Articles tagged with pc


 
 
Pathfinder
Adventures
Nov 17
Posted by Mark at 16:28

Asmodee Games has been making its name porting board games to the digital format, and one of their more recent is an adaptation of the RPG card game Pathfinder.

You start by selecting a handful of characters and building decks for them given certain restrictions. Then, after a short visual novel-style cutscene, you drop each of them into one of a choice of locations. Each of these locations has their own deck of cards, featuring a mix of monsters to defeat, weapons to collect and allies to recruit- and one location's will contain the Big Bad for this scenario.

Each turn you pick the top card from the location's deck, and then you react to it by rolling dice and picking cards from your Hand to make your dice rolls more likely to succeed.

Hands tend to be in the region of five or six cards and represent both your toolset and your health. Weapons, by example, allow you to add an extra die to your combat roll- if you roll a number higher than that on the card you drew from the Location deck, you defeat the monster, and if it's lower, you take damage to the value of the difference between the dice roll and the card. Or, in other words, discard that number of cards from your hand.

At the end of each turn you draw cards from your Deck to fill your hand and if you cannot hold a full hand you die, this means you die with cards left which can feel unfair, especially if one of your characters has a larger hand, which can make up about a third of the deck.

Play cycles through each of the characters in turn until the location they're in can be 'closed', either by working all the way through the location deck or fulfilling some other criteria specific to that place.

If you encounter the Big Bad, it is fought in the same way as all the other monsters- although when defeated, it will attempt to run away. If it is encountered prematurely, locations can also be temporarily closed if a character is already there at the time- this means it they can only escape to open locations, giving you an idea of where it's hiding.

This, coupled with the 'Blessings' deck, which acts as a de facto time limit, adds elements of strategy to your character and location choices- fewer characters mean that you can focus and use time more efficiently, but more means you're better able to corner the Big Bad sooner.

There is a lot you can do with your deck to improve your chances, with more powerful cards having more powerful effects and more tweaks that help to mitigate the fiddlier effects of the enemies you will face, although it's this stage where the game starts to fall apart.

The PC version of Pathfinder Adventures is, if you like, an adaptation of an adaptation- the game swapped cardboard for pixels once already, being released on mobile before being ported to Windows. The mobile version is Free-To-Play, while the PC version is a paid game, with paid DLC expansions.

While the microtransactions are happily left behind, there has been no meaningful change to the gameplay in transit- outside of the campaign scenarios, Pathfinder Adventures is very much a currency-based affair, which means grinding and loot boxes.

Playing through a normal scenario will see your deck both gain and lose cards, and the end of each scenario will see you having to rebalance your deck, removing cards of a type which you have too many of, and replacing cards lost of types that you have too few of. You draw these from a 'stash' of cards, shared between your characters- although this itself comes with limitations. The stash can only hold twenty cards, and all the rest must be thrown away and exchanged for currency- as such it's difficult to build a decent selection of cards, limiting the scope for experimentation.

The game is decidedly stingy when it comes to handing out currency, and even though cards which fall out of the loot box go into a seperate stash which doesn't need to be regularly emptied, once they're in your deck they're up to be lost, something that can really start to grate when the dice decide that they're not on your side.

There are also other problems that have arisen from the conversion from one platform to the other, notably that we had trouble getting the game to run at a decent frame rate on a few PCs unless the resolution and a lot of the graphical effects were turned down, and some aspects of the touch-based UI translate badly to mouse control- something that is pleasingly tactile on mobile becomes admin with a mouse.

There's a solid game at the base of this, but it's perhaps not entirely compatible with videogame business models, at least not without serious rebalancing. The paper version might well be a better choice.
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Aug
21
Posted by Mark at 17:16
Wololo!

Announced during the franchise's Gamescom stream, all we have to go on at the moment is a trailer, which contains precisely zero gameplay:

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Continuing Microsoft's outsourcing of their RTS stable to Sega, this game will be handled by Dawn of War devs Relic Entertainment.

Also there's going to be a "Definitive Edition" of the first AoE. But never mind that- AoE IV!
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Aug
21
Posted by Mark at 15:37
One of the surprise standouts of last year's EGX for me was Forgotton Anne, an amazingly-animated adventure game.

