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citadel_dien_bien

What’s a Dien Bien Phu and why should a gamer care? Let Bruce Geryk deftly explain. His new series examines boardgames set in the pivotal engagement of the First Indochina War. Bruce humbly calls it a “wargaming documentary” and beyond just a neat lesson about what makes Citadel, Frank Chadwick’s 1977 game of the battle work, (or not) Bruce supplies historical context for the game’s systems. As he explains, the actions of the real-life forces should inform the game’s mechanics. It’s a history lesson disguised as a boardgame review!

None of that has anything to do with Dien Bien Phu games, except that it explains why the events on the board had the repercussions they did. Which is important, because the absence of this context is what I think deprives many good games of the satisfaction of closure. At least games about a single battle.

Bruce Geryk’s five-part series will continue on Wargame_[space].

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Grey_Goo_review

Grey Goo is something worse than bad; it is mundane. Not so much a throwback as a bland crust, the heel of a loaf of bread left on a cutting board. It is a competent husk missing any vital organs. You can practically smell the Westwood coming off the feature list, which is hardly surprising given that developer Petroglyph includes a bunch of former Westwooders. Grey Goo has a lot of the trappings of those Westwood classics: simplicity, speed, streamlining, individual soldiers and tanks jostling each other as they swarm around in a big blob. But what you can’t smell is any sense of personality or joy. In their prime, Westwood games reeked of giddy pleasure. Even when the games weren’t good, they were overflowing with an ebullient affection for the act of throwing armies into each other and watching them blow up. Polish? Pah. Watch these bazooka dudes break up this tank rush!

After the jump, we’ll always have Command and Conquer. Continue reading →

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lady_hammerlock_wintertide

Sir Hammerlock, hunter extraordinaire of the Borderlands series, has a sister and gamers will soon be able to step into her boots in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Gearbox has announced The Lady Hammerlock DLC pack which will unlock Lady Aurelia the Baroness as a playable character. Her main power is the ability to send out a shard of ice that attaches to enemies and slowly kills them.

Her Huntress skill tree focuses on sniping, including a skill that offers a massive critical hit bonus for each consecutive hit she lands without missing. Her other skill tree, Cold Money, focuses on ice damage and includes a skill that can add Cryo damage to any gun. Her third skill tree is Contractual Aristocracy, which allows her to turn a co-op teammate into a servant, earning her bonuses for their kills in addition to her own.

The Lady Hammerlock pack will be available for purchase on January 27th for $9.99. It is included as part of the game’s season pass.

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GW2_revenant

ArenaNet announced the Heart of Thorns expansion for Guild Wars 2 today. I suppose I’m as excited as the next person about some of the new features, but I’m also disappointed. The new features are exactly what you’d expect in an expansion, but I can’t help but feel a bit of an “is that all there is?” sensation. I blame Guild Wars 2 itself. It can’t be easy to expand a game this generous, expansive, and varied. There are already so many ways to play, and the classes feel so different, and there are so many options for what would normally be considered endgame grind: dungeons, fractals, exploration, legendary weapons, completing skills, pet collecting, achievements. Furthermore, with the living world storyline, ArenaNet has done such a great job adding new content and new places. And I say that having barely played any of season two. So what’s left for an expansion to do?

After the jump, what specifically is being added in Heart of Thorns? Continue reading →

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simuniverseatwar04

In the top ten list of dumb gaming industry decisions, requiring a paid membership for PC gamers to access multiplayer in the earliest days of Games For Windows Live has to be near the first place spot. There was no way that PC gamers would pay $50 a year to fight against other Universe at War: Earth Assault players. Microsoft had to admit defeat and repealed the membership requirement in July 2008, but the damage was done. The pricing scheme flopped and left gamers wary of Microsoft’s foray into the PC gaming client space.

Never let it be said that Microsoft won’t learn from history. Why not revive the idea of paid Gold memberships for PC gamers, but this time make multiplayer free? After Microsoft showed off some neat Xbox Live stuff for Windows 10 at the recent press event, Mike Ybarra, the ‎Partner Director of Program Management at Xbox, told Polygon that the company is looking at that very idea. Why would a PC player pay for Xbox Live Gold if multiplayer remains free?

“In terms of anything around the Gold program that we might bring to PC, we think there is a lot of value on the console with that above and beyond multiplayer.”

What else could Microsoft offer besides a PC version of the Games With Gold program? Although Microsoft declined to clarify their plans, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else a PC gamer might find compelling enough to pay for in a Gold Xbox Live membership.

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evolve2

Pre-order incentives are nothing new. Putting money down on a game before launch may be a sucker’s bet because you don’t know how the game will actually turn out, but publishers love these programs because they lock customers into the purchase. The old reasoning given for preorders, that stores needed them to gauge demand for supply, has nothing to do with digital sales, yet the practice thrives. Sometimes, they’re fun little bonuses like a gold version of a weapon, or an extra mission crammed into a game with umpteen quests, but lately pre-order incentives have either become too convoluted to suss out or place a significant feature behind a paywall. Evolve goes for option 1.

