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Poll Watch

Did The Witcher 3 Live Up to the Hype?
Absolutely
59.38%

For the most part
21.88%

Really don't know
10.42%

Maybe a bit
2.08%

No Way
6.25%

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Tuesday - June 30, 2015

Witcher 3 - New Free Quest

by Hiddenx, 07:19

Later this week one new DLC will be released: Where the Cat and Wolf Play

Spotted by henriquejr

 

Witcher 3

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Monday - June 29, 2015

General News - Exciting Upcoming Updates

by Myrthos, 17:41

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has made a list of the 8 most exciting updates that are coming our way in the "near" future, consiting of the games: Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Roehm To Ruin/The Order Of The Thorne, The Witcher 3 (DLCs), Baldur’s Gate III, Pillars of Eternity (DLC's) and Dead State Reanimated (which is already available).

 

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Bard's Tale IV - Here Comes MCA

by Myrthos, 17:27

As some have guessed, the participation of Chris Avellone to design a dungeon is now a stretchgoal for The Bard's Tale IV. In this case a stretch goal at $1.9 million dollars. In addition Colin McComb will join the team to design a dungeon at $1.7 million.

Some exciting news today. You asked for him, now help us get him, the one and only Chris Avellone!!

If you’re not familiar with Chris, he and I go back together to the mid-90s when he worked on the legendary cRPGs Planescape: Torment (as Lead Designer) and Fallout 2. Afterwards he co-founded Obsidian Entertainment and was the Creative Director. There he worked on many of their games, including being the Lead Designer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and a senior designer on Fallout: New Vegas. We have very successfully worked with him before on Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera, a co-operation that is still ongoing to the joy of both parties!

Chris’ involvement will be locked in the moment we pass the $1.9 million mark on the Kickstarter, where he’ll be designing the Cairn of Horrors, an all new dungeon built from the worst things that live in the imagination of Chris Avellone. The Cairn has one purpose, and that purpose is to kill you. Here’s what Chris had to say:

"I owe my career to seeing Bard's Tale II on a Commodore 64 at a friend's house. When I saw the streets of Skara Brae up and running (gasp - in simulated 3D! And in color!), I suddenly realized I didn't have to be the game master all the time in order to get my RPG fix, there was finally someone out there who had done the formidable job of creating a digital dungeon master for RPG aficionados with the same amount of lazy players as I had. So I have Brian Fargo to thank three times - first for the game itself (and all the Interplay RPGs I played to follow, including Bard's Tale I, Bard's Tale III, and Wasteland), second, for hiring me at Interplay, and third, for asking me to be a part of Bard's Tale IV - with your support, I hope we can make it happen!"

Additionally, at that funding level we’ll also make representations of your characters in your inventory screen and you’ll be able to see the gear, clothing and equipment they’re wearing, rather than a paper doll.

Along with Chris, we’re also bringing back the second Designer of Planescape: Torment and Creative Lead of Torment: Tides of Numenera, the inestimable Colin McComb! He will join our team at $1.7 million, designing a dungeon set in the Realm of the Elves, because we all know no one has mastered the craft of the Elves as Colin has. 

And there is news of a new wilderness area, the Wilds of Lestras.

Bard's Tale IV

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Deus Ex: MD - About Gameplay Paths @ Polygon

by Arhu, 15:14

Polygon talked with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's gameplay director Patrick Fortier at E3 and processed their interview in two articles about the different gameplay paths that make Deus Ex games what they are.

The first one primarily deals with the action / stealth duality in Deus Ex: MD:

In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, players' options are in service of what Fortier calls "flow." And it's not just a philosophy. It's also a reflection of how he likes to play games.

He's making the game. He doesn't have the luxury of just playing angrily or stealthily. He has to do it all. And that's sort of a reflection of what most players do. As far as he can tell, most play a mix of stealth and action. His responsibility, he says, is to make both choices satisfying. For a developer to choose one over the other is a "trap" he refers to constantly.

Personally, he might prefer stealth in the abstract, but he's not the kind of player who gets spotted, pauses and reloads a checkpoint. He likes to see how it plays out. If he gets into a station where stealth is no longer an option, he'll bring out the guns. In the best games, he thinks, these things flow into one another, like a narrative wire weaving its way throughout the game.

 

The second article is about the four pillars that make a Deus Ex game, which are combat, stealth, hacking and social interaction.

