This year’s PAX East was incredibly successful. There were more games on the show floor than any human could possibly play during the three day show. Nonetheless, we got our hands on as many as possible.
Making a list of the best games of the show wasn’t easy. We tried to boil it down to five, but that wasn’t happening. We decided on 11. An odd number perhaps, but we feel that size allows us to incorporate all of the games that we feel have a chance to make some huge waves in the industry.
Below you can see the best games of PAX East 2014.
The Best Games of PAX East 2014
I’m always in the mood for a dark and brooding adventure. I can thank Capybara games for coming through. I thoroughly enjoyed their previous work with 2012’s
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. Below is another collaboration between the development team and musician Jim Guthrie who will once again be providing the game’s soundtrack.
This time around, the perspective is pulled back to accentuate the mysterious island setting. Gameplay is also action oriented, with promises of challenging combat and permanent character death. You may be sick of the term roguelike, but when done right, it’s immensely satisfying.
There’s currently no release date, but
Below is confirmed for PC and Xbox One.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Oh hell yes! Give me more
Borderlands any day of the week. Even though The Pre-Sequel is being developed by 2K Australia instead of Gearbox, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the 20 minute preview at PAX. 2K is fully embracing the action gameplay from the series and taking it to new heights, literally.
Placing the game’s setting on Pandora’s moon allows for exciting new gameplay, with lower gravity for further jumps, and oxygen tanks that can be used as jet packs. The four new characters (including Claptrap) compliment the moon’s unique features and have me dying to try out the new abilities, items, and talent trees.
As a reminder, if you plan on purchasing this on a console, the game will only be available for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Child of Light
Ubisoft surprised me when they announced a $15 price tag for
Child of Light. It goes to show not every game released by a large company instantly requires $60 out of our pockets. Even though it may be a quarter the cost of other AAA games, Child of Light has twice the charm.
As RPGs go, I expect a strong story. I know this one will be a joy to play through. The game’s rhyming narrative and dark fairy tale theme work perfectly with the hand painted art style. It’s an effective package to say the least.
The active-time battle system brings a new pace and strategy to combat. I only had a limited amount of time to play at PAX, but I wanted more. Building out my party and choosing where to spend skill points gives me the chance to make my experience unique. I can’t wait to get ahold of the game and start experimenting.
Defense Grid 2
I once mistakenly thought tower defense games were only fit for casual mobile and social gaming. Boy was I wrong. Speaking with the CEO of Hidden Path entertainment on the show floor, he explained how the development company dissected over 80 other popular tower defense games to understand the core of what players enjoyed the most.
Defense Grid 2 actively puts these features at the forefront of the gamer experience, while staying true to original game’s core design.
I was impressed by the amount of information available to players. Toggling a variety of overlays on and off, I was able to view the optimal path the enemy AI would take, a “heat map” that showed where the range of my towers overlapped to deal the most damage, and a live graph of my current score in relation to milestones set by the game or other players.
With each new layer of detail, my infographic and spreadsheet-loving nerd brain sparked to life. When you add this all together with a rotating camera, updated graphics, a level editor, and co-op and competitive modes; an incredibly deep and replayable game emerges.
This was a real thrill to finally get my hands on. Sci-fi is my preferred genre, and even though the
Left 4 Dead franchise got me back into multiplayer shooters, it’s a nice bonus to get away from killing zombies for a while.
I immediately felt that connection to my teammates while playing
Evolve. I can easily picture the nightly sessions, screaming over chat as we tirelessly hunt for that sweet alien bounty.
As soon as I walked away from the demo, I was plotting which classes I wanted to play first when the game releases. The variety in gameplay and levels of strategy Turtle Rock is promising keeps me wanting more. This is a game I won’t be passing on, and tops my list of favorite games from PAX East 2014.
FRACT, you’re dropped into a world without sound. There is no text, and no directions to help you find your way. The simple UI and tutorial are meant to stay out of your way as you explore a world reminiscent of the original Tron movie with more moving parts. By solving puzzles, many of which involve music, you help to rebuild the world and restore sound.
