Void Bastards is coming this week – this could be frustratingly fun

Not all shooters are run and gun affairs.  Why back in my day…

I love it when a title in a random email catches my eye.  Yesterday, it was a game called Void Bastards, described as a mix between FTL and System Shock 2.

How could I possibly not check it out?

So have a look around I did, and I was met with this trailer:

So a lot of positives happened immediately to make me look forward to Void Bastards.

Firstly, the narrator is Kevan Brighting, the same wonderful voice that saw you through The Stanley Parable.  That’s a giggle right there.

Secondly, when you met up with a bad guy and got blotted, the whole ‘Client Expired’ scenario definitely had me looking for even more of the humour in the trailer. And it’s there. This looks like a game that will be fun to watch being played at the very least.

But while there is a lot of humour evident, I can’t help but think that will be to offset the potential frustration of the game.

Cartoony graphics and jokes aside, this is a fully strategic, plan your attack style game like the old Rainbow Six games. The small amount of gameplay I have watched keeps the old adage alive – no plan survives contact with the enemy.

The impression I have so far is you will have to learn the rules and plan well for a variety of situations.  A rougelike generation of ships and levels means you will need to learn what is happening for your particular game, and no two games should be the same.

You will need the right tools for the job. I just never expected a job where I needed a robot kitty.
I am trying to figure out if that's a good sound or not...

Void Bastards is definitely a game I want to check out, but I was a little disappointed that Steam shows it as coming on the 29th of May (so not long to wait!) but no price.

Then I had a bit of good news – Void Bastards is coming to Game Pass on the same day!  So tonight I will update my XBOX and prep for tomorrows release.

I am hoping this is going to be one of the Microsoft ‘Play Anywhere’ titles though – I have a feeling I will prefer playing this on PC, but a free game (with Game Pass) is nothing to complain about!

I don’t know if Void Bastards will be a nice diversion or a deceptive time sink, but I am expecting the latter. Either way, I am really looking forward to firing it up and giving it a good look.

It also doesn’t hurt that Blue Manchu games, the developers of Void Bastards, is headquartered in Australia. I always enjoy seeing our games industry make a splash big enough to come to my attention, especially when I am not looking for it.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

John Wick 3 is coming, as is John Wick Hex

Ahh, Mr Wick. It’s always a pleasure to see you. If you aren’t working, of course.

I am so excited about John Wick 3 next week. As a series, it just keeps delivering. They are movies I can watch again and again, and continually do.

The story is simple and straightforward, but also has many subtle twists and openings that I appreciate on many levels. When my biggest story gripe is calling John ‘Baba Yaga’, who is most certainly not the Boogeyman as the film states, it should be a lot of fun.

And the small plot elements – simple in execution, but hint at a depth yet to be touched. How much is a gold coin genuinely worth in that world? Even the marker system, a convenient plot device for John Wick 2, is a subtle treasure. The marker must be honoured, apparently even when the presenter is excommunicado.

I will be doing my best to see this, all going well. If all goes to plan, I will be doing a vlog on my thoughts on the franchise as a whole in the coming weeks, where such things will be discussed in more detail.

But yesterday, there was another John Wick announcement that made me excited, and it wasn’t the release date for The Continental.

John Wick Hex

Imagining John Wick as a video game protagonist is a no-brainer. A one-person unstoppable force overcoming ridiculous odds is what games have been built around of for decades.

Someone else that apparently has no trouble imaging this is Lionsgate Games and Mike Bithell. Mike was the director of indie hits Volume, Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular.

I haven’t played Volume, but it is highly regarded as a stealth action title. In Thomas Was Alone, I became emotionally attached to a square. Yes, a square. If you have played Thomas Was Alone, you will understand.

Together, they are bringing John Wick Hex to PC, Mac and Consoles. A turn-based (real time with slowdown maybe?) tactics game, it should allow players to plan and execute the amazing combat runs we watch onscreen.

It already looks incredibly solid:

We can already hear Lance Reddick is onboard for voice work. Ian McShane is the only other voice actor confirmed at the moment, but more “being revealed later”.

Later will hopefully be in a few short weeks, as John Wick Hex is a part of the Devolver Showcase at this years E3! I will be watching for peoples reactions to playing it from the show floor.

There is a bit of ‘Epic Store Exclusivity’ happening for the PC/Mac side of John Wick Hex, but with the well-publicised developer cuts Epic is offering who can blame them!

