Paradox Reveal Three Games, One From Arrowhead

By Adam Smith on March 6th, 2012 at 9:56 am.

Run for higher ground, for the deluge has begun. As you may be aware, the GDC is in full swing now, which means announcements of a ludic nature are flooding my inbox and I only need to adjust the intricate series of valves that is my protective system ever so slightly to let them slip through, one at a time. Or maybe three at a time, as Paradox have announced a trio of games.

The first two are Dungeonland, in which three players control heroes in a twisted theme park while a fourth plays the Dungeon Master attempting to kill them, and RED Frontier, a multiplayer RTS. Let’s start with the new game from Arrowhead, creators of friend-murdering simulation Magicka. Going by the name The Showdown Effect It’s a side-on multiplayer action game. Here’s how it looks.

A trailer that is happy to mock its grave brethren is alright by me. It’s the kind of trailer I’d be happy to buy a drink for if it sidled up to me at the bar. Maybe even several and we could see where the mood and chemical disorientation took us. It sure does look pretty.

Arrowhead are going with the principle “more is more”, and say that goes for weapons, characters, modes and stages. Lots of flexibility in the way matches are set up, plenty of ways to kill your opponents, including rocket launchers and broomsticks, and some nifty environmental damage. Yes.

Another trailer that has japes on its mind, although all the insulting stuff about folk who play, make and write about games doesn’t apply to me or you because we’re not actually at the conference. We’re above all that and I don’t even want to be in San Francisco anyway. I’m fine right here.

If I’d been asked to guess which one of the three games was from the Magicka guys, I would have picked Dungeonland. It’s a cooperative game that actually places one player in a role where he’s supposed to kill the other players, which seems like a natural evolution from a cooperative game where every player accidentally kills every other player. It can be played single player, with the Dungeon Master being AI controlled, maybe in a Left 4 Dead kinda way, changing things up on each replay.

And that’s the last of ‘em. Twelve players per server, minimal downtime with immediate respawns, commander development and unit customisation.

Paradox is an increasingly interesting publisher. Is it only me who still idly thinks of them as the grand strategy people and then sees something like The Showdown Effect and remembers how times are changing? For the better, I reckon, because The Showdown Effect in particular looks like something I’d like to play. Their motto at GDC has been “small development teams think big” – a major publisher with an indie ethos? Maybe so.

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40 Comments »

  1. Gozuu says:

    There was never anyone wanting to be the Wolves in Sheep Tag. Never. The people who joined the Wolf-team was always the last ones to enter, those people begin forced into the team that nobody cared to play.

    • Schelome says:

      I don’t know about that, me and my friends would alternate and do whatever we did as a group…

  2. fenriz says:

    wow is this disappointing for me. I not only am not fond of barbaric pure-shooting-games but also of multiplayer, either competitive or co-operative, and generally anything in videogames which challenge is sportlike training and treadmill, because it eats on the novellistic side of its personality. Not saying there’s anything wrong with it per se, i did it for years, but why among the 3 games, isn’t one an old fashioned linear story i can play sinking in my old victorian sofa in front of my rhino head? I hoped Paradox would make one P&C adventure.

    They smell like Valve.

    and the queer side of indie.

    • Creaturemagic says:

      I realise Valve is currently working on Dota 2 and CS:GO, both Multiplayer focused games, but they released Portal 2 last year, and yes it had Co-Op but it had a full single-player and Valve also released the Half-Life series which are Single-player, and Half-Life 3 should be just around the corner. So I don’t see how that comment is relevant.

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      bear912 says:

      What does Valve smell like?

      … grain silos filled with money?

    • RizziSmoov says:

      While I do wants some good singleplayer games to play, knowing indies nowadays it’s either some artsy puzzle-platformer or an arcade game with a twist/goodgraphics.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Games are not books.

      True story.

  3. wodin says:

    Multi player…Multi player…Multi player…oh how I’m sick o death of reading this constantly these days.

    I expect it’s all down to the fact that making an AI is to time consuming and long winded and it’s quicker to knock out multi player titles.

    I could write a list and a pretty long one at that where I’ve been excited about a game only to find it’s Multi player..Paradox being a big culprit recently.

