The weekend that just passed played host to PAX East 2019 in Boston, MA. This past weekend, the gaming community gathered together to celebrate games, settle old arguments and play some new shit in Boston, home of PAX East. But now the consoles are off, the booths have been taken down, and everyone has said their goodbyes. Another PAX is complete.
I've always enjoyed the PAX shows. I've been going since 2012 and covered most of the recent show professionally. As I said back in 2015 during the first PAX South: "I've been to a number of gaming-related conventions over the years, but PAX holds a special place in my heart. I don't get to travel abroad for Gamescom or EGX, so PAX is my chance to see developers and fans interact. For many devs, it's the first time they get to see their hard work reach real people. (Not that I'm not real, but it's different. I always feel like I have to be measured in my excitement when a dev asks "What did you think?")"
USG parent company Gamer Network was acquired by PAX operator Reed Exhibitions last year, changing our connection to the shows slightly. What hasn't changed is my love for PAX, especially PAX East. East is one of the few gaming events on the East Coast that's more general in nature, contrasting with MagFest and Games Done Quick, which each have a clearer focus.
And East, like West, is one of the few events that splits its time between the community and gaming industry itself. At PAX East you can catch major announcement of highly anticipated games alongside panels about using an Easy-Bake Oven. E3 is increasingly trying to be PAX, but it'll be hard to shed that event's more corporate image.
PAX East 2019 was no different than previous events. Gearbox Software took up the main stage at the show to finally announce Borderlands 3, a game that looks to be the previous titles with some extra heat on them. Bethesda executive producer Todd Howard talked about some of the difficulties during the development of Fallout 76, then revealed that Skyrim Grandma will be a character in The Elder Scrolls 6. With the Mortal Kombat 11 closed beta running on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One over the same weekend, Netherrealm quietly showcased the Nintendo Switch version for the first time. It runs fantastically, a testament to Netherrealm commitment to making MK sing on all platforms. Nadia also took a gander at Dragon Quest Builders 2, which expands the series to multiple islands that need you building expertise.
Even beyond that, PAX is a place where smaller developers and indies shine. I took a look at Divinity: Fallen Heroes, a surprise announcement from Larian Studios. I found a game that looks to correct some of the errors made with Larian's previous Divinity: Dragon Commander; navigate complex relationships and politics in addition to a dangerous battlefield. Kat played Steamworld Quest, a deck-based RPG that's nothing like Steamworld Dig and Heist, while carrying Image & Form's unique art style and humorous spin. Yacht Club Games showed off Cyber Shadow, a game from a one-man development team that's benefiting from the Shovel Knight developer's publishing and gameplay expertise.
And that's only some of what we saw at PAX East 2019. Over the course of the rest of this week, you'll be seeing more previews and interviews with developers big and small. You'll be reading about Supermassive Games' Man of Medan, Phoenix Labs' Dauntless, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, more indies, and the new Oculus headsets. The show might be over, but there's more of PAX East to read up on.
But that's not all USG did at the show! We were on several panels over the course of the weekend, and some of them were even streamed! Kat and Nadia took on our sister site VG247 in a Dreamcast competition, and the only thing that prevented us from winning was Power Stone allowing two winners. Sadly, it was a draw, despite Kat stomping over the competition. Nadia and I joined USG alum Jeremy Parish on a Retronauts panel where we talked about classic games that obviously missed the point of their movie and television counterparts. I also hosted two panels on the Albatross stage, both of which you can view in archive over on Twitch.Watch PAX EAST 2019 - ALBATROSS THEATRE from PAX2 on www.twitch.tv
The first was a look at the fictional history of the Assassin's Creed franchise, charting the storylines of each game chronologically. That panel, which also included Ward Games co-founder Dylan Ilvento and Gameranx producer Tom Johnson, was a ton of fun, even if I got one fairly major bit of AC history wrong. As it turns out, Assassin's Creed: Rogue protagonist Shay Cormax killed Arno Dorian's father, not Edward Kenway. I mixed up the scene with Edward and Haythem at the Theatre Royal with Arno and his father Charles at the Palace of Versailles. Rich people places always look the same; mea culpa and all that.Watch PAX EAST 2019 - ALBATROSS THEATRE from PAX2 on www.twitch.tv
The second panel was the first one in Albatross on Sunday, tackling Bethesda's Fallout 76. That game didn't have the best launch, though Bethesda's working on making things better. To that end, myself and co-hosts Susan Arendt (DZone editor-in-chief) and Ethan Gach (Kotaku writer) had a few suggestions about making the game a bit better and more meaningful for players. A Bethesda representative even came up afterwards and said they enjoyed the panel!
