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Vermintide 2 heroes

Best co-op games of the year 2018 (Part 1) Vermintide 2

After reading this post, make sure you check out Part 2 of the best co-op games of the year 2018!
My next post focuses on Sea of Thieves! Yarr!

So long 2018…

This was a good year for games.

We’ve had plenty of great new releases and decent sequels, great events, big tournament prizes and awesome streaming, video and social media content.

The time has now come to recap some of the Best co-op games of 2018 and unveil the Most anticipated games of 2019!

This is also the best time to enjoy great games at a discounted price!

Most companies have released their brand new games prior to the holiday season. This in turn made them drop their prices for previous releases and their competitor’s as well.

This is exactly what brought me to Warhammer: Vermintide 2.

Imagem relacionada

Winter is coming

Prior to release (in March 2018) I told my friends that Vermintide 2 was going to be my next purchase.

I’ve been trying to save some bucks as I’m looking forward to move to a new home. I had also just bought Sea of Thieves. So I decided that I wasn’t going to spend any more money at that time.

Instead I added Vermintide 2 to my wishlist and left it there to rot slightly like a good cheese. The truth is, I kind of forgot I had it there.

Meanwhile, other games showed up. I have to admit that I invested quite some time in playing the great new update for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game (AKA awesome card game!) and Gwent: Thronebreaker. Two great releases for 2018 as well.

Check out my unlisted youtube review for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game:

Winter has come.

…And I got a Steam giftcard for Christmas from my girlfriend!
She totally gets me by the way!

Instead of spending the whole giftcard buying Battlefield V to play alone, I decided to do something different this time around since my Battlefield needs were still very much satisfied with Battlefield 1.

I went on to search for a co-op game that I could gift and play with my friends.

I checked my steam homepage – which, nowadays, is actually quite lame.
There I found my lost promised love, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 with a 60% discount for just 11€!

Blood & Teeth

Now, this game isn’t as expensive as other AAA games because… well… it really isn’t a very deep and complex game that would deserve “full price” status.

I had previously played Warhammer: Vermintide “1”, so I kind of knew what to expect.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is a rather simple game of head smashing and limb cutting explicit violence. It is gruesome – but fun.

Vermintide features a first-person action (mostly melee) run and gun gameplay with absurdly large waves of enemies and interesting minibosses with unique abilities.
It pretty much uses the same mechanics as Valve’s Left 4 Dead. To the point where it feels like a rip-off with a few brand new additions and a very different theme.

It tells a decent enough story (unlike L4D) that has beautiful, although gruesome scenery, great heroes, great villains, and enough depth to keep you entertained for days – yet still very challenging on each playthrough.

They also make you stand on your toes in each run – you never really know what to expect next. Sudden hordes of enemies and sneaky minions with special abilities tend to often show up uninvited.

warhammer vermintide 2

The game isn’t perfect – but the pace at which you need to run, fight and focus on defending your party from the enemies that are coming from all sides really gets your adrenaline pumping.

Surviving large *MASSIVE* waves of enemies by coordinating effective positioning with your friends is plain and simple fun.

It lacks a bit of the sophistication from some of the maps from its predecessor. It could also feature a slightly more intelligent approach to each map.

Instead, it often drives you into a brainless killing spree with no particular challenge other than positioning and speed. This isn’t all that bad. But requiring the player to think with additional puzzles or more complex bosses wouldn’t hurt either.

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Left 4 Dead-Dead

Okay, okay – we’ll forgive Fatshark, Warhammer: Vermintide‘s developer, for copying many of the game mechanics from Left 4 Dead since they were indeed able to deliver a great quality game at a very reasonable price (now at a discount!).

The fact that each player uses a different class with its own progression, set of weapons, abilities and talents increases Vermintide’s replayability value and sets it apart from Left 4 Dead.

Even if the games are set apart by a small number of small changes, the truth is that they do matter.
When you consider that the last L4D iteration was released 8 years ago, you realize it created a void in a very specific game style.

Don’t get me wrong here: I’ve enjoyed Left 4 Dead 1 & 2 quite a lot. But I had major issues with some of its gameplay choices.
One of them relates to Source, the game engine that Valve created and uses for most of their games.

Portal, Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead are some of the best cleverly built games I have ever played – yet their character movement precision, speed, and hitbox leaves much to be desired.

It all comes down to the game engine Valve uses and how they set it to have character movement feel pretty much the same in every game.

