PAX West 2017 had a lot of games to see. We made a lot of appointments and squeaked in a few more just wandering around to see what caught our eye. However, of the many games we saw, ten of them stood out and now include some of our most anticipated upcoming titles. Andrew Otton and Travis Williams share their thoughts on what they think some of the best games of PAX West 2017 were.
We chose one overall winner as the Best of PAX 2017, otherwise our top 10 is listed in alphabetical order. The list is pretty varied and includes everything from hack and slash goodness, to some roguelikes, RPGs, visual novels, and more. Hopefully we've highlighted a game you're interested in!
BiomutantIt was a tough decision not to give Biomutant the Best of PAX award. The game is being created by some of the people who worked on the Just Cause and Mad Max games, so of course it is going to be open world but puts more of the emphasis on your character. You can customize your looks, your powers, your weapons, and your mutations in order to tailor the game to your preferred play-style. Combat in Biomutant feels great, from responsive controls to interesting enemies, and even in the early portion of the game that I played, it gives you multiple options during a fight so that you aren't simply hammering out the same few combinations every time.
Biomutant also has a unique, stylized look that draws you in and makes you want to know more about the world. Most of what we played was essentially a linear tutorial, with only a small section at the end that opened up into the wider world, but the beauty of that world, and the strength of the gameplay up to that point, made us excited to get our hands on the game so that we can fully explore what the game has to offer.
DauntlessDauntless is being made by former League of Legends developers that has taken its inspiration from Dark Souls, World of Warcraft, and Monster Hunter. It's a free to play game currently in closed beta that is all about fighting massive monsters called Behemoths. You can do this solo or with up to four people. Imagine the social aspects of World of Warcraft combined with similar systems and mechanics of Monster Hunter—and the combat of Dark Souls.
Dauntless controlled well and the behemoths we went up against grabbed our attention and didn't let go. The twenty minutes apiece we spent with both flew by and all we knew is that we wanted to play more.
We also had the opportunity to interview Design Director Chris Cleroux, where we talked about how the game will work as free to play, how the game works, and more.
Dead CellsTight controls, roguelite death with a steady progression system, beautiful pixel art and animation, and an already extremely positive early-access reception add up to a lot of potential for Dead Cells. Technically Dead Cells wasn't new to us at PAX West, but that doesn't stop it from being awesome. We essentially knew what to expect from this game, and it was still impressively fun.
If you like roguelike elements, Souls-y atmosphere, Metroidvania, and pixel art then there shouldn't be anything stopping you from jumping all over this game as it's already available via Early Access.
Divinity: Original Sin IIOriginal Sin returns and it comes out very soon on the 14th (tomorrow). For those unaware, Divinity: Original Sin is an isometric turn-based RPG with a highly interactive world and a lot of skills and character customization. You can talk to animals, if you want. Original Sin II improves on Original Sin in many ways and adds a whole lot of content. For example, where Original Sin was described to me as having one and a half writers, Original Sin II has nine. The game has close to one million words in its script and all of its dialogue is voice acted. The developers said to expect a playthrough to take 80-100 hours.
One of the coolest things we saw was Original Sin II's GM mode. This is a mode that will allow you to create your own campaigns with a bunch of effects, units, maps, and more to customize it as you see fit. For those who like to GM pen and paper RPGs, it seems like the perfect tool for you to use. This is in addition to the level editor, both of which will have full Steam Workshop support, so you can create an RPG campaign or level if you want and share it with the community. Or, if you're like me and lazy, find the best ones and use them for yourself!
JoggernautsJoggernauts is ridiculous. The game is a couch-coop laugh-riot of bright colors and hilarity. Joggernauts is half platformer, half party game, and half laughing/yelling at your friends. I understand that that's three halves, but I'm sticking with that description because I want to.
In Joggernauts, up to four people each control an alien-thingy of different colors. Together you choose a level and your little conga-line of weirdos march from left to right across the level. Each player can jump, duck, or jump up to the front of the line. Scattered throughout the levels are puzzles, such as walls and platforms, that can only be crossed/activated etc by the character that matches the color of the obstacle. Wrapping your brain and reflexes around when to jump/duck/take the lead, and then putting it in to practice is hilarious and, most importantly, pure fun.
RendRend was probably the biggest surprise of the show for us, as we weren't all that interested in another survival game. However, we left talking about how we couldn't wait to get a TechRaptor team up and going on a Rend server in the future. Rend is an online fantasy survival game being developed by some original World of Warcraft developers that's trying to make a more cooperation-focused survival game without a lot of the frustration.
A "match" of Rend will take a month or two, as of the three factions on any one server can win the game eventually. There's crafting, leveling, skill progression, base building, faction bases, bosses, and a whole lot more. Check out our thorough write up of all of Rend's features, many of which we found really exciting.
Sinner: Sacrifice for RedemptionIf you like Soulseborne games, but you wish you could just skip all of the regular monsters in order to get straight to the boss fights, you'll want to keep an eye on Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption. The game isn't shy about emulating the games that were its obvious inspiration, but tight controls and a few unique ideas give it a personality of its own.
Sinner is a boss-rush that forces you to give up some of your power in order to square off against each boss, so you get progressively weaker as you make your way from boss to boss. What you give up and when will play a major role in how difficult the game will be for you, which opens the door for multiple playthroughs as you try to find the optimum, or hardest, route through the game.
We The RevolutionWe The Revolution is interesting because it could have very easily just been a game with good art and a good story but not all that much gameplay behind it. That would have been totally fine too, taking a more visual novel approach to tell a good story set during the French Revolution. Instead, you take on the role of a judge during that time, presiding over and deciding cases from big to small, some with historical figures.
You take in the facts of the case and piece them together to try to find the truth of what happened. All the while your decisions affect multiple factions you have to keep happy—if you want to keep your head anyway. For more details, check out our write up here.
Where the Water Tastes Like WineWe fell in love with this game almost as soon as we saw it, and liked what we heard from Johnnemann Nordhagen, the Designer, all the more. It's a narrative-driven game with 16 characters all written by different people. In between interacting with those characters you come across little stories, like seeing someone arrested, that you have to remember so you can tell those characters about that story later. If the story is the sort they asked for, they may reveal their own.
You travel all across the U.S. collecting the stories and learning more about the diverse set of characters. Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is more a collection of short stories held together by an overarching American folk tale exploring the idea of manifest destiny. You can check out more on Where the Water Tastes Like Wine here.
Best of Show - Phantom DoctrineWhat would you get if you took the XCOM remakes, stripped out all of the sci-fi bits, and replaced them with Cold War-era espionage? You get Phantom Doctrine, a game that we didn't realize we needed in our lives until we saw it on display at PAX. We hadn't even heard of the game before the show, and thanks to the happy accident where we finished one interview early while another outlet didn't show up to their planned appointment to see the game, we managed to get a full demo of Phantom Doctrine with the developers by being in the right place at the right time. To say that we were impressed is an understatement.
Even the early-ish build we were shown has so much promise, and hit so many 'must haves' for this type of game that we can't wait to see what the final product has in store. If you like spy thrillers, and turn based tactics then this game is one to get excited about.
So those are our 10 games that stood out at PAX West 2017 this year for us. Have you played any of the above? If so, what did you think? What were your favorite games at PAX West 2017?