No Man’s Sky had one of the best launches on the PlayStation 4 since the console was released. It sold almost a million copies on PC in preorders and the first week of sales. It’s an unqualified sales success. Less than a month later, refund requests are in such volume that Valve has posted a special notice on the Steam store page. What happened? How did the indie darling go from being one of the most anticipated games of this year, to a swirl of controversy? Between accusations that Hello Games and Sean Murray lied about the game’s content, and a public debate about the merits of marketing, there is No Man’s Sky – a title that’s become the new poster child for an industry of hype.
After the jump, it’s the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning!Continue reading →
Adam Jensen is hunkered down behind a convenient desk. Heavily armed guards patrol back and forth. I could have my Jensen, my stealthy silent assassin cyber-augmented Jensen, stay crouched behind cover and stealthily take each guard out with long-range abilities, but my ninja Adam Jensen is a dumbass. He wants to scurry out into the open because that’s what happens when you load from a save while in cover and have to hit the spacebar on the PC version of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The button to confirm the load is the same as one to vault over objects while in cover, which means save-scumming presents its own form of punishment with each reload. Pop! Up comes Jensen! “Hey guys!” I imagine the look of surprise on the guards faces as they mow Jensen down.
One of the benefits of the Warhammer license being handed out like candy is that some of the games that use the Warhammer license will be good. Perhaps even very good. And some of those games will keep on giving. Today, the Space Marines arrive in Battlefleet: Gothic Armada, the Witch Hunters arrive in Mordheim: City of the Damned, and the Eldar arrive in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. All on the same day! Space Marines cost $7, Witch Hunters cost $10, and the Eldar are part of the ongoing process of adding content to Eternal Crusade’s ongoing early access. Which I wouldn’t normally mention, but it’s worth mentioning any time space elfs show up.
You’re up, Creative Assembly. Not that Total War: Warhammer is hurting for content, but we’re all eager to hear who the new kids in class will be. Skaven? I bet it’s the skaven.
Microsoft closed Lionhead Studios in April, but the Fable franchise remains active despite Fable Legends being canceled shortly before the studio shut down. Fable lives! A group of ex-Lionhead folks have licensed the Fable name and started a Kickstarter for Fable Fortune, a concept that came out of the Pub Games project. Now separated from Microsoft, the game needs crowd-funding assistance to get finished.
Microsoft have helped us by giving us the license for Fable Fortune, but they are no longer investing in the project. We need to secure the remaining funds ourselves to complete development.
Fable Fortune from Flaming Fowl Studios will be a free-to-play collectible card game that leans heavily on the good versus evil morality system present in the Fable games. It may not be a full-blown action roleplaying game, but it looks like Flaming Fowl has the essence of Fable in it. You get all the British humor you’d expect from the series including bad puns, silly mustaches, and bodily functions.
The Far Harbor expansion for Fallout 4 is a big bowl of post-apocalyptic clam chowder. While Fallout 4 had plenty of shout-outs to Lovecraft, Far Harbor wears its inspiration proudly. Being set on an island off the coast of New England, it’s full of horrors like sullen fishermen, dangerous mist, icthyian monsters, and violent cultists. It may be the best Lovercraft game to date. There’s new loot to collect and new locations to stumble through, but the best stuff may be hidden underwater around the island where most players will never go. Get some underwater breathing in your perks and go find some sunken treasure.
Before FTL let you manage your crew on their peril-fraught voyage into the procedurally generated deep unknown, there was U-boat sim Silent Hunter 5. You made the same kinds of crew management decisions. Okay, here we go into a battle. This man goes here and that man goes there. It was all very personal.
Uboot seems to take a page from the same ship’s log. At first, it looks like the usual third person naval action game. But as you watch the promo video (Uboot is just a Kickstarter at this point), the view zooms in to a quaint cutaway of the sub. Anyone who’s ever studied the cutaway view of a ship will appreciate this. It’s all very Life Aquatic. I like how the metal sides of the submarine actually slide out of the way. They don’t just vanish like the walls of your house in The Sims. They deferentially get out of your way. And what better way to highlight the terror of a flooding sub than showing the water level rising around your hapless crew members?
The developers in Poland, Deep Water Studio, don’t list any former credits. So you’re taking a chance with a first-time developer. They cite a deal with publisher Playway to match whatever Kickstarter funds they make. Playway has a lot of trash in their catalog, but they appreciate the awkward charm in the Car Mechanic Simulation games, in which you play, yep, a car mechanic. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds. And oddly enough, it totally works.
Uboot sounds even more personal than FTL or Silent Hunter 5. To wit:
You will see the lives of grey wolves in all its glory. We will not add any colour or flavour to it, even if the toilet overflows.
Ten years ago, Bethesda Softworks looked at the growing market in gamerpics (remember those?) and background themes in the Xbox Marketplace for the Xbox 360 console, and wondered if people would purchase something similar in a videogame. If people were willing to buy a virtual drawing of a funny face for their profile, why wouldn’t they buy a pony dress in their game? Thus, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s Horse Armor Pack DLC pack was born. A cosmetic bit of fluff for your in-game Oblivion steed, the content was originally sold for 200 Microsoft Points (remember those?) or $2.50. Although it became the poster-child of bad downloadable content, Bethesda pointed out that quite a lot of people bought it, even two years later.
