The Games of PAX East 2019
For a long time, PAX has been a popular destination for fans and developers alike to share their passion for gaming. It's also an excellent place to get your finger on the pulse of what's new and exciting. With PAX East 2019 here, taking place in Boston from March 28-31, GameSpot will be on location exploring the show floor to check out the latest games and share our thoughts for those who can't make it to the show this year.
To give you an idea of what to expect from PAX East 2019, we've put together a rundown of games that will make an appearance at the show. One of the headliners for the show is the reveal of Borderlands 3. At its own panel, developer Gearbox Software released a lengthy gameplay trailer for Borderlands 3 and also announced a Game of the Year version of the first Borderlands.
But alongside that, there are new titles from Yacht Club Games and Devolver Digital. We're also seeing more gameplay from Streets of Rage 4 and the newest DLC for the roguelike Dead Cells. Over the course of the show, we'll be updating this gallery to include our thoughts on what we've played, and when you expect can play them. So with that, here are several games for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch that will be at PAX East 2019.
If you want to see more of GameSpot's coverage of PAX East 2019, including updates, videos, and the latest news, be sure to visit our hub page rounding up the best of the show.
Alt-Frequencies | PC, Mobile | Accidental Queens | Release: TBD
Accidental Queens has built up a reputation for crafting unique, narrative-driven mobile games. The studio's previous efforts, A Normal Lost Phone and Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story, both had players gradually piecing their narratives together by sifting through messages and apps left on someone else's phone, thus utilizing the platform they're played on in clever ways while simultaneously examining our relationship with technology. Its upcoming game, Alt-Frequencies, likewise uses mobile interfaces to great effect, telling a compelling story around hidden frequencies.
Unlike Accidental Queens' previous titles, Alt-Frequencies is audio-based. The story, which unfolds through various radio stations, revolves around a time loop. In just a few days, the government is holding a vote over whether or not to implement the time loop, and as you surf through the stations you'll hear different radio hosts--from typical DJs to news reporters and conspiracy theorists--discussing the upcoming vote (among other topics). However, as you channel surf, you also intercept a hidden message, which reveals the vote is a cover and the time loop has already been implemented. Before the message fades out, it implores you to ask questions and discover the truth.
Your task then becomes to listen to the different radio stations, record clues and clips of interest, and send them to other stations, altering the time loop and progressing the story. You'll swipe left or right on the screen to change channels, swipe down to record a clip, and then swipe upward to broadcast that clip to another station. The entire experience becomes a sort of puzzle, as you need to listen carefully to the broadcasts and suss out which clips will affect the story. It's a compelling premise and another thought-provoking entry in Accidental Queens' portfolio.
Barotrauma | PC | Undertow Games & Fakefish | Release: Spring 2019 (Early Access)
In Barotrauma, you'll have to use whatever resources and skills your crew has in order to survive. As a 2D survival-sim set in the incredibly hostile environment of Jupiter's moon Europa, you'll manage the resources of your crew trying to stay alive in the crumbling habitats below the surface. With your supplies dwindling, and more threats to your crew revealing themselves, you'll have to make some tough decisions for the sake of your group, some of which include choosing to utilize lost alien relics that may increase your chances of survival.
Bloodroots | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Paper Cult | Release: TBD 2019
Bloodroots is set in a chaotic world where might is right, and you'll take on the role of Mr. Wolf, a lone warrior seeking revenge against those who betrayed him. Essentially Hotline Miami by way of a Jackie Chan action-film, you'll be able to use every object you can get your hands on as a weapon, including barrels, lumber, and other inanimate objects. Coming from developer Paper Cult, Bloodroots keeps its action moving and at a fast pace, allowing you to chain a series of brutal, over-the-top kills together in quick succession.
