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Found 38 results

  1. All sequels dream of improving and expanding on the success of their predecessor. XCOM 2 manages to accomplish that goal by upping its production quality across the board. The drastically improved visuals stun with a frankly impressive level of detail. Locations, items, skill progression, everything has been either created entirely new or reworked into a slightly different, though recognizable, form. A relatively engaging narrative with some depth and pathos I simply wasn't expecting goes beyond “fight the bad aliens." Simply put, XCOM 2 feels like a big step in an exciting direction, setting the bar of excellence for all future additions to the series while also stumbling slightly on technical glitches. XCOM 2 begins with the assumption that the player failed to stop the alien invasion in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Twenty years after the fall of Earth, the alien forces have coalesced into a worldwide government known as ADVENT, an organization that goes to great lengths to appear benign, but something sinister stirs beneath the smiles they broadcast to the world. A scattered resistance movement has been agitating around the globe, chaffing under the alien’s rule. Spearheading that resistance, remnants of the XCOM project undertake a desperate mission to seize a critical alien asset…. It’s a good hook and a compelling scenario. Most interestingly, XCOM 2 eventually draws the player into the game world as an additional character. The cast of characters in XCOM 2 feels much more alive this time around. As players go about tasks like deciding what to research, optimizing squad equipment, or building new facilities within the alien ship that serves as a central base, characters like Central Officer Bradford, head engineer An-Yi Shen, and Dr. Tygan will share stories or gossip with both the player and each other in the base. It gives off a vibe reminiscent of the interactions from StarCraft II. XCOM 2 goes a long ways toward improving on Enemy Unknowns imperfections. A small change like introducing a trimmed down version of base-building that makes new expansions to your hideout feel more meaningful goes a long ways toward cultivating an enjoyable experience. Gone are the days when an allied nation panicked due to a lack of satellite coverage only to back out of the XCOM project permanently. Instead, a new system for maintaining a monthly income rears its head, requiring the player to merely contact resistance forces in a given area and complete any random missions that might arise in that area. Ignoring missions could lead to those areas being lost and having to spend precious time and resources to regain them again. Instead of satellites, players can build radio towers to lower the cost of contacting additional nearby pockets of the resistance. This eliminates a lot of the frustration the metagame caused in Enemy Unknown, while maintaining the element of choice that makes each attempt to complete an XCOM campaign unique. Firaxis really outdid themselves upping the all around visual presentation of XCOM 2. The level of detail really impresses. Small objects litter combat areas, adding to the sense that these are lived in space. In a shootout with ADVENT forces in a junk yard, small knickknacks and debris would go flying in reaction to gunfire or explosions. A guitar was clearly visible on the ground at one point. During one of the combat animations, the camera actually zoomed in so far to a cafe table that I was able to see a recently abandoned cup of coffee and an accompanying doughnut covered in sprinkles. Little touches like that are instrumental in giving an air of quality to XCOM 2; people clearly spent a lot of love and effort crafting it. No one puts doughnuts that few people will ever likely see into a game without caring about their work. New skill trees for class progressions really work to make classes that feel distinct and fun. Do you want a stealthy ranger or a ranger that can become a death-dealing hurricane? Would you prefer a grenadier who can make anything and everything explode or one that can shred through armor and enemies alike? The specialists all have drones that can be fitted for healing or combat tasks. Perhaps you want a sharpshooter to snipe enemies from afar or be a pistol-wielding nightmare. Maybe you throw all of those classes out the window and heavily invest in training psi operatives to unleash powerful psychic abilities on unwitting alien forces. All of these approaches can be experimented with heavily; mixing and matching abilities to fine tune soldiers so that they can overcome any challenge feels incredibly satisfying. Even more so, perhaps, because those ranks are earned in combat which always carries risk of permadeath. One of the larger gripes that people had about XCOM: Enemy Unknown when it launched in 2012 was its small pool of maps for random encounters. Firaxis clearly went out of their way to address this problem bringing a larger number of maps to XCOM 2. After 50 hours, I am sure I repeated a couple of the battlefields, but the randomized start locations mesh really nicely with the finely crafted combat spaces. I never had the thought of, “oh great, this place again,” while playing XCOM 2, which is surely an improvement over the 2012 franchise reboot. Firaxis also introduces never-before-seen enemies alongside revamped foes from Enemy Unknown, new items, and a commitment to destructible environments. Few