Author Archive

Have You Played… Digital: A Love Story?

By Brendan Caldwell on July 29th, 2015.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

There’s a moment in Digital: A Love Story [official site] when your (in-game) computer starts to crackle. Lines of pixels run across your screen and obscure your view. You’re under attack! Your attacker has manipulated a vulnerability in your system. But… didn’t you upgrade? Didn’t you patch this very vulnerability? Why hasn’t the upgrade been applied? That’s when you realise there’s a simple solution to your hacker problem: turning it off and on again.
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An Anthropological Jaunt Through Ark: Survival Evolved

By Brendan Caldwell on July 24th, 2015.

A tree fell in the distance, lumberjack style, and I knew I would have to investigate. A second tree fell as I approached, then a third. By the time the man in red armour turned and saw me, I had already resolved to die in whatever mundane or horrible fashion he deemed appropriate. Hours of DayZ and Rust had instilled in me an understanding of survival gaming’s harsh realities. Yet, for some reason, all that time spent respawning had never eroded my essential curiousity for the human beings who inhabit these deadly environments. I said hello to the man in red. He held his axe aloft for a moment and stood eerily still. “Hello,” he said. Then he did something entirely unexpected. He took me into his home.

Ark: Survival Evolved [official site] has been straddling the Steam bestsellers list for months since its release. Like the many survival games before it, the dinosaur infested island of Ark has been attracting PC gamers non-stop, as if they really were arriving to its pristine beaches by the boatload. And yet the response of the games media, outside of the YouTube dimension, has been kind of muted. You can understand why. It is another survival game.

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Premature Evaluation: Interstellar Rift

By Brendan Caldwell on July 8th, 2015.

Each week Marsh Davies battles the overwhelming urge to flee, struggles through an Early Access game, and comes back with any stories he can find inside. But this week he’s on holiday, and so in his stead Brendan Caldwell has played Interstellar Rift, a multiplayer starship construction sim.

I spawn on an impossibly advanced spacecraft. We are floating among asteroids and surrounded by a flotilla of other impossibly advanced spacecraft. The computer terminals flicker on and off as I walk past, chirruping for attention. The doors part with a welcoming breeze of pressurised air. The ship’s corridors shine with the glow of futuristic pride. Truly, this is a magnificent time to be alive. A time of scientific glory, a time in which anything and everything is possible.

Hey. This vending machine is broken.

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Journeys In Games: Let’s Talk About Fast Travel

By Brendan Caldwell on June 26th, 2015.

I first noticed the feeling when I stopped at an inn. They had a roaring fire, plenty of food and wine, and there was a dog lying at my feet. Skyrim had never felt more welcoming. I was replaying the game with some mods installed. One mod took away all the dragonborn stuff and left me starting as a simple bandit schmuck. Another mod made the world of Skyrim cold and harsh to survive in, so I had to light fires to keep myself warm and make sure I didn’t fall into any water lest I catch my literal hypothermic death. But one of these mods had a side option, which was to turn fast travel off. On a whim, I did. It was only days later, in the warm glow of this inn that the feeling began to come over me. And I realised something. Something that all my gaming life I’d never even thought about.

I HATE fast travel. Let me tell you why.

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Wot I Think: Kerbal Space Program

By Brendan Caldwell on May 13th, 2015.

Kerbal Space Program [official site] is a game about exploration, vehicular design and physics. It involves triumph and tragedy, careful meticulous planning and improvised catastrophe. We asked Brendan to suit up and go forth, in the name of science.

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Wot I Think: Infinite Crisis

By Brendan Caldwell on April 2nd, 2015.

My first few hours with Infinite Crisis [official site] convince me it is a terrible game. But I persevere, thinking that part of my dislike may have to do with my lack of skill. Following a particularly bad defeat a teammate collars me in the post-match chat window. “Bredy,” they say, using the username I had misspelled on signing up. “Uninstall this game.”

It was the worst (best) post-game put-down I have ever received. “Uninstall this game.” No anger, no frustration. Just a resigned sigh of a comment, communicating nothing but the undeniable fact of my awfulness. “Uninstall this game.” Sadly, the poo-slinger disappeared shortly afterwards. I had no time to reply and tell them that I already dreadfully, desperately wanted to.

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Job Seeking: An Elite Dangerous Career Guide

By Brendan Caldwell on March 16th, 2015.

A career! Everybody has one. Mine is looking at a keyboard until I black out and coming back to consciousness with 4000 words on my screen about how to get started in Elite: Dangerous [official site]. This guide will give you some pointers about the main careers you can undertake in the game, from vigilante to explorer, from trader to (ugh) miner. We’re basically an interstellar jobcentre. One thing: you’re probably going to want some cash saved for these callings, as outfitting each ship is going to cost a pretty penny, and some of those pennies will be prettier than others. Okay then, let’s get on with it.

