A Diary from PAX Australia, Part Two: The AAA

Following on from my last report, it’s time to dig into the AAA side of PAX Australia 2016.

PAX Lines

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to see at PAX Australia from the big publishers. What was there was mostly a rehash of stuff shown off at other conventions earlier this year. Ubisoft brought For Honor, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and Steep, with the lines for the first two long enough to keep me far away. Bandai Namco brought Final Fantasy XV and the Kingdom Hearts HD remixes, both of which were similarly packed with eager attendees. The Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo booths featured a whole bunch of games already released, from Forza Horizon 3 to Super Smash Bros. Sony had Horizon: Zero Dawn, which may have had the longest queue in the whole convention–aside from the badge pickup line when the doors opened, of course.

I didn’t get a chance to try Horizon out myself, but I did watch a demo being played on a PS4 Pro and a 4K, HDR-capable TV. The guy showing it off could flick a switch to go from 4K to 1080p down-scaled as well as HDR to non-HDR, giving me a chance to see with my own eyes the future both Sony and Microsoft are promising with their new consoles.

Frankly, I wasn’t impressed.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Switching from 4K to 1080p was noticeable, but only in the sense that the two looked different; neither one looked particularly better or worse than the other. Maybe a texture here or there looked slight crisper at 4K, but it’s impossible to tell unless you stop and stare real hard. Taken separately, I doubt I’d be able to tell which one was 4K and which was 1080p.

HDR was a smidge more impressive, but only when the camera was pointed at the sky. Flat clouds glow with a warm radiance when HDR is enabled, the god rays just a tad holier than normal. Again, it’s not something I’d necessarily notice on its own, but I’m not exactly the biggest graphics snob, either.

On the gaming-adjacent front, I caught a display of mad computer science by TeamAU, a group of avid overclockers from Australia and New Zealand. For those unfamiliar, overclocking is the act of pushing computer hardware past its normal limits, raising voltages and increasing clock speeds to get the highest possible performance. The catch is that all that extra power means extra heat, so special cooling measures have to be taken. In the case of TeamAU’s PAX demonstration, they were using liquid nitrogen to keep the CPU at a frosty -80 degrees Celsius in order to overclock it from 3.2Ghz to 5Ghz+. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details, but I will show you this absurdly cool video I took of the liquid nitrogen steaming off the motherboard like a belching volcano.

Pretty neat, huh?

My final report from PAX Australia will cover a game I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time: Hand of Fate 2.

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