Posts Tagged ‘Paradox’

Have You Played… Magicka?

magicka

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

QFQFSAA + M2. I just made a double steam arcane double lightning beam, and now you’re dead. Oh, you were on my team? Crap.

Magicka does away with mana and cooldowns, allowing up to four wizards to cast spells as quickly as they can hammer on their keyboards. Eight letters correspond to eight different elements, which can be combined together and cast in different ways to create a bewildering array of spell effects. Read the rest of this entry »

Has Stellaris been improved by its updates?

stellaris-head

Hi! I’m an incredibly charismatic space otter, and I love you! Not just you! I love everyone, be they otter analogues, bird people, or particularly advanced fungal infections! I even love murderous robots, which I’m aware is not a great idea because they’re murderous robots!

At least that’s what StellarisScyldari would say, if they could do anything apart from bat their ears adorably on the game’s menu screens. Paradox’s Stellaris is freeform grand strategy, in the mould of the developer’s other games Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings, and as such is much more about numbers and menus than cut-scenes or narrative arcs. Read the rest of this entry »

Red means danger: how to survive in Surviving Mars

smars5

The people living in my new habitat dome have jobs to do, that’s what brought them to Mars in the first place, but when they finish work they have two choices: they can either go to the casino or the bar. I could have built a gym or some other kind of leisure facility, but I went with the casino and bar combo. It’s what I’d want if I had to live in a dome on a hostile planet.

And make no mistake, Mars is a hostile planet. That’s why Surviving Mars [official site] can be so demanding.

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Mech it so: Paradox are publishing BattleTech

At the Paradox Convention 2017, the strategy game developer/publisher announced that they would be working with Harebrained Schemes as publisher of Battletech, the turn-based squad level tactical mech game that was an instant Kickstarter success in 2015. We’ve already spoken to the developers in-depth but this weekend will be our first chance to play, and I’ll be speaking to BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman about the collaboration with Paradox and the game itself.

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Stellaris: A utopian race of multicultural turtles, part 1

“It will all take care of itself” – infamous Tortal saying

Welcome to the Open Gates of Tortal. All are welcome here. Are you a slithering conformist lizard looking for employment? Come and work in our power plants. Maybe you’re a consumerist mollusc seeking some retail therapy? Then visit our pleasure districts. Are you a titanic ocean beast of uncertain origin? Join our defensive military academy, you’ll fit right in. The Open Gates are for everyone. Wait, who are you? Oh, an aggressive inter-dimensional collective of carnivorous energy? GET OUT. SPACE IS FULL.
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Best Crusader Kings 2 mods

Crusader Kings 2 [official site] is (somehow) now five years old. Adam raised a glass to its humour and humanity last month in celebration of its half-decade anniversary, so I thought I’d delve into its modding community to mark the occasion too.

Much like the digital empires depicted in-game, many of its mods have risen and fallen since my last visit, however the following list sends the best into battle. Given how involved CK 2 can be at times, I’ve tried my best to link videos where possible so as to properly showcase each mod’s worth. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

Cities: Skylines getting blimps in Mass Transit DLC

Blimps. They’re big, they’re full of hot air, they’re historically prone to crashing to earth in an unstoppable blaze. If you like blimps then we have good news for you. The physical manifestation humankind’s hubris can soon be added to your bustling metropolis in Cities: Skylines [official site] as part of the Mass Transit DLC pack, which is also adding ferries, monorails and cable cars. This is so that your commuters can get to work more efficiently. I don’t know what right-thinking member of the public would get the 7am zeppelin every morning, but the mayors of Cities: Skylines have never been ones to indulge sensible policies.
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Best Cities: Skylines mods

Cities: Skylines [official site] is one of those games that if given the chance will swallow you whole. Like any simulation game worth its salt, it’s comprised of so many moving parts that only by digging deep into its systems, mechanics and quirks can you hope to scratch its veneer and begin to understand what makes it tick. It’s a wonderful game once you do, but getting there can be a daunting task – even for the most tenacious of players.