From the little bit of teaser footage, I am thinking I would play John Wick Hex on the PC or the Switch.  If it’s turn based, it makes the Switch perfect for pick up and put down play.  On PC, the more precise mouse/keyboard controls would be the go I think.  I have played X-Com and similar on PS3/4, and console controls just aren’t as natural a feel for me.

Now, if someone could make a good version of John Wick for VR, maybe along the lines of Superhot, that would be the final icing on the cake!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Fallout 76 B.E.T.A. dates announced – and it’s really early access?

Fallout 76 Feature

Everyone ready?  “TAKE ME HOOOME”…

So during E3 2018, there were so many bits of video gaming news dropped.  One that had my (and the worlds) eyebrow raised was Fallout 76.

Leading into E3, there was only a masterclass troll reveal.

As a recap, Bethesda tweeted at the End of May with the instantly fan recognisable ‘Please Stand By’.

Fans were standing by for a 24-hour Twitch Livestream of the TV and a PipBoy Bobblehead.

Yeah, it was as hard to watch as you think.

But in the end, the teaser trailer was made available.

Then during E3 2018, Bethesda’s Todd Howard dropped the first gameplay reveal trailer and confirmed something I thought was a great move.  Preordering Fallout 76 got you access to the B.E.T.A. – The Break It Early Test Application run of the game.

So early access for preordering isn’t new, and a test phase for any online game is a great idea for a lot of reasons.  But given Bethesda’s past Fallout day one efforts, this was a move to give fans the confidence to pay up sight unseen.

Fallout 3 had some… I will say interesting glitches.  On PlayStation 3, there were some bugs that stopped quests – OK.  Then it deleted saves.  Wow.  PC had it’s share of issues as well don’t get me wrong – but if you went in on launch it was hard to play.

Fallout New Vegas I tried to play straight away, and I just couldn’t.  It was REALLY broken – there is no other way to put it.  Now I still own it all and by all accounts, it’s a great game now it’s all fixed.  I will go back and play it, but it put me off.  Fallout 4 I own and got to the first ‘build this settlement’ stuff and I just thought nope and never reloaded it.

So with this kind of history, Bethesda acknowledging the issues and (admittedly charging for) the chance to jump in and test this pre-launch for an online game was a smart move.

And late last week, the dates were revealed 😀

My first thought was “So nope.  I will be at PAX!”.  Then I realised the first date was for XBox.  OK, a lot of the announcements etc. have been made during Microsoft events, there is obviously a push happening there.

But then I twigged that at best this is all happening 3 weeks before launch.

Now my background is IT – it’s my full-time job, and software releases are just something I do.

If I was putting large-scale testing of two similar but distinct systems into effect two weeks out – I would be worried.  Historically, Bethesda has had issues on PlayStation – over and above the issues with game releases on the whole.

The cynic in me sees a board meeting in Bethesda which goes something like this:

“We need to get people to buy our game upfront.  People keep waiting for us to fix it then buying it.”

“Tell them we hear them and give them slightly early access, but call it a beta test.”

Now as I said this is the cynic in me.  I’m not 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} on the new Fallout game, but this is a series that is close to my hear.  I still have my preorder from EB Games, and I think my B.E.T.A. code is good.  I say I think because I have no confirmation from the Fallout site, but if I try to reregister the code says it’s used.

What about you guys?  Anyone lined up waiting to play Day One, or are you waiting to see how it goes?

But to not end this on a negative note, the in-game intro is now available to check out as well.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

The RTX 20 series from Nvidia is official

RTX 20 Series Feature

Nvidia releases the new ‘must have’ powerhouse GPUs.  But must you have one?

So this morning the new graphics cards from Nvidia were announced.  For some people, this is the news they have been hungrily waiting for.  For others, it’s something that happened.

I am kind of in the middle.  Graphics cards allow games to look good.  REALLY good.  Over the last few years, Graphics cards have allowed users to do so much more than just ‘draw pictures’.  GPU farms are allowing advancements like Machine Learning to advance at an incredible rate.  As an IT professional, this is of interest to me, and technology I occasionally have the ability to put into practice.

And at about 2 AM local time, Jensen Huang showcased the new RTX 20 series and all it’s jargon fuelled benefits.

