Death By Exposure - Trails of Cold Steel
Aubrielle opens her new semiregular JRPG column with an unofficial review of Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
» Continue reading the article...
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Torment: Tides of Numenera Beta Impressions
Corwin entered the world of Numenera in the beta version of Torment: Tides of Numenera.
» Read the article
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Only SP CRPG games
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News about My Little Pony
Sunday - July 10, 2016
XCOM 2 - Long Wars Studios Mods
"Perk Pack" Mod
- Choice of three perks per promotion rank instead of two
- More than 70 new and reworked Abilities that can be assigned to soldiers, gear or aliens
- Reworks the four base classes into seven, including the assault, gunner and shinobi, or create your own class
- Adds ten new PCS items, each granting a unique ability
- Support for more than 15 active abilities in the tactical UI
"Laser Pack" Mod
- Adds a new laser tier of XCOM weaponry, which includes a new variant for the assault rifle, shotgun, cannon, sniper rifle, pistol and SMG, plus all attachments
- Mod includes models, textures, particle effects and sounds
- Tier exists between magnetic and beam tiers, with two new technologies
System Shock - Funded!
System Shock has been funded and with 18 days remaining. The latest update thanks the community and goes over Night Dives history with the System Shock license.
The journey started with System Shock 2 and the reception/support I received allowed me to seek out other like minded individuals who would help locate and revive more lost classics like: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Wizardry, and The 7th Guest series to name a few. As we continued to grow in team size, so did our ambitions. With the release of The Original Strife: Veterans Edition and Noctropolis we were able to restore the games and add additional features. We fixed original bugs, included unfinished games mode, added support for widescreen monitors, and implemented OpenGL to update the visuals. Next was Turok, followed by System Shock: Enhanced Edition and an even greater desire to take our mission to the next level.
We had done everything we could to make the Enhanced Edition more accessible to a modern audience but it reached the point where we began discussing a remake from the ground up. We started with a core team and a simple prototype to see if we could capture the look and feel of the original game.
System ShockSP/MP: Single-player
Saturday - July 09, 2016
Enderal - Review @GameStar.de
The German mag GameStar - a few years ago the world's biggest PC game magazine - posted a very enthusiastic review of SureAI's Skyrim total conversion Enderal. I'll post more details than usual because this is the first published review for this game.
GameStar's test is accompanied by a 15 minute long video in which their editor in chief and two other editors explain why they've decided to review a free mod and which standards they'll apply. Their answer: Enderal's quality is on par with other full price AAA RPGs. They'll apply their normal review standards for a 50€ game, without any bonus. GameStar didn't review mods in the last couple of years. They want their review to be seen as sort of a reward for the developers.
Here are a few translated quotes from the article:
Enderal's biggest USP compared to Skyrim is the story. While it's only more or less an attachment in Bethesda's classic, it plays a key role in Enderal. The first ten minutes prove this impressively. The intro is disturbing and poses a lot of questions. [...]
Who wants to save virgin vampirewomen while riding a dragon is wrong in Enderal, though. It doesn't make epic heroic deeds its focus, but rather personal fate and the human abyss [This half of the sentence is in plural in the German text - ed.]. It discusses questions about religion, idealism and ethics.[...]
GameStar explains that although some of the dialogs seem a bit excessive at times, Enderal succeeds in finding the sweet spot in the mix of story and quests. The main storyline is "wonderfully told".
An enthralling story needs a believable world around it though [...]. And the Enderal devs overcame this challenge too.[...]
This was flashed out a bit in the video. The editors said the whole world feels handmade. Not even the dungeons leave the impression of being made with a construction kit. The world oozes with attention to detail.
Enderal is great RPG-art on world class level. The start is so dramatic, fast paced and - gameplay wise - exciting that even masters of the craft like Bethesda and CD Projekt are welcome to take several leaves out of [SureAI's] book. And after that Enderal serves a magnificent adventure from start to finish, which hardly leaves anything to be desired. [...]
The only mentioned weeknesses are:
- quick travel is unconvincing
- balancing is only okay
- a couple of technical issues
A summary of the good stuff:
- great story, deep characters, all with background story
- good quests with a lot of diversity
- no level scaling
- 6 difficulty levels
- graphics upgrade compared to Skyrim
- superb sound track
- professional voice acting (GER / ENG)
89%, 2% deducted for technical issues, means 87%.
Zavix Tower - Released
The old school Dungeon Crawler Zavix Tower has been released:
You arrive at the tavern, a bright shiny upstart with dreams of treasure and loot. And look, there's three other such types JUST like you in here. What are the odds? Perhaps it was destiny. Perhaps you were meant to meet these strangers: a Rogue, a Mage, a Priest...
Wait, a Rogue? No, you can't trust a thief with all that Treasure around. That's just plain ridiculous. Maybe let's go talk to another Warrior type like yourself. Now that I think about it, you've got nothing in common with the Mage or Priest. What'll you discuss? Boring stuff, most likely.
Maybe we don't need the Mage, then. Maybe add that other Warrior type over there, hitting on the barman. She looks pretty strong. She'll help get a lot of treasure.
Actually, why the Priest? He'll just make us all feel like crap with his "holier than thou" talk and whatnot. That's a drag. You just want to bash monsters and steal their loot, after all. Who needs the guilt trip? Not you, that's the truth.
Maybe it wasn't fate to run into that overly diverse crowd.