Resultado de imagem para left 4 dead 2 vs vermintide 2

Considering Fatshark’s success with both Vermintide 1 and Vermintide 2, I really think Valve will have to think twice on their own gameplay mechanics before deciding to go ahead and make Left 4 Dead 3 (if that ever happens!).
Valve would still sell more copies due to franchise value – but Vermintide (and Dead Island!) has raised the bar and players will now expect more from any upcoming Left 4 Dead iteration.

The final tide

The truth is that I’ve been enjoying this game quite a lot with my online friends and I hope to keep playing with them over the next few months.

Popcorn Score:

A great (and cheap) co-op game with an astounding fun factor, amazing graphics, character progression and great replayability grant Warhammer: Vermintide 2 a solid 5/5 pops.

But… was this the best Co-op game of 2018?
PC Gamer thinks so – what do YOU think?

Make sure you check out Part 2 of the best co-op games of the year 2018!
My next post focuses on Sea of Thieves! Yarr!

Most anticipated games of 2019 – also to be published later this week!

Here’s a referral link to get Warhammer: Vermintide 2 at a discounted price!

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 8 years and would instead like to try out Left 4 Dead 2 for the first time, make sure you grab it quickly as it is on sale for just 1.63€ on Steam for a limited time.

If I managed to spark your interest in Gwent: The Witcher Card Game or Gwent: Thronebreaker, grab them here!

I’ll see you in game-game!
-ViLa4480

Papers, Please: the short film

Papers, Please: The short …Film?

Free to read: there are no movie spoils ahead

A broken Valve

Have you read my previous article on How Steam broke my Valve? That’s the prelude to this post!
Go check it out!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Steam has let me down in the past few years, as I used to scroll its shop homepage on a regular basis… Steam then started showing very targeted results and my Steam shop started looking less and less interesting to me. It was showing the same results over and over again!
Somehow this led me to Papers, Please: the short film.

I was bored yesterday.

So I decided to go see what’s new on Steam. But since my Steam shop homepage is kind lame nowadays I went on to figure out what were the best-rated games of all time on Steam.

I was surprised! The top result didn’t belong to a game… It was a movie!
-A short film to be precise.
But not just any film… Papers, Please: the short film!

I have to admit that my jaw dropped a bit and my finger trembled with excitement when I hovered my mouse over it. Was this possible? What kind of black magic is this?!

Papers, Please: logo

Glory to Arstotzka!

Papers, Please is one of my greatest heroes when it comes to games.
As I understand it was mostly built by one guy (Lucas Pope) with the help of a small team of Arstotzkan loyal subjects.

The game is set in 1982 at the national border of a very closed soviet-like regime. You were one of the lucky picks of the October labour lottery as your name was pulled for immediate placement as a border admissions control officer. What an honour!

Your job is to allow or deny entry of people into the country – for the Glory of Arstotzka! to feed your family.


To me, games are about making choices.

…Making the right decisions that bring you the most benefit in order to “win” the game (even though winning something isn’t always required for a player to be entertained or to feel connected to a story).

However, the best games are the ones that make you think twice.
 
Papers, Please excels at this.


It presents you with tough choices over and over. 
To the point where you feel the misery of these immigrants and you still have to deny their entry into your country, knowing that they will die otherwise.

What an incredibly contemporary theme.

Corruption, bribery and even secret societies are also on the table as some people will try to do anything to get into Arstotzka …and you still have to feed your family.

Papers, Please Screenshot

The reason why I love this game is due to its gameplay simplicity in a cutthroat environment where each decision is critical to the migrant, the State and to your family. A bureaucracy simulator that is actually memorable.
As usual, Lucas Pope turned what at first would appear to be a technical graphics limitation into a graphic style on its own. One that not only simplifies interactions and leverages the narrative, but also that glorifies that great retro ambiance that drives the player back in time to a period of cold walls and warm tensions.

How does this translate into a film?!

I don’t know.
But they did it really well.

The film focuses on the usual role that the player performs. The Inspector sifts through all the data in the documents that he is provided by the migrants to look for info that’s missing or incorrect.

I won’t go into any further details as I don’t think it is necessary to spoil anything in a 10-minute long film.

Papers, Please: the short film

However, I will say that I was impressed at how carefully well executed the scenario and the attention to detail was in this film. It really captures the essence of the game.
The actors also do a great job at conveying that this is a life/death situation… and yet… just a job.

Summing-up, I would like to congratulate Lucas Pope and his team on being brave enough to make this great short film.

Art isn’t perfect, but this is a great 10-minute piece of art.
It isn’t priceless either – but it is FREE on Steam and Youtube.

