Red Dead Redemption 2 is a long game. Here’s a short version of its narrative in 7 short chapters for a quick read – spoiler alert.
The epic tale of Red Dead Redemption 2 revolves around the Van der Linde gang, led by Dutch Van der Linde, in the year 1899. Spanning various chapters, the narrative follows protagonist Arthur Morgan, a loyal enforcer for the gang, as they navigate a treacherous world. Here’s a breakdown of each chapter and how the story progresses.
Chapter 1: Colter
As the game begins, the gang seeks refuge in the snow-covered mountains of Ambarino following a botched robbery in Blackwater. Their temporary sanctuary in the abandoned mining town of Colter sets the stage for survival and planning their next moves.
Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook
Relocating to the Heartlands of New Hanover, near Valentine, the gang establishes a new camp. They embark on missions, engage in activities, and encounter rival gangs, law enforcement, and intriguing characters. Internal tensions start to rise, questioning Dutch’s sanity and leadership.
Chapter 3: Clemens Point
The gang moves to a camp near Rhodes in Lemoyne, entangling themselves in a local feud between the Gray and Braithwaite families. Arthur aids the Braithwaites in a mission that ends in bloodshed. The gang also plans a bank robbery in Saint Denis, aiming to expand their influence.
Chapter 4: Shady Belle
After their camp is attacked, the gang relocates to Shady Belle, an old plantation near Saint Denis. Dutch becomes increasingly desperate, obsessed with rescuing a captured gang member and retrieving their Blackwater funds. Heists turn deadly, leading to the loss of key ally Hosea Matthews. Some members of the gang escape on a random boat setting off to an unknown destination.
Chapter 5: Guarma
After the failed ferry robbery, gang members find themselves stranded on Guarma, a tropical island. Arthur aligns with local rebels to fight against an oppressive plantation owner. Their ultimate goal is to escape the island and reunite with the gang. Arthur discovers Micah’s betrayal.
Chapter 6: Beaver Hollow
Returning to the mainland, the gang seeks refuge in Beaver Hollow, an abandoned mining town. As the Pinkertons close in, internal divisions deepen. Arthur’s battle with tuberculosis intensifies, leading to revelations about Micah’s treachery. He aids John Marston’s escape. In a violent conclusion to the story, Arthur confronts Micah while Dutch stands by watching. His disease takes the best of him during the fight. He dies sick, wounded, and betrayed but peacefully watching the sunset.
Epilogue: Parts 1 & 2
Years later, the story shifts to John Marston’s perspective as he builds a new life on a ranch in Beecher’s Hope. Undertaking tasks to establish his homestead, John confronts his past and seeks redemption. A climactic final showdown ensues, pitting him against the remaining Van der Linde gang members.
Red Dead Redemption 2’s story delves into themes of loyalty, betrayal, and personal redemption. Through the complex character of Arthur Morgan, players witness the decline of the Wild West, the arrival of civilization, and how it robs us of authenticity and shifts our perception of reality – and the consequences of choices made in a morally ambiguous world.
Among us has been among us for quite some time now. But it wasn’t always as popular as it is today. The developers themselves were caught by surprise by the sudden change when they actually thought their game was dead.
This raises a couple of questions when it comes to games, music, movies, books, people, ideas, and pretty much everything that becomes popular overnight.
I played Among us a couple of months ago. Played a few rounds and found it fun. It didn’t impress me to the point of wanting to play much more of it. I realized that it would be a great game to play with friends. But when missing that social draw, it highlights a certain lack of true depth or consequence to the game. It was a mediocre implementation of a good albeit common game concept. Lacking proper graphics, poor UI, sound and network stability, the little multiplayer indie game IS fun, but still very poorly executed.
Clearly drawing inspiration from games such as Werewolf or Mafia, Among usis a multiplayer game of survival and deception. Each player has several tasks he needs to perform. However, there’s a traitor in the midst of the crew, whose sole task is to kill every other player and avoid being discovered.
The premise is interesting and it features a slight twist from other rehashed games like Town of Salem or Werewolves Within which are just different shades of UI for the original game, Werewolf.
Among us has a similar round structure to those classic games, but it adds tasks, or minigames, that the “good” players have to perform. These tasks add a new layer of interest to what could otherwise be dead game time.
A few months ago, something unexpected happened…
Among Us – From the slumber it rose
Innersloth released Among Us back in 2018. By 2020 it had lived and died quietly in the background fade of a typical indie game. Not that much of a player base for a very simple low-budget game without a proper marketing strategy, with less than decent sales, and with a questionable long-term monetization plan.
Eventually, the game’s creator announced its demise and the development of a sequel. This idea of a sequel was short-lived because something extraordinary was happening…
It was sunny July 2020 and one very popular Twitch streamer decided to pick this game for his next stream. “Sodapoppin” turned some heads around and drew the attention of other big-time content creators such as PewDiePie, Pokimane, Shroud, Ninja, and CallMeCarson.
Within one month, these guys boosted the game’s sales dramatically. So much so that the game’s servers were experiencing technical issues due to the increased flow of new players every day.
This sudden bump in popularity made the team disregard the idea of a sequel, and instead focus their efforts on updating and adding new content to the current game. All this attention was also strongly showcased in Reddit posts and 9gag memes.
In late September. Among us’s daily player count surpassed “Fall Guys”, one other very popular game that was also pushed forward by the same YouTubers and Twitch streamers. It peaked at almost half a million concurrent players.
