PAX South 2017

Alexander Rosa assisted on coverage.

PAX South is a convention that is full of surprises. Having had the pleasure of attending each year, I have seen the growth it has shown in both the venue and those that occupy it. Grabbing my comfortable sneakers and my Penny Arcade pins, I was set for an adventure filled weekend.

The convention brought much this year: a monstrous alien at the Earthfall booth, Killing Floor: Incursion on the Vive, Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch, cosplay filled crowds, and panels, panels and more panels. This is only scratching the surface of what could be found, digging a little deeper, one can see the magic that unfolds here in San Antonio each year.

Day 1:

Having the luxury of living here in San Antonio, the drive only took minutes. Navigating the light traffic, I arrived in front of the convention center, ready to start my day. Some of the benefits to being an early riser was the affordable parking right across the street.

Entering through the new main hall I was greeted with the merch booth. A line, already quite formidable, was growing. Making a note to come back later, I made my way to the expo hall, there I was greeted with more lines.

Dancing between the throngs of delighted people, I made my way to the Nintendo booth. Here is where I had to make my first big decision. My choice? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While a seemingly easy pick at the time, it is worth noting that the other games seemed to bring just as many smiles to the players.

After Nintendo, I decided to try my luck with Dauntless. With a noteworthy sign held high above the crowd, I made my way over. Given time to try out the demo, I was not disappointed. After slaying the Behemoth, not before being downed a few times, I was graced with some insight into the future of the game.

From here, I made my way over to Merge VR’s HOLOCUBE. Comfortable and stylish VR goggles that make use of a cube for their minigames.

My final stop for the day was the Tripwire Interactive booth. First I got to try out their Rising Storm 2: Vietnam game. Immersed in this war filled game, you rely on teamwork and communication. After getting a dose of realism, I decided to try my luck against the horde of undead in Killing Floor: Incursion. This new instalment into the series perfectly integrated the VR’s potential.

Day 2:

Day two was sure to be just as exciting. On my plate today were many indie based games, plus some developers that have worked on games I’ve played from the past.

First on my list was Daedalic Entertainment. I was very excited to see what they offered because I was familiar with a few of their games from their past. I got to see how far they have come from their point and click adventures to the new games they were showcasing. First up, The Long Journey Home. A game aimed at the journey rather than the end game. With a steep learning curve though rewarding gameplay, I was eager to see what else they brought. Coming from a more serious standpoint, going to Holy Potatoes- We’re in Space! was welcoming. Filling me with uncontrollable laughter, this was one of the more light-hearted games I’d yet played.

Next on my list was a nice and lengthy chat with Rooster Teeth. I got an inside look at their new project Battlesloths 2025: The Great Pizza Wars; a new party game that has a fun premise.

The day was looking good. I had been to many booths so far and had seen a great deal of games that would be coming out early 2017. One game that almost slipped under my radar was Meta Arcade’s Adventure Creator. This game, while simple on the outside, brought out much creativity in others. Getting to sit back and play a small adventure where I died at almost every corner, I saw a side of people I didn’t think was there. I watched those of varying ages write their own adventure for others to play. Choosing from the stock images, they tied these together with the use of their words. A simple concept brought together with the mind of the community.

I also walked around much of the tabletop area. Looking for a place to sit and recoup my energy, I found a place to paint miniatures. A nice place to lose track of time, I painted for almost an hour straight. Getting the food I needed and my much needed rest, I was ready to enjoy the rest of my day.

Day 3:

Everyday I started alone, but it seemed like each day brought some new people into my path. PAX is more than just a place to see some games, it is a place to meet people with a similar mindset. Each person is there to enjoy in the atmosphere. Today was just like the others.

I started off the day the right way. After a two hour plus wait in line, I was excited to try out What Remains of Edith Finch. This game brought much anticipation while waiting. Trying to avoid watching people play while standing in line was hard. I savored every second that the gameplay lent to me. This was probably one of the biggest highlights of my trip.

After the wait for the Edith Finch game, the Tiny Build booth was a nice reprieve. Trying out their game Good Neighbor brought out a lot of emotions. For one, there was suspense. For a game that has zero violence, I was sure on the edge of my seat the whole time. Utilizing everything in your environment and knowing how to play the system is what this game is about. Knowing that the man learns from your actions is part of the unnerving experience. This is a game I would recommend for all ages.

Next in the queue for me were a set of 4x games by Iceberg Interactive. New to the genre, they were more than happy to give me a thorough run through of their games. While they all had very similar premises, the style and how things are achieved change much between the games. The controls felt comfortable, and with the support given I was on my way to exploring the solar systems and expanding my reach.

My final stop for the day was at Headup Games. Here I got to demo The Inner World. This game brought a unique look into a 2D-point and click adventure. The humor felt appropriate with the style of the game. Something that I really enjoyed was that even when I was completely lost, I still had fun. Putting the puzzles together in the wrong way was part of the charm, and if it ever got too difficult, there was help only a click away.

Overall, PAX South brought much this year. With more AAA games than before, and all the indie games you could ask for, making this a part of your trip next year is a must. While still growing, there is more and more to enjoy each consecutive year.

This year it seemed that VR made a bigger impression than years past, having a heavy presence at many of the booths. This was a welcoming change from previous years. No longer did VR just bring a quirkiness to the game, but rather it enhanced and built it up.

If you have never been to San Antonio before, I would recommend setting aside a few hours during your trip to stroll down the Riverwalk. At least for me, it was a good way to wind down the day.

With that being said, I can’t wait for next year!