But it doesn't matter. Whether you want four Warriors, three Mages and a Priest, or maybe a smattering of each, your true destiny lies in the pillaging of the Tower. So be diligent, young explorer, and prepare to get rich or die trying... perhaps dying multiple times. It happens.
Zavix TowerSP/MP: Single-player
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Inferno Climber - Early Access Release
A new action rpg released on Steam early access recently called Inferno Climber.
About This Game
Forge through hell in this survival action RPG!
Defeat powerful bosses to collect all 5 Purgatory Stones in hell.
Slashing, magic casting, arrow shooting, bombs throwing, exploring, eating, cooking, blacksmithing.
- Survival 3D action RPG
- Hack & Slash
- Level up system
- Platforming action
- Puzzles and traps in the dangerous dungeon
- Resource management
- Over 40 hours of playtime
- 8 unique playable characters
- Raise your character's strength freely
- Over 400 unique items
- More than 20 stages
- Master new skills and magic spells
- Over 90 different enemies
- Each stage is guarded by a boss character
- Stealth operations
- Reveal hidden treasures and secret paths by breaking walls with bombs
～ STORY ～
A long, long time ago... There were 5 Purgatory Stones with enormous magical powers.
Purgatory Stones were owned by 5 different countries to keep the world in order.
However, as the time passed, evil and corruption spreads through the land. Purgatory Stones fell into the wrong hands. Monsters plagued all over the land. Thus, the world has fallen.
100 years later... An innocent soul made a pact with Death. The awakened one set forth in search for the Purgatory Stones.
General NewsSP/MP: Unknown
Release: In development
Bludgeons & Krakens - Released
The oldschool indie RPG Bludgeons & Krakens has been released. It is a turn-based action RPG: it draws heavily from the tradition of classic CRPGs like Ultima, but blends it with simple, fast-paced combat and loot. The main quest requires the player to seek out and defeat bosses across the game world. The bosses can be defeated in any order, though some will be near impossible until the player reaches a higher level. These bosses also have specific abilities and weaknesses that can be exploited through the use of artifacts hidden in various areas. The player can choose to make use of these artifacts or ignore them for a greater challenge. The game is PC-only and available now for free.
Welcome to Abraxas! Unfortunately, you've arrived at just about the worst time imaginable. As a novice sellsword just looking for a job, you signed up with a mercenary company only to sell yourself into a land plagued by war, blight, a demonic invasion, and perhaps things even worse. I hope they pay you overtime.
- Play Your Way. Build your character from one of five character classes--Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Druid--and customize him or her as you wish. Master weapon skills and magic abilities, upgrade your attributes, and empower yourself with mythic loot.
- Explore a Strange World. Unearth ancient secrets in every corner of Abraxas. Meet the curious denizens of the land, many of whom will seek your help. Or simply wander the land in search of your fortune.
- Fight for Survival (and Loot). Take on hordes of foes in turn-based combat where one wrong move is enough to turn you from a treasure-laden victor into an indecorous, bloody heap. And if you think you're prepared, seek out powerful bosses who will truly challenge your abilities.
Bludgeons & KrakensSP/MP: Single-player
Shroud of the Avatar - Garriott Sells Real Blood
In what might be his most macabre PR move yet, Richard Garriott is planning to sell a vial of his own blood as part of a "reliquary" for Shroud of the Avatar.
Even though the event has been immortalized on video, the item is indeed on sale on eBay and Eurogamer already wrote an article on this, I still find this difficult to believe. In one of his possibly most eccentric moments, Richard "Lord British" Garriott has had a professional nurse draw some of his blood to be sold on eBay as part of a limited "reliquary" that also includes a plethora of digital items for his upcoming Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.
The starting bid for this oddity is $5,000, but this initiative might be stopped by eBay, considering that their policy on human body parts is pretty restrictive:Examples of prohibited items include, but are not limited to:
Native American grave-related items, including skulls and skeletons intended for medical research
Tibetan prayer skulls
any of these items included as a gift, prize or giveaway in connection with another item listed on eBay
I wonder if this stunt will bring the spotlight back on Shroud of the Avatar, considering the title seems to have lost the interest of mainstream publications during the long road to the official release.
Shroud of the AvatarSP/MP: Single + MP
Release: In development
Kickstarter Games - Buck Update
With 13 days to go the 2d post apocalytic action adventure Buck is more than 50% funded:
Grit the Narrator
Welcome to a new video update for Buck! Today we'll take a look at Grit, one of the major characters in the game who will serve as the narrator during your adventure!
Grit came into existence completely by accident. While we did know from the get go that the game would have a narrating character, we had absolutely no idea what kind of animal he'd be, how he would look, and what his voice would be like.
While working on a story-board for one of Buck's very first cinematic scenes, Adi had drawn a background character on a sign. We took a hard look at that, and realized we might be on to something! Checkout the video below to see what he drew and how it inspired both us to create Grit the Narrator.loading...
Kickstarter GamesSP/MP: Unknown
Release: In development
Fallout - The History of the Series
Hardcore Gaming 101 with an introduction into the Fallout series:
Among Fallout fans, there are two conflicting ideas about what Fallout actually is. To many players, Fallout is about exploring the post-apocalyptic wasteland, shooting raiders and participating in conflicts which will shape the future of the world (or rather what remains of it). Others will say it's not enough - for them, Fallout is a game about difficult choices, complex mechanics and extreme non-linearity.
