The E3 Titles I cared about, 2018 Edition!

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Well, well, well! Another year, another set of E3 press conferences with all those entail – cringe-worthy moments, EA sports segments making you seriously reconsider a membership amongst the living on this wonderful blue orb of ours and, occasionally, games which look just promising enough they might be worth putting a mortgage on my house.

If I had a house, that is.

The following post will go into all those games that caught my eye and, in a few cases, my imagination. There’ll be links to whatever trailers were released, so if you see anything unfamiliar, click the link and familiarize thyself!

Control looks gorgeous, seems to be a psychological thriller with more than a smidge of X-Files to it, a wonderful gun that makes everything explode in glory, and one hell of a trippy setting which shifts and generally defies the laws of physics.

There’s also what looks like telekinesis, with the protagonist throwing around pieces of the environment, much to the joy of all us fans of pure destructive chaos.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally coming on January 29 and I can’t begin to describe how excited I am about that. The second game, which was the first I played, meant the world to me at a time when I was lost and alone and I didn’t know how not to be.

I still don’t, sometimes. But Kingdom Hearts taught me lessons which helped ground me and it made me laugh and cry and it showed me hope. (It also made me talk like Xehanort but you gotta take the negatives with the positives, right?)

I don’t know how it did all that it did. I don’t need to know. But I can’t wait to see what Kingdom Hearts 3 will teach me, in its turn, a lifetime later.

Prey got a DLC with some very good ideas and it’s out now! It’s called Moonsomething and it’s got rogue-lite content, five characters, some additional features to be added in among which is an Evolve-ish 4v1 PvP mode, apparently? At any rate, it sounds like good fun, I reckon. It’s 20 euro, which is a bit more than I can afford, wot with Vampyr, Tales of 15 euro, and the small fortune I spend on sci-fi and fantasy books monthly. And besides, while the idea of that DLC excites me, I’m still happy with the 40 hours I spent with Prey earlier this year. Maybe next year.

Why do I care about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey? It’s probably the setting, might be that they’re finally going in a more RPG- style direction. I didn’t care about the one set in Ancient Egypt. Or about the dozen before it, perhaps with the exception of Unity which I still never bought. But this one looks nice enough. One thing, though–if you Ubisoft guys are going to be doing right by Ancient Greece, you might want to add some blood in your big-ass Spartan-on-Athenian battles, eh? Blood is good. Important. Comes out of people when you stab them. Not the same without it!

Kojima showed yet another Death Stranding trailer, which cleared up nothing while confusing everything. Seems like there’s plenty of walking around in gorgeous environments but the rest of the game still seems a murky, inexplicable void to me and most of the Internet. Not to say it’s not the sort of thing that piques my curiosity, gods, no! I’m just confused, and affected by my friend’s continued proclamations that Kojima is making a movie and dressing it up as a game…which, with that cast isn’t as unlikely as us lovers of games would like it to be, innit?

Ghosts of Tsushima! It’s another PS4 exclusive which looks gorgeous and if the gameplay actually looks the way the demo played, I might need some help picking teeth off the floor, since that’s how hard my jaw will hit it! Give me Mongol-killing samurai, and give them to me soon! Beautiful colours, stealth gameplay that looks like a lot of fun, where do I sign up?

The Last of Us II, twice as violent and bloody as its predecessor, with a lot of head-chopping and girl-on-girl romance. The animation of this one is a head-turner, too and ever since finally playing the PS4 remaster of the original last year, I’ve been hungry to get back and see how Joel and Ellie continue to deal with the good ol fun-pocalypse. The fun- is a stand-in for funghi!

Babylon’s Fall is a game developed by Platinum in collaboration with Square Enix. I know next to nothing about it but it’s Platinum and Square Enix, and so I am unreasonably cheery in my expectations! You must realize, this is unlike me–I hate to get hyped up for something without having a semblance of an idea as to its gameplay.

But you know what looks bloody brilliant, gameplay and all? Devil May Cry 5! Dope. So frikkin’ dope. Can’t wait for more excellent spectacle fightin’, this time with Nero! ( That was Nero, right?)