things are more distressing than being caught in an ambush when one of the overhauled sectopods simply walks through a building and begins decimating your squad’s fresh recruits. Building more systems to facilitate environmental destruction really expands the tactical choices available to players. Don’t want to deal with an ADVENT officer who has taken up a defensive position on the second floor of an office building? Throw a grenade/shoot a rocket/use a special cover destroying ability and blow the floor out from under it, which causes it to take additional damage from the fall and potentially deprives it of cover. Of course, the aliens are equally capable of taking advantage of environment destruction, so players need to stay on their toes to avoid a total party wipe. All of these changes really help to give XCOM 2 an identity that feels distinct from its predecessor while maintaining the core gameplay that makes XCOM one of the staples of modern turn-based strategy. Perhaps its biggest accomplishment, XCOM 2 embraces the character personalization that arguably made 2012’s Enemy Unknown such an explosive hit. The randomizer that generates soldiers does a fantastic job of creating unique soldiers, each with their own backstories that brought them to be a part of the human resistance movement. You can spend hours agonizing over creating the coolest soldiers or inserting loved ones into the game. However, even without recreating friends and family to bring personal connections into the game, players will slowly develop a sense of who each of these characters are. The near suicidal Kellen “Smokey” Moore who stubbornly refused to die while pinned down by a colossal sectopod and three plasma-toting mutons; the whirlwind of destruction that was Jane “Cobra” Kelly who singlehandedly took down an entire defensive position of alien troops with only her machete; Jaqueline “Buzzsaw” Simon who truly earned her name in the final mission by taking down two charging berserkers to protect a gravely wounded comrade; or Kiriko “Priestess” Hasegawa who consistently beat the odds and hacked robotic defenses and soldiers to give her squad the winning edge they needed – I’ll remember these characters for more than the mere mechanical advantages they provided. We made memories together. I spent over 50 hours playing through one campaign of XCOM 2 and some of those soldiers were with me from the very beginning. Some potent bonding goes on when those characters live or die based on the quality of your tactical choices. Despite the triumph of XCOM 2, technical issues mar the otherwise amazing experience. The framerate can sometimes dip unexpectedly for seemingly no reason. Certain enemies can at times become invisible on the battlefield. Once or twice I had a character fall multiple from a higher elevation and become stuck in a piece of the environment. However, the biggest issue of all was the time many of my saves became corrupted and unplayable; crashing to the desktop every time they were loaded. No one wants to be forced to start a new game after investing nearly 40 hours into an experience. Randomly corrupting saves are a huge deal for a game that spans 50 hours for one campaign. Luckily, I was able to find an functional save file and continue with only a several hours of lost time. I’m sure Firaxis has been scrambling to fix these issues, but it might have been better to delay the game a bit further in order to fix some of these glaring technical hiccups before releasing it to the public. Conclusion: XCOM 2 is a strategic dream come true, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for waiting on it for a few weeks to give Firaxis time to sort out a patch or two for the most grievous glitches. Despite the struggles of modern development schedules cutting down on QA testing time, XCOM 2 delivers a really rich and rewarding experience that improves on Enemy Unknown in pretty nearly all respects. The emergent narratives crafted through commanding a resistance movement stand alongside set piece missions that shake up the standard objectives with really challenging scenarios. The standout for me involves the entirety of the XCOM barracks taking to the battlefield to fight for survival. I haven’t even mentioned the three mods crafted by Long War Studios, the team behind Enemy Unknown’s Long War mod, that were available at XCOM 2’s launch. They add SMGs, a new alien type, and an entire skill tree that allows soldiers to train as leaders, conferring squad bonuses and abilities. They are all excellent and bettered my core experience. Play XCOM 2 right now if you are a strategy fiend and you are jonesing for your next strategy fix, but for those with more self-control hold off for a few more weeks until the technical stuff finishes being ironed out. XCOM 2 is available now for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. View full article