Our hands-on time at PAX showed a game that mixed its playful ultra-violence with a surprising amount of humor. Almost everything is a weapon, including food items like carrots, cabbage, and an entire roast turkey. That particular humiliating demise comes from running about the battlefield until the enemy hits something painful, or just suffocating inside a poultry helmet. Ouch.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | ArtPlay | Release: TBD 2019
Coming from Koji Igarashi, one of the key developers behind Konami's Castlevania series, Bloodstained is often seen as a return to form for the classic Metroidvania sub-genre. Taking direct inspiration from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the game that ushered in a big change for the series, Bloodstained places a great focus on exploring its large interconnected world while gradually collecting new weapons and abilities for your character. Funded on Kickstarter and now being published by 505 Games, the Metroidvania-style action-RPG is heading towards its release later this year.
Borderlands 3 | Platform: TBD | Gearbox Software | Release: TBD
After numerous teases online, Gearbox Software revealed the next entry in their "looter-shooter" action-RPG series at PAX East 2019. Just like in the previous games, Borderlands 3 will have you take on the role of a vault hunter who battles countless bandits, monsters, and ruthless warlords--all the while collecting tons of new guns. In the trailer, we saw brief glimpses of the new cast of playable characters, one of whom can conjure up multiple arms made of pure energy. The next game will also see the return of many familiar faces throughout the series' ten-year history, including Brick, Lilith, and Claptrap.
For more on Borderlands 3, including the debut trailer and along with our thoughts on what was revealed, be sure to check out our continuing coverage.
BoxBoy + BoxGirl | Switch | Nintendo | Release: April 26, 2019
Nintendo's adorable, square hero Qbby seemingly bid farewell to the world with his 3DS curtain call, 2017's Bye-Bye BoxBoy, but the blocky protagonist is making a comeback next month in his first outing for Nintendo Switch: BoxBoy + BoxGirl. The game arrives on the Switch Eshop on April 26, and this time around, Qbby shares the spotlight with Qucy, who a second player can control in a new cooperative mode that boasts its own unique assortment of levels designed around teamwork.
Developer HAL Laboratory has made a few other changes in BoxBoy + BoxGirl as well, but the game is otherwise a classic BoxBoy adventure, retaining the same gameplay and charmingly minimalistic look the series is known for (albeit now with an HD sheen). As before, your objective is to navigate through a myriad of bite-sized puzzle-platforming levels, using Qbby and Qucy's ability to create rows of boxes to reach high ledges, press buttons, and clear other environmental obstacles. Complicating things, each level restricts how many boxes you're able to conjure up at a time, forcing you to think carefully about how you shape your rows.
BoxBoy + BoxGirl boasts 270 new stages, each of which features collectible crowns and other secondary objectives to encourage repeated plays. And once you clear the game, you'll open up the option to play as the rectangular Qudy, who has his own assortment of levels designed around his unique shape. If you've enjoyed previous BoxBoy games, BoxBoy + BoxGirl looks like another great installment in what is fast becoming one of Nintendo's best new IPs.
Creature In The Well | PC, Switch | Flight School Studio | Release: Summer 2019
When you first see Creature in the Well, you'll think pinball, but in practice, this action game feels more like a twin-stick shooter. You don't have to worry about letting a ball slip by your flippers; instead, your hero swings a sword to charge up and launch balls all around the room. As these fly into bumpers and other contraptions, you rack up points. Get enough, and you can open the door to the next chamber.
Yes, that does sound like pinball, but here's the thing: some of those bumpers are actually turrets that fire lasers right back at you. You can dash past lasers and other traps as you smack pinballs around each room, and you'll need to master those mechanics if you hope to survive the game's intense boss encounters against the titular creature in the well.
Creature in the Well was first introduced during the Nindies Spring Showcase, and it's headed to PC and Nintendo Switch this summer.
Cyber Shadow | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch | Yacht Club Games | Release: TBD
Yacht Club’s first foray into publishing comes from one-man developer Aarne "MekaSkull" Hunziker with Cyber Shadow. The dark and gritty action game is set against a post-apocalyptic future, starring a cybernetic ninja with a mysterious past. While Hunziker has spent years developing the game by hand, Yacht Club is assisting with marketing and business dealings, as well as providing feedback on level design.
