Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

The RPG Scrollbars: Legends Of Valour

Who said epic action and high adventure has to be part of an adventurer’s life? (Checks) Oh, right. Pretty much everyone at least expects it. Still, back in 1992, US Gold and Synthetic Dimensions decided to try something a little different. Specifically, spelling ‘Valour’ correctly. (The sequel might have done the same for ‘Honour’, but we never got to find out.) Also, something to do with life simulation. It’s a little remembered game these days, but one that had a major impact on some of the biggest modern RPGs around. Ever heard of a series called The Elder Scrolls? Bethesda’s Todd Howard has long mentioned this being one of its big inspirations.

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Wot I Think: Pillars Of Eternity – The White March Part 1

It’s been nearly half a year since we devoured Pillars Of Eternity. Now Obsidian are back with another great big chunk, in the form of the first half of The White March [official site]. Does the expansion give good reason to return to the Dyrwood? Here’s wot I think.

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Striding Forth – Pillars Of Eternity: The White March Out

It’s been five months since Pillars of Eternity [official site] was released, which is categorical proof that the wheel of time has spun completely off its axis and is careering down a hill toward a cliff edge. Before we’re all plunged into the abyss, there’s another big chunk of RPG from Obsidian to delve into, in The White March Part 1, a snowy expansion for the main game.

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The RPG Scrollbars: The Long Night Of Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines (With Clan Quests)

They say the definition of madness is repeatedly trying the same thing and expecting different results. But hey, the Malkavians of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines have lucked into stranger things, so I figure there’s at least a chance that one day I’ll fire it up and find a whole new adventure waiting. Today was not that day. Tomorrow isn’t looking too likely. Yet still it feels like it’s our best chance, until someone else finally figures out that urban fantasy is a painfully untapped genre for RPG awesomeness. (Looking at you, Hairbrained Schemes. Still time to ditch that boring Battletech license!*)

Still, while waiting for Shadowrun: Hong Kong this week, I felt that urge to head back to Santa Monica and check out some old haunts. The timing seemed fitting, especially with the launch of a new version of the Clan Quest mod the other week – one of several projects attempting to keep Bloodlines healthy over ten years after launch.

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The RPG Scrollbars: A Weapon Of Legend

This week, Blizzard announced the latest World of Warcraft expansion – World Of Warcraft: Legion [official site]. It looks pretty good. Almost as good as my prediction. Almost. I’m not going to rehash the full details here, but I’m up for it. It’s a big step forward for Warcraft’s arc story, featuring the return of its Big Bad, the Burning Legion, and some long awaited story stuff like Blizzard’s promise to redeem themselves for turning Illidan into just a snarling villain. New character class. Ten new levels. New continent. New PvP system. It’s nothing too unexpected or world-shattering at this point in the game, but it is a solid looking expansion.

The part of the pitch I liked the most though was Blizzard’s plan for Artifact Weapons – not so much for the specifics of what Blizzard has planned, but because it addresses something that’s long annoyed me. Weapons, particularly in fantasy games, deserve more respect.

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The RPG Scrollbars: A Visit To Old Albion

Albion really should be better known. It’s one of the more obscure beloved 90s RPGs, rarely brought up in conversation like the Ultimas or the Gold Box games or for the true aficionados, games like Darklands. Since release though it’s had a decent nostalgic following, and its recent re-launch on GOG produced what can only be described as a small yet dignified whoop from many a corner. So what is it about this obscure offering from the publisher of The Settlers that’s managed to stay in players’ minds for so long? Let’s take a look, shall we? Seems a good time.

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Wot I Think: Victor Vran

Out of Early Access and in a full release, action RPG Victor Vran [official site] is big diversion for Tropico developers Haemimont Games. But is it a successful one? Here’s wot I think:

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The RPG Scrollbars: The Choices Of A Samurai

You know, I’m not entirely sure that Way of the Samurai 4 [official site] is the most authentic historical game. Not sure what makes me think that. Possibly the British ambassador to Japan being a tiny girl in a Lolita dress. Maybe the stock dialogue option “I’m allowed to kill you if I want to.” At a pinch, maybe the fact that the British Royal Marine Commander’s name is “Melinda Megamelons”. No, no, it’s probably nothing. I’m sure you could use it for homework and walk off with an A.