User-made mods, of which there are now thousands, make this process a wee bit easier. It’s been the best part of two years since Alec shared his favourites (which are absolutely worth checking out), however the following list gathers the ones I’ve come to find essential in crafting my own homegrown cities and keeping my populace happy.

That last part might be a lie, but I swear that’s not my fault. (It totally is.)

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Crusader Kings II Monks and Mystics: The joy of sects

What is Crusader Kings II [official site] missing? I’ve been playing again recently, drawn back in by The Reaper’s Due and its perfect simulation of the general snotty sickness of an English winter. I’d never have thought of disease as such an important addition, which is a bit silly really considering the historical impact of the Black Death, and the fact that entire military campaigns could be undone by infection and illness. Disease is important.

So too are religious societies and cults, and that’s what the next expansion, Monks and Mystics, will bring. Read the rest of this entry »

Cities: Skylines’ new Natural Disasters expansion is spectacularly horrifying

I’m impressed they waited this long. Using earthquakes and hurricanes to play skyscraper dominoes has long been the alpha and the omega feature of citybuilder games (if you didn’t trash the suburbs with an alien invasion, you weren’t playing Sim City 2000 right). It’s taken Cities: Skylines [official site] 19 months to do the entirely obvious thing, and I’m glad to say it’s done it in style. Its new natural disasters are absolutely terrifying.
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How Crusader Kings 2 Makes People Out Of Opinions

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, Crusader Kings 2 [official site].

Meet Domnall, Earl of Osraige. He’s a pretty affable guy. He’s friends with his neighbouring rulers, and all seems peaceful. But he’s also ambitious and a just little crazy, and he’s about to make a big mess of the Emerald Isle.

Domnall is one of the hundreds of characters across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa that Crusader Kings 2 is simulating here in the year 1066. Whether the player is interacting with them or not, they’ll be vying with each other, allying, marrying, dying, giving birth, and generally doing all of the things that your ruler can do. Crusader Kings 2 is a game all about people. It’s about marriages and dependencies, accordances and kinship. And at the heart of how it models all these dense and messy human complexities is a single value that governs the way its little computer aristocrats behave:

THE MECHANIC: Opinions Read the rest of this entry »

Tyranny Is Quite Good At Letting You Be Extremely Bad

Tyranny [official site], a new RPG from genre masters Obsidian, is about being bad. Or at least, being in a bad place, surrounded by bad people, with the choice to be bad. The evil Overlord Kyros has conquered swathes of the lands of Terratus, and now has his sights set on the Tiers, a desolate and desperate region, populated by surviving armies and the resilient, whom you are commanded to dominate. Perhaps to enslave, perhaps to slaughter, but as Kyros’s trusted Fatebinder, it’s your job to manage the misfits and warring factions under his rule.

Which is interesting, isn’t it?

Well, I’m struggling to make up my mind. Tyranny manages to be fascinating and ordinary, novel and plain, engrossing and detached. And big. Far bigger than we were led to expect in the game’s promotion, where it was suggested that it was a shorter, time-limited experience, driving replays to explore different paths. In reality it clocks in at apparently 25 hours. I say “apparently” because despite working flat-out all week on this, I’m nowhere near the end, and I’d say the hour count could be an awful lot higher if you play anything like me.

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Wot I Think: Stellaris – Leviathans

Space dragons, wars in heaven, awakening gods, secret enclaves and (most delicious of all) user interface improvements. Stellaris: Leviathans [official site] brings some gargantuan beasts and big features to Paradox’s sci-fi strategy game, but is it a small step forward or a great leap into the unknown?

