SKULLS AND CHAINSAWS AND SHOTGUNS AND HELLFIRE. Day thirteen of The RPS Advent Calendar, which highlights our favourite games of the year, brings…
RPS Feature Ripping and tearing into our hearts
RPS Feature Flip and tear
DOOM, Skyrim and Fallout have been recreated as Pinball FX2 [official site] tables. Because nobody else at RPS has the flippin’ guts to take on such a massive task, I’ve spent a couple of hours with each, and have now judged them. Short version, I like them about as much as I like the games they’re based on, which means one is great, and the other two are a bit of a ballache. To find out precisely what I mean by that, join me below.
The creator of hell-inspired roguelike DoomRL [official site] has changed the game’s name to DRL and shared its source code with the world after receiving a legal warning from ZeniMax, the owners of the Doom trademark, late last week. The letter had demanded the removal of “all ZeniMax trademarks from meta tags, keywords, media, and other visible or concealed text that are connected to [the] website”. And that’s why the website now looks like this.
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Prey [official site] is the game where you can turn into a mug. It’s a sign of developer Arkane’s reputation as Makers of Interesting Games that it isn’t simply known as “That Game Where You Turn Into A Mug”. Eight minutes of footage, some of which you may have seen before, shows other reasons to be excited about this sci-fi thriller. There’s the shadowy creatures, the gloopy gun-gadget, some handsome environmental design, and the kind of combo-chaining of abilities that Dishonored 2 does so well.
And, yes, a mug trundling around a space station.
Fan projects based on existing games are always at risk from publishers and other trademark holders who might decide to take legal action, removing a piece of media from distribution, or taking other less punitive measures. There’s a line of thought I see circulating among game journos whenever a decent fan project starts to receive attention: “Writing about this is worthwhile because it is great, but we would be summoning the Eye of Sauron.”
DoomRL [official site], the Doom-themed roguelike, has had press attention for years now, but ZeniMax hadn’t made any legal demands in relation to the Doom trademark until late last night. Now they have, but it doesn’t look like the end of the world.
There’s a – oh no! I just dropped a big toast crumb into my keyboard and the number four is now unavailable to me! Let’s start again and I’ll deal with that in a moment. There’s a Dishonored 2 [official site] PC patch currently being tested on the beta branch of the game in Steam which is aiming to help with the performance issues some PC players have been reporting. This is just a housekeeping patch so no sign of a mission select option for now. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature The Walker Collection
I took last week off to play Dishonored 2 [official site]. That might seem strange, but this was a game I didn’t want to play for work. I wanted to approach it completely differently, play it like I would play games when I was a teenager, no pressures to produce copy by a deadline, no weighing up pros and cons as I went, and most of all, the liberty to luxuriate in playing slowly, meticulously, without worrying that I’d not reach the ending before the internet had moved on. So of course I’ve got so much to write about it now, because apparently I can’t switch off the work bit of my brain. I’ve got a few features half developed, but I thought I’d get the most important and pressing article done straight away. Here’s a gallery of the piles of unconscious bodies I left on my way.
RPS Feature Graphics tweaks, total conversions & crafting overhauls
As I’m sure is the case with many of you, returning to Skyrim years after letting it go has been a strange experience at times. Assuming you applied mods to the original, which I’m sure most of you did, the newly released Special Edition has likely been a touch underwhelming in that much of its stock visual ‘improvements’ present a step down from most modded games. Alec devised a way to transfer old saves to the latest variation, however many older mods remain incompatible – even if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid crashes in the process.
SkyUI, for example, hasn’t made the jump yet in the absence of the SKSE (Skryim Script Extender) and while there are other options out there, they’re far less sophisticated and thus feel more like stopgap measures. The mods on this list have made the jump, however, and should help make your transition into New Skyrim easier, prettier and more enjoyable.
Moving forward, support for mods old and new will almost certainly befall Skyrim’s Special Edition – so we’ll be sure to revisit this list at some point down the line. Until then, enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »
Arkane have been very open since almost the start that they fully intend to fix Dishonored 2 [official site]’s performance problems, so kudos there. G’dang it’s a shame they didn’t nail this stuff down prior to release though, because in any just world the Dishonored 2 story would have been “Yeah, it’s ace” rather than “Oh God no.” The game runs pretty atrociously on my PC – yes, I can get it to playable with rock-bottom settings and non-native resolutions, but it looks like someone wiped a used nappy down my screen and still feels jerky and sluggish.
Goodish news: a patch has now landed (as an opt-in public beta), which begins to tackle the problems. Its fixes sound very promising on paper, but haven’t helped me in practice. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Emily of the State
Dishonored 2 [official site] creates a greater sense of place than just about any other game I’ve played. That’s true whether you’re standing on a balcony, looking out toward a distant objective across the chaos of the city streets between you and it, or picking through an apartment building, floor by floor, and seeing all the signs of life you’d expect to find. It’s a remarkable game, and in many ways a true heir to the legacy of Looking Glass’ immersive sims, and it features some of the most spectacular world-building you’ll ever see.