  2. Developer Harebrained Schemes walked away from their completed Kickstarter today with the support of over 30,000 people and $1,204,726. With that kind of cash on hand, here's hoping they don't attract any less than scrupulous runners! Toward the beginning of this year, the minds behind Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall launched their Kickstarter campaign for Shadowrun: Hong Kong, a turn-based tactical RPG in the same vein as its predecessors. Set in a setting where cyberpunk meets high fantasy, Shadowrun: Hong Kong will focus on the the criminal undercurrents of a dystopian Hong Kong full of neon lights, scheming corporations, and the runners who risk their lives to make a living. Not only did Harebrained Schemes reach their initial Kickstarter goal, they raised a little over welve times what they originally asked for from backers, allowing for a greatly extended list of features. These features include: Enhanced player controls Animatic scene transitions An additional character: Racter, a robotics expert who manipulates an advanced combat drone. More animatic endings A side mission for Gobbet, an Ork shaman who adheres to the path of Rat. Better sound Another additional character: Gaichu, a former red samurai and master swordsman. Enhanced cyber abilities A side mission for your dwarf hacker companion, Is0bel. Expanded magic system A side mission for Gaichu A revamp of the virtual world with which hackers interface. An additional 4-5 hour long mini-campaign as a follow-up to the core campaign. Even with all of these additional features, Shadowrun: Hong Kong is reportedly on track for a mid-2015 release, with an expected release date sometime in August. Congratulations to the team at Harebrained Schemes. I thoroughly enjoyed both Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall. Here's hoping that they can keep the magic alive for the third time around!
  3. Developer Harebrained Schemes walked away from their completed Kickstarter today with the support of over 30,000 people and $1,204,726. With that kind of cash on hand, here's hoping they don't attract any less than scrupulous runners! Toward the beginning of this year, the minds behind Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall launched their Kickstarter campaign for Shadowrun: Hong Kong, a turn-based tactical RPG in the same vein as its predecessors. Set in a setting where cyberpunk meets high fantasy, Shadowrun: Hong Kong will focus on the the criminal undercurrents of a dystopian Hong Kong full of neon lights, scheming corporations, and the runners who risk their lives to make a living. Not only did Harebrained Schemes reach their initial Kickstarter goal, they raised a little over welve times what they originally asked for from backers, allowing for a greatly extended list of features. These features include: Enhanced player controls Animatic scene transitions An additional character: Racter, a robotics expert who manipulates an advanced combat drone. More animatic endings A side mission for Gobbet, an Ork shaman who adheres to the path of Rat. Better sound Another additional character: Gaichu, a former red samurai and master swordsman. Enhanced cyber abilities A side mission for your dwarf hacker companion, Is0bel. Expanded magic system A side mission for Gaichu A revamp of the virtual world with which hackers interface. An additional 4-5 hour long mini-campaign as a follow-up to the core campaign. Even with all of these additional features, Shadowrun: Hong Kong is reportedly on track for a mid-2015 release, with an expected release date sometime in August. Congratulations to the team at Harebrained Schemes. I thoroughly enjoyed both Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall. Here's hoping that they can keep the magic alive for the third time around! View full article
  4. Released in 2000 for Dreamcast and 2003 for GameCube, Skies of Arcadia has proven itself to be one of those RPGs that really stuck with me over the years. When I was growing up, I didn’t see many RPGs in my house. Through sheer bad luck I somehow missed most of the great SNES RPGs, Super Mario RPG notwithstanding. For as much as I appreciate my N64, there was definitely a dearth of RPGs in its library compared to its 16-bit predecessors. The PlayStation and Dreamcast were unheard of in my home at the time, barely existing on the periphery of my young consciousness. Imagine my surprise when I picked up Skies of Arcadia: Legends for the GameCube over a decade ago and found myself wrapped up in a fantastical adventure full of heroes, villains, monsters, and sky pirates. To date, I think I spent more hours inside of Skies of Arcadia than any other traditional RPG with the exceptions of Dragon Age: Origins and the Mass Effect series. Skies of Arcadia built an appreciation for RPGs in my heart, supplanting platformers as the genre that held the most sway over my gaming tastes. The dreamlike quality of its setting helps to set Skies of Arcadia apart from anything else out there. Arcadia's world consists of large islands and continents statically suspended in the sky. There are six major empires, both thriving and long gone, one for each moon that orbits their planet. The only way travel, commerce, and warfare between the different land masses can be achieved is through the use of air ships. Throw pirates, weapons of mass destruction, evil empires, and long lost magic into this setting and you have the makings of a great game. What I am trying to say is that Skies of Arcadia is a game about flying pirates being awesome and for that reason alone you should consider unearthing a copy. I haven’t made any secret that I heartily recommend Skies of Arcadia, but I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t have any imperfections. It falls victim to a number of RPG clichés in its storyline: amnesia, collect several magic maguffins, an escalating hierarchy of evil henchmen, etc. However, it is a testament to the quality of Skies of Arcadia that despite those clichés much of it feels fresh and exciting. I will be the first to admit that I could certainly be looking at this game through rose-colored glasses, but I think it is one of those rare titles that makes proper use of clichéd story elements. The clichés don’t feel out of place or misused. The narrative flows naturally from one point to another, and part of that flow includes a few well-worn video game tropes. