Video Games / Platform / PC

The Power Of The Lost: Why Xcom 2 Has Only Gotten Better

The Power Of The Lost: Why Xcom 2 Has Only Gotten Better

Sneaking in behind a glut of release, Xcom 2 quietly deployed its first expansion pack. War of The Chosen isn’t merely a fresh offering of a few new tricks, but a clear injection of ideas and mechanics that elevate the game to a whole new level. While the new menacing Chosen Advent enemies may grab the headlines, it’s the curious new enemy faction that truly changes things up.   Lost & Found  The initial eye rolling that accompanies The Lost’s debut is both to be expected and respected. They may not share the same name, but The Lost are essentially zombies. Those slow walking, rotting bags of flesh, that have bogged down popular media for nearly a decade now. We’ve seen them at pretty much every turn since the zombie revival burst open with 2004′s Dawn of the Dead. Video games thrive on the undead masses, constantly deploying them into post apocalyptic settings or making them the core focus of a so so experience. Xcom 2 falls victim to similar ideas, The Lost have all the traits of zombies all the way down their shambling movements. But there’s a catch. Instead of being a tired trope that offers little, The Lost add a whole new dimension to the core gameplay. More than just a gimmick, their presence creates more choices and outcomes. They force the player to adapt and manage unforeseen situations. At times, all you can do is endure. Alone, The Lost are merely cannon fodder. Low hit points and the inability to think tactically result in them becoming free kills, at least for a time. A series of clever mechanics around them create a set of unofficial rules of engagement. Aim for the head, keep your distance and never use explosives. For every echoing thunder of a grenade or a near by car exploding, a new horde is ushered. The Lost will pour into the battlefield, heading directly for the source of the sound. No longer a singular token enemy, but a wall of fleshy undead dread. Quantity over quality has never been so intimidating.   Aim For The Head   The once delicate balancing act of dealing with the Alien threat has officially been skewered. The Lost hold no allegiances beyond the need to kill. Be it Xcom or Advent, they’ll take a chunk out of either. Where most developers would leave this as it is, Firaxis Games have gone the extra mile. The Lost can be seen as both an enemy and an asset. Their blind devotion to the kill can be utilized by the plucky commander to the benefit of Xcom. Creating explosions in the heart of Advent squads draws The Lost’s attention. Before you know it, the once deadly incoming horde has not become a valuable tool. But what if it all goes wrong? Accumulation of failures has always been at the heart of Xcom. A few missed shots, a mistaken attempt to lure the enemy. A single slip up and spell the end for an Xcom operator, or even an entire squad. A single miss placed shot, even with the handy free action gained by killing a Lost, generates immense pressure. They move closer and closer with each turn, one after another. Smothering a single operator, refusing to let them escape. Battling between dice rolls and diminishing reloads, the tide of Lost become unstoppable. Overrun Those brief seconds of judgment between turns allow for the doubts to sink. Repeating murmurs of ‘what if’ plague each choice. Dealing with Advent is one thing, you can predict their need for self-preservation, The Lost is a different foe. Slamming round after round into their advance, struggling to keep your head above the tide. It’s truly exhilarating. These are the moments in which heroes are born. Pvt. Sammy Forgotten, Cpl.Pete Peterson, your backup squad you never cared very much. Suddenly they’re providing fire that’s taking out the incoming Lost War of Chosen does a fantastic job of making the best use of forgotten operatives. Be in the off-screen missions found in the Resistance Ring, or an Xcom member of any rank taking down Lost. Everyone and everything fit into the overall movement of the game. It’s a nice twist that an enemy called The Lost can truly make every member of your squad feel useful. A simple threat that creates an extra layer of depth that scales beyond something else to kill. Xcom 2′s The Lost truly is an improvement to a game that was already excelling....

