The hidden wonders of PAX East 2016

first_imgThe show floor of the Penny Arcade Expo East has massive exhibits from upcoming blockbuster games like Battleborn, but the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center has dozens of little nooks and crannies filled with secret treasures that can be overlooked by attendees rushing to get in line for the next big shooter. We searched the con’s out-of-the-way places for things that people might have missed and, if you missed PAX, some of them are coming to a con near you.People who dashed into the convention center might have missed something extraordinary out in front. Blizzard, the publisher of the upcoming multiplayer shooter Overwatch, partnered with Uber to create “Uberwatch,’ a car service where stunt drivers dressed like characters from Overwatch would chauffeur people around Boston. Characters like Tracer, D.Va, and Soldier: 76  were rolling around in style, driving cars like a Lamborghini Aventador, monster trucks, and a three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot.For 40 years, nerds have wanted a real world version of the holochess game that Chewbacca and C-3PO played in the first Star Wars movie. Now that everyday tablets and phones are capable of doing augmented reality, this game exists. In the Star Wars expanded universe, the holochess game is called Dejarik, but the real world version is titled Hologrid Monster Battle and is not an official Star Wars game. However, it does feature space monsters designed by Phil Tippett, who created the monsters used in the movie for Dejarik (and many other movie monsters).Although this is a game that Star Wars fans have been waiting decades for, it was being shown at a humble table with little fanfare. We saw a brief demo of it where it used a card-based system, similar to Hearthstone, but with animated holo-monsters fighting on a tiny arena.League of Legends is a major franchise, but they kept their displays away from the main show floor, almost a mini-con for League fans in one of the side hallways. Among League’s exhibits was The RiftWalk, a recreation of the Summoner’s Rift map in the game that players could walk through. There were numerous photo ops with recreations of weapons and sets from the game, including a cosplayer in a 13-foot-tall recreation of Thresh, one of the Champions from the game. There were long lines of hardcore League fans waiting for the RiftWalk, so many attendees might have missed the chance to experience it. This exhibit premiered at PAX East, but it’s coming to other conventions in the future.PAX East has free play lounges where every game console imaginable is available to try for free. It’s a great way to experience local multiplayer or to try out new hardware. Located on the opposite side of the convention center was a free play classic arcade that allowed people to play coin-op arcade games for free. The games ranged from Space Invaders right up to Street Fighter V, all in authentic arcade cabinets. Many players know these games from PC or console ports, but the experience in quite different when played on the original hardware, which often had unique control schemes. Crazy Taxi is an entirely different beast when played sitting down in front of a steering wheel with a crowd gathered around the arcade to laugh when pedestrians are run down.People sometimes joke that gamers subsist on a diet of microwavable pizza rolls, and Totino’s Pizza Rolls has no problem with that stereotype. They had a booth that served snacks, but the main focus was the Bucking Couch. This was a giant red couch that tilted and spun like a mechanical bull. Masochistic gamers who wanted to be publicly humiliated could climb up on it and play Sonic the Hedgehog while the couch twirled around and bucked like an angry bull to the delight of onlookers.People who couldn’t make it to PAX will be able to catch many of these exhibits in other conventions in the future. The developers of Hologrid Monster Battle are making an announcement on May The Fourth, and will have more coverage as it approaches launch.last_img

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