PAX Prime Adventures
Attending PAX Prime had never really been anything I’d seriously considered before this year. Not because I didn’t have a desire to ever go, but more because it always managed to have a scheduling conflict with another convention I’d already got tickets too. This year however, it seemed like I had an extraordinary amount of friends making the journey from as far away as Austria. I figured maybe this would be the year I didn’t head down to San Diego for SDCC and instead, make a bid to get myself some PAX Prime tickets. It would be a long drive (flights were way to expensive) but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t done before and usually for a trip to the states it was always a safe bet that I could convince my brother or sister to come along. This year my sister decided a Seattle trip could be a lot of fun and agreed to tag along with me.
So with tentative plans set and holidays booked I camped the PAX Twitter page in hopes that I would be lucky enough to grab tickets before they sold out. I’d done a fair bit of research and turns out PAX Prime badges sell out as fast as SDCC. Which for those that don’t know, is hella fast (they sold out in under 15min this year).
Luck was on my side though and I was able to snag myself Fri/Sat badges and get the missing Sunday from Fog. Soon as I had the ticket confirmation I made sure to book a hostel close to the venue and then it was official. The 1800 km journey west was a go!
Friday was an early start in order to be at the venue when the doors opened but due to Thursday nights wanderings, finding parking was super easy, even with the normal traffic of Seattle. Once the car was parked and a picture of the address taken - let’s face it, there’s a reason I’m known as the ‘Always Lost’ - I headed up to the convention center with my sister in tow. No strangers to the convention scene, we weren’t overly surprised by the insane amount of people crowding around the entrance to get in. Rather than join the mob right away we opted to wander around a bit and find some food.
Once food was in hand it was queue time! And queue we did, only not for the main hall like most people. Instead we joined the much shorter, faster moving line, which got us into the Magic: The Gathering Annex, which seriously, was an entire hotel. Booyah! Inside there was lots to do. Everything from learn to play, to serious & non-serious tournaments, to watching the MTG world Tournament live was available. As an added bonus, if you played the game, they gave you cool swag. The more you played, the better the loot! I think after an hour or so I’d got myself 4 decks, a t-shirt, a stuffed Planeswalker and to my confusion, a Pinny Arcade Pin. Little did I know that pin was going to be the start of the biggest unintentional quest chain of the weekend. Turns out Pinny Arcade is a collectable pin game within the convention where convention goers can collect various game themed pins by simply trying out and demoing games on the show floor. And if all the pins were as cool looking as the MTG pin then heck yeah I was going to “collect ‘em all!”
Once we’d had our fill of MTG we decided it was time to brave the expo hall in the convention center, since Saturday was going to be mainly attending panels and Dev meet ‘n greets. Going in we didn’t really have a plan other than we needed to find the ArenaNet team at the Corsair booth to grab our passes for the meet and greet later in the evening so we just kind of went with the flow of people and wound up in console heaven, which, as an added bonus, lead us right to the start of the Assassins Creed: Syndicate line, which by line standards was moving fairly fast! Since this was a game I’d been wanting to test and one my sister also played we hopped into the queue to do a bit of hands on playing. I have to say it was like a breath of fresh air. Even though players were only able to do 1 of 3 available missions you got to mess around enough to get a good feel for the game. It’s safe to say Ubisoft went back to its roots. The small amount of story we got was interesting, the game play smooth, the missions easy to grasp, and the rope launcher! Oh man does that make scaling walls for quick getaways or assassinations a joy. For a short little 15 min demo it felt solid.
Once that was done my sister - knowing I was a D&D geek - pointed out a giant Dungeons & Dragons banner. Wondering if that was where we would find Sword Coast Legends we headed on over. Turns out it was, and it was a 2 hr wait to play. Not really having any plans other than to wander the hall, we joined the queue. For a 2 hr wait, the wait itself wasn’t that bad. The line was in incredibly high spirits and entertaining as all get out - both the eager players & the line staff. It also helped that since this was a team game, we were all grouped up into 5 man teams and highly encouraged to get to know one another. My group consisted of 2 non D&D players and 2 who were very familiar with it, and 1 guy that was so-so but wanted to be DM so he could attempt to kill off the party in the first minute of play. Needless to say my team did a fantastic job and we lasted a full 5 minutes before our DM dropped a red dragon on our group and turned us into crispy fried adventurers. All in all it was great fun!
The rest of the day was spent wandering the various levels of the hall and doing the general convention goer thing until 8pm rolled around and the ArenaNet fan meet and greet party was about to kick off! Through a mad stroke of luck I had managed to score a couple passes. It ended up being a fun event where I got to meet and chat with various members of the Dev team, fellow Guild Wars players, and score some pretty sweet swag.
As normal with conventions, Saturday morning had come all to early and after Friday night’s fun, combined with all the joys of travelling between time zones, I was moving a little on the slow side. Eventually I got myself up and going and ready for a solid day of solo trekking since my sister didn’t have a pass for the rest of the weekend.