Let’s figure out what we need to buy to get the full game after the jump! Continue reading →

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ms_win10_phil

Windows 10 will have a feature that will allow Xbox One games to be streamed from the console to the PC. The feature, revealed during Microsoft’s Windows 10 press event, is part of a suite of upgrades to the PC gaming experience that the company is promoting for their upcoming operating system. Microsoft presented a unified vision for Windows 10 across phones, PCs, tablets, and the Xbox One console which included Xbox functionality between devices.

During the presentation, Xbox honcho Phil Spencer demonstrated streaming Forza Horizon 2 from an Xbox One to a PC via Windows 10. Although the feature is limited to local devices, the possibilities for bathroom gaming are endless. As long as you have a PC in your bathroom. (I’m not the only one, right?) Additionally, the new Xbox app tracks games across all of a user’s devices and even allows recording of PC game footage with integrated software regardless of the client. You will be able to play a game on Steam, bring up the Xbox app and tell it to record the last 30 seconds of gameplay, just like you can on the Xbox One console.

Microsoft also revealed Fable Legends on Windows 10, which will have cross-platform multiplayer between PC and Xbox One. We may finally fulfill the promise of Shadowrun on the Xbox 360!

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free

When ZeniMax Online Studios first announced that The Elder Scrolls Online would require a client purchase and a monthly subscription to play, gamers weren’t shy about expressing what they thought of that. Many an MMO vet proclaimed that the pricing scheme was doomed to fail and that it wouldn’t be long before the studio would be forced to drop the subscription. Less than a year since it’s April 2014 launch, that prediction has come true. The Elder Scrolls Online is dropping the subscription requirement.

The game becomes The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited on March 17th. At that time, the subscription requirement will go away. People that want to play the game going forward will need only buy a copy of the client and make an account. Players will have the option of paying a subscription to upgrade their accounts to ESO Plus status, giving them some “premium” benefits like more in-game gold, buffs to XP, and some of the virtual cash which regular players can purchase with real-world money to support the game.

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survival

State of Decay is coming to Xbox One on April 28th. Undead Labs announced the release date and more details of the next-gen bundle of the game through IGN. The Year One Survival Edition, including all previous DLC for State of Decay, will cost $29.99 unless you already own the Xbox 360 version of the game. Last gen owners will get a discount making the Xbox One package $19.99. Those existing State of Decay owners will also get a special playable character.

Back in August, the developers outlined their plans for the Xbox One version of the game.

Next, we’re creating some new content – not an entire DLC’s worth, but a few cool new mission types, new weapons, vehicles, and perhaps a hero or two. We’ll also be making some of your favorite characters from Lifeline (yes, Sasquatch) available as playable characters in Breakdown, and taking some of the new base options from Lifeline and making them available in Breakdown and the core State of Decay game. And then we’ll throw in half an hour of new music from State of Decay composer Jesper Kyd.

Undead Labs had planned to either update the PC version of State of Decay or release the Year One Survival Edition for PC players, but no further news has been released yet on the Steam version of the game.

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El_Dorado

Paradox announces the next add-on for Europa Universalis IV will be called El Dorado.

This expansion’s historical focus on the Central American and South American theaters of exploration will challenge you with new decisions worthy of a king or conqueror. As the Aztecs, subject the Mexican plain to your rule but make sure you have enough vassal kings to sacrifice to your angry gods. As the Europeans, push deeper into the jungles of the Amazon, following rumors of lost cities and magical fountains.

I don’t recommend that latter course of action. You’ll just end up in charge of a raft full of monkeys. Also included in El Dorado will be the option to design your own custom nation and monarch. Because for some people, history isn’t enough.

El Dorado will be out in February.

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Borderlands_splitscreen

It’s no surprise that 2K is bringing a Borderlands bundle to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, consisting of Borderlands 2, the Pre-Sequel, and all the downloadable content released for each game to date. But what is a surprise is that the collection will have four-player splitscreen support! Move over, Diablo 3? You’ll even be able to import your characters and badass rank from your PS3 or Xbox 360.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection comes out on March 24th.

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Firaxis and 2K want to take gamers out into the galactic map. They just announced Sid Meier’s Starships, a strategy game set in the Civilization: Beyond Earth universe. The turn-based game puts players in charge of a federation of planets seeking to control the whole galaxy. Game designer Sid Meier explained to Gamespot that the game is a story sequel to last year’s strategy game set on one planet.

What happens after we colonize our new home and eventually build starships to take to the stars? What has become of our long-lost brothers and sisters from the planet Earth?

Since they’re related by story elements, Firaxis promises that there will be in-game connectivity between Starships and Beyond Earth, although they did not specify the extent of that feature. Sid Meier’s Starships is due to launch later this year for PC, iOS, and Mac systems.

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