All the things we learnt from PAX Prime 2014This weekend The Penny Arcade Expo or PAX Prime took place in rainy Seattle. Attended by gamers, industry wonks and Cos-players from all over, PAX isn't the biggest gaming expo of the year, but that's what E3 and GamesCom are for.
However, PAX did see a fair bit in the way of announcements and game demos. For your reading pleasure, here’s what we picked up.
Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell Announced
We thought that Saints Row 5 was on the horizon, but as it turns out, Deep Silver has an expansion pack planned for Saints Row 4 called "Gat Out of Hell". If you’ve never played Saints Row 4, by the way, and you are reading this, you are really letting the best things in life pass you by.
Better than that, if you missed Saints Row 4 on the last generation of consoles, you will be able to pick up a copy for your Xbox One or PS4. That comes without the new Gat Out Of Hell DLC, but for a few extra sheckles you can pick that up too. From what we could glean from PAX, Saint stalwart Johnny Gat is being plunged into hell to rescue his boss. As you do.
It doesn’t really matter if you’ve never played a Saints Row title before now – we’d just ask you to prepare yourself for an experience which is utterly batsh*t insane. Any adventure that starts with a character saying they’re going to “shoot Satan in the face” has got to be worth a look, right?
Firewatch looks interesting
The trailer for indie title Firewatch ticks a lot of boxes. Its visuals look both gorgeous and haunting. Its First Person mechanics look like it’s capable of sucking the player in from the get-go. And the dialogue in the trailer hints at a dark, layered plot that feels like players will walk away both damaged and enriched.
Don’t get us wrong: Firewatch could suck. We haven’t played it yet. But from what was on show at PAX, Firewatch is an enticing prospect. Here is a game that plonks players in unfamiliar territory, wrong-foots them with a protagonist who may not be on the up-and-up and then circles them with a crushing sense of dread. What’s not to like?
Nintendo announced a new 3DS
Given that the original 3DS was such a well-designed piece of kit, the notion that Nintendo would try to up the ante on its handheld platform is something of a big deal.
At PAX, Nintendo revealed that its new handheld will support amiibo figurines and has a circle pad-pro built in. The face buttons are now coloured and the 3D slider has been moved to the top screen.
These are subtle changes to what was already a rather awesome gaming platform. The fact that Nintendo could improve on it – and land some rather amazing features on top – tells us that this is a platform well worth investing in.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel DLC confirmed
If this game is on your radar, you know what to expect: insane weapons, snarky dialogue and – for the first time ever – zero-grav movement. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes players to the moon circling the game’s home environment of the planet Pandora, which means that they’re able to bounce around like a ping pong ball in a tumble dryer.
At PAX, 2K revealed that there will be four packs of DLC available. The publisher didn’t reveal what form the DLC would take but we’re betting it includes tons of guns, boatloads of loot and co-op play that will have players blasting bad guys until the wee hours of the morning.
Deep Down is still coming
Originally unveiled at the PS4 announcement in New York last year, Capcom’s dungeon crawler has been off the radar for some time now, so it was nice to see it hasn’t become vaporware. Capcom has confirmed that, yes, Deep Down is still in the works and, while it’s revealed precious little about the game’s plot, it did show off some co-op gameplay at PAX and stated that the game would be landing on PS4 some time next year. Watch this space…
Tim Schafer rules
If you don’t know who Tim Schafer is, slap yourself in the face. Then Google him. Then settle in and realise that Tim Schafer has been involved in – and quarterbacked – some of the funniest, most erudite and flat out unique games this medium has ever produced – Brutal Legend, The Secret Of Monkey Island and Day Of The Tentacle, to name three. One game he presided over was called Grim Fandango. It was a game in which players traipsed through the back offices of the afterlife, uncovering a mystery about soul-trafficking. It was dead funny – and it’s coming to PS Vita soon.
That news, announced at Gamescom last month was music to the gaming communities ears. At PAX, Schafer announced something more enticing; he said he, and the folk at his development studio, Double Fine, would love to remaster more of LucasArts’s back catalogue for this generation of consoles. “If everyone buys 10 copies [of Grim Fandango] it will make more than likely we’ll make another,” he said.
If the idea of playing a new Monkey Island title on the PS Vita doesn’t sound wonderful, we urge you to nip over to Steam and check out what you’re missing.
And speaking of Double Fine and Steam, you might want to check out Gang Beasts, a new brawler that the developer showed off at PAX. The word ‘bizarre’ doesn’t really begin to describe it.
Players control chunky colourful humanoids who visit all manner of pain on one another. They wrestle. They toss each other into spinning blades. They battle on the roofs of moving trucks. Imagine a play-dough cartoon directed by Quentin Tarantino and you’re starting to get the picture. Highly disturbing and really rather fun.
ArcheAge gets a launch date
Winter is coming, so there’s no better time to commit yourself to playing a brand new fantasy MMO. Luckily, Trion Worlds has your back and their new epic sword and sorcery adventure drops on September 16 – if you want to be a realm founder, you can sign up for the beta that takes place this week from September 4th through to the 8th. Packaged in swoon-worthy graphics and dripping with lore and intrigue, we don’t mind telling you that ArcheAge is something we’re more than little excited about. At the very least it should keep you going until the next series of Game Of Thrones lands on TV.
There must and shall be ports!
Saints Row 4 isn’t the only last gen title to jump to the new consoles. Microsoft announced that Undead Labs’s fantastic open world zombie survival horror, State Of Decay, will arrive on Xbox One next year in its ‘definitive form’. State Of Decay: Year One Survival Edition will also come packed with all the DLC from the original game and will be remastered at 1080p for the console.
Not to be outdone, the PS4 will see the arrival of Ubisoft’s fantastic platform adventure, Dust: An Elysian Tail next year, along with PopCap’s adorable peg-smashing game, Peggle 2 on October 14th. SOE’s massive open world shooter PlanetSide 2 will also be landing on the PS4 with a beta going live sometime later this year. Between that and Destiny you may never need to leave your house ever again.
Mortal Kombat X may well be the most violent game ever made
Mortal Kombat was always the unruly child in the arcade fighter classroom. While it never offered the mechanical fidelity or deep gameplay its nearest and dearest competitors did, it was the only game where a player could rip their opponent’s spine out. Mortal Kombat was all about blood and Mortal Kombat X, the latest instalment in the series, picks up that baton and runs with it.
Feast your eyes on the game’s PAX 2014 demo. Not only is it some of the most eye-watering violence you’ll ever see in a video game, it also showcases that Mortal Kombat X’s control system has been significantly deepened, bringing it up to the level of some of the best games in its genre. Players now have three separate modifiers they can pick from, widening their characters move sets and allowing them to pick a style of fighting that suits a multitude of approaches.
Mortal Kombat X delivers mechanically as well as viscerally – just don’t play it on an empty stomach.
See also: E3 2014 round-up