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Michael Johnson

3 years ago

Feature: Royale without cheese

The tension & elation of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

'I don't get it, it's just a big deathmatch, right?' is pretty much how I reacted to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds [official site] on first viewing. Following the route of other Hunger Royale and online survival games it seemingly arrived from nowhere, with a marketing campaign focused on partnerships with popular Twitch streamers to quickly build up a huge word of mouth following. PUBG (an inelegant but…

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Feature: Great combat, terrible loot

For Honor’s rough edges hide a diamond worth polishing

For Honor is everything Brendan says it is in his review - an often broken and bruising game that assaults your senses with indicators and split second decisions, as well as assaulting your sanity with frequent network issues and inexplicable matchmaking bugs. It's also my favourite game so far this year, thanks to a deliciously layered combat system that draws you in piece by piece…

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Feature: No Man's Sty

Is No Man’s Sky A Good Game Of Inventory Tetris?

No Man's Sky is about two things: exploring procedurally generated planets, and inventory tetris. The latter might not have been what people were expecting, but if you're playing the game, you're going to spend a lot of time shuttling elements back and forth between two inventories, deciding whether to discard some titanium in order to make room for thamium9, and trying to squeeze in enough…

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4 years ago

Feature: A series of tubes

A Lament For The LAN Party

Before broadband and the connected world of information, we found different ways to mix our social life and our games. LAN parties. Where our PCs had a big group hug and let us kill one another in peace. Michael Johnson remembers those times. Growing up as a PC gamer in the 90's was a curious experience, the dawn of the internet age was upon us,…

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Feature: EU's MSI stumble

League Of Legends: What G2’s Disastrous MSI Performance Actually Tells Us

Heading into the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), most fans of the European League of Legends' [official site] scene were pleased to see G2 eSports representing their region. The team had stormed the EU LCS in their rookie split, with a combination of individual skill and teamwork. They also had a cocksure aura around them - they weren't just winning they were winning with a swagger. No…

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LoL Mage Update: What You Need To Know

With the Mid-Season Invitational around the corner for League of Legends, plans are already well underway at Riot Games for the Summer season. As we've discussed before, Riot are not the kind of studio to sit on their haunches and major changes are coming to the game in the form of the Mage Update. You can find the full details of the patch here, but…

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Dark Souls III Boss Guide – Lore, Loot & Strategies

To many, Dark Souls III [official site] can be summarised as a boss stamping on a human face forever. We're here to help. This is a guide to killing all of the bosses in Dark Souls 3 but it's not simply a how-to-murder manual. It also takes a look at some of the sumptuous design and the patchwork lore surrounding many of the bosses, explaining…

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Feature: Balance (and ravens)

The False Grail Of LoL? Talking Game Balance And Esports With Deficio

As a follow-up to his interview with League Of Legends' design director, Greg Street, Michael got in touch with professional player-turned-caster Martin 'Deficio' Lynge to discuss how ideas of balance and tweaks to the game by the design team impact the world of esports. N.B. If you haven't already, you might prefer to have a read of the earlier interview first as it's a useful…

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Feature: Prêt à Mourir

How To Look Lovely In Lothric: A Dark Souls III Armour & Fashion Guide

We play Souls games for numerous reasons – the uncompromising challenge that feeds beautifully into themes of the series, the wonderful boss design and the world building that sees a gigantic Gothic labyrinth created for us to explore and die in. But we also play them because they allow us to look fabulous. Dark Souls 3 [official site] sees returning favourite armour sets with texture…

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Feature: All change?

League Of Legends’ Greg ‘Ghostcrawler’ Street Talks Balance – Is It Even Possible?

League Of Legends boasts a huge roster of playable characters which bring the potential for vast numbers of potential compositions, ability interactions. It also has a player base quick to seek out what's strong at any given time in the game's ongoing development. So how do you approach that as a designer? Is the idea of perfect balance even possible or do you tweak characters…

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Feature: Roll with it

Why I Think Dark Souls II Is Better Than The Original

It'll take a great deal of analysis to figure out how exactly Dark Souls III [official site] fits into the wider mythology of the series in terms of its tremendous, cryptic lore, and it might take even longer for critical opinion to decide where it ranks in the pantheon of Souls games. But we can all agree on one thing, right? Dark Souls is superior…

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Feature: The best of the action from Poland

League Of Legends: The Best Of IEM Katowice

IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) is noteworthy in the professional League of Legends [official site] calendar as it's one of the last international tournaments not to fall under Riot's own umbrella. Katowice is the IEM World Championship; a culminating event that takes the winners from a year's worth of IEM tournaments as well as selected teams who are invited from the more popular regions. With $100,000…

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Feature: How do you League of Legends?

League Of Legends: Unpicking World-Famous Plays

League of Legends, with its upwards-of-67-million-players-a-month, is a phenomenon. As an esport it garners hundreds of millions of hours of viewer time, packs out arenas and has made its way onto mainsteam channels like the BBC and ESPN. But to the casual viewer it's also an incredibly difficult game to decode. 10 champions out of a possible 128 run around the map, killing minions, monsters,…

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