Dying Light 2’s narrative design is worked on by Chris Avellone! I never got to play the first game but now I have to, don’t I? Avellone hasn’t once disappointed me with any of his games and while it was pretty sad to read about what went down between him and his former employers/co-owners at Obsidian, his talent in crafting deeply engaging, morally gray and complex stories is well on record. Tyranny, my beloved KotoR 2, New Vegas and many, many more are but a part of his impressive catalogue.

Tunic looks cute and cuddly and I don’t mind seeing more of it! The piece of soundtrack used with the trailer also sounds quite good, doesn’t it?It’s foxes wielding one-handed weapons and shields, man, that’s where the money is. Ask anyone, they’ll tell ya.

Is that it? The stuff I’m excited about this E3?

Nope, two more!

Beyond Good and Evil 2!  Need I say more?

And the last one is coming rather soon…Marvel’s Spider-Man! The Sinister Six was announced, the combat looks like fun, it’s been years since I’ve gone swinging through the streets and skyline of New York and I am beyond excited to do it again! September really can’t get here soon enough now, can it?

There’s plenty of other games which look interesting enough but I either have some healthy scepticism around their developers/publishers or I just don’t know enough about their games.

 

God of War: First Impressions

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I played six hours of God of War with two of my closest friends, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

It’s rare that I’ll find a game lingering on my mind after I’ve put it down. Such games more often are those “just one more turn/game” strategy experiences, which can suck your life away while you’re grinning happily at your perceived intellectual genius, caused by thrashing a bunch of AI opponents. There’s a reason I no longer play StarCraft 2 on ladder!

But I digress. God of War, what an epic experience! First of all, this game’s encounters are Hard! We three amigos played on the third difficulty, i.e. what would be called in yon olden days “Hard mode,” and it frustrated me a few times if I am honest. If I were alone, I would’ve played the game on Normal. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I often pick Normal on most games, because,

A) I’m not that good, and;

B) I have a library of games I want to finish, and no matter how many I finish, it seems to always expand. I haven’t finished the Witcher 3 DLCs for Tolkien’s sake!

A few fights were an outright nightmare, I tell you. I reckon a few battles forced our collective blood pressure to go way, way up due to the sheer amount of time spent trying to beat them. The first battle with the heavy shield draugr(might’ve misspelt that, I’ll freely admit) was…not fun.

That said, passing through those moments eventually, after all that effort, it’s a high. I am definitely beginning to see the appeal of games like Dark Souls (my friend, whose place we invaded to rob him of his time with God of War made loads of Dark Souls meets Kratos jokes, some of which were quite good).

Enemies can take a lot of punishment on Hard. I don’t want to think what it’s like to play on God of War difficulty. It’s doubtlessly insane. But then again, the rush I felt at beating a few of those encounters which so flummoxed us — that’s almost enough to make me consider.

Might I not be able to spare the time? It might just be worth it if it’ll make me feel like a… God of War.

Cringe. I know, that last line was abhorrent. What about the story and the four boss fights I witnessed and/or participated in?

I liked BOY.

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Boy is the boy of Kratos, who is patiently taking care of him, bonding with him over hunting magical deer and boars, and also over his mum’s death. They’re taking a road-trip to the peak of the nearby mountain and I can’t help feel that it’s a lot more difficult than it should be, what with the army of undead giants and non-dead giants, and angry gods without any clothes on.

The story is one-fourth road trip, one forth greek tragedy, and many more forths of cheese axe-throwing, all to defeat incomparable odds and yell some more at this little godling. Or demi-godling. Probably all-part godling though, if you ask me.

It’s great. Angry dad Kratos 2018 is even more entertaining than I hoped, and those few times during which you see Kratos fighting to keep as calm as possible or having a tender moment with Atreus Boy are nothing short of emotional.

Oh, and fighting the naked Stranger (who may or may not be a very weird interpretation of Baldr, though I’m beginning to see it)  was epic beyond all rhyme and reason!

In short, I’m excited to experience more of this god-son road-trippy goodness.

