Posts Tagged ‘Paradox Interactive’

Stellaris’ next expansion tells tales of new horizons

WHAT WAS SHALL BE

One of the best things about Paradox’s increasingly feature-studded and DLC-expanded 4X strategy sandbox Stellaris is its focus on storytelling. In the vein of Crusader Kings 2, you’ll find yourself frequently confronted with decisions to make as the ever-living Emperor Of Space, which can often spiral into lengthy story arcs with sometimes spectacular end results. The next expansion for the game, Distant Stars, will be adding a good chunk more interactive prose to flesh out exploring the far fringes of the galaxy, adding a multitude of story arcs short and long to the mix.

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Stellaris update 2.1 will rework anomalies and nudge space monsters out of your hyperlanes

stellaris2.1header

I really want to get into Stellaris. I find myself buying every major expansion close to its release, convincing myself that late-game megastructures, role-playing as a robot or blowing up planets will be the hook that reels me in. Every time, I merrily launch into a fresh game – only to find my fun dissolving into work once I’m a few hours in.

“But that’s the best bit!”, you say. “Roaming the galaxy and discovering strange worlds with stranger stories is the most alluring step towards a fantastic sci-fi experience!”. Paradox are making that step even easier to take with update 2.1 by removing failure risk from anomaly research, and rejigging hyperlanes so space-nasties don’t get placed on chokepoints. I’m glad to see changes are still arriving that shake up the early game – perhaps they’ll be enough for me to stick with a galaxy long enough to actually build a goddamn Dyson Sphere.

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Cities: Skylines aims to please all the people in Parklife

So many people

It feels rare for a week to go by where Paradox don’t announce another expansion for their growing stable of strategy and simulation sandboxes, but it’s also hard to complain when they look as nice as Parklife, the next expansion for Cities: Skylines. Adding yet another direction for your perfect city to grow in, Parklife – unsurprisingly – spans parks of all kinds, from national forests full of hiking trails right up to cash-guzzling corporate theme parks, and it’s due out next month.

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Grab historical sandbox Crusader Kings II free today

Crusader Kings 2

It’s good to be king, and even better when you’re not paying a penny for it. Today, Paradox are giving away the base version of their enormously enduring historical simulation sandbox Crusader Kings II, completely free. Grab it on Steam here, and you get to keep it forever, no strings attached, although the temptation of collecting over a dozen major expansions is now open to you.

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Surviving Mars patched, now contains fewer idiots

There are too many idiots on Mars but that’s about to change. Colony-building sim Surviving Mars, which pleased our Alec well enough when it launched last month, has received its first major patch. The update notes are a treat – not quite Crusader Kings, The Sims or Dwarf Fortress quality, but there’s some solid stuff in there.

“Colonists will no longer try to walk kilometers on foot to resettle resulting in them dying from lack of oxygen”. Like the headline says: fewer idiots.

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BattleTech mechs its way to release on April 24th

battletechreleasedate

Whirr-stomp. That’s the noise a big stompy mech makes as it patrols the battlefield. It’s entirely dissimilar to the pitter-patter my heart makes when I finally see a release date for BattleTech, the turn-based tactical MechWarrior game from Harebrained Schemes and Paradox. I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time – not just the years it’s actually been in development, but the preceding decades when the world stubbornly refused to give me a BattleTech game that didn’t strap me into the cockpit rather than letting me do what I do best: backseat drive, well out of harm’s way.

BattleTech, with its splendid combat and intriguing merc-management campaign, will be out on April 24th.

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Wot I Think: Surviving Mars

surviving-mars-review

I shed a surprising amount of tears during the founding of my first red planet colony in Surviving Mars. None of those tears had anything to do with the pipe leak that killed 58 people, I hasten to add. For those, I just swore at my repair drones and made more colonists work gruelling night-shifts at the polymer factory so we could patch up the air tubes.

My tears, I’m afraid, came instead at testaments to my own magnificence: when a dusty patch of sand patrolled by listless worker robots and automated factories saw the construction of its first bio-dome, when the first humans from Earth arrived to stake out a new life in this place I had built for them, when the first non-Earth baby was born. Live inside my work, ye Martians, and try not get caught inside a meteor storm.

