Major announcements like new title releases, updates to existing games and news about new hardware were made this past weekend in Boston at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX East). Here’s your recap of some of the biggest announcements about what to expect in the coming year in the gaming industry.
Blizzard (“Hearthstone,” “Heroes of the Storm,” “Overwatch”)
The biggest announcements this year came from Blizzard, the company best known for being responsible for “World of Warcraft.” Their announcements touched on their three newest titles: “Hearthstone,” “Heroes of the Storm” and “Overwatch.”
“Hearthstone’s” second adventure was revealed to be Blackrock Mountain, styled after the infamous mountain in “World of Warcraft,” that was filled with dragons, dwarves and evil fire elementals. It will bring with it five new wings, 31 new cards and a new game board. Pricing will be similar to the first adventure “Naxxramas,” with the added option of pre-ordering the expansion.
“Heroes of the Storm” made big announcements as well, introducing Sylvanas Windrunner, the Dark Lady, as the game’s newest hero. Blizzard also showed off a new battleground, “Tomb of the Spider Queen,” in addition to some minor UI changes.
Lastly, “Overwatch” will be receiving two new playable characters in the form of Zarya, a Russian soldier with a particle cannon and McCree, a cowboy-styled bounty hunter. To compliment these is a new map, Gibraltar that seems quite similar to the payload maps in “Team Fortress 2.”
Square Enix (“Final Fantasy”)
Square Enix made some big announcements about their flagship MMORPG, “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.” The game will be receiving its first expansion in June, “Heavensword,” which will add a new playable race (the dragon-like ‘Au Ra’), three new classes and a mysterious land known as Dravania. There will also be a new end-game raid called “Alexander” for players of all skill levels.
In addition, the expansion will introduce flying mounts, which some have questioned. Blizzard released flying mounts early on in “World of Warcraft’s” history, but have since been taking positions against their continued involvement in the game, going as far as to ban them from the newly released ‘Draenor.’ Perhaps Square Enix should consult industry veterans before adding the feature.
Valve (Steam Machine/Controller)
At the Alienware booth, consumers had the opportunity to try out the newly designed Steam Controller alongside the Steam Machine.
Although Valve did not, to my knowledge, make any huge announcements, allowing consumers to get an impression of what the final product will be is notable on its own. Reactions towards the controller online seem relatively mixed, with some interested in the direction Valve seems to be heading, while others have derided the touchpad as unnecessary and too far from the standard controller designs.
New Indie Titles
“Jotun” – I might pick this one up for the art alone. “Jotun” is an entirely hand-drawn puzzle/adventure game set in the pre-afterlife of Norse mythology. It’s still heavily in development, but you can check out its official website or its Steam page for more information.
“Necropolis” – An insanely difficult looking (I’m talking if “Dark Souls” and “Super Meat Boy” had a baby difficult) dungeon crawler and platformer that looks like it has some heavy elements of cubism in its design style. The trailer ends with the line, “DEATH HAPPENS,” so I would go into this expecting to die a lot.
Based on what I watched and saw at PAX, it’s going to be a wild ride in the year ahead. Of course, this is a very limited selection of what we’re going to get, and things may change, but for now, consider me very optimistic about the rest of 2015.