It was an excellent show overall and you can expect to see more of the USG team at future PAX events, bringing you further coverage and kickass panels. We want you entertained and informed, but more importantly we want to become closer to you, our community. If you joined us at PAX East 2019, thank you, and we hope to see you all more in the future!
Major Game Releases This Week: April 1 to April 5
Here are the major releases for the week of April 1 to April 5. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2019.
- Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid [April 2, PS4]: It's a Power Rangers fighting game, celebrating the history of a franchise that's been running since 1993. Developed by the same team that brought us Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, Battle for the Grid seeks to provide a host of rangers in tag-team brawls.
- We Happy Few: They Came From Below DLC [April 4, PS4, Xbox One, PC]: We Happy Few gets its first DLC update with They Came From Below. The story of the DLC will focus on James and Roger, two NPCs from the main story campaign, as they explore the underground in search of Dr. Faraday.
- Enter The Gungeon: A Farewell to Arms [April 5, Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC]: Another free update for the indie dungeon crawler is coming this week. A Farewell to Arms adds 20 new guns and a few new bosses to kill with those guns. Take on the forms of two new Gungeoneers in this update to an excellent game.
- Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission [April 5, Switch, PC]: Dragon Ball Heroes is a card-battling spinoff of the Dragon Ball games, previously only seeing release in Japan. The first entry debuted in Japanese arcades in 2010, with 3DS port Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission coming to Japan in 2013. Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission will be the first Western release of the series, this time on Nintendo Switch. It'll include all of the cards from the previous versions of the game, up to the recent Universe Mission set.
This Week's News and Notes
- Kat talked to the The Outer Worlds directors Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, who tackled why fans shouldn't be worried about the game being as buggy as past Obsidian Entertainment titles. "I don't think we've ever had a game that was fully playable from start to finish so early in development," Cain told USG. That bodes well for the upcoming release, even if fans are still angry about it being an Epic Games Store exclusive.
- Valve isn't completely done with the hardware grind yet. The company was teasing the Index, a new virtual reality headset, but then it accidentally set the Steam page for the device live today. According to the page, the Valve Index will be shipping on June 15. The hardware itself seems to be slimmed down, like the recently-revealed Oculus Rift S, but no price has been given yet. We'll know more when Valve has its announcement event on May 1.
- Last week, Sega surprised us with the announcement of Project Sakura Wars for PlayStation 4. The strategy and dating sim mix hasn't seen an official entry in 14 years, with the last entry hitting the PlayStation 2 in Japan back in 2005. Project Sakura Wars has 428: Shibuya Scramble director Jiro Ishii as the game's story writer, manga artist Tite Kubo (Bleach) as character designer. Even better, Project Sakura Wars will be coming to North America, though we currently only know the Japanese Spring 2020 release date.
- You can already play Diablo 3: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch, but it'll soon have competition in the form of Torchlight 2. Perfect World is working with Panic Button to bring Torchlight 2 and Hob to the platform. That stings as Runic Games, the original developer of both games, was shut down by Perfect World already, with the next Torchlight game coming from developer Echtra Games.
- Final Fantasy 15 is finally final. Following the departure of Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata from Square Enix, the company canceled all plans for further development on the title. That means Episode Ardyn is the end of the line. Hirun took a look at the DLC, which tries to provide some context for the game's villain and finally let players explore the city of Insomnia. It doesn't quite stick the landing, but if you've already been on the FF15 train, you might as well take this last ride.
- Hyper Light Drifter is getting an animated series. We don't know where the series will air, but it is coming from producer Adi Shankar, who had a hit with the Castlevania animated series on Netflix. Shankar is sticking to the gaming world in the future, with animated projects for Devil May Cry and Assassin's Creed in the works. Hyper Light Drifter is still in the early days, and the details aren't firmed up yet, but Shankar and Hyper Light Drifter director Alx Preston want to build something that's as cool as the game itself.
- Finally, former Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai is retiring from the company completely. Hirai already stepped down from the CEO position in early 2018, with CFO Kenichiro Yoshida replacing him in the role. Now Hirai is leaving his current roles of Director and Chairman, meaning he'll have nothing to do with Sony whatsoever. It's the end of era.