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BattleTech isn’t just about mechs punching one another

battletechmanagement

BattleTech is the game in which giant mechs punch each other until their limbs fall off and the pilots inside those mechs boil to death. It’s out next month and I’m very excited, having already spent quite a lot of time stomping about in superb turn-based skirmishes. It looks great, it plays great, all is well. Except…what about the dynamic campaign? Will it have enough menus and financial reports to really make my heart sing?

Clashes between clans in control of hulking great war machines are all well and good, but I’m here for the cashflow as well as the combat. I’m very pleased that the latest video to emerge shows lots of menus, as well as random events like pilots getting into punch-ups, bored during the long-haul trips from one planet to the next. It really is a mech management game underneath all that shiny chrome and delicious scrapping. Praise be.

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Nearly a month on, Eugen Systems staff remain on strike

Picket lines intensify outside Eugen's offices, yesterday.

Tensions remain high between a large percentage of Eugen Systems’ (Steel Division, Wargame) developers and company management, as the strike that we reported on last month shows no sign of ending. In a lengthy statement released (and this time translated from French) via industry union site STJV, the developers involved detailed their growing list of grievances with the company, including the fact that it took two full weeks before management would even talk to their rebellious staff.

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BattleTech stomping onto PC in April

The turn-based tactical MechWarrior-o-rama BattleTech will launch in April, publishers Paradox announced today. When in April? That’d be telling. But at some point. Our Adam called it “the mech game I’ve always wanted” when he played a preview version almost a year ago, so it’s nice we’ll soon get to see what the robofuss is about. We’ll have to mech up for lost time. Mech. MECH. MAKE. On the subject of explaining things, a new video series has started with some Harebrained Schemes fellas (including BattleTech co-creator Jordan Weisman) explaining a bit about how the game works: Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Stellaris – Apocalypse

apocalypse

I’ve made a lot of galaxies and star empires this last week, and I’ve thrown most of them in the bin. The Stellaris 2.0 update and the accompanying Apocalypse DLC have blown this 4X game to bits, along with my fleets as I’ve tried to wrap my head around the almost-new game built out of its chunks. Though I’ve racked up hundreds of hours of galactic conquest over the last couple of years, I’ve had to start fresh and figure out how to run a stellar empire all over again.

The xenophobic Imperium of Earth fell behind the rest of the galaxy and quickly found itself boxed in, the possessive but friendly Automata Matrix got squished in a war between Federations, and the slavers of the Saarlan Ravagers just weren’t fun to play because they’re dicks. I should be a bit frustrated, but instead I’m hooked again. The DLC isn’t essential, but the free update completely revitalises Stellaris, and it takes big risks to do it.

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Stellaris Apocalypse enslaves and/or destroys the world today

Paradox strategy games tend to be restrained, but seems the publisher-developer has tired of being a wallflower and now fully intends to do big, noisy explosions with the best of ’em.

Apocalypse, out today, is a new expansion for their sci-fi 4X Stellaris, and is all about changing the physical rather than merely socio-political landscape of the galaxy. Which is to say, killing planets, enslaving their entire populations or otherwise removing whole worlds from the field of play.

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Wargame & Steel Division devs Eugen go on strike

Heavily armored picket lines square up.

It was only just last week that I was remarking at how pleasantly consistent Eugen Systems’ support of Steel Division and their Wargame series has been over the past few years. Sadly, it seems that constant stream of fresh new content may have come at great human cost.

Immediately after the release of the Back to Hell expansion for Steel Division, nearly half of the studio went on strike to protest sub-minimum wages, excessive crunch-time hours not fully compensated for and a failure to adhere to contractual agreements, according to this (French language) post on an industry union site.