P.S. I love how the side-quests are done! Because of Kratos and BOY’s continuous conversations, none of the ones we played through felt like they were moving away from the actual main plot; it was all an extended lesson for the Boy. The levelling up-upgrade system is also something I have a lot of appreciation for, though I need to further familiarize myself with it before I can really discuss it.

Dungeon Master’s Diary, S01, Session 02: Poke

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Hello and welcome back to my Dungeon Master’s Diary, where I recollect the long and winded tale of my Dungeons&Dragons party, the Assholes. Some time has passed since I last posted about these venerable adventurers.

Let’s get straight to it! The problem with note-keeping is…sometimes you lose the notes. Others, you’re too lazy to write them down in the first place. So it is that I’m forced to recreate this particular session from memory alone, which might bring about a continuity issue or five.

Dramatis Personae:

P. as the Witcher-y Warlock Logen Thum.
S. as the cowardly fighter Kalis Dargon.
I. as the young half-elven cleric Ignus.
N. as the half-orc-like homebrew Kimir barbarian Gell.

NPCs of note:
Tess Einhorn, princess of the Einhorn Duchy. Thief.
Shank, Sergeant of the Einhorn army.
Crazy old herbalist guy.
Crazy old herbalist guy’s drunkard nephew.

When last we left off our valiant heroes, Logen Thum went after a suspected thief, whose dextrous fingers the witcher felt on his backpack. Without checking to see if his hunch was right, Logen rushed after the thief, closing on and eventually catching the young woman. Without so much as a question, he forced her into one of many back-alleys of the capital city of Moranth, and punched her twice in the stomach in quick succession.

Just then, the rest of the party caught up with the witcher. Kalis, horrified, realized the girl clutching her stomach in pain was none other than Tess Einhorn, the sole daughter to the Duke, the man they were to investigate.

What the players didn’t know was, the thief was no thief. Tess, a spirited young woman, had gotten away from her chambers in the palace and gone exploring, looking for news from her brother. It was a happy coincidence–the kind ever-so-helpful to DMs everywhere–that she heard the party discussing their plan to find the prince and gain his father’s favour.

So it was that Tess decided to stealthily put a map of the prince’s last known movements in one of the party’s backpack–the lucky recipient none other than our exceptionally violent witcher. She, a natural at sneaking, was more than surprised when Logen immediately shot after her, surprise turning to shock as his knuckles sank into her belly, forcing the stomach out of her lungs. Ouch.

Not a great first impression to leave on a woman in her position but after a short conversation, she assured the party that she would forget all about the warm welcome if they found and brought back her brother. This didn’t sit right with some of the party, and they went for an Insight check. Surprise, surprise — Tess can swallow a lot for family’s sake.

This misunderstanding cleared up with surprisingly little backlash, our heroes got to studying the map. Where the first attack of the undead had started was a fishing village two hours from Moranth by the name of Sarhas.

When they reached the village, they found nearly half of it burned to shambles. Soldiers toiled away, building barriers and digging mass graves. The attack has been recent if the smell is anything to judge by. What happened next?

Did they ask the soldiers what happened, do you think?

Nope, they got into a brawl with the town drunks, beat them half to death, and Logen took to carrying the drunken ring-leader’s body in the stead of a cape. This strange exhibit caught the attention of several soldiers, and the party was very close to getting into some very deep, very serious trouble with the law — if not for one sergeant Shank, who was familiar with the drunk’s antics and laughed it off. Kalis, an imperial soldier himself, found a common language with Shank, and so the two escaped any further trouble.

As for the drunkard? Turns out, he was the nephew of the crazy village herbalist! Wot!

They traded a man for a bunch of healing potions, is wot I’m saying. Note, the herbalist was off his rocker in a major way, and he was a standoff-ish old goober, so I don’t necessarily blame the party for kicking his nephew around a bit. It later turned out, most of those potions the herbalist offered were way past their ‘best before’ date, which made for some pretty strange and often horrifying effects!

So it was that Ignus drank a potion and fell in love with a scullery maid! There was a lot more to the potion, I reckon — but unfortunately, that’s one more thing I did not record. Yes, I know, I really need to write these hilarious events down! It’s so annoying, remembering how hysterically all of us shook in laughter, but being unable to recall why exactly. Was Ignus giggling uncontrollably? Was he belching, perhaps? Maybe he hallucinated slightly. I’m not sure, and the world is all the darker for it.

