Among the huge set piece booths of larger companies, one of my favorite parts of PAX is the PAX East Indie Megabooth and the nearby areas, which tends to rake together some of the more unique, or less publicly known, games from all across the gaming spectrum into one massive floor area. I wanted to take a moment to offer a little nod of acknowledgement to some of the more interesting multiplayer and online titles that I feel like deserve a bit of attention during my visit to this year’s show.
If you’re curious to learn more about any of the games I’ve put on this list, be sure to click on the title of each one at the top of each game’s brief description, which will link you directly to the home or Steam page of each game. With that out of the way, let’s get started on the hidden gems!
One of the closest comparisons I can get to with Decoherence is a strategy game similar to Atlas Reactor. The difference here, though, is that this game doesn’t have you commanding your whole team in turn-based combat; instead it has you commanding one character and then setting AI allies up to assist you.
As the first original IP from Efecto Studios, Decoherence plays out in 1v1 competition where players set up their robot allies, program their moves, and then hop into battle to try and win the match. In between rounds, players are allowed to adjust their AI’s strategy to adapt to the situation they face and hopefully find the winning strategy.
Decoherence is currently still in active development with no hard release date confirmed through their official channels at this time.
Murderous Pursuits describes itself as a multiplayer, kill-or-be-killed, stealth-em-up that tasks you with one simple job: take out a specific target among the eight or so other human targets occupying a location. Think of it as a form of hide-and-seek except with more stabbing.
The big trick with Murderous Pursuits is the fact that players can’t just rush in and swing like idiots at every person available; they have to try to blend in with their surroundings and they can only damage their randomly chosen target. So the onus is on the player to try and act like an AI, set up their target, try to take them down with special weapons for more points, and attempt to avoid being wiped out themselves.
Murderous Pursuits is currently on Steam with a release sometime this April.
What happens when you mush together Halo with Portal? You get Wormhole Wars, a multiplayer online FPS where sections of the map can be tagged with Portal-like wormholes that can completely change sight lines, movement, and other things that otherwise would be committed to memory for other online shooter games.
Wormhole Wars is the brainchild of two Stanford University students, one of whom was one of the top 500 ranked Halo 5 players in the world. After some time with the game, I can assure you that this game definitely looks easy on the surface but opens up a whole new world of tactical thinking when it comes to first-person shooters.
Wormhole Wars is currently in alpha testing.
While not a multiplayer online game in the typical sense, I had to offer a bit of acknowledgement to this fascinating piece of card gaming. DropMix has players place a variety of different cards on a special board that hooks up to a free app and creates their own music mixes right on the spot. Gameplay features three different modes and comes packed with 60 different cards.
I’m not sure how popular this game will be, and at around $100 it’s not exactly a cheap piece of gaming tech, but at the same time the party game atmosphere and the technical marvel of the game system are combined to make one of the most unique gaming experiences on the PAX East floor.
DropMix is available now.
After my time with a game like Sky Noon, I was pretty sure that the FPS genre held no more surprises. Wormhole Wars and Fatal Velocity both managed to quickly change that perception. Fatal Velocity doesn’t have a health bar but challenges players with slinging their opponents into the ground or other hazards at a high rate of speed to instantly take them out.
My time with the game on the floor showed that Fatal Velocity has a bit of a learning curve, but once I got an eye for the HUD that told me how fast I was going and the controls that helped me mitigate my speed and attack my enemies, it started to slowly click. There’s still some rough edges here, but this game definitely looks like it could break the otherwise thick-walled mold of FPS games.
Fatal Velocity is currently in alpha right now, with access available upon request.
If the classic Atari game Combat was brought into the modern age, you’d essentially have Zarvot. In this game, players duke it out in cubist little tank-things that fire lasers at each other. The arenas themselves are all unique and completely destructible with a promised 30+ levels and a single-player mode.
Zarvot is simple to pick up, has easy controls, and a sense of conveyance that is almost immediately impossible to screw up. It’s probably one of the perfect party titles coming out.
Zarvot is due to arrive to the Nintendo Switch this Summer, with a release to other systems planned sometime later.
Few games are as descriptive as Vroom Kaboom: a multiplayer tower defense game where you send out various land and air vehicles to blow up your opponent’s base as fast as you can. Matches work out in 1v1, 2v2 or 3v3 battles where you build a deck of different vehicles, send them into a pre-determined path, and blow up things as quickly as possible.
The neatest thing about Vroom Kaboom is its unique methods of tying card games, tower rush and online multiplayer competition into one fascinating package. Each vehicle sent out can be directly controlled, or you can try to overwhelm your opponent with as many vehicles as you’re able to and let the AI handle the driving. In any case, Vroom Kaboom definitely puts a spin on the tower defense formula.
Vroom Kaboom is currently in closed beta. Keys look to be handed out to those who sign up to the game’s newsletter.
If you happened to be among those in attendance at this year’s PAX East and feel there were some online or other multiplayer games that need a nod, feel free to share them in the comments below. After all, finding new stuff is my favorite part of PAX East.
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