    Quite liked the look of that Showdown game. Couldn’t have been to hard to make an SP version of that surely?

    • Zeewolf says:

      Agreed. Times are changing all right, but not for the better.

      That said, I do like the looks of The Showdown Effect. It’s a funny trailer and the game looks cool enough. Not something I’ll buy on release (heck, it’s from the Magica-guys so that’d be madness), but nice Steam sale-fodder I guess. We’ll see.

      Red Frontier looks dull as hell, though.

    • Khemm says:

      I totally agree. Not a single game announced interests me for that reason.
      - Showdown Effect I could be interested in, but “multiplayer action game”. I’d be all over a fun single player side-scroller, not this. Meh.

      - DungeonLand’s trailer was genuinely funny and at one point made me think it’s some kind of Theme Park, Theme Hospital kind of game, but they quickly crushed those hopes. Cooperative, about killing stuff. Super meh.

      - Red Frontier – potentially interesting, but “multiplayer” and it’s apparently about capturing points, not base building. Meh.

      I guess I expected Paradox to publish something for gamers who prefer memorable single player experiences as opposed to multiplayer BLAM BLAM PEW PEW.

      We need a new turn based game in the vein of Silent Storm or Jagged Alliance 2, now THAT would be awesome. Paradox, please do it!

    • wodin says:

      Khem, Not often people agree with you on here but with regards to this comment I do.

      Well said.

      Especially a Silent Storm (take out the sci fi though) or proper Jagged Alliance game by Paradox.

      I am having fun with JA BiA with the BlueSun mod. I just pretend it’s nothing todo with JA aseries.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      So long as Paradox keeps making the grand strategy games people actually give a shit about for more than a week, I’m happy. If they can make a couple bucks shilling the throwaway stuff and put that towards making EU4/HOI4/CK2 expansions/etc., more power to ‘em.

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      tumbleworld says:

      Yeah, I’m utterly sick of the ‘multiplayer-’cos-we-can’t-craft-an-actual-game’ trend. Total dreck.

    • theleif says:

      They have just released Crusader Kings 2, and an expansion to Victoria 2, they have announced they are working with another developer to do Cartel, a heir to Syndicate. Only multi-player games?

      Right.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Unless it’s a racing sim, I have no interest in multiplayer at all.

      Though I won’t be buying anything from the Magicka devs again. They never fixed their game, and it won’t run properly on three vastly different systems for me. Glitchy to the point of unplayable on one, menu unreadable on another, third, just a black screen. No fix has worked. Only consistency between all three machines is they’re PC’s. Different makes of GPU, different Windows versions etc… Worst I’ve ever been burned by a software dev. Usually I can at least run poorly coded games on at least one machine.

      So no sale, even if they were writing a game specifically for me.

    • marcusfell says:

      I’ll still buy it, even if its from Arrowhead. Yes, Magicka was and still is a disaster, but I think they learned their lesson.

  4. Ett_1762 says:

    For a moment there I thought Dungeonland was a game where you were actually allowed to build your own evil overlord themepark. I expected something Dungeon Keepery. but no, just another coop thing. I am the disappoint.

    • Schelome says:

      Ditto, at first I thought it was some strategy game with a cartoony evil twist, but alas…

    • Khemm says:

      Exactly! The trailer made the game sound like that, and then they showed gameplay footage and explained what it really is about.

  5. nolp says:

    Paradox, WHY U NO ANNOUNCE Mount & Blade 2?

    • Creaturemagic says:

      They sort of already did. In one of those Digital PC Gamer episodes on Steam, one of the M&B developers said something like “I’m just finishing work on With fire and sword and working on Mount and Blade 2″. But an official announcement would be great.

    • wodin says:

      Isn’t the War of the Roses sort of M&B 2?

      Again sad to see that is multi player aswell, I had high hopes when i first heard about it.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, these seem nice and all, but Mount and Blade. Out of all the games I own and keep buying, the only one I seem to play is Mount and Blade. I’d love an announcement (or an in-game trailer!); I just hope the combat isn’t dumbed down.