What comes next?

Find out next time, in the Dungeon Master’s Diary!

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this one! As I cover more of the game, more details will emerge, what with my consistently better notes. Besides, this session didn’t really hold much in the way of using the game’s system to enrich the narrative, besides the occasional initiative check and simple combat rules. It’s all going to get progressively more interesting as we move forward!

Dungeon Master’s Diary, S01, Session 01: Beginnings

Beginning a D&D campaign is a daunting experience, especially when your entire experience role-playing is in a few Pathfinder games. Dungeons&Dragons’ latest edition is by no means an overly complex game. Most of the rules are explained in a clear, forthright way, and both the Player’s Handbook(PHB) and Dungeon Master’s Guide(DMG) are excellent books, introducing both the basics necessary to begin, as well as plenty of intermediate and optional rules — especially in the case of the DMG.

This first session either introduced or continued the stories of several characters from a short-lived summer sit-down with a group of six people, which relied on the Pathfinder ruleset and was quite the challenging first outing for me as a Dungeon Master.

My players were happy enough with it, or so they told me, but more importantly, I got to plant the seeds to what I envisioned as the main conflict.

The player characters found themselves on the Tenebrae island, the land of the Einhorn Duchy. Ruled by Duke Gregor Einhorn and his family, the Duchy began as a sprawling human colony. Soon enough, races of myth and legend, unseen since a war three thousand years in the past, make contact with the Duke and his people.

Cautious at first, eventually the Duke opens his lands to these strange creatures. Elves, dwarves, gnomes and more began mixing with humankind. That was the jist of my description for the setting of the game.

We see many fantasy worlds, especially D&D ones, which are entirely comfortable with a plethora of races mixing together, brushing shoulders against one another. I wanted to explore a world in which this diffusion had just occurred — that’s the main reason as to why I chose to put a single restriction on any half-elves my players were interested in playing. They could be no older than 22-25. (Somewhat vague, but giving too many details from the get-go backs you into a corner a wee bit.)

The main conflict I spoke about wasn’t anything too original — the Empress’ mage was checking in on the Duke. He didn’t want to be too obvious about it, so he asked one of the Empress’ soldiers (fighter PC), Captain-lieutenant Kalis Dargon, to investigate whether the Duke was planning to break away from this far-off Empire.

Kalis’ player(S.) is the most experienced D&D player at this point, having played since 4th edition so I gambled on anchoring the main plot to his backstory, on which we worked on together. I reckon doing a lot of that with most of the players who had the time and will to do so — three out of the original four’s backstories offered focal points at various times over our game, and continue to weave the story threads.

Nothing’s worse than a static world in which your players’ backstory has no meaning.

Faced with the need to get close to the Duke, our players explored the city of Moranth. Soon enough, they discovered an opportunity — the Duke’s son had disappeared during one of the last undead att–oh, did I mention the undead?

Aye, the undead were another thread of the conflict I had begun weaving for my wee lads. Nothing too original at all — the ancient dead awake, no one knows why, they begin attacking the smaller villages outside Moranth; they come from the seas, the fish is diseased, the ship of our human adventurers is the last ship to enter Moranth’s harbour before a blockade is enforced.

The blockade worked in two ways — first, it gave an in-world reason for my players’ characters not to just up’n’leave the island when the going gets tough; second, it created yet another, unspoken objective. Those characters who might want to get home now had another reason to disentangle whatever’s happening on the island.

Our group of adventurers discovered Boris Einhorn’s fate soon enough. Information about him was richly rewarded by the Duke, himself. Find his body, and…Bob’s your uncle. Probably not quite how the ‘Information wanted’ posters were phrased, but it’s been awhile.

They spent their sweet time considering how to go about finding the young Prince’s trail, discussing their plans loudly and in the center of city. Someone noticed, of course. That someone decided to place a little something in Logen’s pack.