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to make it feel fresh. Though many of the characters end up fitting into archetypical molds, they’re written well enough that players actually begin to develop empathy for their predicaments. One of my favorite examples of this is the captain of a small fishing vessel named Drachma. Captain Drachma is encountered early in the adventure and he initially serves as a gruff father figure. Over the course of the game Drachma is revealed to be motivated by a desire to avenge the death of his son (and the loss of his arm and eye) at the hands of a great skywhale named Rhaknam. He is so committed to this that he eventually buys a giant prow harpoon for his ship, with which he hopes to kill the beast. It is a pretty blatant reference to Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab, but it isn’t used as a joke. Instead, the backstory does what a backstory should do; it gives the player a new perspective on the previous words and actions of that character. Graphically, Skies of Arcadia has not aged well. It sometimes looks like a polygonal mess. What polygons it does have are very colorful and inviting which still do it credit and keep the game feeling light hearted and fun despite some of the darker content that crops up throughout the adventure. Despite the dated graphics the mechanics are solid and serviceable, while the narrative remains as compelling as ever. One of the biggest problems that plagued the original Dreamcast release was the absurdly high rate of random encounters. While that was fixed somewhat in the Legends port, battles are still a frequent occurrence. The general gist of the combat is that characters can attack, cast spells, use items, or guard. As these things are done, more SP points build up that can be used for special moves. Later in the game players unlock different super attacks that change depending on the party composition, each with its own cool cinematic. There is also the option to simply unleash the entire crew of your ship which has a variety of effects depending on who players have recruited. It is a simple system overall, but one that is definitely enjoyable. To traverse Arcadia, you need to fly your air ship through the overworld. Throughout the game, players will pilot a variety of different vessels, each with their own abilities and equipment that can be upgraded. Exploration is limited by the type of vessel that is being flown. Early on, there are certain areas that the ships available lack the ability to travel through, like wind currents and high pressure areas. This is not to say that searching out nooks and crannies is discouraged. Exploration can really pay off for persistent and observant players. You can discover rare locations or treasures granting a sizable reward. Thoroughly exploring areas can lead to optional boss battles or even new crew members to recruit. Perhaps the best feature of Skies of Arcadia is the ability to engage in ship-to-ship battles. In these cinematic battles, attacks and evasions can be ordered at opportune times to optimize damage output and escape enemy fire. The system allows players to plan out an entire round of maneuvers weighed against the likelihood of the enemy taking offensive or defensive actions. If the fight continues for a long enough period, a meter will fill and you gain the opportunity to unleash a brutal super attack that deals enormous amounts of damage. These skirmishes are few and far between, typically only occurring against large monsters or other ships. Players can outfit their ship with different decks, armor, cannons, torpedoes, etc. Each change will greatly affect how the ship performs in combat. More powerful cannons can typically only fire once, while smaller, less powerful cannons can fire multiple times in one turn, and torpedoes fire once with a delayed damage burst. Who is crewing the vessel also affects the ships performance, granting different bonuses to the ship’s offensive, defensive, or healing abilities. I’ve honestly never seen a combat system like it before or since, which is a shame because I’d be happy to see it as a central system for an entire game. Skies of Arcadia is not a perfect game, but there are a lot of aspects that deserve more recognition. Often when player mention RPGs from around the turn of the century, I hear names like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Paper Mario, but almost never Skies of Arcadia. It holds a special place in my heart for being a fantastic introduction to the world of RPGs. Not only that, but there are no other games with ship combat like Skies of Arcadia. If you are in the market for an older RPG you couldn’t go terribly wrong seeking out Skies of Arcadia: Legends. The story is the stuff of solid adventure. View full article