"Those are fundamental things to the game experience," Fortier told Polygon at E3 2015. (..)

There may be four pillars, but as fans of Deus Ex should expect, they're all set against he backdrop of an unfolding story whose outcome you, as the player, will determine.

"Overall," he said, "they're all wrapped up into this tight rope of freedom and choice and consequences." (..)

Player choice, in other words, is the molten core of a Deus Ex game. Everything else, from the toolbox of weapons and superhuman powers to the unfurling narrative set in a cyberpunk future, serves that master. They're more than arbitrary augments. They are the tools players use to construct personalized outcomes in a world developers create.

They are, as Fortier says, links on a chain.

Deus Ex: MD

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Interstellaria - Explore Space in July

by Arhu, 14:23

Cold Rice Games' open world planet and space exploration sim/adventure/RPG Interstellaria is coming out on July 17th.

Explore New Worlds Robotco Travel to Distant Moons Cargo Runner

Interstellaria is a 2d space SIM/RPG/Sandbox game created in the same vein as the engaging space exploration games of the past. Inspired heavily by games like Starflight, Interstellaria is all about allowing the player to find their own adventure. Every star has something interesting to see, and every planet has it’s own unique feel. There are a number of unique encounters and hostile enemies to find. As captain, you are tasked with building your empire through diplomacy, trade, or force.

The game was funded via Kickstarter in December 2013 and will be released on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux. Here's the launch trailer:

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Interstellaria

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Adventure-RPG
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Release: In development

Details

7 Days to Die - Alpha 12 Preview Video

by Myrthos, 13:01

A preview video of the alpha build 12 for 7 Ways to Die has been made available.

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7 Days to Die

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Modern
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Grim Dawn - From the Depths of the Void

by Myrthos, 12:57

In issue 74 of the Grim Misadventures blog for Grim Dawn, we are told about build 26 and can see a set of monsters from the Void.

In GM#73, you may have noticed a collection of fiendish obsidian two-handed weapons. Such cruel weaponry is not wielded by just anyone. The Chthonian Dreadguards are the brutal vanguard of Ch’thon’s infinite legions. Armed with weapons of war crafted from the Void itself and incapable of feeling pain, these hellish brutes cut an unstoppable swath of destruction across their enemies’ ranks.

But they are not all just mindless beasts, hell-bent on annihilation. Deep in the darkest pits, there dwells a scheming creature of fire and shadow known as Shar’Zul. In its black domain, the demon plots the eradication of all life on Cairn, and the return of precious blood to its master, the Dead God Ch’thon.

It is a well-known fact that the Void is the birthplace of unspeakable horrors, the nightmares of mortals made manifest. One such creature is the Chthonian Leech, a fiend consisting of dozens of ravenous life-stealing tentacles, each seemingly with a life of its own. Leeches prey upon all living creatures with an insatiable hunger; they are even known to turn upon the denizens of the Void when other sources of food prove lacking. Thankfully for them, and unfortunately for you, Cairn is ripe with the spawn of the Dead God’s blood.

Should you ever find yourself in the deepest pits of the Void, steel yourself against these fiends and their vitality attacks, lest you become another desiccated corpse rotting in the Ashen Wastes.

The deepest pits of the Void await you in Act 4. Do you dare enter the domain of Ch’thon?

Grim Dawn

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Hack & Slash
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Memory of Eldurim - June Updates

by Myrthos, 12:52

The Memory of Eldurim, currently in Early Access, has seen an update of a new area, new NPCs and new lighting.

With this update comes a new area to explore. It is a large expansion to the area of the golem near the town. Soon it will be used for quests and more.

We have also added in 6 new NPCs in the town. The first portion of a much larger quest is implemented and the NPCs will comment and contribute to this quest. The second half of the quest will follow shortly.

We have also added in lanterns and torches. We are planning on making certain areas dark and light will be a resource that you will have to manage. This feeling already exists during the Deathblood boss. It will be used in additional areas.

Much more work has gone into the archives. As the screen shot indicates the area is really starting to shape up. We are getting close.

More story line work has been done. We will soon be able to advance the main quest line and have much more for the player to do to aid the poor Eldurii. Some of the existing quest will be slightly re-written. Also, more NPCs are commenting on the lore of the game and soon even more will be added in.

We'll see you with another update soon. Thanks guys.

And at the beginning of the month there has been an update of the backend and towns.