Such divide among the fans stems from the fact that Fallout can be thought of as two loosely connected series developed by different teams with different approaches to both gameplay and narrative. The first two mainline games are a product - or maybe a catalyst - of the 1990s computer RPG revival and carry all the common traits of this movement. They're played from isometric perspective, they put a lot of focus on player agency and their difficulty is less in choices made during the combat and more in preparation and character building. Fallout 3 and 4, created by Bethesda, are more similar to that studio's flagship The Elder Scrolls series (especially later titles like Oblivion and Skyrim): they're exploration-heavy first person action-RPGs set in a large, freely explorable (due to both lack of explicit 'invisible walls' and the controversial level scaling mechanics meant to provide steady difficulty during the whole playthrough) open world.
Thanks Dark Savant!
Balrum - Review @ CRPG Revisiting
Dark Savant spotted this Balrum review from the CRPG Revisting blog:
I had very fun with this game and felt hooked from the beginning. I love the slow progress, the open world and the tough opponents. When you succeed you really feel enjoyment. The game is easy to play. The world is unexplored and black and it is easy to sink several hours into it at once. It reminds me a little about Eschalon and/or the Avadon games but this game is unique in its own. I am looking forward to a sequel but would like them balance the classes more, allowing for better items to be sold and improving the story a bit.Section
Rating Gameworld & Story 3 Economy 3 NPC & Interactions 2 Monsters, tactics & combat system 3 Magic system 2 Character generation & development 3 Map design 4 Manual 3 Graphics, Sound and Interface 3 Summary CRPG value 26 Gameplay 4
Friday - July 08, 2016
The Technomancer - First Update
The Technomancer has had its first update which introduces some fixes and changes. Easy mode has been made easier and you now have the ability to walk as well as run.
We've just released a new update for The Technomancer!
This patch contains a number of bug fixes and commonly asked for gameplay improvements. Thanks for all of your comments and feedback - we have been listening carefully!
Here's the full patch notes:
- Fixed a bug where you could be blocked in the "Under Threat" main quest.
- Fixed an item duplication exploit
- Fixed a bug preventing to complete the tutorial if you changed the binding before starting it
- Fixed a bug where the wrong button was shown during the tutorial with a PS4 controller on PC
- Fixed animation bugs on the character
- Fixed two bugs preventing to complete side quests "Crowd of beggar" and "Extortion under threat" after fleeing from Ophir
- Minor bug fixes
- Stability improvements
- Minor UI improvements
- Implementation of a key that toggles walking or running, bound on "Caps Lock" by default
- Rework on the loot/drain binding system in keyboard/mouse controls: Loot will now always be bound on "interaction 1" (E) and drain on "interaction 2" (Q)
- 'Easier' Easy Mode - Following player feedback, we've reworked Easy difficulty to be more accessible. This is ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy the story without investing too much time into combat.
Gothic - Retrospective @RPS
RockPaperShotgun looks back at Gothic and finds that in many ways it is unparalled today.
The game itself is set within a microsociety built entirely on the situation its inhabitants find themselves in. A succinct introduction describes a war between humans and orcs, because of course it does. But instead of the war itself, Gothic is about some of its consequences. The humans need weapons, so seal off a prison mine behind a one-way magical barrier, and begin shoving convicts in. The idiot mages get their sums wrong and trap themselves too, and more poetically, the prisoners revolt and take over, and rationally extract demands from the King in return for his precious ore. The result is a sensible arrangement in which the prisoners continue to mine and export in exchange for their choice of goods from the outside world.
Even mentioning that here's where the player comes in feels like an afterthought. You're a convict booted across the barrier who happens to become relevant by chance. You're no Chosen One, merely The One Who Happened To Be Standing There.
All this setup demonstrates an ongoing thoughtfulness that's key to Gothic's appeal. After the revolt, the prisoners split into three camps - one honouring the agreement with the King, the others working on separate escape plans. It'd be easy to set these camps up as novelty playgrounds, extreme poles of Good, Bad, and Stupid Wizard Hat, but Piranha Bytes were smarter. The Old Camp devotes everything to maintaining ore exports, and protecting the resulting imports from the rebellious New Camp, whose theft and raids supplement their rice crops. Meanwhile, the third Sect camp pray to a dormant god in hope of liberation, and trade off the excess of their holy drug, along with plants and tinctures.
The camps feel not like interchangeable markers to swap loot for new tasks, but like societies. Each has a reason to exist, a means of providing for itself, a social order, and a long term goal. They're visually and culturally distinct despite the limitations of geography, but the distinctions aren't exaggerated. The New Camp are the nasty faction on paper, but in practice just want independence from the King and his toadies, and only cause as much trouble as is needed to keep their escape plan in motion. Given the opportunity, they wouldn't wipe out or even wage war on the others because, well, needlessly murdering dozens of people crosses a lot of lines, y'know? Rivalry doesn't have to mean total destruction. Besides, the other camps provide useful goods.
It'd be easy to depict an overthrown penal colony as a hellhole full of bloodthirsty maniacs, but the prevailing attitude is that everyone's stuck there together. The communities and their inhabitants, both en masse and individually, act in ways that make sense given their circumstances.
In a word, Gothic is sensible.