At PAX East, Hunziker described the title as the darker side of 8-bit games. If Shovel Knight was an homage to the happy-go-lucky but hard-as-nails games we remember from the NES era, Cyber Shadow is a hat tip to the grimmer side. Ninja Gaiden is the clearest influence, but it has definite shades of Contra and Batman as well. Pixel-perfect precision with a challenge that always feels fair is the key to recalling those heady days sitting on the carpet in front of a CRT TV, and on that front it appears to deliver. Cyber Shadow is coming to Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Dangerous Driving | PC, PS4, Xbox One | Three Fields Entertainment | Release: April 9, 2019
It's been a very long time since the last Burnout game from developer Criterion Software, who've long since moved on to the Need For Speed series and other projects at EA. However, former Criterion developer Alex Ward and his new studio, Three Fields Entertainment, have made their own spiritual successor to the action-racer with Dangerous Driving. Focusing on the classic fast-paced action and brutal wrecks shown off in slow-motion, the new racing game places a lot of emphasis on putting the pedal to the metal and coming away unscathed.
Dauntless | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Phoenix Labs | Release: April 2019
Though Dauntless has been in beta since 2018, it's now ready for its full launch this Summer --with the PC version coming exclusively to the Epic Store. Essentially a free-to-play take on the familiar Monster Hunter set-up, you'll be able to craft and utilize a set of powerful weapons to take out larger-than-life creatures that roam the wilderness.
Dead Cells: Rise of the Giant | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | MotionTwin | Release: March 28, 2019
The developers at MotionTwin have shown off a new expansion for Dead Cells that adds an even greater challenge to the already difficult action game. With the Rise of the Giant DLC, you'll take the undead warrior to two new dungeons where you'll find new monsters, uncover lost treasure, and ultimately face off against the strongest enemy in the entire game.
That boss is found in the new Astrolab biome, only available after toppling The Hand of the King with four Boss Stem Cells in hand. It's the toughest boss MotionTwin has designed yet, and simply reaching its home turf sounds plenty challenging. The expansion's other boss, the titular Giant, is found in the second new stage, Cavern. Accessed after the Stilt Village, this biome will see your undead warrior facing down giant bird-like enemies and other new beasts.
Rise of the Giant is live now in the PC version of Dead Cells, and it's totally free as a thank you to the game's active community. The expansion is headed to other platforms at a later date.
Destiny's Sword | PC | 2Dog Games | Release: 2020
Destiny’s Sword is blend of genres and influences. It’s a sci-fi multiplayer tactical game, pitting teams of players against tough AI-controlled opponents. Each of your characters has their own skills and abilities, and your custom deck of cards can be used to help your human allies manning the other squads in combat. But as unusual as that combination may be, it’s the emphasis on mental health that proves the most surprising.
Each of your soldiers has a matrix of emotional responses, represented by a color-coded chart. These emotional responses can present themselves in combat, but they’re much more prevalent outside of combat, when you’re debriefing your troops in the barracks and probing what’s on their minds. One might recall a harrowing story from a past mission, while another might recount some interpersonal drama with another soldier. Every story has several emotional touchpoints, and how you respond can impact both how they feel about their various traumas, and how much they trust you.
Developer 2Dogs Games is working with mental health organizations and veterans groups to assure it represents these elements with fairness and respect. While it’s still early in development--2Dogs is targeting a 2020 release--it’s an unexpectedly compassionate look at warfare and the people it impacts the most.
Falcon Age | PS4 | OuterLoop | Release: April 9, 2019
Falcon Age puts you in the role of a wandering hero who must use his pet falcon to find and procure items for their journey. Over the course of their adventure, the pair will learn more about the land and their culture, all the while fighting off robotic invaders looking to colonize their home. Playable in or out of VR and with standard controls and motion-controls--allowing you to further interact with your bird--Falcon Age features an interesting approach to the first-person adventure that will get you to bond with your feathered ally.
Heave Ho | PC, Switch | Le Cartel | Release: Mid-2019
The developers behind ultra-violent brawler Mother Russia Bleeds have gone down a decidedly different path with their next project with Devolver Digital. Heave Ho is a physics-based platformer where you control a disembodied head and well as the individual motion and grips of the two arms attached to it. The goal is to grapple and climb your way through a variety of stages without falling to your death.