Overwatch’s Christmas Content Is More Of What Makes Overwatch Great

Overwatch’s Christmas Content Is More Of What Makes Overwatch Great

It’s the Christmas season, Overwatch is in full festive cheer. The latest content drop is filled with Santa hats, elf ears and snowball fights. Aside from all the new skins, sprays and poses, the latest content provides a great example of why Overwatch works so well, and I’m not talking about the gameplay. Blizzard have masterfully built worlds for years now. Their ability to create new various universes, filling them with characters and lore, is arguably their greatest asset. Much like World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch is filled with little details that breathe life into the world.   At this point, we’ve all fallen in-love with the characters, even with their limited back story. Their traits and personalities allow them to become more than just a role within the game. Tracer could have just been ‘the fast one’, Reinhardt left as nothing but ‘the shield guy’, but they’re more than that. Each character doesn’t just feel unique, they act it. Their one liners when they take down a enemy, their remarks when someone gives them a heal. It’s a collection of little touches that give the game, as well as the heroes, some personality. Interactions between the characters is something Overwatch does wonderfully. Various bits of backstory and lore are exposed in these interactions, supplying some level of humanity to a game about heroes.   Blizzard could have messed it up, they really could. Forcing interactions and overdoing one liners is a problem a lot of games suffer from. Blizzard does it in such a organic way that it becomes second nature. Throughout the game, players can find little touches that link heroes together. The recent Christmas content provides a great example of this, focusing in on two characters. Roadhog and Junkrat are partners in crime, popping up throughout Overwatch’s lore. Those with a keen eye would have noticed Roadhog’s latest festive skin features a neat detail on his gun. Tucked away on the side of Roadhog’s scrap cannon is a short message reading ‘From Junkrat’. It’s a tiny touch that would normally go untouched, but its just another reason why Overwatch works so well. Everything feels connected, creating a sense of a genuine world with history and current events. The Christmas event is just another step in Overwatch’s growth, both as a game and a world. The quirks and mannerism of each character, mixed with the interlinking nature of the world, that’s what makes Overwatch flourish....

Super Powered Battle Friends Looks Like 2D Smash Goodness

Super Powered Battle Friends Looks Like 2D Smash Goodness

I remember back when I was just a wee lad and my friends and I would haul a television and an N64 console outside onto his front porch and play Super Smash Bros all night long while sipping on cokes and munching away on cheetos and chips. Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan of games like Super Smash Brothers and I’m constantly looking for new games that delve into that formula to scratch my constant Smash itch. So you can imagine my glee when two friends of mine in the development community started developing their own 2D smash-like game called Super Powered Battle Friends (originally titled Wolf Pack Battalion). Now, I’m writing up this little piece for a couple of reasons. The first being, I wanted to get this little game out there and garner some more attention its way. There’s nothing wrong with having more games like this on the market and the fact that it looks incredibly fun and is made by two guys I’ve really come to respect in the industry is the whole reason I’m supporting their game. I played it back in the Wolf Pack days when the game ran on the BYOND engine (a free to use game development tool) that has spawned some pretty great titles on Steam itself. Such titles include EPOCH, Nother and NEStalgia just to name a few. The thing about SPBF is that these guys took a step out of their comfort zone and completely redesigned the game in the Unreal 4 Engine, which isn’t an easy feat if you’ve become comfortable and accustomed to one development engine for going on ten years. For me, that stands out as being kind of impressive on its own. They’re trying to get the game through Steam Greenlight at the moment, and for some people it’s really a make or break stage in the development process. You can vote for the game here if it appeals to you, and it never hurts to see more games thrown onto Steam and especially something like this, we need more Smash-like games in the world and it wouldn’t hurt to have some of those grace the Steam marketplace, especially one that plans on taking Smash-likes and turning it into something balls to the wall nutty. It would be a nice change of pace from all of the indie-horror & survival simulation titles that have been cropping up on the service (not that I’m complaining). For people curious about the game, and for some reason can’t take a gander at the Steam page for the title, I’ve copy and pasted some of their FAQ about the game so you can get an understanding of what they’re going for. Linux or Mac support? Mickemoose: are using Unreal Engine 4, we do have the ability to build the game to run on Linux and Mac, and we hope for a smooth simultaneous release on all three! If you guys are taking on the party side of this genre, will the combat feel as good as things like Rivals of Aether and Smash? Mickemoose: Yes. While we do currently have some more tweaks to do and I’m sure we’ll find some more as we keep on play testing every day, I can assure you we plan to have the combat tight and fluid. How many players do you plan to support? Mickemoose: At the time of writing this, we currently support 4 players, but we are discussing on having more than the standard and will most likely end up supporting a larger amount in the long run Whats with the timer in the video? Mickemoose: The timer is currently set to 0 during the recording, after some discussion we’ve decided it should not be on the screen at all if it’s disabled. What will you do differently than other games of this genre? Mickemoose: That’s a great question, we think a lot of games try to focus on the competitive side of things a little too much leaving not much room for party game aspects of the genre. Sometimes people need something to cool down the salt with. We plan to take on game modes not typically seen in these games, things like Capture the Flag, Volleyball, King of the Hill. We have plans for a multiplayer reimagining of Smash Run, using split screen so you can have all your friends over to go throughout the map, dealing with events, grabbing powerups and then competing in an event at the end of the run. And yes we have split screen capabilities right now, we just need more time to finish the actual mode itself as we’d prefer a finished mode over an unfinished one. How many characters do you plan on having? Mickemoose: Our current plans are for a roster of 11. — So there you have it, and without further ado the gameplay trailer....

