So another PAX East is in the books. Having been there for the first time myself, I can say that it’s something every gamer should try to experience at least once if possible. The addition of PAX South in San Antonio next year means more people will get the chance to do just that.
There weren’t too many earth-shaking announcements for later in the year — we’ll get those at E3, hopefully — but it was an effective showcase for some of the new video game releases we’ll see this very week. That’s called synergy!
So what’s on tap? A next-gen (or current gen, if you think we should use that term now to refer to the PS4 and Xbox One) version of one of the greatest do-overs in video game history, some hot motorcycle action and a mobile continuation of a popular franchise. Don’t turn your nose up at that last one, because it looks good.
Let’s get into it, starting … now!
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4) – April 14
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again? That’s not always the way it works in gaming, but it did for Final Fantasy XIV. Pretty much a dud when it was originally released in 2010, it got new life last year, and with the exception of a rocky launch, people mostly loved the results. It was a gutsy move by Square Enix to face up to the fact that they let the fans down, but a smart one to not give up on the game.
While this isn’t a true next-gen RPG, it is nice to see it coming to PS4, where the MMO options are basically nil so far and the RPG options aren’t exactly robust. Early reports are that it looks great, comparable to the PC version on its highest settings. Our Nathan Ball will be working on his review over the next few days, so we’ll see how he feels about it.
Trials Fusion (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360) – April 16
This game had one of the more interesting displays at PAX East because there were live BMX riders doing tricks at regular intervals. That was eyebrow-raising for two reasons: one is that there were live BMX riders inside the booth, which is something you just don’t see every day. The other thing is that Trials Fusion isn’t a BMX game but a motocross game, and even though I’m not a big action sports guy, even I know those aren’t the same things.
Anyway … Trials Fusion does look pretty cool, as it tiptoes the line between simple controls and challenging difficulty. The track editor should also be a treat, but the tracks already included in the game are bound to be plenty good on their own. Don’t confuse this one with Trials Frontier — that’s the mobile game that just came out last week.
Hitman GO (iOS) – April 17
Go ahead and admit it: when you heard Hitman GO was a mobile game, you rolled your eyes and started writing it off right away. Even though I came into this business from the mobile space, I’m not offended by that reaction, because game companies have a solid history of screwing up console/PC franchises when bringing them to smartphones and tablets.
The trick is that the games need to respect their franchises while still standing on their own, and I’m happy to say that from what I’ve seen and the reaction of people to Hitman GO at PAX East, this game is going to pleasantly surprise a lot of people. The gameplay is a smart new twist on the brand, the visual style is fresh and original, and it’s not free-to-play, so you’re not going to get bombarded by IAPs. Give this one a look before you dismiss it.
Secrets of Rætikon (PC) – April 17
If you’re looking for something that truly is different, this might be the game for you this week. Secrets of Rætikon is an open world action-adventure game, but not the kind you’re used to playing. It’s got a unique design aesthetic that covers everything from the gameplay to the visuals.
Oh, and it’s got animals. Everyone likes those, right? For the gamers who like to complain that too many titles focus around the damage you can do with guns, swords or whatever, this is a sign that there are other things out there for you if you’re willing to seek them out.
Also releasing this week: War of the Vikings (PC) – April 15; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (PS3) – April 15; 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (PS3, Xbox 360) – April 15; Moebius: Empire Rising (PC, Mac) – April 15; Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (3DS, Vita) – April 15