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I have to ask: why am I so stupid?

Forums: Latest Threads - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 05:54
Recently I posted a comment on another site promoting the idea of making ships cloaked (invisible) for Star Citizen. Not mentioning names but most were adamantly against it despite the fact 99% never tried it! How on earth do people come to conclusions about something they know nothing about? Incredible. And their arguments were just brain numbing, especially the old Chris Roberts said he doesn't want to make an EVE 2.0 argument. Of course he doesn't want to make an EVE 2.0; and I don't want to play an EVE 2.0. What does that have to do with anything? EVE didn't invent cloaking! They got it from Star Trek and no doubt Gene Roddenberry got it from mythology going back hundreds of years. Evochron also has cloaking but for some strange reason it's once again about 'not' being another EVE. God people are stupid.

And I faced this kind of stupidity before. Like when I pushed for outside designers/ship contest and Fanbois went ballistic. 95% of the comments were adamantly opposed to it. Fast forward and ta-da! Amazing ships all thanks to outside designers and a competition!!! Now the Fanbois are all ga-ga over the ships. dumb asses.

And then there was the time I called out the crappy flight controls shortly after Arena Commanders release. You should have heard how defensive the Fanbois were about the buggered mechanics. And I wasn't the only one. Many realized the poor mechanics needed changing and fortunately Chris Roberts agreed and soon we will have all 6 mods of movement in the next patch - for both coupled and decoupled modes. But you can bet your sweet beepee that Fanbois will continue jumping to the defense of anything CIG puts out - even though it is in Alpha.

I could go on and on about Fanbois. They have to be some of the dumbest people on the planet. But I really should feel sorry for them because studies have proven that Fanbois have an inferiority complex and tend to look at criticism of their chosen product as some kind of personal failure; as a result they tend to overreact or simply scream bloody murder when someone doesn't march lockstep with them. Besides, if there is anyone that is stupid - it's me. Because I keep trying to reason with them. God I am a dumb-ass.
Categories: Forums

Star Citizen: if you can get pass all the rabid Fanbois......

Forums: Latest Threads - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 20:30
Just wanted to add something to GAMESQUAD that demonstrates the awesomeness of Star Citizen. A lot of people probably think I am all about criticizing Chris Roberts but that is far from the case. I have always promoted Star Citizen. What I don't promote is worshiping the ground Mr. Roberts walks on; nor do I promote the intolerant atmosphere promoted by Fanbois and Fanboi moderators. What's more, I find pushing the 'community' meme pathetically transparent in terms of ginning up profits. Yes I am a Star Citizen fan but one who believes criticism can be a good thing. Unfortunately there is very little open criticism on RSI Forums for fear of getting banned; meanwhile the constant emphasis on money and profit is making SC look more and more like a 'Publisher' based game with each passing day.

But if you can get pass all that, if you simply want to feel like you are actually IN space and experiencing the most graphically intense, beautifully crafted planets and asteroid fields ever created; if flying ships, traversing the universe and scattering your enemy's remains across the system is your only concern - then do I have a game for you!

Star Citizen -- ALL Trailers! (Gamescom 2014):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdjFpYC6czI

Overview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK6612AqI_Q

Single Player Mode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9sHhhobvAc

Multiplayer Mode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lms1TbFAhGQ

Ship tour/Deluxe Hangar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88513y47P7c

Upcoming Asteroid Hangar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU9kVyG6QWQ

Commercials:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0gZES2pTWk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuwMKX0h2ec

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB5PqK7q0_M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO7RxsZpcKc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIII81zWCSs

The Next Great Starship:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZffXKdokPwA

Around The Verse (weekly broadcast):

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...9fTTq-X8Kt49nX

Upcoming Planetside:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeQfK9hrfDY

A great video that accidentally stumbles on great things yet to come?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qGSR0y1T_Y

Oculus Rift:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQipmvi3t0M

Cool Vids:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nZmzWu39mY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2EN8GJGfUU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH0jbr6DjNo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za5lR7yMqaE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cLeXj4p03k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg7BuwyP50o
Categories: Forums

Battle Academy 2

Forums: Latest Threads - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 20:04
Combat Missionx2 has the looks, but the BA series has ways had the better MP in my opinion. I hope when BA 2 releases in September, the BA1 complete DLC package goes on sale.

Anyhoo....

Quote: Not so quiet on the Eastern Front!
Official release date and Steam version announced for Battle Academy 2

Epsom, UK – August 12, 2014.

“The German army is a machine, and machines can be broken!” (Konstantin Rokossovsky – Marshal of the Soviet Union)

June 21, 1941 – The German army suddenly turns east and embarks on its ambitious Operation Barbarossa intended to put German troops to Moscow in a couple of weeks. This was the first move of a frightful 4-years conflict that involved millions of soldiers, tanks and weapons of all genres.

In Battle Academy 2, players will have the possibility to join both sides and re-fight some of the key operations that made the east front legendary. Building on the qualities of its predecessor, the gameplay of Battle Academy 2 will preserve both the accessibility and dynamism that built its reputation while enhancing it with brand new tactical tools and vast amounts of new content as well. There are 4 campaigns, a random map generator, multiplayer modes with cooperative and versus gameplay and a unique skirmish mode that allows to generate an infinite number of customized scenarios, players should prepare for long, tough journey on the Eastern Front!

Today we have the pleasure to unveil the official release date of the game: Battle Academy 2 will be available on both our sites and Steam on September 12th. The press has already begun previewing the game “a very playable and solidly entertaining game.” (Armchair General), “hats off to Slitherine, random terrain engines of this calibre are ludicrously rare in contemporary PC wargaming” (Rock Paper Shotgun), so watch out for more coverage and get ready for the release!


Get more information on Battle Academy 2 from its official product page.
http://www.slitherine.com/games/ba2_pc That random terrain generator could prove to be a big draw!
Categories: Forums

Mr. Roberts, your games rock - but honesty will go a long way

Forums: Latest Threads - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 21:30
Chris Roberts is great at making games! Math however is not one of his strong suits. I say this because recently Mr. Roberts attempted to justify ongoing crowd funding in his latest 'Letter from the Chairman' by stating, and I quote: 'To sustain this level of development we need to keep bringing in additional funds. Star Citizen is still much less than other published backed AAAgames that have similar levels of ambition (some would even say a little less) like GTA V, Watch Dogs or Destiny' (1).

I found this statement particularly at odds with reality given Mr. Roberts himself stated that his model of funding (Direct PC Model vs. Traditional PC Model) enables him '4 times the revenue.....so with a quarter of the people we can make the same game'. So by Mr. Robert's graph - clearly presented at 13:35 - he is able to invest 80% of revenue towards development as where Grand Theft Auto V was able to only invest 20% (2). Consequently it would appear that when Star Citizen reaches $50 million, which will likely be achieved next week, SC will have invested $40 million directly as where GTA development investment stands at $52 million (if GTA's $265 million/£170 million budget is correct).