There are few saints or pointlessly evil monsters. More common is pragmatic robbery or limited kindness - more people will help you out a little and few will screw you over for the hell of it. Think about it: if you were trapped in a village and went round stabbing people for larks, how long would the rest of your peers put up with you? Fights with humans are seldom unprompted, and even less commonly lethal - losing leaves you prone while the winner rifles through your pockets, or you theirs. Most NPCs won't hold a grudge afterwards, and accept loss with admirable grace. You're free to do likewise, although I can never resist the temptation to bully and rob a particular pair of miners every time I pass by. Some have friends who'll enact swift reprisals, but there are many opportunities to brawl, and some situations require a beating to get your point across. I lost my patience with one self-important cultist who tried to foist an odd job onto me before handing over something I wanted, so gave him a solid whack with a hammer and took it instead.
It's an interesting contrast to most games, where casual murder is the norm, and even those with a "pacifist run" tend to hand wring or fall over themselves admiring us for the enormously noble act of not massacring people. In Gothic, fights are fights, not murder-offs, and once someone's beaten, the matter is considered settled. It takes a deliberate, conscious decision to kill, and doing so triggers an unequivocal animation where you carefully crouch astride a helpless person and slay them. Even then, you're not irrevocably changed from NOT_MURDERER to MURDERER status, and not everyone will care, but it's remarkable how your perceptions and behaviour change when killing a nameless mook has social consequences. Even the hateful Rice Lord left a perennial stain on my conscience when I snuck past his goons and mercilessly skewered him in his sleep. Seeing peasants change from cheering on your fight to backing off in horror isn't the power trip it might sound like.
Bevontule - Pre-Alpha Demo
The pre-alpha demo for the tactical turnbased RPG Bevontule has been made available on IndieDB.
Our new pre-alpha build is finally here! We have toiled hard to bring you this massive new demo, the third of its kind, and by far the largest, most complete and most challenging Bevontule experience yet!
-3 unique playable characters with 15 different skills, all available from the start!
-17 enemies with over 30 skills, each with their own tactics, strengths and weaknesses.
-50+ items, ranging from consumables, collectibles, armor, weapons and accessories. Lots of hidden items and chests!
-3 large locations to explore, each with random enemy spawns and several mini-bosses.
-A village containing several shops and a variety of chests and NPCs to interact with.
-Supports XBOX360 controllers and mouse/keyboard input.
-3-5 hours of RPG goodness!
If you are a fan of RPGs, particularly tactical turn-based ones, you shouldn't miss it!
DISCLAIMER: As a demo, nothing is final and there might be a bug or two. Let us know if you find any and feel free to share any and all feedback!
Indie RPGsSP/MP: Unknown
Release: In development
ELEX - Artwork, Screenshots
New artwork and screenshots have emerged for ELEX.
Over the past several days, the team at Piranha Bytes has been busy cranking out pairs of artwork and screenshots depicting the raptor, mech, and jackal on the official ELEX Facebook page. Each pair is also accompanied by a paragraph description, which I'll quote in the same order below:Among the residents of Magalan, the Raptor is just as well known for his frightening appearance as he is recognized for his hazardous nature. He is protected by strong scale armor that is hard to penetrate. His razor sharp teeth serve just one purpose, to rip up the inside of victims!
The Mech is a construct of deadly technology that, once in action, is bringing devastation in its wake. He is protected by strong armor and is equipped with an arsenal of weapons for him to be able to react to every combat situation. Anyone who faces a Mech quickly recognises, that he wouldn't want to make an enemy of him!
The Jackal has a very good ear, sharp claws and is littered with dirt and scars. Although there are a few domesticated examples, you should approach them with caution.
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release: In development
Kingdom Come - Preview Roundup
Gamebanshee has a roundup of E3 previews for Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
The importance of wearing proper armor against what your enemies are using for weapons, as well as your choice in weaponry based on what your enemy is wearing, can’t be understated. There are RPG things like leveling to get up proficiency and weapons and other things, but every character in the game has the exact same amount of health. So, you can’t just cruise your way through something because you have outleveled the area. The strategy of using the correct weapon at the correct time, while constantly adjusting your armor, will be the most important thing in every encounter you have. It even comes into play with your horse, as you’ll apply that layering to their armor as well.
Kingdom ComeSP/MP: Single-player
Release: In development
M&M: Heroes VII - Fortress Warfare Profiles
Might and Magic Heroes VII isn't far off now. Ubisoft has profiled the units that will be introduced for fortress warfare.
With the release of Ubisoft and Limbic's Might & Magic Heroes VII: Trial by Fire expansion pack less than a month away, the team has put together a set of profiles for a few of the warfare units available to the new Fortress faction. The Runestone, Fire Cannon, and Dwarven Ballista are all on tap, with accompanying artwork:Crossbows and siege engines are dwarven specialties, and are vastly preferred to less complicated devices like bows, slings and the like. Dwarven ballista crews are deadly accurate, and can reload and fire fast enough to break up almost any enemy advance.
M&M: Heroes VIISP/MP: Single + MP
System Shock - Demo Patched and New Tier
The System Shock kickstarter has a new update where they announce that the Demo has been patched to include grenades among other things. Additionally there is a new $100 physical tier that includes an art book and a giveaway for a System Shock Limited Edition Screen Print Poster & T-Shirt.
Pre-Alpha Demo Patch #1 Patch Notes
This patch, which is now live on Steam, contains the following fixes and improvements:
- Texture filtering has been applied. The textures around the station will appear smoother and less pixelated. Let us know what you think about this change as we would like your feedback on it.
- Visual effects have been improved and as well the addition of explosion visual and sound effects.