Marketing – dead as we knew it. Long live marketing!
This provides us with an interesting marketing proposition. It is traditionally taught that brands or product sales tend to grow, hit a plateau and then drop and be discarded. That is the way of marketing with all things. The traditional approach to marketing teaches us that the most successful brands are NOT the ones that keep on increasing sales (which tends to become impossible after they hit the unavoidable plateau). Instead, they are the ones who are able to sustain that plateau for longer and never really die – eternally rejuvenated by innovative marketing tactics.
Among us was artificially pushed forward for free by social media influencers. The developers themselves were caught by surprise and thought their game was dead. Things have changed with the rise of social media. Nowadays dead games may rise from the grave, hit a peak and die again in a matter of weeks, never going through a real plateau phase.
The world in which we live is very different from what it once was. Things are faster and entertainment providers chew entertainment content to deliver entertainment to entertainment viewers. People prefer to watch other people play games instead of going through the hassle of playing them themselves. From my (crude) estimations (Steam Database · SteamDB & Twitch Channels, Games and Global Statistics), 250M hours were watched on Twitch, versus 95M hours played on Steam as total average per player. You may discard bots and absent lurkers and even claim mobile version hours, but the numbers are still overwhelming. That is, considering that a game was built to be played, not necessarily watched.
Am I the Impostor?
I’m a Twitch streamer myself and I do understand the appeal of watching someone playing a game and having fun. But doesn’t that feel somewhat… fake? Are we replacing our own experiences by that of others, just because it’s easier to access them?
Is it our fault that we’re not able to achieve the same fun potential in multiplayer with our own group of friends? Maybe we’re just looking for instant gratification without the effort of having to find fun people to play with. …but is being socially lazy that wrong, when we’re just trying to relax?
Influencers inadvertently draw people into playing the games they play and avoid the rest. It feels like there’s more and more offer by Indie developers, yet less and less will to explore by the gamers.
The need for curation
One could argue that Indiegogo, the old Steam Greenlight and other content support and delivery platforms are responsible for bringing too many garbage games and early access titles. Proposals that are ultimately unable to deliver a good product. They convolute the market too much for good indie games to shine through.
Nowadays good products need to be hand-picked and some of those get pushed by the hive-minded social media-based curators. Our time as consumers is limited, and following someone’s choice is a way to save time.
It ultimately robs us of our liberty to discover the very bad and the very good. It takes away the learning of how to appreciate the good in a bad game and the bad in a good game.
Oftentimes the very bad even passes as very good by their influence. We’re losing our own taste for things, in exchange for the simplicity of letting others choose what we will enjoy next.
It also adds a perverse effect to the development of new games. Small developers now often opt for shock, instead of care, knowing it may cause ripples through social media, boosting their sales, regardless of how good a game truly is.
Among Us isn’t a bad game and I’m pretty sure they didn’t force it to stardom. It should have sold a lot more before it became popular. But its sudden rise in popularity doesn’t seem deserved either. How will Innersloth act in the next few months? Will they improve the game somehow, or move on to other things?
Among Us will be ejected soon
Among Us’s rise lasted one month. There was no plateau. It has now been having a steady decline in sales and viewership as people move on to the next big thing. It’s hard to predict the future, but it will likely still sell a bunch of copies throughout the next couple of months and then be put to slumber.
The developer, Innersloth, were caught by surprise and may seem to have missed the opportunity to sustain the plateau. Will they keep on delivering new content until the end of 2021? Likely, considering they’re a small team and small profit is good enough. But they will need to move on to a new product soon. They will also need a new game engine which is a significant undertaking.
I’m curious as to how this story will unfold. We’ll have to pay attention to Innersloth’s news in the coming months.
I’m a fan of conspiracy and betrayal games. I built one for my master’s degree. I took inspiration from the same games they did. My hope is that this game’s mediatic success has drawn more players to the niche genre which will over time expand it.
Among Us and many other indie games have proven that poor UI and graphics are not a problem if the game is fun. It also showed that influencers as a whole aren’t fully under the thumb of big corporation’s marketing departments. Their viewership interests are (still) what mostly dictates what games they’ll play. Many viewers are hungry for new experiences and tired of unsurprising AAA games. Virality tends to disrupt the status quo that AAA games impose.
Often ignoring technical mastership, Indie games still make us enjoy a game for what a game should be.
A couple of weeks ago I made a post on COVID-19’s new symptom: Playing The Sims 4. After 7 years of development, The Sims 4 is now a mature game with a solid modding community that has worked to expand and optimize their mods over the years.
As you might have guessed, I too have been playing this game for quite a few hours during this lockdown. As you might also know, I truly love using mods in my games.
Please note: in this article I won’t delve into any Custom Content (CC) – just mods.
In The Sims 4, some people prefer to avoid using mods altogether.
While it is true that mods can affect the game in ways that are detrimental to the game’s vibe or performance, it is also true that mods can add a lot to The Sims experience. They expand the base content and improve gameplay, which adds replayability and fun.
I’m using several mods in my current 2020 The Sims 4 build. They all seem to work together without any conflicts and greatly expanded my game. I’ll be sharing a list of the top mods in my current build:
One mod to rule them all
This mod should be at the top of our list, due to the vast array of features and integration with other mods. It doesn’t add gameplay features, but it allows you to customize almost every aspect of the game and its characters. It also helps to track down issues with in-game notifications and detailed logs. We’re talking about MC Command Center by Deaderpool (MCCC). A common, must-have, mod.
