Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

Path of Exile Expansion Launching Next Week

Where fellow action-RPGs Diablo III and Torchlight exulted in bright colors and a brazen use of particle effects, the free-to-play Path of Exile [official site] took a darker turn, wearing its grime like a king’s crown. And it did well that way, honestly. Our very own Adam called it a “smart and content-rich RPG.” And said smart and content-rich RPG will see its newest expansion, titled The Awakening, come July 10th.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Not Being Announced At E3

It’s a great time for RPGs at the moment, with huge AAA successes on one side and just about every classic name getting a shot at new life. Hopefully this E3 will see many cool announcements. There may have been some already. Don’t ask me, I’m writing this on Sunday, and my time-machine only lets me go back and kill Hitler. (58 times so far – he’s like badly moustached bubblewrap!) But what games would it be great to see get a new, dynamic reveal? Here’s a few that come to mind…

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The RPG Scrollbars: The Women Of The Witcher 3

One of the best things about The Witcher III is that it shows how far CD Projekt has come in just a few short years. We see it in world and quest design, in writing, in graphical technology and in scale, and all those speak for themselves. One of the biggest surprises though is how far it’s climbed in terms of female representation over the years – from one of the industry’s biggest targets to a high watermark others would be well advised to treat as the new baseline. It’s not perfect, but it tries hard, and a game willing to do that is well worth taking a moment to praise for its success. There will be spoilers.

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The RPG Scrollbars: A Quest For Heroes

Heroism is at the core of most fantasy stories, but there’s a difference between being a hero and simply a weapon to be pointed at the world’s biggest threat. When heroes happily loot peasants’ houses and murder their way through problems, do they really deserve their title?

If there’s any developer duo that should know a thing about heroes, it’s Lori and Corey Cole, creators of one of my favourite adventure series of all time – Quest for Glory. (The fourth especially is high on my list of best adventures ever, not least for its villain). In addition to those, they ran a dedicated School for Heroes for a while, and are currently working on the spiritual successor to the original games, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption – currently in a second Kickstarter after the scope moved from a relatively simple Roguelike on a basic engine into a full-on new adventure. I spoke to them about the complex characters in their games, offering real heroism, and returning to crowdfunding.

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Epic Lute: Brian Fargo On Bringing Back The Bard’s Tale

Looks like concept art. Is actually in-game shot. Except the logo in the bottom left. That would be INCREDIBLY distracting.

Having successfully brought Wasteland back to life with the help of 61,920 of its closest friends, Brian Fargo and inXile Entertainment are turning their attentions to another classic RPG – The Bard’s Tale [official site]. Forget the appalling comedy vacuum from a few years ago, this is The Actual Bard’s Tale IV, both a return to and modernisation of dungeon crawling with a few new tricks up its sleeve. The Kickstarter begins June 2nd, but Fargo gave us a quick preview of what to expect.

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The Quests That Got Cancelled

It’s a great time for RPGs at the moment, with just about every name, flavour and celebrity from the old days finding a new lease of life through Kickstarter and a freshly hungry audience. Most series and creators though have had at least one game fall prey to development hell – sometimes with their ideas resurfacing in later titles, sometimes with everything simply lost to time. Their levels of completion vary dramatically, but here are some of the games we never got to play…

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The RPG Scrollbars: Spiders In The Dark

Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope!

Something has been giving me trouble ever since I started playing RPGs back in the 1980s. You can probably guess what. I mean, it’s in the title. I’ve talked before about what a blighted pox arachnophobia is for a gamer, but no genre is more guaranteed to trigger it more gratuitously or more callously. Hell, how many RPGs have started by having us face off against a giant spider in a tutorial cave, as if that’s not at least ten times more horrible than the dragon waiting at the end of the campaign? Just off the top of my head, Arx Fatalis, Lands of Lore 3, Vindictus, Skyrim.

Brrr. It’s almost enough to justify letting these fantasy worlds burn.

