PAX West 2017: My Favorite Con
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It's that time of year again, Labor Day rolls around and Seattle is full of all things gaming related with PAX once again descending on the two-oh-six. When it comes to celebrating a billion-dollar industry and connecting said industry with fans, this show definitely satisfies that itch. Running coverage at this show, I've found myself to separate much of my coverage between the AAA devs and the smaller indie community. PAX was built on being a convention made for the indie scene and despite going Hollywood they continue to support the little guys... admirable and one of the reasons PAX sits as one of my all time favorite conventions.
To me, PAX West is a show that hits me on the following points; one is the social aspect, checking out all the games (indie and AAA), and of course the cosplay! While PAX West isn't always known as a cosplay centric convention, I'm always impressed with what people come up with for this show.
Living in an Indie Paradise
Indie game studios helped build PAX West; while the AAA devs have increased their prominence at this con since E3 went industry only, the independent developers are arguably the stars of the show. While some of these companies don't have the Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo level of budgets to showcase big and bombastic booths, the indies outnumber AAA titles every year.
I don't plan to get too in depth with some of the games I played, mostly since I wrote an article about my top five favorite showings, but I will say that this year's indie offering has been the best it has been in years. From impressive titles like The Amazing Eternals and Dauntless to more niche titles like Klei's Griftlands and Obduction from Myst/Riven devs Cyan Worlds. I was pulled left and right, checking out as much as I could from these booths. While I was psyched to play some of the AAA titles like Assassin's Creed Origins and the sequel to Shadow of Mordor, to be honest I know what to expect from these titles. I've been a gamer for most of my life, with the emerging prominence of indie games I've found some of the most unique gaming experiences from these titles.
While from the outside looking in, PAX West's indie offering looks similar to recent years... the content was fantastic! I personally had a blast, I just don't know how I will play everything.
The Triple A Crowd
Like previous years, both Sony and Microsoft had huge displays in the north-end of the convention center while Nintendo was one of the largest booths in the south-end. All three showed their hottest products with Sony showing off more PSVR titles, Microsoft featuring their Xbox One X, and Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best... showing off all things Mario. Big titles like Call of Duty WWII, Far Cry 5, and Assassin's Creed Origins were firmly in the spotlight. I played a few titles here and there but most of my time was spent at Microsoft's booth. Sony was heavily featuring games that are already out, like the spin off Uncharted title, and racing games that I honestly don't have much of an interest in; Nintendo featured that distinct Nintendo charm but aside from oogling the pretty display... I wasn't as keen to spend much time there. Microsoft featured several ports of existing PC titles like PUBG and Black Desert Online along with forthcoming titles like the next Assassin's Creed and Cuphead. If I had to pick which display showed off the best of what they have coming... it'd have to be Seattle's hometown heroes at Microsoft.
Not to be outdone by the console manufacturers, a few triple A titles and devs were showcasing some great titles as well. Square Enix had a smaller presence this year, mostly since last year they were primed to release Final Fantasy XV. A few other notable titles were Shadow of War and Far Cry 5, but the biggest showing had to be from Monster Hunter World. Honestly, I haven't really played much of the Monster Hunter franchise. I played a bit of Monster Hunter 4 and while I did enjoy it, I never really got that in to it. My girlfriend is a huge Monster Hunter fan and playing with her I've grown to really enjoy the game... some of it is how I enjoy the fact that my OP bae carries my weak/under-leveled avatar on missions, but mostly it's because it's like having our own personal little date-night hunting down dangerous monsters. We are definitely primed to get Monster Hunter World when it comes out.
The Social Aspect
Convention season is like one big party for me, every year when Spring rolls around I'm all set to hit as many cons as possible while covering these experiences for our fans. One aspect that always sticks out in my mind is the social aspect of the show. For me, this show is hands down my favorite convention of every con I regularly go to. I have always been a huge gamer and sharing this show with the ones I hold near and dear make for a fantastic weekend.
First off, I got to spend two of those days with my girlfriend, though we had recently started dating at the beginning of this Summer I was super jazzed to spend a con with her. She's an artist that regularly vends at shows and while we can hang out when she works shows, covering cons is very social when you run a website so it was a blast to just roam the show-floor with her. As per usual, I also got to spend a few days with my siblings; both my younger brother and younger sister go to this show every year and this makes for the perfect bonding experience for “brother's day”... fun fact, despite us being a trio of two brothers and a sister we call our outings together “brother's day.”
PAX is always best when you can introduce a newbie to the con, and this year was no exception. I took Jay Hammon, my longtime bro and one of our writers here at Lifted Geek, to his very first PAX. It was big and somewhat overwhelming for him... but that's to be expected when you go to your very first PAX.
Of course we have the cosplay, from Overwatch to Final Fantasy the cosplay game at PAX is consistently on point. From folks I haven't met to my long-time con buds, I continue to be impressed by the creativity of the local cosplay community.
The most magical part of conventions is interacting with your fellow geek. It's why I love conventions so much. So in closing, for me, this year's PAX West once again proved why this show is my favorite con. Games as far as the eye can see, interacting with like minded geeks, and of course immersing yourself in all the flashing lights. The spectacle of PAX is intoxicating, it's addicting, it's that special time of year that reminds me why I'm damn proud to be that nerdy gamer kid.