PAX East is a bustling crowd of game developers, fans, online streamers and a whole lot of cosplay in Boston, inspiring creativity across the board. The annual gathering serves as a perfect opportunity for brands to reach the passionate gamer audience on a personal level. This year, the cosplay was on point, the reality was virtual and developers know that fans have a whole lot of fun watching games in addition to playing them.

Now Playing . . .

Immersing fans into the world of a franchise is why video games and movies make such great bedfellows. PAX is a gathering for fans and creators alike, so filmmakers took advantage of the event to keep their respective hype trains chugging along.

Transformers: Forged to Fight: “Autobots . . . roll out!” Hasbro’s iconic robot characters continue their never-ending war in the upcoming film, Transformers: The Last Knight, and the battle continues in a new mobile game this spring. Transformers: Forged to Fight is a free-to-play fighting RPG game for mobile devices by Kabam, a company known for other licensed titles from Marvel and Star Wars. A brand-new trailer was unveiled during PAX highlighting additional gameplay that got the internet talking and ready for the film that debuts this June.

Guardians of the Galaxy—The Telltale Series: A teaser trailer for Telltale Games’ Guardians of the Galaxy was revealed during the Game Awards three months ago, and new details have finally emerged at PAX East. The five-part series will feature a whole-new adventure for Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Drax and Groot, voiced by a cast of celebrated talent actors, including Nolan North (Uncharted) and Emily O’Brien (The Young and the Restless). Telltale hosted a panel on Friday to talk more about the series, creative process and more. The game will certainly help get fans excited for the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 when it hits theaters in May.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Assassin’s Creed: The game-inspired film starring Michael Fassbender leaped its way onto DVD and Blu-ray March 10, so Ubisoft brought some movie love to attendees of PAX East. A panel offered additional creative insight and a deleted scene was shown. Meanwhile, Ubisoft hosted several contests over the course of the event, along with interactive activities like a green screen and tons of movie props and costumes on display at the front of the convention hall. The publisher even hosted a blood drive for the Red Cross and rewarded those that participated, touting the Assassin’s Creed line, “your blood is not your own.”

Playing To The Audience

If Twitch and YouTube have taught us anything, it’s that video games can be a fascinating spectator pastime. Developers and forward-thinking brands are embracing this phenomenon and creating games that are as fun to watch as they are to play. PAX East saw some great examples of this concept, in which titles were developed from the ground up to include spectators in the experience. Of course, Twitch had an impressive presence at the show—livestreaming throughout the weekend, hosting competitions, partner meet-ups and offering a spacious lounge in which to take a load off.

The Darwin Project: Yo Dawg, we heard you liked games so we made a game out of watching people play a game about a game. Scavenger Studios unveiled The Darwin Project, a new title that has been described as “The Hunger Games meets Twitch.” Set in the Canadian Rockies in a world on the verge of another ice age, a group of inmates are thrust into a scientific experiment and TV show to see who can survive. In addition to the “players” who must gather resources, manage their stats and kill their opponents, the game’s “show director” acts as a sort of dungeon master who controls the action along with those watching the livestream. The result is a spectator-driven event with many parts to play.

“We wanted to create a game that heightened the tension and engaged players—and the spectators, in a new way,” Simon Darveau, co-founder of Scavengers Studios told IGN“Our unique gameplay dynamic and addition of a Show Director mode results in a battle royale game closer to the Hunger Games fantasy than ever before. With the show director and audience influencing the outcome, it goes well beyond what’s possible with AI alone.”

The Darwin Project will launch on Steam Greenlight sometime this fall.

Darwin Project

Bobby Throne Saves The World: From the minds who brought us Soda Drinker Pro comes a new challenge that seems more of an improv party game than a traditional one, but Snowrunner isn’t exactly known for its conformity. Bobby Throne Saves The World casts users in the role of a cult leader who must deliver a moving sermon—about coins, apparently—to whomever is watching. Although Twitch integration has been confirmed, no other details have yet emerged. Users will be scored based on things like body language and cadence. No release date has been announced yet.

“Virtual” Is Our Reality Now

The virtual reality gaming push is in full swing, and what better place to let fans try it out than at PAX? PlayStation was on hand with its latest PSVR offerings, including Ancient AmuletorPsychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin and Farpoint. Additionally, Owlchemy Labs brought its Adult Swim Rick and Morty VR game, Virtual Rick-ality to the attending mass of fans.

Hoping for a successful Kickstarter campaign to assure its completion, Starfighter, Inc. is described as a “hardcore space combat simulator set in the solar system 200 years in the future.” Developer Impeller Studios featured its creation inside the Kickstarter Castle, where a vision of VR multiplayer was described to would-be backers.

This is not even close to a full recap of the VR titles on display—a good sign that developers are confident about the platform.

PAX: A Place For Creators

Creativity can be seen anywhere you look at PAX East, not limited whatsoever to the world’s largest game publishers. The expo is also a welcome home to many indie developers, who received their own “mega-booths” to show off their wares. The aforementioned Kickstarter Castle allowed developers the rare opportunity to inspire backers in person, and Twitch nurtured its community of partners with a private lounge and meet-up. Cosplay contests were aplenty and publishers big and small could mingle, network and share ideas.