Right, PAX was awesome, and there were a lot more good things than bad this year, especially compared to 2014. So let’s go through the good stuff!
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
The producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV, Naoki Yoshida (better known by his nickname of Yoshi-P), held a panel going through a variety of information on the upcoming expansion, Heavensward. The panel started off with a quick rundown of info most people already knew, but was more designed to get everyone on the same page, since many people attending the panel admitted they didn’t play the game.
Yoshi-P then moved onto a short look into their development process on how they choose then design new classes to add to the game. In the upcoming expansion there will be three new jobs, the Final Fantasy name for their well-known classes like white/black mage and dragoon.
We got to see some more gameplay footage of the Dark Knight (tank), Astrologian (healer), and Machinist (damage dealer), with the machinist being a fan favorite for the very flashy ability animations. I’ll definitely be playing all three classes once Heavensward releases, but I’m going to start off with Astrologian, which seems technical but fun to play, the whole “challenging yet rewarding” type of class. They’ll switch between two stances, right now being referred to as “heal” and “barrier” stances, which give a little insight into how they differ from the existing healer jobs of White Mage and Scholar. The Dark Knight will be a tank that uses MP (magic points) to surround themselves with darkness to keep them safe while tanking, rather than using TP (tech points) like Warrior and Paladin primarily do now. Finally the Machinist will use attachments on their gun and a reloading function to do some damage, but there are some sort of trade-offs to using these like being unable to move while using some. They’ll also have a turret minion that assists them in battle by either buffing allies, debuffing enemies, or augmenting the Machinist’s attacks.
After the new job run-down Yoshi-P showed off some of the new areas and flying mounts, giving a good idea of just how huge the new areas will be. Anyone complaining about FFXIV’s areas feeling “small” will get what they wanted with these massive new zones. As the name implies there’s going to be a lot of areas up in the sky, including large floating islands like on Final Fantasy 6. With the new DirectX 11 client being launched just before the expansion these new areas are sure to look great, especially since the game already looks better than most on the market just running on DirectX 9.
There was a bit more like a quick overview of the new raid instance, Alexander, but I need to wrap this spot up instead of taking an entire post rambling about one panel.
Real quick though: we were able to meet a lot of people who played FFXIV, including people we know from our server, and it was great. It always seemed like the game’s community was nicer than many others and this only solidified that. It’s nice to be able to shoot the shit with people about a game we’ve been enjoying so much, along with convincing some on the fence or some who have never played an MMO before to give FFXIV a look. (Hint hint, go check it out)
I know there are a bunch of people who don’t like his videos, but YouTuber Markiplier’s enthusiasm is infectious. The guy had more energy than anyone I’ve ever seen at PAX, jumping around the aisles of his panel and running around at 150% any time he was seen. You can tell he’s legitimately passionate about what he does and his fans just by his body language when he was talking to people at the show. With all the people in the industry or YouTubers or whoever else we’ve run into at PAX being a douchenozzle, it was nice to see someone be as cool as you’d hope he would be at a place like this.
It was unfortunate, though, to see him being rushed around by the PAX staff at his autograph session and during his “takeover” at one of the streamer booths. We were told that at PAX South recently he signed autographs and talked to people for 9 hours, missing a party that was being thrown FOR HIM. I understand there’s a schedule but I think they were going a bit overboard with cutting the number of people who could meet him a bit too short. You could tell he was disappointed but it is what it is. The guy’s got 6.5 million subscribers on YouTube, so they have to make a line somewhere.
Anyway, we managed to give him some Two Drink Minimum drinking glasses, so we’ll see if those show up anywhere in his videos.
The Indie Game Showcase
I know I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the indie games at PAX before, but this year changed my mind on them. We’ve always said indie developers are more interesting to talk to since they have a lot more passion than a lot of the bigger game booths who tend to use marketing people that just work off a script or seem irritated to be there. They know their game inside and out and they want to talk about it. They want you to ask them about it and be excited to see the fruits of their labor. GamingMistress and I got to go to a party dedicated to the indie devs attending the show this year and it was a blast.
The game Bombshell looks awesome, and Lovely Planet looks silly as all hell. There were honestly too many to really cram into this one section, but we’re going to end up playing one of them, Catlateral Damage, on the stream very soon (maybe this week?). Maybe we’ll make another separate post going over the others, we have plenty to write about that’s for sure.
TL;DR: the indie devs were awesome and I’ll be making more trips over there in upcoming PAXes.
The Expo Hall Layout
I think this year they finally nailed the layout of the main floor. To start, the tabletop area was expanded at the expense of the queue line, which is something I wanted for a while now. After the expo hall opens at 10am, the queue line is essentially wasted space until the next morning from 8-10am. In previous PAXes it took up too much room which caused the extremely popular tabletop area to get screwed with less space, but not this year. Even though I wasn’t in tabletop much this year I could still tell it was larger, and people were thankful for that.
Tabletop also benefited from the other huge change in layout this year: the food areas were spread out across the entire floor instead of being crammed in the back corner of the building. This gave people in the expo hall more flexibility on getting food and avoided the traffic jams of previous years when going for a $9 piece of pizza or $43 cheeseburger and fries.
As much as I liked them, the absence of Riot Games also helped with the flow of traffic on the floor, cutting down the amount of rabid PAX-goers trying to see the League of Legends matches or trying to get whatever freebies Riot was tossing out at the time. Sad to see them cut down their presence, but I think in the long run it was worth it. Speaking of MOBAs though…
I’ve never really disliked Infinite Crisis, I just moved onto other games and didn’t quite get hooked on it since it was so similar to League of Legends, both in terms of map design, gameplay, and items. That doesn’t mean it’s bad by any means, and their booth this year was fantastic. Instead of their big team match set-up from last year they went with a series of carnival games based on various DC superheroes. You had stuff like a cup-stacking speed challenge for The Flash and a Green Arrow shooting gallery.
These games were tied to cards they handed out with various tasks on it. Each task would give you a certain number of stamps, some with set amounts and others with more stamps for better performance at the carnival games, which could be turned in for prizes. The best prizes were statues, Atomic Green Lantern or one of Harley Quinn in a pajama outfit from the game, or a Gold Champion Pack with something like 33 characters unlocked in-game. The others weren’t too shabby though; things like hats, sunglasses, and t-shirts. I was a bit too late and got my max stamps after all the top prizes were gone, so I settled for a Silver Champion Pack, a hat, and some sunglasses. My brother was able to snag one of the Atomic Green Lanterns earlier in the weekend though.
They still had the game for people to try out, although significantly less stations than last year, making it a bit tough to play for 10 stamps when they had frequent tournaments. But overall the people attending the booth were nice and getting into the carnival games, which made it all the more fun. And that’s what I think made their booth one of the best, even if you didn’t play Infinite Crisis the things they had there were simple FUN.
Like many good things, the show didn’t last as long as we would’ve liked, feeling like it just flew by. But hey, we got a lot done this time, and hopefully next PAX East we’ll be that much bigger. Maybe even sneaking our way into a panel sometime in the future…?