My main focus is still games.  My desktop got a beefy 1070 specifically to run The Witcher 3 in full pretty mode.  Well, except for HairWorks.  Great for stills, but a lot of effort that could have made the game run faster in every other way.

The x80 cards and Titan cards have always been the big boys of Nvidia’s arsenal.  Able to render gameplay at mind-boggling rates, and showing the limitations of screen technology with regularity.

Having to explain that the ‘tearing’ they see in the game is because the screen can’t keep up with the power of the card is a fun discussion at the best of times.  But this power always comes with a price tag, and the new generation is no exception.  You can build whole computers for the cost of a 2080 Ti, and you need to buy premium components to go with that piece of hardware.

GeForce RTX 20xx
Australian pricing from nvidia.com.au. I am thinking the 2070 will be fine again 🙂

As such I have always been an advocate of the x70 range.  This has always been my sweet spot for price/performance.  The 1070 in my desktop runs the Witcher in ultrawide perfectly.  I have yet to hit a game on the HTC Vive that hiccups.  Even in my gaming notebook, the 1070 with Max-Q (effectively the ‘mobile 1070’ Nvidia said they were ditching) runs VR smoothly and works well.

So if you have been looking for a PC upgrade, now is that great/awful time to buy.  There will be plenty of people looking to sell their old previously top of the line cards to upgrade.  I can imagine a lot of stores even having sales on the ‘old’ stock.

The 10 series cards may be being replaced, but they work great still and draw less power than the new 20 series cards, and you can save some money out of the gate. Even the 1060 cards (the ones I tend to call the minimum to be a ‘gaming’ card) still play a heap of games at great detail and are also likely to be going for a steal if you can find the deal.

The new hype is real and for a lot of things deserved, but don’t get caught up in the jargon and hype.  Save yourself some dollars and have a good look at the current 10 series cards that have proven themselves.  Sure the RTX 20 series is new, but that’s also its greatest weakness.

While the 10 series now is solid and works well, when it was first introduced there were a lot of bugs to iron out, and I would imagine the RTX 20 series will be the same.  How much can you afford to be the early adopter?  That’s really the question these generational releases should be making you ask.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Gloomhaven is coming to PC via Steam in 2019

Gloomhaven Digital Feature

It’s true – Gloomhaven is going digital

Gen Con has been going strong again.  By the time this article is up, the annual event will be wrapped up.  Wallets will think themselves safe for another week after the purchasing frenzy of new releases and wishlist additions grows ever longer.

It’s no surprise there has been new game announcements that have had me reaching for my credit card yet again.  There are a few games I have been waiting for, and a few that have come out of left field for me.  Nothing strange there, and you will be reading about some of these titles over the next few days.

Board Games in general though have almost taken a similar place in my game times as some of my Video Games.

The Witcher 3, for example, is a game I will play, and play at my pace.  This massive world will be explored fully, with every piece of lore I can find studied to the nth degree.  But right now, Octopath Traveler is being played in its place.

Nowadays I have board games that find themselves in similar positions.  Legacy of Dragonholt is a game I have been happy to put on hold, but will probably knock over for in two days.   Arkham Horror LCG is a game that is starting to get at least a fortnightly play session in, but it won’t take much to displace this.

And then there is Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven Box
It looks like a normal game box. Then you realise it's 10kg and takes up a shelf on its own.

Gloomhaven is a 10kg box of legacy adventuring goodness.  It is a game that is simply described – a dungeon crawler with legacy like elements.

And that description is somehow accurate but in every important way completely wrong.

It is a game that takes hours to punch and sort.  I ended up buying a wooden insert, making my game now closer to 14kg or now organised gaming goodness.

But it has the problem of I want to play the game and give it the attention it deserves.  Each game takes an hour or three?  Fine.  But each game is a part of an estimated 100+hour board game and from all reports a unique experience for each player.

Now there are plenty of times that such hype is given, however Gloomhaven has a few points going its way.  In its first year with a limited print run, it became the number 1 game on Board Game Geek of all time.  It has sold approximately 120,000 copies as of the time of writing, with another 60,000 being printed – and there is already concern that this third printing won’t be enough.

That’s right – a game that came to Kickstarter because its designer Isaac Childers didn’t think anyone would buy the huge expensive game that makes up Gloomhaven can’t stay on the shelves.

Well this Gen Con, Asmodee Digital has come up with an interesting halfway solution.

That’s right – Gloomhaven is going digital.