Clearly, by Mr. Robert's own math, Star Citizen is only 15 million (80% of which equals 12 million) short of reaching GTAs development goal - a goal which in all likelihood will be achieved next year. Given that Grande Theft Auto V stands as the most expensive game ever developed, I find it odd that Mr. Roberts would state in a recent newsletter that 'Star Citizen is still much less than other published backed AAAgames', when in fact it is already above and beyond most AAAgames! In fact, Star Citizen is likely to surpass GTA this time next year if the present trend continues. Not bad considering Star Citizen is approximately at the halfway point before release!!!

Clearly Star Citizen still needs to continue funding as it is no doubt the most ambitious project ever attempted. I for one support continued crowd funding but at a certain point we have to be honest with ourselves and stop using other games as a point of reference to justify prices and marketing strategies. Pointing to other games budgets is one thing; pointing to other games while ignoring one's own development cost is another. At least if Mr. Robert's math is to be believed.


(1) https://robertsspaceindustries.com/c...m-The-Chairman

(2) http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/2...is_Roberts.php
Categories: Forums

Act of Aggression

Forums: Latest Threads - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 21:00
Eugen's next RTS:

Quote: Eugen Systems, the studio behind the million-unit selling Wargame series of RTS games and the critically acclaimed Act of War (2005) or R.U.S.E (2010), is back! Set in a modern, techno-thriller setting, their new game promises to be a perfect cocktail of political intrigue, high fidelity visuals and solid mechanics with old-school RTS values.

Act of Aggression vows to bring about a return to the 90's Golden Era of real time strategy games, delivering all of the core mechanics sorely missed by many RTS fans: base building, resource management, unit production and dynamic, immersive battles will meet high fidelity production values and intelligent modernization. Today's images and teaser trailer provide a first look at the game, to be showcased at the Gamescom next week.

In what is shaping up to be their most ambitious project since Act of War, Eugen Systems will deliver a real-time strategy experience set in the 2020's in a darkly realistic future where 3 major factions fight for their interests. In a world where international crisis and financial order is set in a seemingly unending loop, the shadowy organization known as "The Cartel" attempt to complete a secret agenda with high-tech technology, stolen prototypes and stealthy operatives. Against this looming threat stands the Chimere, a UNO funded, classified military organization specialized in fast strikes, which attempts to maintain global peace and order. Finally, somewhere between the two stands the US Army, worn out by two decades of being kept on a war footing with too few replacements, but still fielding a great deal of battle-hardened veterans.

Act of Aggression will include two separate single player campaigns, featuring traditional RTS storytelling and game mechanics: gathering resources, building a base, producing units ... but also supplies to keep the war machine rolling. In true Eugen style, expect vast, skill-based multiplayer modes where technological upgrades, resource storage and base defenses will play an integral role in the battle. Extend your base, defend your structures, and create new bases to control key strategic areas on the map. Unleash infantry, mechanized vehicles, tanks, artillery, helicopters, planes, and super weapons, earning experience as you destroy the enemy's forces and preserve yours (as they get more experienced), unlock skills and abilities to turn the tide of war by specializing them in roles, such as anti-air, anti-tank, etc... With steady development of new technologies, your production capacities will grow always more powerful, unlocking new buildings, units, and ultimate weapons far beyond technologies of today!

As with Wargame: Dragon Rising, this is a game that looks good...but I am prepared to wait for a deep sale before I buy it. As I mentioned before, I am getting a little annoyed with Eugen in that they release a game, but before it gets a chance to flower Eugen is off and running onto the next game. For example, they released RUSE and then rushed off to Wargame:EE. Wargame:EE was released, and off they rushed to Wargame:ALB. Before ALB even had its legs under it, they were off and working on Wargame: Dragon Rising (which was a real tragedy as there were a whole host of NATO/WP WWIII theaters left to explore). And before Dragon Rising has even learned to walk, they are announcing AoA. This is why I refuse to pay full price for Dragon Rising. Even though I had fun with ALB, I know DR is going to be abandoned before too much longer. Why should I pay full price for that?
Categories: Forums

Warhammer 40K Armageddon

Forums: Latest Threads - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 22:10
I am really hopeful for this game. Panzer Korps was a solid game, so the idea of marrying that system to a 40K environment has the makings of a potentially great game, especially if we get all the races in there. Finally, a 40K PBEM game!

Anyhoo...Slitherine is taking applications for the beta process today:

Quote: Sign up for the Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon beta!

http://bit.ly/1fHcTZG
Today we are overjoyed to share with you that Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon, one of the most anticipated turn-based strategy games of the year, is getting ready for release! This detailed multiplatform wargame is now ready to enter the PC beta phase and we invite you to help us test it! By signing up for the beta, you will have a chance to be selected to be one of the lucky few, who will be able experience Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon before release and help us with the final touches, ensuring a smooth release later this year.

Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon is set during the Second War for Armageddon. In this hex-based, turn-based game developed by Flashback Games and The Lordz Games Studio, you will lead the Imperial forces of the Armageddon Steel Legion and Space Marines from a variety of Chapters against the Ork invasion through over 30 scenarios, on the hostile terrain of the planet and its gigantic Hive Cities. The game features a complex plot, involving known characters from the Warhammer 40,000 universe and while advancing through the campaign, you will have the ability to carryover his core force from scenario to scenario.

Features:

  • The game portrays the Second War for Armageddon in great detail, from the initial Ork landings to the final liberation of the planet
  • Large branching campaign with 30 major scenarios, plus additional 5 tutorial scenarios that explore the story in detail
  • A complex plot, which can develop during a mission, right in the middle of battle, creating an engaging story line with unexpected twists
  • Players lead Imperial troops of the Armageddon Steel Legion, with supporting assets from a number of Space Marine chapters against the ferocious Orks
  • Carry over battle-hardened veterans from scenario to scenario, using their experience and upgrading their equipment
  • Fight alongside Commissar Yarrick and Commander Dante against the cunning Ork Warboss Ghazghkull Thraka
  • Detailed combat model with terrain, weather and morale effects
  • 300+ unit types representing Armageddon Steel Legion, the Orks, Blood Angels, Ultramarines and Salamanders Space Marine chapters and Titans.
  • 20 different units stats, many unique special traits and abilities
  • A separate set of maps are designed and balanced specifically for multiplayer via Slitherine's PBEM++ system
  • Extensive modding options delivered through a powerful and easy-to-use game editor.
10498339_777402662280620_2652230954592658403_o.jpg

http://www.slitherine.com/games/warhammer_PC Attached Images
Categories: Forums

Your Friendly Guide to DCGs

Latest Blogs - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 21:11

As I just blogged about, I am getting increasingly fatigued by modern gaming. Everything is "hurry, hurry, hurry!" Or, if not that, it is often about "second life" experiences. That is, it is about deep experiences where the player can invest hundreds and hundreds of hours immersing himself in a virtual world almost as tangible as his material reality (games likeSkyrim and Eve Online, come to mind). Now, I am a fan of such experiences - in fact, I think such games are what is best about modern gaming - but it can get all so tiring after awhile. Sometimes I just want to be able to sit down and quickly and easily invest myself into a game. You know, sort of like with a board game where you read the rules, set up the board, and off you go! No muss, no fuss.

