It’s that time of the year again, when geeks, cosplayers and lovers of gaming all converge on the Ticketpro dome for a weekend of doing what they are passionate about with friends and like-minded individuals. It’s time for rAge.
With South Africa hosting Africa’s very first Comic Con, many were concerned that rAge would inevitably suffer. After attending the event, I have to say that, while there were a few things I would’ve like to see done different, rAge is, overall, still going strong.
The first thing I noticed when entering the exhibition space was the PlayStation/Sony and Xbox/Microsoft stands. And while both were absolutely filled to the brim with awesome games for attendees to play, it was Microsoft that surprised me the most by having one of the biggest stands I’ve seen at a rAge to date. Thanks to them partnering up with Ubisoft and others, there were loads of unreleased and newly released games to try out.
I was impressed with how Microsoft was able to create a personal little nook for each of the games that were available to play. Sometimes it just works better when you funnel people into a space rather than just having them stand around in the open not sure where the cue for a specific game begins or ends. This was an issue I picked up at the PlayStation stand as we struggled to figure out in which line to stand and wait to play Spider-Man. But once we got our hands on the game all was forgotten as it is one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on (or off depending on how you prefer it).
While Microsoft had the bigger stand, PlayStation’s did impress me with how it was set up to look like a small version of New York City and, while we were trying to figure out where the cues were, we entertained ourselves by imagining we were old Spidey swinging through the city.
There were quite a few games on show that has yet to be released, including The Division 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Spyro Re-Ignited and, one of the game’s that immediately drew my attention, Star Link, only because it combines two passions in my life, games and toys.
Basically, Star Link sees you building a toy spaceship from various parts (each sold separately as they say), which then is reflected on your in-game spaceship, allowing you to customise your ship as you see fit. It’s a really interesting concept and, as a fan of the toys-to-life genre, a game I can see myself dumping loads of time and cash into.
So, not only did I get to see one of my all-time favourite gaming icons, Spyro, be reborn on current gen consoles, but I also got to play with some awesome toys. It truly is great being a kid in an adult’s body.
As far as tech goes, the usual suspects were there, MSI, HP, Evetech and ASUS (who formed part of the Xbox stand) each trying to lure us to their stands (which they succeeded) with a myriad of coloured lights and gorgeous tech. In-between all the rows of shiny tech stands were where the bane of my wallet was to be found. Rows upon rows of merchandising stands waiting to suck my wallet dry. No sooner did I enter this forbidden place when I found myself unexpectedly holding a new cap and two superhero t-shirts. I still have no recollection of how this happened.
Of course, as with previous years, the cosplayers were on point and showed why we have some of the most talented cosplayers in the world right here in South Africa. I saw some amazingly detailed costumes that looked like they could have come from a galaxy far away or a far-flung mystical realm. I realised that this was one of the reasons I attended these events; to see just how amazing these cosplayer’ costumes are. Maybe I’ll give it a go next year.
Overall, while many expected rAge to suffer due to Comic Con, my experience was that this was not the case (at least for now). The new and arguably better layout made sure we had enough space to walk without bumping into a monitor screen, people or even a Storm Trooper, and the fact that exhibitors such as Microsoft and Sony had a bigger presence than they did at Comic Con Africa, makes me think that rAge will do fine and that both expos can exist peacefully side-by-side, just like PlayStation and Xbox fanboys or PUBG and Fortnite players.
I have to say that there was a clear void that needed filling when it came to e-Sports this year, and this is coming from someone who isn’t necessarily a fan. There was some Counterstrike being played, as well as a few rounds of Fortnite (seriously this game is everywhere) at the huge Microsoft stand, but overall the presence of e-Sports was sorely and visibly lacking, in my opinion. I hope that next year we see more e-sports being featured as it was a part of last year’s rAge I really enjoyed.
rAge 2018 didn’t disappoint and, while there were a few little niggling issues, I have to say that I enjoyed wandering around the exhibition floor and just being able to experience the amazing vibe that permeated every inch of the venue. Whether rAge will continue to grow we will have to wait and see. However, for now, rAge seems to be going strong which makes me excited to see what next year holds in store.