This week over on TouchArcade has been all about playing catch up after attending PAX West in Seattle. If you've never been to a PAX event, and are at all into any aspect of gamer culture, I promise you'll have a very good time there. Whether you're into card games, board games, video games, or any other form of gaming you'll find something there for you. It's really sort of incredible just how welcoming PAX events are, and how much there is to do. For our purposes, the show floor was packed with mobile games, even though mobile was by no means the star of the show.
We loved the original Reigns and have been closely following the development of its sequel, Reigns: Her Majesty. We got a walkthrough of the game with its creator, and the sequel is shaping up to be exactly what we wanted: More Reigns. This time around you play as a queen, there are loads more cards, and there's a zodiac system which puts a unique spin on every new play through. It sounds like there are many other secrets and discoveries to be made while playing, but they're keeping those things close to their chest until the game is released.
Hidden deep inside of the Square Enix booth at PAX was a playable version of Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition which we spent a good twenty minutes with. The game is everything we'd hoped it would be, and the first playable episode seems surprisingly one to one with the "full" console version of the game. All of the dialog is there, the quests seem the same, the level-up system feels identical, and overall it looks as if they're delivering on the promise of having a full-featured version of Final Fantasy XV for mobile. Details are still few and far between regarding when it'll specifically be released, but, it's going to be a premium episodic game with the first taste that we played given away for free.
Armello is a digital board game that has had a fascinating lifecycle so far. It was originally pitched as an iPad game back in 2011, but when the game was finally finished it ended up being released on Steam and consoles. The pivot to other platforms turned out incredibly well for developer League of Geeks, who have continued to release loads of additional content for the title. At PAX we experienced one of the things that's the most fun about covering mobile: When a developer just says, "Hey, check this out," and pulls a game out of their pocket. It'd seem Armello is finally on its way to iOS, even if it is a good six years late. The game has been received so well on other platforms, at this point I'm just excited to finally have it on my iPhone.
We saw tons more games at PAX, so if following upcoming iOS titles is something you're in to, check out our full roundup post for links to everything we saw.
For years now, it's felt like Wizards of the Coast has been struggling to figure out what to do with digital versions of Magic the Gathering. Magic Duels was the last attempt, and while we had overall positive first impressions, the game ended up with a unique problem: Due to design decisions and deck limitations, Duels ended up being too casual for hardcore Magic players and too hardcore for casual Magic players. It never seemed to find its audience, and support for the game was dropped this summer.
Yesterday, Wizards revealed Magic the Gathering Arena, which seems to double down on providing a "real" Magic experience while making a client that looks exponentially nicer than Magic Online. This hopefully should allow Wizards to regain some ground in the Twitch viewing and esports department that Hearthstone has stolen away. While the beta is currently only available on PC, they've stressed that it's built in Unity and will be coming to every platform that makes sense — making a Mac and mobile release feel unbelievably inevitable.
Speaking of Hearthstone and esports, this week Blizzard announced a brand new venue called the "Blizzard Arena" in Los Angeles which is said to be a "cutting-edge, live-event destination." There aren't a ton of details yet on what the Blizzard Arena is going to be like, but if nothing else it's pretty incredible that we're living in an age where video games are getting popular enough that companies are building entire stadiums to host their games being played as esports. If you thought this whole "esports" thing was a fad, well, this is one of the (many) nails in the coffin of that line of thinking.
In Pokemon Go news, Niantic is hinting at both Pokemon trading and peer to peer battling coming to the game. The interview with Bloomberg details the vision for the future of the game, which I've got to admit, sounds pretty awesome. That being said, while I realize the game is still very popular, I as well as everyone I know locally eventually ended up getting bored of it and stopped playing. I'd love to see a parallel universe where Pokemon Go had simply launched with all of these features they see in their "vision." I bet it would be significantly more popular than it is now, as Niantic allowed way too many people to get tired of the early game where there really wasn't anything else to do beyond wander around, catch Pokemon, and participate in gym battles.
A ton more happened this week in the world of mobile gaming, but most of my time was consumed with PAX. Definitely check out our PAX roundup, and for way more news, reviews, game releases, and everything else you'd ever need to follow along with iOS gaming be sure to visit TouchArcade!