Nov 14, 2018 Written by: Kimberly_Koenig

Hands-on at the inaugural ROG GameFest 2018

Articles: Events Smartphones
Article Tags: Events

4C1A7032-Edit-EditTwo young gamers goof off at the PUBG Mobile stations.

For gamers in California this October 2018, TwitchCon wasn’t the only exciting gig in town. At our brand-new North American HQ in nearby Fremont, Republic of Gamers hosted the inaugural ROG GameFest. The day was filled with awesome family-friendly events, influencers, and demos, including a hands-on with the new ROG Phone and plenty of Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 action. Here’s a look at how the day went down.

Smells like geek spirit

4C1A6149-Edit-EditROG superfan Kendrick shows off his head-to-toe red look with an “ROG Fan” LED sign strapped to his hat.

Early bird attendees were alight with anticipation outside the doors. Computer-building enthusiasts were especially excited about the PC DIY event, where attendees were teaming up with influencers in a race to build gaming PCs.

For a free event, there were also great giveaways. Anyone who collected three "ROG Passport" stamps immediately got a top-notch swag bag, including a limited-edition red and black ROG snapback with a stylish, cyberpunk-inspired print under the brim. And there were plenty of other chances to win, including graphics card, motherboard, and monitor raffles.

It also wouldn’t be a tech event without costumes. Multiple superfans showed their love with ROG gear. The ASUS video team’s own Greg Checchi made everyone jealous with his limited edition PAX East ROG Glitch logo tee. But event attendee Kendrick was by far the day’s biggest fan. Dressed in bright red from head to toe, he was already styled to stand out from the crowd. The piece de resistance was the digital sign clipped to his hat and displaying a custom message in red text: “ROG Fan.”

No time to phone home

4C1A7284-Edit-EditWhen you pair the ROG Phone with Gamevice controllers and a big screen TV, your whole body gets into the action.

When the doors opened, people immediately zeroed in on the comfy ROG Phone couches to tear up the pavement in Need for Speed. The ROG Phones hit US store shelves in early October 2018. Everyone who knew about them was eager to finally try a phone tailor-made for gaming.

One side of the couch showcased how the ROG Phone works as a handheld console with attached Gamevice controllers and the WiGig Display Dock. Steering was pure fun with the phone’s internal gyroscope. Regardless of age, anyone who picked it up couldn't resist putting their whole body into the action. Meanwhile, the physical buttons provided a more traditional console gaming feel. Add the display dock, and all the racing action was up on the big screen for people to spectate, cheer, or trash talk.

On another couch, Philip and his dad George leaned over the dual-display ROG TwinView Dock. This revolutionary peripheral turns any ROG Phone into a portable gaming powerhouse by adding a second screen, front-speakers, extra battery, enhanced cooling, haptics, and physical triggers. Philip launched into a game of Fortnite on the lower screen, all while watching one of his favorite YouTubers up top. “It’s really fast and it’s fun,” he said, totally engrossed in the dual-screen view. “I think I might have to get one,” said his dad. “We’ve been trying to get our home PC a bit faster, and it’s nothing like this,” he laughed. “This is like the ultimate.”

Beyond the couches, PUBG Mobile players were also getting a taste of something new: mobile on a monitor. Forget fumbling on a tiny screen; with a mobile desktop dock, phone games scale up to a monitor and even use a real keyboard and mouse. The result is a PC-like gaming experience that's solely phone-powered.

4C1A6218-Edit-EditPUBG Mobile with a mobile dock, monitor, keyboard, and mouse provides a PC-like gaming experience, minus the PC.

Inside the Aura cave

4C1A6146-Edit-EditA line quickly formed for the Aura cave, where some of the coolest new Aura Sync RGB tech was on display.

Next to the phone area, a line quickly formed for the ROG Aura Cave. Many were already familiar with ROG’s Aura Sync technology, but others were getting their first look. Goodies like the Mini-ITX ROG Strix Z390-I glowed like modern art installations from the wall, but the show-stealing centerpiece was a monster build based on the ROG Maximus XI Code and Strix GeForce RTX 2080 OC Edition.

Beyond bringing built-in AI Overclocking and water cooling support for people who push their PCs to the edge, the Maximus XI Codem boasts dramatic lighting that perfectly accentuates its sleek black and silver styling. Cooling this beast was the ROG Ryujin 360, an all-in-one liquid cooler with Aura Sync and an embedded 1.77" LiveDash OLED. You don’t realize you need one until you lay eyes on it. The Ryujin was displaying live CPU stats (in this case, the Intel Core i9-9900K’s blazing 5.0 GHz clock speed), but the crisp, customizable screen can show practically anything, even animations for your favorite clan or online meme.

4C1A6265-Edit-Edit-2The Z390 and GeForce RTX 2080 build in all its Aura glory.

Many people don’t realize that Aura Sync now offers special, game-specific integration for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. When one attendee named Kay found out this was possible over in the COD gaming area, he was pretty floored: “I didn’t even know that was a feature!” He exclaimed. “That would really immerse you more into the game and give you visual feedback into what you’re doing.” He said he could definitely see those visual cues helping him hone his skills.

And that's exactly the point. Compatible ROG products actually respond to in-game cues. With the ROG Strix Flare, environmental changes like health drops and low ammo change key colors or turn them off entirely. Teamed up with the ROG Gladius II Origin mouse, this takes plain old RGB from form to function.

