Unavowed aims to be an adventure that borrows the best of RPG narrative

It really doesn’t feel like it, but it’s been five years since Dave Gilbert released one of his splendid point-and-click adventure games, and twelve years since he worked on a brand new story, following his series of Blackwell games. Unavowed is that brand new story, due out later this year, and it’s ambitious in ways I wasn’t expecting: it’s a very traditional-looking adventure, that belies a depth of narrative RPG ideas.

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Far Cry 5: The Island Of Fred Durst

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It’s only day two for Far Cry 5‘s Arcade Mode, a combination of map-maker and sharing tool which enables anyone to play anything made by anyone else from within the main game. As such, the pickings are currently slim – but even so, we already have an all-time winner.

Unless, for some reason, you don’t share the belief that a volcanic island populated exclusively by homicidal Limp Bizkit frontmen is the pinnacle of human creativity.
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Far Cry 5 review in progress

Having been supplied code for Far Cry 5 late, I haven’t yet had time to play enough to write the full Wot I Think, but since it’s out today, I thought I’d give you a whiff of its flavour so far. (tl;dr: It’s mostly pine needles and burning flesh.)

After 9 hours and 15 minutes of Far Cry 5, I’ve killed 912 enemies. That’s 1.6 kills a minute, including cutscenes and wandering plains, forests and mountains of Hope County, Montana. It even includes a spot of salmon fishing. There is a lot of killing in Far Cry 5, which is a game that does not like to leave you alone for a goddamned minute. Read the rest of this entry »

Vermintide: taking the torch of Left 4 Dead from its cold, undead hands

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I’d wager most folk around these parts devoured Left 4 Dead back in the day, just as I did. Valve’s “28 Days Later with your friends” infected my life for a good year, and a bigger, better sequel one year later only strengthened the disease. But as Valve haven’t really been in the business of making games for a good few years – hopefully, that’s about to change – and while it felt like Left 4 Dead was going to change the world back in (oh no) 2008, for a long time nothing filled the rotten hole where my heart used to be.

That is, until Fatshark’s rowdy rat-smash, Vermintide. The four vs the world setup and the UI were highly reminiscent of Left 4 Dead, and what are Gutter Runners and Pack Masters if not reskinned Hunters and Smokers? But there was much more to that game than swapping out zombies for skaven. With both series now/still on their second games, let’s look at how Vermintide ran with the legacy of Left 4 Dead, while managing to forge its own identity.

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6 exciting VR games we saw at GDC

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The blessed boys and girls of Valve were showing off some VR games for the upcoming Vive Pro at the Game Developers Conference last week. They were encamped near the press room in a large chamber split up into little shacks, each running a game such as the robot-avoiding comedy stealth of Budget Cuts, or the sunbathing relaxation of Vacation Simulator. I went on a rapidfire journey through this shantytown of virtual reality, jacking into game after game, each lasting about 20 minutes. The results: this round-up, and an intense visual migraine that rendered me incapable of reading for a full 5 minutes. I’m being serious. I thought I was having a stroke.

But enough about visual anomalies that float around the inside of your eye like a terrifying optical aurora, let’s talk videogames. Here are the strange worlds I entered and all the ways in which I tried to undermine the developers from inside their own game. Sorry, VR fans!

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Noita lets you break the world in beautiful ways

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Noita is how Spelunky looks in my dreams. It’s a game in which the world is simulated down to each individual pixel, so that liquids drip, flow, splash and stain. You’re tasked with travelling ever downward through a series of caverns, collecting new magical weapons and slaying beasties.

That wasn’t always the case though. As I learned when I sat down with the developers at GDC, Noita was once more Dwarf Fortress than Spelunky, but changes had to be made when the wildlife kept drowning in pools of their own urine. Now, Noita is a real-time roguelite, and a beautiful cocktail of fire and fluids.

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Best Fallout 4 Mods

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Now that Fallout 4 is in its third year and the DLC has dried up, is there any point in returning to the Commonwealth Wasteland? Yes! There are loads, largely thanks to the still-growing list of mods, overhauls and user tweaks. Here, I’ve gathered over 50 of my favourites, ranging from weird weapons to wild weather.

Before we start, a couple of things to remember: some mods will require some or all of the DLC expansions, as well as additional mods, while others don’t play nicely with each other. The mod descriptions on Nexus will usually tell you, so keep an eye out.

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Wot I Think: World of Tanks 1.0

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The heavy metal thunderdome that is World of Tanks has finally hit 1.0, heralded by the sound of explosive shells and colliding war machines. It’s not 1.0 in a conventional sense, but it does give us the excuse to finally give it the ol’ review treatment. Here’s wot I think, eight years late. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Open Your World

John is missing. He flew out to GDC last week stowed inside Brendan’s suitcase to save money, I’m sure you’ll remember, but on the return journey Brendan’s bag has gone missing. Vanished. Didn’t flop onto the luggage carousel. The airport have no idea. John took a few cans of pop and bags of gross American chocolate in with him so I’m sure he’ll be fine, but where is he? Amsterdam? Boise? Hong Kong? Honolulu? I’m sure he’ll turn up. For now, here I am, I am taking over the Steam Charts for another week.

If there’s one lesson to learn from last week’s 10 top-selling games on Steam, it’s that fancy open-world games are quite popular.

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for filling in while the usual paperboy is away on holiday, squinting at the words through new glasses because your eyes are still suspicious that the world is too in-focus and it must be up to something.