RPS Feature The Niggles Of Dunwall
I hate to be the Dunwall Downer, to be honest. Any other week I perhaps wouldn’t do this, but bloody hell, what a week. (Not you too, Leonard. Not you too). I desperately needed something to feel good about, and I’d hoped Dishonored 2 [official site] would be it. It still might be, but I’m one of those who is enduring a particularly bad dose of its increasingly notorious technical woes. A knock-on effect of that is that, because my immersion is generally and near-constantly disrupted by the shonky performance, design and presentation faults which might otherwise have been minor seem that much more glaring.
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RPS Feature Stealth is harder than it looks
Ah, Dishonored 2 [official site]. A chance to right the wrongs with my approach to stealth in the original Dishonored. A clean slate where no-one has yet been massacred and no guards have been panic-killed and the guy in the chair in that room didn’t get accidentally stabbed because of a previous stabbing session which left me with a bit of a hair-trigger stab-finger. It was thus reassured that I have embarked on my non-lethal playthrough of Dishonored 2.
Six people have died so far.
I can definitely explain…
I’ve tried to keep the following spoiler-free but you might still want to leave reading it until you’ve played that first mission if you’re worried about accidental environmental spoilers?
RPS Feature See Emily Play
I’ve been playing Dishonored 2 [official site] for nine hours but I’m not here to spoil any surprises for you, so don’t worry about precisely how much I’ve seen or what beans I might spill. What I want to do is to reassure you that developers Arkane haven’t fluffed their lines with this sequel. Quite the opposite in fact – they’re firing on all cylinders.
Even if the remaining levels are so badly designed that I find them intolerable, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe that would be the case, I’ve already explored enough beautifully realised and densely packed areas to see this as a sequel that understands what its predecessor did well, and knows precisely how to do it better. Here, with no spoilers, are my thoughts on what I’ve seen so far.
I know how much you like slitting throats, so I got this Dishonored 2 [official site] launch trailer for you. It’s got a lot of your stabby bloodshed in it, but also some other powers available to the discerning murderer, including ‘annoying flies’, the ‘mini warp’ and ‘becoming a living avatar of chaos’. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before but there’s some bits of plot thrown in for good measure. Which is good because plot is your second favourite thing after slitting throats.
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RPS Feature The liberation of forgotten purpose
The Skyrim special edition hasn’t much moved me in terms of upgrades, but in fairness that’s at least partly because, the last time I played it, I had so many graphical mods installed that the place looked better than Bethesda could reasonably achieve with an update primarily intended to achieve 1080p on current-gen consoles. That said, I do keep firing it up now that I’ve got my old saves working. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature The Even Older Scrolls
With Skyrim’s Special Edition managing to feel not that special, it’s put me to thinking about what it is I want from the next Elder Scrolls game. What are the features I would love to see in The Elder Scrolls VI: Hammerfell? What are the series’ tropes that could use a tweak? I’ve expounded on this below. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature How to fix Skyrim SE save crashes
It has been an odyssey. My most recent Skyrim save is three years old. I cannot in good conscience pretend to recall what my motivations were the last time I played it – what quests I cared about, what guild or weapon or house I was pursuing. But, for reasons that are part bloody-mindedness and part wincing at the prospect of having to redo so much armour crafting from the start, I have been absolutely determined to get my old saves and characters working in last week’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition [official site].
It has been a long and tiresome job, but I have achieved it. Here’s how you can do it too.
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RPS Feature Fus Ro Da About Nothing
Though consolefolk are revelling in a spike from fuzzy 720p to crisp-textured 1080, on PC The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition [official site] is about as transformational as wiping the toilet seat (well, depending on who exactly used it before you did). Play it today and you’ll be lucky to feel there’s been any meaningful change. If anything, you might find that it’s a step down from your modded original Skyrim with the Bethesda high-res texture pack, and a dark return to the infuriating official interface to boot. A brand new, truly 2016 Skyrim this is not – but it might yet be.
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RPS Feature It's a small world after aaaaaaaall...
I make no secret of not having liked The Elder Scrolls Online [official site]. Believe me, I wanted to dig it, but nothing this side of Planescape Torment Kart could have felt more not like the game it was meant to be without being part of some fever dream. That said, I do admire the fact that the creators have spent their time since launch trying to fix it. The process hasn’t always been subtle. People hate the tutorial islands? Kill the tutorial islands! People won’t pay a subscription fee? Kill the subscription!
The other week saw by far the biggest change to the game – indeed, one of the biggest to any MMO I can think of since Square took Final Fantasy XIV back off the shelves to rebuild it and make it good. It’s called ‘One Tamriel’, and it finally opens the world up to be the kind of free-roaming RPG The Elder Scrolls is known for being. Can it make it the game I wanted? Unlikely. But hey, this is TEScO. Every little helps!
RPS Feature Reminiscent of the best of Portal and BioShock
Dishonored 2‘s fourth mission is supposedly about infiltrating the home of Kirin Jindosh, a sadistic inventor who must be bumped off or “neutralised” before he unleashes an army of automatons upon the world. But what you’re really doing in the Clockwork Mansion is invading a brain. Having already seen excerpts from a developer playthrough, I had a sense that the building’s rearrangeable mechanical layouts might reflect the character of its architect, much as Bioshock and Portal’s labyrinths do GlaDOS and Andrew Ryan. I was unprepared, however, for how extravagantly Jindosh’s neuroses infest the place, or for how cruel it feels to slip through the cracks in his amazing creation – past the velvet drapes, beneath the lacquered facades and into the whirring schematics of his subconsciousness.