My first PAX West is off to a fun start. Thousands of nerds ready to try out some yet to be released games and view all the merch and cosplay. I got my lanyard and press pass the night before and I was off through the booths. Here is what I got a sneak peek at today:
Assassin’s Creed: Origins (PC, PS4, XBOX)
This was as expected for an Assassin’s Creed game. The level of polish for this game is outstanding as it should be with all the prior AC games out today. The sound in my headset wasn’t working so I didn’t get a chance to hear the music or sound effects but the graphics were very stunning. The detail of the trees, the buildings, the NPCs moving through the city made Egypt come to life. The demo started me at level 20 and I was given the freedom to do what I want in the city for 15 minutes.
I decided to pick up a side quest style mission that tasked me with finding some trinkets for a cleric that were deemed valuable. Of course I needed to steal these trinkets. The navigation is easy in this open world and you are given easy to follow checkpoints to find where you should be going. Once I got close to my checkpoint the game instructed me to jump into eagle form where you take control of a pet eagle that is flying above you at all times giving you a birds eye view of the battle to come. There was also an added game play element where the bird was required to find the special loot you were there for. Once I found my objective I jumped back to the Assassin and started scaling the ship the gold was on. Pulling the first victim from the boat and killing him in a quick assassination was pleasing and cleared up the front of the ship for me to jump on board. I encountered a few more enemies and before getting to the trinkets the ship commander showed up and I had to fight him and two of his lackeys. He was difficult to take down, but once I got accustom to his move set and figured out his weakness I took him down quickly. I got the trinkets and returned them to the cleric to finish my mission and my demo.
Overall it was a great experience and very typical of the AC series. A very polished and jam packed AAA title releasing in late October 2017. From what I saw if you liked the previous AC games you will enjoy this new setting and polish along with the origin story. Looking forward to this a few weeks.
This was a very highly anticipated title for me and a booth I jumped to right away because I knew it would be a popular spot all day long. The demo consisted of a team of four taking on one of two monsters AKA behemoths ala Monster Hunter style. You get to choose a weapon from the four different options (Sword, Hammer, Chain Blades, Axe) and I decided to go with a sword. Only one person in my group of four decided to go with a different weapon using the hammer so I didn’t see the Chain Blades or Axe in action.
We ran around taking a look for the behemoth and after a few minutes we found him chillin’ in a field. We were on a beginner setting so the move set of the behemoth was very limited. I thought more moves would come in time but it was the same move set for the entire time we fought him. All of the attacks were easy to avoid and the dodging was fluid. The combo abilities were impactful and varied, I think I had four or five different combos to choose from and it was a good idea to mix them up depending on the move set the behemoth was going to be using next.
Overall it was enjoyable for an Alpha experience. The graphics were ok, but I know they are looking to get more polish into the game in the future. The UI needs some massive work as it currently is very bland and boring. I look forward to playing this game in the future (it is going to be free to play) and see what they continue to add as the production of the game moves forward.
Ashes of Creation (PC)
AoC was one of the only MMO’s that I saw here at PAX (Maybe the only). It is in a pre-alpha stage so it was somewhat rough around the edges but I still enjoyed talking to the creative director to get his vision for the game before we played for a bit. The game takes aspects of both sandbox and theme park MMO’s to blend into what sounds like a great mix. The player driven cities is an intriguing and exciting aspect of the game that I would like to experience down the road. You as a character in the world gets the choice to give your citizenship to a node in the game where you can start the beginnings of a city. From the way it was described it starts as a camp and progresses all the way to a metropolis depending on how many players decide that is where their citizenship resides. From there the story unfolds based on what the players have done and experienced in the world. There are dungeons, raids, and even double raids (2-3 raid groups of 40 working together) as well as PVP and all of the crafting you expect in an MMO.
I got to experience the game play in the PVP mode of the game. It is a 4v4 arena style mode where the objective is to destroy shrines for points as well as killing your opponents. My team didn’t actually know that destroying the shrines was the main objective, we were merely out for blood and we destroyed the other team in kills, but still lost the match. I don’t know how well this heavily objective oriented PVP works but for right now it was fine. The main enjoyment was working with the team and getting kills. The best feature I experienced during the combat was the combo system with the main ability. I was placed onto the role of the Ranger, a ranged bow dps character, and the main attack is a simple bow attack but AoC adds a little bit of a combo system to the basic attacks. When you first use your main skill it immediately shows a bar below your character with a small area where you need to cast the ability again in order to combo your attacks. If you miss the small area in the bar to cast the ability again it will stop the combo and you can start again. Once I got used to it my attacks started stringing together and I was putting out damage fast. The focus system allows you to build up enough power to unleash a powerful ultimate ability, the Ranger’s being a rain of arrows in an AOE form.
I am looking forward to watching the progress of this game. They have an intriguing refer a friend program that allows you to get money off your subscription each month which is a great way to get players and their friends into the game while rewarding them. It is a great marketing program for the game where they don’t pay out marketing dollars unless it is drawing actual players into their game. This is something many other games could utilize to draw in more players.
Ruiner (PC, PS4, XBOX)
Speaking to Creative Director Benedykt Szneider was a blast. He was extremely excited and passionate about the game and for good reason. Ruiner is a fast paced twin stick shooter with great art direction and music. This anime inspired game is about a mysterious character in a mask that is being hacked into by a devious hacker and threatened to do the hackers bidding or else….
The combat is fast and fluid with a copious amount of weapons and abilities to utilize. There are RPG elements where you can upgrade your skills as well as your mechanical arm. There are fun combat elements like slow motion and dashing around quickly that keep your heart rate going while you traverse down hall ways and open rooms. Each weapon is unique with its firing rate or spread and picking them up off enemies is a great way to mix up the combat as well as take out dangerous foes. The shotgun was especially powerful and fun to use.
The development team put all of their resources into the campaign mode but there are plans to create PVP modes later down the road after the game releases which will be a great fit in the style of the game. This will be an exciting game to pick up on console or PC when it releases at the end of September.
Total War: Warhammer 2 (PC)
SEGA had a massive set up with a great booth for two different Total War games. Total War: Arena and Total War: Warhammer 2. I was able to get into the Warhammer 2 booth to take a look and I saw pretty much what I expected to see. The game is very polished with some great special character additions.
I was able to play 2 different battles (unfortunately the campaign was closed down) and the first was the Dark Elves vs the High Elves. I played as the Dark Elves and took the battle straight to the High Elves. The enemy had much better and more archers than I did and I didn’t properly utilize the units at my disposal to beat them back but it was still a close fight. The things I noticed that they did a great job on this iteration of the Warhammer version of Total War is adding more animations to the fights if you scroll in to get a close look at the armies and the addition of multiple abilities for special characters to use. Utilizing generals and their abilities can turn the tide of combat in your favor and using them incorrectly can be punished by the enemy.
The second battle was the rats vs the lizards (I do not know the proper names). It was a much easier match as I was playing as the Rats and their play style is very similar to the Zerg in Starcraft where they have plenty of numbers even though the units are fairly weak. They also had more ranged units and some nice artillery that the Dark Elves did and I was able to use that to my advantage to push back the lizard people.
All in all its was a typical Total War experience. Getting the ability to test the campaign would have been nice, but I do understand as that typically takes at least an hour to get a good campaign even started let alone getting anything going that is meaningful. If you enjoyed the first Total War: Warhammer you will like this one as it seems it is mainly an expansion pack in adding characters and lands to fight on.