Posted on March 29, 2017
For the past few years studios have been steadily pumping out sandbox survival games at a fairly decent pace. It’s easy to see the appeal – you get the challenge that you find in more traditional game while still finding that deep, satisfying emergent gameplay that sandboxes are known for. The actual execution of this genre, however, seems to be scattershot. Some survival sandboxes, like Minecraft, see absolutely insane levels of success and popularity while others, like No Man’s Sky, fall flat on their faces and become something the community at large would rather forget about.
That is the landscape in which we find Hellion (by Zero Gravity): a space survival sandbox that’s due to come out for Early Access February 24th. The premise is simple: Think Rust, but in space. When you begin you’re thrust in to a massively-multiplayer world with nothing but a cramped spaceship and a paltry supply of resources. From there it becomes a mad dash to stay alive, either by salvaging nearby derelicts, mining and refining ores from asteroids, or by raiding the ships of other players. Of course, this is all while trying to ensure that other players don’t raid you.
On the sliding scale of arcade vs. simulator mechanics, Hellion tries to lean more towards the latter. All the ships, stations, moons, and planets orbit around each other with realistic Newtonian physics – anybody who’s ever played Kerbal Space Program will feel instantly at home navigating the various orbital plots and maps in the game world. Likewise, every item in the game functions in what feels like a realistic manner. For example, cycling through an airlock to go EVA requires a lengthy and deliberate process of sealing hatches, pumping air in/out, etc. In another touch of realism – the spacecraft in the game are all comprised of various subsystems which can (and will!) degrade over time and eventually fail, requiring the player to either repair or replace them.
These mechanics aren’t just for the players own spacecraft – gameplay footage from the studio shows a small crew of players coming upon a derelict space station devoid of any power or gravity. While half the players drifted inside to explore, the developer’s commentary made it clear that such an endeavor wasn’t sustainable: their spacesuits only had so much air available, which limited the amount of salvaging they could do. That’s why the other two players were then shown on the station’s exterior, painstakingly making repairs to its solar array so that it could start producing power and other resources on its own again. All of this happened while the captain stayed at the helm of their main ship watching out of the window and providing support as necessary.
I know that this deliberate, plodding pace is not something that all gamers will enjoy. However, I have high hopes for Hellion. Even though it’s rather early in its development, the game already appears to have reached a depth and complexity that brings out the best in the survival sandbox genre. That being said, it IS an Early Access title, and so far all we have to go on is gameplay footage from the studio. There’s no telling how the game will actually turn out once its released in to the wild – whether it can actually live up to the promises its made or whether it will end up a disappointment. But speaking as someone who’s longed for a good, deep, semi-realistic space sim for awhile now, I’m really excited to find out.
(Hellion is available for Windows only, Early Access already launched on Steam since February 24th.)
Posted on March 20, 2017
One of the games I’ve been looking forward to for quite a long time now is the submarine exploration game Diluvion by Arachnid Studios (available on PC and Mac). Many of you may not have heard of it before – Arachnid is a small indie studio and Diluvion is their first major project. Originally pitched on Kickstarter in June of 2015, this game has been stuck in development hell for the past year and a half. I had given up hope of it ever being released when, to my complete and utter surprise, it finally released on February 2nd of this year.
Diluvion is a very steampunk-ish world where all of humanity lives beneath the sea after some sort of apocalyptic event freezes the ocean’s surface over. You are a submarine captain, and your goal is to hire a crew and explore this mysterious world to amass wealth and discover its greatest secrets. There are light RPG elements in the way you manage your ship and crew, but there’s also plenty of real-time action as you combat other subs and take on the gigantic, mythic-proportion sea monsters you encounter on your journey. If you think “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea meets FTL” then you’ll get a decent grasp of the rough idea that Arachnid was going for.
The unique art style is originally what attracted me to the title – when you’re piloting the sub you’re treated to a 3D third-person perspective. The graphic style is a little cartoonish but still stunning when mixed with the game’s Verne-esque aesthetic. The art style takes a very interesting turn when you explore the interior of your ship: the 3D rendering gets put on the back-burner as everything shifts to a flat two-dimensional side-scrolling format. The aesthetic when you’re in this “mode” is very hard to describe – it’s something I’d imagine Tim Burton drawing if he did 2D cartoons. At any rate I found it highly intriguing and novel, especially when it stands in contrast to the more traditional 3D environment outside your sub.