It might look and sound straightforward, but where Heave Ho really shines is in its 4-player local multiplayer mode, best accompanied (at least in our experience) with a few beers. Communication and cooperation, no matter how poor, are key to making Heave Ho the raucous, entertaining experience it can be. You'll be trying to coordinate who's grabbing what, where we're swinging to, how we're going to transport the coin to the goal, and OH GOD WHY DID YOU LET GO?!!
A release on Nintendo Switch is the smart, obvious move for a party game like this one. We'll see how it holds up when it releases in the middle of 2019.
Indivisible | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Lab Zero | Release: TBD 2019
Developed by Lab Zero, the creators of the fan-favorite fighting game Skullgirls, Indivisible is the team's first crack at making an action-RPG. Paying homage to cult JRPG games like Valkyrie Profile, Indivisible focuses heavily on controlling your party of characters simultaneously, letting you pull off some exciting combos with well-timed spells and attacks.
Iratus: Lord of the Dead | PC | Unfrozen | Release: TBD 2019
Taking on the role of a resurrected necromancer, you'll command a squad of demons and undead creatures as you make your way across the frozen Norse landscape. In a similar vein to Darkest Dungeon, you'll manage and improve your squad of minions in the face of increasingly more challenges threats. However, the twist in Iratus: Lord of the Dead is that your army is made up of fallen warriors resurrected from previous battles. By pooling together resources and the spools of war, you'll be able to conjure up increasingly powerful demons to further plans to take control of the land.
Katana Zero | PC, Switch | Askiisoft | Release: April 18, 2019
In Askiisoft and Devolver Digital's Katana Zero, you'll play as a wandering katana-wielding mercenary who possesses the ability to control time, allowing him to cut through hordes of enemies with ease. Katana Zero blends the action and pacing from a retro-action game with the time-bending antics from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. With the central character able to die in one hit, you'll have to rewind time to just prior to your death and do things slightly different to clear the stage.
For such an action-oriented game, it may surprise players that it has a complex winding narrative based on dialogue choices, or even the choice to interrupt NPCs as they speak. Check out our hands-on impressions for more details. Katana Zero is coming to PC and Switch on April 18.
Killer Queen Black | PC, Xbox One, Switch | Liquid Bit | Release: Summer 2019
The original Killer Queen is a pretty massive arcade cabinet, but developer Liquid Bit is bringing the experience to your home with Killer Queen Black. While the original cabinet supports 10 players in 5-on-5 competition, Black has 4-on-4 for a total of 8.
One player takes on the role of Queen, while their three teammates function as Drones. You can win a round by completing one of three objectives: killing the enemy queen thrice for a military victory, bringing berries back to the hive for an economic victory, or riding the snail to your side of the map for a snail victory. That's easier said than done, as the Queen can spear and kill Drones, forcing them to respawn, and Drones can upgrade their speed or strength to fight back.
Killer Queen Black includes new weapons and skills for the various Drones and Queens to use, and you'll be able to play competitive multiplayer online. It also sports a different art style than the original arcade game. You can see it for yourself on PC and Nintendo Switch this summer, with a Game Pass release on Xbox One later in the year.
Kunai | PC, Switch | TurtleBlaze | Release: TBD
Countless games over the years have put players in the role of a ninja, but Kunai from TurtleBlaze is a little different. Instead of casting you as a typical Japanese assassin, the game puts you in control of Tabby, a tablet infused with the soul of an ancient ninja. It's an odd premise, to be sure, but the game embraces it wholeheartedly, making for a charming, fast-paced Metroidvania adventure.
Kunai is set in a derelict, post-apocalyptic world where an army of evil robots has wiped out most of humanity. In true Metroid fashion, you must explore the expansive landscape, using the abilities you gradually acquire to navigate the environment and cut down enemies. The first one you'll find is your katana, but that's only scratching the surface of your arsenal; as you travel deeper into the world, you'll acquire other weapons like machine guns and add new ninja tricks to your repertoire, such as a dash that allows you to phase through thin walls.