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Collaborative Storytelling In Pillars Of Eternity

I take roleplaying seriously. That’s not to say I have a cupboard full of lucky dice or a handcrafted elven tunic – what I mean to say is that when I play an RPG, I try to make all of my decisions based on my character rather than the systems. I’ll pass up a huge pile of loot if I don’t think that taking it would be in-character. Roleplaying is a performance of sorts and Pillars of Eternity [official site] encourages my particular approach to the genre by combining a huge, tightly scripted plot with systems that go some way toward mimicking the best qualities of a human Dungeon Master.

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The RPG Scrollbars: How Long Is Too Long?

Ha! I completed your game faster than you! Prick!

Please welcome Richard Cobbett to our roster of weekly columnists. Every Monday at 1pm, Richard will be donning his +8 cap of writing to present a ragbag of news and reflections on role-playing games.

It’s been a great year for epic, old-school RPGs. A good tax-year anyway, since that conveniently scopes in everything from Divinity: Original Sin to Wasteland 2 to the other week’s Pillars of Eternity, to say nothing of several smaller titles. As we all know, part of the joy of a good RPG is slipping into a world – when everything works out, the long playtime feels like an epic journey rather than a commitment. Or at least it should. In the wake of The Witcher 3 promising 200 hours or so to see everything it’s got though, I’ve been thinking – at what point do the scales start to tip?

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Further Thoughts On Pillars Of Eternity: Animancy & Faith

Now that people have had a weekend to spend with Pillars Of Eternity, it feels a bit more appropriate to offer thoughts on parts of the game that would otherwise have been spoiling revelations or moments within the opening few hours. Not core plot events, or twists that may occur, but just the basics – basics I wanted to leave out of my review because it felt like stealing. Stealing the blank slate experience I had from you, in my effort to describe the game.

So here are a first couple of extended chunks I would have liked to have included when expressing and explaining my enthusiasm. Assume big spoilers for themes of the game.

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Pillars Of Eternity: The First Half Hour

I have spent most of the last week doing little else but play Obsidian’s Pillars Of Eternity [official site]. But I cannot yet tell you wot I think, as such brainthoughtss are under embargo. I can, however, stream or “let’s play” the first fifteen hours of the game. But I’m not going to do that, because it would be the most awful shame for you to have such things spoiled.

Instead I’ve videoed and chatted over the first half hour, from the character creator to the opening scenes, stopping right before the plot kicks in. Because you don’t want to know the story before you play an RPG, because you’re not a complete clot.

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Like Grimrock But Steampunk? Yes Please: Vaporum

It’s with a tentative fondness that I see the success of the Grimrock games might be bringing about a minor revival of grid-based first-person RPGs. Tentative because it has to be done for the right reason. Nostalgia isn’t enough – such games need to understand the advantages a lack of free movement offers. Grimrock certainly does, allowing you to develop (or rediscover, if you’re an oldie) the skills inherent to 90 degree turns and one-square-at-a-time dungeon crawling. So that is my hope for Vaporum [official site], a steampunk dungeon crawler from veterans-turned-indie, FatBot Studio, which is already looking most attractive in its very early footage.

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Arx Again Later: How Arx Fatalis Blended RPG Eras

Confession time: I don’t like dungeon crawlers. The very name says it all. Why would anyone want to go to the non-sexy kind of dungeon? And crawling – the form of movement reserved for times of serious injury and distress – around a dungeon? It’s a recipe for a dreary, ugly casserole, served by a skeleton archer in a rusty slime-edged prison bucket with a bowl of kamikaze rats.

But then there’s Arx Fatalis [official site], released in 2002 by Arkane Studios. I should hate it. It’s made of brown tunnels echoing with ambient dripping and distant wailing. It’s full of goblins and trolls and spiders and rats. You start in an Easily Escapable Prison, naked, with amnesia. It should bore me rigid, but through some arca… through some recondite formula it turns these uninspiring tropes into an imperfect, but unique and underappreciated brew.

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