Now I know I called this a halfway solution, and for the moment I am going to stick with this.

Initially Gloomhaven Digital will be a solo dungeon crawling experience, with campaign elements and multiplayer to come.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is a quicker way to get it into gamers hands.

However, the huge box and cost of Gloomhaven is justified by the fact that a campaign that exceeds some video games is fully included in the box.

Gloomhaven Digital Gameplay 1
No table space or setup required - Gloomhaven Digital edition

With all this goodness comes the issue for players like myself where this much content makes the game difficult to just play.

Setup has been a good 20 minute affair, and then once everything is done and ready to put away up to 40 minutes to resort and put away.  The two initial games I have played were easily an hour longer hour than they had to be simply because I had to look up a bunch of rules again.

Taking Gloomhaven digital means that none of this needs to be.  No parts can be misplaced or lost, and the games bookkeeping elements are handled by the game itself.

And even better for a lot of people – no rulebook to read.  The game keeps track of all that itself, you can’t get a rule wrong that can have lasting impact throughout the campaign.

Gloomhaven Digital Gameplay 2
Playing through a dungeon will definitely move quicker though

So there is a lot to be said for the transition to digital.  This will open up the world of Gloomhaven to many new players for a much lower price point.  But Asmodee Digital have already said they are only aiming for the spirit of Gloomhaven, not a true digital conversion, so does this make Gloomhaven Digital a side game type of affair?

I have added Gloomhaven to my Steam wishlist and will be keeping an eye on it in the months to come.  But I would be keeping this as a new Gloomhaven experience until a lot more information comes out, rather than looking forward to a true Gloomhaven experience in digital form.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption adds new life to an old friend

Hero-U Rogue to Redemption Feature

What’s better than a remaster of an old favourite?  A sequel of sorts from the original creators!

When I was growing up, there was really only two software companies that made the best adventure games – Sierra On-Line and Lucasarts.  Yes, there where series like Zork from Infocom, and Myst from Broderbund, but while popular these games were essentially a single series.

Sierra and Lucasarts just seemed to keep pumping out quality game after quality game.  Lucasarts was generally something different, starting with Maniac Mansion and progressing to classics like Sam and Max, Grim Fandango and Full Throttle.  Lucasarts really hit their stride in the early 90’s though.

In the 80’s, Sierra On-Line was well on the road to their peak.  Much like Lucasarts had their SCUMM Engine, the Sierra Creative Interpreter tools gave them a fantastic base to make a wide assortment of games.

King’s Quest, Police Quest and Space Quest hold special places in the memories of my generation.  Even Leisure Suit Larry games have their own special quirkiness that elevates the games beyond a simple ‘perve’ game.

But for me, there are 2 absolute gems that I still play now and then.  Space Quest is one of them.  The sci-fi humour just appeals to me too much.  The other began life as Hero’s Quest and became Quest for Glory.

Quest for Glory Start Screen
This used to be cutting edge graphics when I was growing up. Yes, graphics improved UP to this level!

These games managed to streamline and parody RPG games of the time and create something truly unique.  While there were a plethora of adventure games at the time, the Quest for Glory games were one of (if not the) first to introduce RPG style character choice and progression to a new audience of players.

The original designers Lori Ann and Corey Cole truly made something special in many ways.  Each game in the series of five managed to push the boundaries.  Initially, it was introducing the RPG type multi-class system to static adventure games.  Your character was able to be transferred throughout the series, giving the player unparalleled investment at the time.  Combat in adventure games was actual arcade combat – simplified yes, but it wasn’t a case of simply typing ‘fight monster’ and winning.  The introduction of voice acting and ultimately embracing early 3D graphics were some of the other firsts of the series.

Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire was the last in the series, giving fans closure after many years of amazing gameplay.

It was definitely the game with the most split reception at the time.  Quest for Glory V changed from the old point and click interface Sierra had evolved over time and embraced 3D graphic.

This allowed for some changes to the series such as ‘same screen’ combat.  It may seem strange today, but when you entered combat in the original games, the game paused and you travelled to a dedicated screen.  In Dragon Fire, you would actually fight in the world without breaking the game.

Dragon Fire also had the most elements of player choice in any Quest for Glory Game to date.  There was such a staggering number of ways to handle everything that it was one of the first times I saw ‘no choice’ being presented.  While not my favourite in the series, looking back the innovation involved is truly staggering and I have a newfound appreciation for the roadwork it began to pave for games today.