As we have been discussing on our forums and in our streams, we have been working hard on this update and it is finally ready. While this update does not add a lot of new content directly to the game it does pave the way for us to make some good changes coming up.

Now that this big update is out we are going to turn our attention to getting back on our weekly update cycle. It is our hope that we can rapidly implement some content that will directly add gameplay hours with new quests and new areas.

Memory of Eldurim

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Earthlock - June Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:46

From the June development update for Earthlock we learn that the team has grown with the addition of a 3D environement artist, receive some info on character design and get a bit of information on the plans for alpha testing.

Earthlock

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: J-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Original Sin EE - Twitch Session Today

by Myrthos, 12:36

Larian Studios is hosting a Twitch session today in which they show the latest state of Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition and take the time to answer your questions.

The session is scheduled at 7:00 pm (CET), which is 1:00 pm (EST) and 10:00 am (PST).

Original Sin EE

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Bombshell - E3 Gameplay Trailer

by Arhu, 11:32

3D Realms released a new gameplay trailer for Interceptor Entertainment's upcoming Action-RPG Bombshell.

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There's a new gunslinger in town and she's your worst nightmare.

Check out 3D Realms' latest trailer and screenshots showing 100% in-game footage for their upcoming game, Bombshell. 

Bombshell will be released in 2015 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. 

Bombshell

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release: In development

Details

PoE: The White March - Preview @ High-Def Digest

by Hiddenx, 07:50

Brian Hoss (High-Def Digest):
The Expansion PoE: The White March will change the whole game experience.

Even Obsidian is surprised at how the base game will change.

The idea of a proper game expansion is something of a lost art, what with forgettable, shoddily produced DLC regularly being slapped with the title of 'Expansion.' Of course, isometric RPGs were also considered a lost art not all that long ago. That was before the Kickstarter-rattling 'Pillars of Eternity' hit the market. (Review here.)

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the first expansion for 'Pillars' is most definitely ambitious in aspect and scope. It's even more ambitious than the name, 'Pillars of Eternity: The White March: Part I' suggests. It's pretty clear that with Obsidian and Paradox Entertainment actively developing for 'Pillars' (as opposed to say, ditching it and moving on to a new project), the idea of expanding the game is being fully explored. (...)

The expansion will introduce soulbound weapons whose characteristics will change depending on the class of the party member to whom the weapon is bound. These weapons will get stronger over time, so that choice is even more important.

While these are nice, juicy expansion-esque features, there are others of a greater significance. With the expansion, Obisidian is going to introduce several fan-requested changes that will fundamentally alter how the game is experienced. For example, cross-class (aka multi-class) talents will allow players to really get creative with their party members' skills. Case in point, the rogue who can frenzy like a barbarian, or summon skeletons. These talents won't be exactly like if they were primary class talents, but still, the options will be many.

Class importance and distinction is like to increase, however, what with the soulbound weapons, and the new Party AI scripting system. With class-specific party behavior options, players will gain a greater default way to control their party members, and this deeper set of orders can be toggled on or off with click of the UI or hotkey.

Even still, the way that stealth is handled is changing. In 'Pillars,' the party's stealth status was all or nothing, and at first detection, all party members and most AI enemies were drawn into battle. With the expansion, stealth will be handled on a per party member basis, and that means that players can exercise a much larger degree of tactical ability prior to combat, positioning their party members in a way to exploit detection. This may sound too powerful, especially for those players willing to infiltrate and backstab enemy positions, but there is a catch. Enemies will also behave in manner more attune to individual stealth settings.

These changes are being worked back into the main game, and as it turns out, many enemies have grown a bit wiser and a bit tougher as a result. For veteran 'Pillars' players, these features are bound to touch a nerve, but hopefully in a good way. (Party A.I. changes, Individual Stealth, and Spell Range Indicators, and Accuracy Indicators will be updates for all owners of 'Pillars of Eternity,' and not just expansion buyers.) (...)

PoE: The White March

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Diluvion - Funded!

by Hiddenx, 07:32

The deep sea exploration and submarine combat game, Diluvion, is funded.
The Kickstarter campaign runs 3 more days.

