PAX West was as big a show as it's ever been in 2017. The show took up even more space in downtown Seattle than it has before. Of course, when you're job is to cover games, all that means is that you end up doing a lot of walking.
The show's timing in the late summer is the perfect time to make the show a place to display some of this year's biggest upcoming titles. I got some significant hands-on time with eight of the biggest games planned for late 2017 and early 2018. Here's a rundown of what's coming and how it looks.
The Evil Within 2
Full disclosure here first, horror games are not, generally speaking, my genre of choice. Having said that I can pretty confidently say that if they are yours, you'll be quite happy with The Evil Within 2. The game made my skin crawl and very nearly had me jumping out of my seat at multiple points, and that was just during the demo. The sorts of things I saw just in the opening portion of the game gave me a chill wondering what would come next, and honestly being nervous about what would come next. If you liked the dark and sinister creep fest that was the first game, the sequel will likely be everything you're looking for. Resident Evil may be back to trying to generate real scares, but The Evil Within 2 is a franchise that looks like it's going to try and take the crown.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
The Wolfenstein franchise has had many ups and downs over the years but it appears to be going through something of a resurgence thanks to the recent reboot. I played through the first level of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, which sees our hero confined to a wheelchair due to the injuries he has previously received. On the one hand, the wheelchair made things interesting, as it meant that you didn't quite have the mobility you're used to having in an FPS. Having said that, the limitation also made the first level feel a little stiff and slow. It was an FPS, but that's really all it was. There's little doubt that the game will open up as it progresses, but it would have been nice to play something from that part of the game instead, as there was little here to get excited about.
The Secret Of Mana
Classic RPG fans rejoice, The Secret of Mana has received a full remake and you're old enough to have played, and fallen in love with, the original, the new game puts a brand new coat of paint on everything you loved. It's hard to believe one of the greatest RPGs ever made is coming out for current consoles and it's fantastic. I'd honestly hadn't realized how much of the original Super Nintendo game had made an impression until playing through the opening section of the remake felt so damn familiar. The Secret of Mana is an action RPG that still puts the primary focus on the RPG and not the action. If you miss games like that, or have never actually played one, play TheSecret of Mana.
Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was one of those games that seemingly came out of nowhere. Nobody seemed to be prepared for the licensed game tie-in to be so damn good. However, it was. The engaging combat and the nemesis system won people over. The follow-up, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, looks to bring more of the same slicing and dicing combat, along with the addition of new siege missions which promise to keep things fresh enough that you won't get bored. My exposure to the previous game was minimal, but I have to say that playing Shadow of War has me interested in playing both games.
Three-dimensional Sonic the Hedgehog games are like the Gordian knot of video games. For some reason, it's seemingly been impossible to solve. However, recent 3D Sonic games like Sonic Colors have begun to find the answer to the impossible equation. Sonic Forces focuses on the parts of recent 3D Sonic games that have been generally praised, while cutting out the parts that haven't worked. This means lots of fun, fast paced racing and high-speed combat. New game modes also change things up by giving you characters and abilities that let you play through levels differently, but without losing the speed that any game named Sonic needs to have. While it took me a bit of time to get the timing down for a game that moves so fast, once I did, I found everything truly satisfying, a feeling I probably haven't felt since Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
The LEGO games have always been good for a bit of fun but LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 takes all of that to an entirely new level. Now you can play with virtually any Marvel character you like as the roster is huge. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will almost certainly enjoy the new LEGO game as it takes more than a few cues from the MCU. I played through the opening sequence of the game, which puts the player in the shoes of the Guardians of the Galaxy, complete with a 70s pop soundtrack playing over the beginning, literally one of the same songs you hear in the first movie. Each member of the Guardians had unique and interesting abilities, though it's hard to beat flying around like Star-Lord. If there's a potential down side to so much happening in the new game, it's that the screen can get awfully crowded with characters, making it a bit difficult to see what you're supposed to do. Though, it's not like LEGO games are particularly difficult.
Dauntless isn't a big AAA name like the rest of the games on this list. Still, Dauntless was one of the more fun games that I got my hands on at PAX. Dauntless is a four player co-op game that pits a team against a single monster and challenges you to defeat it. The game can be described as Evolve meets Dark Souls and while it's not quite that simple, if you like taking down big scary monsters, Dauntless promises to have the variety of creatures along a significant enough difficulty curve to keep things interesting. The game is currently in closed Beta,
Square Enix created the Tokyo RPG Shop specifically to bring the classic JRPG style of the 90s to a new generation. The studio's first title, I Am Setsuna, was met with a fair amount of praise, and Lost Sphear looks to only improve on what the first game started. Lost Sphear is an entirely new and standalone story, but the team has build on what they've learned from the last game to improve the new game in several ways. While the turn based combat system will be familiar to anybody who has played a classic RPG, the need to actually physically position your characters for the best attack means it's not as simple as tapping the attack button over and over again. Also, it's got mechs, so that's cool.