The ID@Xbox program is pretty cool. It helps indie game developers self-publish games on the Xbox One. In advance of PAX Prime 2015, Microsoft hosted a preview of more than 50 upcoming ID@Xbox titles. The games were all set up to demo Thursday afternoon at Microsoft’s Redmond Visitor’s Center.
Included was a “hands-on of Arena Multiplayer for Halo 5: Guardians.” Ten stations were lined up along a wall, and people were there constantly, skirmishing in five-person teams. “I like it so far,” said one player. Another player said, “It’s definitely different, which makes it a little harder.” Everybody seemed to be having a good time.
The games on display offered quite a bit of variety. But I did see a lot of local multiplayer experiences, which is a welcome trend for families.
Cluster Puck 99 is billed as “8-player local multiplayer madness.” Rock Paper Shotgun called it, “…ice hockey stripped down to the essentials of one puck, two goals, and up to eight players, but then built back up with wackiness borrowed from a minigolf course…”
ARK: Survival Evolved has lots of dinosaurs. And who doesn’t like lots of dinosaurs? You’re a human and you’re fighting for survival, and there are dinosaurs. Okay—we want that.
Vermintide Warhammer End Times is in beta. You are fighting a lot of vermin, for sure. According to the website, “Vermintide is a co-operative action first person shooter and melee combat adventure set in the End Times of the iconic Warhammer Fantasy universe. Vermintide takes place in and around Ubersreik, a city overrun by Skaven. Fight from the Magnus Tower to the Under Empire, assuming the role of one of five heroes.” If you like over-the-top vermin, you’re going to like this.
Knight Squad is a 2D maze fighter that (again) allows up to eight players in local multiplayer mode. “Knight Squad is a 1 to 8 players action game that can be described as Bomberman meets Gauntlet. Play as a Knight in the arena and defeat your opponents using epic weapons and power ups.”
Pit People is a game that’s already won a lot of kudos. I’m looking forward to playing this one. It’s “a game of positioning,” and a “fast-paced, turn-based, co-op adventure” by the same studio (The Behemoth) as BattleBlock Theater (which we loved at Pixelkin) and Castle Crashers.
Anarcute was a game I loved trying out. It reminded me of Katamari Damaci, and it turns out it was influenced by that iconic title. You rampage around a town with your incredibly cute creatures. blowing things up and wreaking havoc. “Use the city to your advantage. Take whatever you can put your hands on and throw it at the police. Cones, street lamps or even exploding cars!” Not sure about the political message here, but I guess the objective is to “restore peace.” Anyway, it’s cute and fun to play.
My most favorite play experience was with Draw a Stickman by hitcents.com. They didn’t have Kinect working at the preview (I used the controller), but apparently you can draw your own avatar stick figure using the Kinect and then play through using gestures to draw clouds that rain, fire sticks, and other tools.
There’s going to be lots more to see at PAX Prime 2015. The creativity displayed by indie developers is really inspiring, and I’m looking forward experiencing more of these games.