First item on the Agenda was to queue up for the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Panel. The excitement was electric with the crowed and it was definitely a full house. Colin Johanson was first up and started off by dropping some interesting Numbers. GW2 to date had sold over 5 million copies and held the highest Metacritic score for an MMO over the past decade. He then proceeded to drop the mic with the announcement of Guild Halls, Veteran rewards, and the highly anticipated Raids! Mike O’Brien was up next and he dropped another bomb in that the core GW2 game would be free to play for all players while the expansion would retain the Buy-2-Play model. This was met with a joyous roar from the crowd once they had a moment to process everything.
Next up was a trip back to the main hall where I was able to spend a good deal of time with the team from Gigantic. There was no doubt that this was Motiga’s show. They had a massive demo booth set up in the main hall, a smaller press demo room in a hotel, and they had a massive demo room in the Games Workshop where people who didn’t have convention passess could go and get there hands on it.
The Dev’s were eager to get people playing and the game itself is a beauty. I was lucky enough to be invited to the press room where they had a bunch of the Community Coaches get me and the rest of the press crew into teams and we faced off against each other in a no holds barred battle royal. For most of us it was our first time getting our hands on the game so there was lots of carnage and deaths as we all tried to kill each team’s guardians.
Eventually I made my way back up to the main floor and hopped in the queue for Tom Clancy’s: The Division since the wait time was pegged to be only an hour. Again time seemed to fly during the wait as excited line goers did the normal line things to keep themselves occupied. From my limited hands on time with the game it was everything I had hoped for. You got excellent team play capabilities combined with the nail biting, keep on your toes fear that at any point you could stumble onto a hostile team or that one of your very own agents could go rogue. And rogue I went! It was a really good time if not incredibly hard to stay alive if you aren’t one of the stealthy, sneaky kind of players.
The rest of the afternoon was spent up in the Indie MEGABOOTH playing all the new up and coming games. Some were exceptionally fun to mess around with while others not so much. One particular gem that comes to mind is a Steam game called Armello by League of Geeks. It’s an action rpg that is very reminiscent of the Red Wall book series. Some other notables were Deathroad to Canada by Rocketcat (not going to lie but I kind of have a soft spot for this 2D zombie kill fest), Moon Hunters by Kitfox, Mushroom 11 by Untame, and Hyper Light Drifter by Heart Machine.
By the time I had made my way back outside and rendezvoused with my sister it was time to play the google map game and go meet Fog, Juliana, & Don for food and drinks.
Sunday was another early start and the first item on the list was to meet up with Fog & Co at the Felicia Day book signing. After a Gaiscioch left or two I eventually found my way to the proper location and joined the queue. After some weird line shenanigans (there was a mess up in where they had placed the live vs. where people could buy books if they needed them) and a late start we were finally moving! I didn’t have a book with me but I did get my shirt signed and we managed to get some really cool group shots of us with Felicia.
Next up we made our way to the show floor where we did a bit of networking with various Devs. As morning progressed my inability to not play a game was starting to kick in and I was able to grab Don and queue us up for World of Warships. I’d played a small amount of Tanks before so I kind of, sort of, not really knew what I was getting into with warships. Thankfully Don was able to fill me in and give me some tips and tricks so I could last more than 3 seconds once the teams got going. Once I got the hang of things I did so-so (no deaths!) and my team ended up winning in the end which was awesome! Also managed to score a sweet t-shirt and another Pinny Arcade pin for my rapidly growing collection.
After a decent break for lunch we then made our way to Gameworks and hung out with the Motiga team for most of the afternoon and let out our inner MOBA beasts! Many a game of Gigantic was had and it looked like everyone was having a great time.
The highlight of Sunday for me though was the yearly PAX Gaiscioch meetup! It was so cool to meet some of the family that was able to attend and even nicer to be able to meet the people behind the characters. We all stayed and chatted until the Fado’s team booted us out so they could close. After that everyone made their way back to their cars and headed back to their homes and hotels. If everyone was half as tired as I felt I knew beds were calling.
Monday morning was a slow moving morning since I didn’t have to check out of the hostel till 11am. Sadly it was time to say goodbye to the Seattle skyline. I had a couple days slated to visit Portland before making the long drive back to Canada. PAX had been a really fun time and for anyone thinking about going I can’t recommend it enough. The event itself was easy to navigate through and the staff was top notch. Heck, even if you don’t get a badge and you live in the area you should check it out. I had as much fun at the actual convention as I did outside of it and by and far the best part was meeting everyone! Hopefully, if it’s in the cards, I will be able to see you all again for PAX 2016!
About the Author
Bacon lover. Gamer of games. Tamer of penguins. Lovable Saskie.
Always Remember: Never give up on your dreams, keep sleeping!