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In review: PAX AUS 2016

Another year of PAX AUS is behind us, providing a weekend full of games, parties and overpriced con-food. Whether you spent the weekend wandering the expo floor, sitting in on panels or waiting for hours in line to just pick up your badge you’re sure to have developed your own opinions on just what worked and what missed the mark.

VR was everywhere!

VR might not be “mainstream” yet but hot damn, PAX AUS 2016 was the year of VR. In my entirely accurate and precise estimations I’d reckon around 70% of booths had VR on offer. From Origins’ giant VR display to the cute little PS VR booth, it seemed like everyone was getting in on the virtual act.

Even some PAX Rising indies were in on it, with games like A Township Tale and Symphony of the Machine having a long line all weekend. It’ll still be some time before VR hits the mainstream, but with this much on display it’s easy to see the tech taking off soon.

Esports was yuuuuuuuge.

Two years ago PAX played host to the finals for the League of Legends Oceanic Pro League and provided an electric atmosphere not just to the final but to the whole expo floor. Last year though, and despite the inception of the PAX Arena, the Esports on offer was…. lacking.

Whether it was due to the games played or the odd location of stage it’s hard to say but one thing is certain: it didn’t live up to the last year’s effort. All was forgiven this year though as the PAX Arena took a crowning location and blasted some thrilling Esports action for all to see. From the aerial stylings of the professional Rocket League scene to the insane flicks and reactions of the Counter-Strike pros, Esports was back in a big way.

Photo: Esther Atkins

There were some kickass panels…

Every PAX, I try and get around to as many panels as I can for two reasons: firstly, it’s a nice chance to sit down and secondly there’s some absolute gems. If you spend most of your time on the expo floor then you probably won’t know that panels come in two flavours: the “feelings” variety and the “meat and potatoes”. Feelings panels are often a group of like-minded panellists reinforcing each other’s opinions and beliefs on a given topic and can be quite dull.

The meat and potatoes panels are much more substantial, asking questions of the audience and presenting a breadth of views and opinions. It’s a sign of our PAX maturing that we’re seeing more kickass substantial panels like these that challenge us and dive in deep to the games/ideas they’re exploring. More please.

But, where were the games?

For a gaming convention, it felt like there weren’t many games on display. Sure, the PAX Rising section was full of awesome indie games. PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo had games on display, but where were the exciting unreleased stuff that had popped up in the past? By my reckoning, the only big triple-A game featured was Dishonored 2. Maybe there just wasn’t enough hype around the games featured, but from what I could see only Ubisoft were presenting games that hadn’t come out yet. Instead the expo floor was choc-full of tech companies showing off their product range which is a little disappointing for a gaming convention.

So that’s it, that was PAX AUS. New games weren’t the highlight, for once, instead it was seeing a whole bunch of cool new tech on display.

How was it for you? Were your highlights different to mine? Let us know!

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About the author

Hamish Lindsay

Avid reader and general geek, justifying the time I spend playing games by writing about them. I try not to discriminate by genre, but I remember story more than gameplay. I’ve been playing League for longer than Akali and I’m still Silver. Fallout 3 and MGS3 may be the pinnacle of gaming.