LittleMsSam’s plethora of juicy mods
Whether you’re a newbie to modding The Sims 4 or an expert family planner, there’s no avoiding LittleMsSam’s vast collection of mods.
Most of LittleMsSam’s mods are actually really small and simple, but the huge collection of useful mods available that actually affect gameplay is astounding. It’s like picking free candy from a candy shop.
Some of LittleMsSam’s mods fix base game bugs and issues, while others expand the game by adding small bits of gameplay mechanics.
When used together, these mods become even more interesting – like adding layers and filling to a cake. And then a cherry on top.
All mods are very well documented, although sometimes the language used to describe them lacks some clearing up. If you’re new to modding The Sims 4 however, this is definitely the place to start.
Some of LittleMsSam’s most interesting mods:
LittleMsSam’s Live in Business– This is my favorite mod in this article. Live in Business allows you to run your own little shop on the same lot where your family lives. Using LittleMsSam’s Live in Business, you won’t have those pesky loading screens, or Sims splitting away for work. Build your own family bakery or art gallery on the same lot where your family lives!
LittleMsSam’s Live in Services– A great addon to Live In Business – you’re able to hire services by providing rooms for your maid, gardener, or a nanny. They’ll work harder, better …and you get to spy on them when they’re not working.
LittleMsSam’s Roommates – This mod allows you to invite people to live with your household on the same lot. They will pay rent and you get to watch their lives unfold. Useful if you wish to build a small active neighborhood in a single lot. Just don’t forget to lock your doors! (there’s also a mod to help you with that!)
LittleMsSam’s More Buyable Venues and new Venue Types – Customize your lot and make it whatever you want it to be! You’ll be able to build prisons, motels, movie theatres, gyms, museums, etc. The astonishing part is that they actually work well and feature some interesting gameplay loops. I built a haunted hotel where my character actually has to use a computer to check-in guests, collect payments, and assign bedrooms. Immersive and fun!
Making money in The Sims 4 is a bit too easy.
Satira’s Lower Salariesand LittleMsSam’s (Zooroo’s) ATM mods make The Sims 4’s finances a bit more interesting, by lowering your job payouts and allowing you to go for a credit loan instead of selling your TV when things go bad. Staying at home picking up collectibles still earns you more than most jobs though.
I haven’t yet found a mod to make your financial life more challenging by adding cool new events. SacrificialMod’s Life Tragedies does add armed robberies, ransoms for kidnappings, and disease treatment costs, but it also adds a ton of non-essential death mechanics, violence, and other unnecessary stuff that kind of breaks The Sim’s happy vibe.
I’m looking for mods that boost this financial aspect of the game. Let me know your suggestions in the comments section below!
Add personality and life to your Sims
A few years ago, I ranted onmy Twitch channelthat Sims are too flexible with their emotions. They may feel very upset but that doesn’t prevent them from doing certain activities that drastically shift their mood to the exact opposite. Here’s a list of mods that not only help balance emotions but also add cool new lifestyle mechanics to the game:
RoBurky’s Meaningful Stories – it makes your Sim’s emotional state veer more like a cruise ship rather than a mosquito. It aims to make emotional states more natural and flow through intermediate states. The events in your Sim’s life will feel more important.
Simsmodelsimmer’s Realistic Reactions – This modder’s webpage features a bunch of interesting mods to explore, including Set Family Relationships, which adds family degrees to Sims. However, Realistic Reactions is on this list because it adds reactions to cheating between couples and how children react to their parents fighting.
Have Some Personality Please! by PolarBearSims – Default Sims are too quick to jump into a relationship. This mod makes romance a bit more challenging and progressive by restricting the number and type of interactions available. It also cuts idle chat and adds additional autonomy to your Sims.
KawaiiStacie’s Slice of Life– bring a new level of realism to your The Sims 4 mods with SoL. Your character will blush when embarrassed, cry when sad, or even bruised from a fight. It includes a personality system that acts as traits do. You will experience sicknesses, menstrual cycles, and body insecurities. Also, pimples!
Wicked Whims (+18) – This is a very extensive and very graphic mod that adds a ton of sexual interactions and animations. However, if you feel it breaks The Sims 4’s vibe, you are able to disable or tone it down and instead value the other aspects of the mod, such as nudity, pregnancy, STDs, window peeping, emotional reactions or pubic hair.
Quality of life mods
Some mods aim to make things easier to play or to fix small annoying bugs.
Nisa’s Lot Trait Extender– Because we always need more lot traits! (especially with other mods that require you to add lot traits)
LittleMsSam’s No Auto Food Grab – If you’re planning on setting up a custom bakery or a restaurant, this is a must-have mod. It prevents your Sim from taking a bite out of each cake he bakes for his customers.
LittleMsSam’s No Inventory Sharing– This mod prevents stuff that’s in a fridge or chest from being accessible in every other fridge or chest in the lot. Very useful if you’re using LittleMsSam’s Roommates, as it prevents your neighbors from eating your stored food!
LittleMsSam’s Force to Leave & Lock Door – Tired of those annoying neighbors dancing all night in your living room? Expel everyone from your house immediately! Then lock the door and sleep comfortably.
Scumbumbo’s Unlisted Phone Number – Sims can be kind of creepy, but mostly irritating by regularly calling you in the middle of the night. This mod prevents other Sims from calling you unless you give them your number (which also adds some fun RP to it).