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Terror From The Deep: Stellaris’ Leviathans Expansion

Paradox have announced the first meaty expansion for their sci-fi strategy epic Stellaris [official site]. It goes by the name Leviathans and they’re calling it a ‘Story Pack’, which makes me think this might be where former Failbetter scribe Alexis Kennedy has been sticking his nib. It seems like a smart place to put him if so. Kennedy was the lead writer on Sunless Sea and the trailer for Leviathans looks an awful lot like it’s channeling Terror From the Deep. Take a look.

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Failbetter Founder Alexis Kennedy Writing For BioWare

Artist's impression of Kennedy at work

It was a sad day, for me, when Alexis Kennedy left Failbetter. The creators of Fallen London and Sunless Sea built their games on some of the strongest and most idiosyncratic writing games have ever been host to, and I hoped we’d see more of Kennedy’s words sooner rather than later. The good news is that Failbetter’s foundations seem sturdy enough that Kennedy’s absence may be felt but won’t leave an enormous gap, and we’re already seeing him work on some exciting projects.

First, there was Stellaris, and now Kennedy has announced that he’ll be the “first ever guest writer” at BioWare working alongside Mike Laidlaw and Patrick Weekes.

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Sunless Sea’s Former Lead Now Writing For Stellaris

Stellaris [official site], Paradox’s sci-fi fusion of 4x design and grand strategy ideals, is a game that generates stories. As your species moves through the galaxy, encountering all manner of alien life, you’ll create tiny tales and epic sagas. There are also stories already written, however, in the form of quest chains, and over the weekend we learned that one of the minds behind Fallen London and Sunless Sea will be adding to those space-stories. Alexis Kennedy, co-founder and formerly creative director of Failbetter Games, is now crafting word-shapes for Stellaris.

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Crusader Kings II Is Getting A Poxy, Plaguey Expansion

We all get sick every once in a while. When certain unnameable stars are ascendant and the pollen count is high, the writers of RPS are stricken with a variety of ailments ranging from the mildly irritating Wheezing Calamities to the truly dreadful Kneecaps-A-Shudder that causes the sound of grinding bones to echo around our word-cubicles, day and night. We have a proud record of ‘zero plagues’ in 2016 though and that’s something to celebrate.

Crusader Kings II [official site] is set in more sickly times though and the next expansion to the bestest of all historical strategy games will explore illness, death and all that other good stuff.

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Making The UK Communist in Hearts of Iron IV – Part 2

This is the second and final part of Fraser’s attempts to paint the world red in Hearts of Iron IV [official site]. You can read part one here.

It’s a new dawn for Britain. As WWII gets ever closer, the glorious Union of Britain, now a communist superpower, is enjoying its liberation from the shackles of capitalism and democracy. Ignore the tears in the fabric of space time – it’s a small price to pay for setting history right.

There’s little time to settle into this new communist groove, however. The majority of the world is still crying out for a saviour, from our pals across the Irish Sea and the Atlantic, to our continental buddies. The biggest problem is picking which country to save first.

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Making The UK Communist In Hearts Of Iron IV

What if the UK was communist, I wondered as I munched on a gruesome burger from McDonalds while browsing for a new pair of Converses on my oversized smartphone. Would I finally have the confidence to pull off a bushy, Stalinesque moustache? Would those red trousers which I bought on a day I lost all sense, but never wore, suddenly look good on me?

To give direction to my aimless pondering I fired up Paradox’s grand strategy-wargame hybrid, Hearts of Iron IV [official site]. Not just a World War II simulator, it’s a What If scenario generator, answering the big questions like: how can Germany win the war? Can Argentina take over South America? And, of course, what if the UK was communist? Let’s find out.

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Map Modes, Nomads & Wargoals: Stellaris Patch

The Asimov patch for Stellaris [official site] is due before the end of the month and it contains a fairly major reworking of several of the game’s foundations. The focus is on diplomacy, with the addition of much-requested map modes to colour code the galaxy according to relationships and opinions, along with changes to border control and wargoals. There will also be new events and interactions based around nomadic fleets and (mostly) cosmetic alterations to battles. Full details can be found in these links, and the highlights are below.

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