I spent the past four days waking up at 6AM so that I could get to the Washington Convention center by 6:30, and get to the front of the lines for PAX Prime. The experience was exhausting, but amazing. Almost every game I played was amazing, but I’ve compiled a list of the five best games at PAX Prime this year.
Just Cause 3
While the gameplay demo for Just Cause 3 was limited to a 3 minute rocket frenzy mission (shoot as much with rockets as you can), I went to a panel that revealed more about the game’s core mechanic: Destruction. The entire panel focused around the beautiful chaos that is Just Cause 3’s world, and the development time that went into creating effects. We were shown a series of videos of various environmental set pieces exploding, followed by videos from the Havoc engine of how the explosions were created, and why they look so damned cool. When asked about the game’s biggest explosion, the panel simply said that they went large enough to break the game’s engine, and then took it down one notch.
On top of this we also learned a little about the upgraded grapple system. When asked about how many tethers we could have at once, the panelist responded “Hmm, I’m going to lowball and say 4,” but he admitted that they had tested a lot more than that. The tensile strength of these tethers will be greatly upgraded from Just Cause 2, making some incredible feats possible. For instance, if you want to tether a helicopter to a bridge, to a truck, to a gas station; you can do that, and the result will be glorious carnage. I for one can’t wait to see more of this game leading up to its December 1st release date.
I’m not quite sure what to say about Cuphead. It’s a cartoon platformer that reminds me of both the cartoons I used to watch as a child, and an acid trip gone horribly wrong. I was allowed about 15 minutes hands on with the demo, and in that time I had to fight a hypnotist carrot, a pair of angry, gangster frogs spitting tornadoes in a diner, and a very large turkey vulture that shot multicolored eggs. This is not even mentioning the fact that the main character is a demonic cup person.
The gameplay itself is very frantic and difficult. I can already tell that there will be many controller breaking moments, but the best platformers always have some of them. The game demo I got to play was made up of boss fights, and it is unclear yet what the game’s main levels will look like. However, if they are anything like what I saw at PAX, the future is demented and bright. Cuphead is slated for a release some time in 2016, and once again I’m looking forward to seeing more of the level design.
Rainbow Six Siege
“Rocket Llama”, a team of special forces units that no one will ever know, because we were 100 points below making the top ten leaderboard at the Rainbow Six Siege booth. Tense, cooperative, action is the motto of Rainbow Six Siege. Players who don’t work together are quickly overwhelmed by smart AI with powerful weaponry. The game mode I tested was one of my favorites from the old Rainbow Six games; Terrorist Hunt. The objective was to infiltrate a large building where some sort of shady drug operation was going on. Each member of our team chose one of 12 operators (the final game will have a lot more), each with a special ability crucial to the team’s success. The operator I chose carried a high-powered assault rifle, and portable thermite explosives. My job was to breach walls, and then sit back while our riot-shield laden tank took care of the rest.
After only 12 minutes of gameplay I was completely sold on Rainbow Six Siege. When my team dropped through the glass roof of a building, guns blazing, and shouting “Rocket Llama”, I knew that I had found a game that was going to provide hours of fun later. I could write pages about this game, but alas, there is no time. However, the GIZORAMA team will be streaming matches of Rainbow Six Siege when the open beta begins (barring any non-disclosure rules) in late September!
Rise of the Tomb Raider
I was a huge fan of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, but it didn’t really feel in line with its predecessors. My favorite part about the original games was the exploration of tombs, catacombs, and archaeological sites, and I felt that Tomb Raider 2013, focused more on Laura’s survival. This was needed to bulk up Laura’s backstory, and made for a great game, but I’m glad to report that Rise of the Tomb Raider is a return to a more classic feel. The demo level felt like a scene from Indiana Jones, complete with scorpions, skeletons, and of course a few gruesome henchman deaths. Laura still managed to fall down a few hills and get beat up pretty bad, but she felt more confident than in Tomb Raider 2013.
My favorite part of the demo was how intricate the setting was. The level design looked like it could have been a piece of concept art for how stylized and beautiful it was. The demo showcased a desert level that was a stark contrast to the Siberia videos showcased at E3. I talked to the Senior Designer Michael Brinker, and he told me that the biomes in the game would have a good amount of variety, and are all very distinct from one another. Overall, really excited to take on this adventure, and it will definitely be a day one pickup for me.
I won’t lie, I was hesitant going to see The Division. It may have been the three hour line that was constantly capped, or the release date delays that have happened over the past year, but those fears are gone. I got to play with two other teammates in a 3v3v3 match, taking place in The Division’s open world. While the demo was very limited, and showed off mostly gunplay, I’m really excited to see where this game goes. The area we played in had little glimpses of what happened to the city in the game’s main storyline, but I can’t wait to explore more and see what the rest looks like.
My favorite feature was called “going rogue”. In our short demo it didn’t mean much, but in the open world of the full game, it is going to be crucial. Players are encouraged to interact with each other in a non-violent way. If a player attacks another human player, they go rogue, which puts a bounty on their head, and means they can be killed without consequence. I’m interested to see if this feature is more expanded in the final game.
That’s all I’ve got for our list, but let us know if you think we missed something. Was there a game you think should have made the list that didn’t?