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Alex Wiltshire

7 days ago

Feature: Keep on truckin'

How American Truck Simulator recreates the grand American west

Oh, to visit Spokane on a bright summer morning. Bakersfield, Albuquerque, Reno and Salem. The evening sun shining across the surface of the I-10. In these locked-down times, American Truck Simulator is a chance to tour America, or at least its western edge, running from Washington in the north down to California in the south, and over to Utah and New Mexico in the east.…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Wascally wabbit

How Hunt: Showdown creates hot, dripping tension

There’s a lot to be frightened by in Hunt: Showdown. Bee ladies, dying horses, a scuttering spider-beast. Slavering hounds, alarms made of clattering hanging bones, zombies. Ducks. It’s like this whole bayou hates you. But the swamp and its horrible denizens aren’t Hunt: Showdown’s antagonists. The real source of tension is other players. Every detail of this shooter’s design is about engineering a sense of…

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1 month ago

Feature: 334 hours played, do not recommend

How Generation Zero was fixed

Just before Generation Zero released nearly a year ago, things looked great for the game. Its trailers and screenshots promised a dynamic and expansive open-world cooperative shooter, with robots to fight and a beautiful and detailed 1980s Sweden to explore. And it was made by Avalanche Studios, a developer long-known for its open-world action games. Aside from a little controversy when artist Simon Stålenhag pointed…

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2 months ago

Feature: Hell to pay

How Hades plays with Greek myths

When Supergiant Games started to make Hades, their Rogue-like action-RPG, they had plenty of experience making narrative games. Across Bastion, Transistor and Pyre, they’d found they were pretty good at telling stories. But in a Rogue-like? And what’s that? They intended to put Hades in Early Access? Could they ever fit with the kind of rich characterisation and storytelling that made Supergiant’s name? “We were…

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Feature: Dig up, stupid

How Shovel Knight’s last boss was designed four times

When Yacht Club Games decided to style Shovel Knight after the NES games that inspired it, they took that project seriously. Shovel Knight can’t fill the screen with 1000 bullets or radically switch up how it plays. It has to stay true to its inheritance, else, as programmer and co-designer David D’Angelo tells me, “It’d stand out as bizarre.” So its bosses naturally follow classic…

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3 months ago

Feature: Turns out that standing still is pretty hard

The unknowable chaos of physics in Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

“A lot of fun stuff happens when you try to do stuff with physics,” says Wilhelm Nylund, head of Landfall Games, and the intelligent god behind Totally Accurate Battle Simulator’s legions of gangling warriors. And yet physics has given him an enormous amount of grief over the course of TABS’ development - as well as all the other games he’s made at Landfall. Physics, after…

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Exclusive: two new Magic: The Gathering cards revealed – including punchy goats

Next week, on January 16, the latest card set will hit Magic: The Gathering Arena ahead of its physical release on January 24. It turns out that developers Wizards Of The Coast weren’t joking when they said their PC-based online game would stand right alongside the traditional game. Theros Beyond Death is a new set in a series of four based on the Greek mythology-inspired…

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Feature: Where abstraction meets accuracy

How Unity Of Command 2 balances game design with military history

The first Unity Of Command was designed for the open steppes of the Eastern Front. There, the major battles were about manoeuvre, with tank units chasing and covering miles of ground for their objectives, and lines of infantry moving to counter and support. The steppes were perfect for UoC’s unique focus on maintaining your army’s supply lines. So, when designer Tomislav Uzelac began thinking about…

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Feature: Lonely at the block

Portraits of Roblox: The view from the platform

After having spoken to four of Roblox’s leading developers, I wanted to understand how Roblox sees itself, how its been changing, and how the company aims to continue developing it. So I got to talk with Craig Donato, Roblox’s chief business officer. In charge of developer relations, he’s directly responsible for managing the world in which Roblox’s creators build. “When we think about our platform,…

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Feature: I'll have you know they make very good pets

How A Plague Tale: Innocence’s rat hordes were made

Oh, the rats. The rats and the rats. If you don’t like rats, it’s best you don’t read on, because in A Plague Tale: Innocence there are thousands of them. They’re the stars of its grim medieval show, swarming around you, chittering and lunging and responding to your every movement. And they presented their creators at developer Asobo Studio all kinds of problems to make.…

