By Luxlo Cosplay
Pax East is one of my favourite conventions because it has such a focus on gaming, one of my favourite hobbies other than cosplay. Rather than just one room in a con filled with some PC’s with LoL on every (or almost every) one, Pax is pretty diverse in what it has to offer to gamers and a lot more exciting in this way than more generalized cons usually are!
This year, I’m happy to say I experienced my second Pax East and it was great! My first Pax experience was in 2015, where I debuted my Guild Wars 2 Warrior cosplay and had an amazing time. I remember taking everything in and trying the GW2 Heart of Thorns demo among many others.
Unfortunately, this time around only single day passes were being sold for Pax and we were only able to snag Friday and Sunday tickets. I went with my boyfriend, Jesse, and our friend Rory. We planned our open Saturday to explore Boston and do some things outside of the regular con stuff. We were also extra excited because it was Rory’s first time at Pax and it’s always fun being there to experience someone’s first time at something awesome!
I didn’t have any heads up on what games would be available to demo this year, and none of the panels on the schedule really jumped out at me, but I was still really excited to go and check out what was there and have a good time with friends on a trip.
We left from Toronto on Thursday morning, and it took a little over 9 hours. (Which I’m super thankful to Jesse and Rory for doing!) Not only did I, maybe sort of forget my passport at my home outside of Toronto causing a detour to begin with, but Jesse and I had somehow had in our heads that it was only a 6-hour drive to Boston in total. Well, this was wrong, and with added stops and my mess up detour, we got into Boston very late..
We were happy to be welcomed to our hotel (The DoubleTree) with fresh warm cookies! A pretty nice little service from the hotel which we made sure to take advantage of… many times! This helped fill the void of the pool-less-ness a bit. Our stay was pretty decent at the DoubleTree and we were thankful for their free shuttle services to and from the convention and local restaurants. The in-hotel food wasn’t bad either. Jesse and I really enjoyed the veggie burgers, and the flatbreads were yummy too!
I chose to cosplay Mary Jane on Friday and my Monster Hunter Palico on Sunday. Originally the idea was that I’d save the Palico cosplay for Sunday because we were planning to check out the Monster Hunter tourney that was listed. Unfortunately, we didn’t end up staying long enough Sunday to catch it anyway. It was honestly for the best since I can’t wear my Palico helmet for too long. It’s way too tight and starts to hurt! After wearing it for awhile, it will feel like a major headache. Something to keep in mind if I ever make a full helmet again in the future!
I also chose to wear these cosplays because, for one, I’d just finished them for Katsucon which was only a couple weeks before Pax. I didn’t have time or energy to make anything new. It also felt perfect to wear those two because they are two of my comfiest (aside from the Palico helmet!) and easiest to move around or sit in cosplays. With Pax being a convention that is not very focused on cosplay and more focused on the exhibitions and demoing games, I just wanted to wear my most simple/comfortable cosplays.
Friday I got up super early to get ready in my cosplay makeup/wig to catch the shuttle by 8am. We still needed to pick our badges up once we arrived. Unfortunately, it had been awhile since we were at Pax and we sort of forgot how the lineups work outside. The lines need to be better organized and there weren’t many, if any Pax enforcers outside to answer questions or clearly direct people. It was frustrating because it was freezing outside, and there were enormous lineups on both sides and to even get our questions answered we would have to wait in them. We did not want to do that just to find out we were in the long line. (It really would have been nice to have Enforcers/volunteers outside to help direct people better!) Thankfully we made the decision to go with the shortest line and ended up being in the right one (no bags, phew!) Though it was hard to tell which line the “NO BAGS” line was even directed to. After grabbing our badges inside, I went to change into my MJ cosplay and we were off to the coat check line then the expo hall line. Pax can… have a lot of lines. We had about an hour wait until we were allowed to enter. We realized we should have brought our 3DS’s, something we actually realized in 2015 but forgot about for this year. Giant blown up dice bounced around the lineup, while enforcers playing silly songs and giving out prizes walked up and down the outskirts of the lines.
Unfortunately, I was super cold in my MJ cosplay because the building was extremely drafty. 🙁 Soon after entering the expo hall, I had to go back upstairs to grab my sweater and had to wear that and Jesse’s jacket for the entire day, because, even indoors it was so disappointingly cold. That and my eyelashes having issues and falling off at the beginning of the day made it not one of my best cosplay days. Unlike Katsu or somewhere I have an emergency kit in the car nearby, I had nothing on me to fix anything. I pretty much went full hobo MJ and ripped both eyelashes off and bundled up in my layers of clothing. Thankfully Pax East isn’t too big on cosplay, and it was just a simple one anyway, so I wasn’t as bummed as I would be if it happened at a different con.
After that stuff was dealt with, we weren’t sure what was there yet so instead of immediately jumping to one place, we just casually walked around and took everything in. Some people run straight for certain booths to get in line early to demo, and others walked around more casually like us on Friday!
We also grabbed some snacks there, like their pretzels and “Pax ‘n Cheese”. All of the convention food is super overpriced as to be expected, but $18 US for mac ‘n cheese!? At least the pretzels were yummy and it was something to help keep us going throughout the day. If it’s possible for you to grab food somewhere else nearby or if you have a really close hotel, you might want to consider that option instead!
