PAX East 2013 has come to pass. Now that the doors to the Boston Convention Center have closed, we've gathered together a list of out top five moments from the show.
Have a look, and let us know your favorite moment, or most anticipated title you spotted there.
1. Cliff Bleszinski opens the show
We've been fans of Bleszinski, a.k.a Cliffy B, since before he made Gears of War, becoming a household name and forcing us all to learn how to spell his surname. The man who gave us Marcus Fenix, worked on Unreal Tournament and the adorably aggressive Jazz Jackrabbit (think Bugs Bunny meets Rambo) proved himself something of a raconteur on Friday.
"Storytime with Cliff Bleszinksi" was the first major headline event of PAX East this year, and it did not disappoint.
The former design director of Epic Games took the stage to "Guile's Theme" from Street Fighter II, and things only got better from there. Bleszinksi shared moments from his childhood, some warm, some painful, his favorite games growing up, and his interest in futuristic gaming tech like the Oculus Rift.
While we were disappointed that he offered no hints as to where his career will take him next, we weren't really expecting him to drop a bombshell like that at PAX. And, after comparing his childhood to this Far Side comic, the man could do no wrong.
2. Bioware working on 'a whole new fictional universe'
Gamers may not have been thrilled with the way it ended, but for the most part, the world loves the Mass Effect series. And Dragon Age isn't bad either. These are both massive works of interactive fiction, if we may use the term, and both are by the prolific developer Bioware.
Few developers are so skilled at dropping players into a living, breathing world, so it's worth sitting up and taking note when Bioware says it's working on something entirely new. Despite the finality of Mass Effect 3, another entry in the series is a given, so it's excellent to hear that Bioware will be breaking new fictional ground.
It leaves us wondering about its setting, since Bioware has done sci-fi and high fantasy. Wherever these guys want to take us next, we're ready to buy a ticket.
3. Diablo 3 hits the PS3
Blizzard, the iconic World of Warcraft developer that's been PC-only for the last 20 years, is readying a version of Diablo 3 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. In fact, we'd say it's pretty close to ready, because it was playable on the PAX East show floor.
It wasn't unveiled with much fanfare. Most attendees we mentioned it to didn't know it was even at the show, and subsequently dashed off to try and get a glimpse. And just how is it? Kotaku has said it "could very well be the best" version of the game.
4. The return of DuckTales
Perhaps re-release is the more appropriate term, but at PAX Capcom overloaded our nostalgia sensors with this video:
That's right, the classic NES game DuckTales is being remastered and released on all major consoles: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the Wii U. Best of all, the only thing being altered are the visuals. The gameplay, music, even the voice acting will be based entirely on the original. Ninety-four-year-old Alan Young even stepped back into the recording booth to give life to Scrooge McDuck, hopefully not for the last time.
If you're unfamiliar with the game, know that its something of an anomaly. Games based on children's properties were (and sometimes still are) often phoned-in, inessential dreck. DuckTales, however, was just as good as the fast-paced, delightfully characterized cartoon it was based on. Personally, we can't wait to get back to Duckburg.
5. The Indie Megabooth makes good on its name
What we love most about PAX is that it's a show with its heart in the right place. It's about the fans and the games, and not necessarily the biggest games at the show. Hence the Indie Megabooth, which had more than 60 games on display.
Calling it a single booth, even a Megabooth, doesn't really do it justice, and there were so many unique titles there. Contrast, the Moulin Rouge-inspired shadowy platformer; Super Time Force, where getting killed and starting over takes on a whole new meaning; and Outlast, a survival-horror game with no combat, just running, hiding and shaking in fear. There was also a game called Drunken Robot Pornography, whose first-person shooter gameplay seemed to have little to do with its title, but we loved it anyway.
Update: PAX East 2013 is up and running. Check back here for the rundown on all of TechRadar's coverage of the show. And if you're looking for the Pax schedule, you'll find it here.
PAX East 2013 is off and running, and we're on the ground in Boston to give you the latest news and first hands on reviews of everything on the show floor. Keep checking back to this page for updates as we sniff out all the need-to-know info.
