Dying Light has a baby-safe mode for all you babies

, | News

Dying Light is celebrating its fifth year of existence. There will be in-game events, gifts, and lots of zombie killing until March 19th. Whatever your feelings on the parkour undead-kicking adventure, Techland has given fans unwavering support for a much longer time than many other games that launched in 2015.

But what if you’re less Daryl and more Merle? You slip on banana peels and just can’t seem to knock the living dead down? You’ve likely been missing out on Dying Light for all this time. Now that everyone else has had their fun for five long years, it’s your turn. The developers have added a “significantly easier” Story Mode to the game. The player hits harder, can take more damage, falls hurt less, traders will pay double for your stuff, and nights are shorter. The only downside is Story Mode gives less Legend experience, but if you’re wussing around in this difficulty, you’re probably not doing much endgame stuff.

Entropy and empires collide in Sunless Skies, the best game of 2019

, | Game reviews

For all the points of the compass, there is only one direction.  And time is its only measure.

–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

The eye has a powerful thirst.  It will drink greedily and without reservation whatever pictures you put in front of it.  But words sneak past the greedy eye with their own secret pictures. Pictures that no one showed you, that no one else can see, that no one else will ever see.  You, and the author of the words, and the words themselves conspired to create these secret pictures out of emptiness. The words are the breath breathed over the face of the black waters and what happens next is no less than the act of creation.  

Continue reading →

Weird bio-ships in No Man’s Sky make more sense than the original ships

, | News

The latest update from Sean Murray and Hello Games for No Man’s Sky includes living ships that players can grow from eggs. It’s later game stuff, so don’t expect to fly off your starter planet in a Vong cruiser, but slimy xenomorph vehicles fit the procedurally generated aesthetic of No Man’s Sky so much better than hard right-angles of steel and glass. The update also adds more alien NPC encounters, weird objects to investigate in space, multiplayer grouping enhancements, and some general quality of life improvements.

In related news, the developers are pivoting to more frequent, but smaller, updates. The need for gigantic releases like Next and Beyond have passed, and the team can work on incremental additions.

Like the mob, Grand Theft Auto IV is hard to stamp out

, | News

Grand Theft Auto IV is dead on PC, but Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition is taking over its turf. If you weren’t aware, GTA4 on PC used Games for Windows Live to authenticate and login for multiplayer. With GFWL essentially being abandoned by Microsoft, it made installing and starting GTA4 kind of a hassle for honest customers. Once that minuscule level of support ended in January, Rockstar removed the game from sale entirely from digital PC storefronts.

Not to worry. Niko and Roman will be back. Rockstar announced that a new version of the PC game is coming in March. It’s a build with the multiplayer modes entirely stripped out and some of the in-game radio stations nixed. The good news is that it will include the expandalone Episodes from Liberty City. Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition will be a free update for anyone that owns and has played GTA4 at least once.

The 2nd best game of 2019: Control

, | Features

After I finished playing Control, I wrote one of those snooty reviews that talks a lot about subtext and themes and the designer’s possible motivations.  Basically, stuff that doesn’t include potentially helpful consumer information like a description of the plot, how many hours it takes to beat the game, and whether the graphics are visually stunning.  But as I’ve gone back to Control to finish up some loose ends, I’ve noticed that some of my favorite things are things I might not even have realized at the time because I was too busy mulling over national character and whatnot.  So here are a few addendums to the review. Some things I really appreciate about Control as I go back as a completionist instead of a tourist.

Continue reading →

Rainbow Six Siege has the most confusing lore

, | News

Multiplayer shooters with story elements that don’t really match the fact that people are getting shot or blown up isn’t a new thing. Unreal Tournament kicked it off by giving us character biographies and a weird mining company bloodsport to justify all those goofy oddballs lobbing rockets at each other, but it’s always been an excuse to have players in a deathmatch. Over the years, as graphical fidelity brought us closer to realism, it’s been harder to reconcile the lighthearted lore with deadly combat.

This trailer for Rainbow Six Siege’s Six Invitational tournament raises all sorts of questions. Did those spectators pay to watch the outside of a building? Are the contestants actually shooting each other in their faces with powder bullets? They use normal bullets in the other matches, right? Are they really punching and rifle-butting each other? Are all the other maps part of this story, or are these operators like the wolf and sheep dog from the cartoons; just doing a job with no hard feelings between them? Oh, and one of the combatants can dress like Lara Croft? The kickoff trailer from January is just as confusing.

Dutch’s mother has played Red Dead Redemption 2

, | News

Benjamin Byron Davis, the actor that gave voice and life to Dutch van der Linde in Red Dead Redemption 2, has a mother who has taken the odd journey of playing through the story of her son being the leader of an outlaw gang of cowboys. In Jessica Hoffman Davis‘ essay, posted on Reddit by her son, she reflects on the experience.

“But beyond the imaginary part of it all; it was so real. As if I was living in another time when folks travelled over roads that were narrow paths that led over wooden bridges and through rushing streams.

Jessica Hoffman Davis is 75, the author of six books, holds a Doctorate in Human Development and Psychology, and loves her son.

