What's Worth Lining Up For At PAX Aus 2016 (And What Isn't)

There's a lot of queuing to be done at PAX Australia — sometimes it's worth it, and sometimes it isn't. When you're lining up to go inside a blocked out little room on the convention floor it can be hard to tell, however. Here are the games that are worth lining up for this year — and the ones that aren't.


Horizon: Zero Dawn

Image: Kotaku

Where is it? Sony booth

What is it?

Horizon: Zero Dawn has one of the better presentations this year. Watch one of the game's trailers, then watch someone demonstrate a short section of the game, around three hours in. After this, you get a solid chunk of time to go hands on with the game yourself in a sandbox-style demo that lets you play with various weapons and skills, and explore a small section of the world. Between the guided demonstration and your own hands on, you'll get a nice feeling for how the game's going to play (spoilers: it's really good).

Image: Kotaku

While you'll be playing the demo on a regular PS4, Sony also has a singular demo with Horizon: Zero Dawn set up on a PS4 Pro outside. Seeing as they're touting the game as one that will benefit hugely from the increased power of the Pro console, it's worth checking out the souped-up demonstration as well.

Queue forecast: Long. Only seven people are able to play at a time, so wait times will stack up. If you're at all interested in the game, I'd say it's worth the wait, however.


South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Image: Kotaku

Where is it? Ubisoft booth

What is it? Just a playable demo of the game, no presentation. The demo plonks you right at the start of the game, where you discover your character's 'tragic backstory', get a handle on the game's controls and generally get chewed out by Cartman.

Queue forecast: Moderate. The Fractured But Whole will have no lack of people wanting to play it this weekend, but there are a whole lot of demo machines available. You should be able to get in with a little patience.

For Honor

Where is it? Ubisoft booth

What is it? A playable demo. Ubisoft has a few banks of four machines with For Honor set up. I played the training section, but it looked like the game was set up to allow multiplayer games with the people playing around you. This might be one that it's worth bringing a few friends down for, just in case.

Queue forecast: Moderate. The queue should move through pretty quickly, especially as Ubisoft's booth has a bunch of games set up to play.


VR

It's the year of VR, and while all the major headsets have seen their mainstream releases, they're still out of budget for a lot of people. Here's how you can check it out on the show floor at PAX.

HTC Vive

Two major booths are showing off the Vive in the Expo Hall — Origin PC has Space Pirate Trainer up and running, while Intel also has the HTC Vive set up for people to try. As with VR most years at PAX, lines are likely to be long, but it's always fun to watch the people who are having a go while you wait.

What's great about the HTC Vive is that most exhibitors using it appear to have set up a nice, generous room-scale space for you to play with. Also look out for room-scale setups in the PAX Rising indie section!

PlayStation VR

Image: Kotaku

Sony has brought the recently released PlayStation VR down to PAX again this year, and seem to have more devices set up than last year. VR Worlds and Batman VR are playable, and the line is pretty small compared to some (at least for Friday). You'll still be in for a bit of a wait, but if you're thinking about investing in the PSVR — the cheapest consumer VR option — you might want to hang around for a while and have a go.

Interestingly, I couldn't spot anyone with an Oculus set up in my initial round of the show floor, but it will likely be present in some capacity. There's also, of course, the VR Freeplay zone, which is a must if you're into virtual reality.


Indies

While I haven't had nearly enough time to peruse the Pax Rising indie section (you could spend the entire weekend just playing there), there are a few games I can recommend checking out:

Rivalry was one of the biggest surprises of the indie section last year, and it's back again this year. Developed by a 15-year-old, it's a slow-paced but hilarious fencing game that lets you gradually and painfully eviscerate your enemies. Bring a friend or two, or just stop by to spectate one of Rivalry's surprisingly tense matches.

Goat Punks is another simple, fun multiplayer, with some seriously cute graphics. Race other goats to reach the top of the mountain and fight them to stay there.

Objects In Space is one for the hardware nerds. Check out the developers' custom-built spaceship's bridge controller, and even have a chat about building your own.


What Isn't Playable

Just as interesting as the playable games are the ones that won't be making an appearance this PAX. Here are a few notable ones.

The Last Guardian

Image: Kotaku

There's a line for The Last Guardian, but it's not to play the game. There is a photo opportunity where you can dress as the main character, but The Last Guardian wont actually be playable this weekend.

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Image: Kotaku

Like The Last Guardian, you can pose for a cool Zelda photo op, but you won't be able to get your hands on the game. Better luck next time.

Pokemon Sun & Moon

Image: Kotaku

This is probably to be expected, with the demo having been recently released on the 3DS, but as with the above you can pose with a giant Pokeball if you're super excited about the new Pokemon game.

