Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity
Let's just say that Mount And Blade 2 Bannerlord has had a bit of a rough start. Performance issues are plentiful and many have complained about it. Some are funny, like the baby mode pictured above, but many are really not amusing at all.
Some workarounds have been found, as well as causes for critical errors, so we'll list the most troublesome ones here for your convenience.
As well as creating the Unreal Engine, making Fortnite, running their own games store, and publishing games, Epic Games apparently also own a group video chat programme named Houseparty? I too had missed their purchase announcement last year, until current events dragged it into headlines. Houseparty are currently offering a $1,000,000 (£790k) bounty if someone can prove "a paid commercial smear campaign" is behind recent rumours that the software is hacking other apps on people's phones. Everyone's getting on video party chat now, y'know, and the battle to dominate it might be a dirty one.
Early access deck builder For The Warp doesn’t so much wear its FTL influences on its sleeve, as it does creep into FTL’s bedroom when it’s out to try on FTL’s lipstick and stare dead-eyed into a vanity mirror while muttering “I’m a very pretty spacefaring roguelike, yes I am”. If FTL ever goes missing while out for a late night jog, odds are that For The Warp has it trapped at the bottom of a big hole and is forcing it to moisturise. There is imitation, and then there is wearing the skin of the game you love and slow-dancing alone in your basement illuminated only by a low-hanging, buzzing incandescent bulb.
GTFO's big free Infection update is out today, bringing new maps, weapons, enemies and objectives to the tense tactical survival-horror shooter. It's brought a whole new Rundown with it too, wiping away the old one to make room for a bunch of new levels.
If you've not had the chance to play GTFO yet, it's a super tense co-op experience where you and four friends play as prisoners dropped into a mysterious underground complex. You have to be pretty stealthy and extremely coordinated to get to your objectives, because there are some very angry zombie-things that demolish you in hordes if you don't.
If you too are trying to do home workouts with bottles of water and bags of sugar for weights, this might get you pumped up: a mixtape from Destiny 2 combining throbbing beats with the motivational words of Lord Shaxx. The Shaxxercize tape is a wee Easter egg in one quest from the new season, hidden on a shelf in the office of Commander Zavala, and now Bungie have put it on YouTube for everyone to enjoy. Shaxx is the hornhatted fella who commentates PvP matches with Shakespearean boisterousness, our fightdad who's always proud of us but knows we can push just a little harder. And now he wants you to feel the burn.
Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord has finally charged into early access, albeit with quite a number of technical issues in tow if Sin's early experience is anything to go by. I've yet to become mired in the same loading time issues and mission crashes as she has, so I'm afraid I can't offer any quick fixes for those unfortunately, but what I can talk about is how the game runs more generally, and how to make sense of its various graphics settings to help you get the best experience from Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, as well as the best performance. Onwards!
In Other Waters is a little game about a xenobiologist named Ellery Vas exploring an alien sea, and finding it (unexpectedly) teeming with life. You don't play the biologist, you play an artificial intelligence powering and controlling her advanced diving suit, but you are essential in helping Ellery to observe and classify these new species, to collect specimens, and to navigate the seabed. Despite what sound like similarities, In Other Waters is, as Nate pointed out, definitely not Subnautica.
It is really very good, though. It's very meditative. Calming. It's possibly exactly what you need right now.
Fnatic may be better known as an esports company, but as their excellent Fnatic Streak keyboards have shown, they're quite the dab hand at making top-notch gaming peripherals as well. The Streak and its compact tenkeyless miniStreak companion have been sitting atop my list ever since they came out, and their Flick 2 and Clutch 2 mice aren't half bad either. Now, Fnatic are completing the set with their React gaming headset. Here's wot I think.
Almost everyone is stuck at home right now due the Covid-19 lockdown, and whether you're working or gaming, your internet bandwidth is likely being soaked up a lot more than normal. Steam is one of the worst offenders when it comes to devouring bandwidth, often using a bit more than its fair share. So to help out with how much it's using, Valve are rescheduling those pesky auto-updates for games you probably forgot you had, to free up some of that precious bandwidth at peak times. They've also given a handy reminder of a few options you can change yourself to further minimise your usage, too.
