The last few years of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has seen the rise in offsite events popping up left and right. Personally, I feel that the even increasingly difficulty to get tickets is a major factor in this, as many want the SDCC experience but are left on the sidelines when their registration number isn’t called. Various companies have offered offsites for attendees and the general public alike, and gamers are among the target audience as well. This year, I took a couple for the SmashPad team and participated in the Assassin’s Creed Experience and the Halo Battlezone replicant. So, what did I think? And will these experiences be around to stay?
The Assassin’s Creed Experience
First up, the Assassin’s Creed Experience. I attempted this last year, but rumors of 4-6 hours worth of waiting was not quite within my SDCC schedule. This year, Ubisoft made it easy for me with a Fast Pass through the Assassin’s Creed site. After a few minutes and a simple waiver, I was in. It wasn’t incredibly strenuous, to the point where almost anybody could really do it, so long as you weren’t that athletically challenged.
- A climb: via rope at an angle, or up a half pipe running. I went with the former (I run distance, not up!)
- A target to shoot with a pop gun.
- A very short “run off the walls” set, with angled walls.
- The Spider Wall, featuring small sets of bars to set your feet on to gradually bring yourself up to the next level.
- The Moving Train, about 10 feet in length, which featured a spinning “motor”
- Finally, the famou Leap of Faith: a 25-foot drop off a faux-Big Ben onto what was essentially the floor of a bounce house.
The primary course, which is everything but the Leap of Faith, took most participants, including myself, less than 60 seconds to complete. It was simple and the only part that really made it strenuous was the San Diego heat. The biggest selling point, of course, was the Leap of Faith. That took about another 15 minutes or so and required an additional waiver. It was definitely worth that time. Personally, I wasn’t psyched out until I got told to go. That’s when the “oh God, I’m about to throw myself 25 feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet” feeling kicked in and suddenly I was thinking “Please land flat please land flat pleasepleasepleaselandflatplease.” I mostly did!
I’d say the biggest struggle of the event was attempting to get off the landing pad. I felt like a drunk four- year old struggling to maintain any sort of composure. At least you’re tucked behind some barricades so nobody can see you make an ass of yourself.
The next day, I strapped into some UNSC armour at the Xbox Lounge and played a real life set of Halo 5’s Battlezone. In a classic Red vs. Blue setting, each team of four took a set of Halo “Nerf” guns and a sticky grenade. Two power weapons, a Needler and a “Saw” (not an official Halo toy weapon, but a standin for the Saw), sat on either side of the room. Barricades were erected in the controlled environment. Walking into the room strapped up, I felt it was fun, but I wasn’t losing my mind with excitement (the kid behind me was, though). But, once I needed to cock that gun and ready myself, it was ON. Suddenly, I was ready to absolutely murder Blue Team and be the GLORYBOY HERO.
No dice. I was able to get in a few good kills in the 2-minute, best of 3 rounds, including one head shot that made that member of Blue Team walk back to the Killed Corner in shame. Single hits led to death in our game, same as Halo 5’s mode. Alas, we lost 2-1 and were not given Master Chief posters. Something about me liked that; don’t reward LOSERS.
While I certainly had fun, what’s the likelihood these types of experiences are here to stay?
So are these events worth it?
Considering the type of fun that can be had and the passion of gamers, I’d say there’s a very good chance that so long as they stay somewhat varied, they have a good chance to stay within the offsite events of Comic Con. This Halo event wasn’t available last year, and likely won’t be around next year, but I can imagine Microsoft upping the ante. Sure, games can be played in advance of their release, but experiences like this are a way to connect with your favorite games that much more. Last year’s’ Xbox Lounge was cool, but the Halo experience and Tomb Raider photo opportunities (gifs of yourself dressed in winter gear, scaling an ice wall and within a tunnel – with a free gift!) made the trip to the Lounge that much better. The lines prove it. Honestly – how many of you have envisioned yourself as a Spartan, an ODST, or Tomb Raider? Plenty.
The Assassin’s Creed Experience was on its second year and the lines were equally as long as they were last year. For as simple as the course could be, it was a nice physical activity that was accessible enough. And while you can’t quite jump 25 feet exactly like a true assassin, the “You did WHAT?!” conversations are definitely fun. It didn’t require a Comic Con badge either, which made the event even more successful. Call of Duty Black Ops III: Zombies also had a presence with an Escape the Room event, which also did not require a Comic Con badge. Halo, though, did require a badge for the Xbox Lounge in general.
With gaming seemingly increasing its presence at the Con, I don’t imagine these fun events going away super soon. But, it will require variances in previous events. I can see the Assassin’s Creed Experience lasting at least another year, but even the lure of the Leap of Faith may grow tiring after three years in a row. I’m looking forward to what we can show you in the coming years at San Diego Comic Con.