Recently I made a journey out to Boston, Massachusetts to visit PAX East. I saw many amazing games; got to try a good amount of them as well. This is a reverse-order list of my top 5 games of PAX East 2018.

Tinymetal is a turn based strategy game that attempts to recreate the charm and experience that was the old Advance Wars games. It plays very similarly, you move units (that are in essence, squadrons) around a map, capture factories to produce more units, cities to produce resources to produce those units, and complete whatever the objective might be. At the demo I got to try the beginning of the 8-10 hour long campaign to Tinymetal which introduced basic unit types to me, had me killing opponents, reading some very fleshed out dialogue considering the scale, scope, and type of the game, and I also got to search for things hidden around the map like documents and etc.

Unlike most games that I tried out, Tinymetal has actually be out since December 21st, 2017. You could tell that they were on a marketing campaign however since they even stood by the escalators when the expo hall was closing the first few days just handing out cards. It’s not the most impressive looking game and it’s not the most ambitious either. But they are trying to do something no one else is willing to do and continue a style of game that has been completely abandoned for the last decade. The fun of this game-play and the quality of the characters and campaign are what’s selling this game though. There is only 1v1 multi-player aside from that and an obviously repetitive skirmish mode. Is it worth it? I have no idea, but out of every game that competed for spot #5, this one grabbed my interest most of all. I think what they’re doing is incredibly brave, and potentially amazing, and I hope to get my hands on the game eventually too!

If you want, you can pick up Tinymetal yourself on PC, Mac, PS4, and on the Nintendo Switch for $25. For a 9 hour campaign and such limited multi-player options, that’s a bit heavy, but if you’re a fan of the old Advance Wars titles, then it may just be worth it for that nostalgic throwback without the bitter taste of what 2001 was actually like.

Dustwun is one of those games where if I saw it while browsing GoG or Origin or Uplay or whatever, I’d probably skip right past it. A single-player only survival game where you play as the partner to a space captain who went missing in an attempt to bring her back. You’ll explore plenty of unique and alien areas with no sentient NPCs to speak of. You’ll encounter plenty of wildlife from snakes to dinosaurs and sentient-looking things like people that are all pirates and all just want to kill you. You solve puzzles, avoid starvation by eating like an obese scooter rider in McDonalds; at least that’s what it took in the demo. You craft things, mix things to craft more things, and catalog things so that you know where things are and what they are so that you have them for when, can you guess it, THAT’S RIGHT! For when you need to craft with them. You even get a motorcycle to ride around on that currently phases right through all NPCs, but not the walls located right behind them! Learned that the hard way.

By itself, honestly, it sounds like any and every other survival game fitting the theme that we have ever tried ever, right? I think so, anyway. But it plays nothing like that at all. Aside from some alpha-syndrome glitchiness, the game was actually very fun and engaging to play. You always had a story objective ahead of you. It’s not just an open empty world. You are in this familiar genre, in this familiar theme, and you have a goal. Surviving is not the main focus, crafting is not the main focus, finding your partner is the main focus and sure, you can run around and craft and do all that other stuff for fun at your own pace as much as you’d like. But should it ever start to bore you or feel unnecessary, you have the game’s actual story campaign ahead of you.

The game is third person and has an action adventure feel to the actual mechanics of the gameplay itself. The third person perspective is actually a very decent one too as it allows you to zoom out a lot and doesn’t place your character directly in front of the camera like most games that take on this perspective do. The graphics were good and the actual feel to the controls were smooth and solid. The mission objectives weren’t always the easiest to find, some added indicators or clearer ones may help, but it was really a solid base that can see a lot of improvement to release a very exciting title. I am looking forward to it, and definitely hope to get my hands on it and give it a shot so we can see how it plays down the line. Dustwun is set to release in May, 2018 on PC and PS4.

Golem Gates is a real time strategy game that follows a different formula compared to most. Instead of building a base, you build a deck of units and power ups that you draw randomly throughout the match. These cards only take one type of resource to use, which is energy, and energy is obtained by capturing bases on the map that specifically produce energy; as there are capture points that bestow buffs as well. Cards in this game are called Gylphs, and the game features over 100 of them that can be organized in any manner you like. When you run out of them during a match? You need to shuffle your deck, which leaves you very vulnerable for a period of 15 seconds where you can’t really do anything; I found that that was a nice touch.

The game features an approximately 8 hour long story, a tutorial, a multiplayer versus mode, and a cooperative survival mode. Your deck can be built out of every unit in the game. There are no forced faction splits, your strategy relies entirely on what you prioritize out of all the game assets. I was told that if the game does well that they do have plans for paid DLC in the form of more units and expansions to the game’s story.

