Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Frostpunk asks why we survive, not just how

In the first week, we put the children to work. They weren’t forced into dangerous jobs, so we told ourselves, but when you’re living on the brink of extinction, what work is truly safe? One afternoon, a man collecting coal complained of numbness in his arm. Frostbite had taken hold. We could have left him to die but instead we opted for an experimental treatment.

He lost the arm and he’s no longer capable of contributing to our dying society. One more mouth to feed with no body of work beneath it. What should we do?

Frostpunk [official site] is a city-building survival sim from the studio that brought us This War of Mine and it is beautifully bleak.

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Has Assassin’s Creed managed to find itself during its gap year?

sliding down a pyramid is probably a lot like falling down a hill

During the Assassin’s Creed: Origins [official site] demo I played at E3, I pressed the wrong button and thought I’d broken the game. I was trying to switch to my bow while sneaking and I accidentally meditated, causing time to fast forward. The sun wheeled around the sky, sank below the horizon, and night fell. The developer guiding me through the experience – an environmental artist – was slightly taken aback, but we rolled with my mistake and I got an accidental peek at the nightlife of Ptolemaic Egypt. Colour me intrigued.

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Far Cry 5 has a great dog

Far Cry 5 [official site] is a Far Cry game. It’s impossible for me to say whether it’ll be a great Far Cry game, an adequate Far Cry game or a poor Far Cry game, but after playing it at E3, I can definitively state that it is a Far Cry game. Clearing out a town of angry cult members, I sniped, shotgunned, stealthed and ‘sploded my way through a bunch of buildings, and had a jolly good time.

You know about this though. You’ve played a Far Cry game, right? So let’s assume all of the vehicles and guns and missions are working fine, and if not we’ll figure that out when we have review code and can take a proper look. For now, it seems best to talk about the dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Total War: Warhammer 2’s campaign rethinks the endgame

Lizards riding dinosaurs. Almighty spells crackling through the sky. A dragon swoops down from above and collides with a stegadon as elves are torn apart and consumed by carnosaurs at its feet. Total War: Warhammer 2 [official site] brings even more spectacle to the battlefield, particularly with its lizardmen armies, but the campaign is looking like the most exciting part of the game.

Strategy games have a habit of petering out as you move toward the endgame. Anyone who’s played Civ (including Civ V designer Jon Shafer) knows the tedium of pushing end turn to watch the numbers grow, as your inevitable crawl toward victory or defeat plays out in turn-based slow motion. That’s partly because so many victory conditions involve watching the correct resource pile up in sufficient quantity, or painting the entire map in a certain colour. Discovery is a thing of the past, diplomacy has run its course, and there is nothing new under the sun. Creative Assembly are looking to change that.

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XCOM 2: War of the Chosen’s alien champions, lost cities and soldier bonds explained

Fallen cities swarming with the dangerous remnants of their human populations, alien battlefield commanders who resemble fantastical heroes, new rulesets for friendship and fear, and an actual active resistance out on the Geoscape. XCOM 2 [official site] is changing.

The War of the Chosen is “definitely the biggest expansion we’ve ever done”, lead designer Jake Solomon told us at E3. Introducing unique enemy champions doesn’t strike me as an obvious move for XCOM, so I asked Solomon how the concept of the expansion had developed, and whether he’d drawn any inspiration from Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system. And whether we can expect any terrors from the deep in the future.

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Skull and Bones is about being a ship, not a pirate

Skull and Bones [official site] is a game I’ve wanted for a long time. That has nothing to do with its setting or style, though a Black Flag follow-up of sorts is an attractive proposition – but, no, the appeal of Skull and Bones is more abstract. This is the result of Ubisoft having one of their apparently specialist studios build an entire game around their specialism. Almost like a mega-bucks version of the animation experimentations of Grow Home.

In this case, it’s not procedural animation. Here, we’re with Ubisoft Singapore and the wonders of water.

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Destiny 2 combat is a punchy, kinetic joy

Destiny 2 [official site] comes with a lot of baggage. It’s the PC debut of an enormously successful new series from a mega-developer, and the original is precisely the kind of multiplayer co-op shooter that even some die-hard fans are a little burned out on after nearly three years of DLC and grinding for gear.

Enter Adam. I came to Destiny 2, at E3 last week, with barely enough baggage to fill a pencil case, having only played the demo of the original, and am immediately greedy for more. Whatever more it might offer. Destiny 2 is colour and light and the majestic spectacle of a Saturday morning cartoon and a space opera fused into a punchily satisfying shooter.

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The compassion & cruelty of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

The early stages of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus [official site] show the same blood, guts and heart that were key to the first game’s success. Described by Bethesda’s Pete Hines as “fucking bananas”, it’s a game of extremes, but it’s the care that it shows for its characters and setting that stand out as unique in the field of alt-history Nazi war-shooters. Alongside the silliness, the gore and the pulp fiction roots, there’s a core concern for humanity and its loss.

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BattleTech is the mech game I’ve always wanted

BattleTech [official site] finally brings mechs and mercs back to their turn-based tactical roots, and if the combat is backed by a worthy campaign mode, it’s likely to be one of my favourite games of 2017. I’ve only played the skirmish mode, against AI opponents, so I can’t assess the quality of the campaign. But the actual mech clashes are absolutely glorious, and as spectacular as any turn-based battles I’ve ever seen.