Refresh your game!
When you really like a game, but you’ve explored most of the game’s options, mods are the way to refresh it.
Besides fixing bugs or adding content, mods are able to enable new gameplay mechanics that can be very fun to explore. Being able to play your favorite game as if it was the first time is well worth the time investment of finding the right mods.
So go ahead and push the boundaries of The Sims 4 now!
What are your favorite mods? What mod ideas would you like to see added to The Sims 5? Let me know in the comments section below!
Also, don’t forget to support your mod developers on Patreon!
This COVID-19 situation has many of us working, studying, and streaming from home. But for many, this may be a very difficult task, due to unavoidable sources of noise around them. NVIDIA RTX Voice to the rescue!
The sound of kids running and screaming in the back, dogs barking or mechanical keyboard strokes might be extremely difficult to muffle and may affect your performance or credibility. You might at first want to gag your kids, but this tool might just solve your problem.
Oftentimes, however, the issue is on the other end of your Teams video call with very loud video partners.
To tackle this, NVIDIA has developed a technology that is currently in a free beta stage. This is called NVIDIA RTX Voice.
Oh, you don’t own an RTX graphics card? Don’t despair!
Even though it is “officially” limited to the RTX range of NVIDIA video cards, we’ve found a way around that and you’ll be able to use it with your non-RTX video card.
Fixing sound with graphics cards?
As many of you might know, dealing with sound has been a reference of what’s trickiest to do in computer sciences since its inception. The fact that it requires very fast computational power demands specific processors and tools to handle sound efficiently.
Ray-tracing in computer graphics has exactly the same problem. Considering this, then it might come as no surprise that NVIDIA has now tackled complex real-time sound processing with RTX graphics card software.
Nvidia RTX Voice is surprisingly good
There have been many ways to subtract or reduce background noise. However, NVIDIA’s AI solution seems to clearly outperform other approaches.
As a reference, I was talking to my microphone while violently punching my table and having my girlfriend yelling next to me (please note: not at me). The results of NVIDIA’s RTX Voice were outstanding.
My voice did have a slight fluctuation in volume as I hammered the desk. But considering how much noise we were making, in the final recording, I was unable to hear anything else but my voice. I would say that the result was pretty good and well worth the try.
As a reference, my non-RTX graphics card is an NVIDIA GTX 1080 non-TI. Using this software did increase my old CPU load by 5%, which is perfectly manageable if you toggle it off after each call. RTX cards shine brighter because the loads for RTX cards are minimal.
Using this tool to minimize your own background noise is pretty simple. Just run the app and select your microphone as your input and your regular output (usually speakers). Then go to the tool you wish to use such as OBS for streaming or Skype for meetings. Finally set NVIDIA RTX Voice as your microphone input.
If instead, you wish to protect your ears and sanity from loud or obnoxious meeting partners, there’s a solution as well.
You are able to set your output device on Teams, Zoom, or Classroom as NVIDIA’s RTX Voice. Then all you need is to set NVIDIA’s RTX Voice’s output to your speakers/headphones. If you’re having trouble setting up this sound route, you might want to try the free donation-based Voicemeeter Banana/Potato, which gives you full control over input/output paths for sound.
Peace at last
Whether you are a Twitch streamer with a loud mechanical keyboard, using Discord or OBS, or having a Teams meeting that your kids are keen on ruining, or even attending classes via Skype, Google’s Classroom or Zoom, this tool will help you muffle your background noise but also protect your ears from everyone else’s noise as well. The results are stunning and well worth a try.
The 7-year old game is apparently making a comeback. Why are people playing it again? What changed in The Sims 4 and how come that this dinosaur is not yet a fossil? What led to this resurgence of the stale-genre game? Who plays it and how?
The rise of an oldie
7-year-old games are considered old by videogame market standards.
A sequel was due for some time now, but it never came. Instead, Maxis and Electronic Arts opted to keep releasing mostly cosmetic but expensive DLCs.
The Sims is pretty much alone in its own market, there’s not much of a competition to worry about (until now with the upcoming Paralives). They’ve always controlled the Life Simulation genre they’ve created and aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Instead of releasing a new game every two years (like most AAA game sequels), they were keying on setting solid foundations with a solid base game and then update and add new content with expansive (and expensive) DLCs. EA has released 9 large expansions already, yet 12 are expected until the end of The Sims 4 lifecycle.
Even though this strategy keeps current users feeding them with each DLC, it doesn’t do much in the way of attracting new ones.
In March 2020, things were about to change – but not in the way they were expected to.
Nowadays, every social media platform talks about The Sims, plays videos about The Sims, links to podcasts about The Sims, and, like me, people are blogging about The Sims. It almost feels like The Sims 4 had just been released. Also, Animal Crossing.
COVID-19 is the root-solution to our question. COVID-19, the coronavirus that won the game by putting the world on pause. No more lines at the Post Office, traffic jams, crowded malls, delayed flights, air pollution, noise pollution. Was it not for the sad side-effects of social distancing, this would sound more like a blessing.
However, this horrible virus had an unexpected super-power. It managed to lock most of us in our own homes, afraid to go outside – waiting for it to leave us alone and abandon our doorstep.
Self-isolation caused a huge number of social influencers to stay indoors. It was fun for a while – plenty of exciting chitchat about the situation filled their blogs and vlogs. …But after a week or two, these fashion and travel influencers were still stuck at home with nothing new and exciting to report about their awesome way of life. No new clothes or makeup to show, no restaurants to try and no foreign places to explore. Their blogs and vlogs were running dry.