Gamespot E3 video interview:

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Kickstarter

Details

Sunday - June 28, 2015

Kingdom Come: Deliverance - is Skyrim without Magic @ HardcoreGamer

by Hiddenx, 18:20

Kevin Dunsmore about Kingdom Come: Deliverance:

Ever wanted play a realistic, medieval, open-world RPG that has no magic in it? Warhorse Studios has the game for you. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is that open-world that dares to exclude magic. I got a sneak peek at the upcoming game at E3 2015, and I think any fan of The Elder Scrolls or The Witcher franchises has something to be excited about. (...)

In Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you play as a young blacksmith who has lost everything to war. Fate drags him into a conspiracy involving a kidnapped king, which would inevitably lead to another war. That’s the gist of the main campaign, but players don’t have to rush through it. Much like The Witcher and The Elder Scrolls, players can feel free to wander the world and pick up sidequests. During the demo, the developer opted to wander off from the campaign objective and accept a new quest to investigate a recent murder.

This isn’t going to be a short game by any stretch of the imagination. At launch there will be sixteen square km of land to explore and about thirty hours of gameplay. There will be sprawling cities, castles, forests, and numerous villages to explore, though I was only shown a forest and village in the demo. Warhorse is bringing the world of Deliverance to life by giving every NPC their own role in a community. You’ll see people wondering the streets and doing their jobs during the day, and then see them retreat to their homes at night. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s nice to see such attention to detail.

Deliverance’s combat is very unique in the fact that it strives for authenticity. With melee weapons, players will be able to aim at five different spots on the human body; head, right-side, left-side, lower-right and lower-left. To counter, you’ll need to watch the enemy’s animations and angle your sword in the correct direction. Warhorse is working with martial arts experts to nail 15th century fighting, and it looks to be paying off. The swordplay I witnessed looked slow and methodical, but severely intense. One wrong hit and you could die instantly. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not for those who love to rush in and annihilate enemies with a few well-placed combos. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is, however, for those looking for realistic and strategic swordplay. (...)

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Piranha Bytes - Facts and Information about the new Project @ World of Risen

by Hiddenx, 17:46

World of Risen has collected quite a few facts about Piranha Bytes' new project:

Facts and information

Production information

  • Jenny confirmed that Piranha Bytes are working on a new project!
  • Work on the new project started in early 2014. (Most likely the pre-production, brainstorming part)
  • The new project will most likely be a DX11 one
  • Björn Pankratz is the Project Manager. He has also been PM for Gothic II: Night of the Raven add-on, Risen 2 (together with Mike Hoge) and Risen 3.
  • Mike Hoge (PM for Gothic 1 - Risen 2) will not be involved with the new project, and neither will be Mattias Filler, Kai Rosenkranz or Ralf Marczinzik. (see current and past members of Piranha Bytes)
  • There will be a different composere than Risen 3.
  • The music will be darker.
  • No recycled assets will be used from previous games, like Risen 3 used from Risen 2.
  • The graphical design will still be stylized/a bit cartoonish, but in a darker, less colourful, more adult way.

Technical information

  • Platform: *SPECULATION* The project will be developed for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
  • Engine: The same in-house engine used by Piranha Bytes since Risen 1, updated to the present technology (i.e. DX11).

Gameplay information

Story & setting

  • The new game will have a happier/more satisfactory ending than Risen 3.
  • The game will be structured into chapters.
  • Playing with a party of NPCs will be optional as a rule.
  • Different kinds of environment, though the diversity of which remains be seen.
  • The player will interact with at least on non-human species. 
  • Apparently there will be a big unitary landmass rather than a fragmented map. 
  • The game will feature relatively small settlements, none the size of Khorinis (Gothic 2), but larger than the mage settlement in Risen 3.
  • There will be no ships.

Activities

  • The climbing will again be scripted.
  • There will be swimming. 
  • There will be no Quick Time Events!
  • The inventory will again be unlimited. 
  • More NPCs will be killable in the new project, not just quest-related kills.
  • There will be teachers and a crafting system which allows the player to craft more than just weapons.
  • There will be different factions granting special abilities and weapon skills upon joining them.
  • The hero will be able to sleep.
  • The inventory will be redesigned.

Combat

  • There will be difficulty level from which the player can choose.

Piranha Bytes

Details

Beamdog - New Baldur's Gate incoming?

by Hiddenx, 11:13

All you can see here is a mysterious counter and a blurry sphere ... 11 days to go!

Beamdog

Details

Indiegogo - Fantasy Dimension Update

by Hiddenx, 10:43

Speedstar made a pre-alpha gameplay video for the oldschool game Fantasy Dimension:

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Here's the link to the Indiegogo campaign.