Today, publisher Square-Enix Collective have released a Story Trailer. It's below.

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Tower of Time

Aug 13
Posted by Ben at 15:25

I recorded a First Play gameplay video for Tower of Time last week, and spent most of it speculating, but failing to nail down, why it wasnít resonating with me. I wanted to spend more time with it, try to see if I could better put in to words my thoughts, try to write something actually Ďcriticalí rather than just spout vagaries.

Despite my hours with the game, despite my pages of note, and a video already behind me, Iím still not sure I can precisely quantify why I didnít click with the game. For those that donít know, and given that Tower of Time is an indie game still in Early Access on Steam Iíd wager that would be most people, Tower of Time is a western rpg with a few quirks with the combat. Its isometric viewpoint brings to mind the likes of Diablo and Pillars of Eternity, but its combat reminds me of the original Dragon Age. Rather than encounters taking place where you stand, instead youíre whisked away to one of the battle maps.

This takes a bit of time to trigger as your opponents trudge towards you, before you get a screen with a description of whether this will be a difficult battle, who youíre likely to face, and what theyíre weak/strong too. Thereís a couple of points Iíd make about this; firstly I think it needs to be speeded up, maybe an alert sound and straight to the preamble screen, thereís no need to stop your movement while your opponents trundle over. Add to that when youíre on the screen showing the enemies stats you canít alter your equipment to best suit them, instead you have to withdraw from battle, go to your character screen and set everyone up, then trigger the slow animation again.

Iíve no real complaints about the combat itself, although I do think itís one of the things keeping me at arms length. Tower of Timeís USP is that itís neither entirely dynamic like Diablo, nor to you stop time to set moves like Dragon Age, instead you slow time to a crawl, giving you enough time to drag your team around and set their next move. This means youíre always involved, you canít Ďpauseí the action and ease the pressure on yourself, but equally youíre not getting swarmed with your squad dotted around the battlefield while youíre left with no time to do anything about it.

Iím not sure if this is a problem as such, but I found myself playing almost entirely in slow motion, micromanaging moves and positioning; who attacks who. It sucks the pace out of the game, my own fault I guess, but it did mean combat encounters took an age. Thereís a few little niggles Iíd like ironed out. One is that on quite a few occasions instead of my clicking on an enemy to launch an attack, it would be misread as me wanting to move my character to them. Iíve also found that, while my ranged fighters will pick targets without me having to spell it out to them, when my melee fighters kill an opponent, unless theyíre attacked by someone else, theyíll just stand there, not attacking their nearest opponent, just contributing nothing.

The story is, I think, interesting, your character is actually a general who met a dormant spirit in a newly re-emerged tower as a child. Thereís something off with this spirit, clearly his motivations arenít your best interests, but now youíre tied to him, constantly being called to him. Youíve returned to the tower, and you as a player are put in the unusual position of being in control of a character who takes no active part himself, but is both controlling others, and being controlled. However, and this is where my issues are still a bit nebulous, I just wasnít engaged by it. The characters arenít defined enough, thereís a couple of interesting side stories, but nothing that I can really remember to write here.

Thereís also not enough to do. Tower of Time follows a very defined pattern and it needs more. Youíre basically walking from fight to fight, theyíll be the odd chest, some gold to pick up, and then the occasional story beat. Diablo manages with little story because it has constant battles and meaningful loot, Tower of Timeís pace is too slow and its battles too meaty for that, and thatís fine, but it could really do with some meaningful loot to make the non-battle sections more worthwhile

Still, Tower of Time is pretty well made for a game so early in development (currently on version 0.3.0.8362), and for as much as I played I didnít get close to the end. Not bad considering itís only £11
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Tower of Time
Gameplay Video
Aug 06
Posted by Ben at 16:32

We got sent a code for Tower of Time, the new (first?) game from Event Horizon. A name that's just begging for me to shoe-horn in a reference.

