Premature Evaluation: Holdfast – Nations At War

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We’ve been sending Fraser off to explore Early Access games. He keeps coming back. This week, he’s been standing in a neat row with new friends while 18th century Frenchmen shoot at him in Holdfast: Nations At War [official site].

During my sojourn in the Napoleonic era, I have seen some terrible things. I watched as an officer yelled at his troops to stand in a neat line, not realising that they’d all been killed by artillery. I witnessed 20 bold soldiers charge across a tiny bridge, all slaughtered before they got the other side. From my hiding spot behind a tree, I saw my allies cut down by screaming Frenchmen who burst out of the darkness, sabres held high. And throughout it all, I drummed.

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EA to close Dead Space studio Visceral, in-development Star Wars game moving to Vancouver

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EA have just announced that they’ll be “ramping down and closing” Visceral, the studio behind the Dead Space trilogy. Visceral have been working on an untitled Star Wars project, described as an “action-adventure”, and Amy Hennig, formerly of Naughty Dog and Crystal Dynamics, moved to the studio in 2014 to work on that project as senior creative director. EA’s statement regarding Visceral’s closure suggests that they’re unhappy with the status of that game and they plan to “pivot the design” to fit “fundamental shifts in the marketplace”. Full statement and thoughts below.

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Risen & Gothic creators go post-apocalyptic with Elex

From the first Gothic games through to Risen, German studio Piranha Bytes have made fantasy RPGs. Today that changes with the launch of Elex [official site], taking the open-world RPG antics to a post-apocalyptic with jetpacks and guns. Oh okay, it is a little bit fantasy still, with technomagic, monsters, swords, and thatched cottages. But in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

Warframe: Plains of Eidolon doesn’t fix the game’s problems

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I played a little bit of Warframe [official site] a long time ago, when it was in a much more limited form. I quickly bounced off it.

Several years of updates later, at first glance Warframe looks like a very different beast. I jumped back in for the Plains of Eidolon expansion, which adds an open-world zone for players to fly, shoot, fish and mine their way around. It’s a major divergence from the corridor brawls the game has offered up to this point, but it’s not an escape from the relentless grind.

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Killing Floor 2 launches Halloween Horror event

As you’d expect from a series about shooting monsters, mutants, and Einsteins, Killing Floor parties hard at Goth Christmas. The party starts today in Killing Floor 2 [official site] with the launch of its Halloween Horrors update, which adds a new map, extra weapons, and new(ish) enemy variants. And for people who enjoy dressing up, the update also brings Halloweenie cosmetic rewards and a way to receive extra pretties by completing daily and weekly tasks. The new map is some kind of clown nightmare with zones themed around different phobias, from spiders to… bad teeth? Have a look: Read the rest of this entry »

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus blasts launch trailer

Though Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus [official site] will not launch until next Friday, October 27th, the launch trailer has arrived today to stake a claim on the next fortnight. As you’d expect, the trailer is full of Nazis being murdered and oh, I guess Hitler is back now too – in non-mecha form. Presumably he gets his face shot off later. Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Kings of the castle: the forty-person strategy game of Europa Universalis IV held in a Polish fortress, part 1

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We sent Brendan to a castle in Poland to witness a giant session of strategy game Europa Universalis IV [official site]. In the first of a two-part report, he tells us of war-hungry Germans, scheming Saxons and unlucky Irish – the victims and villains of an epic four-day LAN party

I wake up to the sound of muskets. Outside, the ministers of France, Japan and Hanover are shooting 17th century flintlock rifles at nothing in particular. Two helpers, holding belts of wooden jars strung together like sausages, refill the guns of the world leaders with an eardrum-shattering amount of gunpowder. I plug my ears as they fire into the air. I want to ask the ministers from Hanover about the war. One million people have died – 292,000 from starvation and freezing, the rest from bullets and sabers. But all talk of treaties, battles, deals and diplomacy has been put to one side, replaced with deafening bangs and childish giggles. I stuff my hands in my pockets and walk back to the castle. Welcome to the strangest game of Europa Universalis IV ever played. Read the rest of this entry »

The Witcher turns 10 years old and celebrates with a big sale

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Somehow, our lad Geralt’s video game adventures have turned ten years old this week. That’s ten years of slaying monsters as the silver fox with cat-eyes. Ten years of werewolves, dragons, unicorns, romances and politics, usually all at the same time. Ten years of articles debating how much sex in a video game constitutes too much.

To celebrate the series’ tenth anniversary, you can pick up all the games in the franchise (as well as the various bits of DLC) with some hefty discounts this week. These offers are available at GOG if you like your games DRM-free, Humble if you’d like to kick a few pennies towards charity while you buy or Steam, if you like to keep things as simple as possible.

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UK government responds to loot box questions (vaguely)

Playing the loot

The UK government has responded to two questions posed by a Cambridge MP about loot boxes and gambling laws. It is a very very very very boring answer, and says basically nothing apart from highlighting current regulations about gambling. That’s not much of a surprise, although the speed at which the government has “answered” suggests an awareness that the issue of loot crates is smoldering upon the floor of the industry, like a flaming paper bag with a poo in it. Something might have to be done about it, sure, but nobody wants to volunteer their boot. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Sun Dogs?