Battlefield 1′s Four Most Annoying Traits

Battlefield 1′s Four Most Annoying Traits

Battlefield 1 is currently storming the charts, as well as earning high praise from consumer and critics alike. With amazing visuals, intense multiplayer action, and a campaign that’s not too shabby. There’s plenty to enjoy, but it’s not perfect. Frustrations and annoyances float around very aspects of the game, not all of them are exactly DICE’s fault however. These are three worst things about Battlefield 1 -     Scaled Back Destruction - For a game set during a time where the power of explosives and artillery was stunning the masses, not much can really be blown up. A number of walls will remain standing unless hit by certain weapons or vehicles. Dynamite will have little affect on some structures, resulting a look of confusion on the player’s face. Bombs and tanks rip through the map, but field guns not so much. It’s not a major problem, but does take away some aspects of realism and strategy. Past Battlefield games would allow players to blow up would be sniper potions, Battlefield 1 is a little less accommodating. In general, it would have been nice to see more of the map rip and tear under the pressures of war. But hey, at least the Zeppelins look amazing as they crash to earth.     Team Work Makes The Dream Work - Players who join the game in a party will automatically form a squad in-game, awesome. The catch comes in the shape of those squads being set to private by default. It results in most games being filled with random two-three man private squads, making the game feel less of a team experience. Unfortunately it also has an influence on a team’s performance. Squad spawns can change the tide of a match. Effective squads can flank enemies, allowing team mates and push onto objectives. The bigger the squad, the more effective squad spawns are.   Working as a team is not only hugely helpful, but it’s a core principle of Battlefield on the whole. Spot enemies, supply allies, hold positions. It all makes for a successful team. It’s just a shame that so many people stay in their small private squads. Just set them to open by default, please DICE.   Tanks, Snipers And The Pains Of Life - Everyone single Battlefield game ever has had issues with snipers. Those players who will sit at the back of the map, refusing to do anything but snipe. Battlefield 1 is jam packed with these people. Each of the sniper rifles are pretty simple to use, almost to simple. Bullet drop and damage reduction isn’t all that harsh, allowing even the most novice sharpshooter to succeed. You could easily argue that sniping within the game is too easy. The design of the maps allows for players to hide away with relative ease, rarely fearing attack. Counter-sniping is a option, but that only leads to more snipers. It’s not rare to see a game devolve to snipers on top of snipers with even more snipers. Tanks provide their own issues. In short, it’s far too easy to repair them and remain safe. Open maps like the Sinai Desert are often dominated by one or two armoured units. The only real counter to tanks is the fairly short ranged anti-tank grenade, dynamite and mines. They all require the player to get up close however, which is near impossible on maps lacking cover. Projectile anti-tank weapons do very little, forcing players to use the before mentioned tools.   Not Another Pistol - You finally get a Battle Pack and it’s another pistol....

This Is The Police Adds Free Language Support And Additional Content

This Is The Police Adds Free Language Support And Additional Content

This Is The Police has been gifted a free update. Gangsters have taken the city by storm, along with some new language support patches. Players in Frace, China, Spain and Portugal will be happy to know their home tongue is now fully support within the game.   As a way of saying thanks, developer Weappy Studio have added gangs from their respected homelands to the game. French players will tackles the ”Uterus Magna” while Brazilian-Portuguese players have to deal with ”Circo Mambembe”. Each gang promises three investigations, beefing up the game’s core content in the process.   ”Wheels of Empire”, a new investigation offered to all owners of the game, will also be added.   Weappy have already confirmed work on sandbox-mode is continuing, which will also be added via a free update. This is The Police is one of this year’s sleeper hits. The mix of micromanagement and story telling has resulted in a hugely enjoyable experience. See the review for This Is The Police here.  ...

