Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Hands on with Final Fantasy XV in bonkers 4K

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There’s a moment about half way through Final Fantasy XV where you have to say goodbye to your stag-do-cum-road-trip adventure and actually start saving the world. It’s the same point that sees you swap your ridiculously large car and the sweeping fields of Lucis for a boat, and then a train, that carries you, quite literally, in a non-stop line toward the game’s conclusion, where its open world suddenly becomes much more closed in. Read the rest of this entry »

Underworld Ascendant wants you to break all the rules

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Underworld Ascendant is a game for anyone who has ever tormented a GM during a tabletop RPG session. The maps have been drawn up, the traps have been primed and all of the plans are coming together. You’re deep in a dungeon and the story is about to take a very unpleasant turn. And then…

“You said the spikey pillars are made of the same wood from which the ancient throne of Catharsia was carved? Fine. I’ll set fire to them.”

“You can’t do that…there are another six distinct phases of this particular peril…”

“I’m pretty sure I can. They’re wood. They’ll burn. Let’s get out of here.”

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Battalion 1944: a hardcore hybrid of noughties COD and Counter-Strike, with teething troubles

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“I wonder how long it will be before I get even a single kill in Battalion 1944“, I whinged at my colleagues earlier. I had plenty of time to whinge, because I was, on average, getting insta-killed within 10 seconds of starting a round, then having to wait 50 seconds before the next one started, at which point I would respawn.

The more capable players, meanwhile, spent their down and out time whingeing in Chat about how much people like me, who hadn’t instantly memorised all the maps and had the temerity to not make every single shot land in their very first match, were spoiling the show. World War II-themed multiplayer first-person shooter Battalion 1944 is not, at present, a particularly happy place to be. That’s not because of the solid and steely-eyed underlying game, but because this early access build’s long waits, disconnects and minimal player-matching mean tempers are short once people are finally in a match. Nonetheless, it’s very obviously and immediately meeting a need.

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Surviving Mars is stranger than it seems

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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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Nowhere Prophet is a post-apocalyptic trip with a soul

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A large dog-like creature had been sniffing around our camp while we slept. The road hadn’t been kind to us and our food supplies were running low. Truth be told, my own altruistic streak was responsible for most of our problems; we’d picked up stragglers and waifs wherever we found them, and had far too many mouths to feed.

But this dog-thing was not joining us, it was trying to steal from us. One of my medics reckoned he knew how to deal with it, no confrontation necessary. To my surprise, he got a group together and simply dragged its bulk away from the camp, and then tipped it into a ravine.

As far as I can tell, it remained passive right up until the moment it hit the floor. Nowhere Prophet is a beautiful game set in a strange and ugly world.

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Phantom Doctrine is much more than a Cold War XCOM

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Phantom Doctrine is a game of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. I would have completed my mission without being spotted if one of my agents hadn’t been compromised but the fact that she turned on me and I managed to neutralise her at least means the enemy has played their hand and she can’t do any further damage. Now, even though our cover is blown, if we can make it to the extraction point this will still be a success.

But I’m really tempted to leave one member of my team behind if he keeps attracting the attention of guards and…oh, now there’s a helicopter and we’re apparently troublesome enough that missile strikes are an option. I am a bad spy.

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Path Of Exile’s endgame expands yet again next month in War For The Atlas

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Path of Exile is already a very big, very demanding game. Ever since its first public beta debut, the free-to-play action RPG has grown steadily, layering new content and mechanics onto an already complex design. With the release of the massive Fall Of Oriath expansion back in August it grew into one of the largest action-RPGs ever made, ballooning from four acts (played three times on escalating difficulty settings) to a single ten-act campaign taking you all the way from opening to endgame.

As well as more than doubling the length of the game’s story, Fall Of Oriath escalated from fantasy horror into a frenzy of apocalyptic God Of War-esque bloodshed, with you personally offing the majority of the world’s deities over the course of the story. This December 8th, Grinding Gear Games hope to give successful godslayers a fitting endgame experience with their next expansion, War For The Atlas. I got to talk with producer Chris Wilson, who was eager to show off some of the new features and content in action, as well as share some details on what War For The Atlas brings to the table.

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Battletech’s campaign mode is a robot Dark Ages

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It’s odd to think of Mickey Mouse while ordering a giant robot to rip another robot’s arms off, but in the words of its creator Jordan Weisman, Battletech is kind of like Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland. Opened in 1955, the park was an homage to the march of science that inevitably struggled to keep up. Its present-day incarnations are a bizarre mishmash of the vintage, the cutting edge and the merely obsolete, Flash Gordon-brand retro colliding with touchscreens and VR. Similarly, Battletech is a vision of human history up to the 31st century that began life as a table-top strategy game in 1984, made up of once-outlandish concepts such as artificial muscles that now seem positively quaint.

The series wears its age more gracefully than Tomorrowland, however, because its campaign is as much about obsolescence and forgetfulness as the far future – a re-imagining of the fall of the Roman Empire and ensuing “dark age” that rebuts the concept of history as a steady, linear advance. It’s a solid footing for a strategy sim in the vein of Total War, comparable to Warhammer 40K’s Imperium but less, well, preposterous, though I still think the turn-based battle system Adam sampled in June is Battletech’s strongest asset.

