Posts Tagged ‘Paradox’

BattleTech devs talk slowness, mods and what to expect from the next update

battletech-speed

I’ve been on something of an emotional journey with Harebrained Schemes’ turn-based mech combat game, BattleTech. I was turned off by its unusually slow animation speeds and drawn-out wars of attrition during my first dozen-odd hours of play, but a combination of speed-up mods and deepening understanding of rules the game itself did not take the time to explain saw me fall ever-deeper in love with it. Many people, especially fans of its tabletop source material, adored BattleTech from the get-go, but others expressed similar concerns to me about its pacing – and soon enough the developers announced that their forthcoming first major update would offer new, official speed-tweaking options.

So, I bounced a few questions off BattleTech game director Mike McCain and ended up with some candid answers about exactly what we can expect from those options, the original design intentions behind the game’s languid pace, how the team feel about it being altered by mods and why they’d “love to improve on” how BattleTech currently explains how to best take down a giant killing machine.
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Age of Wonders: Planetfall takes the wonder to the stars

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.16.28 AM

From the creators of Age of Wonders and Overlord, today we got the announcement of the new tactical-turn based combat strategy title Age of Wonders: Planetfall. The 4X empire building adventure will take the familiar gameplay elements and immersive tactical combat of previous titles, but into the stars this time! Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until 2019 to do so. Look, can living in the super-future wait a year? I don’t think so either. I desire to leave this planet now. Paradox, I know that Sweden is more fun and accepting than where I’m trapped. Please. Please just send this my way.

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Wot I Think: BattleTech

battletech-game

Update: though the below complaints stand, my feelings about Battletech’s tactical core have become significantly more positive as a result of continuing to play it following publication of this review.

I was perplexed to discover that my partner, also a home-worker, was wearing earplugs as she sat at her computer. There was, for once, none of the thunderous din of new kitchens or loft extensions being built in one of the adjacent terraced houses, and nor was my own PC’s volume set high as I threw stompy tankbots at each other in XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior turn-based strategy game/boardgame adaptation BattleTech. Stony-faced, she informed me that listening to me sporadically bellow “Oh god, it’s so boring” every few minutes is not terribly conducive to work. I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I don’t like calling things boring. It’s an aggressively dismissive criticism, and often says as much about the accuser as the accused. I’ve returned to BattleTech repeatedly, in different moods and with absolute determination to find the fun in a game made from components I usually thrill to, but I keep winding up in the same place: bored. And then hating myself for feeling that way.

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Best Cities: Skylines mods

Cities: Skylines turned three a couple of weeks ago, meaning that it’s time to dust off our best Cities: Skylines mods list and see what wonderful community creations we can fill it with. On the day of its launch, Skylines already had pages and pages of buildings and complicated junctions waiting to be downloaded; now there are 1,000 of them, containing a ridiculous 145,948 mods.

That’s quite a lot of stuff to get through. And you should absolutely give Steam Workshop a browse — you never know what you might find. If you don’t want to faff, however, I’ve gathered a bunch of the best, including some personal favourites that I can’t live without. Most of these mods will work with the base game, but there are a few you’ll need one of the expansions for, and remember to check for conflicts.

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Steel Division: Normandy 44’s Back To Hell DLC launches

Steel Division

Even though it never caught on quite as strongly with the multiplayer crowd as the Wargame series, Eugen System‘s Steel Division: Normandy 44 was an easy recommendation, at least according to our resident strategy boffin Tim Stone. Using the same wildly scaleable engine tech first seen in RUSE, Steel Division allowed RTS battles to play out on almost any scale, from ultra-detailed vehicular skirmishes to operational overviews as abstract pieces move across the map, battle-lines shifting around them.

Eugen and publisher Paradox have supported the game well since its original release with a good mix of free and paid addons, despite online player-counts being lower than hoped. Today, the second major DLC pack for the game – Back To Hell – has rolled out, dense with shiny new tanks and scenic European hedgerows just waiting to be bombed into iron filings and ashes.

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Stellaris: Apocalypse will let you kill planets

stellaris-apocalypse

Too many worlds. That’s the problem with space. You develop interstellar flight and hope to find a big emptiness that you can coast around in until all of the stars fade to black, but there’s all this stuff scattered about. Planets and asteroid belts and big alien jellysquids.

Stellaris‘s upcoming expansion, Apocalypse, will let you clear out some of the clutter. It brings planet-destroying weapons into the game, along with new Titan capital ships, massive orbital installations and marauding space nomads, who can be recruited to your cause, but can also trigger a new late-game crisis. There’s some non-violent stuff as well for the gentler souls among you.

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New Stellaris expansion doubles down on humans

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I’ll be honest – I’m not totally sure what Paradox are going for with their Humanoid Species Pack for Stellaris, which is released today. The motivation seems to be that humanoids are ‘the most-played phenotype’ in the 4X sci-fi game, and as such they’ve stuck in a whole bunch of human-like species, include cyclopes, orcish types, demonic sorts and bionic-eyed dwarves. I guess this makes playing as something other than straight-up boring humans a little more appealing to straight-up boring humans who always choose to play as straight-up boring humans.

However, what’s confusing me more is references to humanoids finally getting their own unique ship class, ‘inspired by the classics of Western science fiction.’ Is… is that a very careful way of trying to be a bit more Star Warsy or Battlestarry without making any lawyers cross?

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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

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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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