Usually Chess is my go-to game in this regard. Despite its 21st Century online trappings, it remains first and foremost a classical board game in style and temperament. Indeed, it's these very same hoary characteristics that have proven so irresistible to me over the years. But as I suffer from "poor little rich girl" syndrome (but I suppose it would be with a 'guy' in there instead!) I can't help but to occasionally turn my back on this pearl and cast about for something new and different, something that not only has the endless stratagems of Chess, but also the inviting "pull up a chair and join in" gameplay as well.

And that is how I found myself in the world of digital card games.

Of course, I have heard of the grandmaster of such games - I speak of the world famous Magic: the Gathering, of course - but I have never actually tried it. Much like I was largely disinterested in the Dungeons and Dragons craze of the 1980s, I was never interested in the collectible card craze of the 1990s. That is, until now.

It would seem that the collectible - or is it 'tradable'? - card game craze has spread to PC gaming with all the virulence of a sub-Saharan Ebola breakout. I guess this is understandable as digital card games (DCGs), like their CCG/TCG paper counterparts, are designed to get the player in a collecting mood, hence it is perfect for an online translation with built-in "micro-transactions". For that reason alone there are now more DCGs than I can keep track of! I have to confess: after trying a bunch of them, I am now glad that this is a growing trend. A lot of these DCGs can be a lot of fun in a very Chess-like "easy to play, hard to master" kind of way.

With that in mind, I'd thought I would provide a quick synopsis of those DCGs I have tried and why you might want to as well. Just bear in mind that I really haven't had a chance to try any of these games too deeply yet, so I might be overlooking some great features, or even missing some flaws. The following isn't meant to be a review, just an overview of what I have discovered so far.

1) Scrolls by Majong



As soon as I saw this DCG's Chess-like battlefield, I knew I had to be an early adopter - something very unusual for me, especially when this game is still only in a v.1XX stage of development! But seeing how great it looked even at this early stage of development, not to mention having the legendary Minecraft dev studio, Mojang, behind it, I concluded this was a risk I was willing to take.

And I have not regretted that decision as Scrolls really does feel like Chess in a DCG world. Gameplay is simple: use your deck of cards (or "scrolls" in this game's terminology), currently divided into four armies - Growth, Order, Energy, and Decay - to call units onto the battlefield or to cast all sorts of spells, something only limited by the amount of resources you currently have available (resources are gained by sacrificing cards from your active hand). Once on the battlefield, your units attack after a specific countdown period ends (which, of course, can be influenced by the appropriate spell), eventually rushing across the board to hack away at anything in front of them, including the enemy's five idols that lay at the end of the board. Of course, your opponent is going to be doing everything he can to stop you from hacking away at his idols' fragile 10 hit points, including placing combat units and other obstacles in your path, to casting spells and other dirty tricks. Play continues in this fashion until one side loses three idols, signaling the end of the game. And that is pretty much all there is to this game!



But as with Chess, the simplistic gameplay hides a deep vein of strategy and tactics. Just putting together a deck that properly balances units, resources and spells is quite a game unto itself. Take that challenge, and add in the Chess-like battle board with its idols, lanes of attack, and units that can slide from attack lane to attack lane, and you have a lot on your plate to manage. And let me tell you: it all is a lot of fun. Oh, did I mention the crafting, as well? Yup, you can convert your duplicate cards into something better if you wish. So add that in there as well.

Of all the DCGs I have tried so far,Scrolls has the best art of the bunch. I know that doesn't sound like too much, but in a game genre where the cards are the primary focal point, the card's artwork is essential to getting the player immersed in the game's setting. Scrolls really knocked one out of the park here with all the art being really evocative of the fantasy world it seeks to create, one I hope we get to further explore with some sort of campaign.



Speaking about campaigns, there isn't one yet, but there are a bunch of "Challenges" where you can play against the AI for loot. And, of course, you can spar against the three levels of AI at any time, too. So there is sufficient gameplay for the loner who might not want to go online and compete against real people just yet.

The music in this game is also quite good, too. While it currently is limited, what is in the game also goes a long way to create an appropriate medieval atmosphere.

Another important point to mention: Scrolls, unlike the following DCGs, is NOT free-to-play, but requires an upfront purchase. This is something that I think might actually further its popularity as there is a degree of hostility to micro-transactions in the gaming world. So, once you buy the game, all the scrolls (cards) are yours to unlock!

It might still be in a very early stage of development, but I hope Scrolls makes it to a proper v1.0 because I think there is a lot of promise in this package already. The only downside to speak of is the small player base (about 1000 people online per 24 hour period). I suspect this will change once the game gets further along and closer to release.

2) Card Hunter by Blu Manchu


As Scrolls saw fit to step outside of traditional DCG design with its Chess-like board,Card Hunter has done the same by a) wrapping the experience in a very nostalgic Dungeons & Dragons wrapper, and b) making the player's cards into pieces of equipment for your questing party. This last point needs some explaining because it is so unique.

Unlike most other DCGs where the cards are the actual playing pieces, in Card Hunterthe cards represent the abilities that are integral to the equipment used by your party of card hunting adventurers. For example, in the following picture, you can see that my Elf warrior can equip a level 3 suit of "plain old armor" that comes with three types of armor cards that can be used to turn aside attacks:



It is this very clever use of incorporating cards that really sets Card Hunter apart from other DCGs. That, and the traditional RPGs elements of leveling up via XP, and collecting loot from fallen foes.

But there is also the nature of the gameplay itself. Really, Card Hunter is less a card game than it is a traditional turn-based game of tactics. Unlike your traditional card game where cards are placed this way and that on a flat surface, in Card Hunter the player is presented with something more closely resembling a match of D&D where figurines are used:



As you can see above (with my party heading into an ambush!), it really is a charming presentation. Also a well-thought out one as such things as line of sight, difficult terrain, other other aspects are displayed on the game board. Really, at times Card Hunter feels more like a tabletop wargame than it does a card game, especially seeing how your cards are just extensions of your gear. Gameplay even reinforces this notion as its tactical, "fire and movement" nature feels like anything but your typical game of cards (which makes me wonder why we haven't seen a WWII card game yet!). These little battles are actually quite challenging as the AI puts up a really good fight. I also love how the battles are linked together in a narrative framework along the lines of a proper D&D module:



