5. Australian developers are making some brilliant stuff
The PAX Rising section of the event was cleverly placed right at the main entrance of the Melbourne Convention Centre, and for good reason; Australian developers are really pushing to make some high quality and interesting stuff. We spoke to a whole bunch of awesome dev teams, from one-person operations to groups of over 10 or more, some part-time, some full-time, and some still at university, and there was a smorgasbord of genres, platforms, and creative ideas. [I’ll have a list of my top 5 Aussie indie games coming very soon.]
From third-person action-adventure games with high fidelity graphics, to pixel-souls-like experiences, platformers, VR and AR titles, mobile games and so much more, these Australian developers are really putting huge amounts of effort in to create a diverse lineup of games, set to release on every possible platform – with lots coming to Steam, many to Switch as well, and a whole host also set to release on Xbox and Playstation. It’s impressive to see them all in one place at PAX Australia, and many of them have made their way around the globe to PAX West, Tokyo Game Show, and other conventions.
With huge breakout hits like Untitled Goose Game and Hollow Knight coming from humble beginnings in Australian studios, I’m excited to see what Aussie game will be next to break through the pack and make a huge impact on the industry like these before it.
We’ll be keeping an eye out, that’s for sure.
4. Xbox is making themselves known
Xbox had a huge presence on the floor at PAX Australia, and it’s clear that Microsoft is pushing for people to notice them after a tough generation. Since expanding the portfolio of Xbox Game Studios, and making a huge impact on the industry with Game Pass, Microsoft has shown they’re not messing around.
The Xbox booth had playable demos of Ninja Theory’s upcoming 4v4 melee brawler, Bleeding Edge, which looks set to be a gorgeous, colorful and hell-of-a-lot-of-fun multiplayer title – which although to many seems like a strange departure from their single-player roots, expands on the stylish combat the studio has been known for in DMC and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
The upcoming, and for me — highly anticipated — Minecraft Dungeons was also on show, and playable, with a huge queue all weekend. This game looks and plays super smoothly, and I think to grab people’s attention with the Minecraft name but then delivering them a high-quality ARPG is going to make this game incredibly popular for many demographics.
Sea of Thieves was also on display, and shows Xbox’s faith in Rare’s live service; since its initial launch, the game has changed so much and been improved upon incredibly. New features, new ships, more customization, and more missions, not to mention improvements instability and even graphics show that Rare is in it for the long haul with their super fun pirate ‘simulator.’
CD Projekt Red and Microsoft seem to have a tight-knit relationship still, continuing after Keanu Reeves’ appearance on the Microsoft stage at E3 this year, and the Cyberpunk 2077 booth was encapsulated by the Microsoft banner. Yes, we all know this is going to be a multiplatform game, but it can’t hurt the Xbox brand to have this soon-to-be-released juggernaut close-by for marketing purposes. Cyberpunk will surely look best on PC, but for console players, the best experience will almost surely come from the Xbox One X enhanced edition, and I’m sure Microsoft is acutely aware of this factor.
3. Fall Guys is going to be a huge hit
One of the most fun games we played all weekend, Mediatonic’s Fall Guys looks set to be an absolute blast when it releases next year, from the heralded indie publisher, Devolver Digital. The 100 player game will pit friends against friends in what looks to be a hilarious, mini-game based take on the Battle Royale genre, and it’s definitely something I can get behind.
Each mini-game will change up the gameplay entirely, some where players will race down a track with doors blocking the way, some real, some fake; others where players have to steal a tail from their opponents and only those with a tail at the end of a countdown will survive the round and qualify further; another where players are teamed up to amass a collection of eggs to win the round, with the ability to steal your opponents’ stash and sabotage their collection.
The developer stated that there would hopefully be over 30 game modes in the final release, and this is totally a game I can see streamers having an incredible time with. If private or custom games can be created for streamers to allow their audience to join the fray, this is the kind of game that will be super popular on Twitch or Mixer.
Even in the demo, we played there was a huge emphasis on customizing your Fall Guy, with a huge color selection, patterns, outfits and more, and I can imagine this will be increased even more so in the final release. Media Tonic really looks set to have a great, fun, party game on their hands and probably in the perfect climate for exactly that as well. With Devolver behind publishing, you know there won’t be any microtransaction bollocks set to ruin the fun, so have faith that this will be one to play with friends, or online, for simply a great time.
2. Ms Marvel will be the main protagonist in Marvel’s Avengers
Marvel’s Avengers was on show in the Playstation booth this year, and although I didn’t get time to get hands-on with Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix’s big release for 2020, I did get a chance to hear the game’s director talk at a panel that gave some interesting insight for the story behind this upcoming title.