Honestly, I’m glad Resident Evil 3 is a short game, because it was really, really, stressful to play. After six hours of it, I was thoroughly jangled, and just wanted a break from things trying to messily dismantle me. Which, to be fair, means it did exactly what I wanted it to do. Before my nerves tattered and I evolved into a Strategy Dad, you see, I used to love a bit of survival horror. So I knew what boxes RE3 needed to tick - and it left great bloody claw marks through all of them.
Paladins, wizards, magic spells, unicorn motorbikes, and crafting are coming to Playerunknown's Battlegrounds with the silly Fantasy Battle Royale event mode celebrating April Fools' Day. Starting Wednesday, it's Plunkbat, right, but with fantasy classes. What I most like is how all this is dressed as shoddy LARP gear: the Paladin in tinfoil greaves; the Barbarian wearing a Buster Bluth muscle suit; the Wizard in his dressing gown; the Ranger with two off-brand Pringles tubes as thigh-mounted quivers; the unicorn mount that's a motorbike with a plush unicorn head strapped to the front. This live-action trailer is great too.
Mount & Blade predates RPS. That's how long we've been waiting for its sequel, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, which released yesterday afternoon.
I had hoped to have some basic impressions ready last night, but that wasn't possible, because whatever else I can say about this open world medieval(ish) combat RPG, it's completely overshadowed by technical problems.
Artifact's developers have given up on selling people cards. When the closed beta for Artifact 2.0 kicks off, you'll have to earn every single card through playing - no market, no packs. Stingy pricing was just about the only thing holding the game back for me, so, hurray!
It's part of a big relaunch. Valve have also mentioned some changes they're making to the game itself, including allowing "players to access all three lanes at once". That's pretty wild, too.
The Overwatch League casters, hosts and players alike are all holed up at home for the time being, with matches taking place online while the world waits for the Covid-19 pandemic to run its course. It seems like cabin fever is starting to set in though, as this week they've adopted a cat into the analyst's panel to decide on the hero pools.
It went about as well as you can imagine.
Wielding the almighty Heart-Seeking Bow, Coronacht, I weave with godlike alacrity between the attacks of my foes, line up the shot, release at just the right moment, and - pop! - they dissolve with a sigh back into the underworld from whence they came. I'm clearing out rooms in record-breaking time, and it's a good thing too, because the infernal contract I signed with my father, Lord Hades, means if I spend too long in any particular region of the underworld then there will be swift and painful consequences.
And then I dash into another flame-filled area of Asphodel, and I'm halted in my tracks. Any notion of haste falls out of my mind. Because there is Eurydice in her chambers, singing her beautiful, haunting song. And, like every other time I've come across this particular room in Hades, I stay still and listen until the song is over before continuing in my quest to escape. I don't want her to think I'm being rude, after all.
The roguelike-like survival game Below was a bit more difficult when it came out than its moody, fog-filled trailers suggested, even to me who had been following it for multiple years. Capybara Games announced a while back that they'd heard community feedback and had decided to add a second mode to the game dubbed Explore Mode. Capy are giving PC players a chance to try out the new mode early by opting into a beta branch through Steam from today until next Tuesday, April 7.
I don't know where to begin with this—literally, figuratively, existentially? It's a new browser ARG thing by Nathalie Lawhead who has made many odd things wot RPS folk have enjoyed like Froggy and Cyberpet Graveyard. Mackerelmediafish.com, which I suppose is the website and also the name of the game(?), is another such clever oddity.
The Elder Scrolls Online's next big expansion comes out in May but you can try out its prologue chapter for free. Zenimax Online Studios have also released a new story trailer for the expansion, showing off some vampire baddies and a few vistas from Western Skyrim that you'll recognize if you played The Elder Scrolls V. ESO is hosting a free play period for over a week starting this Wednesday and say that free players will also be able to try out the Greymoor expansion prologue.
The annual Game Developers Conference, and a bunch of other gaming events, have been cancelled or postponed this year thanks to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Getting to GDC represents a serious financial commitment for indie developers especially, who have been impacted by its cancellation so close to the dates it was meant to run. Gamedev.world is hosting a fundraising week of livestreams to benefit the GDC Relief Fund.
