The show floor presence was much more vibrant for Intel at this year’s PAX Prime. When we visited the company at East, presentation was largely devoted to a few 700-series SSDs, some (very large) gaming notebooks, and that was about it. This event’s booth came equipped with Intel-branded lamp shades over the ceiling lights – a clear indication of the company’s technological progress.
Impressive light diffusion aside, Intel did have fairly exciting lineup of hardware to look at: The i7-5960X had its embargo officially lifted at 9AM PST and made an appearance at the show, ASUS has its new X99-Deluxe boards powering the booth, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and other shops have systems present, and there’s a clear push toward the DIY PC consumer. A huge step in the direction we all want to move.
The annually renewed Assassin’s Creed franchise has a signature approach to the open-world action genre, best known for its free-flowing parkour and death-from-above assassinations. Assassin’s Creed has evolved over the past seven years to support its core gameplay by introducing multiplayer, naval combat, deep sea exploration, and other gameplay enhancements.
The next installment -- Assassin’s Creed Unity -- perhaps marks the most significant progression to the franchise by introducing a four-player cooperative experience. Ubisoft is taking its formula of an agile, adept assassin and multiplying it by up to four so that players can team up with their friends. As we experienced first-hand at PAX Prime 2014 in Ubisoft’s super-secret suite, this amplifies the flair and carnage to a much higher level.
We enjoyed a hands-on, co-op gameplay preview of Ubisoft's Assassin’s Creed Unity at PAX Prime. A video with impressions is forthcoming, though we were barred from direct screen capture.
PAX is always a big event for us. Actually, it was one of the very first events that GamersNexus covered, way back in its infancy. The reason we’ve always liked PAX is the same reason its 70,000+ attendees cling to: It’s a consumer event, prioritizing attendees over everyone else -- that includes media. We get no special treatment there as is oft the case at industry tradeshows, so the feeling of the exhibition is overall more “real.”
The mobile Guidebook app was recently released with the full PAX schedule, the maps, and the list of exhibitors. All of this can be viewed on a desktop here or downloaded to mobile here. Be sure to follow us on twitter, facebook, and YouTube for on-site coverage.
For sake of ease, we’ve listed all of PAX Prime 2014's on-site exhibitors followed by booth or room number. Keep in mind that several game and hardware companies are hosting media display suites off-site that won’t be listed, but will still be covered when our PAX coverage section goes live.
Several generations of games spanning System Shock 2, Uplink, the Deus Ex franchise, and now Watch_Dogs have implemented hacking as a gameplay element for a greater cyberpunk-themed adventure. E. McNeil’s Darknet, initially a prototype called 'Ciess,' takes place entirely within a hacking GUI -- it's no after-thought here. McNeil is also bringing this world (and interface) to life on Oculus Rift. I spoke with McNeil at PAX East and got a brief hands-on preview with his cyberpunk project, Darknet.
We've been following Star Citizen fairly extensively since its 2012 campaign. As journalists, part of the job is "discovering" games before they make it big; I always task writers with dedicating some portion of our time at PAX to discovering indie games, the hope being that one goes mainstream after we've made it in the door early. I vividly remember Star Citizen hitting the $800,000 mark on Kickstarter and feeling like I'd missed the boat for journalistic success -- it was at the height of its campaign and everyone else had already started talking about it. Even still, we linked up with CIG CEO & Chairman Chris Roberts to discuss technology in-depth (lots of hardware conversation in that link), which had been entirely unexplored up until that point. It's still one of my favorite articles I've worked on, and much of that content remains relevant through today. Funny how much I've learned since then, too.
Months later, we caught up with Roberts at PAX East 2013 shortly before a discussion panel (filmed). Fast forward to July, and we found ourselves at the Cloud Imperium Games office in Santa Monica. At this point, Roberts' next major goal was $21 million; that'd allow him the freedom of ditching private investors in favor of crowd-sourcing the entire game, he told us, and it was no longer a pipe dream to do so. Everyone in the room knew the funding target was on the horizon, it was just a matter of when. I don't think any of us could have told you that Star Citizen would be sitting at $42 million -- more than double our July meeting -- less than a year later.
Child of Light is one of 2014’s most eye-catching role-playing games. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal—the same team behind Far Cry 3—it features a water color-inspired art style, provides its own take on turn-based combat, and takes advantage of the unique UbiArt engine – used most notably in Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. Gamers are already quite curious as to what they will uncover in the game’s story, but I found at PAX East that it’s the story behind the story that’s just as compelling.
Despite all of our gaming coverage emerging from PAX East, we still made the rounds with our regularly-visited hardware manufacturers. Rosewill was among them, as always.
At CES 2014, I explained in a few camera discussions that mini-ITX cases were going to become a major trend for the year; the advent of Steam OS and Valve's impending Steam boxes only emboldens the expansion of home theater PCs (HTPCs), of which mini-ITX enclosures are a major component choice to consider. Cases are normally pretty low on the list of prioritized components, but when you're building small, there are suddenly a lot of concerns: Clearance for VGAs and coolers, CPU coolers, drives, and thermal challenges are all factors worthy of attention.
Rosewill had their Legacy line-up at CES, but most of the cases there were primarily uninteresting to our gaming-focused staff. PAX East brought the unveil of the Legacy W1, a mini-ITX case that floats toward a middle-size and makes room for larger components. Here's my video walkthrough:
We've been covering the Orcs Must Die! series since its inception -- actually, it was one of our very first camera interviews ever -- and have followed it through the second iteration. The first OMD shipped as a single-player, traps-oriented game that encouraged Rube Goldberg-lite combos to pulverize orcs. The idea centered on tower defense mechanics (prevent the bad guys from getting to the end) mixed with on-the-ground action-RPG mechanics. The second game -- cleverly named "Orcs Must Die! 2" -- introduced co-operative play between two players. It was a much-needed refresh that we largely enjoyed within our team.
I suppose I'll take the opportunity to mention that OMD! is made by Robot Entertainment, a studio that's largely formed of refugees from Microsoft's now-dissolved Ensemble Studios - the makers of Age of Empires and other RTS games.
The newest game was unveiled at PAX East 2014 this weekend and brings F2P 5v5 combat to the series. In playing Unchained on-site, the game felt like one part MOBA, one part action-RPG, and many parts Orcs Must Die! (that is to say: blood, giblets, and gratuitous amounts of cartoon death). Let's do the interview thing before we jump to further details:
Double Fine’s a perfect fit for the PAX shows because it strongly, actively supports its IPs in the community. This PAX was no different. Double Fine showcased a couple of new titles -- the upcoming Hack n’ Slash and the recently-launched Broken Age -- as well as the second title under its Double Fine Presents publishing moniker, Last Life. Gamers Nexus was on the scene to preview each of these.
Quality cosplayers are a major staple of any gaming convention; the (sometimes) finely-crafted outfits bring the show floor some color, vibrance, and life that can't be found outside of a convention atmosphere. We often compile photo galleries of cosplayers from these events (see: The Escapist Expo '13) to "bring some of the show home," as it were. In this PAX East 2014 cosplay photo gallery, we'll show off some of the best cosplayers of the event in the depths of the BCEC. This one's pretty simple and doesn't require much editorial work, so I'll leave you straight to the photos.
Photography by Paige "dino pillow" Spears & Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.
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