A second swing at Nvidia's Project Shield
At CES 2013 we had our first hands-on with Project Shield, right after Nvidia revealed that it would be taking a stab at the mobile gaming market. Running Android 4.1: Jelly Bean and able to stream PC titles over WiFi, the Shield could really shake up the mobile market. Or it could fall on its face if can't carve out the proper niche.
We got off our feet for a while to play some Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Read our updated hands on for our latest thoughts on the device.
The Moga goes Pro
Power A knew it was on to something with compact and collapsible Moga Pocket. Now its showing the Moga Pro, an Android gaming controller that smacks of an Xbox 360 controller.
Cliff Bleszinski on the future of VR
The Gears of War creator and Xbox 360 mogul had plenty to share during his "Storytime with Cliff Bleszinski" during the first day of PAX.
At the top of the topic list was proclaiming his love for Oculus Rift and his dreams for the day when the virtual reality gear becomes the gaming industry standard. Bleszinski had this to say about Oculus:
"[W]e're moving more and more to that ultimate fantasy experience where you're essentially living the dream with that level of immersion."
Sounds pretty awesome to us.
Take a look at what we're expecting to see at the show
More on PAX East 2013
On March 22-24, the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, will be upon us. Gamers of the digital and tabletop variety (think Dungeons & Dragons) will invade Boston for PAX East, one of four PAX sessions scheduled for this year.
You read that right, you can mark PAX not once, not twice, but four times on your calendar this year. That's how fervent a following Penny Arcade, the webcomic and video game news source created by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, has garnered. So much so that last year's PAX Prime in Seattle had 70,000 fans in attendance.
- Official PAX Site
All single- and three-day passes to PAX East have already sold out - sorry if we've teased you only to burst your bubble. However, when the show rolls around, please sit back and enjoy TechRadar's on the ground coverage of PAX East, and start planning your trip to the next PAX show.
What is PAX?
As mentioned, PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo. Penny Arcade is the webcomic illustrated by Krahulik and written by Holkins since 1998. The strip serves as a mouthpiece for the pair's funny, insightful and occasional filthy commentary on all things gaming and the industry surrounding it.
The first PAX was a 4,500-person event held in Bellevue, Wash. in 2004. The show has grown like a weed since then, with four sessions being held this year. PA fans, cosplayers (fans dressed as their favorite characters), and gamers alike can flock to PAX Prime and PAX Dev in Seattle, Pax East in Boston, and the newly added PAX Aus in Melbourne, Australia.
What will be at PAX East 2013?
Held in the sizable Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, PAX East is the second largest session of the show, after the aptly named PAX Prime. Starting March 22, PAX will showcase game designers over two days ranging from the big to the indie to the downright analog.
While the precise schedule has yet to be announced, preliminary information has been bubbling to the surface. In addition to booth after booth of gaming, there will also be live entertainment such as keynotes, musical acts and forums with artists and hosts Holkins and Krahulik will be milling about as well.
Based on tentative schedule information, here's what you'll see at PAX East, and what we expect from the show:
The Indie Showcase
According to the PAX website, the Indie Showcase is "a collection of the best indie games you've never heard of available on mobile platforms." These developers may have small budgets, but they're flush with creativity, and are designing for iOS 6 and Android.
So far the Indie Show includes seven games, and here they are:
Little Chomp: A platformer (think Super Mario Bros) and physics puzzle game starring the titular caterpillar, Little Chomp.
Third Eye Crime: Not to be confused with the band from the 90s, Third Eye Crime is a stealth/puzzle game starring a psychic art thief. This game a has a film noir visual style and a swanky jazz soundtrack to match.
Major Magnet: According to its description, Major Magnet is a new kind of platformer promising "an adventure unlike any the mobile world has seen before." Intriguing, no?
Orion's Forge: A puzzle game built on a narrative that has you helping Orion to forge to new constellations.
Saturday Morning RPG: A role playing game with a story and visual style harkening back to the Saturday morning cartoons of the 1980s. Guide Martin "Marty" Michael Hall through his high school to a battle with the evil Commander Hood. Sounds like something for Scott Pilgrim fans, or anyone who likes a little animated nostalgia with their games.