No Man’s Sky Backlash Represents A Possible Consumer Turning Point

No Man’s Sky Backlash Represents A Possible Consumer Turning Point

No Man’s Sky may be Steam’s most poorly reviewed game, but that doesn’t reflect the game itself. If Hello Game’s product was merely disappointing, maybe even bad, no one would have been talking about the game this late after release. Reaction to the game speaks volumes about the state of the modern industry, at least from the consumers point of view. Some critics and publications may have went into overdrive trying to defend the game, but the consumers had no time for it. No Man’s Sky was sold on lies, not just a few white ones either. From features being promised then revoked only to be subsequently hidden under stickers on printed copies, there’s a lot to be infuriated about. Sean Murray had teased, promised and dazzled the masses with his showcasing of No Man’s Sky. Flashy buzz terms married with veiled answers to questions along with simple bright eyed charm, it was hard to resist the hype. His beguiling nature helped paper over the cracks in most of No Man’s Sky presence across various expos. When you market a game on hype and charm, people become invested. At the end of the day, your’re still asking for a full price entry fee from the customer. This forms a strong connection between the game and the player, which sounds good…assuming the game is what was promised. The sheer backlash towards No Man’s Sky is justified. Consumers didn’t feel underwhelmed with the game, they felt lied to. It’s not a nice feeling, sparking instant bitterness within the victim. Comparing what was promised, to what was delivered, leaves some truly mind blowing realisations. How could a game be sold on that many lies? A game worked on by the ‘indie’ scene we were told to love and cherish so much. Why did only a handful of well known critics try to ask the hard questions prior to release? Steam’s user review system is infamously brutal. The boiling pot of hobbyist reviewers, dank meme addicts and trolls, no game is safe from its taint. No Man’s Sky undoubtedly has a number of troll reviews on its store page, like any other game. The primary factor in this store page’s review is just how many reviews consist of concise critiques on the game, rather than blunt ‘F**K DIS GAME’. No Man’s Sky represents the very worst of modern video games. It’s not rare for games to be marketed and hyped on lies, just ask Bethseda’s Todd Howard or Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford. No Man’s Sky is the folk in the road, perhaps even the enlightenment the video game consumer has needed. In the age of social media and blogging, consumer reactions/impression carry much more weight. It’s why the days of sites like IGN and Gametrailers dictating popular opinion are over. Streamers, Youtubers and those with large social media followings are the new frontier. Those same people are often consumers who have happened to fallen into their own place of power. Could Sean Murray’s little bundle of lies turn out to be an important game for reasons he didn’t plan? Hello Games have since closed down the Reddit for No Man’s Sky, all while they rarely seem to comment on the game itself. Robotic statements that never answer anything, silence from Murray himself. It’s been a disaster for a game that was seen as the darling of the industry not that long ago. Consumers have expressed their displeasure with a product they bought in good faith. Could the industry learn from the follies Hello Games? You’d hope so....

Demons Age Preview

Demons Age Preview

A number of games have tried to relive the glory days of late 80′s and early 90′s RPGs. Demons Age is the latest offering in development. Although it may be in its early stages of development, there’s still enough to promise interest. Demons Age won’t be to everyone’s taste, this is made abundantly clear within the first half hour. Grid set turn based combat, stat management and plenty of lore are all at the heart of the game. In all fairness, this is very much a love letter to how RPGs used to be. It’s refreshing to have so much control over a characters stats. Every little adjustment can lead to a greater good, slowly moulding to how you wish to play and act within context of the game. There’s very little in the form of forced progression into certain fields, allowing players to approach levelling and character progression in a similar fashion to pen and paper Dungeon & Dragons. Unfortunately it’s not all good, imbalance is something Demons Age suffers from regularly. Spell casters seem to be a little too powerful, leaving all other options feeling much weaker in the process. This is an issue that pops up with most RPGs that allow for such freedom, Demons Age is just another victim, at least for now. Sticking so close to the flavour of old school Demons Age wish to honour presents a few strange issues. Both the story and environments feel familiar, almost like we’ve been there countless times. Within the early stages of the game, players are treated to a sewer level. Yes, the level itself is nicely crafted and acts as a great host for the tutorial. Even with the solid design, seeing the same shades of sewer for the 89th time does take its toll. After a few rough patches and bumps in the road, Demon Age starts to grow into something enjoyable. Even when the rigid animations, visuals glitches and tricky looting causes frustration, there’s still undeniable charm flowing within the game. Much like sitting back to enjoy a good genre piece film, Demons Age remains endearing at the very least. For a game in its early stages, Demons Soul has plenty of promise. Key issues such as imbalance in character builds needs to be addressed. There’s a number of annoyances that tend to be in most early builds of games. Visual and audio glitches can be smoothed out, quality of life can be improved in minor patches, fixing the character builds is vital to reaching the game’s potential.    ...