All in all, Card Hunter is a wonderfully inventive package for the DCG enthusiast. Of all the DCGs I tried, I also think it is the most friendliest to those seeking an expansive single player experience as in addition to the MP battles, there are plenty of SP quests to go on, too. My only possible concern is that while Card Hunter is F2P, it can feel a bit pushy at times when it comes to getting you to open your wallet. While you can earn in-game currency from selling loot, this only seems to net you a few coins per adventure - something you'll burn through with all the equipment shops in this game! This means that you will probably have to buy more than a little "pizza", this game's premium currency, if you want to buy some decent gear in an expeditious manner. But I think what concerns me more is the fact that this game's "Basic Edition", which unlocks 11 Treasure Hunt adventures, 9 collectible figurines, 100 pizza slices and 1 month of premium club membership (which nets you extra loot), costs a pricey $25. And if you want the Attack of the Artifacts expansion that includes a similar line-up of goodies, that is another $15. All together that is $40, something that leaves the browser-based DCG (yes, CH is browser-based) genre behind and begins to approach the realm of a Play-to-Pay game. To be fair, I actually think I could see myself eventually springing for this package because Card Hunter is that good, but it still can lead to a bit of a price tag shock as far as I am concerned.

3) Duel of Champions by Ubisoft




When playing Duel of Champions, you definitely get the impression that some suit at Ubisoft was green with envy over the success of Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering and demanded: "What about our beloved fantasy franchise, Heroes of Might and Magic?!? Doesn't it deserve a DCG of its own?!?" Good question. And somebody at Ubisoft delivered a good answer with Duel of Champions.

Of all the DCGs I wrote about so far, Duel of Champions seems the closest to what I imagine a traditional CCG is, in that here the cards of your deck are the only stars of the show. No game boards, no RPG elements, just deck building and dueling. Fortunately, Duel of Champions makes this as interesting as possible.


In some ways, Duel of Champions is similar to Scrolls. Here, the name of the game is to whittle away the 20 hit points of the opposing champion who lies at the far end of the board, much like the opposing idols in Scrolls. And while there are no actual pieces as inScrolls, the player's unit cards behave in much the same way as the pieces in Scrolls in how they unleash attacks on opposing units, and can even slide from row to row in order to seek a less obstructed path to the enemy champion. Likewise, there are a variety of spells that you can cast to buff/debuff units on the field.

But where Duel of Champions differs from Scrolls, and just about every other DCG I've tried, is how this basic gameplay formula is given tremendous depth due to a slathering of other elements. For example, there are three different resources players need to manage in DoC - Might, Magic, and Destiny - and all are needed to make use of the different types of units/spells. Then, in addition to the actual unit and spell cards, you also have other types of cards to play, such as "Buildings" that provide location-specific benefits to units, or even "Event" cards that not only provide benefits to both players, but also manage to add a sense of a larger world to the game:



There are also Fortune cards to consider, cards that can fundamentally change the rules of the game. Finally, there are even "Ongoing Spell" cards last from turn to turn until disrupted by a counter-spell. Here is one of my favorites: Poisonous Bulbs:




Now you know why the game board has so many different slots for different types of cards! Add in the fact that there are SEVEN different armies that you can currently collect, and the player soon realizes that there is almost an infinite number of possible strategies/combinations that he will encounter while playing this game. This, I have since learned, is called the "meta-game". When it comes to Duel of Champions, the meta-game is as robust as they come, which explains why it is currently the most internationally popular DCG out there amongst dedicated CCG/TCG aficionados.

In addition to the requisite multiplayer battles, DoC features a decent SP campaign system where the player can fight against the AI in a linked series of thematic battles spread across multiple campaigns. Not only do these provide some much needed practice for the player to come to grips with the tremendous variety in this game, but it also will unlock some faction decks, as well as providing sizable gold rewards that the player can use to purchase more decks. In general, I have found DoC to be a very generous game when it comes to providing the player with gold for new cards. Not only can the player earn gold by playing in MP and SP games, but there are even daily rewards that provide increasing amounts of gold just for logging in on consecutive days!

So, what's not to like? Well, as with all DCGs, beware the ferocious community! Be prepared to lose a lot, perhaps even more so than in other DCGs because of this game's deep mechanics, and the fact that Ubisoft has done a great job of organizing regular tournaments for prizes, something that has fostered the creation of a very competitive and competent community.

Sadly, players must also beware another issue with DoC: the many gold farmers who are plaguing this game. DoC is an internationally popular game - and gamers know what that means: fanatical players who game the system to earn in-game currency as fast as possible. I suspect there is a lot of this going on in DoC because the vast majority of games I have played in DoC were against people with some random handle along the lines of "Johnny12345", something that is usually a dead giveaway for a person with multiple gold farming accounts. More to the point, the majority of these players also immediately take to the chat channel and demand that I play as fast as possible so they could get their bag of gold and be on their way to the next match (apparently the 2 minute game times is too long for them), or they outright ask if I could throw the match so they can unlock a deck / get some gold. Not good. It is so bad that I really wish Ubisoft would include a way to turn off the chat function because these deck/gold farmers are really hampering my enjoyment of the game. You've been warned.

Be that as it may, Duel of Champions is a very impressive F2P DCG, one I find myself coming back to time and again in a (vain) effort to comes to grip with the game's mechanics and win a few games.

Hearthstone by Blizzard Entertainment:




I have to confess: when I heard that even Blizzard, developers of the ultra-popular Starcraft and World of Warcraft games, were getting in on the DCG craze, I sort of rolled my eyes. Blizzard might be the kings of RTS and the MMORPG, but what did they know about DCGs? Wasn't this just a shameless attempt to cash in on their iconic fantasy universe yet again, but in a different gaming genre?

As Hearthstone has since reminded me, there is a reason why Blizzard is considered to be the Cadillac brand of game developers. Not only is this an enormously talented studio, but it is also a studio that never releases anything until they are 100% sure it is perfect as can be (I'll conveniently look the other way on that whole Diablo III auction house fiasco as it was a rare slip....). Hearthstone in living proof of this.

Remember how at the start of this game article (so long ago) I said I started exploring the world of DCGs because I was looking for that good "easy to learn, hard to master" board game feeling? Well, that is exactly what Hearthstone has in spades. Indeed, even the opening moments of the game reinforce this notion by showing you what appears to be a medieval-looking game box, one accompanied by an inviting host who starts the game with something along the lines of "a busy night, but there is always room for another!" Even the actual game board looks just like what it is: a compact game board of the sort you would expect questing rogues would take with them as a diversion for those moments when they were not clearing out a nasty dungeon:



The game design itself is pure genius. Blizzard clearly took a look at the state of DCGs (and, no doubt, their cardboard cousins) and distilled those games down to their gameplay essence. The result is that unlike games such as Duel of Champions where the formula was to add as much depth as possible via all sorts of gameplay chrome, Blizzard decided to follow Chess' example and stick with a formula that is built upon an "easy to learn" base, but allows for deep gameplay via all the possible combinations inherent in a randomly drawn card game. Like with Chess, what results is a fantastically addictive game that initially entices the player with its elegant and fun gameplay, but eventually ensnares them with the limitless strategic possibilities.