Tower of Time is still in early access, still seemingly very early based on the version number (0.3.0.8362), so bear that in mind with any bugs and some of my thoughts in the video below

In Tower of Time, and what you've missed in the sections preceding this video, you start off as a young boy who finds a hole in the ground. He wanders inside and finds a giant upside down tower. In there he finds a dormant spirit who calls out to him, and continues to do so throughout his life, eventually calling him back to the tower.

You then play almost a watcher roll, as someone invisibly controls your actions so do you control your heroes, soldiers you've sent in to the tower to fight for you. Viewing their progress from the surface above, almost as though (I'm really sorry) you don't need eyes to see.

The gameplay video below shows some of the early sections of the game. I'm going to write a full preview during the week. I want to see more of the game (I already have done), and better put a pin in my thoughts about the game. At the minute it's vague, I'm not connecting with Tower of Time and I can't place why other than meaningless synonyms like "it lacks punch". I don't dislike Towers of Time, I quite like the combat in fact, but I also want to better put in to words what the barrier is

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Fate/EXTELLA
The Umbral Star
Jul 21
Posted by James at 04:19

We donít usually review ports, but the Switch is so energising for even the most familiar of games, and what could be more familiar than a Warriors-style action game? Indeed, Marvelous has served up a Switch port of Fate/Extella, throwing in all previously released DLC to boot. Itís also landing on PC via Steam within the same week.

First things first: Mark has already reviewed the original PS4 release, so head over here for a detailed rundown regarding the gameís narrative and how it fits in following on from PSP game Fate/Extra.

Done? Okay, well, the gist of how Fate/Extella plays is simple: Think of it like a Fate-flavoured take on Omega Forceís own Warriors games, where it uses its disassociation with that series to do enough to take it beyond its setting within the Fate universe.

Beyond the expectedly rhythmic but button mashing combat, Extella is a Warriors game that focuses more on territorial control. Each battlefield is divided into sectors: Claim enough land before your enemy does and you get a stab at battling their Servant commander.

Itís within these higher-level proceedings that the real battles are waged, as you constantly need to ensure that youíre not putting all your eggs in one basket and attacking one sector for too long.

Reclaiming a sector takes time Ė to claim back land you must wipe out a few Aggressors first, who are basically big baddies that happen to also be damage sponges. Meanwhile in faraway sectors youíll often notice that ďPlantsĒ Ė enemies with the capability of spawning more Aggressors Ė constantly try and undo your progress, sending the foes to sectors youíve reclaimed, and those where your own fighters are struggling.



Do you spend a few more minutes reclaiming this one sector or should you drop everything to rush to a sector where a Plant is sending more enemies elsewhere?

Itís in moments like these, when Extella constantly ups the anxiety and throws you into situations where you never feel quite so comfortable taking on cannon fodder, where the game is at its best. Youíll often need to adapt and find an optimal route to travel around the map too, as later stages pile on the pressure by introducing enemy ambushes in some sectors, leaving you with no choice but to waste a few minutes cleaning up before youíre allowed to advance.

Despite placing a large emphasis on territorial control and continuous travel, itís hard not to feel disappointed by Extellaís rather safe and uninspired level designs that reside within each battleground. While thereís a pleasing amount of variety and scale to the backdrops, each sector feels disconnected from surrounding ones.

As a result you almost have to depend on the minimap just to get simple bearings, as scenery and structures are repeated so often that everything quickly looks the same. While the game is still playable like this itís evident that something has been lost. Youíre almost too disconnected from the action that youíre orchestrating, and the battles themselves would certainly come off as more engaging and memorable if each map was designed to feel like an actual place, rather than a series of small, identikit areas.

Still, the way Fate/Extellaís fights flow from a higher level provides enough fun in spite of the gameís shallow combat, and it does a lot to compensate for its shallow combat. Each playable Servant has an ever-expanding combo tree, but new attacks rarely feel like substantial game-changers compared with their level and equipped skills. Specials, while satisfying to use, reveal all their tricks far too quickly. It bears to be repeated: The lower-level proceedings lack depth.



