Northgard is an unusual sidestep for Shiro Games: Moving from the genre-exploring Evoland titles to city building and real-time strategy is not the usual course, it’d seem. Shiro Games assured us that Settlers and Age of Empires were as important to them as gamers as the RPGs that inspired Evoland, and have set forth to build Northgard.
As Evoland picked the most memorable bits from the history of JRPGs, Northgard feels like it must be made of Shiro Games’ favorite bits of the 4x and RTS genres. Those familiar with Settlers will recognize the similarities in Northgard immediately, and AOE fans also have some familiar items.
Anyone who sticks to one medium for gaming -- PC, Xbox, Playstation, destroyed Switch -- inevitably misses out on some games. For us at GamersNexus, Monster Hunter has long been one of those franchises. Luckily, Phoenix Labs felt the same way, and so created a more platform-favorable co-op, behemoth-slaying RPG called “Dauntless.” Dauntless aims to bring a refreshed, new take on the hunting experience, adding a healthy dash of Dark Souls-inspired combat for the PC platform.
The very existence of humanity is being threatened by aether-fueled behemoths, we’re told, and so you shouldn’t feel bad about eradicating entire families of beasts, Design Director Chris Cleroux informed us. Just murder all of them. They’re all bad.
Thunder Lotus has hit their stride in game making. Their first game, Jotun, made waves largely due to the beautiful hand-drawn visuals. They’ve now embarked on their second title, Sundered, and they’re hoping to do the same again. Shifting to a more “Metroidvania” style game has only benefited from the appeal of Thunder Lotus’ hand drawn aesthetic, which carries over into the new action/platformer title.
In Sundered, you control Eshe, a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world. Separated from your group by an eldritch sandstorm, Eshe is forced to investigate the powerful arcane forces that shattered the world. Throughout the game, enemies come from two fractions: the Valkyries and the Eschatons. The Valkyries were once humanity’s best soldiers, formed to try and stop the cataclysm that shattered the world. The Eschatons, on the other hand, were humans that fell under the sway of those same eldritch powers. Eshe will have to overcome both throughout the game.
The march toward completion continues for Hob, the latest offering from Runic games. Hob is also the first title from Runic since founder Travis Baldree left to form Double Damage Games, following the wild success of the Torchlight dungeon crawler. It's hardly surprising, then, that Hob takes a sharp change in direction from the franchise Runic had previously built. Where the prior series had been a Diablo-esque hack’n’slash dungeon crawler, Hob is moves to focus on world exploration and puzzle solving, using both as a means for storytelling. Adventure is the focal point, here, although some dungeon crawling does remain.
Hob drives a point of world-building in a very literal way. The world of Hob is a striking blend of natural wilds and harsh mechanical creations. In the above realms, you'll find wild animals such as the effable “duckdeer” and overgrown (and aggressive) vines and thorns. This is dotted with mechanical creations, and is where our as-yet-and-to-remain untitled hero comes in. The player leads the hero through both the organic overworld and the metallic underworld to restore both to working order. As we manipulate ancient devices above and below ground, machines come online, and piece by piece the bits of natural world below ground are brought up to complete the natural world above. There’s a slow, methodical transition as organic and metal merge.
PAX really couldn’t stop growing if it tried, at this point. In 2016, there were five PAX events: PAX East, West, South, Australia, and Dev. But this really wasn’t enough for Gabe and Tycho, plus they thought that there was a little too much free time in November. But the downside to all the other PAX events is the massive power bill, and so to fix this problem the new event is like Nirvana in ‘94 -- Unplugged.
While some of that isn’t entirely true, what is true is that the popularity of board and card games is on the rise, a fact to which attendees of PAX West can attest. Every year, the designated unplugged gaming areas get more and more difficult to navigate and Magic: the Gathering’s displays get more elaborate. From the 17th to the 19th of November in Philadelphia, PAX will bring together those gamers who don’t need cables to get their kicks.