- Fragmentation grenades can now be thrown by the player. Right-click on the grenade from your inventory to throw or assign it to the hotbar and throw with the press of 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the keyboard.
- "Staminup" patches, "BeserkBooster" patches, and Battery packs can now be used by the player by right-clicking on them in the inventory.
- New melee attacks animations have been added. The Hacker will recoil when hitting a surface with the pipe.
- Reduced the swing delay of the pipe.
- Shortened pickup animations.
- Music alterations applied to the backing music around the station.
- Fixed a bug with game settings causing controls to lock when reloading the game.
- Item descriptions have been improved for the items around the demo.
- Various performance improvements.
System ShockSP/MP: Single-player
Skyrim - PC Gamer Retrospective
Andy Kelly from PC Gamer goes back to Skyrim to talk about how well the game has aged in the years since its release. While he has a lot of the same gripes we do, his view is flattering overall.
The varied geography is what makes it one of the best open worlds on PC. Each region has a distinct atmosphere and personality. The Rift is gold and autumnal, with forests, lakes, and vineyards. An incongruously idyllic setting for the hotbed of crime and corruption that is Riften. Eastmarch is a volcanic, volatile landscape of bubbling hot springs and jagged rock. You can almost smell the sulphur in the air. To the far north, Winterhold is perpetually battered by blizzards and blanketed in thick snow. At night the sky is illuminated by vividly colourful aurora, a sight that never stops impressing. Whiterun is a vast, treeless tundra, freezing, grassy plains surrounding its central city.
At the centre of the map is the Throat of the World, a colossal mountain that you can’t help but feel the urge to climb when you first see it tickling the clouds. Your pilgrimage up it, and the view when you reach the peak, is one of the game’s best experiences. Just watch out for the frost troll lurking near the summit.
As is the case with a lot of RPGs, it’s the side quests where the best stuff lies. Joining the Dark Brotherhood and becoming a master assassin. Rising in the ranks of the Thieves Guild. Investigating a brutal murder in the city of Windhelm like some kind of fantasy gumshoe. Teaming up with a talking dog that’s actually a demon. Becoming a werewolf. Picking sides in a civil war. There are so many quests in Skyrim, from the epic to the absurd, and your journal is always fat with things to do. There isn’t much in the way of choice or branching paths, however, and far too many quests involve trekking through samey dungeons with a meagre reward at the end.
Source: PC Gamer
Thursday - July 07, 2016
The Great Whale RoadSP/MP: Single-player
Release: In development
Dragonpath - Released
The top-down hack'n'slash RPG Dragonpath has been released on Steam:
Dragonpath is a fast-paced top-down hack'n'slash RPG with abilities tied to equipment rather than classes. The game takes place in a broken underground realm inhabited by vicious monsters and few struggling remnants of civilization.
Baptised in the dragon’s fire the champion yearns for vengeance; the master’s nemesis must fall. Master the ruthless combat, carve a bloody path through the depths of this ruined world and take the fight to the wretched being festering in the abyss.
- Campaign with 15 levels divided into 4 chapters
- Singleplayer and local 2-player co-op modes
- Abilities are tied to equipped items instead of classes
- 20+ bosses and 30+ enemy types
- 90+ items to find and plenty of enchants to modify them
- Customizable hair style
Do you dare to walk the Dragonpath?
RPGWatch Feature - Death by Exposure: Trails of Cold Steel
Aubrielle has her own column now on RPGWatch, in which she will discuss JRPGs. As you know the focus of RPGWatch is on western CRPGs, but there are also players out there that do like to play jRPGs as well. To cater to those readers and those who like to learn about them, Aubrielle starts this semiregular column.
In this episode Aubrielle start with an unofficial review of Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is the third volume in the widely-acclaimed Legend of Heroes series. That makes it an odd place for NIS to go, since they haven't launched the second volume (the "Crossbell" story arc) for a western audience. Still, Trails of Cold Steel is a standalone game; playing the second story arc helps your understanding of what's going on, but it's definitely not required. Cold Steel is a solid RPG that can very much be enjoyed on its own.
Trails of Cold Steel takes you to the Erebonian Empire and enrolls you as a student of the prestigious Thors Military Academy. As a member of the newly-formed Class VII, you'll complete tasks to help the student council, all while building relationships with your classmates that will translate into bonuses in combat. The questing system will look familiar if you enjoyed Trails in the Sky; you're presented with a log and the game keeps track of the quests you finish and the ones you ignore. That log will also tease your inner completionist, since it keeps track of the books and newspapers you've read, as well as the recipes you've collected.
Aubrielle's ColumnSP/MP: Unknown
Release: In development
Elder Scrolls Online - Gold Edition Announced
A Gold Edition of Elder Scrolls Online has been announced. It will contain all of the extra content currently available for ESO.
Bethesda Softworks brings word of their plans to release a The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition compilation package on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, though no specific release date has been given yet. However, you can pre-order the game if you already know that the core MMORPG, its four expansion packs, and other included goodies are something you're interested in:Own the complete ESO story plus the first four DLC game packs with the newly announced The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition. From Skyrim to Daggerfall, this pack allows you to explore the vast world of Tamriel in one package. Travel to Abah's Landing to master the art of thievery with the iconic Thieves Guild, become a deadly assassin of the Dark Brotherhood in the Gold Coast, or ride to Wrothgar and aid the Orc King Kurog in rebuilding Orsinium.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition includes the following content:
• The Elder Scrolls Online
• DLC game packs:
• Imperial City
• Thieves Guild
• Dark Brotherhood
• Palomino horse mount
• 500 crowns to spend in the in-game Crown Store for new game accounts
Starting today, you'll be able to pre-order The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition for $59.99 from select retailers.