Women are from venus, men are from mars, and dogs are from the centre of a seemingly endless ball of nuclear reaction

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

Pip made me play Sun Dogs for an episode of the podcast (may she Rest In PCG) and I am very grateful. It’s a short jaunt around the solar system as a post-human with nothing to lose but your memories and some piffling items of no real significance. Isn’t being a post-human great? Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: A Hat In Time

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Where Yooka-Laylee attempted to revive Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie formula, A Hat in Time [official site] strikes at a different vein of nostalgia. The 3D platformer attempts to split the difference between the open-ended adventuring of Super Mario 64 and the more guided point-by-point platforming of Super Mario Galaxy. The result is a work of obvious grace and imagination that never attempts to rise above its obvious inspirations, but still consistently delivers the same kind of warm fuzzies that its favorite Italian plumber deals in. Read the rest of this entry »

South Park: The Fractured But Whole dribbles out

Hold onto your butts: South Park: The Fractured but Whole [official site] launched today. Fraser Brown already told us wot he thinks in our South Park: The Fractured but Whole review but gosh, that was yesterday afternoon and who can remember that far back? The world is full of distracting things like tea and weather. Ah, tea! Sec, nipping off to put the kettle on.

Right. What were we doing here? Oh! Yes. Farty Bottoms is out now. The launch trailer: Read the rest of this entry »

The weirdest thing about The Evil Within is that pooping snail

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You probably know what to expect when you load up a game called The Evil Within [official site]. There will be a bunch of logos before you get to the menu and at least one of them will involve barbed wire, splattered blood and sinister fonts. The logo for the first game turned some of the letters of the title into a nail that was variously plunging toward an eyeball or piercing a brain. Of course it did. That’s what horror games do.

When the horror games in question are made by Tango Gameworks, though, there’s something else in between all that noisy violence. A cheeky cartoon snail…doing a poo?

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Bunny boxer Overgrowth is out now after 9 years

Welterweight wabbits

I already told you this, but you weren’t listening. Rabbit kung fu game Overgrowth [official site] is out now for all your animal-punching pleasure. It features the following:

  • Rats who stab
  • A drop-kicking rabbit
  • Wolves with no sense of clemency or grace

Come and see what it looks like below, in smashing GIF form. Read the rest of this entry »

Sony Music launch indie game publishing label Unties

Because conglomerates are mystifying, Sony Music Entertainment has launched its own video game publishing label focused mainly on Japanese indies. No, it’s nothing to do with Sony Computer Entertainment and certainly not Sony Online Entertainment, this is Sony Music getting into games. The label is named Unties and yup, many of its games are coming to PC. The first of these is Tiny Metal [official site], an arcadey turn-based strategy game due in November. Also coming up are a 3D fighting game which seems to turn tweets into weapons and a big ol’ mecha rumble. Read the rest of this entry »

Opus Magnum: a new puzzler from Infinifactory creator

Hubble, bubble, toil and puzzle

Is there any joy like the humble Zachlike? Don’t answer that. Zach Barth, creator of head-scratchers like Spacechem and SHENZHEN I/O, continues his slow march towards filling the planet earth with intricately complex puzzle games. His development studio has just announced Opus Magnum [official site] a game of dark machinery and darker alchemy in which you must use a “transmutation engine” to create “vital remedies, precious gemstones, deadly weapons, and more”. You will be pleased to learn that it too has a built-in solitaire game. Read the rest of this entry »

Team Fortress 2 Jungle Inferno update brings new short

The Team Fortress 2 [official site] gang are off to a lush tropical island to fight around the remains of Saxton Hale’s failed theme park Yeti Park in the next big themed update. The Jungle Inferno update will re-open Yeti Park as Mercenary Park, where mercenaries fight mercenaries (for control of capture points). Psst, that’s us. Five tropical community-made maps are coming too. As is TF2 tradition, Valve are counting down to launch day-by-day with collected teases, so more is to come. Dare I dream for the promised Pyro overhaul?

And yes, of course this means we have a fine new TF2 animated short to watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Rogue Trooper Redux: a so-so remaster of a perfectly decent action game

Teething troubles

Rebellion’s 2006 third-person shooter Rogue Trooper is, as I have said before, the archetypal 7/10 action game. I mean that only positively: a game you fire up with no expectations of bar-raising, but just a solid good time. (As opposed to a 7/10 game that you expected 10/10 things from but were left underwhelmed). I’ve been in two minds about the revelation that it was coming back this year, remastered for PC as well as assorted consoles. For one thing, the original still looks pretty fine when cranked up to big resolutions. For another… well, it’s good, but it’s not quite Carling, is it? How much betterer could jiggery-pokered graphics really make Rogue Trooper?

I’ve been playing Rogue Trooper Redux [official site], and the answer is: not much. If this is your first time with it, the new version’s still that crucial solid good time nonetheless.
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See what you’ll see at sea in Battlefield 1’s Turning Tides

Battlefield 1 [official site] is off to sea sea sea in its next expansion, Turning Tides, so come see what you will see see see. EA today blasted more details on the DLC, explaining about flying airships over the Gallipoli peninsula, cruising the waves of Heligoland Bight in a new destroyer, and shooting guns whose names have a lot of letters and numbers. It’s still weird to me that Turning Tides is split into two releases — most of it coming in December, then the rest in January 2018 — but better two parts than a delay for the lot I suppose. Read the rest of this entry »

Petroglyph’s RTS Forged Battalion is full of custom units

Petroglyph Games up to arcadey real-time strategy antics again, today announcing Forged Battalion [official site]. The upcoming RTS will let players heavily customise their units, kitting them out with different weapons and bits to fill different roles and counter enemies. Will you kit that power armour infantry with machine guns, or acid jets, acid grenades, rockets, sonic pulses, a plasma rifle… and so on and so forth with tanks, helicopters, buggies, and all that. It’s nice and colourful too, as you can see in this here announcement trailer: Read the rest of this entry »