To say the Horse Armor Pack was divisive would be an understatement. Some people felt very strongly that it was the death knell of gaming. They said it was a nickel-and-dime scam that piecemeal sold what should’ve been bundled in an expansion, or even given away for free as a mod. Others thought that it was no big deal. People would vote with their wallets and sanity would win out, tossing the “microtransaction” into the dustbin of history.
Horse Armor was neither as it turned out. It was the start of a revolution in the gaming industry. Far from killing gaming or going away quietly, it instead pointed the way forward. Whole companies and genres are built around this model of selling game content now. In fact, the argument over this experiment looks sort of quaint today. DLC is commonplace. One could even argue that the majority of gamers prefer to pay for their gaming experiences through DLC or microtransaction offers. After all, where would mobile gaming be without in-game purchases?
Hooray for Horse Armor! It changed gaming forever and gave us all a Godwin’s Law equivalent for DLC.
That’s an in-game shot from RollerCoaster Tycoon World. My park guests could either be yawning at the game’s klunky performance on a decent PC, or they’re aghast that I’m playing this instead of a better game. It’s a mess. The game is in early access, so things could get better, but there’s a long way to go. As it stands now, it’s little more than a sparse sandbox park editor with a barely adequate tutorial mode coupled to art design that only barely looks as good as the full-featured RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 from 2004. The fact that the game is sorely unfinished didn’t stop the publisher, Atari, from boxing up a Steam code and tossing it up on retail shelves in some territories anyway.
Nvizzio Creations is the third studio that publisher Atari hired to take on the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise after Pipeworks Software and Area 52 Games were both removed from the project. Nvizzio at least seems to be excited to work on the project and they’ve acknowledged that they have some work to do. Hopefully, Atari recognizes that there is an audience willing to support these modestly budgeted, but well-made, sandbox sims.
Frontier Developments, the studio that made the previous RollerCoaster Tycoon games for Atari, is busy developing their own theme park sim, Coaster Planet.
Remember when Microsoft announced they were going to publish a new Phantom Dust for the Xbox One? Yeah, that was pretty cool. Of course, it didn’t happen since Microsoft has better things to do. So Danish developer Betadwarf, who might not even realize they’re doing it, is taking up the slack.
If you’d like to check out Battlefield Gothic Armada in motion, join me as I explore issues like whether space torpedoes are any good, the real value of ships being able to turn quickly, and how many points are worth putting into your navigator’s skill. For maximum space porn, I recommend watching in HD.
This is the best item in Grim Dawn, the action roleplaying game from Crate Entertainment. Oh, you may find an item of armor with better protection, or a weapon with a more damaging effect on the enemy, but this is going to be the standard by which all other items are judged. Why bother with thorns or some kind of flame aura when you can throw the ultimate insult? Veni vidi merda.
Grim Dawn is finally out of early access and is available for Windows PC on Steam.
Kaboom! Within minutes of starting Just Cause 3, you’ll be blowing up stuff with Rico Rodriguez’ explosive box of toys. You get sticky bombs, grenades, and an RPG to start with, then more fun later as you complete challenges and unlock more gear. Blammo! Speaking of challenges, what’s that text scrolling on the right of the display? Oh, no. This won’t do at all. SexyPanther121 has blown up more of the island nation of Medici. GottaBMe has snapped off more headshots on government troops. Blow4Deth has collected more sports cars. Can you para-glide higher than OmniButt? Yes! Now Jackalacka has blown up more news helicopters. Just Cause 3 doesn’t have cooperative multiplayer, but what it does have are live leaderboards that push you towards more acts of destruction. As if the explosions weren’t enough carrot on a stick to make you do things, they add leaderboards!
Just Cause 3 is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
The post-apocalyptic wasteland of Fallout 4 can be an unforgiving place. If you’re just popping out of a pre-war Vault, the radioactive territory can be quite a detriment to living. Here are some simple tips for making your way in the Boston area immediately after hitting the great outdoors.
In Call of Duty: Black Ops III, you can choose to play either a male character portrayed by Ben Browder, or a female operative voiced and mo-capped by Abby Brammell. Hey, that’s neat, right? For the first time in Activision’s blockbuster shooter franchise, you can choose the gender of your main character in the campaign. If you decide to take a female through the weird and linear Black Ops III story, all the cinematics will show Abby Brammell being tough and badass because in 2065, cyber-enhanced super soldiers are all pretty much equally deadly.
How weak is it then that Call of Duty: Black Ops III goes through the trouble of offering a female main character, and then opts to refer to the player character as “Player” in the game? Throughout the tale of inter-connected consciousness and paranoid fantasy that Treyarch weaves, you are only ever Player. You don’t even get a call-sign like “Soap” or “Noob.” Christopher Meloni chews virtual scenery as John Talyor, and as bland as that name is, at least his character gets a name. They couldn’t even jazz it up by going with the more street-savvy “Playa” giving you some identity. Player please!