Every year I try to mentally prepare myself for Pax, and every year I end up walking in and feeling like a lost puppy. This year I only went for Friday, and I think if I had gone for more I would have just ended up exhausted and hating myself by the middle of the second day. There were a lot of things to see and play, but it was also interesting the things that weren’t there. This is my recap of Pax East.
Going beast on PAX East
The first thing that stood out was the line to get in. Not being the type that sprints to a game as soon as the gates open, we decided to arrive fashionably late, and try to avoid waiting to get into the hall, an hour later when we arrived there was a massive line stretching past the entrance and down the street, a result of the upgraded security. It stood out because in the past you would walk in and they would check any foam weapons for danger, and you could make your way into the hall. The upgraded security really hammered home just how different the world has become in the past few years.
By the time we arrived the lines for all the big games were well into their second hour, even smaller games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 had a two-hour wait by the time I walked over. As the expo gets bigger the wait times will only get longer so I didn’t expect much. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to show off my skills in Battleborn, but waiting over four hours to play a game that I had already played for a few days was just silly.
Interestingly the long wait times for Battleborn and Overwatch didn’t translate to longer wait times at the indie mega-booth, we were able to walk up and play most games with no wait, and ended up buying a few because of it. The best game that we played (in my opinion) was Knight Squad by Chainsawesome Games, it’s an 8 player top down couch battle, and incredibly fun.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Dota 2 fans have learned to live with their favorite game not making rounds, but except for League of Legends, there really wasn’t too much from anyone at the expo. Blizzard was focused on Overwatch so there was nothing from them for Heroes of the Storm besides smiles to anyone in cosplay, Smite had HiRezAmanda and HiRezDavid walking around on Friday with a Meetup on Saturday, the only game that was letting fans play on the floor was Paragon by way of the Playstation 4 booth. The Paragon Team also had a meet-up on Saturday Morning but we were lucky enough to actually sit down with Steve Superville for a talk on Friday night, it was without a doubt one of the highlights of my MOBA reporting career, and I can’t wait to talk about what he said.
My co-founder Hong showed off his incredible card game skills and beat the Complexity Hearthstone player Ryzen winning himself a nice bit of loot from Newegg, and bragging rights! We were also lucky enough to catch HiRezAmanda and HiRezDavid walking around on the floor of the expo and got a picture with Amanda.
It stood as such a strange contrast to have games like Overwatch and Battleborn have such large booths, and see so little from the MOBA world.
League of Memories
League of legends debuted the “Riftwalk” for fans attending the show, an “Interactive Journey” that called upon the nostalgia of it’s fans, with some pretty cool statues and memories that span the existence of the game. When we arrived the line for the Riftwalk was well over three hours, and I just couldn’t bring myself to wait for it, call me cynical but I’m just not that nostalgic that waiting that long to look at statues of terrible original designs for League of Legends characters seemed worth it.
I would have loved to see more from the game developers, but as PAX turns more into a way to promote games than to celebrate them, its not terribly surprising. With that said I was so happy to see so many fans for the games I love crowding the Expo hall with giant hammers, and extended wings. MOBAs have some of the best stories and the best fans, and I think this really helped me recognize that more than anything else.