PAX DAY III, Day IV, & The Conclusion
Updated: Nov 27
Highway to Baldur’s Gate …. Bill Gates Stole My Dream …. Crank Console .... AT&T 3D Extravaganza
Hung Over It …. Is It Oktoberfest Already? .… VOVLY …. Getting the Gang into Nintendo Live
Slipping Bax Into Reality|Hindsight is 20/20|PAX Means Peace In Latin
Highway to Baldur’s Gate
I was wiped getting back to PAX West Day 3 on Sunday, September 3rd. Today's big-ticket goal was to check out “Baldur’s Gate 3” (about a week before the console release) and the Playdate later in the day. Like the rest of the world, Sam and I were both unbelievably hyped by the trailers, gameplay, reviews, and entire concept of “Baldur’s Gate.” At this point, it had been released on PC about three weeks ago, but this was both Sam's and my first time trying it and the game was on a Playstation 5– this was the demo for the unreleased PS5 version and the split screen functionality. We were just blown away.
Throughout PAX Sam and I had been flapping our lips back and forth about how there aren’t really any good couch co-op split-screen games anymore. Other than “It Takes Two” (which, admittedly I still haven’t finished, but enjoyed enough), “Overcooked” (which is fantastic but only in short bursts because it’s stressful), “A Way Out” (which was sort of good? Interesting for sure, though I also only got ¾ of the way through it because I moved away from my brother/Xbox for college), and all of the multiplayer Switch games it feels like there’s been a constant lack of immersive and exciting multiplayer games. Well, “Baldur’s Gate III” fills that hole by providing a complete Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) experience packaged with gorgeous AAA graphics. It offers the player(s) practically unlimited options, paths, and consequences for their actions. It’s so tough to describe why this game is unparalleled. Simply put: you can practically do anything-- create your own unique path every single playthrough. Your character's motivations may be affected by aggression, charisma, lust, greed, religion, racism, etc. depending on which direction the player wants to take the party and character, respectively. It's sort of like the decision tree in "Disco Elysium" multiplied exponentially. The player begins the game just like D&D, creating a character with insane levels of specificity, including choosing the size, shape, attributes, morals, and both the type and size of their genitals (including no genitals–naturally). As you stumble through the campaign and massive, consequential world, you’ll be faced with a mixed bag of moral and trivial quandaries that have limitless options for approaching them, complicated further by your class, race, and past decisions. I still am only about five hours into the prologue so I can’t speak too much about the consequences of your party’s actions, but it’s tremendous. If you’re somehow still on the fence about "Baldur's Gate," just get it.
Bill Gates Stole My Dream
Traversing from “Baldur’s,” I noticed a small gray camper van advertising “Starfield” and a contest for a moon pillow. I didn’t even think of taking a picture, but whatever. At PAX West they didn’t have demos of "Starfield" even though it was releasing in about two weeks. It was just this dumb moon pillow contest and camper van. It was so frustrating being reminded of the game, seeing the logo, and learning that this was just for a stupid raffle. I’m also a PS5 gamer so I can’t run “Starfield” on my console which is so fucking dumb. Fuck Bill Gates, buying one of the biggest game studios and making Xbox/PC exclusives out of these games. The Vaccine King grew up in Seattle and established Microsoft here– yet his company couldn’t set up a demo of the game? Probably because it’s still a glitchy mess that’s not done a month after release. Classic Bethesda. “Starfield” has such mid-reviews anyway, maybe it's a blessing in disguise. I think I’d still have fun with it, but I thought I’d still have fun with “Fallout 76” even after the horrifying reports and… I did not. “Kill Bill, Burn Bethesda” is my new mantra. No more game pass for me.
As a side note, “Baldur’s Gate 3” on Xbox has been delayed for over a month, dramatically behind PS5. Good shit Billy Boy.
