New Zealand’s annual pop culture event returned once again in Auckland this time last week, bringing with it new celebrity guests, various entertainment activations, a host of fantastic artwork and of course, interesting cosplay.
We kicked off our Armageddon Expo on Friday with fun evening with PlayStation New Zealand, who invited us to an interesting PlayStation Experience event where we got to hang out at the PlayStation booth, play some new titles, mingle with others over good food and then enjoy a closed preview of Death Stranding, the highly anticipated title from Kojima Productions. We were even given exclusive Death Stranding pins!
The PlayStation booth is always one that stands out at Armageddon. The four bright colours synonymous with the PlayStation DualShock controller buttons stood out amongst the sea of blue decor. Though this is something that we see each year at Armageddon, this year’s set up also featured DualShock controllers attached to balloons that floated above gamers playing new games like MediEvil and Concrete Genie. It was quite a visual spectacle to see firsthand but even better on social media, as the balloons became a feature of the Instagram stories of several attendees.
Once we were done at the PlayStation stand, we gave the entire expo a quick once over to familiarise ourselves with what was on show this year. What we found was that Armageddon had certainly upped their game with the gaming activations at the show. Not only was PlayStation NZ’s booth a standout but so too was the Nintendo booth, which was larger than previous years, making me feel quite sad at the fact that Xbox was not present at the expo this year.
That being said, Nintendo showed off some fantastic new games from Luigi’s Mansion and Pokemon Sword and Shield to Overwatch on the Switch, which was good fun to see. What I really thought was cool was seeing the Link’s Awakening pin treasure hunt which we had done at PAX AUS two weeks ago. Seeing Kiwis hunting for themed ‘treasure’ in order to secure the pin was quite exhilarating, knowing that we were in their position only a short while ago.
Apart from the two big gaming giants, it was nice to see Asus Republic of Gamers return, showcasing the best of their range of PC gaming range, Logitech G with a whole host of products including their Astro Gaming range, Activision with a very cool Call of Duty: Modern Warfare stand and Ubisoft, who showed a demo of Watch Dogs Legion and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint.
As Kiwis enjoy a variety of games, it was great seeing local hobby retailer, Card Merchant, running Dungeons and Dragons Workshops for new players wanting to experience creating characters, as well as, short campaigns for attendees to get a taste of what D&D is all about.
While I appreciated seeing all the gaming activations at Armageddon, I always enjoy taking a moment to stop by Madman Entertainment’s stand, which is always filled with all my favourite anime titles, manga galore and in more recent years, collectibles. Having been drawn into My Hero Academia, I was thrilled to see several My Hero Academia statues and figurines, including a particular Kotobukiya statue of the character, Todoroki, that I had been eyeing. I didn’t end up buying it though…adulting has cost me so much that it’s just not feasible to indulge in purchasing collectibles that cost more than $50NZD 🙁
We didn’t have enough time on the Friday to see everything, so we made sure to return on Sunday to catch the artist and comic book alley. As always there were plenty of amazing art on display by various artists, many of whom were selling prints and artwork that attendees could buy. As for comic books? I’m always thrilled to see Arkham Comics have a stand as they’re variety of affordable books are fantastic and Mr.J is always a great guy to have a yarn with.
Of course, there were a couple of other retailers selling vintage comics that cost an arm and a leg. Because I’m easily tempted, I gave those booths a skip.
While there was much of the same at Armageddon this year, it was really interesting to see KFC (that’s right, KFC,) have their own little activation called ‘Lord of the Wings’ at Armageddon, which illustrates KFC’s new commitment to keeping up with the times and engaging gamers and esports enthusiasts.
Normally, I would also take a moment to acknowledge the celebrity guests that were in attendance but this year’s Auckland show didn’t feature anyone I was particularly interested in seeing, so therefore, I didn’t sit in on any panels. Then again the Auckland show is always so full of things to see and do that I end up usually missing panels anyway.
All in all, the Armageddon Expo in Auckland this year was good fun, especially because it’s the perfect excuse to dress up, catch up with people you don’t tend to see much, and indulge in some pop culture goodness. No doubt next year’s Auckland Armageddon will be bigger and better given that next generation consoles are due out.