PAX 2017 is quickly approaching, offering eager fans an inside look at some of their most anticipated games, complete with demonstrations, new trailers, and plenty of announcements. But while we’re certainly excited to see what our favorite publishers have in store for this year’s show, we can’t forget about the amazing lineup of titles shown off at PAX East in 2016.
From multiplayer shooters to intense survival horror and a delightful reimagining of a classic franchise, there were a ton of fantastic games shown off, and below are a few of our favorites. While some of these games have already been released — and we can thus guarantee you that they’re amazing — a few have yet to be released and could see another appearance at this year’s show.
There isn’t a developer on the planet that designs enormous cinematic spectacles better than Naughty Dog, and this is none more evident than in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. As Nathan Drake’s last hurrah, the narrative ties together his personal troubles with his long-lost brother, his marriage to Elena, and the loose ends that have drawn him back into the dangerous treasure-hunting world to which he had sworn to never return. Lengthy, but without wasting a second of its playtime, Uncharted 4 effortlessly shifts between quiet, intimate conversations, creative puzzles, platforming, and combat that finally lives up to the standard set by the series’ other elements.
Coming off the success of The Last of Us, Uncharted 4 certainly feels like a much different beast. Though its narrative certainly contains heartbreaking scenes, grisly deaths, and moral ambiguity, Naughty Dog doesn’t want you to have a bottle of booze in your hand but a box of popcorn. The game is a monumental thrill ride from start to finish, capped off by a brilliant closing sequence that not only suggests we could still see the series continue, but also brings Nathan’s journey to a satisfying and worthy conclusion. That isn’t to say, however, that we wouldn’t be completely pumped for Sam to take his place in a hypothetical fifth game — perhaps PlayStation will save that for a future PAX.
Blizzard’s multiplayer shooters Overwatch isn’t just one of the best games shown off during PAX East 2016: It’s one of the best games of all time. With a cast of unique and energetic characters packed with personality, some of the best competitive map design we’ve ever seen, and a control scheme that suits both newcomers as well as longtime shooter veterans, it comes shockingly close to the elusive “perfect” multiplayer game we didn’t know was possible. With so many other strong shooters like Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 released in 2016, it’s a testament to Overwatch’s quality that it’s the game we kept returning to.
But Overwatch isn’t the same game that it was at launch last May. Blizzard has continued to deliver frequent updates that tweak gameplay mechanics, introduce brand new modes, and even grant access to additional characters and maps — and it’s all for free, which keeps the community together while other multiplayer shooters fragment and separate their players. With rumored new characters like Doomfist, and Efi Oladele — a robotic specialist hailing from the scientific utopia of Numbani — as well as frequent holiday updates, 2017 is looking to be an even better year for Overwatch.
2004’s Doom 3 took Id Software’s series into a more serious direction, complete with horror elements, tense, terrifying combat, and a story that painted a grim vision for humanity’s future. 2016’s game, simply titled Doom, throws all of that out the window and shoots it 37 times with a Super Shotgun. Irreverent, goofy, insanely violent, and with just enough narrative to justify killing another pile of demons, the game is an exhilarating and often hilarious ride from the main menu all the way until the credits roll.
The game’s “who cares?” tone shouldn’t be confused for its developers’ apathy, however. Doom is a brilliantly constructed shooter, with smooth, quick movement, an impressive selection of weapons, and a melee kill mechanic that helps to dictate the flow of the combat. Its dual settings — an overrun Mars space station and Hell itself — feel completely different from each other, and hopping between the two so frequently helps to cement our appreciation of them. We were just hoping Doom would fare well against 2016’s competition, but the game helped to forge a new identify for a studio that had been on the decline.
Cuphead seems like it has been in development for an eternity, but every time we’re greeted to new gameplay footage from the classic film-inspired run-and-gun, we’re reminded of just how much care and effort is going into Studio MDHR’s game. Its black and white visuals and instantly recognizable characters create a universe that feels like it could rival early Disney films, coupled with “cigarette burns” and other film imperfections that transport the player into the 1928 masterpiece Steamboat Willie.
The extra time Cuphead has gotten in the kiln hasn’t just gone to bug fixes and “polish.” The game has morphed from a glorified “boss rush” mode into a full-fledged platformer complete with enemies and collectibles that pay pretty clear homage to classic games like Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man. We just hope that it won’t be too many more PAX events before we’ll actually be able to get our hands on the final product.
Sure, Resident Evil 7 already blew us away this year with its mix of atmospheric storytelling and terrifying jump-scares, but it would be a mistake to forget where Capcom’s soft reboot got many of its best ideas: the original Outlast. Taking away nearly every tool we typically take for granted in a horror game — including a weapon and a map — Outlast was terrifying without ever relying on the tropes that led to the decline of the traditional horror game several years ago. Outlast 2 looks to amp up the scares ever further, placing you in the classic horror game role of an investigative journalist who must venture into a scarcely populated Arizona to look into the death of a pregnant woman.
Developer Red Barrels is so confident in its ability to scare your pants off that it attempted to fund a Kickstarter for “Underscares,” an adult diaper designed specifically for use while playing Outlast 2. Though the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, it certainly has us wondering if we should go pick up a few packs of Depend Night Defense before we dive into the full game.
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