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Nate Crowley

Borderlands 3 review

The real loot was the friends we made along the way

89

Wilmot's Warehouse review

This is your brain on Wilmot

50

5 days ago

Feature: The real loot was the friends we made along the way

Borderlands 3 review

Twenty hours into Borderlands 3, in the jungle-drowned innards of a crashed starship, Moze finally opened up. Until that point, we only knew she was a war lass with a big mech. During a bit of scripted mission patter about awkward names, however, she revealed she was born Moserah Hayussinian Yan-Lun al-Amir Andreyevna, and we thought we were going to learn another precious fact about…

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1 week ago

Feature: This is your brain on Wilmot

Wilmot’s Warehouse review

For the first three and a half billion years of its history, life on earth was fairly dull. It was, essentially, a load of little blobs mucking around in a great big sea. But then, five hundred million years ago, the Cambrian Explosion happened. Despite its name, it was not a sick wrestling move, but a sudden evolutionary riot, in which life diversified into a…

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Feature: Caskmaster

Have You Played… Barrels?

It’s taken me years to realise the first videogame I ever played was a rip-off; a lacklustre, store-brand facsimile of someone else’s idea. The game was called Barrels, and it was a janky clone of 1981’s Donkey Kong, made by a company called Spa (apocryphally Software Production Associates) for the RM Nimbus. The Nimbus was the digital workhorse for UK schools in the late 80s,…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: Smearth

Have You Played… SimEarth?

One of the most maddening things in mainstream science reporting (and my goodness, there’s a panoply to choose from), is how every year, without fail, there’s a rash of articles making wild claims about how scientists are “on the brink” of cloning a woolly mammoth. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but they seem to have been on the brink for at least 25 years now,…

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1 month ago

Feature: Anticipation station

Five things I want from Starbase Startopia

During the opening of Gamescom in Cologne, we found out we’ll be getting a remake (or ‘spiritual successor’) to 2001’s management landmark Startopia. Named Spacebase Startopia, to underline the fact that the game is about bases in space, it looks… well, it’s got potential? No, it’s not made by the people who made the original, but that’s not necessarily an obstacle. And sure, the trailer…

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Feature: In on the ground floor

The Basement of Curiosity: Season One – recap and index

Dwarf Fortress might be the most interesting game ever made. It might even be the best. But it’s certainly not the most accessible. It looks weird, its control scheme appears to be lifted from some sort of alien church organ, and a good proportion of its features are in fact collisions between the many, many bugs that have sprung up in its thirteen-year development history.…

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Feature: Nate's going to meet Tarn Adams!

Dwarf Fortress Diary: The Basement of Curiosity – End of Season One

Surprise! This is the end of the first season of the Basement of Curiosity - but it’s not the end of the story. The series is taking a break… but only because Nate needs to get ready to go and chat with Tarn Adams, the creator of Dwarf Fortress, on Sunday 1st September. Read on to find out more... -- On the last day of…

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Feature: Diddly-dum, diddly-doo, widdly-diddly-dum-dum

Hearthstone: Uldum quests ranked by fun

After each new Hearthstone expansion lands, there’s a golden period where mediocre players like me get to play with all the big, fun, silly new cards. It never lasts forever: before long, the good decks become known, and we must all netdeck away under the ghastly lash of The Meta, or fade away into the Elysian fields of PvE. But for a short while at…

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Feature: Bottled ants

Game DNA: growing order from chaos

The summer of 1991 was all about ants. I was seven years old, and I spent the entire school holiday camped in the garden, gently catching winged queens and housing them in shitty coke bottle formicariums. There I would watch them lay eggs and create workers, who would dig tunnels, search about the place, and scurry in lines with grains of food in their jaws.…

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2 months ago

Feature: A glowing space crystal in the rough

Age Of Wonders: Planetfall review

I’ll be honest, I came dangerously close to not recognising Age Of Wonders: Planetfall for what it is: a solid, well-designed strategy game. Like a jaded ogre examining bones for shreds of meat, I nearly tossed it aside with a grunt, letting it plonk down the bone-hill into the Steam refunds ossuary. But then, I would have missed out on the rich, dense marrow within.

