By Jaime Skelton (MissyS) and Andy Skelton
While the third day of PAX was on a sleepy Sunday, that didn’t stop anyone from showing up and milking everything the show still had to offer. That final stretch of show is when you learn to forget about your tired feet and lack of sleep and really dig in to make sure you don’t miss anything. Our day was hardly quiet and we ended with a real treat that left us talking as we walked out of the convention center for the last time this year.
There are a lot of creature battlers out there right now, given the popularity of a certain series that begins with P, and ends in mon. While Moonrise doesn’t seem to add anything else to the genre on the surface, there are some very interesting differences fans may want to look at. For example, combat is real time. You select a move and wait for it to take effect; all the while the monsters are taking their own turns. Additionally, as the trainer (Wardens, as they’re called in game), you’re not limited to standing around and watching your critters fight it out for fun and profit – you have your own attacks to join in the fun with!
The game promises a simple gameplay experience, but also provides any measure of in-depth strategies, from buffs, debuffs, and ailments, to simply wailing on the opposing trainer to end the battle quickly. It boasts several different customization options, both in trainer looks and pet skills. Pet stats can also be customized and manipulated to your desire. Better yet, battling pets (and trying to capture them) and other players doesn’t use any sort of energy system, so you can play at your own pace. Only dungeons and tournaments have any sort of energy gate, and the regeneration rate is very reasonable!
State of Decay
Some people may know Undead Lab’s State of Decay. It’s been out for a while now, and even boasts two expansion packs. What you may not know is they’re working to re-master the game for the PC and Xbox One to take advantage of new technology. We had a nice hands-on experience with the game, and it is obvious they put a great deal of work into making the game look that much better. The world is super vibrant and colorful, losing the brown haze that many complained about. Both expansion packs are available from the get-go as well.
Speaking of expansion packs, the team made sure they included any and all improvements from both expansions into the main State of Decay game as well. This makes for a much more robust experience for all three parts. Players who have already purchased State of Decay, fret not. Not only will you be receiving a discount on purchasing this edition, you’ll also have exclusive access to a brand new character, along with new weapons. A brand new mission type has also found its way into the game, to add even more variety.
Oh, and did we mention incendiary shotguns? Because incendiary shotguns …
The morning also meant a meeting with the small game studio, Bunnycopter. Broken Bots is a top down multiplayer shooter, and has recently launched both an open beta and a Steam Greenlight campaign. In its essence, Broken Bots is that fun, quick PvP fix that’s fit for all skill levels to pick up and play.
Talking about the game was all well and good, but we finally grabbed the controls and hopped into a Capture the Flag match. Before we knew it, we were invested in the outcome and were reluctant to relinquish the controls to the waiting con attendees. It was fast-paced, and the on screen HUD always kept us up to date on where our enemies, teammates, and flag were, so we always knew where to head. There’s also simply nothing like the malfunction mechanic, which randomly grants short power-ups or power-downs and requires you to adapt on the fly. We’ll have more to say about this title this week, so long as we can stop playing enough to write about it.
Many people have stated Elite: Dangerous is best played with the Oculus Rift. After all, the game fully supports it natively, and is the first AAA title to include it as more than a tech demo or proof of concept. So having the opportunity to get that experience at their booth at PAX South was something that could not be ignored. We’ll put it this way: Elite: Dangerous is most definitely meant to be played, experienced, and enjoyed with the Oculus Rift VR device.
The demo was simple enough: a combat simulation against another ship. The nice thing about the game is there are multiple control methods available. For this demo, we were given a flight stick to use, and it felt as natural as what we’d imagine flying a real spaceship would be like (maybe). Combat is a definite strong point in Elite: Dangerous, and the simple little dogfight we had was still intense and loads of fun. Plus, the game boasts a 1:1 scale of the Milky Way galaxy. Who else can say that?
Cards & Castles
If you’ve ever had one of those “Wait, how did I miss hearing about this game?” moments, you’ll know how we felt when we learned about Cards & Castles. C&C is a game that combines collectible card gaming (ala Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering) with tactical turn based combat (ala Final Fantasy Tactics). The game also recently launched a new expansion, The Ancient Hero Returns, which introduces a single player campaign and an overhaul of the Draft mode. And while the game’s currently mobile, they’re preparing their PC client for beta and are currently on Steam Greenlight.
That’s a mouthful, but here’s the core of it: Cards & Castles is a truly fun and engaging card strategy game unlike anything we’ve encountered yet, with a true emphasis on multiplayer and deck building. It’s become a sleeper hit, and we can’t wait to share more about it with you later this week.
Grey Box’s booth was at the front of the show floor and grabbed everyone’s attention immediately. Not one but two massive lines curled around this booth whose front stage was constantly doing live shoutcasting of both Grey Goo and Dreadnought matches. The promise of flashy lanyards and a free t-shirt for winners of team battles helped sweeten the deal, of course.
While we’re familiar with Grey Goo, which launched the same day PAX South opened, Dreadnought had been a general mystery to us, merely a vague idea of big spaceships with big guns. So when we stepped in and were properly introduced to this title, developed by YAGER and currently in pre-alpha, we were pleasantly surprised. Think of Dreadnought as a tactical class-based spaceship shooter. We had a hands on match with the game’s team-based multiplayer, which will be free-to-play, but the game will also have an episodic single player campaign available for players to purchase. For a pre-alpha, the gameplay was incredibly smooth and is one of the most intuitive and enjoyable space combat games we’ve played to date. Stay ready for a full break down soon.
Fun enough to even make Bucky dance.
And that brings our PAX South daily recaps to a close, but this is only the beginning! This week we’ll be revisiting many of these titles with more in-depth previews and interviews. Get ready, gamers: this is a good year.