The game’s mechanics are just as varied as its visuals. Anyone who’s played an RPG will find familiar elements such as managing inventory/stats, talking to and trading with NPC’s at various sites, and taking on quests. In combat, you have to balance fighting your foes with diverting your crew to various tasks, such as choosing whether you want personnel manning your weapons or repairing damage. Your crew can also be damaged, of course, forcing you to seek medical assistance. Ships come in a few different classes, all of which are customizable with various tools, weapons, and other upgrades.
All in all, it appears Diluvion was well worth the wait. This game appears to have very in-depth mechanics, has an immediately compelling visual style, and hints at a possibly deep and well-written story. Now that it’s finally landed on Steam I hope to get busy playing it as soon as possible, and I encourage anyone with a penchant for exploration or just wants to live out a Captain Nemo fantasy to check it out.
Posted on March 13, 2017
Minecraft (by Mojang) has come a long, looong way from its crowdfunded alpha and beta days. Those of us who were around back then remember a time when you could only find coal in the ground and night time was ten minutes of unskippable pure terror, hiding in a hastily dug hole while listening to the deafening growls of zombies just overhead. Since then the game has grown to be a bit more homey: charcoal is just a log away, and an easily crafted bed will allow you to skip those dark, lonely nights.
To be frank – for the past few years I’ve been mostly out of the Minecraft scene. While I ran a server with fanatical devotion for several years eventually real life took over, the fantastic players I had come to know and love got older and started getting responsibilities of their own, and I was forced to finally shut down the wonderful little world we had built up together. Every now and then, though, I get a whiff of nostalgia and fire up a single player world to relive the glory days and see what’s changed.
The answer, it seems, is “a lot”. Imagine my surprise when, after setting the game aside for a couple years, I launch Minecraft to discover rabbits, llamas, and polar bears (oh my!). It seems that while I left this blocky realm a long time ago, it continued on just fine without me, delivering a plethora of new features to attract a gaggle of new young explorers and builders. It seems that Mojang has acted in this same spirit again with its latest snapshot (17w06a), released earlier this month.
In this snapshot (Mojang’s term for a pre-released update) several new blocks have been introduced to Minecraft’s 8-bit realm, and all of them seem focused on the goal of providers players with even more tools to build even more amazing structures that I’ll never be creative enough to make. The first new block, concrete powder, seems to function much in the same way sand does (and by that I mean that it will fall down under the force of gravity, unlock most blocks which will happily hover in open space if you so choose). The main advantage concrete powder has over sand is that it’s dye-able, allowing players to craft it into a variety of different brilliant colors.
When concrete powder gets wet, it naturally hardens into the second new released block: Concrete proper. Concrete will retain the same color it had as a powder, but seems to harden into a solid, untextured surface. I could definitely see it being useful for those into creating “pixel art” structures or builders who just have a general need to add a little color to their homes.
Players who really want to get snazzy with their builds, however, will want to take the star of the latest snapshot: Glazed Terracotta. Each one of these blocks (created by smelting stained clay) forms a different brilliant multicolored pattern that players are then able to place at any one of several different orientations. The exact pattern you get depends on what color clay you throw in the smelter, allowing for endless different combinations and arrangements with which to decorate your abode.
The snapshot also features other minor (but very welcome) features, such as the ability to save and swap different toolbar arrangements in creative mode. All of this points to the upcoming version 1,12 being very much a “Builders-centric” update.
It seems that every time I hop on to Minecraft for my little nostalgia trips, it always seems to be massively changed for the better. Snapshots like this give me the urge to jump back in more regularly and try to rekindle some of that pixelated wanderlust I lost so long ago. Who knows… maybe one day I’ll even resurrect my ancient server and invite the old gang back to update our old buildings with terracotta and concrete.
(Minecraft is out now for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Xbox, Raspberry Pi, hell probably even your toaster at this point.)
