As an assortment of Halloween sale events grind to a halt now that we’re officially in November (the month of Black Friday deals), a few more rise up to bridge the gap. So here’s a handy-dandy look at a bunch of them. Are you sitting comfortably?
RPS Feature SHODAN at the Better Than OK Corral
Not only does a great hero need a great villain, villains are usually just so much more fun. Whether it’s the tortured lost soul who can only find peace by destroying the universe or the cheery psychopath looking to see the world burn, it’s no wonder that many of the greatest films of all time have been defined at least as much by the baddie as any individual scene. Darth Vader, the Terminator, Norman Bates, Dracula… villains get people excited. A great villain lives forever, death be damned. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Faster than a bard shot out of a cannon
It’s Summer Games Done Quick time again! You know what that means. The final seal has been broken, the rivers are turning to blood, and High Dread Azagorath is free to destroy the land. But while people wait, they’re doing speed-runs. And in celebration of that, I thought I’d take a dig through the archives for a few particularly impressive and interesting ones that take that whole idea of a fifty hour epic and beat it down so quickly, the hero’s hometown doesn’t even have time to finish smouldering.
RPS Feature World of Absence
There’s a real urban fantasy gap in the gaming industry, and it’s never made much sense. We see a thousand Tolkienesque fantasy games a minute (rough napkin calculation) and the future’s typically so bright, even the lens flares need shades. Yet when it comes to that line where the mundane meets the magical, mostly what we’ve had for the last few years is false hope. Hope that World of Darkness would bring the complexity of Eve to the mean streets of Chicago or wherever. Hope that the right person with a big chequebook would get hooked on something like The Dresden Files or Hellblazer. Hope that games like The Secret World would lead the way.
So much wasted opportunity, just sitting there and waiting to be seized.
RPS Feature The casualties of being spoilt for choice
We are living in a golden age of big-budget PC games that offer us choice and freedom. Be they descendants of the System Shock model – finding a route around a meticulously-crafted, locked-down and hostile place, most recently seen in Prey [official site] – or the roleplaying games based around choice and consequence rather than action alone, they are legion. There are so many, even, that I’m not sure we can fully appreciate how good we’ve got it.
RPS Feature Touring different types of worlds
The problem with fantasy is that it’s often not very… well… fantastical. Far too often, even brand new worlds feel like Tolkein or Warcraft or Star Wars with a few twists, and the serial numbers scraped off. The good thing about this is that when a game does take us somewhere new, it feels all the more special for it. This week then, a quick look back at some which have caught my attention for their sense of place. That doesn’t necessarily mean super-original in the great scheme of things, or even not based on a licensed work, or even necessarily that the world contained a great game. These are just a few settings that have stood out from the crowd as cool ideas that surprised, inspired, and deserve borrowing or dusting off.
White Wolf, who are now owned by Paradox, have released a new Vampire: The Masquerade game. Book. Gamebook. A new Vampire gamebook. Ahh, jokes. They’ve launched a pair of new gamebooks set in the World of Darkness, one Vampire: The Masquerade full of conspiracy and a Mage: The Ascension tale that’s, y’know, also full of conspiracy. White Wolf say the launch of these World of Darkness Preludes [official site] “marks the start of [their] emergence as a transmedia entertainment company”, which also sees a new Werewolf: The Apocalypse game on the horizon. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature The meek shall inherit NOTHING!
So, a confession. My plan for this week was to talk about Obsidian’s Tyranny [official site] – the game, not any rumours of Feargus Urquhart openly stealing puddings from the company fridge no matter how well labelled! Unfortunately, that plan hit a tiny snag… I haven’t had a chance to play much of it yet. A shame, simply because the genre is well overdue a game that, to quote, Kakos Industries, Does Evil Better.
This week then, a tribute to and call out for the games that at least did evil interesting.
RPS Feature The Final Picks
We’re coming to the end of the Summer Steam Sale so chances are you’ve picked up the things you’d already got your eye on, but there are always games that sneak under the radar or come from genres you might usually ignore. That’s why we’ve put together our final recommendation list. Here’s a whole list of things we love and why we think they’re worth your time! (Don’t forget to check out our earlier picks and the comments, though – I picked up a bunch of games that had escaped my own notice through reader enthusiasm…)
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’ve checked the RPS master Have You Played document seven times now, convinced that I’ve made an error. How could we not have written one about Vampire Bloodlines yet? In many respects, the modern gothic RPG is the ur-RPS game, a game of promise and ambition way before its time – and way beyond its own capabilities – and one with Things To Say in addition to darkness and choice and strangeness and cities and consequences.
Friday evening is the perfect time to do something which is fun and exciting for a bit but doesn’t necessarily mean anything, so let’s gab about how White Wolf recently filed a trademark for “Vampire Bloodlines” specifically in relation to video games.
I realise it’s only been a few weeks since we last crowded around a burning barrel to mutter “Coo yeah, wasn’t Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines lovely? Wasn’t it broken? What could it have been? Where is the first-person immersive sim future I was promised?” so hey, don’t push yourself. Just… quietly nurse a pint for a minute to think about the possibility of a new Bloodlines game.
RPS will not – cannot, even – stop going on about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Look! Kieron tried to be less of a dick, Jim wished for more games like its “action-soap opera”, we interviewed writer Brian Mitsoda, and Cara got all S.EXE – twice. And it’s one of the best RPGs, the best horror games, the best RPG worlds… we like it, okay. So sure, I’ll mention that Troika’s 2004 RPG is now sold on GOG too, with some vital community-made fixes included and all.
