The origins & future of Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege [official site] had a rough first year. It launched in December 2015 to little fanfare, with the European team cutting their marketing push after a tragic terrorist attack in Paris. The game still picked up plenty of critical acclaim, but didn’t make an impact on the Steam charts.Those that did pick the game up in its first few weeks found their experience marred by a maelstrom of problems, ranging from game-breaking bugs, to the annoying server issues and quirky glitches that seem to come packaged with every multiplayer-only game at launch. The future looked dire.

Just over a year later and Rainbow Six Siege has more than 10 million players. I visited Montreal for the Rainbow Six Invitational, Ubisoft Montreal’s first attempt at an annual esports event. Ubisoft Montreal staff roam the event, wearing Siege t-shirts, and the mood here is celebratory. That’s to be expected though; for the makers of Rainbow Six Siege, the success of the game feels like redemption after years of hard work.

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Well BOOR Is Rather Lovely

You don’t actually need an original gimmick, developers. You can just take an old gimmick and do it really well. That’s BOOR’s [official site] approach, a 2D platform puzzle game in which your character can create very temporary clones of herself and work in cooperation with them. We’ve seen it lots of times before, but when a good idea is done nicely, it’s – well – a good idea! Make it utterly, utterly lovely to look at and you’re well on your way. Read the rest of this entry »

On its fifth anniversary, a toast to the humour and humanity of Crusader Kings 2

Today, on the Big Love Day of Victor Von Valentine, Crusader Kings 2 [official site] celebrates its fifth anniversary. I’m celebrating too because though I love many games, this one has a special place in my heart. I’ve written about its brilliance before but today I wanted to focus on an aspect that deserves more attention, and that’s the way that the game functions as a period piece. With Chaucer and Monty Python as company, I’ve been thinking about the filth, humour and humanity of this grandest of grand strategy games. And the importance of farts.

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Have You Played…ABZU?

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

I fell hard for languid, gorgeous diving adventure ABZU at the time, but replaying it recently with my three-year-old daughter, it’s become something else entirely. Not simply delightful – also strangely harrowing. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam needs to stop asking its customers to fix its problems

There was a time when Valve could do no wrong. Champions of PC gaming, undeniably pivotal in the current huge success of the gaming platform, and releasing stunning game after stunning game. When they spoke, the industry listened, and reported with a well-earned reverence. Those times, it’s safe to say, are long gone. Apart from past glories, Valve is now primarily known for Dota 2 and Steam (but for an industry-ignored VR hat), the latter being a monopoly-controlling online store that’s becoming increasingly nonfunctional and dysfunctional, and which they apparently have no coherent idea how to control. And yet so much that’s so wrong with Steam is so easily fixed: it just requires people actually doing something. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Conangratulations

‘Til all are one, it’s only the weekly Steam charts! These are the ten games which sold best on Steam last week.

It’s one of those ‘just copied and pasted all the HTML from last week’ kind of weeks. This is GOOD because I am lazy but BAD because there is little new to say. Fortunately, I’ve brought a friend along with me this time.
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Premature Evaluation: Quarantine

Every week we send Brendan into the no-go zones of early access to take pus-filled samples of half-made games. This time, the infectious disease management of Quarantine [official site].

Beijing, Chengdu, and Dehli are all quarantined. Michael Clayborn, my crack medical operative who has served me faithfully, has died in the industrial Siberian wastes of Irkutsk. The entirety of South America has been sealed off from the rest of the world, and Manaus is now considered a “lost city” so infused with disease that it can’t be treated or approached in any way. People are stating to suffer “pustulent buboes” in Santiago, a highly contagious development that I need to deal with. A pop-up box aide comes to me with a decision to make. Do I want to distribute medicine and help the suffering masses of Latin America? Or should I send in some white coats to analyze these curious buboes? Of course, I send in the scientists.
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