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Cool coats, comedy copulation and cyber-cats – Wolfenstein: The New Colossus wants to do everything

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In the surprisingly, refreshingly excellent 2014 shooter reboot-o-sequel Wolfenstein: The New Order, it was the eyes that captivated me. The sad, aged eyes of BJ Blazkowicz, a war-weary he-man forced to take up arms yet again – tirelessly heroic, sure, but those windows to his haunted soul revealed his longing for an end to all this suffering. I could not look away from those eyes, even as he battled Mecha-Nazis and Moon-Nazis and Soul-Transplanted Ultra-Nazis and whatever else this unrepentantly preposterous game threw at him.

In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus [official site], a sequel which continues the alt-history, steampunk Nazi occupation of America tale, it’s BJ’s sports jacket that I can’t stop staring at.

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How The Evil Within 2 tries to be an open world b-movie

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Let me qualify that title statement, for fear it merely conjures images of a game in which you’re supposed to be endlessly surprised to find more zombies lurking behind the next hedgerow. A good (or, indeed, bad) b-movie is not someone sprinting aimlessly around and being constantly jumped by monsters, but rather it’s scene-by-scene situational. What fresh horror awaits in the basement, what tricksy traps and obstacles must be overcome to make it out this house alive, and oh no what just happened to that helpful man in the sensible pullover?

In an hour spent playing Bethesda’s upcoming survival horror sequel The Evil Within 2 [official site], I found a game that was striving to be a cat’s cradle of micro b-movies, spun across a freely-explorable, monster-blighted town. I also found a game that was trying so hard to be scary that my only true fear is that it isn’t scary at all.

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Watch an hour of The Evil Within 2’s butchery, nightmare dinners and basement portals to other realities

Last week I popped off to play Bethesda and Tango Gameworks’ upcoming survival horror sequel The Evil Within 2, which adds open world elements to its stomp through a town filled with science-gone-wrong monstrosities. You can read what I thought about it in my Evil Within 2 impressions here, or alternatively you can watch what I did and how many times I got killed by snickering things in the hour-long video below.
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Atomega: Ubisoft’s FPS makes everyone equal, even when they’re not

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I am an ambulatory shoebox. Nearby, King Kong’s shooting a velociraptor. Fire-spitting lizards slither through tunnels around their feet. Somewhere on the far horizon, a disintegrating god the size of a space station hurls lethal judgement down upon us all.

Every one of these entities is a player in Ubisoft’s new online shooter Atomega [official site], and every player is the same character.
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Whipping it into shape: City Of Brass’s Early Access

City Of Brass [official site], the procedurally generated rogue-ish Arabian Nights FPS has entered early access today, allowing you to play a version that the former BioShock developers are keen to stress is unfinished, leaving you “likely to encounter bugs, unfair tuning, and general weirdness.” But also have some jumpy choppy whippy fun? I’ve been having a look. Read the rest of this entry »

I played Monster Hunter World & turned a dino into pants

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Forty five minutes with Monster Hunter World [official site] was enough to convince me that people who bang on about the series might have a point. I killed two big beasties in that time, cooked a couple of delicious meals, and fell comfortably into the flow of stalking and stabbing.

It’s violent, but not gory. It has tracking and stalking, but no complex simulation. As a newcomer to the series, which is a newcomer to the PC audience, I found myself thinking of The Witcher, weirdly enough. The Witcher but, you know, for kids. Imagine The Witcher 3 as a Saturday Morning Cartoon and you’re on the right track.

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Face-ripping & identity theft: Divinity Original Sin 2’s Undead

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“And now we just use the Face Ripper on this elven corpse so we can polymorph into an elven form and learn more about what happened by eating the limbs we found earlier.”

At Gamescom, Swen Vincke, CEO of Larian, was showing the playable undead race in Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site] for the first time. Faces were ripped, children were startled, feasting on cadavers quickly became routine. I love Divinity but in among all the elves and dwarves, I sometimes forget just how weird it is. When you’re playing a skeleton, it’s going to be weirder than ever.

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XCOM-like tactical espionage thriller Phantom Doctrine was my Gamescom highlight

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At first glance, Phantom Doctrine [Steam page] looks an awful lot like a Cold War flavoured XCOM. That’s quite an exciting prospect and the closer I looked, the more exciting it became. There are agents instead of aliens, and some novel infiltration and reconnaissance systems, but everything from the UI to the cover system is immediately familiar. The tactical missions are hiding unexpected twists though, and zooming out to the campaign map shows that the setting informs every aspect of the game.

It’s early days, and there’s a lot of work to be done, but Phantom Doctrine might well be one of 2018’s strategy highlights.

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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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Exploring the dark side of Cities: Skylines – Green Cities

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Green Cities might look like urban paradise, but beneath the lush vertical gardens, something sinister is percolating. Sure, the draped greenery clinging to the side of the new high density apartment blocks looks attractive, but it’s also reminiscent of post-human imagery; nature reclaiming the land. Zoom out far enough, so that the little cars and people are less apparent, and it’s not a great leap from green city to Twelve Monkeys, I Am Legend and The Last Of Us.

But forget the future for a moment because the now of Cities: Skylines [official site] upcoming expansion isn’t the paradise it initially seems to be. Your attempts to create an environmentally friendly utopia might end with the construction of a new Silicon Valley. The road to hell is paved with reclaimed wood and good intentions.

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The Evil Within 2’s feeding scene makes Resident Evil 7 look like CBeebies

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It’s the maggots and the split in the skin of the forehead, it’s the creak of a rope and the crack of a bone. In an hour with a couple of chapters of The Evil Within 2 [official site] I saw all kinds of gore and dismemberment, but the most horrifying sights and sounds were all in the quietest moments. One scene in particular ranks among the most disturbing I’ve seen, whether in a film or a game. Read the rest of this entry »