Indiegogo

Details

Matt Chat - Brian Fargo Interview on Bard's Tale IV

by Hiddenx, 01:56

Matt and Brian talking about the Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter:

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Matt Chat

Details

Saturday - June 27, 2015

TechRaptor - On Choice and Consequence

by Hiddenx, 17:44

Robert Grosso (TechRaptor) talks about choices and consequences:

Playing Roles: On Choice and Consequence

Note: The following editorial contains spoilers. You have been warned.

“Choices.” “Consequences.” “Engaging decisions.” These are the short and catchy buzzwords of a fast-growing gaming medium that have found a way into the very heart of modern game design. It is almost inescapable in the current market to find a game not touting how much “impact” your choices have, especially in the realm of role-playing games. For each choice we see though, within them is a growing illusion of what they truly represent. Having control and impact on the choices made in games is something of a misnomer, because in the end a fundamental question needs to be asked: how much control does the player actually have over their choices?

It really is a difficult question to answer, mainly because of the diversity of the video game market. On the one hand, the player should have a degree of control, mainly in terms of actual gameplay mechanics. On the other hand, the developers set the rules of the game through those same mechanics, essentially forcing players to operate within the world. For story-driven games,  this also includes controlling the plot through the allotted and limited number of in-game choices. (...)

TechRaptor

Details

Kickstarter

Details

Kyn - Preview @ GamerHeadlines

by Hiddenx, 12:28

Vlad Pintea has previewed Kyn - the Hack&Slash game will be released at July 28, 2015. Some snippets:

From my brief preview experience, things look quite promising for Kyn, although there were some elements which I wasn’t able to test, these only arriving in the final version of the game.

When Kyn fully releases, players are able to gather up to six characters in their party, although the preview only includes two. I’m not sure if the beginning of the game allows you to customize your own character(s), because the preview build starts with two, predetermined ones called Bram and Alrik. These two have been trapped in a cave for a couple of months, in hope of absorbing the power of the Magni gems. The preview main quest tasks me with getting back to our protagonists’ mentor, although I wasn’t able to do so, as the map was curiously not updated; i.e., a river is separating them from their mentor, and they can’t swim. (...)

Each character is equipped with three active skills, each one assigned to a key. Skills are separated into three categories: Mind, Body, and Control. Mind skills focus more on enhancing your characters by healing them or even resurrecting, in addition to using various spells like the usual frost or fire blast, while Body skills deal more damage to enemies and allow your characters to sustain more damage, in return. Finally, Control skills allow you to set traps, throw grenades, and make yourself invisible, in addition to being the main category for using bows. In short, investing in Mind skills turns your character into a wizard, while the Body skills are reserved for a “tank”-like character, while Control is primarily used for rogue/ranged-players.

The best part is the fact that characters aren’t restricted to one class or the another, so you can turn one of your characters into a rogue who uses spells, a “tank” being able to turn himself invisible, and so on.

It’s especially worth noting that Kyn gives players the ability of slowing time down for them to issue commands to their characters. Since the game provides a decent challenge even on the Medium difficulty, it’s important to take your time and issue commands to each of your characters, this feature giving Kyn a fair level of depth to its combat system. (...)

Kyn

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

CRPG Book Project - 21 RPGs that brought something new to the table @ Gamasutra

by Hiddenx, 12:14

Another sneak peek at Felipe's CRPG book:

CRPG History Abridged - 21 RPGs that brought something new to the table

As some of you might know, due to my occasional rant here, I'm the editor of the CRPG Book Project, a non-profit, crowd-sourced project to promote Computer RPGs and their rich history.

Over the past 18 months working on the book I've examined almost 300 RPGs, from the latest releases to PLATO titles from the 70's. All this research is being put into the book, but I'm fully aware that not everyone thinks a +400-page book on RPGs is a cool thing (shame on you), so I've decided to make a really, really, really abridged version, focusing on one single aspect: cool stuff.