Abby Denton looks at Flash games on Newgrounds after the September 11 attacks. It’s strange seeing these games after all these years and instantly remembering discussions, arguments, and jokes from online communities in the aftermath. Read the rest of this entry »

Free games of the week

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This week, I bring you a bunch of strange games to explore and think about during your weekend. In my bag of games, I have a super colorful, yet very challenging game about gaining souls and throwing creatures against much stronger creatures in hopes of destroying them. I have a game about being lost in a childlike mind – stuck in a world where you are forgetting yourself, trying to escape against the wishes of your old friends. A cool car racing game, where a giant decorated skull challenges you, and guides you through intense courses and even through space. A game following the thoughts of a serial killer, and another inside the mind of a detective that can’t quite solve a case… Plenty of new adventures and worlds for you to dive right into. Read the rest of this entry »

What are we all playing this weekend?

That’s the Game Developers Conference over and done with for another year, the video games already swept out from the Moscone Center into the street to make room for… a Salesforce convention? Exciting times in sunny San Francisco, no doubt. Our roving reporters still have plent to write up and share from the conference, mind, so do keep an eye on our GDC 2018 tag. Or the website. We’ll post them on the website. In the usual way. This website here. Okay. Bye.

What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re clicking on!

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Wot I Think: Sea of Thieves

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On the one hand, Sea of Thieves is a game so empty that recommending it feels like a dereliction of duty. On the other hand, I just chased down a man who killed me and threw a bucket of my own grog-induced vomit over him by way of revenge.

It’s the small things like that that can make Sea of Thieves triumphant, which is just as well, seeing as there’s just an empty mass of very pretty water where the big things should be. Read the rest of this entry »

The game industry needs to change and it begins now

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“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Steve Kaplan was in GDC to take part in a roundtable discussion about the pros and cons of unionisation in the games industry. He works in the entertainment industry and had travelled from Los Angeles, where he organises unions for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, to be the union rep in the room during the talk. He gave the impression he wanted everyone to be at the table, even the one person in a room of between 150 and 200 people who tried to put across anti-union arguments.

The room was noisy, with applause, appreciative clicking of fingers, and some mocking laughter alongside the occasional raised voice, but the corridor outside had been quiet. The roundtable was removed from the expo’s usual bustle but it was one of the most important events of the show.

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Learning the ancient language of Heaven’s Vault

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“That’s the Ancient word for ‘writer’,” says Jon Ingold, pointing to some indecipherable symbols on his business card. “What it breaks down to is ‘Person-who-speaks-without-speaking.’”

Ingold is the writer for Heaven’s Vault, an upcoming sci-fi adventure from Inkle (the folks behind 80 Days and Sorcery!) You play an archaeologist investigating the remains of an ancient civilisation in an otherworldly “Nebula”. He and some others from Inkle Studios have been watching me waddle around a garden of strange monuments, trying to discern meaning from the faded words I find carved into trees, walls, rocks and reliefs. In creating this game, they’ve constructed a fictional language of over 1000 words. They’re so proud of this new language, they’ve even used it on their business cards.

Ingold examines a card from Joseph Humfrey, the studio’s co-founder and programmer who is sitting nearby. He thumbs over the pseudo-ancient script.

“Joe’s means: ‘Person-who-controls-robots’.” Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Binary Domain

Have you played Binary Domain

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

My cursor lingers over Binary Domain whenever I pass it in my Steam library, accompanied by memories of bullets slamming into metal skeletons and malevolent robots slowly marching towards my vulnerable squad of fleshy humans. No other game has made shooting up machines so satisfying.

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Wot I Think: Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

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Most RPGs cast you as an intrepid interloper, the Only One Who Can Help a series of desperate quest-givers beset by increasingly elaborate problems. Personally, I’ve gotten a little sick of piloting a party of unlikely heroes as they roam from ruined land to ruined land in search of these conundrums, slaying worthy foes and draining tombs of ancient loot. When the scourge of the realm falls at my feet and the last coins of its horde lie safely in my pocket, I find myself wondering: should I really leave matters in the hands of the feckless village chief who can’t even summon up the will to leave his house and take care of the slime-infested meadow over the hill? Well, probably not, but I don’t get a choice. The mysteries of government and management aren’t my field, and besides, there’s a Big Bad lurking over the mountains who’s plotting to blast everything to smithereens unless we get a move on.

Enter Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Cries “Havoc!”

Gentlemen of England now a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here to read my IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Kuban war diary, participate in today’s Close Combat competition, assist in the defoxing of this fiendish word puzzle, and pedantically point out that “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war” is from a completely different play to “Gentleman of England now a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here…”. Read the rest of this entry »

Best PC gaming deals of the week

It’s Friday once again, so I’m back to bother you all with a roundup of the very best PC gaming deals of the week as well as a few extra fun bits thrown in because they’re also pretty good. Most importantly of all, though – on the subject of weekends, does the week start on Sunday or Monday? Is this a question that humanity will ever definitively find an answer to or does it entirely come down to preference?

Feel free to argue about that in the comments, but in the meantime, 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. Let’s get started.

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Two Germans (and me) in a boat: finding my happy place in Sea Of Thieves

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I’ll go into this more in my full Sea of Thieves review (tomorrow, all being well), but my overwhelming feeling so far about Rare’s online pirate sim is that it’s a weirdly empty and inadequate game that can nevertheless be transformed into something oddly unforgettable if you manage to crew your ship with the right mateys. I’ve had many tedious or irritating voyages, defined by dull repetition or sudden gankings from other players acting like, well, pirates, but every miserable moment was thoroughly redeemed by my harmonious morning with The Germans. What a perfect sailing adventure it was.

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