Some turned to cooking – but apparently, their cooking skills were not that great… or they just couldn’t make it captivating enough for their audience to enjoy.
Then they turned to gaming – a sensible marketing decision since gaming ranks high in social media projection. Even though these fashion vlogger’s streaming/gaming rigs were pretty much non-existant (as were their games list or gaming skills altogether), they still had their hordes of loyal fans thirsty for content and stuck at home with nothing to watch.
Some of these (mostly female) vloggers, in their early 30’s, went through their early years in an age where The Sims 1 and 2 were all the rage. So they naturally leaned towards The Sims 4.
The fact that it is a non-competitive sandbox game that features endless fashion and decoration customization options, that requires no skills at all and that supports a Mac version, and low computer specs certainly did help those fashion and lifestyle vloggers to take the leap.
The fact is that the stuff that made their Youtube channels popular was all there. In The Sims 4, there were new clothes to try, new makeup to show, new restaurants to experience and plenty of virtual foreign places to explore.
A cringy reality
I noticed some really sad streams, where the host used an uncomfortable wall shelf instead of a desk for gaming/streaming. Where they were unaware that their camera was on or that their microphone was off, that their lighting was terrible or their FPS were lame. Then some of them didn’t know how to handle the controls or built very large concrete boxes instead of real homes for their Sims. Naturally, none of them knew how to interact with the audience properly.
Even though this was a sad thing to watch, what truly frustrated me was the huge numbers of viewers watching. There are plenty of interesting, well-performed streams on Twitch, Mixer, or Youtube that don’t get half the views they deserve.
Some of these streams and videos drew quite a crowd and lead other vloggers to follow their example. Nowadays, Youtube is flooded every day with The Sims 4 videos by popular non-gamer influencers. This drives ads and posts on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube/Google results.
Nowadays, The Sims 4 seems to be everywhere.
The Sims 5 and sharp marketing pencils
In a typically sad EA move, they did once threaten The Sims fanbase by stating that The Sims 5 would never happen if The Sims 4 wasn’t successful. However, and even though it had a rough start with mediocre reviews, The Sims 4 turned out to be a very successful investment. But with 4 DLC expansions to go, EA isn’t going to stop milking its cow and replacing it with a new one anytime soon. The Sims 5 is, for now, just a marketing ploy.
When it comes to marketing, timing is critical …and EA has sharp pencils and minds. EA cashed-in on the coronavirus unexpected wave of new users and influencers by starting to drip some bits of info regarding The Sims 5, which seems to be in the early stages of development. In order to cause the most impact, they even started with one of the most anticipated and controversial features: Multiplayer.
There were several Twitter posts that caused some sensation. We’re likely to get more juicy info on The Sims 5 over the coming months.
How has the game changed and how are people playing it today?
Going back to playing The Sims 4 in 2020. I noticed that there’s a surprising amount of new content out there. Not just the official 32 downloadable content packs and expansions, but also the absurd amount of Custom Content created by users. These mods didn’t just grow in quantity. They also improved their quality significantly over the many years of updates that a stable build of the game provided for.
As a dedicated PC gamer, I love modding my games. More than adding customization options to my characters, I really enjoy adding new gameplay elements that make the game more realistic, immersive, or complex.
The Sims 4 is fertile ground for great Custom Content.
I’ve recently started a brand new The Sims 4 household. I’m trying to create a small neighborhood with multiple families living on the same lot (thank you Roommates mod). I’ve also got my own bakery business on the same lot (thank you Live in Business and ATMs). It’s just awesome seeing an empty lot turning into a small venue and meeting new Sims. My Sims have interesting personality traits and awesome jobs, there are gangs, drugs, and violence on my streets and I’ve got a ton of furniture to decorate my house with.
7 years past, the game is fresher and more polished than ever with many many new ways to explore.
The Sims 5 isn’t really around the corner. When it finally gets released, it will likely lack the depth and polish that The Sims 4 offers right now. The upcoming life simulation contender, Paralives, will be interesting to explore, given the type of customization it provides. But Paralives’s success will be limited by the lower amount of gameplay content provided by years of development and mods currently available in The Sims 4.
Give The Sims 4 a new try! There has never been a better time to explore this green gem of a game.
If instead, you’re looking to play something fun in multiplayer, check out the awesome Sea of Thieves.
Moonshine recipes in Red Dead Redemption 2 Online give you the ability to make your special booze, own your very own speakeasy and earn a lot of money. It’s a fun addition to the world of RDR2 and in this article I’ll be covering all there is to know about RDR2’s Moonshine Recipes.
In this post, however, I will simply go over the recipes and ingredients that are required to make the best moonshine.
Add power to your booze!
First things first: upgrade your distillery as soon as you can. That will increase profit drastically and the distillation takes longer, which allows you to do other stuff in the meantime. Sure, the upgrade costs are steep, but the value you get in return is well worth the investment.
Here’s a rundown of the upgrade costs:
CondenserUpgrade: 2 Role Tokens + 825$ + Moonshiner Rank 5
Again, keep in mind that some items are buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. I highly recommend that you use the Catalogue’s Online version, as it allows you to quickly find your ingredients by using the search functionality.
