F2P Total War Battles: Kingdom Trundles Out Of Beta

Y’know those free-to-play games where you build kingdoms and armies and have simple battles and spend a lot of time waiting for buildings to complete while the game gently but insistently urges you to spend real money to speed it all up? Total War Battles: Kingdom [official site] is very much one of them. After a year in open beta testing, The Creative Assembly have properly launched their Come-Play-My-Lord ’em up free-to-play on PC and all those pocket telephones. It’s not a Total War game at all, beyond the name, but maybe you enjoy that sort of playing discretely, my lord?

Read the rest of this entry »

WW1 FPS Verdun Update Adds Co-op Survival, Gore

‘Horrors of War’ isn’t the cheeriest name for a chunky free expansion, but Verdun [official site] is a pretty somber take on World War 1 as first-person shooters go. Now its trench warfare includes a co-operative wave survival mode with the challenge of holding trenches for as long as possible against overwhelming odds, and gruesome new dismemberment for that real WW1 ‘war is hell’ feeling.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Banner Saga 2 Unfurling In April

The Banner Saga, as I remember, is a tactical RPG about a really nice flag and the rapscallions who want to steal it from you so they can really admire its fine needlework. That’s… hang on, no, Wot Adam Thought reminds me it’s a jolly pretty tactical RPG about a leading a caravan and army across a cruel Viking-y fantasy world – which becomes too repetitive. Still, it is a lovely flag, so let’s see what developers Stoic can do with a sequel. We’ve not long to wait now, as they’ve announced that The Banner Saga 2 [official site] will launch on Tuesday, April 19th.

Read the rest of this entry »

League Of Legends: Aurelion Sol, The Star Forger

Aurelion Sol, The Star Forger, is joining the League of Legends [official site] roster of champions as part of the game’s 6.6 patch. The character has its roots in a far older design – lightning dragon Ao Shin – but ended up morphing into a sort of rock star space dragon as a new team picked up the project and got to work. David Bowie, or more specifically, Ziggy Stardust, was a key reference point for the developers.

I’ll go through his abilities in a moment, but I also wanted to say that reading through all the Q&As and character information Riot have published also gives a bit of an insight into how championship development works, or at least highlights some of the challenges involved when creating a new character so I’ll highlight some of those snippets too.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Division: Best Build For A Solo Character

Some folks don’t like other people. If that’s you, you probably intend to play The Division without a group of close pals or a bunch of random cohorts shouting at you to revive them. Firstly: I hope you are okay, you are missing out, no man is an island, et cetera, et cetera. Secondly: I am here to help you stay in splendid isolation. Here are two strong solo builds you can create.

Read the rest of this entry »

ARK: Survival Evolved Encounters Legal Troubles

Dino survival game ARK: Survival Evolved [official site] has been a huge success for developers Studio Wildcard but clouds are gathering and those clouds look an awful lot like lawyers. Issues surrounding the game’s origins and the soliciting of staff from Dungeon Defenders creators Trendy Entertainment will be heard in court next month, report Kotaku. If the outcome of that hearing grants the injunction sought by Trendy, development of ARK could be suspended and there’s even a possibility that the game could eventually be removed from sale. Trendy’s former creative director Jeremy Stieglitz is at the heart of the complaints.

Read the rest of this entry »

Side-Scrolling Strategy Game Kingdom’s Major Update

Like an errant fairytale monarch, I neglected Kingdom [official site] when it came out late last year. I’d played it before release and am a great admirer of the minimalist approach to base-building and population management. It’s an entire strategy game condensed into a tiny package, driven by a wonderfully elegant interface.

At GDC I took a peek at the 1.20 update, which changes the way all of the games NPCs work, improving AI processing, and allowing them to run in the direction of urgent tasks or away from monsters. There are also new horses to ride, new discoveries to be made in the world and…some secret things I wouldn’t want to spoil. A beta version of the update is available now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Art of The Deal: Trading Games Don’t Understand Trade

Trade! Buy low, sell high. Tradey trade trade. Is that intro length? Good. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about trading in videogames, and why it’s always rubbish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Connect Four Meets Curling In Cuckoo Curling

SPORTS!