Quest for Glory V Gameplay
Simple now, but amazing for it's day. It's in games like this that modern classics like The Witcher got it's start.

But then in 2012, on this newish thing called Kickstarter, the Coles launched a project to start the adventure anew.  The Quest for Glory may have been completed, but Hero-U: The Rogue to Redemption was just beginning.

The journey was apparently a bit of a rocky one.  Things went well, and software development went as software development does.  In the end, a second Kickstarter was required in 2015 to help finish the game.

But after all the ups and downs, as of July 2018 the game is complete and ready to buy.

This isn’t Quest for Glory remastered.  Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a totally new adventure where the player takes control of Shawn O’Connor, a student at a school for heroes.

I haven’t looked too far into how the story goes, but essentially it seems to be a little Harry Potterish.  You attend classes and interact with classmates during the day, and explore the catacombs at night.  It seems to be here that you practice your various skills, including combat.

The humour that makes games like Quest for Glory is already evident in the documentation of the game.  The classes from the original Quest for Glory series are all at your disposal – including the Paladin class apparently all from the first.

Hero-U Handbook for Heroes
Hand drawn notes in the school handbook are both hilarious and already have me in mind of The Half Blood Prince

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has the same style point and click style interface, but combat is now turn-based.  Apparently, if you sneak as a thief (or I am assuming any class if you take sneak points) combat is even avoidable, but in a role play game I don’t do this too often.  Combat increases your health, dexterity and strength just like exercise, and there is something about maxing your stats in games like this that I just can’t pass up.

This looks to be a great start to a new series from the Coles.  Yes, that’s right – the start of a new series.  There are a number of games planned for the Hero University, and I am hoping that Rogue to Redemption is successful and the Quest for Glory magic can happen again.

Hero-U Handbook Gameplay Shot 2
It may not be cutting edge graphics today, but these screenshots make me feel at home already

It’s unfortunate that Hero-U has come to my attention and released while I am playing Octopath Traveler though.   This is a game dripping with nostalgic charm for me, and I really want to give it a good playthrough with time dedicated to enjoying it.

And again, this got me thinking.  Many players of this game would not know anything of the original Sierra games like Quest for Glory, where I have so many happy memories (and frustrating puzzle solutions!) running through my mind now.

Would watching some of these old adventure games be something you would be interested in seeing?  I am giving serious thought to starting at the original Quest for Glory, and going all the way up to Hero-U.

If this is something you would like to see, let me know if the comments!

Otherwise, if you would like to play Hero-U for yourself, check it out on GoG.com where it is currently on sale for AUD$36.99 or on Steam for USD$34.99.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Return of the Tentacle Prologue – a free, fan made unofficial sequel!

Return of the Tentacle Feature

And you thought you were a tentacle fan?

So talking about games that you play for years, today is a similar topic.  Not a game that you can play for years and it changes with you, but a game that you just go back and play again and again.

I have a few of these.  Services like GoG have allowed me to go back and revisit some great old classics.  Gold Box SSI D&D Games like the Forgotten Realms series or the Eye of the Beholder trilogy.  Games that by today’s standards are ugly, clunky and simplistic – but I still love them.  If you can see past the graphical limitations of the day, there are true storytelling gems from the old days.

And the remaster craze as well lets me play some of those games with new polish and shine.  Lucasarts games especially have come good with this, with games like Full Throttle and Grim Fandango getting a new life not only on PC but consoles as well.

One of these games I love is Day of the Tentacle.  If you release Day of the Tentacle for a platform I own, it’s pretty much a guaranteed buy.  So when the remaster came out, I bought it on both PC and PlayStation 4.

According to my PSNProfiles, I spent a massive 4 hours getting the platinum on that one.  As the very first trophy I got was ringing the bell 100 times (if you played it, you know what I mean), I am guessing I had a trophy list read.  I have played it so much that I don’t need a walkthrough, I just enjoy an afternoon.

And an Easter Egg of sorts in both the original and remastered version is the inclusion of the original game – Maniac Mansion.  One game lets you play some gaming history right there!

Day of the Tentacle Remastered Letter Delivery
If you don't know Maniac Mansion, the intro doesn't make sense. But back then, we were much more 'go with it' than today

Personally, I prefer the original graphics style, even on my 4K TV.  But that is one of those preference choices you can flip between, and I never had the CD version with all the voice acting, so that was a great bonus for me with the remaster.