  5. Released in 2000 for Dreamcast and 2003 for GameCube, Skies of Arcadia has proven itself to be one of those RPGs that really stuck with me over the years. When I was growing up, I didn’t see many RPGs in my house. Through sheer bad luck I somehow missed most of the great SNES RPGs, Super Mario RPG notwithstanding. For as much as I appreciate my N64, there was definitely a dearth of RPGs in its library compared to its 16-bit predecessors. The PlayStation and Dreamcast were unheard of in my home at the time, barely existing on the periphery of my young consciousness. Imagine my surprise when I picked up Skies of Arcadia: Legends for the GameCube over a decade ago and found myself wrapped up in a fantastical adventure full of heroes, villains, monsters, and sky pirates. To date, I think I spent more hours inside of Skies of Arcadia than any other traditional RPG with the exceptions of Dragon Age: Origins and the Mass Effect series. Skies of Arcadia built an appreciation for RPGs in my heart, supplanting platformers as the genre that held the most sway over my gaming tastes. The dreamlike quality of its setting helps to set Skies of Arcadia apart from anything else out there. Arcadia's world consists of large islands and continents statically suspended in the sky. There are six major empires, both thriving and long gone, one for each moon that orbits their planet. The only way travel, commerce, and warfare between the different land masses can be achieved is through the use of air ships. Throw pirates, weapons of mass destruction, evil empires, and long lost magic into this setting and you have the makings of a great game. What I am trying to say is that Skies of Arcadia is a game about flying pirates being awesome and for that reason alone you should consider unearthing a copy. I haven’t made any secret that I heartily recommend Skies of Arcadia, but I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t have any imperfections. It falls victim to a number of RPG clichés in its storyline: amnesia, collect several magic maguffins, an escalating hierarchy of evil henchmen, etc. However, it is a testament to the quality of Skies of Arcadia that despite those clichés much of it feels fresh and exciting. I will be the first to admit that I could certainly be looking at this game through rose-colored glasses, but I think it is one of those rare titles that makes proper use of clichéd story elements. The clichés don’t feel out of place or misused. The narrative flows naturally from one point to another, and part of that flow includes a few well-worn video game tropes. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to make it feel fresh. Though many of the characters end up fitting into archetypical molds, they’re written well enough that players actually begin to develop empathy for their predicaments. One of my favorite examples of this is the captain of a small fishing vessel named Drachma. Captain Drachma is encountered early in the adventure and he initially serves as a gruff father figure. Over the course of the game Drachma is revealed to be motivated by a desire to avenge the death of his son (and the loss of his arm and eye) at the hands of a great skywhale named Rhaknam. He is so committed to this that he eventually buys a giant prow harpoon for his ship, with which he hopes to kill the beast. It is a pretty blatant reference to Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab, but it isn’t used as a joke. Instead, the backstory does what a backstory should do; it gives the player a new perspective on the previous words and actions of that character. Graphically, Skies of Arcadia has not aged well. It sometimes looks like a polygonal mess. What polygons it does have are very colorful and inviting which still do it credit and keep the game feeling light hearted and fun despite some of the darker content that crops up throughout the adventure. Despite the dated graphics the mechanics are solid and serviceable, while the narrative remains as compelling as ever. One of the biggest problems that plagued the original Dreamcast release was the absurdly high rate of random encounters. While that was fixed somewhat in the Legends port, battles are still a frequent occurrence. The general gist of the combat is that characters can attack, cast spells, use items, or guard. As these things are done, more SP points build up that can be used for special moves. Later in the game players unlock different super attacks that change depending on the party composition, each with its own cool cinematic. There is also the option to simply unleash the entire crew of your ship which has a variety of effects depending on who players have recruited. It is a simple system overall, but one that is definitely enjoyable. To traverse Arcadia, you need to fly your air ship through the overworld. Throughout the game, players will pilot a variety of different vessels, each with their own abilities and equipment that can be upgraded. Exploration is limited by the type of vessel that is being flown. Early on, there are certain areas that the ships available lack the ability to travel through, like wind currents and high pressure areas. This is not to say that searching out nooks and crannies is discouraged. Exploration can really pay off for persistent and observant players. You can discover rare locations or treasures granting a sizable reward. Thoroughly exploring areas can lead to optional boss battles or even new crew members to recruit. Perhaps the best feature of Skies of Arcadia is the ability to engage in ship-to-ship battles. In these cinematic battles, attacks and evasions can be ordered at opportune times to optimize damage output and escape enemy fire. The system allows players to plan out an entire round of maneuvers weighed against the likelihood of the enemy taking offensive or defensive actions. If the fight continues for a long enough period, a meter will fill and you gain the opportunity