The gameplay itself is similar to Duel of Champions: the players choose one of ninepossible heroes and face off across a board where the name of the game is too, again, whittle away at the opposing heroes hit points (thirty, this time). Units and spells are called into battle via the games single resource, mana, that accumulates in a straightforward manner of one crystal per turn. Simple. From there gameplay continues in the fashion of the other DCGs in that cards are played to call units and spells into battle, but unlike DoC's decks that can contain over 200 cards(!), players are limited to choosing only 30 at a time - again, another nice simplification that keeps thing manageable. Units operate in similar fashion to DoC in that some block enemy attacks (but not physically as in DoC where one card needs to be in front of another to block it; inHearthstone a unit needs the "Taunt" attribute to actually stop an attack, otherwise the player can just ignore it and go for the enemy hero - an interesting twist), others can "charge" and attack immediately, and spells are popping everywhere to the benefit and detriment of units. The nine heroes themselves also come with unique special abilities - such as the Warlock's ability to harm himself for -2 HP in exchange for drawing a new card - something can that be decisive over the course of a game. Again, nothing radical here, rather a general simplification to the gameplay found in other DCGs. But that is what makes it so addictive as it serves to make everything more comprehensible, especially for players new to the genre, not to mention serving to keep the matches nice and short. This is the ongoing theme of Hearthstone: keep it simple, keep it fun.

Even the cards are nicely simplified:


None of that "+/- divide by zero and add the square root to all cards of a certain shade of gray" complexity that you would see in games such as DoC.

Blizzard even took steps to make the tournament system as painless as possible. In Hearthstone, whenever you play a ranked game - and really, why shouldn't you? - you are automatically placed in a competitive ladder that resets each month. In this way the casual player can compete over the course of a month without actually feeling the need to obligate himself to some lengthy process. Nice! And for those who prefer something a bit more intense, the player can even enter the "Arena" where he gets to pick from three randomly selected heroes, and then build a deck from randomly selected cards. A series of games are then played until the player wins 12 games or loses 3. Either way, prizes are awarded based on performance. It is a wonderfully fun mode, albeit it does cost 150 in-game gold, or $1.99 to participate.

Not surprisingly, Blizzard polish can be seen everywhere. While the other DCGs each have their own fair bit of polish, Blizzard has made sure this game absolutely shines. The board itself is often nicely animated - I particularly like the griffin who will begin following your mouse pointer with his gaze if you annoy him enough! - with the cards themselves having some nice vocalizations. The spells are also nicely realized with some cool special effects that serve to really bring them to life.



Blizzard even thoughtfully limited the in-game chat options to about eight or so generic utterances, such as "well played!" (much appreciated after the nonsense in Duel of Champions!). Blizzard even helps the player recognize he is out of gameplay options during the course of a turn with a belly-laugh inducing "Job's done!"

When it comes to a single player experience, Hearthstone is largely as limited as Scrolls. Until recently, players were reduced to sparring against generic normal and hard AI, but with Blizzard's launch of their first expansion, Curse of Naxxramas, now players can match decks and wits against challenging thematic AI opponents and have a chance at winning unique cards in the process. However, as with Card Hunters, I do think the expansion's price tag of $19 is a bit steep even if you can unlock it with in-game gold, as well.

All in all, Hearthstone is a thoroughly enjoyable DCG, one this is smartly designed to be easy to pick up by inexperience players, yet offer plenty of meta-game challenge for the more die-hard card game warriors (as seen by all the guides and videos popping up on the intertubes). In many ways, Hearthstone reminds me of the slot machine of DCGs, a game designed to be so addictive that you can but help to pull that handle one more time. In this regard, Blizzard has succeeded in their mission. But they have also succeeded in another mission: to create a game seemingly designed to be perfect for playing on dark and chilly nights, preferably by the (virtual) hearth in an (virtual) inviting inn. In this regard, Blizzard has also succeeded wonderfully.

Other Mentions

There are two other games that I have tried, but due to time limitations, I haven't been able to give sufficient time for a detailed mention here. So here is a quick summation:

Magic: 2014: This, of course, is the official PC conversion of Wizards of the Coast's world famous CCG. From what I experienced in the demo, the game reminded me ofDuel of Champions, but with an interesting land-based resource system. Unfortunately, before I could even finish the tutorial battles, Magic: 2015 was released. So I stopped playing 2014 with the idea of switching to 2015. However, seeing that Magic: 2015 costs $10, I haven't really had the urge to go back and try it as I am having a blast with these other free-to-play DCGs. Still, I did like what I saw and hope to give this title the time it deserves.

Infinity Wars: This is a DCG (or is it Digital TCG - I am so confused by this nomenclature!) that clearly is trying to innovate. As you might have noticed, all the DCGs I have covered have had a fantasy theme to them (no doubt due to the success of the fantasy-themed Magic: The Gathering). What a waste! While I enjoy fantasy themes as much as the next guy, I think this is so shortsighted, especially in light of how the DCG template could be utilized in a wide range of thematic settings. This is why Infinity Warsinitially caught my attention - it was the only DCG that I have encountered that incorporates some sci-fi units (the game's story involve multiple dimensions clashing, hence the sci-fi meets fantasy mash-up). But there are also other notable innovations to this game. For example, unlike all the other DCGs that have static card art, IW features animated art that can be quite nice at times. Also, IW has an interesting war theme going on where the player's cards are led by commanders (but the player is represented by a fortress that must be defended), and cards deploy to separate assault, defense, and support zones. There is even a morale system that makes it possible to lose a game by suffering too many (card) casualties! Currently in open beta, Infinity Wars is definitely a game I want to explore some more once it goes v1.0.

HEX: I don't have much to say about this because it is currently in close beta. I do, however, know that this is a game that was launched through one of the biggest crowd-sourced funding campaigns of all time, so there is that. Also, this game promises to marry the DCG with the MMO in a way never attempted before. In short: HEX has already created quite the buzz, but card game aficionados await the final verdict.


Final Thoughts

So there you go, some digital card games to get you started. Really, all the games I mentioned on this list are worthy of your time as they each have their charms. As of right now I would have to say that if forced to choose one, Hearthstone would be my favorite - I really enjoy its quick matches and elegant gameplay, but that is just me.

If you do decide to give this beguiling gameplay genre a try, I urge you to go into it with the idea of just having fun. Like Chess, this is a very competitive environment where experience pays a lot in dividends - not to mention giving you lots more cards and, hence, options. So, again, be prepared to LOSE A LOT OF GAMES at first! It is going to happen. But be patient, play your best, and enjoy each match just for the ride. And before you know it, you too will soon be winning your fair share of games.

Well, that is what they tell me, anyway....

