For the 6th year in a row, I made the trek up to Boston for the weekend of gaming overload known as PAX East. Despite having been to so many shows in Boston, I always find something exciting at the show, and sometimes even the city around.
This year I got up to Boston on Wednesday night, which meant that I had that evening and all day Thursday to be around Boston and prep for the weekend. The area around the center has definitely been changing since I started going to the show in 2011. In the time since the first PAX East at the BCEC a number of new hotels, restaurants and shops have popped up around the center, which has made it much easier to get prepared for the show, since there are places to stock up on drinks and snacks, and makes it more enjoyable to be around the center when the show is not going on.
Friday came around and the craziness of the show began! As usual, I started the show by setting up my seat in BYOC and heading straight to the Penny Arcade merch booth to be sure that I was able to get the show merch that everyone in my travel group was interested in. Unfortunately this year that meant waiting in a 2.5 hour line, which was actually the longest line I was in for the whole show this year, but I managed to get everything I needed despite the sell outs, so overall it was worth it. After that it was 3 days of full tilt PAXing. There is too much to put in one post, so here’s a little bit of an overview of my show experience:
This year’s show had the largest show floor by square footage of any PAX to date. The expo floor alone filled 3 of the 4 halls in the BCEC, so it was an ocean of game and gaming peripherals awesomeness. There was a good mix of the big guys, such as Xbox, Sony, Blizzard and 2K, as well as a large indie section and a good number of peripheral and computer manufactures.
While there were a lot of big booths on the floor, Ark: Survival of the Fittest stood out the most, since it had a 3-4 story dinosaur you could climb on for photos.
Logitech also made a statement with their booth, since they built a large wall completely out of keyboards and programmed it to play 8-bit video.
Some of the other big games on the floor were Overwatch, Battleborn and Lawbreakers. All 3 had large booths, with lots of demo stations. Battleborn brought in the same statue that they had at prime, which looked just as impressive in the BCEC.
Overwatch definitely displayed their character art predominately, though to be honest I think my favorite part of the booth was the plush Winston. He is going to have to come home once he is available!
There was a large amount of diversity on the floor though, with everything from rogue like dungeon crawlers (Necropolis) to a game that the dev described as “A super smash brothers RTS” (Tooth and Tail) and quite a few other interesting indie titles.
The way that PAX East is set up means that the PC and Tabletop areas are almost a part of the show floor. They live on the same level and feel like an extension of the show floor, so during the day they feel like you are still part of the spectacle of expo. Of course, these areas stay open later than the show floor which is nice, since it gives a more relaxed pace to these areas.
PC and BYOC was as big as ever, and even had a few new additions. First, Microsoft brought a large number of Surface Books, which were available for freeplay and let people see how powerful the systems really are. There was also a demo section for VR, which would let players get a full VR experience and get a chance to actually get a feel for what it is like to have a VR system. I felt like both of these sections were smart additions on the part of the manufacturers, since it gave them a larger amount of time with potential users to give them a chance to really show why their products are worthwhile. I never made it into either section but the feedback from people who did was definitely positive.
I feel like very little can compete with the sheer scale that is the BCEC Expo space, and PAX has definitely expanded to use all of it. I will be curious to see what they do now, since they are out of space to make it bigger!