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The List: The Best and Worst of PAX Prime '13

Column By Michael Bitton on September 06, 2013

Another year, another PAX Prime in the books. This week, we’re breaking down some of the best and worst aspects of this year’s show. Let’s get right to it!

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THE BEST OF PAX PRIME 2013

WildStar

WildStar is a game we’ve been watching for some time now and it’s only looking better and better at each show. Our presentation at PAX focused on the game’s dungeon content, but aside from the fact the content looked great, it was what Carbine Studios’ design producer Stephan Frost had to say on Carbine’s stance to this content that I found particularly striking. Another journalist in the room noticed the dungeon we were shown (a level 17 dungeon, no less) looked like it would be particularly difficult, especially for some of the more casual PvE folk out there and it was Mr. Frost’s response to this concern that really stood out. Carbine, apparently, just doesn’t care. The dungeon (and presumably, raid) content in WildStar is being designed for hardcore players. Full stop.

If you want to tackle this stuff, you’re really going to have to work for it. This is a significant departure from the way developers have been treating this sort of content ever since Blizzard began taking a more inclusive approach with its own raid and dungeon content.

After all, it doesn’t really make practical sense to put so much time and effort into designing these amazing raids and dungeons if only 10% of the playerbase is good enough and willing enough to partake in it. That’s why we’ve seen a shift, but Carbine doesn’t mind. WildStar’s dungeons will put some hair on your chest and I’m excited at the notion of having some real challenge again.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

My journey from not caring about FFXIV: ARR to obsession-levels of interest has been an interesting one. Each new milestone of excitement has been punctuated by a meeting with the game’s director Naoki Yoshida, and PAX Prime was no different. Meeting for our third time, I was excited to discuss the game with Yoshi-P now that the game has gone live. It’s unfortunate that the re-launch has been fraught with technical issues, as I’d have loved to spend more time discussing the actual game and the journey to how he and his team completed what was seemingly an insurmountable task. Still, Yoshida-san was just as passionate about his project after its release as he was when I first met him and the game was in a fresh pre-alpha state. We appreciate his candor in openly discussing the issues surrounding the game’s launch and there were a lot of great tidbits of information in the full interview that you’ll surely want to check out!

 

YOU!

Last, but certainly not least. It’s the fans of PAX (and really any convention aside from E3) that make the show. There’s just a whole different energy to the show when you’re surrounded by people who have come from all over the country, and perhaps the world, to celebrate their geekdom in one place. We’d also like to give a special thanks to those of you who turned out for our MMORPG.com Meet ‘n’ Greet at Gordon Biersch. It was great meeting all of you and we hope you had a great time!

 

THE WORST OF PAX PRIME 2013

The Hall

I love PAX, but I hate both the East and Prime convention halls. I probably can’t whine about it enough. Boston’s convention hall is large and annoying with its skybridges, but PAX Prime’s location is really the worst. The vertical hall just doesn’t lend well to finding places you need to get to. Entrances to meeting rooms were inexplicably locked away, booth numbers are assigned with little logical sense, and worst of all, the various panel theatres are often located in entirely different buildings blocks away from the show floor. This is all confusing for us in the press, but it must be unnecessarily frustrating for fans. When we have a hard time figuring out the location of our own panel, we can only imagine what it’s like for you guys. I wouldn’t blame anyone who just gave up and found something else cool to see at the main building.

 

Where are the MMOs?

All things considered, PAX Prime was pretty light on the MMO side of things this year. Sure, we had WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, and a little bit of FFXIV and EverQuest Next, but where was Trion? Destiny? The Division? Many titles were either underrepresented or not represented at all at PAX Prime and it made for a much lighter show than we’re used to. I blame this on the next reason below...

The Date

This one has been bothering me for years. Why the heck is PAX Prime only a week out from Gamescom? It makes no sense! Sure, North American gamers aren’t generally going to be able to make it out to Germany for Gamescom, so they will appreciate being able to check out all the new stuff. But from a coverage and news perspective? It’s all a retread from a week earlier. Most developers aren’t going to put together two different presentations or demo builds for two shows a week apart from each other. It’s just not realistic. Almost all the news to be made at PAX was likely made at Gamescom a week earlier. Sometimes a developer will have enough news they may hold a little something special for PAX, but  you’re pretty much seeing the same thing in most cases.

 

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB

 

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Sometimes less than serious, in this space, we look back at the genre's history and far into the future to bring you a new list each week. Our countdowns are written by assorted members of the MMORPG.com Staff.
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