In the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue you’ll be able to find:
Canned Apricots (0.75$)
Canned Strawberries (1.20$)
Canned Peaches (1.00$)
Orchard Apples (0.40$)
Canned Berries (1.20$)
Canned Pineapples (1.50$)
Bartlett Pears (0.65$).
From Madam Nazar’s shop you’ll also be able to buy:
Caribbean Rum (via collector map)
Other ingredients are rather easy to find:
Golden Currant – West of Van Horn, near Kamassa River
Red Raspberry – South East of Stillwater Creek
Vanilla Flower – South East of Lake Lagras
Wild Mint – South West of Valentine, near the river
There’s one other recipe that I purposely avoided talking about in this article. The reason is simple: it is difficult to understand how to make it and find its ingredients. I will attempt to clarify this topic:
In one of the Moonshine Story missions, you are required to brew a vial of Poison Poppy. However, you don’t get to keep the recipe for this drink. In order to unlock the Poison Poppy recipe, you must first find a recipe pamphlet. There are multiple locations where this spawns.
Try to find a small moonshine operation camp in one of these locations. Go there at night to easily spot the campfire.
Credit: Fun2, Tez
Look for the recipe inside the camp’s chest. Once you have read the pamphlet (in your satchel), gather the following ingredients:
Go back to your Moonshine Shack and it should now be available. This recipe is harder to find, but it is worth 247$, like the most valuable ones. If you’re having trouble, check out GTAO W’s video.
Moonshining in Red Dead Redemption 2 can be a surprisingly profitable business. There are ways to increase revenue and reduce costs (to lower mash prices and even save on supplies). Some up-start investment may be required.
But before I give you a couple of tips, if you’re on the fence on whether to start moonshining in Red Dead Redemption 2, let me start by saying that it is a rather fun profession to explore. There are plenty of missions to do and they feel quite varied. Playing with friends also seems to increase the number of available bootlegger missions.
Becoming a moonshiner in RDR2 will also allow you to purchase some fancy clothes and items. However, it is the money aspect that most players are after.
Okay, so how do I lower mash prices in RDR2?
Straight to the point: in order to lower mash prices, all you have to do is to accept Bootlegger missions from Maggie. Talk to her and hold the R key.
Be aware that there’s a 15-minute timer between missions, during which you’re unable to do another one. Sometimes Maggie isn’t there, or she’s stuck in an animation sequence – in which case you should go out of the moonshine shack, give it some time and then go back in again. If this becomes a repeating issue, try using my new tool that helps you optimize CPU performance. Its called RDR2 Launch Argument Composer Tool
By doing Bootlegger missions, you will eventually be able to lower the cost of producing alcohol significantly. As an example, you will be able to lower the 30$ mash cost down to 10$. This is most noticeable when you upgrade your distillery to be able to produce stronger moonshine. Stronger moonshine requires more time and mash to produce. Instead of paying 30$ per mash dosage, you’ll be paying 50$. The upside is that stronger moonshine sells for a LOT more money. Depending on the quality of the ingredients you’re using, you could sell a batch of booze for up to 247$ per trip. Doing Bootlegger missions also earns you plenty of collectibles, since you’ll be fighting Revenue agents and rival moonshiners that have plenty of expensive items and ammo to loot.
One may argue that the time it takes to do the Bootlegger mission isn’t worth the 20$ discount on mash prices. However, the loot you get from all those revenue agent bodies is worth it in the long run. It earns you special bullets, antique liqueurs, and gold watches, which makes it all much more profitable.
Making the most of your Moonshiner role means optimizing your business in the long run. I highly recommend you check out my additional suggestions on how to make the most of the Moonshiner role:
–Oh, and if you would like a detailed overview of the Moonshiner role, Bootlegger mission tips, as well as some other ideas on how to make the best use of this new content, make sure you check out my other post – A Guide to Moonshining in RDR2 (my most popular post EVER!).
The best Moonshine Shack Location
Location, location, location
Start by considering where you’ll be placing your Moonshiner shack. Keep in mind that if you’ve already bought the Moonshine shack, you can talk to Maggie to move it somewhere else for 250$.
It may, at first glance, seem irrelevant or hard to figure out the pros and cons of each location. Here are your options:
Bayou Nwa (Lemoyne)
Hennigan’s Stead (New Austin)
The Heartlands (New Hanover)
Tall Trees (West Elizabeth)
So let me give you some perspective: Some locations are easier to access. Some are safer or quicker to traverse. It all pays (literally) in the long run.
I’ve seen a lot of players debating this topic, but none seem to ever have mentioned what I consider to be crucial when picking a location. RDR2 will have other businesses coming out in the near future. Making sure that all your businesses are close together is key to maximizing profits over time by reducing trip lengths. We may not know exactly what other businesses are coming, but we may have an idea of where Rockstar is going with their updates and try to guess their new business locations.
Grand Theft Auto V Online has always surprised players with their extensive expansions. There are lots of new varied businesses, each with their own missions, upgrades, and perks. But all of them required a physical location to use them. Rockstar did that again with the Trader and Moonshiner roles in Red Dead Redemption 2. Bounty Hunter and Collector roles don’t require a player-controlled HQ or shack, but they do rely on the Sheriff’s office’s Bounty Board and Madam Nazar’s traveling wagon to operate.