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4 months ago

Feature: The building blox of life

Portraits of Roblox’s leading makers: the roleplayers

One of the most popular genres on Roblox is the roleplay game. By roleplay, I don’t mean RPG. Many of these games won’t even seem like real games, since they often don’t have rules or mechanics. Roblox’s roleplay games are places for playing make-believe. They’re themed free-roam worlds filled with minigames and interactive bits and pieces, plus wardrobes of clothes and other cosmetics that let…

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Feature: Another block in the wall

Portraits of Roblox’s leading makers: the scale breakers

Roblox first launched just over 13 years ago. That’s 13 years of slapdash user-made trash populated by nine year-old trolls, right? Not quite. Roblox is also one of videogames’ most underestimated communities; it’s a huge and vibrant place of play and creation where fortunes and talent are being forged.

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Feature: Worth a thousand words

How Katana Zero brought action into cutscenes

When a game’s cutscene begins and the dialogue starts spooling, I can’t help it. My phone comes out and I’m scrolling. From being active I’ve suddenly become passive, and rather than stay engaged, my brain impulsively turns to Twitter, Reddit, anything, to feed its pathetic desire for reward through light interaction. But I don’t during Katana Zero’s cutscenes. When this action game halts its razor-fine…

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Feature: Who wouldn't want to

Why you can anger the gods in Noita

In Noita, you can destroy every pixel. Walls, lakes of blood, rock mass, bodies, piles of gold, wooden piles, minecarts - if it’s there, you can mess it up. But there’s one place where you probably shouldn’t do that. The Holy Mountain is a moment of respite on your journey downwards in this very physical take on the dungeon-delver. It’s somewhere where you can recoup…

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5 months ago

Feature: If you go down to the woods today...

How Magic: The Gathering card sets are designed

“It’s hungry mother. It’s trip to the fair. It’s bad trade. Magic beans. Jack’s cow, angry mother. It’s surprise beanstalk. It’s climbing the beanstalk, giant’s castle, giant’s wife, golden goose, self-playing harp, escape with the goose, chop down the beanstalk.” Mark Rosewater has been head designer on Magic: The Gathering since 2003, overseeing the creation of thousands of new cards in the collectible card game…

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Feature: Beasts of burden

How Guild Wars 2’s mounts were made

Every MMO has to have a mount. Mounts are a reward, a step in the endgame that helps you feel like you’ve finally mastered an MMO’s world. Finally you can get around quickly. No more of that plebeian walking. And with the game feeling like it’s in your grasp at last, you even get to show off your achievement with the flamboyance of your steed.…

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6 months ago

Feature: *screaming dial-up noise*

How Hypnospace Outlaw’s 1990s internet was made

Hypnospace Outlaw is a game about surfing a fictional 1999 internet, a web of GeoCities-like pages made by a community of weirdo artists, rock stars, scammers, edgy teens, pastors, hackers and spiritualists. It’s funny, bizarre, poignant, and sometimes dumb, just like the early internet that it spoofs. But it’s also a game, so its wild thickets of pages, all written by distinct personalities, are also…

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Feature: Moon's still haunted.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep review

To be a Destiny player is to consume. To voraciously devour great wads of Content, like one of its giant inter-dimensional space worm gods gorging on a planetoid, and then, never sated, moving on to the next. The newest feast is Shadowkeep. It’s as beautifully crafted as ever. We get to eat the Moon! It looks stunning and it’s fun and weird and I love…

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Feature: Hard right to my heart

The Joy of Phil Mills in Dirt Rally 2.0

If there’s anything that can bring a dose of certainty to a dark night in the Polish countryside, it’s that voice. “Flat left over jump, extra extra long keep middle 170,” it says as we speed by trees and hedgerows and fields and barns. I can’t see the world outside the glare of my headlights, but that voice knows everything. “Into six right, opens over…

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Feature: DEV is HARD

A dictionary of Baba Is You’s most difficult words

Baba Is You is a push-block puzzler in which words change the rules of the game. Push a baba block next to an is, and then push a you on the end, and now you’re controlling a four-legged, long-eared critter. Add another rule, flag is win, and you can beat the level by moving Baba on to the flag. Baba Is You is therefore a…

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