[A better edited version of this article appears on my blog: Burke's Joystick :D] Attached Thumbnails
Categories: Blogs

Chris Roberts = the Gordon Gekko of gaming?

Forums: Latest Threads - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 18:55
Whenever I hear CIG go off about how wonderful the Star Citizen 'community' is, I feel embarrassed. Apparently, Star Citizen is now about what Chris Roberts and CIG can get from the community and not what it can give back. Strike that, after reaching nearly 50 million dollars in funding, thanks to us supporters, and greatly surpassing the original 2 million dollar goal, we have generously been given an in game towel! Clearly Gordon Gekko is alive and well at Star Citizen. Don't get me wrong, I support selling ships to support the game - but sooner or later the unadulterated, barefaced greed has to stop. It's high time CIG start giving back to the community instead of trying to fleece it at every turn. A case in point, the Xi'An Scout which went for a hefty $150! Ok, I get Chris Roberts wants to keep making money but in the words of Gordon Gekko's young protege, 'How much is enough, Gordon?'

And it never seems to be enough, even at nearly 50 million - at least not enough to give back to the so called 'community' CIG keeps ballyhooing about. It doesn't take a cynic or major in business science to see what is going on: clearly CIG is pushing the 'community' meme in an effort to create an atmosphere conducive for buying. And it is working - in spades! I for one don't believe a 'community' is defined by money. A community needs to be a two way street; it's not just about taking - it is also about giving. Of course there are people, especially Fanbois, who will argue that supporters are receiving a game and final product. But this is simply purchasing a service - hardly what I call a healthy, robust 'community'!

Which brings me to CCP and EVE. Whatever you want to say about CCP, and I am pretty critical on how they have expanded over the years, at least they understand what 'community' means. They understand that giving is just as important as receiving which is why they build, design and give free ships as a token of their appreciation. It is a far cry from cyber towels! Sure, CCP may have its gaming priorities in a knot but they understand the value of supporters - and good on them!

But perhaps things will turn around at Star Citizen. After all, how much is enough, Chris? Or are we going to continue this unrestrained, in your face, give me your money business model? Oh and here is a free towel - by the way thanks for the 50 mil! But there is a bright side. Instead of a celebratory free ship for supporters upon reaching 50 million, citizens can look forward to seeing their money go towards creating alien languages! After all, its for the 'community'. But I can't help but wonder if the first alien language ever to be translated will be: 'Kallor 300gyk! Shap na tiie hunna! Ani ou ping' (translation: Only $300! Get your ships today! Towel not included).
Categories: Forums

The Infantilisation of Gaming

Forums: Latest Threads - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 21:25
I am so gratified to read this from Gratuitous Space Battles' dev, Cliff Harris:

http://positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/201...ng-journalism/

Quote: I’m 45 years old. I have a bald spot, own slippers and have a pension. I play games, and so do a LOT of people my age, and a bit younger. Pretty much everywhere, everyone treats me like an adult. When I read a book or magazine, it treats me like an adult, ditto for most websites I visit, or events I go to. Except when any of those involve games. When it’s games related, suddenly I am targeted as though I’m a horny and stupid 13 year old boy who wants to shout a lot and say ‘****’ because mom isn’t watching. This hasn’t been something that appeals to me for about THIRTY YEARS.

...

Lets face facts, gaming will NEVER be taken seriously until it sheds this infantile image. Tax-breaks for the gaming industry? how do you make that argument to a politician my age (or older) when a quick search online for interviews with game developers shows them being quizzed by embarrassing kidults in bandanas holding skateboards saying DUDE and **** at every opportunity? You think that appeals to anyone who is in their forties? It’s not just journalists. even the head people at gaming divisions for Microsoft and Sony have the tendency to start saying stupid dumb things and doing high fives on stage the minute they talk about games.

Some games are deliberately immature and silly and aimed at kids. Some aren’t. All of them get reviewed by people who think they are making adverts for nerf guns. Please grow up, it is acutely EMBARRASSING to see 30+, or 40+ men pretending to be ‘down with tha kidz’. The next time you are posting a video review of a game, see if you can manage it without adopting a stupid voice, and without swearing. If people can review books and movies in a normal voice without screaming and making knob jokes, I theorize the same can be done for games. Amen, brother! With the exception of the fine company here and a few other places, sometimes I feel like the only mature guy still involved with the hobby!
Categories: Forums

NeonXSZ

Forums: Latest Threads - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 15:03
This reminds me of Frozen Synapse (thematically) meets AI War (AI battles theme)...which is really cool. :cool:



From Blues News:

NeonXSZ on Steam Next Month: http://www.bluesnews.com/s/153613/ne...eam-next-month

Quote: A new trailer is online for NeonXSZ (pronounced Neon Excesses), an independently developed 6DOF first-person shooter set in cyberspace with a Descent-meets-Tron feel. This has been available via Desura for some time now (boasting a 9.5 user rating), and now they are set to launch this next month on Steam, saying: "To avoid the recent stigma attached to Early access, the first 30 hours of the game are content complete and fine-tuned from eighteen months of alpha testing." Here's a new trailer celebrating the news and showing off some of the game's gadgets, and here's a feature list:

NeonXSZ recaptures the speed and responsiveness of old-school shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament.
The player gets to loot and fly dozens of ships and over 850+ upgrades.
Openworld gameplay filled with approximately one thousand AI dudes free to travel anywhere, from four warring factions.
Enemies drop parts of their hulls, weapons, and installed upgrades - not random loot.
If you see it, you can loot it and use it.
The game is never the same twice.


Website: http://www.neonxsz.com/
Categories: Forums

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

Forums: Latest Threads - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 12:54
Okay, I have no experience with this title, but the company had some serious development issues in the past. So what's the deal, is it worth trying or not? What is the gameplay like?
Categories: Forums

Firefly Online

Forums: Latest Threads - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 15:47
This looks kinda interesting. An isometric, turn-based MMOG with a Firefly theme. That could be fun:



Keeping an eye on this.
Categories: Forums

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 Announced

Forums: Latest Threads - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 02:13
Tis a great day! I loved the original, so I am happy to hear that we are going to get some more, and with some improvements!

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is officially announced…now

I like what he said about Eve:

Quote: Game-wise, I *want* to liked Eve online, but I’m sick of being ganked by some teenage boy and his pals for their amusement. :D You're not the only one.

Details:

Quote: GSB2 will be bigger, bolder, better and have more cool effects than you can shake a laser gun at. It will have a truly gratuitous user-interface. it will lovingly embrace the possibilities of twin 2560 res monitors. It will have a super-cool feature I haven’t announced yet. It will be a PC-first game, pure and simple, and it will be in your hands either late 2014 or early 2015. And you can play it in London at the Eurogamer Expo in September. :hurray:

Web: http://www.gratuitousspacebattles2.com/

I guess now would be a good time to pick up the complete edition. I never did get any of the DLC for some reason.
Categories: Forums

Victory At Sea coming August 8th to Steam and Mac Store

Forums: Latest Threads - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 08:10
Hi there, I've noticed some reviews and chats regarding the tabeltop game Victory At Sea. I just wanted to let you know we are developing a PC version for Steam and the Mac store, coming August 8th.

