd got a kick out of seeing Frazier die twice right at the start of the mission by going in a little too hot. After a little bit of ribbing, he eventually settled into a groove and made it out of that initial firefight.
The thing that immediately stuck out to me was the writing, as the tone didn’t feel as dire and dramatic as it was in the previous trilogy. The characters displayed humor, which was a welcome surprised. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a comedy game by any stretch, but I appreciate that BioWare made the characters react to things using a bit of humor or in a way that a normal person would react.
In addition, multiplayer was available at the show as well, and while I didn’t bother to spend an hour waiting to play it (I mean, the game is out next week, I can wait a few more days), I was able to watch a bit of it. Frankly, it looks like a more polished version of the wave based multiplayer from Mass Effect 3, and I am more than happy with that. Customization looks to be a bigger focus this time around as players can change a whole lot of things besides skills this time around including armor color. A simple but cool addition in my opinion.
The Nintendo Switch was at the show and of course, Nintendo’s booth was slammed basically from start to finish. Waiting in line would likely have been a bigger task and required me to forfeit a lot of my time doing other things. Still, they had a large stage set up so I was able to check out some Mario Kart 8 Deluxe battle mode, which obviously looks super fun and is likely the next major game Switch owners should check out.
I stopped by the PAX Arena area once again as Sunday featured a five hour Super Smash Bros tournament, which was a lot of fun to behold in person. Some of the abilities and moves these people pull off are just draw dropping, and the fights themselves were very competitive and exciting to see.
Unfortunately for me, limiting myself to only one day really negatively impacted the amount of things I could see. Just like 2017 as a whole, there were just too many good games to see and not enough time to do it in. I wanted to check out games like Hob, Pyre, and Battle Chasers but I just ran out of time.
Sony and Microsoft had big booths this year which was good to see, while Ubisoft was largely absent, something which is different for them. Blizzard was there as well, but instead of having games to play, they brought their merch shop with them offering a lot of cool things to buy including exclusive convention items that sold out very quickly.
I watched a live gameplay demo of Prey from Bethesda and man, I’m totally on board with that game now. I know I’ve said it before but that game definitely gives off a strong “BioShock in space” vibe and I love it. Considering that we’re likely to not get another BioShock for a while, I think Prey will tide me over nicely. The demo showed combat, exploration, and ended with zero-g gameplay in space, which was super cool. Using thrusters, players could actually navigate outside of the space station, find new paths or ways to enter, and even interact with objects. They ended the segment with the now famous, transform into a banana and float around in space bit seen in one of the recent trailers.
Overall, while it wasn’t quite how I pictured the show going this year, I still managed to make the best of the situation and saw a lot of cool things. Hopefully next year, PAX is pushed back by a couple weeks to ensure that a freak snowstorm like this won’t happen again. One day was just simply not enough time to do and see everything. I know I missed a ton this year.
For those of you that went, what did you think of the show? What was the best and worst thing you saw?