Obsidian on Tyranny’s expansion & writing believable evil

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Most games that put you into the shoes of the bad guys are about reveling in evil, gleefully causing havoc and destruction like a toddler who’s got into the stationary box. Obsidian’s RPG Tyranny [official site] is different.

“I find a lot of fiction that centers around good versus evil tends to be unsatisfying, as evil always exists as a strawman for the ill-prepared underdogs to beat up with the power of naïve violence and good intentions,” says Matt MacLean, narrative designer for Tyranny. “I think video games often try too hard to make sure you don’t relate to your victims, and so villains are made unrelentingly villainous, and allies are made into some combination of saccharine hangers-on or tear-jerker red-shirts waiting to be killed in order to shock you into thinking death means serious storytelling.”

But how did it all work out, and what new cruelties will the upcoming expansion expose us to?

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I played Monster Hunter World & turned a dino into pants

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Forty five minutes with Monster Hunter World [official site] was enough to convince me that people who bang on about the series might have a point. I killed two big beasties in that time, cooked a couple of delicious meals, and fell comfortably into the flow of stalking and stabbing.

It’s violent, but not gory. It has tracking and stalking, but no complex simulation. As a newcomer to the series, which is a newcomer to the PC audience, I found myself thinking of The Witcher, weirdly enough. The Witcher but, you know, for kids. Imagine The Witcher 3 as a Saturday Morning Cartoon and you’re on the right track.

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Total War’s Warhammer expert on why we all love Skaven

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Ever been alone in a box with someone who knows an unusual amount about anthropomorphic rats? I have. The creators of fantasy strategy crossover Total War: Warhammer II [official site] were at Gamescom last week, showing off their endlessly quibbling goblins and skeleton men. So I sat down for a chat with lead writer Andy Hall, a man who’s spent 18 years scribbling fine detail into the Warhammer universe. I’m a bit out of my depth, knowing little about it, but he’s amiable and enthusiastic throughout. He tells me about how he bends the rules of this dark world, ponders the reasons everyone loves the ratty Skaven, and reveals his dream Warhammer crossover.
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The Flare Path: A Fanfare of Foxers

Like a sentry on a bitter night or the Isle of Man in a strong sou’westerly, Flare Path’s birthday has a tendency to move about. Last year the champagne corks ricocheted and the streamers tangled on August 12. This year the big day is September 1. Today Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s most Panzeriferous and Spitfiery column becomes a hexager. Celebrations will take the usual form – a litter of wet-nosed, bushy-tailed, berry-eyed foxers all far more approachable and, potentially, much more rewarding, than the standard co-op type. (COMPETITIONS NOW CLOSED) Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Songbringer

I find Songbringer [official site] absolutely fascinating. It’s like the fragmented remains of a game, carefully discovered and pieced together as you play. A stunningly beautiful conflation of pixel graphics and intricately complex lighting effects, creating a fractured and intense look, presenting a combination of action RPG and rogue-ish exploration of a wonderfully detailed yet procedurally generated world. What you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how best to do it – that’s what I’m putting together the more I play. Here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »

Best PC gaming deals of the week

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Welcome back for another look at the best PC gaming deals and other techy bits from the past seven-and-a-bit days. This week, we’ve got everything from Amazon money off vouchers to Suda51’s earliest example of eccentricity. Oh, and the Steam Link is on sale again, so that’s nice.

Right here, you’ll find 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. Let’s get started.

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Incoming: some excellent new gaming CPUs from Intel

...this isn't one of them

I’m jumping the gun just a little but a few of you have sent emails on precisely this subject and there’s a significant quantity of fairly solid info out there, so let’s talk about the shape of all things CPU and gaming. AMD’s Ryzen chips have very obviously been the big news thus far this year. But completing the picture for the next six months or so is what will shortly amount to the most significant update to Intel’s CPU line up from a gamer’s perspective in about five years. For once, it’s going to be unambiguously good news… Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Life is Strange: Before the Storm [official site] is the episodic narrative adventure Life is Strange prequel which shines a light on grieving rebel Chloe’s sudden and intense friendship with school queen bee, Rachel Amber. Rather than this being a Dontnod game the story has been entrusted to third party devs at Deck Nine, although Deck Nine have kept the look and feel of the original episodic teen tale intact, rooting a lot of the action in familiar locations and involving familiar faces. It struggles with characterisation and motivation at times, BUT it also made me laugh out loud and furnished me with an unexpected weepy moment. Here’s Wot I Think: Read the rest of this entry »

Unknown Pleasures: Steam’s latest diamonds in the rough

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Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures, our weekly deep dive into the deep, dark waters of Steam new releases. These are the games that we most liked from the past seven days (with the exclusion of those we’ve already wittered about in detail).