Your most versatile tools, however, are the titular kunai. You'll pick up a pair of them early on in the adventure, but rather than using them to dispatch foes, these are more akin to grappling hooks. Throw the kunai at walls and you'll be able to swing across chasms and climb up 90-degree surfaces. You can also throw both simultaneously and slingshot yourself up vertical shafts. Kunai is still a long way out, but between its acrobatic action and charming visuals, it's shaping up to be a game to keep an eye on.
Layers of Fear 2 | PC | Bloober Team | Release: TBD 2019
As the sequel to the 2016 psychological-horror game, Layers of Fear 2 turns things up with a new story that aims to push the scares even further. Like in the original game, you'll play as a tortured artist who's sanity is gradually slipping, resulting in some horrifying apparitions appearing before his eyes. Layers of Fear 2 appears to channel that same unnerving tone, where reality slowly falls apart, giving way to some genuine moments of terror.
Liberated | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Atomic Wolf | Release: TBD 2019
With an art style reminiscent of some of the more mature graphic-novels of the '80s, Liberated is set within a bleak, dystopian society where all citizens are under constant watch. Taking place within the frames of comic-book panels, progression through the story flows similarly to reading a book, with the proceeding levels following into the next pages of the larger story. Over the course of the game, you'll use stealth to evade enemies and overcome some complex puzzles to in order to escape to the outside world.
The Messenger: Picnic Panic | PC, PS4, Switch | Sabotage | Release: TBD 2019
Following the success of the original game, the developers of The Messenger are gearing up the main character's next adventure--which will be made as a free update for all owners. Picnic Panic brings you to a new land where you'll need to defend the local villagers from monsters planning to take over both the 8-Bit and 16-bit realms. Releasing later this year as a free update, The Messenger: Picnic Panic will deliver a set of new worlds to explore, and will undoubtedly maintain the same fourth-wall breaking humor that made the original such a joy to play.
A brief stage at PAX East was very different than the main campaign of The Messenger, instead featuring an auto-scrolling surfing stage that documents his journey to the new area. This moment is reminiscent of the speeder bike from Battletoads, with a sharp challenge that tests your timing in a new way, and culminates in a very wet-and-wild boss fight. After that, we’re assured, the game goes back to its regular Ninja Gaiden-like action gameplay.
Mortal Kombat 11 | PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch | NetherRealm | Release: April 23, 2019
Mortal Kombat 11 is fast approaching. NetherRealm's latest entry in the fighting gore-fest uses alternate timelines to bring in multiple versions of characters from throughout the series' history. Naturally, it follows its predecessors' lead in being a technical fighter with a brutal sense of impact and weight, and the Fatalities and new Fatal Blows offer a bit of the old ultra-violence.
Our hands-on time at PAX East was our first opportunity to try MK11 on Nintendo Switch, and we were pleasantly surprised. Shiver Entertainment is handling the port, and while the visuals have been downgraded, it runs smoothly and the mechanics of the match feel responsive. It's a good indicator that NetherRealm, which is overseeing production, prioritized gameplay over graphics. You can read more in our hands-on impressions.
My Friend Pedro | PC, Switch | DeadToast Entertainment | Release: June 2019
Hotline Miami and Max Payne: Two iconic action games that have seen numerous imitators over the years, and even a few that have tried to fuse the two signature styles. My Friend Pedro is the latest to mix frenetic, bloody gun action and slow-motion cinematic bullet ballet, but the point of difference this time is that it's a 2D side-scroller that plays like a twin-stick shooter.
You probably have a good idea of what to expect--you'll be gunning down a lot of gangsters and performing a lot of flashy acrobatic moves while doing so. The demo we played introduced a number of different mechanics to concern yourself with in a very short space of time--slow-motion, dual-wielding aim separation, and a spinning bullet dodge move--on top of needing to keep track of your ammo while you're flipping all over the place avoiding a flurry of bullets.