Logen Thum is the company’s warlock/witcher; while using the warlock class, his backstory heavily borrowed from the Witcher universe. I allowed it because…who doesn’t like witchers in their universe? He’s a bit of an arse, though, and not nice to women at all. Something about spending all his life in a warrior monastery must’ve done its damage to the lad, but his heart is golden, and that’s all that matters! The lad who plays Logen is also one of my closest friends, so of course, I hand him an awful lot of rope and giggle as he hangs himself.

I’m a great friend.

At any rate, I asked P. to give me a perception roll, and he rolled high enough to tell that someone had tinkered with his pack; Logen sees a flash of movement and goes chasing the figure down. The rest of our adventurers follow.

He got the thief, blast his lucky die rolls! Surprise, surprise — the thief is a teenage girl who’s somewhat surprised to have gotten caught but there’s a twinkle of amusement in her eyes.

The twinkle vanishes as Logen punches her in the stomach once, a second time — the rest of our adventurers catch up at last and Kalis, horrified, realizes that this girl is none other than the daughter of Duke Einhorn, and the heir apparent to the Duchy, now that her older brother’s disappeared.

Oh, boy.

Next up: An introduction to the rest of our characters, a lot more story, and behind-the-scenes decisions and a Dungeon Master’s reasons for them. Stay Tuned!

Saturday Night Gaming: Talking about Narrative in a Life is Strange, Before the Storm Review

Oh, look! I’m going to talk about talking about games! Bit redundant, if you ask me, but I ain’t the one who decides what goes up on the blog, am I?

What do you mean I am? I-I am?

Welp. There goes that excuse.

Anyway, I’m hard at work at a video review for Before the Storm, the prequel to the excellent Life is Strange(2015), and I’ve been wondering whether the way I decided to go about making the video is right and proper.

How did I go about writing the video?

I spilled the beans about what happens during the game. Step by step, I do my best to present the thread of the story, along with my take on it, what impression major choices left me with, and the like.

I could’ve gone another direction — like most review sites, I could’ve chosen to keep mum about the details of the story, could’ve talked about how the general lack of fantastic elements and the time travel mechanic grounds the story in reality and whether that’s a good thing, or a bad one; I could’ve probably spent a good five-ten minutes on that, while keeping generally vague on any significant plot points.

The thing is, I want to talk about the story. With what the narrative does right, with that one topic it handles wrong. I want to give my viewers — all fourteen of them — concrete, honest thoughts.

That’ll probably eat in whatever tiny number of people would consider watching a 30+ minute video by a no one on YouTube, and that’s alright. I don’t make these videos to please anyone but myself.

If anyone ends up watching along the way — brilliant!

If not…That’s alright, too!

Thank you for reading. Before the Storm is brilliant, by the way, even if the post ended up being less about the game and more about my review-to-be about the game! Hope you’ll check it out when I post it on Monday! 

 

Saturday Night Gaming: Prey

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Back when I was a kid, and then a teenager, I hated games like Prey! Dead Space, Bioshock 1&2, a variety of others which saw a lone protagonist facing against horrifying and unknowable enemies, whether on a derelict starship or submerged leagues beneath the sea.

Hated is, perhaps, too strong a word. Feared, in truth, would work much better; I was a scaredy-cat when I was a kid, due to an unfortunate accident that had much to do with a movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher — as average a movie as any, but a seven year old’s mind can turn silly, horrible special effects into the stuff of nightmares.

After that experience and another one a year later, it was easy to ignore horror films and games with a lot of jump scares; so it was when I got over Prey’s beautiful intro that I knew, the Filip from six-seven years back would’ve stayed as far away from Prey as he could throw the physical copy of the game (that younger Filip hated digital distribution; whether due to distrust, or some other reason, I couldn’t tell you).

I’m very happy to have grown out of that fear, for Prey deserves to be played and replayed, and replayed some more!

You take on the shoes of Doctor Morgan Yu(the gender of the good doctor is your choice), as you find yourself missing a three year-sized chunk of memories. If that wasn’t enough, you’re also on the space station Talos I, which orbits the moon in the year 2035. It’s…not looking too great, with corpses littering the ground and strange alien lifeforms running around, turning into cups, trying to chew your face and what-have-you. It’s all terribly confusing, as the last thing you remember was preparing to leave for that same space station, after some cajoling from your older brother, Alex Yu, in 2032.