Posted on March 9, 2017
Guild Wars 2, released in August 2012 for PC, has a new episode for its living story that was released on the 8th of February 2017. Not only has it been eagerly awaited by fans and players, but offers players the ability to see what is next in the storyline of this game. This is the 4th episode in the 3rd season of the Guild Wars 2 story and will give more details into the White Mantel as well as what will happen to Kryta as the White Mantel increase their efforts against Kryta and its people. As someone who has played GW2 on and off since the day of it’s release, I feel like this is something we can all look forward to.
What to Look Forward to
While the story of the White Mantel and Kryta continues, there are many other additions to the game that players can look forward to. ArenaNet has added in new achievements for the players as well as a new raid and new zone. Not only does this expand the game outward but gives players more to do once they have completed the storyline. They will also appreciate the new rewards that are offered such as legendary weapons, equipment, minis, and other items. There are even new reward tracks that have been added for both World vervus World and Player versus Player.
ArenaNet has also added in updates to the content of the game for players to enjoy such as new features to the Guild Hall. For instance, new decorations have been added that players can add to their Guild Halls that include raid pieces, trophies, statues, and even furnishings like chandeliers and rugs. This opens more customization of the space while allowing players to enjoy the new additions. Other updated content includes a revamped Fractal of the Mist, Thaumanova Reactor, to improve the gameplay and quality. Players who do Fractals with any kind of frequency will notice and appreciate these improvements.
Black Lion Trading
The newest living story release has also added to the Black Lion Trading Company Gem Store as well which now offers many new items that can be purchased for your characters. Some of these additions include limited time offers such as the Devoted weapon skins that are currently up for purchase and the White Mantel Appearance kit which is also up for a short period of time. However, while purchasing the newest shop items can be fun, other changes have been made as well including The Black Lion Chest being changed to the Lake Doric Chest which now offers various new items for players to use and enjoy.
Whether you are just starting to play Guild Wars 2 or have been playing since the beginning, the changes that have been made will only make the game better than it was before. With the addition of new activities as well as the continuation of the story, players will soon see that things are only beginning to heat up. Though many are still looking forward to the other upcoming possibilities that this game must offer as there are so many more areas that have yet to be opened for gameplay as well as places that are yet to be explored by ArenaNet for expansion.
Posted on March 4, 2017
The indie darling Firewatch (by the studio Campos Santos) has been out now for a little over a year. While that’s fairly late for a game review I thought this game was still worth a look, because despite receiving several critical accolades it still seems like many people are on the fence about the title (or haven’t heard of it at all). I consider that a tragedy – Firewatch definitely isn’t for everyone, but I personally found its art style compelling, its setting novel, and above all its story provocative and a refreshing subversion of certain video game tropes. I really liked it, is what I’m saying.
SPOILER ALERT!!! One of the most important parts of Firewatch is its story. That is why, even though I’m going to do my best to spoil as little as possible, it’s impossible to talk about this game without giving away plot details. You have been warned.
Let’s start with the basics: Firewatch puts you in the shoes of Henry, an average guy who just took a job as a fire lookout in Shoshone National Forest. The life of a fire lookout is an isolated one, and the only sustained human contact you have is with your supervisor Delilah, whom you only speak to over your handheld radio. Despite this separation, you quickly bond with Delilah, and your decisions in regards to how you interact with her shape a big chunk of the emotional basis of the game (more on that in a moment). She’s also your only companion as mysterious things begin to happen in your little section of the park.
More about that park: your game environment is a decently sized open-world national park rendered in an absolutely stunning semi-cartoonish art style (for reference, the art style had an almost Team Fortress 2 feel to it). You’ll be able to explore several environments such as dark caves, dazzling lakefronts, and intensely lush forest. Though the graphics are simple on a technical level I can not overstate how incredibly beautiful every frame of this game is.
Here’s a short gameplay “sample” of what you can expect from Firewatch.
That beauty is somewhat juxtaposed by Firewatch’s tone. While everything is serene at the beginning a foreboding, paranoid feel settles in as the story progresses and you realize that things aren’t quite what they seem (or are they?). Even Delilah, your one and only confidant, proves to be unreliable.