Elder Scrolls OnlineSP/MP: Single + MP
XCOM 2 - Five Months Later...
Rock, Paper, Shotgun takes a look at the state of XCOM 2, five months after release.
Five months and one day, in fact. XCOM 2 was a big huge hit at release, and mostly very well-received – although, variously, there were complaints about performance, difficulty, time-wasting and the opacity of its complicated systems. The picture’s a little different now we’re here in July. There have been three DLC packs, a bunch of patches, a mod community and most of all, plenty of time for repeat visits to see how it feels now we know how all the pieces fit together. I’ve just emerged from the requisite sleepless nights to wage the main part of another campaign, and I have indeed found a significantly changed game – for reasons both good and bad.
I’ll start with performance, as I was one of those who was blighted by lousy and wildly-spiking framerates both at launch and after the initial patch. The good news is the worst issues have been resolved – where once I was seeing my frame rate drop to sub-30 on a GTX 970 even with most settings at absolute minimum, now I’m seeing it range between 40 and 60 when almost everything is maxed-out, and at 1440p too. (Full SSAO, as opposed to the lesser and not hugely different Tile SSAO still takes a big toll). It’s never dropping below 30, it’s smoother and I can get the magic 60 if I compromise on a few things. I can’t prove this, but I swear it looks a little prettier than it did too. Or perhaps I’m just able to appreciate it a little bit more now I’m not seething about jerkiness and worrying that my poor graphics card is running at the temperature of the sun.
The aggravating delays between certain actions have been toned down too, although there’s still an unwelcome amount of heel-dragging as various animations or reactions play out, maddening when one is keen to know the consequence or action a riposte. This is compounded by a sometimes unbearable-feeling regularity of interruption on the strategy map side of the game. Already a beeswarm of nags and forced deviations from one’s R&D plans, with the two story-led DLC packs (the third is purely aesthetic) in the mix it’s off the scale in the early game.
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Matt Chat - Mike Witwer Interview, pt. 4
Night Dive Studios - Interview @ShanePlays
ShanePlays interviewed Night Dive Studio's Stephen Kick recently on System Shock amongst other things like Chris Avellone's involvement. There is a podcast version available here if you prefer that.
Night Dive Studios
Wednesday - July 06, 2016
Dishonored 2 - Preview @ PC Gamer
Henriquejr spotted this Dishonored 2 preview:
Dishonored 2: creative killing in Karnaca
The success of the first game means that Arkane has the freedom, with Dishonored 2, to double-down on its strengths. There’s no pressure to make a simpler or more traditionally marketable offering, as has happened with games like this in the past. “When we made Dishonored we weren’t really sure how it’d be received,” Bakaba says. “It’s weird when you say it now, but I can tell you that until the very end, when the first reviews came, we were thinking ‘maybe this industry doesn’t want this type of game’. That is now in the past, that fear. This time we approached it like ‘OK, they like what we’re doing, what we’re passionate about, how can we improve.’”
The team are also guided by their success, particularly when it came in forms that they didn’t expect. “For whatever reason, we have a wider range of demographics who like our game than is traditionally true and I love that,” Harvey Smith says. Dishonored 2’s two protagonists represent one way that the sequel celebrates this diversity, and the cast of principal characters is another. “I love writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates who talk about how important it is to have a representational avatar for a comic or a game,” Smith says. “Not just a grizzled white dude. That’s an easy trap to fall into. We found that the more we include other types of people in the world, the more it resonates with a wider range of people and it doesn’t hurt the core audience at all. It doesn’t hurt the core fantasy at all.”
Dishonored 2SP/MP: Single-player
Release: In development
Witcher 3 - Game of the Year Edition Coming
CD Projekt Red has, in a statement given to Eurogamer, confirmed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition.
"With all the free DLC and updates the game received so far, including significant changes to the game's interface and mechanics, many gamers have asked us if we're working on some sort of a Game of the Year Edition. I'm happy to confirm - yes, plans are in motion to release such an edition. We'll release more details, including the release date, in the future. In the meantime, I'd like to thank every fan of the game for their support - you're really amazing!"
The GOTY edition is said to be released on August 26th this year.
Witcher 3SP/MP: Single-player
Niffelheim - Version 0.9.5 released
Niffelheim has released a new update which introduces a number of tweaks and features. Notably free traversal between your territories and an easier time working out where you have been before with the hero's tracks feature, among others.
Niffelheim: Update 0.9.5
posted by and @ 12:14AM on July 07, 2016
we are still pushing the development forward, and are proud to announce the 0.9.5 update.
What's new in the game?
1. We are introducing a completely reworked map feature. Now you will be able to traverse between your territories for free. Travelling to town still requires some money, as usual. From now on the map displays which one of your territories is currently under attack. Quick teleport back to your castle also requires some money; however you will be able to return to your castle from other lands for free. Once you've quit to the map you will only have the options to return to your castle or travel to town. Travelling from the map to enemy territories is no longer possible.
2. We have added hero's tracks. From now on while exploring the dungeons you will see where you have already been and what parts are still unexplored.