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Feature: Busting makes them feel bad

Dwarf Fortress Diary: The Basement Of Curiosity – Episode 22: Goatbusters

Last time on the BoC: With the fort due to be sealed up from the outside world by Dwarven Christmas, the dwarves spent the autumn getting their belongings underground. A ruinous tavern brawl seemed to be a bad omen for the cabin fever to come, until the increasingly autocratic Lorbam made an example of the perpetrator. Despite being the head of one of the most…

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Feature: Are you a duplican or a duplican't?

Oxygen Not Included review

During its two year stint in Early Access, Oxygen Not Included often came close to becoming one of my major time sink games. It’s a rich simulation of the kind I adore, with an enchanting art style, a unique atmosphere, and a labyrinth of features to discover. On a gut level, I love it. But then, for every time I’ve booted it up, there have…

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Feature: Live by the fist, die by the beakdog

Dwarf Fortress Diary: The Basement Of Curiosity Episode Twenty-One – Return of the Interesting Door

Last time on the BoC: Fort founder Lorbam has lost her mind, and ordered the whole fortress - once a thriving tourist destination - sealed off from the surface so that she can breed her beasts in the safety of the Great Beneath. During preparations for the move underground, the fort was very nearly breached by a Werepanda: only the bolts of a sharp-eyed hunter…

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Feature: Mince raft

Have You Played… Minecraft?

At first, I couldn’t believe nobody had written a ‘Have You Played’ about Minecraft, given the sheer mass with which it looms over the last decade of game history. But that’s it, isn’t it? It’d be like writing “Have You Seen… The Sky?” or “Have You Tasted… Bread?” Even if you’ve not played Minecraft, you know exactly what it is. It was the little indie…

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Feature: Hakuna cantata

Cantata is Advance Wars with logistics and an Ann Leckie glow-up

I’ve tried for about twenty minutes to find an opening sentence that doesn’t sound contrivedly promotional, but sod it: Cantata is one of the most interesting upcoming tactics games around. Taken individually, none of its elements are revolutionary. It’s a case of “Advance Wars, but…”, where the wheel of modifiers has been spun and landed on “bright colours”, “supply lines” and “high brow science fiction”.…

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Feature: Bet u I can eat this whole newspaper

The Deep End: a Zero Context Final Fantasy Diary – Part I: Prologue

It is the height of summer; a lush July evening, and a Friday to boot, with a free weekend stretched out before me like so much blue sky. I’m planning to spend plenty of the next two days outside, with my wife and daughter, enjoying fresh air, laughter and good food. But there’s a dark pit in this fruit of fun; a bitter kernel which…

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Feature: Tankster's paradise

Biotope could have been my dream aquarium simulator

Recently, my eleven month old daughter said her first word. She was pointing into the shimmery blue interior of the new aquarium in our bedroom, and she said “fish”. Unfortunately she was pointing out a shrimp, but hey - it’s the thought that counts. I was elated; much of my life has been consumed by an obsession with watery things, and aquariums in particular, thanks…

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Feature: Tiger tiger burning bright, time to have a massive fight

Dwarf Fortress Diary: The Basement Of Curiosity Episode Twenty – Night of the Self-published Werepanda

Last time on the BoC: Having finally achieved her dream of a breeding pair of chimps, at the cost of making a trade deal with the elves go very, very bad, fort founder Lorbam has become… strange. Increasingly distrustful of the outside world, she has decreed that the whole settlement be moved underground, and at midwinter, the overworld gates of the Basement will be shut…

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Feature: The stuff of legend

Have You Played… Ultima Online?

After reading a lot of “Have You Played” retrospectives, it’s very common to dig up an old game, boot it up, and enjoy fifteen minutes of nostalgia, followed by the creeping realisation that it’s not as good as either you or the author of the post remembered. Luckily, Ultima Online - the first game I ever played online - is immune to this fate. That’s…

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