At one point while wandering around the expo floor on our way to a game booth that sounded interesting, we were distracted by a huge banner hanging from the ceiling for a game called “Evolution.” It showed beautiful dinosaur creatures across a colorful landscape background. None of us had heard of it before, but the banner title and art stood out to both of us, and we knew we both wanted to take a little detour to check that our first instead! We were surprised to walk over and find that it was an exhibitor area for a board game called Evolution, even though most large setups for a single game were for video games. There were several tables around with people demoing the game beside a large table of their game and its expansions for sale. We were happy to find a free table and a dev who had some time to teach us the game to demo. We enjoyed the play and what we heard about its expansions. Rory bought the full game pack, and the three of us had a blast playing it several times throughout the trip at our hotel.
In Evolution, your goal is to create different species and build up their population while keeping them well fed. The winner is whoever has the largest population size and creature cards in play by the time the deck runs out of cards. You can choose for your creature to eat plant sources or go carnivore and feed off other players! It’s important to defend your creatures from possible attack with different cards that you can “equip” to them.
The Flight expansion allows you to create avian type creatures which can feed from their own area and have several other unique characteristics and abilities. The other expansion adds a further dimension of environment into the game with a climate scale that may affect how you choose to discard your cards every round, and can affect your species if it becomes too hot or cold. We loved how strategic the game was and that there was little chance involved while playing. To top it off, the game had a beautiful art style with a nice variety of creature skill cards for many options of playing your game. The game is coming out on steam but I really appreciate the physical feel of board games, and it’s one that is now definitely on my wishlist!
We wandered around some more, and a few other games caught my eye such as Snake Pass. The vividly animated snake roaming around the pretty 3d environment was visually appealing, and while I didn’t play it myself, I hung around for a short while watching others play. As the snake, you roam the different environments and try to find the gems hidden in hard to reach areas. It was interesting to see the ways the snake moved around the obstacles and objects in the environment, like wrapping itself around trees to slink on up.
After we had felt tired and hungry enough, we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel before dinner. We forgot about making reservations beforehand, so we had to wander around a lot before we found a place to eat. Then had a long wait to get seated before we could. I’m glad we waited though because all of our dinners were really delicious at the restaurant Capo!
There is plenty of nightlife and after parties for Pax, but since we all had different tastes we ended up just having casual nights and relaxing at our hotel, which was still fun too. We played a couple more games of Evolution and some Monster Hunter Generations on our 3ds’s.
Day 2 – Chill day
With no Saturday ticket to pax, we slept in til almost noon and just relaxed with a nice brunch and some games in our hotel before we attempted to catch a movie before our dinner reservations. We headed out into the freezing Boston air and walked to the subway system, which was a bit interesting to compare to our Toronto transit system. (Not interesting enough to make me not wish we’d had a shuttle instead, but hey.) When we finally arrived, it turned out the movie we chose was sold out and our second choice was too long for our plans, so we had to turn right around for another freezing walk back to the subway to our hotel. When we got back, we had just enough time to start some Evolution before catching the shuttle to our dinner. We ate at Stephi’s in Southie which may have been even more delicious than the last restaurant. I’m getting hungry just thinking about the amazing pretzel with cheese ale dip and the bruschetta… Definitely would recommend! After we had gotten back to our hotel in semi food comas, we played Evolution yet again before bed!
Sunday was a pretty short day for us since we had the long drive ahead. We got to Pax with about an hour wait in the expo line again, but this time we remembered to bring our DS’s to do some hunting while we waited! It felt pretty funny to be hunting some monsters on my DS while dressed as a Palico. ^.^ When the hall opened, we went straight for the first goal of the day: Jesse picking up his ever important Chocobo hat from the Square booth haha! It was a much better cosplay day for me since this one kept me quite a lot warmer and I had no other issues like Friday, aside from the expected pain of the helmet and having to take it on and off a lot.
We saw a game set up to demo that I’d heard of before Pax and was interested in so we walked over to check it out. It is a mix of stealth and horror and called Hello Neighbor, where you sneak into your creepy neighbor’s house to find out what he’s up to before getting caught… I got the gist of the game from looking at others playing. It looked fun but wasn’t something I wanted to demo that badly.
Another game that looked awesome was Dauntless. Not all of us felt like waiting in the lineup to demo (which was super long) so instead, we just passed by and watched it played a bit. It basically seems like an online version of Monster Hunter (one of my favourite games!) I’d love to look into more details about this game sometime and see its differences and similarities between it and MH. Seems like something I might wanna make time to play!
There were not as many cosplayers around compared to other cons, and definitely not the same atmosphere of photographers setting up spots to take photos of cosplay much either. This con is a lot more focused on the booths and games in the expo hall. Outside of the expo hall, on the main floor, I found there were a lot more cosplayers wandering around, but even still it is a small amount compared to other cons I’ve attended. Overwatch, of course, remains a very popular theme of cosplay right now but unfortunately, I saw no other Monster Hunter cosplayers there and didn’t even run into any of the people I knew who were going. I wish MH was as popular here as it is in Japan!
Overall, Pax was a great place to hang out in a relaxed way, while enjoying some great food and great games, including new ones like Evolution! I’m happy I didn’t go too out there with my cosplay choices and just took it pretty easy with the con. I only wish it wasn’t so close to Katsucon to help with temperature, cosplay timing, and general budgeting haha!