SEATTLE—In-person video game conventions are back! Kind of!
Nerdy conventions and other physical events began reappearing in public halls late last year, though what a difference a year makes. PAX West 2021 was my first in-person convention since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but the event was a ghost town, full of empty, blacked-out spaces and massive gaps in the cast of showcasing companies. Last week’s PAX West 2022, on the other hand, finally felt like the real deal, and it was fortunately met by a vigilant, mask-wearing crowd.
Some gaming companies have apparently moved on from local convention participation, with Microsoft and Sony not hosting PAX West booths (though each had a presence at last month’s boisterous Gamescom 2022 in Cologne, Germany). Hence, this post-PAX “coolest upcoming games” feature is far from comprehensive, owing as much to missing companies as to specific games not demoing well in packed convention halls. Even so, we played enough diverse fare to feel comfortable shouting out solid PAX West highlights.