A reminder that Overwatch should be the friendliest shooter ever

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At its best, Blizzard’s Overwatch is the place I hope to wake up in when I die, die, die. A superspy sitcom that just happens to be a sublime entwining of FPS and MOBA, it has gulped down more of my free time than any other game in the past five years. It’s also the game where I never speak to anybody, rarely accept a party invite and seldom spend longer than half an hour in ranked play. Some matches, I even try to avoid eye contact. Overwatch’s community has become notorious for abusive behaviour, and while I’m not convinced it’s any worse on this count than, say, Destiny or Call of Duty, the toxicity is completely at odds with the design, which makes it all the more jarring.

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I am so bad at Bomber Crew I failed to drop any bombs

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I’m going to tell you about the time my Bomber Crew accidentally dropped a food parcel on Birmingham. But first, a tragic tale.

A spitfire has gone down somewhere in the English Channel and it falls to my crew to rescue the pilot who is bobbing around in the water. We’ll need to fend off enemy fighters while dumping survival packs into the water in the pilot’s vicinity, but I’m new to this Bomber Crew lark and oh no one of our wings is on fire, and I think our plane is going into the drink. At least the spitfire pilot has some wreckage to cling to. Job done, I guess?

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I am bad at Tekken 7 – so I sought help from a pro

I have Tekken so many hits

I keep getting beaten up by strangers. Tekken 7 is as traditional a fighting game as they come. You punch, you kick, you get shredded to pieces by a robotic woman’s saws-for-arms. At recent games show EGX, I saw two fighting game pros facing off in front of an audience, knocking seven shades of showmanship out of each other. I sat down to watch, enthralled by the speed at which they pulverised one another. I thought: hey, I could do that.

But I cannot do that.

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The 25 best co-op games ever made

Sometimes you need a hand to hold, so we’ve updated our list of the 25 best co-op games to play on PC with a headset-wearing friend or a muted stranger.

Whether solving puzzles, sneaking, shooting zombies or stabbing mythical creatures in the face, the existence of another player adds an element of unpredictability. You might synchronise your stealth takedowns and execute the perfect plan, but it’s just as likely that your co-op partner will constantly alert the guards and throw your situation into chaos. Luckily both success and failure are more compelling when you can take credit for the former and blame someone else for the latter.

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The Flare Path: Hillocks and Pillocks

Subtle slope textures and a lack of unit bases and battle replays make Field of Glory II a tricky wargame to After Action Report. I can’t promise that today’s aggro account will be easy to follow, but I’ll be mortified if it baffles and bores. The fabulous FoGII is to tedium what Domestos, the Greek god of sanitaryware, is to all known germs. Any wargame correspondent that suggests otherwise deserves to be thrown to the lions. Read the rest of this entry »

Best PC gaming deals of the week

Somehow yet another week has passed us by and the endless march of time proceeds ever forward. I don’t know about you but this week, I spent an exorbitant amount of time playing Shadow of Wardor, in which death is such a trivial thing it’s almost bringing on an existential crisis. I did meet a singing Orc, though, so I can’t really complain.

Anyways, I’m here again to take you through a whole bunch of the best gaming deals from the past seven-ish days, so let’s go ahead and do that, shall we? As usual, we’ve got deals that’ll work in the UK, deals that’ll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places.

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Overgrowth doesn’t feel ready to leave Early Access

Overgrowth

The most satisfying moments in Overgrowth [official site] take place in mid-air. Rabbits are typically good at jumping, but they’ve got nothing on their anthropomorphic cousin, Turner, the martial arts master and hero of this critter-bashing romp. His leaping ability borders on the power of flight. During those seconds, suspended in the skies above the game’s largely empty battlefields, it feels like anything’s possible. Invariably the landing disappoints. Sometimes fatally. That’s Overgrowth: lots of potential, rarely reached.

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The lovely disasters of Make a Good Mega Man Level

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What do Catholic martyr Sir Thomas More, mythical Norse tree Yggdrasil and comedy ogre Shrek have in common? They all feature in fan creations made for the recent Make A Good Mega Men Level competition. Read on to find out more about these and other strange takes on Mega Man, including the world’s most hazardous ice cream factory.

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Podcast: Middle-earth: Shadow of War, The Evil Within 2 and our nemeses

Nemesis this

Who’s your worst nemesis? This week the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, is talking about our most reviled enemies, against whom we hold deep, lasting grudges. Matt harbours a lasting bitterness for Silencer, the magic-cancelling war jerk of Dota 2. Adam is fuelled by a dark hatred for the final boss of Ancient Domains of Mystery, a giant ‘@’ symbol called Andor Drakon. And I still maintain a grievance against an entire electricity company in Final Fantasy VII. They killed my friends.

And speaking of nemeses, we’ve had plenty of time to play Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the icon-hoovering game of anti-establishment orcs, which has us divided. The Evil Within 2 also gets some attention, as Adam runs from spectres and fails to stealth-kill hideous monsters, and I am publicly shamed in Tekken 7 by a robot who takes off her head and throws it at me.
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Have you played… Nidhogg 2?

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

The original Nidhogg was a tense, terse swordfighting game best played in local multiplayer. Nidhogg 2 changes the art style, adds an array of new weapons, and in the process makes it less tense and less fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Has Stellaris been improved by its updates?

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Hi! I’m an incredibly charismatic space otter, and I love you! Not just you! I love everyone, be they otter analogues, bird people, or particularly advanced fungal infections! I even love murderous robots, which I’m aware is not a great idea because they’re murderous robots!

At least that’s what StellarisScyldari would say, if they could do anything apart from bat their ears adorably on the game’s menu screens. Paradox’s Stellaris is freeform grand strategy, in the mould of the developer’s other games Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings, and as such is much more about numbers and menus than cut-scenes or narrative arcs. Read the rest of this entry »

Secrets of the developer who sold half a million videogames you’ve never heard of on Steam

bit blaster xl

In the space of a half-hour conversation, Adam Nickerson, aka Nickervision Studios, uses a variant of the phrase ‘I don’t know really how to make videogames’ at least half a dozen times. Yet he’s managed to singlehandedly sell half a million copies of his games on PC.

You’ve probably never heard of Bit Blaster XL, for example, but it’s shifted 260,000 copies on Steam. He developed it solo, in just two weeks. Its follow-up, on course to be equally successful, was developed in 75 hours.

How did he do it? He figured out exactly how to get noticed on Steam during this time of seemingly ceaseless new releases – a time that has destroyed the hopes and dreams of many other small developers. 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 2

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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 this final report, he tells us of the manipulative merchant kings of India, and how blood money corrupted the world. You can read part 1 here

I’m eating soup with the ministers from Malaysia, Italy and Bavaria when the head diplomat of Mughal India comes to our table and starts talking about money again. His long black robe flows over his thin frame, a matching velvet cap on his curly dark hair.

“The Ottoman have trade locked up,” he says. The Italian minster smiles. You can always trust a Mughal to talk about markets. Soon, all the world leaders at the table are speaking in impenetrable detail about world affairs – intricacies and intrigue, money and merchants. It’s like sitting in a restaurant with the Illuminati. They smirk, they joke, they laugh. Tomorrow, they will be at war. Anywhere between 7-10 million people will die.
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Have you played… Nidhogg?

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

Stab and run, stab and run, throw your sword and… It stabs. Now run, dive kick, slide and roll. These verbs are all that Nidhogg contains, but with them comes personal tactics, personal rivalries, and some of the best local multiplayer ever made. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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 »

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 »