With the dissolution of the Lucasarts gaming team that made such games years and years ago, fans knew we were never getting the third game.

Well – officially we knew.  Over on itch.io, a team known as ‘Catmic’ have taken things into their own hands and created Return of the Tentacle – Prologue.

Windows, Mac or Linux the free game is a 1GB download.  I am going to play it.  This is going to be fun!

You jump straight in with no installation necessary (well, on Windows anyway).  The music and setup are very reminiscent of Day of the Tentacle and instantly put me in the mood to play.

Firing up the Return of the Tentacle for a cheeky look on my Surface Pro 3, the game runs smoothly.  The are style is very close to the remastered version of Day of the Tentacle, with no option for ‘classic’ mode.  This isn’t a dealbreaker for me, it was just something I instantly looked for.

Return of the Tentacle Intro Letter
The intro and setup is very close to Day of the Tentacle, which bought an instant smile to my face

But the style is there.  The humour for the opening minutes that I had a look at feels right.  Even the voice acting is fitting.  It’s not perfect (this is a fan made game after all) but Bernard’s voice is fitting, and just off enough to fit the feel the game but not be annoying.

Return of the Tentacle Gameplay
The contols are different, but again not enough to pull you out of the feel of the series

The instant huge change is the control system though.  It looks slick, but it’s definitely not the SCUMM engine.  If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you, SCUMM stands for ‘Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion’, and became almost the default control system for Lucasarts point and clicks.

Having a very quick look around the lounge room, the controls seem intuitive and clear.  The only time I really worry about the controls changing is when they change for the worse, and that doesn’t seem to be happening here.

But even just watching the intro and exploring the room, when you look at the lounge of Return of the Tentacle compared to the lounge from Day of the Tentacle above, it’s obvious the time and care that has gone into the creation of the game.

The only thing I am a little worried about with Return of the Tentacle is Lucasarts is now owned by Disney.  Disney loves the lawyer up tactic, and I am really hoping this game isn’t targeted by them.  Since going live a couple of days ago, there have already been two updates.  The team is obviously committed to this project, and I hope it continues.

I am really looking forward to playing Return of the Tentacle, maybe over the weekend, but probably next weekend.

Why so far away?  Well, for the site basically.  I am thinking of recording the gameplay.  Not just for Return of the Tentacle, but for a lot of those older games I mentioned previously.  I don’t really have time to sit and play a lot of the newer games at a time that makes the viewing new and cool, but I have a collection of games older than most streamers these days 🙂

What do you think?  Does the idea of watching me (or a couple of us) play old school games appeal?  Let me know!

In the meantime, head over to the itchi.io page and grab a copy of Return of the Tentacle for yourself!  If you want to see where it all started, then on PC grab a copy of Day of the Tentacle Remastered from GoG or Steam (wait for the sales this holiday for the best deals!)

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

You thought E3 and Origins hurt your wallet – the Steam Summer Sale is here!

Steam Summer Sale Banner

Well there goes another whole bunch of hours

Steam Sales.  They are every six months, and we buy a whole heap of games we won’t play because it’s only $2 and I have wanted to see what it’s like for ages!

There are some really good deals though.  Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, for example, is almost half price, which is making me think of not playing it on the PS4.  I know, I’m a rebel what can I say :p

Subsurface Circular, an experimental text-based detective story where you try and solve a mystery confined to a single train carriage, is finally in my cart.  As has the 2014 Time game of the year 80 Days, where you get to participate in Phileas Fogg’s famous race.

This year the folks at Valve are doing something a little different.  You can play some mini-games on the site and help protect the Saliens from the Doldrumz!

Yes it’s cheesy, but it is a fun little touch and you get to win some games in the process.  I have only had a chance to play and protect one sector (and didn’t do great as I haven’t levelled up yet), but I can see this being a quick distraction during the day.

Steam Summer Sale Salien Game
Haven't you always wanted to play a game while you are shopping for games?

Check out the Steam site, even if only for a free game for a couple of weeks in the Saliens web game.

I would also suggest checking out the Asmodee Digital collection, which has been impressively growing over the last few months.  The ability to solo play quite a few games quickly and with no setup can be a lot of fun, and worth a peek!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Cyberpunk 2077 owned the XBOX E3 Conference for me. Reveal 101 is in session.

