PAX Australia 2015 – The Greatest Show This Year
Melbourne. It is known as Australia’s sporting capital, but I have come to know it as Australia’s seasonal capital, in that it is the only place four seasons can deliver their whether in one day. October is definitely a time where this seasonal clash can happen, frequently and dramatically. But there is more than enough reasons to visit this weather hell hole in October with the PAX Australia being held for the third consecutive year. After a quite brilliant offering to geeks, nerds, gamers and the like last year, was PAX going to be able to reach the heights of the 2014 showing? Would Melbourne again turn its char on and give us heat, sun, rain and cold chilling winds again? The answer to both these questions was a resounding YES!
This year PAX Aus had few notable pieces missing from the last year’s extravaganza. To my dislike Cards Against Humanity were absent, yet for fans of the often hilarious and downright offensive card game there were nightly games to join in. The absence of the crew was disappointing though, but the biggest woe of return attendees was the non-inclusion of Riot Games. Not being a LoL fan myself I was not bothered by their absence but I admit hearing repeatedly among pundits, “Where is Riot”, “No LoL, that sucks”. You could certainly notice Riot missing, last year they had a prime spot in the middle of the expo hall, in toe with a mosh pit of screaming moba fans. However the additions far outweighed these missing pieces.
This year the mosh pit was located at the entrance end of the expo floor with an ESL area showcasing some most excellent gamers battling out live across numerous games. Halo, Rocket League, Smite were all held over the weekend and it made for great viewing. I knew I was only average at Rocket League, after watching these guys I realise I am even less skilled than I first thought.
In addition to the ESL there was an old face in the industry but first timer to PAX Aus that had heads spinning. SONY Playstation had a huge area, showing off a most impressive catalogue, including Uncharted 4 Multi player and the Playstation VR (formally known as Morpheus). It was great to see the final major player attending PAX Aus for the first time. Alongside other publishers, MS Xbox, Namco Bandai, Nintendo, Bethesda, 2K, Ubisoft and EA
(who were amalgamated with Playstation on the floor) were all present. The array of new and incoming titles from the big publishers was aplenty, appeasing the gaming community. In addition the PAX Rising section for Indie developers was massive. If it was not larger than last year it certainly felt it and the stuff these many, many small studios had on show was ultra-impressive. I spent many hours wandering the Indy section and checking out some the most enjoyable, most innovative games I had seen for quite some time, it was truly impressive.
The PC hardware section seemed to have grown also with a huge on offer. I lost count of how many headset I tried on, mouses I felt and keyboards I mashed. I was also surprised that after trying on these headsets my head attracted not one source of head lice! There was hardware to try, things to buy and a ridiculous amount of give aways all weekend from industry heavy weights such as Intel, Logitech, Kingston Hyper X, Steel Series, Astro, Origin PC, Alienware and Cougar all well represented.
Then there was the community end, the place that sets PAX apart from general gaming shows. The panel list was large and varied, if you wanted to hear anything from how some of the games are built, to how to get in to the industry or even watch entertaining cooking or comedic panels there was one for you. The range was greater than last year and thankfully there was zero issues on attending what you wished with ample seating available.
The console tournaments were back and it was awesome to attempt to show some skills. This year there was a massive PC section set up by the fine folk at Intel. I was quite bummed to be missing the Hearthstone tourney, (they only held one) but I had an appointment with SONY VR, so all ended well. I did get a lesson on NBA 2K15 and even Pete, CD’s master at Killer Instinct could only muster a second place. Then there were the real tournaments, the ones that grew hair on your private spots, the retro tournaments. The Classic Console area (co-hosted by our sister site Retro Domination) included, for the first time, pinball and arcade machines, complete with tournaments! These were hugely popular and the inclusion of pinballs created a huge buzz.
For the less video, more physical gamers among us was the table top area. I was really keen to spend more time here this year. I learnt how to play X-Wing miniatures which was extremely cool (now to rob a bank to buy an armada). There was a massive amount of new board games to try or buy. Of course Magic was strongly represented and I thoroughly enjoyed trolling some
of the Magic staffers by taking an intro class, acting as I had never played and beating them to a pulp. There was miniature painting classes, free play gaming everywhere and a great amount of stores with some pretty sweet show deals.
Yep, PAX Aus 2015 pretty much had everything, it was a geeks wet dream. The super cool vide of people being who they are without judgement was as always a blessing. People from all walks of life converge in a city with all types of weather, for the common enjoyment of gaming and being themselves. This year’s show has set a new standard, the only downside, working out what to do with weekends till next October!
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