PAX South is the extension of the Penny Arcade Exhibit for the Southern Region. Located in good ol’ San Antonio, Texas, it’s a great excuse to go visit a wonderful area full of great food and strong history. It’s the newest of the PAX family but still offers a ton of content to everyone attending. I was lucky enough to be one of those attendees and enjoyed it immensely. In this guide, I want to take everyone that wasn’t able to attend a walkthrough of the event, highlights from some of the featured booths, and insights into what it is like to actually be there. In the coming week, StreamerSquare will also cover the important panels that were at PAX to highlight the major features of these talks and to provide valuable information for streamers new and old. Let’s dive in!
The main attraction to this year’s PAX South is the Switch. It was a HUGE booth consisting of multiple Switch consoles, featuring games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Bomberman R, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Splatoon 2. Each line was a different game and the booth as constantly packed to capped level. Arrive early to popular booths like this if you want to play it during the convention. If you aren’t sure what the Switch is, it is the next console from Nintendo that is releasing in March 2017. The system features both console at home play, individual hand play (like the Wii motion controllers), and mobile play so players can take their gaming experience on the road with them! The console portion of the Switch can also be removed to act as a “tablet” so multiple people can use the console to play together.
The other side of the Switch booth featured a huge screen with rotating shoutcasters while viewers took turns fighting each other in the new Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers. The shoutcasters were highly entertaining and kept the action at a high level. The overall feel for the booth was exciting and looks like an excellent console.
Having a small preview of the Switch, the controls feel comfortable for anyone that has played a 3DS or Wii in the last few years. Nintendo has always been a company that makes consoles fun to play and the Switch doesn’t disappoint. The HD screen on the portable unit was impressive and full of detail. Controlling the karts in Mario Kart 8 was smooth and responsive and the tracks offered wonderful details for fanboys. I would say the Switch is definitely on my watch list now after seeing it at PAX South.
The Twitch booth is always a wonderful area to be around. Streamers mingling with fans and fellow broadcasters in the “Streamer Lounge” while the other side has two streaming booths with TVs above so the general public gets to watch from the outside. Meet and greets happen over a set schedule and giveaways of Twitch bags and emote pins happen every so often. I was able to grab myself the Series Three Pin.
I was able to meet a few of my favorite streamers while passing through the booth including Annemunition and DeejayKnight and also got to catch a few streamers doing what they do best in the streamer zone. The Twitch booth is definitely a highlight to every PAX event as it poses many opportunities to network with other broadcasters!
Grey Box had one of the largest booths that I’ve seen in a long time. Inside, the company was displaying their game Dreadnought. If you aren’t familiar with what the game is about, you take control of large spaceships in 8 v 8 warfare and the objective is to eliminate the other team. Each ship is highly customizable and the graphics are astounding. Grey Box did a great job showing off the game, making you feel like the atmosphere around you was JUST their booth. At the end, they gave the winning side a T-shirt as a prize.
I personally love this game and had a blast playing it. The game has a bigger learning curve than some games but, once you start to learn how certain ships work, you start to get a feel for how to maneuver and battle with them. The game will be released this year and is something to look forward to.
Loot Crate always has a wonderful booth at all PAX events. If you are unfamiliar with what Loot Crate is, it’s a monthly subscription service that sends a box of loot to you every month. The loot varies depending on the theme of the month but always comes with a new T-shirt and figurine to display around the house.
I’ve been a member of them for 2 years and plan to never cancel this subscription. The booth usually has exclusive boxes that you can only get at the convention but not this time. They did have a fun little shooter game that you can play where you can win prizes depending on your score. I scored a 450. Beat that!
Capcom was a huge part of this PAX, mostly because of the new Resident Evil game that has become a huge part of the streaming realm right before PAX began and also with the Street Fighter tournaments it held daily. The house for Resident Evil 7 was quite spooky. VR is amazing for this game and being IN the house made the game that much scarier. Made me want to play the game more.
Nexon always brings some of the best looking booths to the convention. PAX East showed a HUGE Lawbreakers booth that drew large crowds the whole time. At Pax South, they display Hyper Universe, a side-scrolling MOBA that is a BLAST to play. The game works just like any other MOBA (League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, DOTA 2) but instead of 3 lanes, there’s 7. And instead of a top down view, it is a side-scrolling experience that makes it feel more like a fighting game than a MOBA.
This was a huge surprise for me for this convention. When I saw the name, I thought I was going to see a Lawbreakers booth like I did at Pax East last year. Boy, was I dead wrong. Hyper Universe was one of my highlights for the convention and is some of the best gameplay I’ve had in a while. I ended up doing pretty well in my playthrough and wanted to keep playing after the match (about 35 mins long) was done. This is a game you need to be looking for in the future.
Booths to Mention
Player.me is looking to take over the social media aspect of streaming. It allows you to post streaming highlights, upload videos, create status updates, and follow other gamers and content creators. Pairing with Devolver Digital at PAX South, the booth had a live show going where they invited streamers on to the couch to stream a variety of games.
I suggest signing up and giving Player.me a try. They have some pretty big plans to improve the social side of streaming and it is a very convenient way to keep track of everything your friends are doing and streaming in one site. You can also make new friends as well and become a Partner to the company!
GameWisp is a wonderful company that allows streamers that haven’t been partnered yet to provide a “Sub” button to anyone that wants to financially support the streamer. This year’s GameWisp booth was a step up from last year’s, even having a couch to record a live show while they were live at PAX. The major update that they brought to PAX South was EMOTES! GameWisp now allows streamers to provide their subscribers with emotes. An excellent perk to supporting your favorite streamer.