While the main plot builds up this much suspense, deeper ideas start to show themselves. If I could sum up the overall theme of Firewatch with one word it would be “escapism”. Without going in to details: Every major character in the game (including Henry, the player character) is there because they’re trying to escape a deeper problem in their lives. The key word there is “trying”, because in the end it turns out that just as in real life, you can only escape for so long.
This is where most of Firewatch’s detractors criticize the game, and this is why I said at the beginning that it wasn’t for everyone. In short: Firewatch goes about making its point by deliberately using common gaming and storytelling tropes to build up your expectations and get you thoroughly engrossed in the world, and then drops it all on the ground like yesterday’s news. It is the clearest example of an anti-climax that I’ve ever seen in any fictional media. While I personally think the developers used this to masterful effect, there’s no getting around the fact that it will leave a bad taste in a lot of gamers’ mouths.
That being said, I’m still a tremendous fan of this game and recommend that anyone who’s even remotely curious check it out. It’s a beautiful game, and relatively short – only 4-6 hours – so I highly recommend playing the entire story in one sitting. After all, everyone needs to escape life now and then, right?
(Firewatch by Campos Santos is available on Windows, Linux, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One)
Posted on February 26, 2017
I’m sure a big portion of our reader base are fighting game players. Titles like Super Street Fighter, Tekken, Super Smash Bros will come to mind when you mention fighting games. The thing about these games also, is that there aren’t as huge of a following as compared to big MOBAs like League of Legends or DotA 2.
Therefore, when we talk about tournaments, there can only be a few that people would recognize immediately, and today in this post we want to go over 5 of the biggest ones coming to you this year, 2017. Look forward to it!
1. BEAST 7
The beast is the benchmark tournament for fighting games in Europe; the largest for the Super Smash Series. It was first held in 2011, and had since been one of the bigger tournaments, where top players are always trying to compete in.
Beast 7 aims to uphold the high standards. The organizer has a lot in store for participants and event goers. The event itself will be hosted in a huge 2800m2 (30000 sqft) venue, and there is a guaranteed attendance of top level gamers from North America and Europe.
It promises to be an awesome experience. The entire event will be live streamed, Seasoned TO team with international hosting experience and lots more.
The tournament will be held from February 17th to 19th.
2. EVO 2017
The Evolution Championship is one of the largest and longest running fighting tournaments in the world. Not much can be said about Evo since every fighting game fan should know of this tournament. However, the event isn’t just about winning, as Evo is open to everyone FoC, it offers the opportunity to meet new people, who share same passions while watching the clash of champions like Justin Wong or Daigo Umehara.
Evo 2017 will hold from July 14th to 16th.
3. COMBO BREAKER 2017
Combo breaker is a tournament series. It’s hosted annually and last 3 days every year. The tournament was initially started to provide a special weekend for fighting game fans and has been around since 2015. The 2017 tournament promises to be as spectacular as ever.
Combo Breaker will be held from May 26th to 28th
4. THE CEO DREAMLAND 2017
The Ceo is a super smash and brawling tournament that is held annually. The tournament has grown immensely since its inception with several Players from all around the world gathering to compete against the best in a weekend of intense battle.
The dreamland 2017 is expected to be held in Orlando inside the Wyndham Orlando Resort and it is dedicated to all super smash bros and other multi players. The dreamland will be the host to Singles and Doubles Competition for:
Super Smash Bros, Melee Super Smash Bros, 64 Super Smash Bro, WiiU Super Smash Bros. Brawl and several others.
The Ceo dreamland will held on April 14th to 16th
The Schism is a new tournament for the Irish Super Smash Bros, it features melee, project M and lots more. The tournament is mainly for the Super Smash game community’s Irish playerbase, but you are welcome to travel all the way to see it if you’re a diehard fan!
The Schism is held from the 4th to 5th of February
Believe me, if you’re a fight game fan, you can’t miss any of these events. Thank the lord if any of them are hosted in a city near you.
Posted on February 21, 2017
We’re happy to be starting this new blog that will be dedicated to all your crazy gamers on planet Earth! We have big plans for this blog, and we want to thank everyone for following us on this journey. We appreciate each and every one of you!
GAMER4EVA IS HERE TO PARTAY!
And we have a bunch of content lined up to keep you guys up-to-date and entertained.