Rockstar seems to be extremely creative when coming up with stuff to do. Let’s see what the community comes up with – here are some community-suggested roles and activities:
Miner / Hauler
Here are my 6 additions:
Gold miner (panning on a river)
Miner (in the mines)
River trader (transporting goods on a ship)
These ideas are not that wild. Most use gameplay mechanics already in place or easy to add to the game. If Rockstar decides to add any of these roles, they will likely either require a large plot of land, being close to a town, or a brand new map expansion.
Where will the new roles appear?
They will try to pepper the map with new interactive locations, but the far reaches of the map or the most rugged terrain areas tend to become less populated (like the snowy Ambarino regions up north and the Grizzlies to the East). Most of the coastal regions have towns that tend to be crowded and hard to navigate in. The far West towns (Armadillo, Tumbleweed), even though they do feature some mines, are way too barren to be expected that they grow with many new industries.
This leaves us the center core of the map as a prime region for placing role buildings. from the Tall Trees region to the west, most of the New Hannover area, and the non-swampy parts of Scarlett Meadows.
Being at the center also provides you with more options for expansion as every new location option should be close enough.
Van Horn, Annesburg, Tumbleweed, Armadillo, Strawberry, Valentine, and Rodes, all lack either a butcher or a tailor. Both very important requirements for a very practical town.
This is the reason why Blackwater is my favorite town.
Blackwater has most of the stores that you may ever require. It’s small enough that it’s easy to navigate in. It is also very easy to reach via the Great Plains (an amazing hunting ground). Blackwater is also a coastal town with two rivers nearby and it features a Fast Travel post and a bounty board at a convenient location. It doesn’t have a railway line, but it is close to a military fort. No tricky swamps or cliffs to fall and lose your cargo.
All things considered, when choosing a Moonshine shack location, these two would be my ordered best picks:
Tall Trees (West Elizabeth)
The Heartlands (New Hanover)
The Tall Trees region is beautiful and brimming with wildlife. It is easy to transport goods across the Great Plains and to avoid enemies, players and roads entirely. It is also near other areas of potential future interest such as MacFarlane’s ranch, or Thieve’s Landing. To make the most of it, set your trader camp in the Tall Trees or Great Plains region and supply Cripps while waiting for the booze to be ready for delivery.
To make stronger moonshine, all you have to do is to have the right ingredients when you’re picking your flavor. Keep in mind that some recipes are unlocked by progressing in the Moonshiner role. Buyers change every two hours or so – so you’re best going for different recipes each time.
Here’s the full list of recipes available
★ Tropical Punch Moonshine
★ Wild Cider Moonshine
★ Berry Mint Moonshine
★★ Evergreen Moonshine
★★ Apple Berry Crumb Moonshine (Bootlegger Story Progress)
★★ Berry Cobbler Moonshine (Requires Rank 2)
★★★ Wild Creek Moonshine (Requires Rank 6)
★★★ Spiced Island Moonshine (Requires Rank 12)
★★★ Agarita Sunrise (Complete Bootlegger story)
There’s also the secretive but very profitable Poison Poppy recipe, for which you will find in-depth info on how to get it here.
Some of these ingredients are available by picking herbs in the game world. However, others are canned or liqueurs and harder to get.
So here’s my tip: many recipe ingredients are actually buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. They’re not that expensive and they will allow you to make higher quality moonshine that sells for a LOT more money.
Always keep a healthy supply of fruits, herbs, and liqueurs with you at all times. You should guarantee enough fruits and herbs to fulfill two or three 2-star or 3-star recipes. I usually buy batches of up to 30 cans and fetch them from the post office whenever I need them.
That being said, you should aim for the most valuable drinks. Namely the Wild Creek Moonshine, Spiced Island Moonshine, and the Agarita Sunrise whenever possible.
Wild Creek Moonshine: Wild Mint, Vanilla Flower, Creek Plum
Spiced Island Moonshine: Caribbean Rum, Golden Currant, Canned Apricots
Again, keep in mind that some items are buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. I highly recommend you use the Catalogue’s Online version, as it allows you to quickly find your ingredients by using the search functionality.
In the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue you’ll be able to find:
Canned Apricots (0.75$)
Canned Strawberries (1.20$)
Canned Peaches (1.00$)
Orchard Apples (0.40$)
Canned Berries (1.20$)
Canned Pineapples (1.50$)
Bartlett Pears (0.65$).
From Madam Nazar’s shop you’ll also be able to buy:
Caribbean Rum (via collector map)
Other ingredients are rather easy to find:
Golden Currant – West of Van Horn, near Kamassa River
Red Raspberry – South East of Stillwater Creek
Vanilla Flower – South East of Lake Lagras
Wild Mint – South West of Valentine, near the river
Wintergreen Berry – North of Brandywine Drop
How to minimize losses
Once your booze is ready you will have to deliver your batch to a local buyer. When delivering your moonshine, make sure you stick to the road at a medium-fast pace.
Going off-road will guaranteedly break your bottles and your profit will take a toll. I highly recommend using the cinematic camera (V) and then control the vehicle’s speed using Shift or Ctrl.
I don’t usually stop at the Revenue Agent’s roadblocks. There are a couple of reasons why I don’t do that:
Sometimes they won’t stop you at all. If you stop, there’s a very low chance that they let you pass unharmed. Their shots damage your cargo but only slightly. It is much more dangerous to the integrity of your cargo to go off-road.
If you’re being chased, you’re best served by slowing down your vehicle, kill them and then proceed with your trip. Going too fast will likely send you off-track. Stopping will consume time and their bullets will start to hit you.