Spaceteam: An out-there sounding co-op title for iOS. From the game's description: "Spaceteam is a co-op iOS party game for two to four players who shout technobabble at each other until their ship explodes...You need to follow time-sensitive instructions. However, the instructions are being sent to your teammates, so you have to coordinate with them before the time runs out. Also, the ship is falling apart. And you're trying to outrun an exploding star. Good luck." Count us in, Spaceteam.
Time Surfer :"Surf until your doom catches up - then rewind time and keep going!" A title with gameplay that recalls the slingshot simplicity of Angry Birds and the time-bending of indie darling Braid? Sign us up.
Helping indies reach a wider audience is near and dear to the heart of the show. At past PAXes, medium-pushing titles like Fez, Journey and Unfinished Swan have been given a pulpit from which to preach their arty approach. Expect to see more than just iOS 6 and Android titles, as the convention floor will be littered with booths featuring games big and small.
Story time with Cliffy B
A PAX show always has its fair share of industry movers and shakers, and nobody has moved and shaken the industry like Cliff Bleszinski, aka Cliffy B, aka Dude Huge, aka the creator of Gears of War.
This is the man who overhauled the third-person shooter genre with finely tuned cover mechanics and precise camera angles. After three Gears titles on the Xbox 360, and with a fourth entry on the horizon, he announced a new PC-only title Fortnite, only to up and leave his position as design director for Epic Games.
Bleszinski will join the show as a Storytime Speaker, so we can be sure that Bleszinski will discuss his storied background in the industry. The man has worked on not only the Gears games, but also on the classic shooter Unreal Tournament and cult side-scroller Jazz Jackrabbit. We hope he discusses his plans for the future, as well as the fate of Fortnite.
We're also expecting commentary on the place of the new Unreal Engine 4 within the new console cycle. Bleszinski's former employer Epic Games is the home of the Unreal Engine, which numerous developers license to build games.
The upcoming Fortnite is to be the first Unreal Engine 4 title. Its hardware demands, and plans to continually update the title a la Valve's Team Fortress 2, has necessitated a PC-only release. That hasn't stopped Bleszinski and friends from saying that a release on next-gen systems like PS4 and Xbox 720 is not out of the question.
- Watch: Unreal Engine 4 video demo
One question that lingers in our minds: since Fortnite is meant to be a living, evolving title with continual updates, who will be steering the ship now that Bleszinski is gone? And how much notice did Epic Games have regarding his departure?
Diablo 3 for consoles
Fortnite isn't the only game with a console release that we're curious about. Attentive viewers to Sony's PlayStation 4 broadcast will remember a mention of PAX East when Blizzard's story and franchise man Chris Metzen took the stage.
Metzen dropped the bombshell that hellacious action-RPG Diablo III will be making the leap to PlayStation 3 and PS4. He also said the first playable version would be unveiled at PAX East.
Obviously, this will be the PS3 version being demoed, since the PS4 has yet to actually be revealed, but perhaps Blizzard will talk more about this leap to the console space? Will the sinfully addictive Diablo will be coming to Xbox 720 or maybe even the Wii U, as well as Sony's new system? One can only hope.
A musical mashup
PAX shows always feature plenty of musical acts regaling the crowds with songs of geekery, and PAX East 2013 will be no different. So far the announced lineup includes VGO, Those Who Fight, Protomen, Sam Hart, MC Frontalot, Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm.
Among those names Jonathan Coulton is likely the most famous. Until recently, he was known mainly as the man behind hilarious and pathos-filled songs at the end of Portal and Portal 2. Now, Coulton has been in the spotlight as the man who may have been ripped off by Glee.
Recently, Coulton was all over the entertainment newswires when he accused the Fox hit Glee of knocking off his acoustic cover of Sir-Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." Coulton and Glee's arrangements are indeed very similar, and singer-songwriter is still investigating legal avenues for the situation.
Singing comedy duo Paul and Storm have had a recent uptick of fame as well, thanks to a viral video of their tune "Write Like the Wind (George R. R. Martin)." Martin is the author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, which has been adapted by HBO as the wildly popular A Game of Thrones. Their song mocks Martin's notoriously drawn-out writing process, imploring him to hurry up and finish the series before he or his fans expire.