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The Flare Path: In Cold Waters

A message for Mr. D. Jones Esquire. Over the next few weeks, thanks to unlikely-to-disappoint Cold War sub game Cold Waters [official site], your locker is going to see a lot of action. I strongly advise you to make space, grease hinges, and evict endangered echinoderms in readiness for the imminent deluge of mutilated missile frigates and battered boomers. Read the rest of this entry »

At The Gates is a 4X game that learns from RimWorld and Spelunky

Jon Shafer has joined Paradox to found and lead a new team and make a new strategy game, but work continues on At The Gates, the project Shafer has been developing independently for years now. It’s a 4X game that casts off many of the recognisable patterns of the genre. Instead of building an empire, you control a barbarian tribe trying to tear down an empire, or to co-exist alongside that empire. In this case, it’s the Roman empire. To survive, you’ll need to exploit resources, move with the seasons, and build a relationship with the world as well as your neighbours and companions.

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Surviving Mars brings hard science to colony-building

During the opening hours, you won’t see a single person in Surviving Mars [official site]. It’s a bold choice, having impersonal robots out there laying the groundwork of a colony, but the benefits are immediately obvious when watching the game in action. There’s a certain Factorium-like mechanical satisfaction to the flow of metal, creating supply chains that stud the surface with structures. The great advantage is the gradual shift from a red planet to a green planet though, even if those bubbles of green are few and far between.

More than any other city builder I can think of, Surviving Mars has the potential to show the life of a settlement, and it does that by beginning in a dead place.

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The Long Journey Home is a wonderful space odyssey

The Long Journey Home [official site] is a game about being lost in space and being somewhat insignificant against a backdrop of elder species who aren’t quite sure what to make of these squishy bipedal nomads called humans. It’s tempting to describe the game by breaking down the list of ingredients that appear to have gone into its preparation. There’s a dollop of FTL, a pinch of Captain Blood, a healthy dose of Star Control and a little bit of Space Rangers 2. Season with the essence of Thrust and Lander, and there you have it.

Except, no. That’s not really it at all.

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Pillars of the Earth takes on Telltale at their own game

The Pillars of the Earth [official site] is doing a lot of difficult things and based on a brief play session earlier this week, I reckon it might be doing most of them very well indeed. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, having never been a fan of Daedalic’s previous point-and-click output, but I came away impressed by both the tone and the design of this upcoming adaptation of Ken Follett’s novel about that raciest of topics: cathedral construction in 12th century England. Read the rest of this entry »

Divinity: Original Sin 2’s GM mode brings pen and paper RPGs to the screen

Last week I spent a day playing with Divinity: Original Sin 2’s [official site] Games Master mode, and now I want to force everyone I know to play pen and paper RPGs with me. If this is what I’ve been missing in the years since I last went full goth with weekend Vampire: The Masquerade sessions, I’ve had a wasted adulthood.

The GM mode is separate to the main game, using the Divinity ruleset in campaigns either released by Larian or created by players, who can then share those campaigns online or with friends to recreate a tabletop experience digitally. At the press event, we built a chunk of Ultima VII and then started cannibalising the good guys. Read the rest of this entry »

Figment is a slightly sinister silly symphony

Before I played Figment [official site], I knew very little about it. I’d heard that it was set inside the mind of a person suffering from fears, doubts and anxieties, which made me think it’d be creepy or heart-breaking, but the screenshots suggested something far lighter and perhaps even humorous. Having played a few levels spread across the game, I’m delighted to find that Figment’s finest qualities couldn’t show themselves in screenshots or press releases. It’s a musical and I found it utterly charming.

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Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is already great before it’s even finished

Croatian developers Croteam have proven themselves a developer of two extremes. For many years they were about dumbfest shooter fun Serious Sam and Serious Sam alone, and then out of absolutely nowhere produced the cerebral and utterly brilliant The Talos Principle. Since then we’ve had a splendid expansion for Talos and a frankly peculiar number of Serious Sam VR games. Now comes Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour [official site], a rather brilliantly titled game resulting from a team-up with indie devs Crackshell, that fits in neither extreme, despite being entrenched in the IP of their most famous protagonist. A top-down twin-stick action game that eschews all the modern stylings of your Hotline Miamis in favour of something much more madcap, frenzied and enormous. Read the rest of this entry »

CCP’s Sparc is a smart Tron-like virtual sport

The EVE Fanfest a couple of weeks ago was, as the name suggests, dominated by EVE Online, but developers CCP have other eggs in other baskets. EVE Valkyrie, the dogfighting multiplayer space shooter, is the company’s flagship VR title, and though I’ve only played it at events rather than at home, it might well be my favourite goggle-game. It’s not the only egg in that particular basket though, and the virtual sport Sparc [official site], with its full body dodging and blocking, is even more impressive in its use of the hardware.

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Do alien powers make Prey more than another sci-fi shooter?

A few weeks ago, I played through the first section of Bethesda and Arkane’s upcoming first-person-shooterbut Prey [official site] (no relation, other than in name, to the original Prey or its aborted sequel). I like it well enough, particularly the Total Recallish sense of intrigue it raised about what was really going on and whether the player-character was the person they believed themselves to be. At the same time, I’m not sure how much I truly had to say about it, outside of description.

It was there, polished and pacey, absolutely the kind of thing I traditionally enjoy in an action game – but it was guns and monsters and doorcodes. Where was the thing that made Prey unique? I’ve been back and played a later section of the game, amongst other things I’ve transformed myself into a stack of towels and now I have a much clearer sense of what this new Prey really is. I can show as well as tell you why. Read the rest of this entry »

Agents Of Mayhem builds upon Saints Row in every way

Skating around as a roller derby player who is gleefully belching and swearing as she sprays enemies with bullets from her minigun, it’s difficult not to have at least a little fun while playing Volition’s new third-person open world action adventure RPG. Taking place within the same universe as their Saints Row series, Agents of Mayhem [official site] has the same irreverent humour, and this time is poking fun at superhero groups. Read the rest of this entry »