When you step through the gates of Auckland Armageddon Expo for the first time it can be somewhat of an overwhelming sight.

With hundreds of people jammed together close enough so everyone’s bags or costumes rustle against each other, Auckland Armageddon or ‘#Auckgeddon’ takes all the other Armageddon Expos from around the country (New Zealand) and throws them out the window. The bright colours of cosplayers and extravagant displays shine boldly across your eyes as you try to think of where to go first.

As a team member of STG (shanethegamer.com), I attended Auckland Armageddon Expo for 2017. Surprisingly enough, this huge entertainment buff had never attended Auckland’s infamous showcase of entertainment, pop culture, gaming, technology and celebrity guests. As a previous attendee of the Wellington and Christchurch expo for the first time at the start of the year, I soon realised that each expo was individual in its own ways and that in turn created a certain vibe or atmosphere for each event. Auckland’s was crazy and chaotic but in a fun and exciting way. Armageddon is a celebration of all things entertainment and that’s something to make you smile, even despite your sore feet, back or head.

First up was something I was very curious to try: Lenovo Legion and the Star Wars Jedi Challenges.

As someone who only recently joined the Star Wars phenomenon (I know, I’m a shocker), there was certainly an excitement brewing at the thought of wielding a lightsaber and facing off against deadly foes. The overall experience was shaped by friendly staff who were as helpful and intrigued by the future of gaming as I was. Although a demo was used inside a booth because the environment didn’t allow for the true AR experience or ‘in your home’ setting, it still gave you a chance to give the controls, headset and ‘lightsaber’ a try. The gameplay opted for a ‘tutorial’ simulation that felt a tad limiting but at the same time made perfect sense since – I doubt I would have had a chance at succeeding otherwise!

The Nintendo booth was that area in the halls that instantly made you smile because seriously, who doesn’t love Mario and his band of brothers and sisters? My hands-on experiences at the Nintendo booth were Elder Scrolls Skyrim on the Switch and Mario’s latest adventure Super Mario Odyssey. As soon as I explained that I’d never gotten my hands on the Switch before, the team was super helpful with the controls and went over all of Mario’s new moves in Odyssey that are controlled by movement. It was a lot of fun and I wish I got to spend more time with it. Perhaps it may be time to invest in a Switch after all…

There’s no denying that PlayStation was the ‘it’ booth to be at. Their elaborate display felt more like a permanent set up as opposed to one set up for a few days. Quantic Dream (aka the makers of Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls) allowed people to try the demo for their upcoming game Detroit Become Human. Although I’m a tad biased because Beyond Two Souls is one of my favourite games, I couldn’t contain my excitement at the thought of being able to try a snippet of the game. The ‘Hostage’ demo gave players the chance to play as the android Connor, one of the three protagonists.

Without going in to details, I am pleased to say that I had a 99% chance success rate which I bet I won’t be able to replicate in my own playthrough because of it’s incredibly individual experience every time.

My PlayStation VR game demo was Elder Scrolls Skyrim and I sensed it’s potential immediately. It may need a bit of fine tuning e.g. with the controls and actions/reactions but I’m hoping to get my hands on the final product to adjust it for me specifically and get a bit more time to be comfortable with it.

Not too far from the PlayStation booth was a mashup between Samsung and Xbox, where on dazzling QLED 75 inch screens, the up coming Xbox One X was playing a hands on run with Forza 7. Aswell as these super HDR TV’s Samsung also showed that they could cater for PC Gamers with their wide PC Gaming monitors.

Next to them was a Racing kit (chair, steering wheel and screen) setup with Logitech G Series who was also showcasing their latest bits in PC peripherals and just around the corner and over a bit was the magnificent wide berth HP Omen stand.

HP Omen had a very big dominance of the floor with Omen gaming laptops at the ready, the very large Omen X desktop PC on a stand with an HTC Vive connected to it. Dual player VR Gaming showed off the power of the Omen X. It’s not all size but grunt aswell.

New Zealand’s own professional eSports crew Let’s Play Live were also there towards the back of the second hall. Here they were streaming and broadcasting live gameplay matches with audience participation.

But if the big names and games weren’t your thing, then there was still a lot more to choose from such as cosplay events, shops with pop culture goodness, competitions and celebrity talks, photo sessions and autograph sessions. These shops and events is where the commercial beating heart of where Armageddon lies.

Another year and another Armageddon Expo is over. Despite certain booths standing out from the rest, the overall atmosphere established is hard to come by at any other event, making Armageddon the ‘it’ destination of Labour weekend in Auckland.


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