So here's a clickbait-like article on some of the most interesting things I came across. I'll focus on more obscure stuff (or at least obscure outside hardcore RPG forums), but I'll also add a few well-know games that do deserve another pass at the spotlight:

  • Dungeons of Daggorath (1982)
  • Alternate Reality: The City (1985)
  • Alien Fires: 2199 A.D. (1986)
  • Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna (1987)
  • Bloodwych (1989)
  • World of Ultima: The Savage Empire (1990) and
  • Martian Dreams (1991)
  • Ishar: Legend of the Fortress (1991)
  • Might & Magic: World of Xeen (1992)
  • Wizardry VII - Crusaders of the Dark Savant (1992)
  • Ultima VIII: Pagan (1994)
  • Wizardry 8 (2001)
  • Geneforge (2001)
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal (2002)
  • Fable (2004)
  • Magical Diary (2011)
  • Expeditions: Conquistador (2013)
  • NEO Scavenger (2014)

Special mention: The Age of Enlightenment Trilogy:

  • Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985)
  • Ultima V: Warrior of Destiny (1988)
  • Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)

CRPG Book Project

Details

Bard's Tale IV - Kickstarter Update #12

by Hiddenx, 08:46

The Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter achieved the stretch goal Advanced Crafting and in update #12 a mysterious person is announced for next week...

Bard's Tale IV

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Witcher 3 - Review @ RPG Codex

by Hiddenx, 08:18

The Codex is able to review a mainstream game: Angthoron about the Witcher 3:

What can be said about the writing of Witcher 3, then? Well - simply put, it is one of the best-written games to have come out in well over a decade. Perhaps even the best-written RPG since Torment, tackling serious topics and pulling no punches, placing the player in a position of one of the last sane men in an increasingly insane world and never shying away from showing what insanity actually is while avoiding the pitfalls of cheap shock value. The mundaneness of cruelty; the commonness of greed, treason, cowardice; the quiet acceptance of murder, rape, despair, racism and hate - Witcher 3 is all about that. Witcher 3 is about total war without its typical glamor.
(...)
The atmosphere of Witcher 3 does its best to support the writing - and succeeds to do it almost perfectly. Visual and audio design serve to reinforce the writing and create a sense of place. The world hardly feels like a theme park - instead, it is a fairly logical, if occasionally repetitive.
(...)
Still, the world is realistic and rich with detail - from the finally realistically depicted outskirts of a major medieval-like city (undesireables and underclass living outside the city walls, miles and miles of farmland all around - thank you CDPR, I wanted to see this for nearly two decades) to tiny shrines to a deity or to Eternal Fire seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the minute details are what makes the world stand out and feel lived in. Tiny hamlets full of peasants going about their business, refugee camps full of the sick and the hungry, city squares bursting with activity - the developers spared no expense in making the world of Witcher 3 feel alive - thankfully, remembering that ambient sound is an important part of game's atmosphere, too.
(...)
Witcher 3 does not invent the wheel with its quests or their structure. Just as before in the series, the game's quests divide into main quests that are dedicated to the development of the characters as well as to the major changes in regional politics, and into the side quests and monster hunts, the smaller, more localized affairs. Curiously, the side quests, an item that has drawn my ire for years in the products of AAA industry due to the great levels of half-assedness, are actually very well fleshed out in Witcher 3.
(...)
Choice and consequence are frequent in both the main quest and the side/bounty quests - the options rarely break the limit of being binary, perhaps, but the strength of Witcher 3's C&C is not in per-quest variety or material reward - it's in the writing and acting dedicated to the choices; it's in the frequently interesting morality issues, and it's in the short-term and long-term consequence, and as such, it is a great deal more satisfying than a simple reward of a pile of gold coins a-la BioWare's masterful prose-crafting, or Pillars of Eternity's wondrous infodumps. The game's quests feel like dealing with an actual situation that affects actual people rather than helping a humanoid quest-loot-information dispensers. The quests are also usually logical, though an occasional cultural reference or a bit of silliness (like having to find a goat) do slip through. Still, even such quests are not without a place, providing a bit of a chuckle or a change of pace in an otherwise grim world.
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Witcher 3

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

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Friday - June 26, 2015

Dragon Age - Interview with David Gaider @ The Edge

by Hiddenx, 21:43

Andy Borkowski news anchor and host of tech show VGS across Corus Entertainment in Toronto, had a 3 hour talk with former lead writer of the Dragon Age franchise, David Gaider about the history of the game series. In Part 1, David discusses how the idea of Dragon Age first began, what characters he believes failed and what HUGE section of the game ended up on the cutting room floor.

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Here's a link to the interview and transcript.

