Tag Archives: thoughts

Thoughts: Apex Legends

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472 hours. That’s how long I spent playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in 2017. The game which kicked off the whole battle royale craze had its hooks in me for a good long time with its mix of small-unit tactics, orienteering, emphasis on making an intelligent choice between stealth and confrontation — it turns out that I really really like the battle royale concept, and PUBG was doing it well enough that it became my second most-played game on Steam. However, PUBG was buggy and poorly optimised and its evolution was driven by a series of hacky feature implementations and kneejerk design decisions that were tolerable while the game was in Early Access — that’s the devil’s bargain you make when playing an EA game — but which became greatly less so when PUBG hit 1.0 in December 2017; the game eventually diverged from what I enjoyed about it, and I fell out of it soon afterwards.

Most new BRs released since then have been me-too attempts to cash in by repurposing forks of existing projects, or setting out along the same Early Access path that PUBG did. None of them have the level of polish or design focus that my soured experience with PUBG made me crave, and so there’s a huge gap in the market for an established FPS developer to make something that’s designed from the ground up to be a dedicated battle royale title — something that doesn’t crash, and which has good performance, and which doesn’t waste your time with pointless make-work such as waiting in an in-game lobby for the game to start or fiddly inventory management that leads to you getting shot in the head while you’ve got it stuck inside your backpack. In other words, I’m ready for a battle royale made by somebody who actually knows what they’re doing.

Apex Legends may be that game.

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Thoughts: Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2

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Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 is another 18th century tall ships naval combat simulator that just so happens to be set in outer space, except this time with more factions, a few combat refinements  and a rebuilt campaign mode. But hey, isn’t that what sequels are for?

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Thoughts: Resident Evil 2

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It looks like there’s something up with the brightness on my primary monitor as the screenshots I took for this review are all far darker than they appeared when I was actually playing the game. Resident Evil 2 is certainly dark, but it is not this dark — I will try to tweak my brightness settings and capture some more representative shots tonight.

I don’t believe I’ve ever talked about Resident Evil on here, and for good reason: unlike what appears to be the entire rest of the world I hated Resident Evil 4 and have singularly disagreed with the direction the series has gone in since then, with the prioritisation of anime knife fights and suplexing zombies over slow-paced B-movie survival horror. (Not that suplexing zombies isn’t awesome, but it’s really not what I want out of a Resident Evil game.) Still, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that tonal shift if I hadn’t liked what the series was doing up until that point;  I really enjoyed the first three Resident Evil games  – especially the first one, with the legendarily terrible voice acting and the tremendously cheap live-action cutscenes — and so my reaction to the announcement that Capcom were remaking Resident Evil 2 in the Resident Evil 7 engine1 was rather mixed. The preview footage looked interesting, sure, but it didn’t look all that much like what I recognised as being Resident Evil 2, and while Dark Souls has demonstrated an appetite for the slower, more thoughtful style of the old Resident Evils I was a little sceptical that Capcom could resist the urge to (for example) put in a quicktime event where the main character punches a boulder to death.

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  1. Which is apparently an excellent game and much more up my street, but I’m not sure I’d get on well with the first-person perspective.
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Thoughts: Hacknet

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I’m stuck for something to write about this week as I haven’t played anything new recently, so I dragged this almost-finished review of Hacknet out of my drafts folder and polished it up a bit.

Hacknet is a modern Uplink whose major accomplishment is to make me wish somebody would make an actual modern Uplink.

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Thoughts: Through The Ages

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I’ve been somewhat getting back into boardgames recently after a five-year hiatus. Strictly speaking I never really left them – I play games all the time and I’m not particularly bothered what format they come in so I was always playing them on and off, but the overhead required to get a bunch of people together in a room to mess with a bunch of physical cards and playing pieces is always going to make them a more infrequent pastime than just booting up Into The Breach for a hour-long session. This is why I’m quite cheered to see a few of the iThing ports of popular boardgames making their way onto Steam, as it makes them rather more accessible than they would be otherwise — and this accessibility can more than compensate for the loss of that experience of playing with other people, if the port is done right.

That being said, you’ve got to pick the right kind of boardgame for one of these ports. Years ago I bought the Ticket To Ride port — reviewed it on this very blog, in fact — and by removing the physicality of it and reducing it to a set of raw mechanics it was exposed as a rather shallow experience. If nothing else, you can’t see the expression of rage on an AI’s face as you block their route from St Petersburg to Barcelona with a single train. No, if you’re going to port a boardgame to a computer then it has to either gain something in the transfer or else already have enough depth to it that it can survive as a concept once the associated boardgaming accoutrements have been stripped away.

By that metric, Vlaada Chvatil’s Civ-lite Through The Ages is an almost perfect candidate for conversion. And this port stands up very well indeed.

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Thoughts: Book Of Demons

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Book Of Demons is an ARPG with a very important question to ask: did you like Diablo? You do remember Diablo, right? Oh, maybe you don’t. It was a niche game released by tiny indie dev Blizzard studios back in 1996; you’ve probably forgotten all about it by now since there certainly haven’t been any other games released like Diablo in the intervening twenty-two years. Never fear, though; Book Of Demons is here to forcefully remind you that Diablo is a game that exists by charging out in search for the line separating “tribute” and “ripoff” and then using it to beat you within an inch of your life.

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