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Alex is the CEO of TranStar, a mega corporation whose public face is the Yu family (mum and pop, as well as big bro and –yey — you!). The biggest hit of the company is the so-called Neuromod; the device changes the neural pathway of its user, allowing them to gain a new skill ranging from learning languages, to lengthening the life span, as well as a variety of other skills. As you might imagine, they’re something of a luxury, with only the richest and most influential on Earth able to purchase them.

Thankfully, Neuromods a plenty, since you’ll need a lot of help if you’re to stand so much as a chance of getting alive. Then again, a friendly robot who seems to have all but stolen your voice — your personal assistant January does the talking, instead of you — is asking you to blow up the station, for the sake of all of humanity down on Earth.

The choices are many, both in how you go about your exploration of the space station, and in how you deal with the decisions the story throws in your face. I won’t spoil now, nor will  I go in an in-depth discussion about the bits of the game that made my mind go boom, then blank, then boom again — but I have to say, it’s an excellent game that deserves a lot more attention than it got, both for its narrative and its varied gameplay.

It was made by the excellent Arkane, which stand behind the Dishonored franchise (although, to be fair, there are two studios that wear the Arkane name, one in Lyon (Dishonored 2), the other in Austin, Texas (Prey) ) and it does feel like Dishonored in space, in some ways. The best ways.

What a brilliant gem of 2017, a year that’s given us a ludicrous number of excellent games!

P.S. Thy Typhon were downright scary for the first five-six hours I spent playing, and that’s the greatest thing! Enemies who spook you as you squish them into fine jelly with a wrench or turn them into statues with your trusty GLOO gun are the best.

The best.

 

Ah, how I’ve missed writing one of those! Next week, Horizon: Zero Dawn. Probably. Alloy is the best.
Morgan Yu ain’t half bad, though, trust you me!

 

 

Total War WARHAMMER 2: 60 Turns of High Elven Intrigue!

One thing has become painfully clear in the 8 hours I spent fooling around in Total Warhammer 2 — High Elves…are wankers.

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The world around them is going through a cataclysm; the Great Vortex, a nexus of arcane magic created to siphon off Chaos energies, is assaulted on all sides; Dark Elves, or Druchii, are sprawling towards Ulthuan like brooding ants over honey; the Gods only know what Skaven and Lizardmen are up to; and what do your fellow High Elven princes do?

They go straight back to backstabbing you, without a care in the world. Not even when an army of Chaos pops up in the middle of a ritual to stabilize the Vortex does anyone lift a finger to stop them! What gives, fellow High Elven rulers?!

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The backstabbing nature of my fellow High Elves aside, I can’t describe how pleased I am with the work put into this sequel; nevertheless, I will make an ill-fated attempt to do just so.

Warhammer 2 manages to create a world that feels far larger than that of the first game, partially because of the sheer size of the four new continents and partially because of the supporting part that all of the original game’s races play. Sixty turns, and I’ve already had my closest ally attacked by Norsca tribesmen and human pirates(who use the Empire’s faction presets), I’ve made contact with several other human factions, and I’ve even met a particularly nasty triad of undead specimen, quite unwilling to grab a chat. All of that, and more, in such a short span of time; if I wanted to compare this to the last time I played a campaign in Total Warhammer…I recall bashing ork skulls with dwarven hammers not for sixty, but for a hundred and twenty turns!

With the Vortex now a joint objective for all four newly minted races, there’s an active push towards a much more tightly focused experience; where domination nearly always ends up a bore with a clear victor going through the motions near game’s end, the Vortex adds a level of tension that, I suspect, will keep you on your toes until the very end. Gathering artefacts to perform large-scale magical rituals comes with the need for greater structure in terms of objective-led thinking, as well as timing; you can’t let yourself waste sixty turns jostling with the neighbor over the state of grass; else you might just end up like me!

