After two long years, PAX Aus was finally able to open its doors again in Melbourne this year, and welcomed people in person once again this last weekend (October 8-10).
While this year’s event was perhaps a little more sedate than usual – unlike in previous years, big titles and major publishers were fairly few and far between – it still had lots of cool technology and games on display.
Below, we’ve collected some of our PAX Aus 2022 highlights from our time on the show floor.
Red Bull’s immersive VR racing setup
At the Red Bull Gaming Ground (opens in new tab) stand, this year’s show attendees could experience what it’s like to be a professional Formula 1 driver without ever needing to get on the tracks. Just put on some VR goggles and sit on a replica frame of the driver’s seat and you’re good to go. In this setup you could feel the rumbling beneath your backside, and the twists and turns around the track. Racing games are becoming ever more realistic and this looks like a snapshot of what one future avenue of racing could be (without the risk of a crash).
Custom Cult of the Lamb PlayStation controller
This custom-made PlayStation DualSense controller is unfortunately not for sale, but its Cult of the Lamb (opens in new tab) aesthetic is right on point. There’s fuzzy wool on the handles to represent the lamb, the supreme leader. It also has the red eyeball from the holy One Who Waits, who is always watching and all-knowing, while the joysticks are the cult leader’s eyes keeping an eye on your journey. And of course, the boring standard PlayStation buttons were replaced with the appropriate runes to help you complete your next cultist ritual.
Neon Genesis Evangelion PC by Asus
Evangelion fans will be pleased to find that the Asus Republic of Gamers (opens in new tab) built a PC inspired by EVA-01. It’s covered in the classic green and purple colour iconic to Shinji’s Eva, and it has his EVA etched both inside the case and on the front panel, which is continuously lit with RGB lights. It truly felt like a mecha turned into a PC unit. All it needed was the iconic theme music blasting out to bring back childhood nostalgia. If you want to get your hands on this magnificent work of art, be prepared to dish out about AU$8,000.
Hojo Studio’s The Godfeather
Join the pigeon mafia and poop on unsuspecting citizens to complete your missions. The Godfeather (opens in new tab) is a hilarious roguelike indie game that is slated to come out early next year. You play as a pigeon on a mission to poop on citizens who are the enemy of the flock, all the better to take back a neighbourhood overrun with nasty human laundry. You have to swoop, fly, and avoid the cockatoo and drone police to do the mob’s dirty work. Each poop gets you one step closer to retrieving what is rightfully pigeon property.
Aftershock PC’s watercooled Taro Bobba rig
It’s cute. It’s pastel purple. It’s bubble tea! Aftershock PC’s watercooled boba system could be spotted from quite a distance even with a crowd of people ogling over it. It had purple taro-inspired boba tea swirling in its cooling system, and it was realistic-looking enough to make us crave a dose of the milky drink. (Sadly, there was no actual bubble tea on sale at the Aftershock stand.)
Aftershock showcased several more out-of-the-world custom PC builds at PAX, but this one took the cake as our favorite of the show. If it wasn’t AU$7,500 it would have been in my suitcase, but alas one can only dream.
The Amazing Chicken Adventures
In this Australian-made indie platformer adventure game (opens in new tab), you must complete each level and rescue chicken eggs (without breaking them). Imagine a Super Mario Sunshine co-op game but with birds and more chaos. The game might sound like a piece of cake, but I promise you it’s not. The eggs are extremely fragile and enjoy falling off the platforms. Add a second player to the mix and you’ll be screaming as you accidentally eviscerate your prized egg with Thor’s hammer while trying to help your teammate. The game is currently available on Steam and is slated for console release in the next couple of months.
Valve’s Steam Deck
The much anticipated Steam Deck has yet to make its way into Australia for official distribution, but there was one available. Just one. It wasn’t an official booth from Valve or any hardware company, but came via indie game developer Witch Beam (creators of Unpacking) who was using it to show off its upcoming title Tempopo (opens in new tab). I don’t know if the Tempopo team did it on purpose, but there was a flock of people trying to play on the Steam Deck. Brilliant marketing technique? Yes.
HTC Vive-powered VR laser tag
Laser tag is indisputably the game of champions, and throw it in VR and you have a wonderfully chaotic experience. Imagine being completely immersed in a cyberpunk-like world where you must shoot lasers and dodge to win… while someone walks through a wall and accidentally crashes into you in real life. Vive (opens in new tab) is the VR system affiliated with HTC that’s trying to get Aussies excited about the future and present of the virtual reality space. The lines for the two-minute demo were easily 30 to 60 minutes long. Are Aussies getting excited? Oh yeah. However, for people with bad vision and glasses, you may need to do a little extra work to avoid experiencing a blurry sense of reality with VR goggles.