Check it out in 4K glory right now:

Regarding the film I will rate it 4/5 Pops – it is great, but it lacks a little bit more depth and desperation that the game is better at conveying …but hey, it is free…

I will rate the must-have-played game 5/5 Pops.
No questions asked.

Film Popcorn Score:

Game Popcorn Score:

I’ll see you in Arstotzka,
-ViLa4480

Missed the first part of this story?
Go check it out now!

Interested in this game?
Click here to get a discount for Papers, Please.

Steam Shop

How Steam broke my Valve.

The kid at the toy shop

I love exploring Steam.
I just used to go through all of their pages, looking at all the new games being released and all of the innovative game concepts that they bring to every genre – and, on occasion, I would buy a strange new game that caught my eye. Have I mentioned that I am a true multigamer?

I REALLY used to enjoy scrolling through their shop’s homepage. It was fun looking at all the different games – I felt like a kid in a toy shop!

Unfortunately, Steam has been “improving” certain features over the years. 

A great idea.

In the past couple of years, however, they started to target audiences for their games. They started showing games that were similar to the types of games each player likes or plays. They even picked games that have just recently been released – or because they’re popular among my friends. What a great idea!…

While this was amazing for the first few months, I started to realize that the main store page on my girlfriend’s computer was so much more interesting than mine!
I thought… well… this couldn’t be right. How could it be that I was having more fun looking at her targeted games rather than my own?!

Suddenly I realized that my Steam homepage was pretty much static most of the time. Even though games jump up and down the page, they’re mostly showing me the same games over and over.

Steam Shop
My Steam shop homepage

The toy shop that only sells Pet Rocks


I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I open up my Steam homepage right now, Star Wars: Jedi Knight and Star Wars: Republic Commando, as well as every single Commandos game will show up at the top of all game suggestions.


The reason for this being that I’ve added Star Wars Battlefront to my wishlist (back in 2011) and I’ve added Commandos 2 to my wishlist (in 2012).
 
Now, I’m not saying these are bad games. They’re not. But I’ve seen them on my homepage every single day for several years now!


…and for some odd reason, after all these years, Steam still thinks that today is the day when ViLa4480 is going to buy all these games!

Ah… Bugger – maybe tomorrow


I can’t help but think that they have someone in their offices wearing a cap and deciding which games are going to show up on my homepage…

Cranking the levers up and down (Steam Powered!) with an eager smile as my mouse hovers over those games. 

“…He never gets to buy them! 
Ah… Bugger – maybe tomorrow” – he says to himself.

Closing the shop


The truth is… I don’t enjoy going through the Steam homepage as much as I once did.
I used to enjoy the variety of games that showed up. But now I find myself mostly looking at the “Popular Releases” and the “Most sold” tabs as those reflect a little bit more variety than the rest of my targeted homepage.

While looking for something different, I decided to check which games were the best ranked of all time on steam. 

I was surprised.
The first one… wasn’t even a game.

And this is how I got to find Papers, Please – The short film.

Kingdom: Two Crowns logo

Kingdom: Two Crowns …One and a Half?

This is my first review post on this blog. If you guys would like to know more about how I started this epic journey check out PLANTING A SEED.

A mighty Kingdom

Kingdom: Two Crowns has just been released earlier this month and I decided to give it a go.

Kingdom: Two Crowns is a 2D side-scrolling “kingdom-builder” game. The kind of satisfaction you get from playing a tower-defense game, mixed with the satisfaction you get from playing an exploration game like Terraria.

Being insanely addictive, this game uses very smart and staggeringly simple game mechanics which I am able to describe in three sentences: 

  • You’ve got a bag of gold coins.
  • You buy improvements to your fort.
  • You survive waves of enemies.

Ah. But things are never this simple.

Kingdom: Two Crowns Splitscreen

Building and growing your fort means expanding your borders further into wild,unexplored territory. This not only means that trees will have to be mercilessly cut down, but also that other, harder decisions must be made:

-Will you destroy a homeless person’s shelter to expand your fort into fertile lands?
-What about the trader’s hut that regularly supplies you with a huge influx of coins?
-Will you spend all your money building new walls or instead hiring more archers to protect your current walls?


Decisions, decisions…

Know thy land

The game is a great exploration adventure game however… even though you can’t deny that there is a huge amount of geographic exploration to do… Let’s be honest and recognize that most islands in the game all look very similar and that the game mechanics never really change much throughout the map.