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I can’t speak for the other factions’ unique racial traits — although I plan to — but I applaud the Intrigue mechanic, which is unique to those cleanly shaven chaps. It doesn’t just involve manipulating different factions’ relationships behind the scenes; no, Intrigue goes one step further, allowing you to recruit better Lords and Heroes, to solve the myriad events that pop up every few turns, and more…perhaps. Sixty turns will only give you so much.

Diplomacy is the same as in the first game, however; I found it wanting there and I am sad to report, Creative Assembly hasn’t done anything to improve this static bit of design; there are a dozen different commodities you can gain through trade, for examples, but other than increasing your gold per turn in terms of trade agreements, they do absolutely nothing. Wine should give a bonus to public order; salt should offer some additional bonus to the towns/province in which it’s produced; just so with all the other resources.

You could make the case that Intrigue adds to diplomatic relations, but it’s difficult to praise something that only affects one race as a positive for the entire game.

But enough! Eight hours can only offer so much, and I do not wish to misrepresent a game that has brought me sixty turns of exciting experiences in a brand new world, and some would say — with good reason — a better one.

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Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this quick run-down of my experiences with Total War: Warhammer 2, let me know; there’s more to come! 

 

Saturday Night Gaming: A Review of Wolfenstein: The New Order!

I made a little here review of 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. You can click here to go straight to YouTube, or check it out below.

I had a lot of fun writing the script, editing the footage and audio; I even used Adobe After Effects for the first time, to make the fun tiny intro at the very beginning. Some of the humor’s a bit off, but I’ll keep working on my timing and on the whole process!

 

Saturday Night Gaming: Dishonored 2

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Before you decide how to play Dishonored 2, you have a choice to make: The carrot, or the stick?

Will you choose to play as a deadly assassin, unnoticed and quick with his blade, or a merciful ghost that always moves in the shadows, unseen by any? Perhaps you’d like, rather, to strut into a room, take your blade out and cut guard after guard down with excellent swordwork and dark magic. It’s a choice you make every time you begin another level; hell, every time you enter into a new room.

Sure, it’s best to decide what your playstyle is going to be early on, and build your character’s skill set to best complement your style. I say ‘your character,’ since, as you probably know, you are free to choose between Dishonored 1 protagonist Corvo Atano, and his daughter, Empress Emily Kaldwin.

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Both characters bring unique powers to the mixture, allowing for a lot of replayability in terms of tools used to achieve the objective of taking back the throne. Yeah, you lose your throne to Delilah, Empress Jessamine’s sister, at the very beginning of the game. What a shocker.

That was a bit of a lore tangent–I have to be careful about those, since I always lean towards talking about lore, when I am trying to pay attention to mechanics, and how they allow you to craft your own story.

The Emily you play as a cold, almost bloodthirsty killer is a world away from the one that is ghosting through the levels without ending anyone’s life. Still more different is my Emily, who, try as she might not to kill, occasionally ends up pressed against the wall and will find herself forced to put someone down in the heat of the moment. The dialogue, the flavor texts and the cinematics don’t account for the difference between the ‘ghost’ style of playing, and my own–they’re both dubbed ‘low chaos’ — but they are different, none the less.

That’s what Arkane Studios, the game developer, has managed to do so well–it has recreated the freedom of choice that it brought on the table with Dishonored, and has gone one step further. The choice in characters certainly helps add another dimension to the fun, murder-y business that this little sandbox offers.

The powers at Emily’s fingertips are a great addition — she can summon a rift to the Void that hypnotizes a number of enemies, and can either continue on her way, cut a few throats, or let her opponents have a little nap. She can also link enemies, forcing the faith of one upon them all; as well as pull objects and bodies–living or dead; depending on how much Runes you decide to invest into your ability tree, you can get some pretty awesome upgrades to the base abilities.

Exploration will take you hours, which you will not regret spending…most of the time. Some bonecharms are rather…underwhelming. With the bonecharm crafting mechanics in place, though, that’s not all that worrisome; all you need do is ‘disenchant’ them for their special properties and build anew. The more you invest into that skill, the better the charms; and you can actually help along your play style by making relics which enhance your speed, endurance and so on.