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Cities: Skylines erects free trial weekend

Fancy building a little model city to coo at, watching little people and cars zipping around the streets you laid out? You can do that right now with Cities: Skylines, thanks to a free trial of the full game running until Sunday. Colossal Order’s 2015’s game is a pleasant little city-builder, one largely not mega-serious about crunching numbers and honing margins, and that’s nice. Our Alec will tell you it’s one of the best non-violent games but what about the violence of paving over meadows and choking rivers with bridges? Eh, Alec? Eh? You monster. Read the rest of this entry »

Surviving Mars is stranger than it seems

survivingmars1

The cubes are black, and shiny, and mobile. They hover in a neat, impossible stack outside one of my colony’s larger domes, clicking delicately about one another, always returning to the same overall shape, harming nobody. My robot rovers form a cautious circle around them while my scientists scratch their heads and bicker. I look at the cubes, one of the many Mysteries of Haemimont’s deceptively by-the-numbers management sim Surviving Mars, and the cubes, somehow, look right back at me.

My colonists are also looking at the cubes, noses pressed against their reinforced dome walls. The cubes are giving my colonists some funny ideas. One group considers them a threat, and wants me to blast them to bits with high-energy ions. Others hail them as gifts from some alien god, and want them brought inside the domes where they can be worshipped. A third, undecided faction argues that the cubes should be stored for further study. Everybody is at each other’s throats, and everybody is looking to me for a decision.

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Hearts of Iron IV: Waking the Tiger marches out in March

‘Waking the Tiger’ is not a ho-ho-hilarious euphemism for onanism, unless you want it to be, but rather the next Hearts of Iron IV expansion. It’ll focus on making China more unique in the WW2 grand strategy game, complete with several possible political paths the country might have gone down, along with expanding other systems in the game. Paradox are taking their time with this one as, after announcing Waking the Tiger way back in November 2017, they today announced plans to release it on March 8. For now, here’s a new dev video going over some of its additions: Read the rest of this entry »

Stellaris’s Apocalypse DLC will blow you away on Feb 22

Though the galaxy of Stellaris is filled with traces of strange and terrible events, we don’t really leave our own mark in extravagant ways. That will change a little with the launch of the sci-fi 4X strategy game’s planet-destroying Apocalypse expansion, which Paradox today announced they will release on February 22nd. T-minus 28 days later until I demolish your planets to build a hyperspace bypass, or to mine it for resources, or simply because it was spoiling my view. Or maybe I’ll trap you in a bubble to study you. Or robotise you. Options. Anyway. 28 days. Make your peace. Later taters. Read the rest of this entry »

Steel Division: Normandy 44 Back to Hell DLC announced

steeldivisionbacktohell

As Meat Loaf sang, “Like a bat out of hell, I’ll be promptly returning to hell when the morning comes.” Not one for sticking around to clean up the flat or make a fry-up after a night of partying, Mr Loaf.

Steel Division: Normandy 44, the rather spiffy WWII RTS developed by Wargame and R.U.S.E. studio Eugen, is also going back to hell. The hell of war. The next expansion is due on February 13th, and it adds seven new historical missions, five of which support multiplayer, and four new divisions for use in solo and multiplayer skirmish, with 58 new units. Perhaps most exciting of all, a free update will be released alongside the DLC, as is the Paradox way, and that extends co-op play beyond the Skirmish mode. If I can have a friend alongside me, I might actually be able to win a battle. Perhaps even an entire war.

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Crusader Kings 2 player records 700-year NPC game to find who gets “most kills” and “most children”

Guess which batch of murderers got the most kills?

Royal incompetence simulator Crusader Kings 2 is one of the best games ever. Over hundreds of years, sultans and kings create new empires and murder their families. Today a data science man gets in touch to say he recorded a 700-year game in ‘observation’ mode, pulled out all the data like a big reel of cassette tape, shoved it through some kind of magical process I won’t pretend to understand, and came up with statistics on several rulers. This also resulted in detailed “networks” of kills and marriages. The important thing is: this lets us see who had the most babies. Read the rest of this entry »

Civ V designer Jon Shafer parts with Paradox, “creative differences” blamed

Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Firaxis’s Civilization V and his own strategy game At the Gates, is gone from strategy specialists Paradox only six months after joining. Paradox say neither that he ditched the company nor that they fired him, rather that they have all “decided to part ways due to creative differences.” How enigmatic! We didn’t even know what he was working on. Read the rest of this entry »