Best PC gaming deals of the week

The internet might currently be ablaze with discussion on Nintendo’s latest game-thing but we’re here once more to talk about things that really matter in the here and now – namely, how good Day of the Tentacle is and which Amiga games were the best ones. All joking aside, we’re about halfway through January now and fast approaching the first of another year’s worth of major video game releases. Thankfully, we’ve got some gaming deals to talk about, as always, for you to pick up in the meantime. Read the rest of this entry »

Decoding: open world games and killing by default

Decoding is a regular column about the games we love, and the tricks and traditions that make them tick.

“Oh shit, I pressed the wrong button and killed that guy.”

It happens to the best of us. You could play Watch Dogs 2 [official site] for days without firing a gun, or causing a fatal traffic accident, or beating someone to death with a billiard ball. Lead character Marcus Holloway doesn’t seem like the kind of person who’d leave bodies in his wake, and the ease with which he can become a killer is jarring. Like so many of our protagonists, he walks through life with the safety off and his finger on the trigger.

Open world games, particularly those of the urban variety, have a violence problem, and it’s mechanical rather than philosophical.

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The World before time: original WoW, revisited

Last year, I tried to indulge my nostalgia for Dun Morogh, the wintry original Dwarf & Gnome starting zone in World of Warcraft, by returning to it as it is now. It did not go entirely well – in the 11 years since WoW’s launch, much has changed. Where once this was a slow-starting MMO, defined by long wandering, hard work and a certain degree of solitude, these days its early questing is an explosion of instantaneous rewards and high-speed levelling. I thought that this first World of Warcraft was lost forever. But there is a way back.
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Good Coop, Bad Coop – H1Z1: King Of The Kill

Good Coop, Bad Coop is our new series in which Graham and Brendan will be bonding in co-operative games through teamwork, friendship and shared trauma. This week, the rapid, open-world deathmatch of H1Z1: King of the Kill [official site], which is currently in early access.

Brendan: When we first landed on the outskirts of… *squints at map* …Pleasant Valley, I believe it was only thirty seconds before you were shot and killed. I am sorry I wasn’t there for you. I landed on the other side of the suburb.

Graham: Actually it was… *squints at video timestamp* …57 seconds. I survived almost a whole minute. Most of that time was spent running through a forest, attempting to escape from two assailants, one of whom was shooting me in the back with a machinegun. King of the Kill was not what I was expecting.

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Prey 2006: A giant pile of ideas abandoned in a heap on the floor

2006’s original Prey came a full eleven years after 3D Realms began its production. Eventually completed by Human Head Studios, although using some of the original concepts (primarily the portal tech), it was released to rave reviews. Which is odd, because it’s a colossal pile of shit.

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Smite Rivals: how the god-themed card game works

Smite: Rivals

Smite Rivals [official site] is the latest game from Hi-Rez Studios. It’s being championed at the Hi-Rez Expo which is the company’s annual esports-and-miscellaneous celebration of its games and community. People in baby pink, Rivals-branded tshirts wait by kiosks as curious attendees come over to play.

The game itself looks very familiar if you’ve ever played the mobile game, Clash Royale. It’s a lane-pushing card game so you create a deck of eight cards to represent particular actions or units which will be available to you over the course of a few minutes and play those cards onto the three lanes of the arena as a pared-down real time strategy affair. The rate at which you can play cards is controlled by their mana cost which you pay from the mana bar on the left hand side which fills over time.

In terms of the game board, it’s actually pretty similar to Smite’s main competitive mode. There are three lanes in which you can spawn the units, each guarded by a phoenix. The ultimate objective – the titan – sits behind the phoenixes. You win by destroying more of these structures than your opponent. If you topple their titan that’s an insta-win, otherwise the score is tallied once the time runs out.

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