The technical chops behind the Switch port lie somewhere between what Marvelous originally delivered for Vita and what was upgraded for PS4. When the Switch is docked, instead of opting for a significantly higher rendering resolution over the handheld's display, the differences are more subtle: Characters gain cel-shaded outlines and thereís noticeably better edge smoothing (antialiasing). There is, however, a drop in framerate from the game's PS4 cousin to a locked 30 frames per second. While the Switch has no trouble hitting this target consistently, making everything more than playable, it's hard to shake the feeling that the gameís fast-paced combat isnít as deliciously fluid as it could have been.

Meanwhile, Marvelousí inclusion of all DLC (plus one exclusive item) grants access to a few dozen character costumes, each with their own accompanying character portraits. As with the lore-heavy narrative and story, Fate fans will probably find a lot more to appreciate there. The PC version does not include any DLC but itís worth noting itís slightly cheaper to compensate.

Fate/Extella is a game of two halves. On one side it plays a rather satisfying game of territorial control Ė if this is what you like about Warriors-style games youíll probably get a lot out of it, even if youíre not well versed in all things Fate. On the other hand, the combat is shallow, and the gameís ties with the Fate universe are more entrenched than they were with the PSPís Fate/Extra. While Fate/Extella can easily seen as a love letter to Fate fans, itís also more inviting to the uninitiated than you might expect.

GALLERY:
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Jul
19
Posted by Mark at 13:50
So that's what the 'F' stood for.

Announced on the Bethesda Blog, all three DLC packs for last year's Doom reboot are being reduced to the low, low price of nil across all platforms.

The three packs- Unto The Evil, Hell Followed and Bloodfall- were all expansions to the multiplayer mode, which has also seen a number of tweak, notably around the previously random Unlock system now becoming more predictable, with specific level-ups and challenges now unlocking specific rewards.

Considering this, it's not known if the extra maps are free free, or if this is the start of sneaking microtransactions into the game, as we do know that the company are after someone to help them do that better.

Either way, if you've not already bought Doom and you're still unsure about it, there's a free weekend starting tomorrow for XBOne and PC players and PS4 players next weekend, before the game gets a permanent price drop.
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Jul
03
Posted by Mark at 16:27
If you enjoyed precision platformer Slime-San- which Ben did, when he did a First Play- then you can look forward to a sort-of free, sort-of expansion!

Subtitled Blackbird's Kraken, the DLC features a short campaign of 25 levels replete with the obligatory collectables, as well as a house to customise, a submarine-based variant on the main game, and of all things, a mini-FPS.

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Interestingly, Blackbird's Kraken is going to be free on release for existing owners of Slime-San, but will be available on its own for $4- although there's been no word as to what happens if you buy the main Slime-San game after this date.

Incidentally, the Switch version is "nearly done", but they also don't say if that's just the base game or the expansion too.

Blackbird's Kraken will be available on PC from July 20th.

GALLERY:
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Jun
05
Posted by Mark at 16:11
Fallout Shelter was a mistake.

The eagle-eyed folk at Gaming Bolt have uncovered a job listing at Bethesda Softworks' Montreal studio, for a 'Game Performance Manager' to- quote- "join the team that is pushing the bleeding-edge AAA freemium game development."

The entirety of the listing focuses on monetization, revenue and data mining, suggesting that the business model is going to be getting a much greater focus in their future titles.

While it's likely that this hire specifically is going to be for either Fallout Shelter or their more recent CCG The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the listing also calling for the ability to "manage multiple complex projects with diverse groups" suggests that microtransactions will be infecting the main series games sooner, rather than later.

There may be more on this at Bethesda's E3 show this weekend.
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May
31
Posted by Ben at 15:56
Somehow it passed me by that the release date for Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 on PC was so close to the European (and Western at that!) console release, so used have I got to fighting games being released late on PC

To get Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 on Steam you're going to have to do a bit of work, but the short version is that you need Guilty Gear Xrd REV, then you need to buy REV 2 as dlc for the game.

The slightly longer version is that you can buy the game (from HERE) then pick whether you want versions of the game(s) with all the character dlc, costume dlc, audio dlc etc, or the cheaper option of the base game(s) with the option to pick up the extra characters as you see fit

There's a lengthy trailer below that goes in to detail on some of the changes for Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2

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