The question is, will these entertainers be playing the (in Coulton's case controversial) hits? Or will they have new music to debut for the gaming-friendly crowd?
Updated: Events are filling up! Some of these shows have sold out and are marked as such.
When it comes to parties, PAX goers know how to throw down. There are always a ton of nightlife events hosted by different companies and organizations where attendees can mingle.
At this late date most of the guest lists are full, but we've assembled a list of every get together we could find that still has a ticket for sale or room for an RSVP:
Mad Catz Unveiled PAX East 2013
When: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:00 PM - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 1:00 AM
Where: Guilt 275 Tremont St Boston, MA 02111
Admission: $50 Buy tickets
Update: The event is now sold out but Mad Catz has made it free! If you paid for a ticket expect a refund. For a chance at winning tickets, check out Mad Catz on Facebook.
Official description: "You're invited to experience Mad Catz Unveiled, an exclusive pre-PAX East event! Get hands-on time with pre-release titles before PAX, one-on-one experience with the Mad Catz gaming team, meet industry insiders, and socialize with the pro gaming ladies of LT3."
PAX East "Made in MA" Party 2013
When: Thursday, March 21, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where: Microsoft NERD One Memorial Drive Cambridge, MA 02142
Admission: $50 Buy tickets
Official description: "MassTLC would like to welcome all exhibitors for PAX East and game developers to our 4th annual party to celebrate the local Massachusetts gaming industry and all it has to offer. Join us to see firsthand how Massachusetts has become a leading gaming hub and the amazing community of game developers, gamers, investors, students and enthusiasts that have made it such a success. This networking event will take place the night before PAX East starts, March 22, and we are expecting a packed house with more than 1200 guests! Register now!"
Destroy Boston: The official Structure Gaming pre-PAX Pub Crawl (21+)
When: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9PM – 1AM
Where: Papagayo Boston, 283 Summer St, Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Admission: Facebook event
A night of drinks and camaraderie hosted by the staff of the Structure Gaming site, kicking off at Papagayo. Despite the destructive name, it looks to be a classy affair. "Proper dress" is required, and there will be a toast to the recently shuttered developer THQ. Very classy indeed. 21+ obviously.
Turbine Pax East Fan Appreciation Party!
When: Friday, March 22nd from 8:30 PM to 12:30 PM
Where: Jillians Lucky Strike, 145 Ipswich Street, Boston, MA 02215
"Join us Friday, March 22, 2013 from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM At Jillian's Boston. Meet members of the AC, DDO, and LOTRO dev teams. The buffet will be loaded up with great munchies, including some vegetarian offerings and of course there will be great swag and raffles for those that attend. You might be lucky enough to walk away with a lifetime subscription to the game of your choice or other great door prizes. Plus, if you're one of the first 200 people through the door, we'll buy your first drink (beer, wine, or soft drinks)!"
Admission: Free, and no PAX Badge is required. Send an RSVP email
Curse's WildStar PAX East After Party (21+)
When: Saturday, March 23rd from 9 PM to 2 AM
Where: Seaport Boston Hotel 1 Seaport Lane Boston, MA 02210
Admission: Free RSVP
"Curse is throwing a MASSIVE party for our fans and community at PAX East 2013 in Boston. The party will feature premium bar, DJ, party favors, and a gaming area where you will be able to preview the highly anticipated MMO, Carbine's WildStar! You won't want to miss it!"
Sanshee Block Party (21+)
When: Saturday, March 23rd from 8:00 pm - 2:00 am
Where: Vintage Lounge, 72 Broad St., Boston, MA 02110) tickets $15.00
"Join the Sanshee team for a celebration of gaming culture at PAX East 2013. RSVP to get two drink tickets for $10 and early access. Event is 21+ and requires an invite or PAX badge and a valid ID. Come on down for a good time. No dress code; silly hats optional."
Admission: $10 + $1.54 fee. Buy tickets
That's all so far, folks!
Other than an extremely good time, this is what we're anticipating for PAX East 2013. Make sure to check back with TechRadar for the freshest hands-ons with the hottest gaming accessories to come out of the show, as well as any big news or exciting announcements.