But as well as being educational, it’s the ideal candidate for an RPG cultural exchange – a pot of great ideas and potential cool things just sitting there for Western games to both play with and pilfer, and a refreshing change from the sprawling norm. If you don’t mind your eyes sometimes rolling so hard that you get a quick peek inside your own skull. Ouch, that gets painful after a bit.

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Premature Evaluation: Caves of Qud

We’re at a weird place in videogames - and possibly in culture in general - where certain tropes have ingrained themselves around the notion of mutation which diametrically misrepresent how it works. I’m not saying that’s entirely a bad thing - Caves of Qud would be a lesser game if it didn’t indulge the fantasy of being able to sprout multiple legs and quills, while farting out a cloud of sleeping gas. Yet it’s peculiar that we have seized upon and so widely propagated such a fanciful interpretation of a process that, when considered as part of evolutionary adaptation, is defined by its sloth, incrementality and a total lack of governing agency.

Each week Marsh Davies sniffs out advantageous evolutions among the many horrendous deformities of Early Access, and comes back with any stories he can find and/or succumbs to a gruesome fate in a Darwinian dead-end. This week, every which way he turns is a genetic cul-de-sac in Caves of Qud [Steam page], an uncompromisingly old-school Rogue-like set in a doggedly lo-fi post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy world, heavy on simulation and mutation both.

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The RPG Scrollbars: A Dip Into… Skyforge

It takes quite a lot to get me to download a new MMO these days. When I hear good rumblings though, I listen, and so yesterday I decided to check out the Skyforge Open Beta. [official site]. This is not a review, so it’s not intended as a sweeping look at all systems. Think of it as dipping a toe into the water – did it catch my attention, and was it at least worth the whopping client download?

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A Bastard In Neverwinter: Part Two – Tipping The Tables

As I replay Neverwinter Nights 2, being as horrid as possible, I’ve noticed how much my year of playing a table-top D&D game is affecting my experience.

In the last year, I’ve begun playing my first ever real-life D&D game. We’ve the mighty Jim Rossignol as our Dungeon Master (DM), and alongside me at my dining room table sits RPS’s own Graham Smith and Marsh Davies. Together we adventurers from Far Lotus explore the lands in search of signs of an old god that Marsh’s bonkers zealot cleric Tiefling worships. And as someone who’s played RPGs since the 80s, it’s been quite an interesting process to finally learn from where it all came. It certainly influences how I’m seeing Neverwinter Nights 2 this time around.

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A Bastard In Neverwinter: Part One – Bastardly Beginnings

When it comes to reeling off the great RPGs, names like Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment and Dragon Age: Origins are likely among the first to come to mind. Ask again and you’ll likely hear Pillars Of Eternity, Diablo II, Knights Of The Old Republic, Mass Effect 2… For some reason it takes far too long before the name Neverwinter Nights 2 gets a mention. But is that right?

Written by Chris Avellone, and created by Obsidian, the hugely ambitious sequel to BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights decided to not only redevelop the tools for allowing players to create their own D&D stories, but to put enormous effort into creating a unique Forgotten Realms tale of their own. I remember it as being a triumph. In fact, it’s one of three games I ever gave 90% in a decade on PC Gamer. But that was 2006, and it seems so forgotten now. How does it fair in 2015? I needed to find out.

Returning to it nearly a decade on, I decided the best approach would be to experience its tale of silver shards and evil invasions from the King Of Shadows in a very different way than before. I’d be evil.

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The RPG Scrollbars: RPG Vs. Adventure

Last week, I casually mentioned how glad I was that the current RPG revivals have been doing so well – so many old franchises getting a new Kickstart, so many classic styles getting a fresh airing. I also muttered something though, about how sad I felt that adventure games hadn’t been so fortunate. Since then, I’ve been pondering that. Why? Why has one genre done so well, creating games like Divinity: Original Sin and a whole line-up of new games to look forward to, while the other has resulted in largely forgettable stuff like Broken Age instead of new modern classics?

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