Dragon Age

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

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Deus Ex - 15 Years Later @ TechRaptor

by Hiddenx, 21:27

Micah Curtis (TechRaptor) writes about the legacy of Deus Ex:

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While not a unique setting in and of itself (many Cyberpunk stories are similar), Deus Ex’s setting is superior due to the narrative treating its outlandishness with seriousness, thus allowing for much better player immersion. In essence, Deus Ex was an early master of narrative plausibility. Rather than pointing at the setting with a tongue in their cheek and winking, they treat it with a serious face.

From a design standpoint, Deus Ex still stands as one of the bastions of player choice. Similar to Fallout, there are no classes within Deus Ex. Well, unless “awesome guy with sunglasses” is a class. Thus, during the course of the game, your skills are tailored to your play style. This kind of freedom is almost always welcome by the player, but if the world around you doesn’t allow for any type of play style to conclude in victory, it’s ultimately a hollow gesture. In Deus Ex, if you don’t want to kill a single soul, nothing is forcing you to. If you want to become Nanobot Rambo, that option is open to you.

You see, Deus Ex teaches developers everywhere a very important lesson. Player freedom is ultimately decided by the mechanics and the level design. If they aren’t in tandem with one another, the game is less of an experience for it. The fact that the game’s design is still referenced in this regard after fifteen years speaks for its staying power. When the player feels in control of their character, they’re immersed.

So, what is the legacy of Deus Ex? From my perspective, the series stands as definitive cyberpunk when it comes to its genre as fiction and definitive role playing in regards to video games. Fifteen years later, Deus Ex is still very relevant. With the upcoming Mankind Divided continuing the series, the expectations will continually be set high for the developers. When you’re one of the best, you’re expected to be the best, and many gamers out there hope that the series will continue to match the legacy of its predecessors. Even if things were to go sour for the current development team, Deus Ex has solidified its legacy, and one would even argue its immortality.

 

Deus Ex

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

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Bard's Tale IV - Kickstarter Update: Classes and Races

by Hiddenx, 20:48

Kickstarter update #11 for the Bards Tale IV - some snippets:

In combat, The Bard’s Tale IV will have a similar feel to first-person phase-based combat games going all the way back to The Bard’s Tale I all the way up to Might & Magic X – Legacy. While we can draw a connection to the combat of those games, we’re going to heavily improve on many aspects of that style of combat system. One example of this is by decoupling the animations from the inputs. Once you’ve learned your characters, it will allow you to play at a quicker pace, without having to wait for the same 5 second fireball animation to finish before you can make your next move. We’ll have more to say on combat in future updates.

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Each class has a unique function within the party, though that comes with some flexibility depending on the class. Some, like Warrior, Monk or Paladin, are best taking the direct approach, jumping straight into the fray, but their particular role in that position is unique for each. Warriors can use just about any weapons or armor and do very well taking and dealing as much damage as possible. Monks will embrace a bit of a unique combat concept, where they will continue to get stronger as fights or even dungeon exploration progresses, making them more powerful the more you push on (incidentally discouraging rest spamming!). Finally Paladins (with requisite +1 Holy Sword) serve as your faithful shield, protecting the party and providing various status modifiers to your party or enemies. It will be fun to explore more of these concepts with you moving forward.

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The original Bard’s Tale games also let you pick a race for your characters, a system we plan to return and expand upon. Your race choice will be represented in gameplay modifiers, though we intend to do so in a way that avoids forcing you towards a set of particular race/class combos.

One of those expansions will be that the races you pick will have an influence in certain spots in the game, with NPCs reacting to the presence of a Trow in your group in certain, perhaps not always favorable ways. Some options may open or close to you depending on who you have in your party. As you know, we're huge fans of reactivity in our games, and that's one way we can use the character system to add more depth.

Speaking of the Trow, we’re looking to make some new additions to the roster of races based on the specific lore of The Bard’s Tale IV. The Trow is one such example of a mythological creature from Orkney Island folkloric tradition that we’re making available as a playable race.

As you may be able to tell from all the above, we’re not looking to make The Bard’s Tale IV a simpler game than its predecessors. We’ll have clever ways to introduce you to the game’s systems and ease into it for newer players, but if you are the type who loves building a full roster of heroes, carefully going over the options and considering your possibilities and spending hours to craft your perfect party, then The Bard’s Tale IV is very much the game for you!

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Bard's Tale IV

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Platform: PC
Release: In development

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