After three long years and much uncertainty, PAX Aus is finally returning to Melbourne in person. PAX Aus boasts itself as the biggest gaming event in Australia with 80,000 attending the last expo back in 2019. Even with Covid restrictions being near zero in Australia now it’s to be seen if we’ll see those huge attendance numbers again. Despite this, it’s bound to be a wonderful weekend of games, gamers, and community.
In 2019 we were privy to the world’s first publicly shown Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay, a massive selection of Aussie indies, and the first hands-on with Doom Eternal and Fall Guys. So this year’s event has big shoes to fill. With a week to go before gamers descend on Melbourne’s Southbank, let’s get into what I’m most excited about for PAX Aus 2022.
This section of the convention centre will be loaded with upcoming indie titles from Australia and abroad, and is always an exciting place to meet developers who are creating their own interesting worlds. There are always some incredibly creative and fun titles nestled away here, and I can’t wait to get hands on. Early standouts include Dark Light from Sydney based developers Mirari & Co, Devolver’s Anger Foot and Gunbrella, and Primordials Legends: Hollow Hero from Melbourne studio Toybox Games. And this is just a tiny selection of what will be filling a huge exhibition hall.
Worlds of Bethesda
Although (technically) not at PAX AUS proper, Bethesda are hosting their own event just down the road at The Dove Club on Little Collins St. PAX Aus takes place during Melbourne International Games Week so Bethesda are getting involved in their own unique way. The event will feature themed areas such as a Tamriel tavern, a Fallout inspired dining area, a Starfield inspired “anti-gravity” space room (whatever this is, I’m excited) and another area inspired by Arkane’s upcoming Redfall. They say we’ll be treated to interactive experiences, immersive entertainment, themed food/beverages, and more. I’m incredibly excited for this one, and I’ll be sure to cover it in detail after the event has concluded.
Announced just a couple of days ago, and hot off his appearance at PAX recently in the US, Head of Independent Developer Initiative at PlayStation, Shuhei Yoshida, will be headlining the Friday Storytime keynote. A man with so much knowledge, so many stories, and a wealth of experience in this industry over decades, his keynote speech will certainly be one not to miss. Although he’s head of indies now, Yoshida was head of Sony Interactive Entertainment until 2019. He’s been a hugely influential leader in the success of PlayStation. If you’re on the way to PAX, add him to your schedule for 12-1pm Friday afternoon as a must see.
Magician and Mentalist – Matt Brandwood
Ok hear me out. This is not video game related but I’m privileged to call Matt a good friend and you definitely don’t want to miss his mind-melting magic show. Billed as an hour of ‘intimate hi-jinx and immersive mind reading,’ Matt’s hilarious and incredible magic skills will be on display and well worth a watch on Friday evening. And it’s in support of some great charities. Be there in the Wombat Theatre at 6pm.
Some of the best things at an event like PAX are the ones you never expected. With huge names like Square Enix, Bethesda, Devolver, and so many more attending the event, it’s likely we’ll see something that blows us away. In 2019, this was Fall Guys. It was the most fun game we played over the whole weekend, and we knew right away of its potential. Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay was awe inspiring, and I wonder if there will be something – Final Fantasy 16 gameplay (maybe) – that could possibly reach those heights.
Having the chance to play some Aussie indie games, catch up with friends, and meet a whole bunch of like-minded people will make PAX AUS 2022 a memorable one for sure. If you’re still thinking about attending, Friday and Sunday badges are still available. Don’t forget to download the PAX App so you can setup your schedules. With notifications before panels and events you want to see, it’s a great tool to help plan your time. And if you’re heading to PAX Aus and you see me around, be sure to say hi!