About the Victory At Sea Game
Engage in epic Real Time Strategy warfare across the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean, this is naval warfare on a global scale.

It is World War II and the age of the dreadnoughts has passed and naval warfare is being dominated by Aircraft Carriers. Submarines hunt convoys like wolves and the numerous and nimble destroyers rule the oceans.

Destroy enemy battleships, torpedo enemy convoys and hunt the enemy wherever you may find them.

Advance through the naval ranks from a Captain of a Destroyer to an Admiral of a vast fleet. Win medals for your exploits, and help your chosen nation achieve victory in each campaign.
Plan your own strategy
In Victory At Sea your destiny is in your hands. Once in the campaign what you do next is up to you.

Harass enemy shipping to starve their ports of vital supplies.
Destroy the enemy patrols and weaken their defences.
Defend your friendly convoys and keep your supply lines open.
Lead an assault force with landing craft to capture enemy ports.
Go on covert operations.
Complete special missions.

2014-05-29_00001.jpg

With over 80 classes of ship and hundreds of ports there are a multitude of playing options. Will you build your fleet around the terrifying firepower of the battleships, sneak around with a submarine wolf pack or look to dominate the skies with carriers?

A combination of sandbox elements and the deadly combat of RTS naval warfare ensures a vast number of possibilities. Slow the action down or speed it up with the time slider, allowing you to command multiple ships quickly and effectively during huge battles. Weather conditions and time of day are also major factors in the game. Will it help or hamper you? Combat at night can be an intense experience.
Other combat Modes
Victory at Sea also offers the chance to experience some of World War II's most famous battles. The Historical Battle mode sets all the victory conditions for you. You just pick a side to fight on.
Create your own custom battles from small skirmishes to epic conflicts, choosing from Axis or Allied fleets with ships from 6 playable nations to choose from.

Steam Store Page http://store.steampowered.com/app/298480
Twitter https://twitter.com/VAS_naval_war

http://www.victoryatseagame.com
http://eviltwinartworks.com
http://www.mongoosepublishing.com Attached Images
Categories: Forums

Saddest death in gaming

Forums: Latest Threads - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:53
I would like to ask you about the saddest death in gaming. Which one is yours?
Categories: Forums

Sunday - July 20, 2014

Latest Blogs - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 15:13
Well then, it has been awhile!

Time to get this rolling again.

Quite a lot has happened with the Campaign Series and Middle East lately. A new UPDATE for the Campaign Series bringing it up the 2.01 UPDATE standard is available here: UPDATE DOWNLOADS

That and the 2.00 UPDATE are HUGE UPDATES for the Campaign Series, incorporating many new features and User Interface improvements. A huge thank you to the new programmer on the team, Berto. Here is a link to the changelog:

CHANGE LOG

With the active support for the game, we will also be releasing a 2.02 UPDATE in the next few weeks.

With his capabilities, a lot of Wish List items are now becoming a reality. Middle East is getting a thorough work over and incorporating many new features. I'll share more as we get closer to the planned Q1 2015 release. In the meantime, the playtesting continues and the remodeling of the various OOBs for the initial set of countries continues diligently. There are about 50 scenarios of varying size included at the moment, with a couple of Linked Campaign Games. I'm presently focusing on a number of solo scenarios that will boost the initial release total up to 70 scenarios or so.

Hope you're all well.
Take care and good luck
Jason Petho
Categories: Blogs

Even Reddit has bowed to Star Citizen Fanboyism

Forums: Latest Threads - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 18:36
I tried to post this op but apparently even objective science is unwelcome at Reddit:

Clearly Fanboyism has a mitigating factor when it comes to down voting people on Reddit, especially in the Star Citizen section; even the most innocuous statements are down voted. Interestingly, those who tend towards Fanboyism usually suffer from low self-esteem and respond to game or brand criticism in the same way people respond to personal failure. Here are very interesting studies which are included for those that are interested in the subject:


http://techreport.com/blog/21294/the...e-of-fanboyism

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keH4g2IuLnA
Categories: Forums

How will EVE players fare in Star Citizen?

Forums: Latest Threads - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 18:25
I am not sure where to put this but I guess I'll start here. I am wondering how EVE players will do in Star Citizen. I think it will depend on whether EVE players will be willing or able to divide playing time between games. EVE is such an immersive universe requiring immense time and effort to master that I think it will be difficult for EVE players to involve themselves in both. Also maintaining sovereignty requires a great deal of time and dedication; it will definitely challenge even the most ardent gamer. Of course we don't know how challenging Star Citizen will be in terms of game-play but if it is as demanding as advertised then it may make dual gaming very difficult.

That being said, if EVE players can somehow manage to play Star Citizen without undermining EVE game-play, I think they will rule Star Citizen. This is because most EVE players are patient and think 10 moves ahead. This is something that most Star Citizen FPS players do not do. Strategy to most FPS players is something akin to shooting someone in the face and calling it a day. It is my personal belief that EVE players will outshine all other corps on Star Citizen, if SC is challenging enough that is. If not then I imagine there won't be many EVE'rs since they can play Valkyrie to augment the EVE experience. But if the Star Citizen requires time, effort, patience and dedication? You can bet EVE players will be schooling everyone in the ways of the gaming universe. I only hope they will be able to do both.
Categories: Forums

Summer Games: Battlefield 4

Latest Blogs - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 02:24



Lately, I've been pretty harsh on the world of PC gaming, even to the point of labeling the industry as being downright disreputable. I still stand behind those sentiments. And little, if anything, has changed in the intervening months. Things are still pretty rotten around these here parts, perhaps more so as we now can add disreputable indie developers to the mix. It's all enough to make a man want to take up chess again.... ;)

Be that as it may, there is one aspect of the shameful record of modern gaming that I do feel I need to revisit in the interest of fairness, and that would be EA/DICE's Battlefield 4. As I have gleefully pointed out time and again over the last few months (most notably here & here, amongst other threads :D), BF4 was a good poster child for everything that is ailing the modern games industry: a sequel for the sake of sequel cash, bug-ridden and incomplete code being sold for full price, and months and months of patching before the player gets what he paid for.

Shameful. Inexcusable. Reprehensible.