Cyberpunk 2077 Feature

One cyberpunk door is closing, but another is getting closer to opening

Way back in 2013 CD Projekt Red was getting ‘close’ to finishing the highly anticipated The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt.  Fans of the game were clamouring for any morsel they could get.

Then this little nugget dropped with the title reveal of the next project CD Projekt Red.

I love the cyberpunk genre as a whole.  Growing up, the role-playing Cyberpunk was my second RPG campaign.  Burning Chrome was a constant travel companion.  It’s numerous short stories meant I could carry one book, and have a variety of things to (re)read constantly.

After seeing the improvement in basically everything from The Witcher to The Witcher 2, I was already happy that the Cyberpunk license had ended in the hands of this amazing company.  Back then, I was already preparing myself to get The Witcher 3 on PC to finish the trilogy as it began (and the upgrades to the PC to handle it!) as well as double buy on PS4.

The thinking was simple – how will they handle consoles?  Only one way to find out!

Fast forward a little over five years, and I was watching the XBox E3 Presentation WAY too early in the morning and preparing to go to work.  There were things that raised my eyebrows, and things that I looked at with a ‘meh’ attitude.

At the end of the XBox presentation, as Phil Spencer was closing out the event, the sound of Archive’s ‘Bullets’ began and the screens and lighting glitched.

On the screen a DOS Prompt flashed, and the directory changed to HAX.  Then, someone entered ICBRK.exe.

Beginning of Xbox 'HACK'
Programming wise, these don't mean anything. They do kinda look like Windows product keys though.

This was all done slowly, milking the atmosphere for all it was worth.  Then, some hacky looking code scrolled up.

**UPDATE: It has been found since these were actually working giveaway codes for complete versions of The Witcher 3, including all DLC!

Once everything had ‘loaded’, it was time for the new teaser trailer for Cyberpunk 2077.

It’s still not gameplay.  It’s ‘just’ another teaser.

But the world building is starting to be shown.  The snippets of player choice suddenly gel with the world displayed on a screen.  CD Projekt Red has already said that the world of Cyberpunk 2077 will dwarf that of the Witcher 3, and the information on the setting is starting to give clues how this could be.

I can’t wait to play Cyberpunk 2077.  Like everyone else though, I will have to though.  Ah well, patience isn’t a lost art.  Just one I wish I didn’t have to practice so often 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2’s new expansion is Forsaken, hopefully it’s anything but

Destiny 2 Forsaken Feature

Todays reveal leaves me with hope for Forsaken

There have been a lot of negative articles about Destiny 2.  Like my own pieces, these have been largely opinion based, as anyone’s take on anything creative truly is.  I do think it would be fair to say though that Destiny 2 has been struggling with content and updates for a while now, and many waited for changes and fixes just haven’t been coming fast enough.

The Warmind expansion that recently came out gave me new things to aim for, and a lot of what I hoped on release has been done.  The Escalation Protocols are brutally difficult without preplanning or lucking into a max powered fireteam, but that just gives me something to strive towards.

The changes to the Heroic Strikes have made these more difficult for me than the Raids.  It feels strange to have a relaxing run in a Nightfall rather than the Heroic Strikes, but there it is.  It definitely changed up the system which is what was needed – just because I need to readjust doesn’t make it bad.

But this morning, the trailer for the new (and I am guessing final) year of Destiny 2 was revealed.  And wow.  Where Warmind had me interested and looking forward to narrative changes and something new, Forsaken has me genuinely excited – new game excited.

Check out what I am talking about below:

So I have some red flags.  “This is the game the community has been asking for.”  Heard this before, but usually as a half measure or leading to something consolation step.

In the video, the definitive comments that Bungie has specifically NOT been making are front and centre.  “All of the feedback we’ve heard for the last year is… This is it.  It’s in Forsaken.”

This is not something Bungie can spin after the fact if Forsaken fails – this is the culmination of the past years “Trust Us” messages, and they will be held to it.

And it really looks like they will pull it off.

The video does a great job of outlining everything, but some of the things I am looking forward to or just have thoughts on are included below.

Of course, Cayde-6 has been up to something

So the basic story premise goes back to the original Destiny House of Wolves content.  There was an arena called the Prison of Elders, a cooperative run where players ran a gauntlet of enemies.  I didn’t play House of Wolves, so I am very sketchy on the story impact, but I know it was a thing.  I am assuming storywise it was left neglected, because of the reveal this morning.