RPS Feature Legends of character creation
Not for the first time, I’ve spent quite a while recently pondering the nature of roles – more specifically, mechanical role versus narrative role. When we think of RPGs, what we’re usually thinking of is the latter. You play the role of the Hero, but in a universe that’s typically designed to let you define that however you like. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but there’s a key difference between that and stepping into the shoes of someone more specific. Geralt in The Witcher 3 for instance is – spoiler alert – a Witcher. Every encounter revolves around that, every system involves it, every decision has, whether it’s by your choice or Geralt bringing it up, a mercenary element that reinforces that asking for money in exchange for your services is expected and not, as is often the case, the first step towards douchery and getting the Evil ending.
I’ve also been playing a lot of Hearthstone. The two things are linked.
RPS Feature Videogames saved the radio star
There’s something oddly comforting about radio. Comforting because it’s so familiar, so natural. Odd because it’s a comfort that most of us don’t really use all that much these days, at least not in the ways that games just casually assume. It’s a little like the whole audio diaries thing – it makes a vague sense that everyone in a city like Rapture might record their daily crimes and schemes onto audio tapes, even though in reality that whole idea became obsolete when Facebook/Twitter added status updates.
But I do love in-game radio. It’s an amazing narrative tool, a great way of filling in the gaps the screen can’t show, a constant companion in the loneliest of situations, and not a bad way of making music diegetic – a term that translates to ‘let’s see who now sneakily Googles diegetic’. Forget Spotify. Never mind video. In RPGs, nothing can kill the radio star, unless of course you walk up to them and shoot ’em in the face. Then, sometimes. Though usually nature still finds a way of keeping them on the air.
RPS Feature Tomorrow's World Of Darkness
The news that Paradox Interactive had purchased World of Darkness creator and publisher White Wolf a couple of weeks ago came as something of a surprise. It also raised a lot of questions: what would become of existing third-party relationships? What are the plans for digital spin-offs of White Wolf properties? Can we expect another Vampire: The Masquerade CRPG at any point in the near future?
We contacted new White Wolf CEO Tobias Sjögren to discover the answers to those questions and many more.
Update: There’s now a press release with a couple of extra quotes.
Update 2: A little more on what Paradox actually intend to do with White Wolf now they own it. There’s going to be “an immediate change”, and “multiple digital games titles are planned.” More below.
Swedish publisher Paradox has purchased “White wolf and all properties” from EVE Online firm CCP – a final nail in the coffin of the latter’s troubled plans for a World Of Darkness MMO. This also means that Paradox now owns the rights to Vampire: The Masquerade.
It’s Paradox’s “biggest investment ever;” White Wolf will, however “operate as an independent entity with a dedicated team.”
RPS Feature Homes away from home
Most RPGs ask you to save the world, but not all of them offer a world worth saving. Honestly, there’s been quite a few where given the choice I’d have joined the evil overlord just to beat up all the potion vendors who wouldn’t even give me a discount before the final battle, and for the mere chance of stabbing the guard in Act 1 who wouldn’t let me into The Town Where The Actual Bloody Game Starts.
This week though, I’m interested in the other side of that – the worlds that become more than just a place to grind for loot and XP. The places that feel real. Beloved worlds, which don’t necessarily correlate with beloved games. I really enjoyed Skyrim for instance, but Skyrim as a world largely leaves me cold for reasons that have nothing to do with the Frostfall mod. That’s not the same as saying it’s bad, or any real quality judgement at all, simply that for me it never became a second home, more than a playground. Fallout New Vegas meanwhile, despite its problems, ticked all of the boxes. It was a world I could believe in, get immersed by, and not want to leave, which given the current political climate around the world is quite probably for the best.
Here are some of the most special worlds for me. How about you? Note, we’re talking entire worlds, as in the settings for whole games, not specific places like, say, Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy VII or FFXIV. Those are cool too, but… another week!
RPS Feature Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!
Given a choice, I almost always play as a mage. Swords? Pah. Divine magic? Save it for Sunday School. Give me control over the elements, the power to reshape the very building blocks of the universe according to my every whim, and if at all possible, a cool hat. It’s an easy fantasy to indulge in almost any RPG out there.
I just wish it was a more satisfying one.
RPS Feature A bite from the past
They say the definition of madness is repeatedly trying the same thing and expecting different results. But hey, the Malkavians of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines have lucked into stranger things, so I figure there’s at least a chance that one day I’ll fire it up and find a whole new adventure waiting. Today was not that day. Tomorrow isn’t looking too likely. Yet still it feels like it’s our best chance, until someone else finally figures out that urban fantasy is a painfully untapped genre for RPG awesomeness. (Looking at you, Hairbrained Schemes. Still time to ditch that boring Battletech license!*)
Still, while waiting for Shadowrun: Hong Kong this week, I felt that urge to head back to Santa Monica and check out some old haunts. The timing seemed fitting, especially with the launch of a new version of the Clan Quest mod the other week – one of several projects attempting to keep Bloodlines healthy over ten years after launch.
RPS Feature Level Cap
An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC RPGs ever released. Covering the entire history of computer role-playing games is a daunting task and attempting to place the best games in such a broad genre in any kind of order is even more daunting. Thankfully, we are equal to all tasks and below, you will find the best fifty PC RPGs of all time.