After the events that occur in the opening of the game (the A-Day attack on San Francisco that we’ve all seen by now), the Avengers are broken, and all go their separate ways. Tony Stark loses everything, his toys, his fortune; Bruce Banner loses the ability to…be Bruce Banner and becomes stuck in a disheveled Hulk form; Widow leaves the team behind to be alone spy; Thor abandons Mjolnir to live a life of servitude to humanity; and Cap…well Cap didn’t make it through the attack. Five years after the attack, the AIM Corporation — Advanced Idea Mechanics — have taken control of the city, and have abolished superhumanity into the shadows, but our newly announced protagonist, Kamala Khan, has different ideas about The Avengers.
Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, is an Avengers superfan. She is you and me. She was at the A-Day attack as a special guest thanks to her Avengers fan fiction, and she thinks that AIM was behind the attacks on San Francisco. It’ll be your job as Khan to bring the Avengers back together in the story mode of the game, and eventually unite the team to glory and defeat the (we assume.) evil corporation behind the sabotage of superhumanity and find out what has happened to Captain America.
This is a pretty bold step for Crystal and Square Enix, as Kamala Khan isn’t instantly recognizable to every fan of the Avengers, as she has only existed since around 2013. But I think it’s a cool way to give the perspective of an Avengers fan, without having to resort to a custom character, thus giving her potentially more personality.
I’m still not 100% sure what I feel about this game, and without getting hands-on at PAX, I probably still won’t know until release, but the story could be intriguing, despite the promise that Avengers will be a live service, have a marketplace and have loot and RPG mechanics (it kind of sounds like Destiny as superheroes, which could be a huge success). We’ll see more when Avengers releases May 15, 2020.
1. Cyberpunk 2077 will definitely not disappoint
Another game that we were lucky enough to see at PAX Australia, and the first time that this latest demo has been shown to public audiences, was, of course, Cyberpunk 2077 from CD Projekt Red. The Polish developer was out in force at the event, showing their gameplay demo each day, and having developers and community staff on the floor all weekend, giving out posters and t-shirts and showing their latest, impressive 15-minute trailer for those who missed the live demo. And despite the theatre seating 2500 people, I’m sure many, many people missed out, judging by the sea of people waiting to enter on day one when we joined the queue.
And we were not disappointed. What we saw was almost an hour of live gameplay, with commentary from Hollie Bennett, in a deep dive version of the stripped-down and highly-edited 15-minute gameplay section that was released to the public after PAX West and Gamescom recently. We saw some of the abilities available to those who want to approach the game with stealth and hacking in mind, a ‘netrunner’ in the Cyberpunk lexicon, or the abilities available to players who would prefer to smash their way to victory in a much louder form of gameplay – the ‘strong solo’ type character. Now, CDPR has made it clear that the game has a fluid class system, so what we’re seeing is simply a build that is tailored towards these ‘classes’ but isn’t something the player is locked into for their own playthrough.
We also saw further into what the main story will actually entail – and if you’re at all concerned with spoilers, no matter how minor, you may want to stop reading at this point because although they are somewhat insignificant, some people want to go in with an entirely blank slate.
You’ve been warned…
The protagonist, V, has a chip stuck in his/her head that could indeed be the secret to immortality (perhaps why in the latest CG trailer, after being shot point-blank, he wakes up in a dump with Keanu Reeves standing over him…?). It appears that embedded in this chip, is Johnny Silverhand himself, legendary rocker boy of the Cyberpunk series, being played by Reeves. Silverhand will essentially be haunting you throughout your game, and his entire purpose isn’t clear just yet, but V seems to be trying to get answers on what this chip means, and how important – or dangerous – it really could be for humanity as a whole.
In the demo we see V enter Cyberspace, a digital world for netrunners to access, but also we see the ‘Black Wall’, which is a barrier to dark space, a plain of cyberspace from where no living being has returned. In the climax of the game’s demo, Johnny is used as bait for V and Brigitte, the head of the Voodoo Boys gang, to lure out legendary netrunner Alt Cunningham, and attempt to cross this wall in what we assume will be a pretty major point of the story.
This is where the demo ends, and there is so much else that goes on with this demo that shows off just a small slice of what Cyberpunk 2077 has on offer. Now that the demo is being shown to the public, and will continue to be at EGX next week in the UK, you can safely assume that it’ll be dropped on the CDPR YouTube channels, but until then it’s been an exciting insight into what is still set to be one of the most ambitious, brilliant and captivating games of not only 2020, but the entire generation.
Stay tuned to 181 Gaming for more content covering some cool stuff from PAX Australia 2019, as well as some indie reviews coming soon from yours truly.
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