For Forsaken, Cayde-6 has been filling the Prison of Elders with enemies.  I’m not sure why he didn’t just kill them, but also it’s Cayde-6.  All seems to have been going well, but of course, things hit critical mass and now there is a jailbreak to contend with.  Once the bad guys are free, they inhabit The Reef in a new area called the Tangled Cove.

This leads you to track down seven Fallen ‘Barons’ or faction leaders around The Reef.  I am hoping this will reveal information on the Awoken Queen, but we will see.

Information that has been revealed is each Baron is a unique type of boss fight, similar to the Metal Gear bosses in a lot of ways.  Revealed bosses include Melee battles and Sniper fights, where you fight the enemy ‘their way’ to prove who is the bigger badass.

This does force you to maybe play a way you don’t really enjoy, but being story related I would assume this is just exposing you to different styles of play and not over the top difficult.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Melee Baron
Me, if I was fighting a 10+ foot, multi-armed, super buff alien gladiator, I would shoot him in the face with a fusion gun and sleep well that night.

Can’t decide if Destiny 1 or Destiny 2 weapon systems were better?  Now you can choose!

When you had an item drop in Destiny, especially weapons, you were never completely sure of what the stats would be.  This would always be within set ranges, but for example, you may get a Positive Outlook with better range or one that reloads just that little bit faster.

The mods also worked differently.  You would unlock mods for your weapons in Destiny, usually by killing lots of enemies.  This was taken away in Destiny 2, with the exception of higher tier weapons where you can switch between a couple of choices.

Being able to grind for a weapon with the stats that suit me, then being rewarded for sticking with that weapon?  I can’t wait.  But if you want to play ‘Destiny 2’ style where you just stick with the default loadout, you can do that too.

Destiny 2 Forsaken New Weapons Systems
It could just be a developer debug set of stats, but that power level! So much grinding to come, and a reason to do it

Also coming with Forsaken is the ability to equip a lot of weapons where you choose to equip them.  Are you like me, where you largely play kinetic weapons but wish you could equip a rocket launcher and a shotgun?  Well, now we can!

There is also a whole new group of weapons that I can’t wait to get a hold of – the Bow and Arrow.  Yep, old school is still the best school, and I can’t wait.  Games like Horizon Zero Dawn make me miss archery, and being able to whip out a ‘future bow’ and start dropping enemies will just feel amazing 🙂

And of course, new Supers.  Who can object to new skills?

Destiny 2 Forsaken New Bow Weapons
I enjoy archery. This won't be the same as getting on the field, but I can see a whole new class of stealth crucible players emerging.
Destiny 2 Forsaken Fire Knives Super
Ever wish the Gunslingers throwing knives had more oomph? How about a Fire Knives Super!

The Season Pass is no more.  Welcome the Annual Pass?

So pricing is set at AUD$59.95 for the Forsaken Expansion, or you buy Forsaken with the ANNUAL pass for AUD$99.95.

Huh.  Well, that’s a thing.

I am not 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} sure on this pricing.  Compared to the Season Pass and past expansions, the price points is definitely there.  To get effectively four premium expansions for $100 is great, but I don’t know if I want to keep playing Destiny 2 after this.

It sounds like everything is coming together, and Destiny 2 will effectively become a different game.  Bungie is doing there best to make sure I put aside a couple of hours a night to playing, rather than the night and a bit I currently put aside.  And with the new grinds, it might be worth it, it really might.

But given all the bad press and backlash, to be asking players to return because it will be alright now if you give us $100 is a lot to ask.  But you do get a lot for the money.  It’s a tricky one.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Annual Pass Expansions
Not sure on this move. Will the changes be as advertised and enough?
Destiny 2 Forsaken Annual Pass
There are enough incentives, but are the incentives worth it? That's the question

I have heard a bit of talk that Forsaken should be free to get customers back, then charge as normal.  I don’t think this is right either.  Once Bungie sets a precedent for free premium expansions, the cry when the next charged one comes along will be ‘but you didn’t charge for the last one’.

I can all but guarantee I will be buying Forsaken.  I can’t guarantee I will be playing Destiny 2 all the way to September though, but even if that happens, I will be back for Forsaken.

But for the new content, I think I will bite the bullet and just pay the higher costs later and see what the changes are like first.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD