TA PAX East Roundup - Part One

By Michelle Balsan, 4 months ago
For many, many years, if gamers wanted to get to a convention that covered gaming, they would have to be a member of a media outlet to gain access to E3. Thankfully for the majority of gamers who don't have that designation, the folks at Penny Arcade saw it fit to launch the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, where gamers and the people who make the games they play could gather to share this hobby they enjoy so much.

Since then, PAX, which originated out of Washington, has spawned three other PAXes - PAX East, PAX South, and the upcoming PAX Australia. Boston's PAX East was the second PAX launched, with the first one taking place in 2010 and hosting about 30,000 eager gamers. The convention has grown to include more than double that number and a wealth of exhibitors, from AAA to a very healthy representation of independent developers and publishers.

This year, we were fortunate enough to have two Newshounds on the ground at the show, and we've brought back our impressions from the three day event.

Cuphead
Cuphead E3 5

We started the first day taking some time with MDHR's Cuphead. The demo from the floor showcased a world map reminiscent of the one's seen in Super Mario World, but without the fixed path structure, a design decision intended to allow gamers to feel as though they have more open world exploration, but still with a fairly defined campaign progress.

The graphics are really eye catching, with anything presented in 2 dimensions being the product of hand drawn art. Three dimensional objects were created with styrofoam models that were then scanned into the game. The intention is to give the feeling of 1930's-styled cartoons but with non-traditional characters.

The demo only included boss battles, and they were fun and unique and presented with some great audio. There will be regular levels, but those weren't available as yet. We are clearly going to have a lot to look forward to from this one in the future. At the moment, we only were teased out a 2016 release from the fraternal developers.

Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 Screens 2

Our next stop was about twenty feet over in the Microsoft booth at the Gears of War 4 display. In talking to the exhibitors before our turn came up, we learned not only was Team Death Match on display, but a new multiplayer mode called Dodgeball. Dodgeball functions like TDM, but when a player goes down, he can be brought back in by a teammate scoring a kill. This allows for teams to have a chance to play on, even if they're down to last man standing.

The game is Gears. It looks great and moves great. The new game mode was fun, and will certainly make those of us who have that one really good friend at Gears more confident about jumping into MP. We were told by the booth reps about the additions to multiplayer: A new digger like weapon that drops grenades on your enemies and the ability to attack someone by mantling over cover and the ability to yank enemies over cover, but we didn't get a chance to experience that ourselves.

Pit People
Gameplay

The Behemoth always has a presence at PAX East and this year was no different. They once again showed off Pit People. This time last year it was still referred as "Game 4". The single-player demo had been extended from the previous year, but we didn't get our hands on that (the demo probably isn't that long, but with an anaconda-like snaking line of people waiting for a chance to play, it sure feels like you're hogging up all of that station's game time). Instead, we choose to take a run at the newly revealed co-op mode.

The co-op mode, according to exhibitors at the booth, essentially upscales the number of enemies to account for the fact that there are now two player-controlled characters in play. The intentions behind the addition of co-op play was manifold. First off, The Behemoth as a developer is very fond of co-op play as we can tell from their previous titles, so its inclusion isn't really a surprise. Second, the co-op allows for a player who isn't as knowledgeable about this type of game to match up with a friend (or someone else - the game will feature online and local co-op) who understands the game better so they can learn strategies to be successful.

We did ask if playing in co-op would change the game in any other way, such as changes in the story, and were essentially told that anything is still possible, but at this point, the major difference will be found in the number of enemies faced.

The Behemoth also said for anyone interested in the custom Razor arcade stick designed for Pit People to watch their developer blog for a chance to possibly be able to purchase this custom exclusive controller. Below is a picture of the arcade stick we used for the demo.

Gearbox
Carousel

Gearbox always does an amazing panel and this year didn't disappoint. After a little comedy and Randy Pitchford doing magic tricks, they settled into their panel and laid down some details about Battleborn. Of note was the DLC plan for the game: Five characters are set to be released after the game is launched and they will all be available for free. Additionally, new maps and updates to MP will also be free. There WILL be a season pass for DLC and it will include 5 expansions for $20 that will add to the game's campaign.

They also teased some Borderlands information to be revealed and confirmed that the next Borderlands is in development. They wouldn’t call it Borderlands 3 just yet, as they're not ready for that level of confirmation, but rest assured more Borderlands is coming. Also, they did mention that upcoming DLC for Battleborn will include easter eggs for the new Borderlands, so eagle eyed games should be prepared to start seeking out these teasers in the near-ish future.

Overall, the first day of PAX East 2016 was very informative and, as intended, a lot of fun. Having the opportunity to play first hand the new modes and demos helps build that excitement for the impending launch for many of these titles. Follow along with our day two coverage here.
Michelle Balsan
Written by Michelle Balsan
Michelle is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueAchievements and has been a member of staff since 2010. When not contributing to gaming websites, she makes her living as a mild-mannered librarian. She can be compelled to play just about anything if there's a co-op component, and has been playing games with friends and siblings since the Atari 2600. As it's reportedly healthy to have hobbies outside of gaming, she also roots for some of the most difficult sporting franchises to root for, the New York Mets and New York Jets, but offsets that by rooting for the New Jersey Devils. She's also seen pretty much none of the movies you have, but she's working on that.