to unleash a brutal super attack that deals enormous amounts of damage. These skirmishes are few and far between, typically only occurring against large monsters or other ships. Players can outfit their ship with different decks, armor, cannons, torpedoes, etc. Each change will greatly affect how the ship performs in combat. More powerful cannons can typically only fire once, while smaller, less powerful cannons can fire multiple times in one turn, and torpedoes fire once with a delayed damage burst. Who is crewing the vessel also affects the ships performance, granting different bonuses to the ship’s offensive, defensive, or healing abilities. I’ve honestly never seen a combat system like it before or since, which is a shame because I’d be happy to see it as a central system for an entire game. Skies of Arcadia is not a perfect game, but there are a lot of aspects that deserve more recognition. Often when player mention RPGs from around the turn of the century, I hear names like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Paper Mario, but almost never Skies of Arcadia. It holds a special place in my heart for being a fantastic introduction to the world of RPGs. Not only that, but there are no other games with ship combat like Skies of Arcadia. If you are in the market for an older RPG you couldn’t go terribly wrong seeking out Skies of Arcadia: Legends. The story is the stuff of solid adventure.
  6. To give you the best idea of what Galactic Civilizations III is like, imagine Sid Meier’s Civilization V set in space with the ability to design your own spaceships. If that sentence doesn't get you salivating at the possibilities, you might have to go rewatch Star Wars. Over the last few days I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the latest build of Galactic Civilizations III and lead the human race into the future. Making sure that humanity survives to dominate the stars isn’t the easiest task, especially in the current build available from developer Stardock Entertainment. While it is certainly playable and quite enjoyable, the limitations of its beta state become immediately apparent when beginning a new game. Though the final game will include eight playable races as well as the option to create a custom race, the current build is limited to four: the Terran Alliance, the Drangin Empire, the Altarian Resistance, and the Iridium Corporation. Each race has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Terrans are great at exploring during the early game, while the Altarians are adept researchers and quick to adopt new technology. The other major limitation to the beta is that the only victory condition available is conquest. The final retail build will include diplomatic, scientific, and influence victories alongside conquest. Upon loading into a new game, everything seems fantastic. Fans of Galactic Civilizations I and II will feel right at home with the interface, while newcomers might feel a bit out of their depth and require a bit of a learning period before knowing the ins and outs of the numerous menus and orders. The first hour or so of gameplay feel refined and mostly finished and it is fun to expand to new worlds and see what you might find drifting among the debris in deep space. Survey craft can pick apart debris to find advantages for your race in the form of money or even operational ships. The first encounter with an AI civilization shows that Galactic Civilizations III is still very much incomplete. Not only is diplomatic victory impossible, but the diplomacy system hasn’t been implemented at all. This leads to every civilization attacking you on sight, which makes it difficult to fully explore the complex and interesting technology tree down any of the routes besides military. While researching the secret to building larger and larger ships, players will be able to design new types of spacefaring war machines. The ship designer is quite entertaining. It offers players premade designs or allows them to build their ships from scratch. Once the base body has been finished and outfitted with a variety of extra pieces give some character to the design, players can outfit it with weapons, armor, shielding, engines, etc. The system is incredibly flexible and I can easily see some Galactic Civilizations III players putting hours into creating new and unique ships for their fleets. The one thing that I will stress heavily from what I saw during my time leading the Terran armadas is how slowly the game moves. For me that’s great, I love slow, tactical experiences, but I understand that sort of experience isn’t something everyone enjoys readily. I spent nearly six hours with Galactic Civilization III and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what the final version will be like. I have yet to see how science, influence, or diplomacy victories will work or explored how it could be feasible to research those parts of the tech tree. However, the time I spent in space is just enough to whet my appetite for the final product. Galactic Civilizations III is currently in beta on PC. It has no official release date. People can gain entrance to the beta via Steam for $44.99. I would not recommend purchasing the beta unless you are a hardcore fan of the Galactic Civilizations series and willing to deal with technical bugs and unfinished game systems. For more information on how the Galactic Civilizations III is progressing, be sure to check out the Stardock YouTube Channel to see their weekly progress videos.