Why do I pair these? If you don’t know yet, Dell bought Alienware and now the two companies are working together to bring both back to the gaming market. How do they do that? For starters, they’ve developed an amazing gaming laptop called the Inspiron. They had 12 on display, with live models running a multitude of games for convention goers to test. Along with the laptops, Alienware had 10 of their latest model, the Aurora, on a stage with two shout casters for everyone to compete with each other while testing out the power of the machine.
I was able to get a hold of Chris, a manager for Dell, and he had a lot of very encouraging things to say about the merger. He spoke of the future and where they want to take the company, pushing Alienware back to the forefront of gaming. He also spoke of the events they were planning and how they plan to appeal to mid to upper level gaming to have a presence in gamer’s selection of PCs. It sounds like a bright future after speaking with Chris and, if this booth is a preview, I can’t wait to see what they have coming!
tinyBuild is a developer that brings small but really fun games to the public. You might know them for games like Speedrunners or Punch Club, but they had a HUGE display of their most recent game, Hello Neighbor. In the game, the goal is to sneak into your neighbor’s house undetected and try to figure out what your neighbor is hiding. If you’re caught, you’re sent back to your house and the neighbor’s house is changed to add difficulty. Windows may be boarded up, traps set, doors locked that weren’t once before. The AI actually LEARNS from you as well. So, if you keep taking the same path, the AI will find a way to stop you from doing so in the next run. It’s a fun and suspenseful game that keeps you glued to your seat!
The Trion Worlds Booth didn’t display anything new (besides the Trove Console Beta) but it did get a good amount of word out about Atlas Reactor and their ranked play. All their games are free-to-play and they featured Atlas Reactor, Rift, Archeage, and Trove in gameplay form.
A surprise to many, Phoenix Labs came in swinging with their booth dedicated to their game Dauntless. Dauntless is a free-to-play co-op RPG where you work together to bring down Behemoths. Defeating creatures will allow you to craft stronger weapons and gain access to larger, more dangerous creatures. Only with co-operation will you be able to defeat such dangerous fiends.
This game and studio look fantastic. I can’t wait to see more.
Gaming Equipment Booths
Astro is one of the leading designers for gaming headsets around. A huge selling point for their headsets, besides the performance, is that the side panels can be customized to fit the user. Want your logo on the side of your ears? You can create and purchase custom panels.
Cougar had an impressive booth that featured four computers built with their equipment and a huge display of mice, keyboards, and headsets. I was highly impressed with their display and tested some of the equipment while in the area. The keyboards, especially the “Pro” style, are one of the most comfortable keyboards I’ve ever used and the headset that they had on display (The Immersa) wrapped comfortably around my ears while providing some serious sound quality. The owner wanted me to also try the gaming chair they had and, once I sat down, he proceeded to bend the chair all the way back, to where I was laying completely flat without the wheels even lifting off the ground! This company has very well made equipment at very reasonable prices.
HyperX always delivers quality equipment at decent prices. They have been making major splashes in the eSports and streaming areas, sponsoring teams and streamers to get their brand on a more noticeable surface. The headsets offer crystal clear sound and the mice are very comfortable even with my huge hands.
DXRacer has always been a standard at every PAX convention. Making some of the most comfortable chairs on the market, DXRacers can be seen in streams, events, and many other outlets these days. The booth at PAX South was the best I’ve seen yet, as they had many computers set up so you can test the chairs while you played. They also had 12 computers in the center for 6 on 6 Overwatch competitions that were broadcasted to a larger TV so the audience can enjoy. There was always so much energy coming from the booth and I loved passing it often.
Haimrik was a blast to play. Haimrik lets you turn words into actual items! Someone said sword? Pull a sword from mid-air or use spells from simply stating Lightning. It gives the player many paths to solving its puzzles and has a special art style on its own. Keep an eye out for this one!
From Crytivo Games, this ultimate sim game has you taking the role of God and forging the planet the way that you want it. Guide your people in learning the way you want them to live, whether that is glorious or malevolent. The people actually learn and react to what happens such as natural disasters, disease, war, and famine, to name a few. If you enjoy Sim games, this is going to be your next addiction.
I was shown this wonderful tabletop game and it quickly became my favorite tabletop game of the convention and probably top 5 ever. Imagine if you took the depth of Magic the Gathering and mixed that with the strategy of Final Fantasy Tactics. Their love child would be this game. Give your cards movement and learn a game that has a ton of depth. No two games are the same and there is a ton of options for victory.
Anyone remember the game Road Rash? Riding on a motorbike, wielding a variety of weapons, you race down the street in traditional race fashion while using any means possible to attain victory. Flash forward to 2017, Road Redemption is a much better recreation of the same concept and adds a variety of game modes to boot!
From the creators of Cyanide and Happiness comes this very offensive, very funny card game. You need three players to play this game. Each card displays a scene from a Cyanide and Happiness comic or a scene made just for this game. The goal is to arrange three cards into a hilarious/offensive/weird/down right crazy comic and a judge picks the best combo.
Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space!?
A VERY quirky adventure game that takes nothing seriously, I found I kept wanting to come back more and more for this game. It’s a hidden gem that keeps you laughing with weird quotes and pop icon references. The characters have a ton of personality and the ship is upgradeable so the game has a lot going for it. I was laughing a TON while the devs showed the game off.
Super Dungeon Tactics
I saw this game at PAX East and was super intrigued. Now, after a few months of polishing, the game is absolutely a blast to play. Going off the classic tactics feel, the game has a lot of depth without having to rely on a ton of RNG. Characters levels are based upon loot as well so no character is ever left way behind and you don’t have to power level them to use them. I am super excited for the future for this game and really can’t wait until they add multiplayer.
That’s your PAX South 2017 roundup! PAX South is a great starter convention for those going for the first time. It’s smaller than the other PAX events but still has plenty to do.