The count down is on for PAX Prime in Seattle and gamers from around the world are gearing up for their biggest event of the year. While some of the 65,000 may be veterans, many enthusiasts will be attending for the first time in their life. To you, I dedicate this PAX primer.
Star Wars Battlefront
Playing a video game that feels like playing a movie of Star Wars? It's 2015, and indeed it seems like we are finally going to get it. With a new film on the horizon, nostalgia, and an established developer (DICE) who has a lot of experience in the genre, 'Battlefront' is set up for success. The game looks gorgeous and while some are saying that it is an amalgamation of what came before it. That's not necessarily a bad, of course. There is plenty to love in the previous games, and what EA has learned from them—the dynamic gunplay, large maps, the scale of objectives, the seamless changing of roles on the battlefield, and the teamwork. The campaign mode is going to rule. Playing against friends on an ongoing contest to conquer the galaxy. The lack of a single player mode is disappointing. We’ll have plenty of awesome new story-based Star Wars projects to come, so giving 'Battlefront' a pass this time doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. This story needs no introduction. No origin.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst
In comparison with other AAA games 'Mirror's Edge Catalyst' could most certainly be perceived as an underdog, with it being a sequel to an underrated cult favorite that has only seen the light of day to a vocal outcry from fans of the original. Despite having been announced quite a while ago, we still haven't got a very good grasp on what direction Catalyst will take the series in - will it be more action oriented? Or will it feature an even deeper emphasis upon those no-gun runs? Fortunately the game will be playable at PAX Prime 2015, so our questions should be answered.
The original 'Mirror's Edge' was a wholly unique game that impressed the few who played it upon release, and with a greater budget being pumped into Catalyst by EA, we hope that the flaws of its predecessor have been ironed out and that this time around it'll reach a wider audience. We'll be able to see for ourselves whether it's capable of doing this at PAX Prime.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
It's difficult to get too excited about the next Assassin's Creed game considering the buggy mess that was Assassin's Creed Unity, but Ubisoft have got a habit of following up a disappointing entry in the series with an impressive one. From first impressions this seems like it will be the case with 'Assassin's Creed Syndicate', which introduces a new setting in the shape of the Victorian era, which brings with it a gothic edge that could help eradicate the memory of Unity's sloppy frame rate and myriad of glitches from our minds.
Ubisoft are bringing their A game to PAX Prime this year, and regardless of our own reservations 'Assassin's Creed Syndicate' will undoubtedly be one of the most heavily anticipated playable games at the event for veteran fans of the series.
Street Fighter V
The next entry in the seminal fighting game series is the biggest game of 2016 for members of the fighting game community, who will be lapping up any hands-on time with the game they can get prior to its release. With PAX Prime likely to see a brand new character being unveiled, the event is therefore firmly on the radar of the FGC.
For those who aren't a part of that community, the prospect of a new Street Fighter game is still exciting. With 'Street Fighter IV' having proven to be a widely influential release in the fighting game genre, inspiring the reboot of the 'Mortal Kombat' series among other things, it's exciting to think of what impact 'Street Fighter V' will have on the genre, too.
Hyper Light Drifter
After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign in which it attracted over $600,000 in pledges, for many 'Hyper Light Drifter' will be the highlight in terms of PAX Prime's indie game showcase.
It certainly has a lot going for it - a smooth and stylish visual direction, combat that feels weighty and a variety of weapons to choose from that lead to a cornucopia of brutal death animations, Hyper Light Drifter certainly looks like it will be one of the most fun games to play at PAX, indie or otherwise. Couple that with a development studio in the form of Heart Machine that actually appears to be running on schedule with its plans, which is something of a minor miracle when it comes to crowdfunded games, and there's plenty to be excited about when it comes to this action RPG.
XING: The Land Beyond
Upon first witnessing 'XING: The Land Beyond' you will walk away under the impression that you have just experienced the modern reincarnation of 'Myst', given this mysterious first-person puzzler's close ties with the PC classic. While XING certainly has the appropriate extra bells and whistles adorning it in order to bring it into this generation, it is still cut from the same cloth as 'Myst' and that is no bad thing.
Placing you in the ghostly shoes of a deceased traveler, XING explores the particularly heavy subject of death whilst allowing the player to explore a lush, tropical environment filled with puzzles and zero combat. There has been a minor renaissance of first-person puzzle games and I hope that trend continues.
We know very little of 'Hob' other than it's being created by Torchlight developers Runic Games, that it is coming to PC and consoles (though exactly what consoles it is coming to has yet to be specified) and that it features no text or dialogue, with its plot instead being conveyed by the player's surroundings.
Like Torchlight, 'Hob' also adopts an isometric viewpoint but judging from Runic's previous comments, it will have a greater emphasis upon its puzzle-solving rather than following in its predecessor's footsteps as an RPG. I desperately want to get my hands on 'Hob'.
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
When a game starts drawing comparisons with Earthbound it inevitably pricks the ears of those who remember the SNES classic. While on the surface YIIK may look like it borrows very little from HAL Laboratory's RPG, its modern-day setting coupled with its surreal themes and an out-there sense of humor suggest that it will appeal to fans of that game and many more beyond it, as there are very few games in the genre like it.
We're still yet to get a handle on what YIIK is, and though its "A Postmodern RPG" subtitle may sound so hipster it feels like it should come with an ironically curled mustache, we're more than down with its Westernized Persona appeal. YIIK is a game that isn't on the radar of many people, though after PAX Prime that could all change.
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