    • Qazinsky says:

      Even after seeing all the anti-muliplayer comments earlier in this thread, I can’t help but wishing out loud about Mount & Blade 2 expanding their mutiplayer with a co op option.
      I’d settle for just the option to be a companion like character in another players army, as long as I can make the character myself and get my share of the xp and spoils and have it saved.

      But of course, two (or more) players in the same world with freedom to ally/fight/whatever would be the best ;)

    • Reapy says:

      I think we are going to get some war of the roses gameplay this GDC which I’m looking forward too. There was a psudo announcement that m&b2 is in the works, also, there was a turkish video clip that was out there that went over the taleworlds studio and it had like ~5 seconds of m&b 2 stuff in it, but there wasn’t much to look at and it was super short clips.

      Either way its good to know that it is underway and has a nice sized team. I’m a huge fan of the multiplayer part of the game, but I still would love to see a ton of new single player stuff and 100% co op in the single player campaign.

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      Yes! I’m rather desperate for some proper M&B2 news.

      The various variations of M&B/Warband/F&S have kept me entertained for a rather long time (and no doubt will keep me entertained for some time to come), but I’d really like to know what they’re planning for the sequel.

  6. Njordsk says:

    Very healthy publisher it seems. Grats Paradox

    • Choca says:

      Yeah, I’m glad to see them thrive. One the few great publishers out there.

  7. sneetch says:

    Hmmm…. Dungeonland looks like it could be interesting, not sure about the others. Then again, I already have the multi-player side of gaming covered with BF3 and a couple of other games and – as an increasing amount of these multi-player games require a significant investment of time in order to level a character and unlock stuff – I don’t know if I have the time or patience needed to play more multi-player games (that’s kinda a drawback of these build/level a character games, the persistence character side adds longevity, sure, but it can also be a bit of a barrier to entry).

  8. Ephaelon says:

    When I saw the Jester in the main pic, for a minute I was hoping for another Kyrandia.

    • Skabooga says:

      I did a double-take myself. Malcom will never be far from my mind when I think of jesters.

  9. InternetBatman says:

    The showdown effect kind of has a Rochard aesthetic going on.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Perhaps in the looks, but the action looks much more like Soldat to me. Actually, they’ll have to work very hard if they want to beat that excellent, free game.

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    bear912 says:

    I’m rather surprised by discontent expressed in the comments here. I’m sure that Paradox will continue to publish grand strategy titles, and these are certainly interesting supplements. I can’t wait to see what Arrowhead makes with The Showdown Effect!

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      Martel says:

      Same here. It’s almost as though Paradox didn’t just release one of their best grand strategy games to date. Is everybody already done with CK2? Variety is good, especially if it gets them enough money to make more niche games.

      I have to agree that I’m not sure how into these games I am myself, although my group will probably be all over Dungeonland for multiplayer goodness.

  11. vivlo says:

    I must say, i’m a little disappointed that those Magicka guys didn’t take more time to polish their thing and bugfix it, especially regarding online multiplayer. Seriously : this game is meant to be multiplayed, and still the online matchmaking interface and the online multiplayer experience is among the laziest, laggiest, buggiest online matchmaking interface i’ve ever seen.
    So, to see them heading so headfirst towards multiplayer oriented games, makes me hope they will take more time polishing those, because yes, lack of polishing can ruin a game experience which would be otherwise among the greatest you’d have.

    And yes, i didn’t try multiplayer on lan, neither on a same computer with controllers, but the game in itself is buggy enough to ruin such things.

  12. skyturnedred says:

    Love me some Arrowhead. I just hope it has a proper single-player too.

  13. UnravThreads says:

    Meh
    Meh
    Meh

    So, we have a game which looks meh, a colourful game that’s meh and with no female protags (balance, guys, ever heard of it? No? Thought not) and a third game that looks a bit like another goddamn MOBA game.

    Yawn.

  14. MythArcana says:

    Stop with the damned cartoon shading already! Every game in the past 2 years has this art style and it’s getting quite old! Now where did those Diablo 2 artists run off to…they are in high demand.

  15. buzzmong says:

    No Cartel annoucement? :(

    Still, nice to see Paradox are doing really well and can pump out three at once.

    Showdown Effect reminds me of the oldschool Spy vs Spy games of the 8bit era. Could be quite interesting and might make for an awesome lan event or console game.