I've never understood why sports fans yell at the TV during a match – or, at least, I didn't until the eSports revolution. If that hadn't taught me the origin of this fruitless endeavor, Blood Bowl certainly would have. Few games can induce the rage-quitting fury exhibited by Blood Bowl 2 online players.
But that's OK. That's part of the game's charm, in the same way that it's part of FIFA's charm. Or, err, “charm.”
It's been five years since I've looked at Blood Bowl on the PC. The second iteration doesn't change the core ruleset – a game adapted from a tabletop predecessor in the Warhammer universe – but sees a number of changes made to the multiplayer and league support.
Undertale by Toby Fox is a genuinely creative and enjoyable RPG. Unreal Engine, CryEngine, Unity, RPGMaker (and, in this case, GameMaker) have made it much easier for indie developers to create games, but at the same time, much harder for them to stand out from the crowd. Undertale has no problems with that, however.
The basic backstory is explained thoroughly in the intro and on the website, but here's a quick recap: Undertale takes place in a world of two races – humans and "monsters" (a lot of them are pretty cute). At some point, the two fought a war that was easily won by the humans -- but now the year is 201X, and monsters have been sealed deep under Mount Ebott for ages. For some reason, you decide to climb the mountain and fall into the mouth of a deep cavern (to start your tale. Under it).
Following its unreasonably high-resolution 4K teaser trailer, Noio & Licorice’s Kingdom made its debut US convention showing at PAX Prime 2015. Kingdom is a side-scrolling, two-dimensional, mono-height kingdom builder game that utilizes a single mechanic for all actions. Players use coins to motivate filthy peasants into building walls, towers, castles, and shops of various types.
We gave Kingdom a short go at PAX 2015, having liked fellow indie game Mekazoo, and paid close attention to the two-button minimalistic input.
PAX is a microcosm of the gaming industry: Fraught with chaos and ambition, but terribly fun to take part in. The indie scene is the center of that chaos and ambition; its developers are often more open and willing to share or provide insight, it’s just a matter of finding the games worth seeing.
Mekazoo was one of those.
Activision allowed two of their most credentialed employees to host a PAX ’15 panel on the role users play in game development. PhDs Justin Shacklette and Spencer Stirling spent nearly an hour explaining how the company is constantly, intelligently collecting data referred to as "Smart Data."
The relatively new (~4 years old) Game Science Division is a group of physicists and mathematicians who also happen to be talented programmers. Their goal is to collect and analyze data to find ways to make the games more fun. Using metrics to make products better is nothing new, and marketing teams are doing this in almost every business in the world; however, as far as Shacklette knew, only Activision and one other company (Riot) have been doing this to improve games instead of just sales.
Space games have made a bit of a dent in the industry lately. Between Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Rebel Galaxy, Dreadnought, and others, we’ve seen the industry trend shift toward a revisit to one of the oldest genres. Dreadnought takes a different approach from its space sim counterparts, focusing instead on more FPS-styled obliteration of opposing teams.
We’ve previewed Dreadnought twice now. The first time – PAX South – the game had little competition in the way of other on-site booths, easily ranking it among the best games at the show. We then saw Dreadnought at PAX East about six months ago, where we reported on team elimination gameplay (see: Counter-Strike in space) and remarked that the game had gotten steadily better. That trend hasn’t stopped. Our PAX 2015 hands-on with Dreadnought reveals more gameplay, customization mechanics, and monetization avenues.
1999. That’s the year. I spent most of our meeting with Atari and Nvizzio trying to remember when I last went deep with Roller Coaster Tycoon – more than a decade ago. Yikes.
RCT was the product of an era infatuated with city builders, civilization management, and RTS games. The industry ebbs in cycles of these almost-episodic fascinations – it’s MOBAs today, it was MMOs in the early-to-mid years of the century, and it was isometric builders in the late 90s.
Enough of that.
Today, we’re looking at Roller Coaster Tycoon World – which I’m truncating to RCTW, for the sake of these PAX-worn fingers – the series’ first PC release since 2004. RCTW continues the game’s iconic theme park construction, management, roller coaster design, and visitor torture, introducing a number of era-appropriate features along the way. The game is developed by Nvizzio, published by Atari, and is confirmed for a 4Q15 release at price-points undisclosed.
Almost a year ago, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequal didn't fare well here at GN. Editor-in-Chief Steve Burke and I both disliked the game quite intensely. From that perspective, my preliminary outlook on Battleborn was neutral. It's not the same franchise, sure, but the game's look and initial reveals bore some familiar smells. This was on top an animated teaser trailer that made the game look... very violent. Violence in games isn't something we're particularly shy of here, but that trailer was brutal.
Time to sit down and play.
“Keegan Dies” was the name of my custom-tuned, rogue-killing Zombie I built while playing Sword Coast Legends at PAX Prime 2015, named affectionately for the team’s video producer. Other monster types were considered – demons, giant spiders, and drow – but a zombie seemed a fitting start for the dungeon.
We haven’t looked at Sword Coast Legends since GDC 2015, where we were limited to a hands-off presentation of the game’s DM and player modes. Since then, developers n-space have improved tremendously upon the game’s user interface and overall presentation.
Sword Coast Legends is a new PC RPG rooted in Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, borrowing inspiration from the likes of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. The game is slated for a September 29 release date on PC, Linux, and Mac. This Sword Coast Legends gameplay preview looks at the (mostly) finalized DM mode, the campaign tools, and hands-on impressions of the mechanics.
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