FRACT is an exploration game with a lot of heart. Filled with glowing neon, and ever changing geometry, the levels are enjoyable enough to wander through without touching anything. As you complete challenges, the soundtrack evolves to include the music you’ve created. There’s even an in game studio that allows you to create and share tracks you create.
Unlike Jeff Bridges, I doubt I’ll need an experimental laser to suck me into this game.
Heroes of the Storm
I started playing Blizzard games almost two decades ago. It’s a scary thought, but it makes more sense to me why I’m a little more excited for
Heroes of the Storm than I should be. I’ve never once asked myself, “Who would win in a fight between Arthas and Diablo?” Now I don’t have to.
Heroes takes the iconic characters from Blizzard’s best franchises and pits them against each other in their upcoming MOBA. The level of thought and attention to detail being put into the game is staggering. The developers have to get certain things right that never would’ve crossed my mind, like how tall Muradin is compared to Nova, or how fast the Elite Tauren Chieftain should swing.
The challenge and beauty of this game, is the relationship the fans have to the characters. Jumping into a match, a player should instinctively know how a Demon Hunter is going to move and use its abilities. In true Blizzard fashion, they’re accomplishing this goal while at the same time making it easy for newcomers to jump right into the action and not feel overwhelmed. I simply cannot wait.
Hyper Light Drifter
I’ve watched the Kickstarter trailer for
Hyper Light Drifter every morning since checking the game out on the show floor of PAX. Something about the imaginative art style of developer Alex Preston resonates with me. I love everything about it.
The gameplay is fast and challenging, forcing players to learn from their mistakes. I’m going to have to put extra effort into this game, because I can’t wait to discover all the secrets it holds. Without a traditional narrative, it’s up to us to solve the mystery of the Drifter’s powers on our own.
I must not be the only one ready to see the game released, considering the team received triple its original funding goal in its first day.
I honestly hope developers continue this trend of making local co-op games. We all know the experience is so much more rewarding when the person you’re playing against is sitting next to you rather than some faceless stranger over the internet.
Sportsfriends is one of the games that made me stop in my tracks as I walked by. Four guys sitting on ottomans were laughing, shouting, and pushing each other as mayhem broke out on the screen. Sportsfriends is a collection of four games, the first of which “Super Pole Riders,” got our attention. Using only the twin sticks, up to four players pole vault across the screen in order to kick a ball suspended on a zip line toward an opposing target.
It’s something you really have to see to believe, and have to play to understand.
I’m cheating a little bit here. Robert Space Industries wasn’t actually on the show floor, but they did show off gameplay during their panel at PAX. This is the first time anyone of us have seen
Star Citizen‘s dogfighting in action. If you couldn’t tell how much anticipation the game built from its record setting crowd funding campaign, then just watch the video from PAX and listen to all the cheers, chants and shouting throughout the presentation.
Something as simple as shooting asteroids brought me right back to my childhood playing Wing Commander. The game looks stellar in its current form. I love the uncompromising approach the developers are taking to the space combat simulator.
I consistently struggle to not let the hype get to me, but this one time I’ll let my guard down. Feeling genuinely excited about a game without being cautious is risky, but
Star Citizen has the potential to make it all worthwhile.
This War of Mine
I was torn on whether or not to include
This War of Mine on the list, considering the games that wouldn’t make the cut because of it. The game offers something unique that I always appreciate: perspective.
Set during a brutal war, the player takes on the role of a small group of citizens. Trapped in a city ravaged by combat, players navigate the challenges of surviving in a harsh environment. Food, water, medicine, sleep, and electricity are all vital to staying alive.
This War of Mine is all about tough choices; the ones that stick with you for a long time after you’ve put the game down. It was all inspired by the diaries of a man who lived through a war in Yugoslavia, not far from the developers home in Poland. Seeing war through the eyes of the victims rather than the stereotypical hero fantasy with no repercussions is something I feel is very valuable.
I’m sure I’ll need to play plenty of Sportsfriends in order to wind down afterwards.