  7. To give you the best idea of what Galactic Civilizations III is like, imagine Sid Meier’s Civilization V set in space with the ability to design your own spaceships. If that sentence doesn't get you salivating at the possibilities, you might have to go rewatch Star Wars. Over the last few days I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the latest build of Galactic Civilizations III and lead the human race into the future. Making sure that humanity survives to dominate the stars isn’t the easiest task, especially in the current build available from developer Stardock Entertainment. While it is certainly playable and quite enjoyable, the limitations of its beta state become immediately apparent when beginning a new game. Though the final game will include eight playable races as well as the option to create a custom race, the current build is limited to four: the Terran Alliance, the Drangin Empire, the Altarian Resistance, and the Iridium Corporation. Each race has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Terrans are great at exploring during the early game, while the Altarians are adept researchers and quick to adopt new technology. The other major limitation to the beta is that the only victory condition available is conquest. The final retail build will include diplomatic, scientific, and influence victories alongside conquest. Upon loading into a new game, everything seems fantastic. Fans of Galactic Civilizations I and II will feel right at home with the interface, while newcomers might feel a bit out of their depth and require a bit of a learning period before knowing the ins and outs of the numerous menus and orders. The first hour or so of gameplay feel refined and mostly finished and it is fun to expand to new worlds and see what you might find drifting among the debris in deep space. Survey craft can pick apart debris to find advantages for your race in the form of money or even operational ships. The first encounter with an AI civilization shows that Galactic Civilizations III is still very much incomplete. Not only is diplomatic victory impossible, but the diplomacy system hasn’t been implemented at all. This leads to every civilization attacking you on sight, which makes it difficult to fully explore the complex and interesting technology tree down any of the routes besides military. While researching the secret to building larger and larger ships, players will be able to design new types of spacefaring war machines. The ship designer is quite entertaining. It offers players premade designs or allows them to build their ships from scratch. Once the base body has been finished and outfitted with a variety of extra pieces give some character to the design, players can outfit it with weapons, armor, shielding, engines, etc. The system is incredibly flexible and I can easily see some Galactic Civilizations III players putting hours into creating new and unique ships for their fleets. The one thing that I will stress heavily from what I saw during my time leading the Terran armadas is how slowly the game moves. For me that’s great, I love slow, tactical experiences, but I understand that sort of experience isn’t something everyone enjoys readily. I spent nearly six hours with Galactic Civilization III and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what the final version will be like. I have yet to see how science, influence, or diplomacy victories will work or explored how it could be feasible to research those parts of the tech tree. However, the time I spent in space is just enough to whet my appetite for the final product. Galactic Civilizations III is currently in beta on PC. It has no official release date. People can gain entrance to the beta via Steam for $44.99. I would not recommend purchasing the beta unless you are a hardcore fan of the Galactic Civilizations series and willing to deal with technical bugs and unfinished game systems. For more information on how the Galactic Civilizations III is progressing, be sure to check out the Stardock YouTube Channel to see their weekly progress videos. View full article
  8. The Kickstarter campaign for a new turn-based strategy RPG from the creator of XCOM has come to a close, breezing by its goal by a cool $30,000. 5,051 people pledged $210,854 in financial backing for Julian Gollop's Chaos Reborn. The game aims to provide a deep, fast-paced, tactical experience with player progression, multiplayer, and co-op. It has been greenlit on Steam and seems to be on track for an early 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux. You can try the current online build or get in on some of the cool backing reward tiers for yourself on the Chaos Reborn website. View full article
  9. The Kickstarter campaign for a new turn-based strategy RPG from the creator of XCOM has come to a close, breezing by its goal by a cool $30,000. 5,051 people pledged $210,854 in financial backing for Julian Gollop's Chaos Reborn. The game aims to provide a deep, fast-paced, tactical experience with player progression, multiplayer, and co-op. It has been greenlit on Steam and seems to be on track for an early 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux. You can try the current online build or get in on some of the cool backing reward tiers for yourself on the Chaos Reborn website.
