Top 10 Highlights of PAX East 2013

5) Head Full of Steam for Hawken – Mech combat is back and it took a free to play title to truly make it fun again. Hawken had one of the most prominent booths of the independent titles on the slow floor and even if you weren’t a fan of steel on steel violence, something about it just beckoned with metal crunching temptation. Built as a fast-paced and highly customizable take on the mech combat genre, Adhesive Games has created a way to impart an impressively polished sense of maneuverability onto an otherwise clunky navigation rubric that past games have displayed. Combat allows for full on ballistic action with evasion tactics such as a side dash which in and of itself truly changes the entire flow of the battlefield. For a game in beta stages praise must be given to how responsive the controls are and how much respect was given to the layout of the battlefield in terms of physics and overall design; after all it’s no fun trekking across a flat plain just firing off missiles in every direction…well ok maybe that can be fun but it doesn’t quite boast the same competitive longevity as well thought out maps that suit particular strategies. The customization menus are quite vast for those who like to spend time on that creative stuff that seems to be all the rage these days; from firework thrusters to dancing taunt moves to add insult to injury to your foes Hawken shows personality that no other mech title has been able to before.

4) Wildstar Shows Wild Potential – I will be honest in saying that at first glance I did not think much of Wildstar, but NCsoft boasted quite the eye-catching booth at PAX East; easily one of the largest on the show floor and it succeeded in attracting many gamers from far and wide with aesthetics. After watching the big screen looping some of the more significant features of the game for about 10 minutes, I found myself wanting to try it out more and more. Speaking with many demoing the game I realized that only a handful of them were actual MMO players; Wildstar is just that attractive of a game. There is a lot to like about this product from the perspectives of genre fan and newcomer alike and the sheer amount of charming features in areas like voice acting and house construction is already enough to envision an enjoyable adventurous atmosphere with a deep lore. Not to mention the team throws a hell of an after party!

3) The Last of Us Leaves a Lasting Impression – The Last of Us could have probably glided through with another gameplay trailer and the constant faith gamers have in the Naughty Dog name, but nothing would have satisfied quite like the first hands-on gameplay demo gamers were able to play this past weekend. With such a high profile game promising an intense tale of survival and a startling sense of realism, The Last of Us was the first game that won my attention upon entering the show floor. Between the real time banter between Joel, Ellie, and Tess and the beautifully designed shell of a former bustling city I was instantly sucked into the game and felt as if I was there. Want to talk realism? How about being scared for my life during each encounter with the mutated foes that inhabit this unfortunate new world. With very limited ammo fist fighting is a very real tactic even against enemies that seem to be more resistant to strikes…but gotta use what you have to survive right? Being swarmed and having your jugular bitten out has rarely been more terrifying. There are consequences for not planning out your methods of attack or defense carefully during a physical encounter, this is not some lacking A.I that can be beaten by just running in and going all Rambo on somebody. The idea that The Last of Us will be a serious contender for game of the year has been all but cemented at this point.

2) Elder Scrolls Online Takes no Arrows to the Knee – When playing a beta it is the expectation that things are obviously going to be anything but perfectly smooth. The idea is to get a good indication of where the product is going to end up in its finalized form. During our hour and a half long demo this past weekend ESO could have not looked more like a finished game ready to hit shelves. The only restriction that constantly reminded us that this was indeed a beta demo was the lack of character selection; though this is not to be confused with lack of character customization. We may have only been able to choose a race from the Daggerfall Covenant, but had it not been for the time limit I might have spent the entire demo building my character. The options in several aspects of the game are already numerous and the user interface is exceptionally easy to work with. The game is obviously built to attract both Elder Scrolls fans and online RPG fans alike, this much can be seen even in this stage of development. The Elder Scrolls Online demo was a little slice of heaven, and if it’s properly indicative of the rest of the cake then we’re all going to be neck deep in frosting when this titan of an MMO hits the market. Morrowind belongs to the Dunmer!

1) A Supergiant Cinderella Story – When you see a line wrap around a booth and signs denoting a line cap or a wait time at a gaming convention, normally you think of highly anticipated “triple A” titles that have been so heavily promoted that gamers everywhere just can’t wait to play the demo. Not only was one of the most popular games at PAX East which had all of these elements surrounding their booth an Independent title, but it didn’t even have a week’s worth of hype. That is the respect that Supergiant Games has earned, and it is the faith and dedication the studio’s fans showcase.  The Studio’s official twitter account even posted pictures of their “2 hour wait from here” and “This line is capped!” signs along with exclaiming they never expected to have to make those. Transistor was one of the most must play games of the entire convention, if not THE most must play game. Additionally it is comforting to know that the studio is as passionate about making their game as the fans are about playing it. During Games Abyss’ interview with Creative Director Greg Kasavin, the heartfelt appreciation and genuine relief he expresses is just part of what makes him such a likeable person. Supergiant is his family, Bastion and Transistor are his children, and the level of success both games have found in their respective stages of existence and the emotions inspired by such could not have happened to a nicer team of people.

Post contributed by Senior Editor Matt J. Randisi. Questions for the author? Send an email to Follow him on Twitter: @SaveUsMatt.

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