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Attention Rookies: Getting Started In Elite Dangerous

By Brendan Caldwell on March 2nd, 2015.

This is our guide for absolute beginners. For more detailed advice on a particular space career, look out for our upcoming Careers and Resource Guides.

It may have its flaws but even as undercooked as it is, Elite: Dangerous [official site] still has enough going on that makes it both interesting and difficult to find your feet in the vast galaxy. Trading, bounty hunting, even learning to pilot your ship takes patience and a bit of experimentation. To make things easier as you scrounge together your first few thousand credits (and in anticipation of the upcoming 1.2 update which will finally add useful multiplayer groups), RPS has recruited me to hand out some tips and tricks to get you on your way. So strap in, Commander, and trust in some advice from a man who has learned it the hard way.

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Hands On: Battlefield Hardline

By Brendan Caldwell on February 2nd, 2015.

After a mixed reaction to the beta, including from our own Graham, Battlefield Hardline [official site] is looking to prove that it isn’t simply a reskin of Battlefield 4 with policemen instead of soldiermen. In many ways, it looks like it is going to have trouble shaking that assumption. But in one particular way (a single game mode called Hotwire), it is going to come out fighting. I visited EA to take a look.

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Wot I Think – Elite: Dangerous

By Brendan Caldwell on January 15th, 2015.

Elite: Dangerous is a big game. It is big because it offers an uncharted galaxy of 400 billion stars to roam around. It is big because its bloodline comes from of one of gaming’s most respected sims. And it is big because it has the ambition of an interstellar Macbeth, backed by over £1.5 million in crowdfunding cash. When Pip asked me in her audio feature what I thought of the game, I responded: “I don’t envy the person who has to review it.” As it turns out, that’s me. So here we go. A big review for a big game. Here’s Wot I Think.

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Party Games: How To Host Your Own Multiplayer Party

By Brendan Caldwell on January 7th, 2015.

Every month, we dispatch Brendan to some of gaming’s best blowouts to schmooze and play games with the partygoers. In part four, some lessons for holding your own shindig.

We’ve been covering a lot of party games at different events over the past few months but what if you don’t want to go out? Let’s say you prefer to sit in your cosy house and have pals over instead. Picture the scene. You’re sipping on a spicy bourbon next to a nice warm fire with a few special friends, enjoying the flow of easy-going conversation and, wait, now that you think about it, you don’t have a fireplace. FIRE. FIRE. SOMEBODY PUT OUT THE FIRE. See, it’s not so easy, is it?

What you want is some sort of RPS guide to party-making, based on our own recent experience. So here you go: how to host your own party without suffering deadly immolation.

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Party Games: Do Cocktails And Videogames Mix?

By Brendan Caldwell on December 12th, 2014.

Every month, we dispatch Brendan to some of gaming’s best blowouts to schmooze and play party games with the partygoers. This is part three.

Loading Bar (aka Scenario) is a videogame-themed bar in London that hosts gigs, games and parties. As well as having a cushy basement filled with screens and games consoles, it regularly welcomes groups of Smash Bros devotees or Netrunner fans to take part in friendly tournaments. It also hosts a local multiplayer night called Multiclash, where developers can show off their party games. All this while serving up colourful cocktails with names like “Earthworm Gin” and “Rum: Total War”. Obviously, with all this going on, RPS needed somebody to investigate.

When I arrive at the bar, located deep in the city’s hipster underbelly of Stoke Newington, there are about five games on show. It is probably best to go through them one by one, giving each its due attention. But before that, a trip to the bar staff is in order. As the night wears on, I find that the cocktails being served to me have become (mostly) synchronised to the games, each a little alcoholic companion that would last only until I finished murdering that wretched blue swordsman in Samurai Gunn, or outpacing that dastardly unicorn in Speedrunners. For the most part, they were pretty damn good. As such, it would only be fair to rate the cocktails as accompaniments alongside the games. What games, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at what we played.

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Diary: Seven Days Of Dying In 7 Days To Die

By Brendan Caldwell on November 27th, 2014.

I am wandering down an empty road in a snowy, forested landscape and rustling through every pile of rubbish I see discarded in the gutter. Behind me, in the distance, I can still hear the groans. When I started playing 7 Days To Die, I was sceptical. The crudeness of the graphics and the presentation in the trailer suggest some kind of rough hewn Minecraft clone, a bargain bucket DayZ. But one (in-game) week into this blocky zombie apocalypse and I am thoroughly enjoying myself, finding the game still has lots to offer. Years of videogames should have taught me by now that visual quality means nothing when it comes to how the thing actually plays. As the old saying goes: “You should never judge a procedurally-generated doomsday scenario with extensive crafting mechanics by its cover.”

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