  10. Developer Klei has a knack for creating games with distinct visual flair, like Mark of the Ninja and Don't Starve (which is free this month for PS+ members). The title they are currently working on, Invisible, Inc. (formerly known as Incognita), follows in those games' footsteps, with a striking, shadowed art style that captures the feeling of covert actions. The new trailer released today shows off Klei's first attempt at turn-based gameplay and it looks pretty solid, which is a good sign in an Alpha build. Players control a team of special agents as they infiltrate facilities and carry out mission as sneakily as possible. If this looks interesting to you, you can purchase early access to Invisible, Inc. on the Klei website. (Note: while the early access will be through Steam, you cannot purchase access to the Alpha through Steam. It must be bought on the Klei website.) View full article
  11. Developer Klei has a knack for creating games with distinct visual flair, like Mark of the Ninja and Don't Starve (which is free this month for PS+ members). The title they are currently working on, Invisible, Inc. (formerly known as Incognita), follows in those games' footsteps, with a striking, shadowed art style that captures the feeling of covert actions. The new trailer released today shows off Klei's first attempt at turn-based gameplay and it looks pretty solid, which is a good sign in an Alpha build. Players control a team of special agents as they infiltrate facilities and carry out mission as sneakily as possible. If this looks interesting to you, you can purchase early access to Invisible, Inc. on the Klei website. (Note: while the early access will be through Steam, you cannot purchase access to the Alpha through Steam. It must be bought on the Klei website.)
  12. Following an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign (which raised over seven times what developer Stoic Games asked for) and several months of development, the gorgeously animated The Banner Saga is finally coming to PC and Mac. The meat of The Banner Saga is that of a turn-based strategy game set in a world of Norse mythology, giants, and sorcery. However, the single-player campaign will be similar to a, quoting from Rock, Paper, Shotgun, "ultra high-stakes game of Oregon Trail," with every step in the overworld potentially bringing a new event or enemy encounter for players to deal with and live with the repercussions. After receiving their Kickstarter funds, Stoic Games released a free multiplayer version of their game that showcased the vibrant visuals of the full game as well as the gameplay in a PvP setting. This trial version/demo was called The Banner Saga: Factions and can be downloaded and played here. Following the release of Factions, the studio went quiet, until now. The Banner Saga's first installment will release on PC and Mac on January 14, 2014. To hammer that point home, Stoic has released a ned trailer heralding their game's impending release, which you can view below. View full article
  13. Following an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign (which raised over seven times what developer Stoic Games asked for) and several months of development, the gorgeously animated The Banner Saga is finally coming to PC and Mac. The meat of The Banner Saga is that of a turn-based strategy game set in a world of Norse mythology, giants, and sorcery. However, the single-player campaign will be similar to a, quoting from Rock, Paper, Shotgun, "ultra high-stakes game of Oregon Trail," with every step in the overworld potentially bringing a new event or enemy encounter for players to deal with and live with the repercussions. After receiving their Kickstarter funds, Stoic Games released a free multiplayer version of their game that showcased the vibrant visuals of the full game as well as the gameplay in a PvP setting. This trial version/demo was called The Banner Saga: Factions and can be downloaded and played here. Following the release of Factions, the studio went quiet, until now. The Banner Saga's first installment will release on PC and Mac on January 14, 2014. To hammer that point home, Stoic has released a ned trailer heralding their game's impending release, which you can view below.
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