You won’t have to pay taxes on Fortnite V-Bucks just yet

, | News

The IRS has removed all references to video game currency taxes in its guidelines. In October, the IRS published a new set of rules covering the reporting and paying of taxes on virtual currencies, which included the in-game funny money you use to buy frying pan hats or gold skins for your guns. Two popular examples in particular can be seen in the old web page captured by Archive.org.

“Bitcoin, Ether, Roblox, and V-bucks are a few examples of a convertible virtual currency.”

According to CNN, this section was quietly reworded yesterday to the relief of parents everywhere. Don’t sigh too loudly though. Experts believe that due to the massive amounts of revenue these games generate, it’s only a matter of time before real legislation tries to capture some of that virtual green.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is circling back to team deathmatch

, | News

The student is now the master, or something. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will offer 8v8 team deathmatch in a new mode. Seven small chunks of its gargantuan maps will host a very Call of Duty-ish experience, for those players that want it. The mode even mandates first-person view, so the only things you’ll miss are the guitar riffs and napalm strikes. Team deathmatch is “coming soon” to PUGB, presumably when its next season launches.

Volko Ruhnke’s Nevsky is a fiddly that has its own quality

, | Game reviews

Wargame design has developed so profoundly over the past four decades that a collection spanning this era almost feels like a series of geological strata. From the perfunctory Nixonian arithmetic of military integers dressed up as history in early SPI games, to the multilateral multi-impulse area movement Avalon Hill games of the first Bush Administration, to the Clintonesque triangulation of the card-driven games that moved history from the rulebook to a little story you held in your hand, the chase of verisimilitude has seen a steady stream of devices meant to get us to that ultimate grail: to touch history. Modern designers have an impressive arsenal of mechanics to assist them in this quest. Yet the goal too often, for one reason or another, eludes them.

Continue reading →

During renovations, Anthem’s store will still be open for business

, | News

Anthem is going back in the garage. When Anthem launched a year ago, there was a lot to dislike about it. Loot was terrible, quests were bad, the tech was clunky, and the whole thing was just a chore. In the time since, BioWare and Electronic Arts have fixed some things, but the go-to strategy was seemingly one of radio silence. There have been a few community events and updates, but nothing to bring back folks that left long ago.

“We have also heard your feedback that Anthem needs a more satisfying loot experience, better long-term progression and a more fulfilling end game.”

Casey Hudson of BioWare is hoping the developer’s plans for a revamp will do the trick. Writing of a “substantial reinvention” for the game, Hudson warns players that the team will be hunkering down for a few months to work on the changes. Anthem will essentially go into maintenance mode for the foreseeable future. No new seasonal content will be coming during this time, but all the players left can continue to use the in-game store to trick out their suits.

The 3rd best game of 2019: One Finger Death Punch 2

, | Game reviews

Fighting games are a form of puppetry.  You pull the strings, an insensate doll animates, videogame violence ensues.  Most of the puppetry has gotten really complex because most of the puppeteers have gotten really good, and therefore more demanding.  They expect long deep learning curves and literal split second timing. Those learning curves get deeper and that timing gets more precise as brawlers like God of War and Devil May Cry lure away the more casual players like me.

But One Finger Death Punch believes we should all be puppeteers.  

Continue reading →

After 20 years of The Sims gibbering, everyone gets a hot tub

, | News

The Sims is twenty years old. You can celebrate in The Sims 4 with a free hot tub in-game item in the birthday update. There have been ups and downs. Parties and tragedies. That’s twenty years of simlish, twenty years of crying over gravestones, twenty years of walling little people up in closets, twenty years of kitchen fires, twenty years of pixellated sex, twenty years of missed work rides. Throughout two decades of The Sims one universal truth has emerged. Pooping and showering takes too darned long.

No, Blizzard is not giving back the classic version of WarCraft 3

, | News

It’s gone. Face it. Blizzard launched WarCraft 3: Reforged and replaced everyone’s classic version of the game with a 30GB abomination, and it isn’t coming back. At least, it doesn’t seem that way from the latest official post. There’s talk of updating all versions of the game (even those that didn’t buy Reforged) to include leaderboards and clans, and a quick bit about custom games, but it’s a done deal.

“We want to say we’re sorry to those of you who didn’t have the experience you wanted.”

Don’t even ask about the EULA changes that give Blizzard the rights to your creations.

The 4th best game of 2019: Void Bastards

, | Game reviews

Sometimes when you’re playing The Swindle, a steampunk heist game with cool steampunky progression to pull you through procedurally generated heists, you get a gimme.  A lightly defended computer stuffed with cash, right next to the entrance, with only a couple of robot guards strolling by on their preset patrol paths. Knock out the robots, hack a couple of thousand quid out of the machine, and beat feet back to your airship pod.  With that kind of gift laid at your feet, there’s no question of pushing the risk/reward calculations any further. With pockets that full, why risk running deeper in to scoop up whatever change is lying around on the floor?

But other times, you get a network of defenses sealed tight behind brick walls, swarming with guards, festooned with landmines, eyed jealously by overlapping cameras wired to alarms.  No point bothering. Make do with the scant money you found in the foyer and call it a day. The procedural generation giveth, the procedural generation sometimes don’t giveth.

Continue reading →