4C1A6928-Edit-EditTwo young sisters try the Aura Sync-enabled keyboards and laptops in the ROG unboxing room.

When duty calls

4C1A6811-Edit-Edit11-year-old Violet hones her COD: BO4 skills in her Halloween costume.

Beside the hardware in the unboxing area, there were plenty of other chances to get hands-on with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Players packed the ten PC and laptop gaming stations for the entire seven-hour event. Gamers of all ages focused on fine-tuning their skills while gunning for their own BO4 game code. All they had to do was make it into the top 20. It might sound easy, but by the end of the day, attendees only claimed 22 of the 50 available codes.

Whether they got a code or not, everyone was nonetheless raving about Call of Duty's new battle royale mode, Blackout. “It has Call of Duty’s awesome weapons, but better graphics. It's going to convert PUBG players for sure,” said one GameFest attendee and battle royale aficionado.

4C1A8222-Edit-EditThe Zephyrus S keyboard layout serves two purposes: special cooling for the discrete GPU, and a more comfortable desktop-like design while you play.

Players also loved trying Black Ops 4 on top-notch machines, including the new console-style ROG Huracan G21, with its bold, asymmetric lines and cyberpunk aesthetics, and the ultra-slim ROG Zephyrus S, one of the world’s thinnest, fastest, and lightest gaming laptops. The special keyboard layout on the Zephyrus S provides more space to cool the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q design graphics, plus a more comfortable design for marathon gaming sessions. This detail was quickly noticed and appreciated by many gamers.

At one end of the gaming area, one lucky gamer per group got to try the 34" ROG Swift PG348Q gaming monitor. Everyone seemed surprised by the curved 21:9 display, which takes full advantage of Call of Duty's ultrawide monitor support. “I felt like I was actually in the game,” said Natali, who spent over four hours just in the BO4 gaming area. “I felt I could see more and play better.”

On the desktop stations, 240Hz ROG Swift PG258Q monitors breezily handled every single frame the overclocked ROG Strix GL12s cranked out. Black Ops 4 has an uncapped frame rate, so there are no software-imposed limitations on the game’s performance, which is perfect for these kinds of gaming setups. As one player put it, between the top-of-the-line mouse, keyboard, and buttery smooth 240Hz monitor, “the action actually feels like how the game designers intended their games to be played.” 

4C1A6573-Edit-EditThe 34" ROG Swift PG348Q curved gaming monitor takes full advantage of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s ultrawide monitor support.

Let’s get technical

After a few hours of hands-on, afternoon seats filled up for ROG’s first-ever tech talk. YouTube influencers Thermal Mike, Logan Paul, and Austin Evans joined forces onstage to cover lots of ground with tips for new PC builders on budgeting, picking parts, and why monitors are actually a new PC’s most critical component. Anyone who missed it should definitely check out the YouTube livestream.

The tech talk was a perfect segue into the later PC DIY challenge. First, everyone learned about building PCs. Then they got to actually see it. As Thermal Mike drew names from an ROG loot crate, audience members cheered and called out, asking to be chosen for the Master Chef-style PC-building challenge. Onstage, three tempered glass computer chassis were ready for teams to race from zero to watercooled gaming rig in 2.5 hours.

4C1A6962-Edit-EditThe panoramic, tempered glass computer cases were lined up and ready for teams to begin building.

While that might seem like a lot of time, especially for three-person teams, everything still needed unboxing. Plus, only one team member could be hands-on and building the computer at once. Everyone else could only talk their "active" teammates through, and they rotated roles every 15 minutes. This created an intense and adrenaline-pumping competition, from the very first frenetic moments ripping open boxes and situating motherboard standoffs to the final, nail-biting seconds waiting for the POST screen.

For five of the nine contestants, PC-building was a complete first. But even for those with experience, making it a timeboxed competition was a unique challenge. Team Logan's fifteen-year-old Sharon was one of the few participants who had built a PC before, and she was racing against the clock as her mom Blair proudly snapped photos from the sidelines.

When Team Thermal Mike emerged victorious, each of the three group members got to take one of the gaming PC builds home. Although everyone was excited, the team’s youngest member, Pranav, was completely floored by the win. 

Funny enough, he was actually here because he had been asking his family for a gaming computer for Christmas. His research led him to ROG GameFest, where he knew he’d be able to see some of his favorite gaming gear in person. He expected to sell his dad Surendra on his next Christmas gift; he never expected to win an entire top-of-the-line gaming PC. Now Surendra couldn't stop laughing at his son's stunned face from his spot in the audience. With a new gaming rig and PC-building chops, Pranav was planning to fire up Fortnite and even try upgrading his computer very soon.

4C1A8125-Edit-EditPranav makes some finishing adjustments to the winning team’s PC build.

Until next time

ROG GameFest 2018 was a fun-packed day giving gamers of all ages opportunities to experience the latest hardware, learn more about computers, and even rub shoulders with their favorite YouTubers. As attendees streamed out later that evening, it was clear from their chatter that the event far exceeded expectations, especially the free food trucks and awesome giveaways. “It was definitely worth coming here,” concluded Surendra, who drove his son almost an hour to get to the event. “There’s really a reward for everyone.”

Articles: Events Smartphones
Article Tags: Events
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