Golem Gates is a very unique game in many ways, and it was a blast when I played it at PAX. Golem Gates is out right now on PC for $30; which is a bit much considering the story is only 8 hours, so make sure you plan to do multi-player for a lengthy period of time as well before you’re set on picking this up. Mechanically and conceptually speaking though, this was one of my favorite games at PAX East 2018. Easily.

Ancestors Legacy is a squad-based real time strategy game that plays very similarly to a more advanced yet earlier themed Company Of Heroes 2. You build a base with resources that you gather from villages you capture in a preset layout that you can’t really change. You have four factions to choose from that each come with notably different playing styles. Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Germans, and Slavs. Each faction is going to have 2 campaigns each that do not vary in difficulty, but instead cover different time periods since the game is historically based. Each campaign, I was told, will be between approximately 8 hours long, meaning that this game will over 60+ hours of story content. An RTS. With 60+ hours of story content. That is seriously impressive. Most don’t even offer 10. Just look at Golem’s Gate on this list, only 8 hours. One catch is that only 6 campaigns will be out on release. The other 2 will be patched in later free of cost.

The game also offers an up to 8 player multiplayer mode as you may have expected due to the Company of Heroes comparison.  I got a chance to try it out with Ralph as we went 2v2 vs some normal AI. Ralph sucks at RTS games so I had to carry a bit, but we did fine. With several AI difficulty modes there is definitely a challenge even when you lack others to play it with. There will be guaranteed modding support for custom maps and they hope to also add modding support for unit skins and said they hope that the game does well enough to justify adding modding support for story-based scenarios as well. Visually the game looks absolutely beautiful and allows you to zoom all the way in for a more cinematic look at the action to enjoy those visuals you paid for. The sound effects and the voice acting on the units in-battle are all superb and I personally felt this was just a very high quality game, far more high quality than I have come to expect from the game’s publisher, 1C. Units in the game can actually level up if you keep them alive and can be upgraded on a path to either higher offense, defense, or speed so you can really customize your army on the go the way you want to. Villages can have defenders recruited and there’s even technology eras to progress through mid-match.

All in all this game just has a lot of stuff in it that almost put it in first place out of all the games in PAX East for me, but made it an easy choice for second. It’s available for pre-order now for $40 and will release on May 22nd, 2018 on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox One X. Future paid DLC options that the developers hope to pursue if the game does well would be adding more factions and campaigns for those factions. Unlike most games, I’d say that this one is easily worth the asking price and definitely hope to pick it up eventually myself.

Fell’s Seal: Arbiter’s Mark was my FAVORITE game at PAX. Absolute favorite. It was a bit hard to get my hands on to play due to media prioritizaiton (and me not fitting into that category), but once I finally got my hands on the game I found it played exactly as I hoped it would. This game is very easily the revival of Final Fantasy Tactics that I have waited forever to get a chance to play. It is a turn based strategy game very much inspired by those old tactics games. It boasts a 60+ hour experience with over 40 main missions, a lesser amount of side missions, and even end-game content. You play as an Arbiter which is essentially a cop, as you enforce the will of the ruling class known as the Immortals. You journey out with your friends and any freelancers that you choose to hire to fight against corruption and evil at the same time.

Characters can be any of over 20 classes including dual-classes and can be customized with over 200 abilities and over 240 pieces of equipment to make your team ready for any encounter possible. Everything from the musical score to the way game-play actually works to the actual campaign and journey I saw itself were very very reminiscent of the tactics game and I think this will easily be an amazing successor to them. When I tried it I was apparently the one that got the furthest into the demo out of everyone at PAX, and I had even forgotten to upgrade any of my gear and abilities! There is definitely a challenge to the game-play (especially as there are no difficulty settings and they try to make one blanket difficulty that you need to adapt to) and definitely a lot of depth and content to the story.

Fell’s Seal: Arbiter’s Mark will be available in Q2 2019 according to the pamphlet they handed out on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Paid DLC options in the future if the game does well would be entirely story content to continue the story or to display it from a different perspective. I am very much looking forward to this game and definitely cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of it. Despite the difficult experience trying it out, this was the hidden/shining gem of PAX East 2018 in my opinion.

About The Author

Associate Writer

Nathanael is a student, currently majoring in writing. Gaming and writing have always been his passion and while he is new to video game journalism, he makes up for that with his experience in writing.

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