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Half-Life: Alyx is out, and where talk of Valve and Half-Life goes, so too does Garry's Mod follow. You know Gmod for all the silly Source games the players made with it: Prop Hunt, Trouble In Terrorist Town, Jazztronauts, and the like. Original Gmod maker and Facepunch Studios founder Garry Newman has jumped on the Valve-talk train with a tease that they're currently working on Garry's Mod 2, which it turns out is something called Sandbox that they've been developing for quite a few years.
Success has proved troublesome for Last Oasis, the new survival sandbox MMO with wooden walking bases. After launching into early access on Thursday, it hit #6 on Steam's top-selling chart for the whole week, it passed 25,000 players in-game at the same time, and it fell over so hard that the developers have taken it offline for a week. Bugs exacerbated by the weight of players caused the servers to crumple and it needs serious help. If you don't want to wait for its return, you're welcome to a refund.
There have been more and more portable SSDs supporting the new USB 3.2 Gen 2 standard cropping up over the last couple of months. First, we had the Samsung T7 Touch, the latest, touch sensor-secured successor to my current champion, the Samsung T5. Then there was Crucial's X8, which was a smidge faster than the T7 Touch and cheaper to boot. Now, WD's Black P50 has finally landed on my desk. Clad in the same tough, corrugated shipping container-like casing as WD's Black P10 external HDD, the P50 certainly looks the part of a high-end, no-nonsense portable SSD drive, but does it have the speed to match? Here's wot I think.
Runescape’s newest update, Archaeology, adds a whole new skill to the almost two-decade-old MMO, but there’s some necessary context for what it brings to the table - at least historically speaking. At only 10 years old, I was as industrious as they came, and actually set up my own in-game business. I had people - probably much older than I was - chopping wood for me, which I then sold for profit or used to increase my Firemaking skill, like a proper little capitalist. All I had to give them in return were axes worth a measly fraction of my wealth.
Runescape was a simpler game in those times, where ordinary skills could be paired with one another to create basic but effective economic structures, most of which were founded upon the exploitation of fresh-out-of-Lummy naivete. But that was 14 years ago. Runescape is a different beast now, and the addition of Archaeology is unprecedented in more ways than one. “Skilling is not traditionally a vehicle for storytelling,” lead designer Dave Osborne tells me in an interview conducted over Zoom. “This completely upends that expectation.”
If Black Mesa actually getting finished left you lost without a fan-made refresh of an old Half-Life to cheer on, rejoice: the new hotness is bringing Half-Life 2 into Half-Life: Alyx. Several modders are already showing off their progress in bringing Gordon's adventure to Alyx's shiny new VR game, though it's all hella far from finished. Hey, we all need something to believe in. Come check out these two projects.
I love The Dig. While I definitely played it in 1995, I've almost no memories of that. But the last time I played it in 2011, I rediscovered a LucasArts adventure that felt like something truly special, something unique in their oeuvre, and something that hit the sweet spot of the science fiction I most enjoy. In this difficult period, returning to it sounded just the ticket.
It's time to saddle up and ride out, for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord entered early access this morning. The long-awaited follow-up to Warband (one of the best RPGs, don't you know?) will once again send us out to ride around a sandbox medieval world, raising armies, politicking, laying siege, and charging around big battlefields with hundreds of soldiers throwing down. But if you'd rather wait for the full and finished game, it's expected to leave early access in "around a year." For now, onwards to the launch trailer!
Some of you will remember 2002's Soldat, a side-scrolling 2D shoot 'em up with multiplayer and jetpacks. You lot might be especially interested in the free demo for Soldat 2, which is the same thing but without the multiplayer. It's being made by Michal Marcinkowski, the same guy who did the original.
I'm not tainted by nostalgia, and I enjoyed myself too. It's pretty good! It makes me miss The Showdown Effect.
Rejoice, keyboard deals hunters, as Fnatic's Streak and miniStreak mechanical gaming keyboards have had their prices slashed once again over on Amazon UK. This time, it's the Cherry MX Brown versions of the Streak and tenkeyless miniStreak that are mainly on offer, with the Streak going for 25% off at £90, down from its usual £120, and the miniStreak for £75, which £15 cheaper than normal. Fnatic's older Rush keyboards are also on sale, too, so come on down and let's get this keyboard deals party started.
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