3. Both current and overall health levels are now displayed on the hero icon, to help you track your hero's health state.
4. We have removed the door crafting option from the dungeons. Currently there is no use for doors and the feature may be removed permanently from the game.
Fixed errors and bugs:
1. Fixed bug with items that have not been removed while complying to an ultimatum.
2. Fixed bug with disappearing trophies after update.
3. Multiplayer mode: fixed issue when one of the players did not see a boss after respawn.
What to expect in the following update in 2 weeks:
A lot of you have been asking: "What do we need the lamps for? It's bright enough in the dungeons".
Now we are planning to implement a concept that has been designed prior to Early Access launch. Your hero's health will gradually decrease in the dungeons as you progress deeper under the ground. The lamps will allow you to stop health decreasing. Each lamp has its own area of effect, but all available lamp tyoes will be required to explore dungeons. We are also planning to use torches and charms to stop health decreasing under the ground.
We are also planning to simplify sigil activation. The feature will be available from the UI, you won't have to open the sigil screen.
Dear players, these minor improvements and additions are being developed at the same time as some major game changes. We've already launched working on new UI screens, a new multiplayer system, new animations and new controls. We are aiming to complete the mentioned tasks until the end of summer and release a major game update. But we are still planning to release a minor update every two weeks including some of your suggestions. So please keep sending us feedback, as we are still reading carefully and considering your thoughts.
Be well and good luck!
Ellada Games Team
NiffelheimSP/MP: Single + MP
Release: In development
Path of Exile - Community Q&A
The Path of Exile developers decided to head to their forums recently to answer some community questions regarding the games future.
Last week we asked the community for questions for our developers to answer. We received dozens pages of questions and have spent the week answering most of the ones from the first six pages. We're going to have to answer more of these questions in a follow-up post soon!
Originally, the intent of "Unique" tier items was to have... well, "Unique" items, that weren't going to be better than well-crafted Rares, but in some cases would enable different playstyles... Is this still the overall intent of Uniques? There's a few Uniques that are overwhelmingly Best-in-Slot for a lot of builds, and I was wondering if these were exceptions, or perhaps Uniques that worked out better than intended, or if you've relaxed the original design choice for Uniques?
Our preference is that most characters use rare items with just a few unique items. This will vary by build, with the most combo-ish ones requiring many unique items, and mundane damage dealers (like my favourite type of hardcore Marauder build) using almost entirely rare items.
It's very hard to hit exactly the right power level when designing a unique item. Some of them underachieve because the community doesn't work out their full potential, and some of them become far more powerful than you planned due to the community coming up with crazy combos that the developers didn't think of. That concept is the core beauty of Path of Exile's character customisation.
In addition, many of the most powerful uniques involve design-a-unique supporters who have very valid reasons for their unique being powerful. They want something people will care about, to leave a true mark on the game. It's very hard to hit the right power level here, especially as the metagame changes over time. To use a specific example, we nerfed Soul Taker many times internally before releasing it. It was a shadow of its former power. However, the vocal part of the community were outraged that we released such a powerful item, completely invalidating the process of crafting a rare one-handed axe. I kind of agreed with them, and wished we had pushed the nerfs harder. A few years later, I receive mail asking when we're going to buff Soul Taker to get it up to an appropriate power level.
What are the pros and cons of having high player power vs the environment?
Players like to feel powerful. Philosophically, we want people to look forward to coming home from work so that they can load up Path of Exile, smash some monsters and get better items for their characters. The power creep towards fast clear speed has definitely helped this feeling.
On the other hand, there are several negative issues we're dealing with. Higher clear speed means more combat going on per second. This affects both the server performance (costing us more money) and the client performance (in some cases, making it hard for people with lower machines to play in parties). These are areas that we're tackling at the moment with technology changes.
While some players and developers are concerned about the clear speeds, there's the subtle issue that now players are used to the rate of item acquisition from that speed. If we substantially rebalanced things so that it's a little slower, then this would affect the rate at which players accumulate wealth. It's very hard to say whether the prolonged playtime would offset the frustration of progressing more slowly.
Have you seen improvements in player retention with the subsequent improvements to content clear times?
Player retention is marginally better and players play for around 25% longer each day compared to the time period when gameplay was slower. We can debate all day about whether it's due to the clear times or not. I suspect it's that people want to feel powerful, rather than finish the maps quickly.
What's your stance on all the exploiters and peoples abusing various bugs and unwanted mechanics during the first days or weeks of a league, either breaking the economy or gaining unfair advantage? Is there anything done to act against those and protect the whole playerbase?
There are several factors in play here. The first is that Path of Exile is designed for players to try to take advantage of knowledge and gain economic advantage over other players. If you work out a smart way to craft, or you find a build that lets you get to Uber Atziri first and offer her uniques up for sale at top prices, then you are winning at Path of Exile. This is a game that rewards you for being smart.
As for people crossing the line and exploiting the game by abusing bugs, this is something that both happens far less than you think, and often is actually attributed to non-abusive behaviour coupled with tall stories. We often see people claiming exploits to explain how they got rich, but then when we investigate the accounts we find more mundane behaviour like faked screenshots, wealth pooling, RMT or just lucky drops.
Having said that, people who actually exploit the game are generally mercilessly banned along with their co-conspirators. It's usually pretty clear where the line is here.
Why haven't all basic skill gems been made available to all classes from vendors? Everyone hates making mule characters to get gems, and trading for them over and over again is annoying at best.