It's tough to initially get a masterful handle on everything, but when it all clicks, the satisfaction of executing beautifully masterful action scenes is fantastic. The demo also featured a multi-planed vehicular combat section as your protagonist rides a motorcycle in hot pursuit, and the trailers they've released so far also show off absolutely ridiculous scenarios that appear later in the game. We're really looking forward to seeing how high My Friend Pedro can ramp things up with elaborate techniques, stages, and setpieces when it releases in June 2019.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Yacht Club Games | Release: April 2019
Since its release in 2014, Shovel Knight developers Yacht Club Games have continually added new expansions for the renowned retro action game. In King of Cards, the final expansion for Shovel Knight, you'll play as King Knight as he explores four new worlds to prove that he has what it takes to become the ruler of the land.
Yacht Club proudly calls this its most ambitious expansion yet. While our hands-on time at PAX East only sampled one stage, it did show how King Knight is a marked change from his Order of No Quarter compatriots. While Plague Knight is tricky and Specter Knight is agile, King Knight is built like a walking tank. His movement is a forward dash, and the stage's puzzles and obstacles mostly involved throwing his weight around. Slamming into serpent-like creatures would coax them to move, making for platforming challenges reminiscent of Battletoads or Mega Man.
King Knight looks to close out the Shovel Knight saga with royal grace when it launches this spring. Along with Shovel Knight Showdown, it makes up the last remaining parts of the "Treasure Trove" set of free updates.
Shovel Knight: Showdown | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | Yacht Club Games | Release: April 9, 2019
Along with King of Cards, Yacht Club Games is prepping another game set in the Shovel Knight universe--and this one centers around competitive brawler gameplay. In Showdown, you'll select one of the many Knight characters, including Shovel Knight, King Knight, and Plague Knight, and fight it out against the other brawlers to see who's the best one of them all. Similar to Super Smash Bros., you can compete in four-player fights with a variety of different stages, conditions, and items to use.
A hands-on at PAX East was raucous and wild, as each of the famed Knights (along with some new creations for Showdown) battled over Gems and fended each other off. It may not be perfectly balanced--newcomers seemed to dominate with Specter Knight regardless of experience--but it is a short and sweet bonus with tinges of new retro arcade games like Towerfall or Killer Queen.
Streets of Rage 4 | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch | GuardCrush Games & DotEmu | Release: TBD
The sudden revival of the Streets of Rage series last year was a welcome surprise. As one of Sega's most celebrated series from the Genesis era, its return has many long-time fans excited for what's to come. Developed by DotEmu and Guard Crush Games, the fourth entry introduces some interesting innovations for its core combat, which will reinvigorate returning characters Axel and Blaze. Though there's no release date set, we got to play an early build of the game last year, and even then it delivered the same sense of style and pacing that defined the original 16-bit classics.
Our hands-on time has shown a faithful update to the classic series. Combat feels weighty and hits carry a sense of impact, and it displays a fighting game influence in its variety of move sets and recovery options. The 2D art is recognizable from the team that brought us the gorgeous Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, but with an edgier, ‘90s pop-punk aesthetic. The studio suggested that the generous amount of content will surprise players. It’s a visual treat and a faithful homage in one, making it a fighting game revival worth looking forward to.
Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble | PC, Switch | Area 35 | Release: Spring 2019
As a stand-alone sequel to 2017's turn-based strategy game Tiny Metal, Full Metal Rumble increases the stakes by adding a game-changer for the warring factions--giant mechs. Intended as a spiritual successor to Nintendo's Advance Wars series, Tiny Metal puts you in control of a variety of different units to secure your place on the battlefield. Continuing on from the original game, you'll follow your squad of soldiers and pilots as they attempt to stay alive during the brutal conflict.
At PAX East, the sequel showed a series of smart improvements and the team acknowledged that the first one had a rough launch. While the first game was intended to have ongoing updates, Area 35 is aiming for a more feature-complete product at launch. Full Metal Rumble adds fuel resources, as well as quality-of-life improvements and a new campaign to sate those itching for another Advance Wars.
Warsaw | PC | Pixelated Milk | Release: TBD 2019
Set during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Poland in 1944, you'll play a squad of soldiers and survivors trying to stay alive in the war-torn city. Warsaw puts great emphasis on managing your crew of heroes as they struggle to fight back against the invaders. With your squad engaging enemies through turn-based combat, and with each attack leaving a lasting impact, you'll need to carefully decide your character's actions and moves during combat.