Connect Four is a solved game. If the first player drops their first disc in the middle column, their opponent can’t stop them winning (read this masters thesis to get technical). It’s still a spot of fun, but how can we reinvigorate Connect Four? How can we find it a vibrant competitive scene? Simple: round out the mental challenge with an element of physical skill by combining Connect Four with curling. For extra flair, add a disc-devouring tabletop alligator. That’s Cuckoo Curling [official site], a delightful free two-player etSport (electronic tabletop sport, yeah?).

Read the rest of this entry »

Early Death: Dark Souls III’s Launch Trailer

Dark Souls III [official site] is out now-ish! In Japan. Sorry. But hey, we can still benefit from the release of the Japanese launch trailer, which uses English for voiceovers and its other languages, of music and ultraviolence, are universal anyway. It’s pretty, and has me commencing my scripted descent into extended illness for the game’s western release on April 12th. Observe, but be wary of minor spoilers and revelations:

Read the rest of this entry »

Pool Nation Is The Perfect VR Litmus Test

I’ve deflected blaster shots using a lightsaber, standing in the shadow of the Millennium Falcon, fought off shambling horrors in the ruins of a city at night, and constructed fantastic contraptions, suspended on a grassy plain in a bright and breezy abstract world. No attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion yet, but VR has taken me to some wild and wonderful places.

And yet, the game that convinced me of the immersive qualities of the Vive’s roomscale and touch technology dropped me into a pub, in front of a pool table. Pool Nation, in replicating an experience that I’m familiar with, came closest to fooling my senses completely.

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s Poop In My Soup Is Actually A Game, And I Actually Played A Game Called There’s Poop In My Soup

I’ve always argued that there are far too few games about throwing poo at people. It seems an obvious choice for gaming, and yet so few major releases remember to include the feature. So, as is often the case, we have to resort to the world of indies to help us. And that’s why there is There’s Poop In My Soup [Steam page].

Read the rest of this entry »

Suh-Wing Batter! Out Of The Park Baseball 17 Released

“And it’s ‘One! Two! Three strikes; you’re out! at the old ball game!” They sing, and They are filthy rotten liars. Baseball has a great many more numbers than that, reams of statistics, waves of them, an ocean of numbers grinding down the shores of my brain. RBI, RC, RP, GPA, GS, HBP, SLG… but that’s fine, because numbers and statistics make a fine foundation for the complex high-rise of Out of the Park Baseball, the sim-heavy management series. Our Adam is an OotP fan but he’s still tied up in GDC tidying-up so hey, here’s me to tell you Out of the Park Baseball 17 [official site] is out.

Read the rest of this entry »

What It’s Like To Play Non-VR Games In Steam VR

We already knew that Valve was planning something called Steam Desktop Theater, in which non-VR games could be used within their Vive headset (and, indeed, any other headsets which end up supporting the SteamVR APIs), but I wasn’t expecting to see it until the first giant boxes full of matte-black hardware arrived at pre-orderers’ houses.

Turns out that Valve snuck out a beta update to Steam over the weekend, part of which was an early version of Desktop Theater. In like Flynn, me. The good news: it works. The bad news: I’m now more certain than ever that the hardware needs another generation or two before it’s truly ready for the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Battleborn Open Beta Date Revealed Plus A Closer Look At Story Mode

Gearbox’s character-centric shooter Battleborn’s [official site] open beta will begin on PC on 13 April, including access to two of the game’s story episodes, the multiplayer modes “Incursion” and “Meltdown” and all the characters, loot, gear and progression systems.

I’ve written about Incursion before but let’s talk about story mode – here’s what it is, how it’s referencing episodic TV and some more about how it works:

Read the rest of this entry »