And just like that, PAX East 2017 is in the books. It was a massive gathering of gamers celebrating their beloved hobby. Vendors are hawking retro games for collectors and there was a faint smell of overpriced food in the Boston Convention Center in the Seaport District.
This year was my second time attending the big event. As someone who enjoys and appreciates video game culture (see also: a giant nerd), it was an occasion I was very much looking forward to. For my time spent in the strangely humid convention, I noticed a few interesting (for lack of a better word) things that caught my eye.
It’s a video game convention, though. Weird and/or out-of-place things will occur. Every convention, including PAX East, always has more than a few things stand out for me. This year was no different.
Overwatch cosplay, Overwatch cosplay everywhere!
Easily the most popular game of 2016 was Overwatch, and its presence at PAX East 2016 was apparent. While Blizzard did not feature any demos for their beloved game, fans showed up as characters in droves. There was even a meet-up for everyone dressed as their favorite Overwatch hero.
The, literally, biggest highlight of the Overwatch cosplays was the life size Reinhardt cosplay. For any non-fans out there, Reinhardt is a huge German knight that is practically 10 or 12 feet tall!
People really love Final Fantasy XII still!
Square Einx, the developers of the extremely popular Final Fantasy games, had their own section on the show floor. Surprisingly enough, their most popular game is a remake.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is the high-definition, and expanded, rerelease of a game that was not hugely popular when it was originally available. The original game was not terrible, far from it, but it is frequently overshadowed. However, fans of this particular installment showed up in droves to play the demo of the game. The panel for The Zodiac Age even had a full house!
PAXamania (finally) does not have technical issues!
PAXamania is one of PAX East’s most attended panels. It’s a bizarre, and highly entertaining, combination of video games, improv comedy and professional wrestling. Games journalists will create their own pro wrestling personalities, which are even more ridiculous than the ones seen on TV.
Despite being a popular event, PAXamania always has some form of technical, or safety, issues.
This year was the first time in it did not. And the crowd went wild for it. Even the “founder” of event, Aaron Trites, joked about how smoothly the show went.
Harmonix’s newest project is a tabletop game?
Harmonix is one of Boston’s premier game developers and are the creators of the Rock Band series. They actually had a new game to showcase this year, but it was not a video game.
Dropmix is Harmonix’s newest project. It is a competitive card game involving creating music with cards. It utilizes a person’s phone to play the music as well. It was a breath of fresh air for Harmonix to not continue to churn out another sequel to one of their franchises, but instead branch out to something completely different.
Retro revivals and indie games dominated over triple A!
In probably the most surprising (or unsurprising if you’re a gamer) is the overall presence of the indie games and revivals found on the show floor. Nintendo had claustrophobic lines and Bethesda’s Quake Champions always had someone waiting for it, it was the non-major games making the biggest impact.
Independent game projects such as Perception and Dead Cells were impressing just about anyone who played. The indie game section of the show floor, dubbed the “Indie Megabooth” was seemingly growing every hour. Sony devoted nearly half of their show space to the indie games being released through their digital service.
Remakes of 90s cult classics Blaster Master and ToeJam & Earl were also making gamers full of nostalgia, but also excited attendees with their fun gameplay.
Game journalism website, Giant Bomb, noticed how much bigger the indie game market is during their late night panel on Saturday.
Everyone’s PAX stories are unique, based on how they spent their days. I’m sure what I observed and reported is going to be completely separate from what other attendees saw. However, anyone who has been to PAX East will know that sharing their stories with others is always a great time.
GG PAX East, I’ll see you next year.
Images courtesy of Colin Barry and Dan Silvia.