Created in a stellar collaboration between Panic and Teenage Engineering, the Playdate was on display at PAX West 2023. This adorable machine took me right out of my Bill Gates hate and convention fatigue. The Playdate immediately reinvigorated my nostalgic gamer spirit like I just took a swig of ambrosia. It looks like a little yellow Gameboy with an A and B button and a directional pad that has a signature crank on the side with this beautifully pixelated 400x240 screen. Most games incorporate the crank into the gameplay in a unique way and all the titles are built exclusively for the Playdate. The Playdater just has these games tailored to this unique console that’re released once a week for 12 weeks (totaling 24 games a year). There’s also a heavy emphasis on community-created games and the devs seem to make it uncomplicated for people to create their own games and share them with other Playdaters. Panic and Teenage Engineering clearly put a lot of love into the console and it’s an absolutely tranquil trip. While I won't be buying it for myself because I don't have the funds or time right now, it seems like a great purchase for someone looking for a meditative way to wind down at the end of the day. Or an Xmas present...
AT&T 3D Extravaganza
This was honestly a really sick booth that we randomly checked out because there was no line. They basically let you dance or move around for 10 seconds, and record you in 3-D with at least 20+ cameras all around you 360 degrees. This enables them to create a 3-D AR model of the recorded person that you can place anywhere. You can implement the AR video in any real-world environment, and it was a free booth with no line at the time, so absolutely a highlight.
Is It Oktoberfest Already?
Since I was so tired already today I decided not to get out of bed till around noon. When I looked at my phone, Sam had texted me saying that Lil Woody’s had free burgers and $3 beers for Labor Day– woohoo. That got me right out of bed as I rushed over there to get a bite and catch a fade before trudging back to the final day of PAX. God bless Lil Woody’s.
For Devolver Digital’s annual game reveal on YouTube, they pulled a “Tim and Eric” type sketch where the company created a fake mascot that they pretended had been around since the 70’s and revamped it into a robot. The mascot's name is Volvy and he’s an AI-powered supercomputer that can combine two game genres to create a mishmash of the two games, which are showcases of real Devolver games in the pipeline. For instance, when prompted to make a co-op survival sandbox with wizards, Volvy ‘created’ “Wizard With a Gun” (which looks like a sick game by the way). It’s probably my favorite game direct of all time, check it out, it's a riot. Anyway, I ended up buying an awesome yellow, Japanese VOLVY shirt at the convention– that’s the only merch I purchased over the four-day stretch, it's sick.
Getting the Gang into Nintendo Live
On the tail end of the final day, Sam & I felt like we had seen about everything and we met up with a few other friends. As I promised Sam on day two, I indeed did ensure that he got into Nintendo Live. To accomplish this, we stood outside of the Convention Center for only about 30 minutes, about three hours before the event concluded, asking people with Nintendo Live wristbands if we could get their band to get into the 'exclusive' club. People were honestly really nice about it, they either ignored us or tried (sometimes to no avail) to get the pass off their wrist. The first lady I asked for a pass from was a heavyset lady around 45 years old, she was alone so I figured she’d be easily sympathetic to our plight. Anyway, she was hesitant at first and then said, “Why not, if you get in trouble it’s your own fault.” It took her a good five minutes to get the wristband off because it was so tight and she was trying to squeeze her giant, paw-like hand out of the tight wristband. Eventually, she wrestled it off and we successfully got our first pass.
After that, we asked several people who curtly responded, “No.” or just ignored us. After a while, we saw a group of two moms and six kids– the perfect gaggle of people to ask. They were super nice and the kids were able to slip their wristbands off effortlessly, we even got an extra one to give to a friend who was arriving a little later on. Hot tip– when getting passes for something, ask families/kids, they’re extremely sympathetic.
I don’t really have much to add about my second trip to Nintendo Live, but here are some more pictures! Check out my PAX Day II coverage for more coverage on Nintendo Live.
Slipping Bax Into Reality|Hindsight is 20/20|PAX Means Peace In Latin
Overall the convention was delightful! Had I done it again, I would only have done it for two days- the last two were fucking exhausting. The fatigue I felt afterward was like the massive hangover you feel during that six-hour drive home from a four-day crazy rave, for days after. It was exhausting. There are a ton of awesome games coming out post-COVID and I’m glad I got to visit PAX with press credentials and do a write-up about it. The one amendment I’d like to make is regarding my Day II “Mario Wonder” review. It’s a tremendous game. I ended up buying it and it’s so fucking fun– while the elephant power is kinda meh and the music is much more low-key (certainly not my favorite Mario OST), but the level design and emphasis on weird and fun little trials makes this game a blast.
Thanks for reading my PAX West trilogy! I hope you enjoyed it! ~Kuyper