Nevertheless, what really drives the player to keep “exploring” the game is the huge amount of “interactibles” – mysterious statues, strange meteorites, portals and a never-ending list of upgrades to your fort that grant you game-changing special abilities.

Kingdom: Two Crowns Statue

Line of succession

Having bought the previous Kingdom: Classic and the sequel Kingdom: New Lands  I must say I was a bit skeptical about buying this new version. The reason for that was that when I first bought Kingdom: New Lands I had two reasons to buy it: First, I’d like to support the developers who had previously created such a simple and cool game. Secondly, I was also looking for new content and new interactions that would expand my experience of ruling a very 2D kingdom.

However, I must say I was a wee bit disappointed with Kingdom: New Lands since it was being promoted almost as if it was a standalone DLC.
-Does that make sense?
Nope.

It is basically the same game as Kingdom: Classic being resold full-price with an added expansion.

The problem wasn’t really that the expansion was bad. The problem was how it was being sold as something truly new – which it wasn’t since the new mechanics that were introduced weren’t really that different from the base game and many of the changes were merely cosmetic.

Don’t get me wrong: any expansion to this great base game is welcome – but paying a full bag of gold for a new DLC is …bittersweet.

Just one more crown…

Kingdom: Two Crowns Scary night

Along comes November and the video announcement for Kingdom: Two Crowns and I couldn’t be more curious. 
A developer starts by explaining that he was watching a player stream (not me, unfortunately!) with his girlfriend and that at one point one of them said “I wish we could play together”… the developer’s heart melted and so he decided to make that wish come true in Kingdom: Two Crowns.

This was huge news for me!
I love coop games.

…And I couldn’t miss the opportunity to play one of my favorite games with my usual test subject (A.K.A. my girlfriend).

What a great idea.
Then I saw the 20€ price tag.

Here we go again?

I’m not a cheapskate – but I don’t like paying for the same game three times either!
If they had added new cosmetic content I’m sure I wouldn’t have bought it… but coop… My only weakness… How could I resist? How could I?!

Yeah, I bought Kingdom: Two Crowns.
After an insane amount of time spent tackling screen-resolution, UI and gamepad issues I proudly decided to demonstrate to my girlfriend that I had finally managed to remove all blockers and smash all bugs and went to Mordor and back to get the game ready and working!

“It’s ugly.” – she said.
She does that. She has a way with words.

After convincing her that pixel art is actually an art form and not a technical limitation of the game, she conceded that she would allow me to play with her. I often get the feeling that I’m dating my cat.

Kingdom: Two Crowns Splitscreen

One crown. Two crowns.

The King and Queen of Choulândia were now crowned and ready to cleanse this Kingdom of all evil minions roaming the land.

Until I died in the first 3 minutes of gameplay.
Then we got desperately poor.
Then we decided to restart the game.

BUT THEN the Mighty Kingdom of Choulândia arose from the ashes, prospered and grew in size! We had thick stone walls, fertile farms, an army of archers!

Then my Queen bluntly said: “I’m bored.”
She does that. She has a way with words.

…Usually that tends to happen within the first 5-10 minutes of playing a game. So the fact that we were playing for almost two hours before she said that really struck me as being a great compliment to Kingdom: Two Crowns.
I was truly having fun playing with her!

We got to explore a new island, got some diamond-like gems and started building a new ship to come back home with our bounty.

We had to stop there.
But I can honestly say that I had great fun playing Kingdom: Two Crowns with myself and with my Queen and we had some good laughs with very poor fort-building decisions about building walls at the exact time that the enemy is attacking.

Kingdom: Two Crowns Sunset


Locking the gates

Overall Kingdom: Two Crowns is an amazing game for playing as co-op or single-player – especially if you’ve never had the chance to play one of the previous versions.
It is extremely addicting, fun, with a lot of content to explore and a great Christmas Gift for your soulmate (as long as you get to play with him/her).

However, the slightly steeper price for the content that has been added might not be entirely adequate if you’ve played the previous iterations since it feels like a small DLC rather than an entirely brand new game. I’d value this at 15€ for returning players, instead of the standard 20€, and despite the price point and the lack of apparent new gameplay mechanics at the start of the game, I would still rate it 4/5 pops due to its replayability and blunt fun factor.

Popcorn Score:

This is my first review post on this blog. If you guys would like to know more about how I started this epic journey check out PLANTING A SEED.

I’ll see you in-game,
-ViLa4480

Interested in this game?
Click here to get a discount for Kingdom: Two Crowns.