The technical issues I’ve faced are still annoying, despite the game coming out a year ago. Performance has been much improved, certainly but there’s a lot to be desired in that particular aspect. I wish more could be done, but it is what it is, and with that much time having passed since release, I doubt that we’ll see another fix.

I have every intention of putting a video of a bunch more of my thoughts in a couple of weeks. And after…perhaps I’ll tackle Death of the Outsider, the expansion that just came out, on September 15th.

 

 

 

 

Saturday Night Gaming: Gigantic

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There’s a particular masochism when it comes to playing hero brawlers (or MOBAs, or Dota-style games, if you prefer). They’re a time sink and a colossal addiction for anyone who enjoys multiplayer games. Nothing as sweet as dominating the enemy alongside your friends, that’s for certain.

Gigantic is a magnificent game with some interesting background–the developers ran out of money at one point and the team was supposed to stop working; but the day after they got the memo, they all showed up and kept on the good work.

The result?

Gigantic spent some time on the Microsoft store–i.e. in Purgatory–where it didn’t get too much traction…since next to no one uses that platform for games, so badly is it optimized. Some streamers began picking it up, though, directly from the site. As is prone to happen with good games, people will eventually notice.

Streamers did, and so did their audiences…and more recently, it came to Steam. Since then, it’s only grown exponentially. The fact that you can buy all characters that have come out, that will ever come out, for only $30, certainly makes a sweet offer.

Now that backstory is out of the way, let’s go into the specifics of this colorful action game.

The way Gigantic looks speaks of cohesive vision–fluid, beautiful art direction is reflected both in map and character design, as well as in the way attacks and abilities are animated.

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Not too many characters are available to choose from, right now; about two dozen but they’re all distinctly different. They come with unique skill kits and fall into the roles of tanks, melee and ranged damage dealers and utility characters–mostly healers. I have only played five characters, and four of them were ranged; when you play with a ranged character, Gigantic feels like a cross-breed between FPS games such as Overwatch and skillshots like the ones you might be familiar with if you ever played Smite.

There are no mobs you kill for gold and experience, nor are there items to customize your chosen character; what there is, instead, is a comprehensive talent tree to choose from, when upgrading your abilities. Two levels of upgrades per each ability which makes for a nice amount of combinations and variety in what your character does.

It’s fast-paced and skill-based, this colorful little game; and I don’t mean the skills your characters have, but the ones you have. I’ve only played for several hours, buy experience in the genres which Gigantic successfully brings into one has proven to be of great use–I’ve murdered more two-legged cows with badly textured nipples than I can count with Mozu, a strange humanoid mouse-like wand-thief. Have a picture of her below:

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A real beauty, and a wicked shot, too!

The game mode is unique; you basically kill other players and the enemy’s creatures on the map in order to power up your guardian until he overpowers the enemy’s, and then you pound upon that enemy until you wound him. Wound him three times, and he dies. You win. Great job!

You get 10 points when you kill an enemy or a miniature creature on the map, twenty when you kill its upgraded variation, and twenty for energy orbs, which are orbs that help you gather Focus. Focus helps you upgrade buildings and use your ultimate ability; depending on the character, those can be pretty damn impressive.

This system doesn’t dilute personal accountability; rather, it enhances it. When you die, you allow your enemy to progress towards victory. Another tenth of the bar that allows them the opportunity to wound your guardian. The more cautious, the more attentive you are–the harder it will be for the enemy team to catch you unawares and tear you a new one. And trust me when I say this, paying attention to your surroundings and your hp and stamina bars is of the utmost import. The better you are, the greater your team’s odds of winning.

Truly, Gigantic is a wonderful experience that feels both familiar and new; much more than just a new coat of paint over reiterated design features that’ve been done over and over again. I’m absolutely charmed with this self-titled “Strategic Hero Shooter”, and can’t wait to see how it develops further.

P.S.A minor gripe– the game is locked at 60 fps, which is…unfortunate. Not for me, but for people with 120hz monitors and preference for hundreds of frames per second, it’s certain to leave a bad taste  It also requires a minimum of 6 Gigabytes of RAM; if you’ve got less, I’m sorry to say–you’re very much out of luck.

At any rate, thank you for reading! It’s been fun, writing this up! See you again next time.