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PAX Australia: the panels and presentations you can't miss

(Image credit: PAX)

PAX Australia returns to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in a little over a week. Running October 11 - 13, there is obviously far too much stuff happening than a single person can possibly get to. That's why I've selected a few highlights below. 

Of course, choosing 'highlights' for an event with what must be hundreds of panels, presentations and events, isn't a scientific task. So these tend to wend closer to 'high profile' and 'blockbuster'. The full schedule is here (opens in new tab), and it looks like there's something for everyone. Personally, I tend to spend the bulk of my time sampling games in the PAX Rising section of the showroom floor, which is always packed with countless dozens of in-development Australian and international indies. 

Tickets are still available for individual days (opens in new tab), though it looks like they're running out.

Friday 12:30pm: Creating Call of Duty’s Signature “Big Moments” (opens in new tab)

Sledgehammer art talent Joseph Salud, Sandy Lin-Chiang, Gareth Richards and Josh Caratelli will take to the stage, offering “a deep dive into the planning and execution of some of their biggest game moments from concept art and storyboarding, to lighting VFX and polish.”

Friday 1pm: CD Projekt Red Presents Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab)

It’s one of the most anticipated games of the decade, so if you’ve got a ticket for PAX it seems like a no brainer to attend. The event repeats at 3pm on the Saturday and 12:30pm on Sunday, which means everyone should be able to go.

Friday 1:30pm: Games and moral panic: Why are we here again? (opens in new tab)

For anyone obsessed with the inner-workings of the Australian Classification Board (and who isn’t?) this will be a must attend. It’ll seek to answer the question: “why does so much moral panic still exist about video games and the millions of people that choose to play them?” It features Classification Board director Margaret Anderson, among other industry professionals. 

Friday 3:30pm: Behind the scenes of Call of Duty with Sledgehammer audio (opens in new tab)

Yep, another Call of Duty panel, this time focused on sound design. It’ll feature senior audio director at Sledgehammer, David Swenson, alongside expert sound designer Michael Caisley.

Friday 5pm: PAX’s Haunted! Destiny, Bungie and You (opens in new tab)

Best seen as an opportunity to watch a panel featuring Bungie design director Victoria Dollbaum and Destiny voice actor Morla Gorrondona. It’s a showcase panel hosted by The Periodic Table of Awesome, and there will be giveaways, too.

Friday: 6pm: PAX Aus Indie Showcase Panel (opens in new tab)

This will be a nice opportunity to see six indie devs chew the fat about game development. Whether you make it to the panel or not, the PAX Aus Indie Showcase is always a highlight of the show and it takes up a significant portion of the showroom floor: it’s a great opportunity to see what the Australian dev community is cooking up.

Sunday 12:30pm: Growing up with the Elder Scrolls: 25 years of TES

If the idea of listening to four prominent streamers from Australian outfit Tamriel Downunder talk The Elder Scrolls shop for an hour appeals, this looks great. “We’ll talk about the single player games, and our own history with them, to the MMORPG genre with the Elder Scrolls Online and how the wider TES community has come together to help make both the game and the world better.”

Sunday, 1:30pm: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Presents: Melbourne By Night (opens in new tab)

This is an interesting one: held in the EB Live Theatre, a live tabletop game of Vampire: The Masquerade set in Melbourne will carry out, “as seen through the lens of the World of Darkness”. It’s lead by Brian Holland from White Wolf.

Sunday, 2pm: WrestleBrania: The Games Edition

This is basically Q&A or Spicks and Specks, except it focuses on wrestling and fighting games. You can’t really make the argument that PAX doesn’t cater for niches.

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.