PAX really couldn’t stop growing if it tried, at this point. In 2016, there were five PAX events: PAX East, West, South, Australia, and Dev. But this really wasn’t enough for Gabe and Tycho, plus they thought that there was a little too much free time in November. But the downside to all the other PAX events is the massive power bill, and so to fix this problem the new event is like Nirvana in ‘94 -- Unplugged.
While some of that isn’t entirely true, what is true is that the popularity of board and card games is on the rise, a fact to which attendees of PAX West can attest. Every year, the designated unplugged gaming areas get more and more difficult to navigate and Magic: the Gathering’s displays get more elaborate. From the 17th to the 19th of November in Philadelphia, PAX will bring together those gamers who don’t need cables to get their kicks.
Obsidian Entertainment has been more than just a little busy, and with good reason. In 2015, the company released Pillars of Eternity, the isometric RPG that harkened back to classic Black Isle games such as Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, and Planescape: Torment. Pillars proved to be both critically and commercially successful. In addition to a two-part expansion for that game, Obsidian released another isometric RPG just over a year later, the evil-sided “Tyranny” that showed how the other half lives.
It’s barely been three months since Tyranny launched and Obsidian are already fit and ready for their next game. On 26th, Obsidian launched a Fig crowd-funding campaign for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. In under 24 hours, Obsidian met their goal of $1.1 million.
Our game news recap starts off with some surprise news from Good Old Games. GOG.com has re-released SWAT 4. Despite being widely regarded as a classic of the FPS genre, SWAT 4 has been an elusive title in recent years. SWAT 4 is a cornerstone of Tactical Shooters, and was noteworthy for implementing squad-based tactics and non-lethal takedowns in addition to its realism. For the first time, SWAT 4 is now readily available online through GOG.com. GOG conducted a Q&A with creators Paul Hellquist and Bill Gardner to celebrate the release, available for a read here.
The Gears of War franchise may be 10 years old, but this fourth title is only the second to make its way to PC. Third-person shooters in general have never had as big of a following on PCs as they have on console. Gears of War, it seems, has become something of a gold standard of third-person shooters for play with dual-shock controllers. We’re here to give it a pass on the keyboard and mouse.
There are good reasons for the success of the franchise. With a controller, the dual thumbsticks of an Xbox controller suit maneuvering through cover and “locking” to walls. Then there's the trademark thickness of the characters; even normal humans stand out against other games. Against a backdrop of superfluous gore and chainsaw-guns, the Lancer, Gears of War 4 has established itself as one of the meatiest, most visceral shooters on the market.
One of the perennial remarks about the Gears of War franchise has always been the game's character design. Every male character seems have a jaw like a brick, or Robert Z’Dar, and the armor looks built of heavy metals. Now, the Gears of War franchise is five majors titles in, with novel, comic, and board game adaptations. The odd, not-entirely-human look of the characters has become a dedicated part of the franchise, and GoW4 remains true to that aesthetic. The Coalition may have taken over development from Epic, but they’ve also come a long way in design from the first Gears of War. One of the characters in this game -- Del -- even appears to have a neck. As with all the previous titles, females characters still look pretty human. 25 years older, Marcus Fenix still looks more like a bicep drawn by Rob Liefeld than a human.
The ESL One in New York is just a week away. The top eight teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be duking it out for $250,000 starting on October 1st, and ESL One plans to stream the tournament on its official channel. Hardware sponsor nVidia, who are presently making noise that ESL One NY is “the first” major tournament to be held on Pascal architecture, will also be operating a live stream channel for online viewers.