But having said all of that, I do have to give EA/DICE a hard to swallow "kudos" for, finally, releasing a game worthy of the Battlefield name. Battlefield 4 has finally arrived - granted, some seven months post release - but arrived nonetheless. :rolleyes:

It all makes for some good summer gaming. Why summer, you ask? Because Battlefield 4 has so much swimming and boating in it, that they should have called it Battlefield 4: Extreme Water Sports. :D


Would be a great spot for some sunbathing...but for the fighter jets dogfighting overhead
This is perfectly acceptable and appropriate, though, as this version of the Battlefield franchise deals with a theme long overlooked by a world of combat games obsessed by a 1980's-styled World War III setting that deals with Americans and Russians going at it. Blessedly, not here. Instead, this is a game tailored for the Obama administration's pivot to Asia (one of the scant areas where I completely agree with this administration - like with BF4, credit where credit is due :)). With the exception of the map pack that revisits some of the favs from Battlefield 3 - mostly Persian Gulf / Caucuses settings - most of the maps in Battlefield 4 all seem appropriately set in believable PTO settings, such as island-hopping campaigns, sub pen and carrier assaults, jungle fights, and Asian-themed city sieges. Really, DICE has outdone itself in the thematics department based on what I have experienced so far. it is all convincing and on target (unlike Treyarch's Black Ops 2, a game that initially visited the same geopolitical theme, but later got distracted by wacky DLC that featured such incongruities as skateboard parks, rock concerts, and other WTF oddities).

With that in mind, be prepared to get wet! I hope you like to swim because you will be diving into the refreshing waters of the Pacific quite a bit!


The sea turned turbulent on me!
You will also be doing your share of recreational boating:


One if by land, two if by sea....

Now, DICE has made much of the "Level-ution" thing in the lead up to the release of this game, but I have to say that, by and large, "level-ution" is more often than not missing from most maps. This is a shame as where it is present, it can really add some nice additional atmospheric effects (I am less impressed by the gameplay implications, though). There really is no describing how thrilling it can be to be assaulting an island when a tropical storm blows in, something that causes the sea to become suddenly frightful, especially when you need to cross it on a boat. Likewise, it is pretty darn cool to be fighting your way through a Pacific Rim city when a rainstorm blows in and begins flooding the streets.

"Water water everywhere" is definitely the theme of BF4....


The streets of this city are awash after a storm

To be honest, I am not really surprised that water is everywhere in BF4 as the new theme in the world of video game design is clearly the art of creating believable moisture effects. I noticed this trend beginning with the unveiling of Watch_Dogs at last year's E3 - was there ever more ink spilt in transcribing all the "oohs" and "ahhs" that were heard when that's game's rain-slicked streets were first unveiled? So, yeah, expect a lot of moisture in your gaming for the foreseeable future because high fidelity rain effects are clearly the "hot, new thang" in gaming. As a lover of rainy skies, consider me enthusiastic for this trend.


Dawn, after a brutal, rainy night of combat
I will say that DICE has also amped up the destruction engine in this game. While I still think it might be a bit behind where the classic Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was, it is a definite improvement over the surprisingly limited destruction in BF3.


Destruction 3.0! Or is it 4.0 now?

As fans have come to expect, all sorts of things can be smashed, from vehicles, to buildings and even the landscaping.



I am literally hiding under a table as an enemy gunboat demolishes the bungalow across the way, and part of mine, too!

I am also glad to see the return of totally collapsible buildings, something that has been missing from the BF since we left the glory days of Bad Company 2.

I also have to give credit to DICE for providing many more cosmetic options in this iteration of the series. BF3 was a paltry Call of Duty rip-off in this regard, what with its minor handful of cosmetics. Not so in BF4. At last, the BF4 community has a very nice selection of custom camo for both our soldiers and our weapons, as well as the ability to design our own logos and have them appear in game:



My custom logo can be seen on the side of my jeep, as well as on my weapon (near the bottom of the magazine). It also appears as a patch on my uniform!
Finally, I am happy to say that DICE has finally addressed the "Hollywood sound stage" map design issues found in BF3 (you can read about it here). Now buildings actually seem inhabited with furniture and stuff!


I like to think maybe I had a bit to do with this change. :whist:

Even though DICE has clearly upped the graphic ante from the Battlefield 3 days, I am still impressed by how well this game runs on even a dated stock GPU like mine. While it is true that I have had to step down my BF3 high-ultra settings to medium-high for BF4 for a good framerate (roughtly 45-50 fps), I will say that I hardly notice a real distinction as the game still looks mighty fine while running great. Here, DICE deserves a definite pat on the back from PC gamers for taking the time to see that this game didn't become a resource hog. For example, compare the great graphics and solid performance of the Frostbite engine as used here to the highly modded Source engine(!) being used in another EA title called Titanfall - that game looks nowhere near as good, but runs like a fat pig (I am actually forced to play that game on all low settings! :(). Nicely done, DICE.

What about the infamous netcode that plagued the early months of this game? I can say that I have encountered few issues of rubber banding and/or delayed hit detection. Now, I said "few" issues for I have encountered such issues very occasionally - say, a dozen or two times out of roughly 50 hours of gameplay to date - and that is with the most recent patch's latency setting set to "medium" (if I set it to high, I probably could cut back on such issues even more). While a competitive player might have a better eye for such issues, this casual player is more than satisfied with the netcode at this point.


Keeping my powder dry
Final Thoughts

It's hard to stay mad at DICE when despite all the initial hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth, they still managed to deliver another excellent entry in the Battlefield series. Granted, their behavior (along with EA's, of course) was disreputable and reprehensible at the outset. This is something that must not be forgotten. However, they ultimately did right by their fans in delivering the product we all hoped we would have had last October.

Now, having said that, I still believe DICE and EA need to be held accountable. With that in mind, I made it a point to refuse to pay full price for either the base game or the premium add-on. By doing so, I not saved myself money (roughly 60% discount in total off the original purchase price for the base game plus premium by waiting for sales), but hopefully also sent a message to EA that I will not reward their egregious behavior by paying full price. And, needless to say, I also waited over half a year to jump into the game. I am sure that if other gamers likewise delay their purchases, and also refuse to pay full price, EA will quickly get the message loud and clear (and perhaps already have).

But let us put all that ugliness behind us. Battlefield 4 is finally here, and I am having a blast yet again. DICE likes to use the "only in Battlefield" slogan as a selling point, but the truth is that there really is nothing like Battlefield when it comes to combined arms action in a highly destructible and immersive environment. Only in Battlefield do I find myself holding my breath and ducking my head as my in-game avatar hunkers behind a car as rounds from an enemy MG spang off the body. Only in Battlefield do I dive under a table as a gunboat tears the walls down around me. And only in Battlefield do I relish the opportunity to belly crawl into some shrubbery and set up the perfect ambush.

Only in Battlefield indeed....

Categories: Blogs

Gearbox Does it Again: Battleborn

Forums: Latest Threads - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 15:03
Here's why Borderlands 3 is not in production - it's a good reason :):




I am really developing a deep respect for Gearbox (with the exception of the Colonial Marines fiasco). They never follow the pack; every game they make is something fresh and original. Way to go, guys. :thumup: You already have me excited. Seeing what a great setting Borderlands proved to be, Battleborn looks very exciting!
Categories: Forums
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