This week, we have Inner Space: The FPS, globular cats, rollerskate simulation, platforming goldfish and a spiritual Myth sequel.
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Podcast: The Electronic Wireless Show talks Destiny 2, Absolver and XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

If on a winter's night a Traveller

Hark, it’s the sweet vocal vibrations of the humble RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. The lads (lads lads) are back from the bright lights of Gamescom and ready to chat hard about the games they saw. But Pip is only giving us a maximum of three words about each one. Madness. Never mind, we can talk more verbosely about the alien-shooting of the Destiny 2 beta, or the otherworldly kickboxing of Absolver, or the other-alien-shooting of XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. It’s been quite a good week.
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Face-ripping & identity theft: Divinity Original Sin 2’s Undead

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“And now we just use the Face Ripper on this elven corpse so we can polymorph into an elven form and learn more about what happened by eating the limbs we found earlier.”

At Gamescom, Swen Vincke, CEO of Larian, was showing the playable undead race in Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site] for the first time. Faces were ripped, children were startled, feasting on cadavers quickly became routine. I love Divinity but in among all the elves and dwarves, I sometimes forget just how weird it is. When you’re playing a skeleton, it’s going to be weirder than ever.

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XCOM-like tactical espionage thriller Phantom Doctrine was my Gamescom highlight

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At first glance, Phantom Doctrine [Steam page] looks an awful lot like a Cold War flavoured XCOM. That’s quite an exciting prospect and the closer I looked, the more exciting it became. There are agents instead of aliens, and some novel infiltration and reconnaissance systems, but everything from the UI to the cover system is immediately familiar. The tactical missions are hiding unexpected twists though, and zooming out to the campaign map shows that the setting informs every aspect of the game.

It’s early days, and there’s a lot of work to be done, but Phantom Doctrine might well be one of 2018’s strategy highlights.

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The games chasing EVE’s vision of a single shard MMO

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The planet is full of aimless people. Dozens of non-descript robots silently going to and fro, with no discernable purpose or meaning. Yes, I’m at Gamescom, the annual gaming conference in Germany, but I’m not talking about the visitors on the show floor. I’m talking about the on-screen player bots of Dual Universe [official site], a sci-fi survival MMO making big promises about player numbers and control.

“This is going to be unlike anything else you’ve ever seen before,” says Jean-Christophe Baillie, founder of studio NovaQuark, “because it’s a giant sandbox shared by everyone at the same time where they can build everything they want.”

Like nothing I’ve ever seen before. That’s something I’m hearing a lot these days.
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Red means danger: how to survive in Surviving Mars

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The people living in my new habitat dome have jobs to do, that’s what brought them to Mars in the first place, but when they finish work they have two choices: they can either go to the casino or the bar. I could have built a gym or some other kind of leisure facility, but I went with the casino and bar combo. It’s what I’d want if I had to live in a dome on a hostile planet.

And make no mistake, Mars is a hostile planet. That’s why Surviving Mars [official site] can be so demanding.

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Cheap Thief and Deus Ex: it’s Square Enix week at GOG

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GOG is having itself a Square Enix sale this week, which means a whole lot more than just Hitman and Tomb Raider for once. In fact, if you were to ask me, some of the most interesting things in this sale are the games you may have completely forgotten existed – like Gex, the gecko with attitude, Pandemonium, in which a lady runs to the right alongside a terrifying jester thing, and Omikron: The Nomad Soul which features a virtual David Bowie.

Oh, and you can get Deus Ex for a couple of quid, and it’s the same for any of the original Thief trilogy. The vast majority of the titles are dirt cheap, and you’ll be getting the lovely DRM-free versions of the games as is the GOG way.

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