Day 1 of PAX Prime 2014 is a wrap and Day 2 is lurking in the shadows just waiting to beat my feet into submission all over again.
For anyone who has been to PAX East before, you’ll know the show floor in Boston is one massive aera where chaos reigns. In Seattle, they do things a bit differently as you’ll find stuff everywhere inside the Washington Convention Center. Gamers predominantly are on floors four and six but some are in lobbies, hallways, and even off site at hotels in the area. Enough about the hardship I endured by walking back and forth all day, let’s get on with the games.
Assault Android Cactus
Dev: Witch Beam
The sleeper hit of PAX Prime 2014 Day One has to be Assault Android Cactus. Nestled in the Indie MEGABOOTH, Tim Dawson and crew have crafted a beautiful twin stick sci-fi arena shoot’em up. The game can be played up to four people with the difficulty ramping up as you increase more players. You’ll play the role of a police android who has been sent to a space freighter, which has been taken over by rogue robot workers. Hordes of enemies will come your way and you need to do your best to survive by constantly consuming battery packs. You can fall down as many times as you like but as long as your battery meter in the green you’ll be ok.
There are many things to like about AAC, from the immediacy of the guns, non-stop action, interesting female characters, and gameplay feels spot on. This is the complete co-op arena shooter package and definitely the winner of Day One.
Dev: Undead Labs
Undead Labs from Seattle are best known for their zombie survival game State of Decay, which has performed really well on Xbox Live Arcade and PC. A few weeks back, Undead Labs announced their partnership with Kabam to create a mobile RPG game entitled Moonrise.
What we played yesterday on an iPad was a pre-alpha build but still, at this early stage, is a highly polished mobile experience. Moonrise is a creature collecting RPG centered around the creatures known as the Solari. A moonrise event occurs and turns these fun playful creatures into misbehaving savages known as the Lunari. On your way to becoming a master warden, players will start off in early training missions and then the game opens up into a beautiful fun world. As you battle the Lunari and other wardens, you’ll quickly earn a stable Solari to fight by your side. Besides the intuitive game play, what was most impressive about the title was how quickly you forgot about the medium you were playing on as you were so immersed in the story and action.
Dev: Clapfoot Games
One of the last titles we played on Day One was Fortified by Clapfoot Games. Fortified is a combination of defensive strategy and a third-person shooter. With a 1950s sci-fi film vibe and set in a busy metropolis of the time, the game expands on the defense genre by giving players the ability to shoot enemies while using real-time strategy mechanics. During the course of the game, players will be able to use one of four character classes as they battle against swarms of robotic enemy invaders. Tasked with protecting the city and armed with Cold-War era weapons, players will setup defensive structures and command units to take out various attackers.
From the screenshots and trailers we’ve seen before, we were expecting a noir style artwork but in talking to the team, they opted for the 1950′ Neon instead as it separated some of the action and explosions on screen better. Still somewhat in the early stages, Fortified was a fund co-op experience and we’re eager to see more in 2015.
Far Cry 4
Dev: Ubisoft Montreal
One of the few titles we were able to play before the show opened up to the general public was Far Cry 4. And thankfully so because quickly their booth became one of the loudest and most annoying as they actually had a mock fighting cage where the public could dress up as various animals and duke it out in the octagon.
As for the actual game it looks dropped dead gorgeous with that triple A flair we’d all expect. Riding the Elephant into a military outpost was thrilling and seemless as you mounted and dismounted the lovely animal. Inside the compound, action was intense but you had some interesting tricks at your disposal. If the elephant was spooked by the soldiers he would rampage through the camp which made it easier for you to clear out the joint. Caught in a tight spot, no worries as you’re equipped with generous amounts of meat, which will attract leopards to the scene. Still hungry are you’re appetizer these four legged animals now go on the hunt for some fresh flesh.
Far Cry 4 is a gorgeous looking game with a highly polished UI, gameplay, and story. Sure to be a big hit this holiday season.
Dev: Turtle Rock
Let’s get the positive stuff out of the way here. Evolve is a 4v1 experience which requires and demands teamwork or else the Goliath or Kraken will reign without mercy. The game looks fantastic and the tone and setup are done really well to immerse you into the action.
But here are where a few red flags come into place. Let’s start off with the nitpicky shit first. The Evolve booth is an assault on your ears like no other. The trio of shout casters who are literally almost popping a jugular vein over a medic revive is over the top and borderline absurd. Then let’s not forget the huge Goliath statue which takes up a decent chunk of the show floor. Why do I bring these up? What is the secret of magic? Draw people’s attention to what you want them to see but not really what is taking place. This is called Sleight of Hand, no? And what is going on, in our opinion is an average experience.
Yes, the first time you play as the Goliath it can be thrilling but lets talk about how when you attack creatures to eat there feels as though you’re swinging and missing but yet the animal perishes. Or how about when you have a Hunter in your midst and you’re slamming him to and fro but yet he still can be revived buy the medic. And again, the hit detection felt strangely off, it was not satisfying in the least when you got your hands on a Hunter. There was nothing which affected the senses which made it feel like a human was in our grasps, honestly, it felt no different flailing your beastly arms in the air.
Our main concern is how does this game keep players coming back for more. When pressed to answer this questions, we were met with the response that the game comes with three monsters and a fourth on the way via DLC. Maybe this is a title where you need to play over and over again to fall in love but as of right now, we’re lukewarm about a second date.
Dev: Acid Nerve
The trio of developers behind Titan Souls are sadists. There is no easy way of describing them so we’re just going to come out and say it. These guys like to see you suffer and they snicker too when it happens. It’s cruel man, very cruel.
Titan Souls is a game with 25 boss battles. The whole game is one big boss battle and the real kicker is how you’re only equipped with one arrow and 1Xp of health. We got a real chuckle when we heard that each boss only had 1Xp too. Yes, this might be true and sufficient if the boss was a normal creature, but we’re talking about Titan Souls here. Nothing is normal, expect to encounter multiplying blobs, large rotating and fast moving bosses, bosses with one eye who can cover so much ground in mere seconds. Titan Souls is unpredictable, stress and rage inducing, and something we loved.
Dev: Insomniac Games
Another title we played before the doors officially opened was Sunset Overdrive. If you read the section about Evolve, a lot of the same applies here. Loud music, funky costumes, a themed out bus. Do we need to remind everyone what a game was like the last time they had a themed bus. Hype over substance.
The mode we played was an 8 player co-op mission where hordes of enemies were trying to attack various points of control. We were strongly urged to not fight from the ground but instead constantly jump to hire ground and grind along the buildings. The mode was fun, the weapons were off the wall, and shooting the enemies was like shooting fish in a barrel. We’re curious to try out but what we saw on the floor yesterday was simplistic but made to look like something more was going by the amount of over the top ridiculousness.
The Order: 1886
Dev: Ready at Dawn
It is amazing how The Order: 1886 seamlessly blends in action to cut scenes and then back again. Really nailed this feature and you’re immediately sucked into the action. Gameplay takes place during Chapter three, which many probably have seen by now. Here you’re thrown into a cover based shooter scenario with your Thermite gun. Shoot once to launch what looks like gun powder and then shoot again to ignite the powder and burn your foes. This is really a neat touch and incredibly rewarding when a score of enemies are roasted.
Not too much of the story was explained as you’re thrown into a firefight. It looks like there is quite a story in The Order: 1886 and we’re glad not much if anything was spoiled yesterday. Our main gripe with what we played was how at times the controls were somewhat wonky going in and out of cover. In talking with other press members they said this issue plagued the E3 build as well. Hopefully these control issues are resolved by time for launch as it was too noticeable not to mention.