Did you play something fun at PAX that everyone needs to try? Did you line up for something that was a total waste of time? Let us know in the comments!


Comments

    At PAX West, the For Honor demo involved you playing in a tutorial mode for 5 mins or so, then playing a 4v4 multiplayer match. Was a pretty decent demo. Not sold on the game though.

    Also it sounds like the Horizon: Zero Dawn demo is exactly the same as the PAX West one, in which case IMO it was a bit of a waste of time. You get to see a trailer that you've probably already seen, then watch someone play the same section of the game they demoed at E3, then get thrown into a tiny sandbox where you can arrow some stuff then ride an antelope robot, but by the time you take about 20 paces on said robot you leave the demo area and the game resets. It's enough to get an idea of how it plays (Spoiler: it plays like a bog-standard AAA third-person action game - played Shadow of Mordor or Assassin's Creed or Tomb Raider? It's basically that) but it was a frustratingly limited vertical slice. I completed the demo in about 30 seconds then had nothing to do but repeat the same thing about eight times.

      Looks like the For Honor demo is the same, but everyone else had left by the time the 4v4 match rolled around for my little group. Horizon is the same demo too, it's quite small but as someone who hasn't had hands on the game at all, I'm happy to just run around and hunt some robots.

    I suppose that banner over the South Park booth is what's known as biting satire, right?

    Bit miffed there's next to nothing Nintendo-wise. I mean, I wasn't expecting Switch units but if you were going there to actually get a temperature reading on stuff that's out soon like Zelda, you'd expect there to be playable demo units.

    It's a joke that you cannot play anything Pokemon-ish at all. Not even a Pokemon Go standee?

      Coon is Cartman's superhero name. It's the bite-iest of satire

        IIRC Coon & Friends (what the banner says) was also what he called their little Justice League

      There's a banner directing people to download the Pokemon Sun Moon demo on their 3DS, but it's weird that they didn't just load it up on a couple of their own devices for people to play. I'm pretty sure that all of the playable games at the Nintendo booth this year are actually already out.

    Might want to fix up the line "Sony has brought the recently released HTC Vive down to PAX again this year, and seem to have more devices set up than last year."

    Some how i don't think Sony is showing off the HTC Vive ;)

    As a Swinburne games student, I think I'm compelled to tell everyone to go the the Swinburne booth and try out Space Nomad that some friends of mine have been working on (I'm not personally doing that unit until next year but I have played the game and it's great so far).

    I haven't seen much else on the floor yet as I just spent the entire morning in a terribly run Overwatch tournament lol. Now waiting on Omegathon round 1 before I finally get a look out there. Excited to hear South Park is playable, can't wait to try it.

    Oh I legit didn't see Last Guardian was for only the photo Op. That's sort of lame.

    Side note, I didn't expect PAX to be this huge!

    I don't know if I just got a dodgy enforcer, but I was told that for PSVR you had to have a pre booked appointment, and that they were all booked online before today. Which would explain the small queue.

      That might just be after a certain time or something, they did that last year IIRC (I haven't checked out PSVR today so can't say for sure)

        There was a sign saying prebooked appointments when I passed by around 1 yesterday.

      That's how it was for PAX Prime (West). You download the app (I think it's Sony Playstation experience) and at 8pm the night before, the slots unlock and you pick a time. But be quick. They go super fast. It worked really well at Prime, so I wouldn't be surprised if they did it for Aus.

      The way they worked it at PAX West / Prime was that you downloaded the 'Playstation Experience' app on your phone and about 7pm slots opened up to book appointments for the following day. You booked a 30-minute window and when you rocked up to the area they checked you in by name and then had multiple demos going and you got shuffled into whichever became open next. I got to try Farpoint, and the people I was with tried I believe Batman and Psychonauts.

      Horizon was booked the same way through the same system.

    Seconding the call to visit the Swinburne booth. Several of my underclassmen are presenting there and they have some fantastic games available. I'd recommend Chromalocity in particular; it's a little bit Portal 2 and a little bit Sonic the Hedgehog.

    Additionally, check out Putty Pals and Hyper Jam in the PAX Rising Indie Arcade. Both are also developed by classmates of mine and are wonderful. If today was any indicator, you may have to fight through a pretty big crowd just to get to Hyper Jam!

      The student bar gets raised higher and higher each year, great job! :)

    I went to the Friday day of PAX (yesterday). Of what I saw, Watchdogs 2 and Dawn of War 3 were worth checking out.

    I personally think going to see the Watch Dogs 2 demo is worth going to see. I had a good laugh and the guy playing the demo in ways totally ignores the presenter.

    Also recommend indie game: Hyper Jam. Had an absolute ball on it.

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