Lovely Planet Arcade Review (PC)

Lovely Planet Arcade Review (PC)

At its heart lovely planet arcade, the sequel to the indie game lovely planet is a twitch shooter puzzle game. After first impressions you might not think of this game as a puzzle game but everything revolves around figuring out what actions to take through trial by error especially during later levels. The goal throughout the entire games is to take out the green men who are the enemies and depending on their appearances, different methods may be required to eliminate them. in some cases, shooting them will lead to different bonuses such teleportation or stopping time. The trial by error element is mainly derived from the fact that there is no room for mistakes to be made so as you progress and you take note of different features of each level you then go on to figure out how and in which order you are going to be executing the required actions. The biggest difference compared to its predecessor seems to be the fact that like first generation fps games you can only move your screen horizontally along the x-axis with no movement allowed on the Y-axis. So in a way unlike lovely planet where you were able to look up and down, leap through the air on maps that tended to be quite larger, here the developer has purposefully made this sequel into something that is quite a bit different in terms of the mechanics involved. It is worth mentioning however that the jump mechanic in the game does allow for a bit of decision making it terms of verticality and where your bullet needs to land especially when it comes to taking out explosives and enemies with shields. Despite its trial error nature this game never once became frustrating, mainly due to the calming and colourful aesthetics on show. The cut-out like animation coupled with the comedic and lively music does a good job of helping those that might find the game a bit frustrating due to the perfect execution that the game requires (at later levels a fraction of a second may be the difference between progression or the game over screen). when looking at possible areas where criticizing maybe valid I came to the conclusion that any negative aspects of the game would be purely be subjective and that the game is so confident and sure about what it wants to deliver that it will always have its own niche audience willing to give this game a try and will most likely enjoy the experience. Overall I had a blast with Lovely planet arcade and despite later levels becoming somewhat frustrating the thrill of figuring out the execution required and the rush involved with the completion of more difficult levels throughout kept me going till the end. I believe this game is great for people with a higher threshold and affinity towards more difficult games and on that basis I would only recommend lovely planet to those people.  ...

We Happy Few Is Nothing Like Bioshock, Avoid Disappointment

We Happy Few Is Nothing Like Bioshock, Avoid Disappointment

We happy Few has seemingly got many people confused. When ever you see a gameplay video or Early Access lets play, you’ll be sure to see someone mention Bioshock. The unfortunate thing, at least for them, is We Happy Few has little to no shared Bioshock vibes. Gameplay is based purely on survival, this is not a simple case of shooting your way through. The player is vulnerable, struggling to keep their head above water. Areas are open, allowing the player to explore and discover. Yes, We Happy Few is played in the first person, but that’s one of the few similarities the two games share. The tone of the game is totally different from the underwater dystopia rife with social issues and political intrigue. We Happy Few is much closer to the likes of The Twilight Zone and 60s/70s BBC news coverage. It’s all very polite and clean, regardless of the subject matter. It’s how We Happy Few creates its creepy and unnerving atmosphere. Forced smiles, blocking out the dark past, ignorance is bliss…even if it comes at the cost of your mental state. Bioshock was much more direct experience. The world was already falling apart by the time you arrived. You, as the player, weren’t part of Rapture’s population, you were merely a visitor. We Happy Few is from the point of view of someone who has lived within the culture. They’re part of the system, a system which is breaking them down. It’s a pretty major difference between how the two games frame their stories and approach. Most importantly, We Happy Few simply plays differently. As mentioned before, the game is focused mostly on survival elements. People expecting a straight laced shooter may be underwhelmed to find that combat makes up very little of the game, at least initially. It almost feels that We Happy Few and Bioshock are being lumped in together through it being ‘the easy option’. In all fairness, it could be association through the imagery. Both games are set in the early 60s, resulting in the two games sharing similar culture traits. Clothing, language and music are both heavily defined by their time period. Beyond that, any connection made between the two is questionable at best. Do yourself a favour, don’t go into We Happy Few expecting anything like Bioshock. Survival mechanics and rogue-like elements will be the only thing you’ll find, not a story driven shooter with minor RPG elements....

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide Console Release Officially Dated

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide Console Release Officially Dated

The console release date for Wahammer: End Times – Vermintide has finally been announced.   Coming this October 4th, consoles players will be able to get in on the Skavern slaying fun, complete with all the DLC. Last Stand, Drachenfels and Sigmar’s Blessing are all included as standard.  Vermintide was one of last year’s surprise hits, replicating the Left4Dead formula while adding onto it. Although the game had its initial gripes and annoyances, the console version will be free of that.   Fatshark’s regular updates and new content allowed the game to thrive, carving out a nice spot for itself in the market. Even if Warhamemr isn’t your thing, Vermintide is brilliantly chaotic co-op action that rarely fails to entertain.  ...

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