Surprisingly, not everyone hates characters having identity. There's a bit of a slippery slope when trying to optimise for the type of player that wants to instantly gain access to gems from all character classes. For them it's a harmless change, but for most of the playerbase it'd be hugely overwhelming and would break the immersion of you being offered appropriate choices for your character. I'm not saying we won't do this, but we'd need to find the right way to do it.
Path of ExileSP/MP: Massive
Genre: Hack & Slash
The Technomancer - RPG Codex Review
RPG Codex's Bubbles reviewed The Technomancer and is somewhat positive about the experience.
The Technomancer throws the player into one of the more exotic settings I've encountered in a mainstream RPG: you play Zachariah, a young Technomancer who lives on the planet Mars, in a dystopian society that is controlled by a few large corporations. Humanity is confined to a small number of scattered megacities, where they are sheltered from the deadly radiation of the sun; those who are exposed to the radiation become hideously disfigured mutants, who are treated like slaves by their human masters. The most precious resource is water, which is the source of endless wars between the planet's inhabitants. Your character's ultimate goal is to find a way to contact Earth and allow humanity to leave his godforsaken rock.
None of these elements are terribly original in and of themselves; even the Technomancers are basically just a morally flexible version of force users from the Star Wars setting. However, Spiders have fleshed out their world with lots of entertaining little details that give the setting a great deal of colour. To give an example: each corporation uses a different naming scheme for its people. Aurora is a religious corporation, whose citizens receive "virtue names" like "Chastity" and "Prosperity". Their rival Abundance is openly totalitarian and names its citizens for their roles in society; Michael Labour is probably a manual worker, Viktor Watcher is the head of the secret police, and Anton Rogue is... well, you can guess. Meanwhile, the mutants carry names like Phobos, Cain, and Scum, and they all talk about themselves in the third person.
The whole thing could easily come across as stupid and juvenile, but the developers seem so earnestly committed to their setting that they've somehow made it feel endearing. You'll come across an all-female gang raging against the "Phallos", a woman committing suicide by licking a stone, a famous singer with a terrible secret (possibly cribbed from Deus Ex, but why not?) and a literal poster girl for the regime whose favourite words are "fuck" and "shit" ("Now I know why they didn't put a caption on the poster," comments an NPC). Eventually, I just embraced the general B-movie atmosphere and allowed myself to be entertained. Your reaction may differ.
Overall, I would describe The Technomancer's writing and presentation as "not great, but entertaining." Going into my playthrough, I was prepared for a low-budget experience with a unique atmosphere; the game not only met those criteria, but also provided a bit more depth than I expected. Still, the quality of the writing by no means comparable to the greats of the genre, and if you go into this story expecting another New Vegas or Alpha Protocol, you're going to be most severely disappointed. If I say that the writing is more interesting than the typical mainstream fare, I mean to say that I liked it more than Fallout 3, Fable, Drakensang, or Venetica - no more, no less.
The quests offer plenty of choices and consequences... well, mostly just choices
Of course, Spiders had never even promised to provide a great story; what they had promised was a robust system of choices and consequences and skill-based quest resolutions. On paper, the c&c is indeed one of The Technomancer's greatest strengths; the game offers a whopping six non-combat skills (Charisma, Science, Crafting, Stealth, Lockpicking, and Exploration), the first two of which can also be used in dialogue. About 85% of the quests in the game have distinctly different outcomes, which can be achieved either by using these skills, or by simply making a decision during dialogue (kill/spare, accept bribe/fight, ally with A/ally with B, etc.). Having so many quests with different solutions and outcomes is quite rare for an action RPG, and this number is achieved by the designers' laudable commitment to dialogue-driven quests. There are extremely few "get x of y" or "kill z" quests in The Technomancer, and it's surely a better game for it. Some quests are timed (if perhaps a bit too generously) and can actually be failed, while others can only be completed at a certain time of day. There are also no minigames whatsoever. All of this is how it should be.
Even better, the game also features a range of robust systems to take track of your decisions throughout the game. First up is the Karma score, which tracks your decisions along a simple good-bad spectrum. Helping people may either be good or bad, but killing them will always give you bad Karma, no matter what,. To support this system, the designers have opted to use a Gothic-style "killing blow" mechanic: if you defeat a sentient enemy in battle, they go unconscious by default. If you want to kill them, you need to plunge a syringe into their skull and suck out all of their "serum" (which also, pleasantly, serves as the game world's universal currency). This makes for a very off-putting image, and it helps to convey a message that's clearly dear to the designers' heart: good guys shouldn't just kill people willy-nilly, even in a video game. Unfortunately, the release patch has somewhat borked the looting controls; it's now far too easy to accidentally kill somebody by simply pressing the "loot" button on an enemy who has no loot. Let's hope that Spiders will patch this issue quickly.
Meanwhile, the Faction scores track your reputation with the half dozen major factions you encounter in the game world. If you consistently act against a faction during your quests, you may find that a previously peaceful city zone has been filled by respawning enemy units who are very interested in seeing you dead. Having to deal with these mooks can be annoying, but it's also a proper, gameplay affecting consequence. A similar mechanic is also used for managing the affections of your companions, although I never once actually managed to make a companion dislike me. Instead, the game allows you to get rid of your companions through quests and social interactions; of the seven companions you meet throughout the game, at least three can be "permanently removed" from your party in certain optional decisions. So far, so good.