I’ve seen players kill the revenue agents before they reach the roadblock. But the truth is that you’ll be fighting a lot more agents than you really need to – and in this business, time is money. Just go past them as fast as you can without going off-road or breaking your bottles. You may also want to experiment with the Toxic Moonshine bottles thrown at the roadblock Revenue agents, although I think it might be too expensive to do so every time they show up.
Moonshining is a fun specialist role to experience. It certainly earns you quite a bit of money – and you’re able to go hunt or do other stuff while you wait for your next batch of booze to be ready. However, some argue that the bootlegger missions are pointless, as the 20$ savings don’t justify the time cost of doing them. On the other hand, revenue agents tend to carry pretty good loot and collectibles. Thus, in order to justify your time, make sure to always go for their loot!
I’m an original backer since when it first was announced way back in 2012.
I wanted to distance myself from the game before posting on my blog since Star Citizen is (still) in development. Thoughts about the game’s development tend to be polarized and I did not want my fan enthusiasm to compromise my perception of the game.
Star Citizen is hard to define, but let’s start by saying that it is one gigantic sandbox for many different types of emergent gameplay. Composed of two parts, it will feature a single-player campaign (Squadron 42) and an online Persistent Universe (MMOG-like).
They create the universe, you make the rules.
As with most 4X space games, FREEDOM is the keyword for the universe. Star Citizen allows you to become a space farmer, a miner, a bounty hunter, an explorer, a smuggler, a racer, a law enforcer and anything in-between.
The Star Citizen team is looking to develop a sandbox universe that provides a fertile ground for emergent gameplay. They are creating the tools for you to become whatever you want to be. As an example, for a while, I had fancy a ship called Constellation Phoenix, which I planned to rent out to factions interested in using it for important meetings. During their stay, I would provide them with drinks, entertainment, and security.
I eventually traded the Connie for the Endeavour – a sprawling modular ship that will allow me to cultivate plants and make drugs on the same ship (legal …or otherwise) – it even stars a hangar to allow willing traders to dock with my ship!
The game will feature unprecedented sci-fi realism and a ton of complex missions and mini-games that will require learning and skill to master.
Nothing is dull or simple in Star Citizen.
As an example, mining requires foreplanning and skill – unlike most space games, you actually have to learn how to mine and be very careful when doing it in order to avoid damage to your ship or even loss of life. Selling your minerals won’t be linear either. Prices fluctuate according to supply and demand in different parts of the Universe, influenced by real-time player and NPC interaction. This was also analyzed in my other post that discusses economics.
This sandbox gameplay leads to many venues of gameplay exploration. This freedom to do whatever you want is the core focus of Star Citizen.
I also expect this game to become a major social hub for me and my friends.
COMPLAINT #1 – The game has no objective.
Objective – Achieve fun (0/100)
There’s no denying it. It’s true. Is that REALLY a problem though?
If you really think you need guidance, then why not set YOUR OWN goals? Why not set a personal goal to explore every single system? …or instead to amass wealth and spend it all on a luxury liner like the 890 Jump?
The ghost cruise ship of enjoyment
A long time ago, I used to play a game that had very much the same essence of Star Citizen – Freelancer, a game by the same head developer (Chris Roberts) that I mentioned in my previous post. When playing Freelancer online, you would find yourself cruising the star lanes for long periods of time on your way to make a trade. One day I was crossing a remote part of the game’s universe when I spotted a massive player ship that was constantly communicating in system chat. Oblivious to my presence, this was his message to his own imaginary crew of tourists:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at the Tau-31 system. To our left, you will be able to spot the beautiful semi-desertic landscape of Planet Harris, one of the first terraforming efforts by Planetform, Inc. Please return to your seats. We will dock at the Holman Outpost in 5 minutes.”
To think that this player was investing his time roleplaying as a tourist cruise ship really blew my mind. That route was probably not even profitable – but he didn’t care – because having fun was his objective. And whatever he was doing was fun for him.
Oh, by the way, there’s no “endgame” in Star Citizen either. Sandbox.
If you can’t understand the concept of setting your own goals, then please stop reading now. This is NOT the game for you – Abandon ship!
COMPLAINT #2 – The game is pay-to-win.
As I discussed in one of my previous Youtube videos, the concept of Pay-to-Win is that you get an edge in a competitive environment by injecting real money into the game. Whoever pays the most has the most chances of “winning“.
Although it is true that you are able, through various means, to buy in-game credits or ships with real money, the real question is WHY would you do it when the game has no end-goal…
Star Citizen is not about genital length comparisons. There’s no point in spending money in this game except for two very honorable reasons:
To support the game development process if you believe in it
To unlock new gameplay layers without having to grind to get there
However, if grinding is made fun (which seems like it will be with so many different things to do), you will actually be LOSING content by skipping gameplay aspects that you would otherwise have to explore and experience to achieve your final objective.
That sense of progression
This is exactly the reason why I’ve considered giving away all my ships – so I could start with the smallest, cheapest one ever and see my own game story grow from there.
If you believe SC is still pay-to-win then embrace it this way – or Abandon ship!
Instead, think of the guy cruising his tourists for fun. -Does it really matter how he bought his ship? -How does his enjoyment affect you? -What are his goals?
Sure, there are ships that cost over 400$ and there are ship packages which include a ton of ships (which are actually at a bargain price when you consider each ship’s individual price). But those ships and packages are NOT intended for just one person or a newcomer. They require several people to play.
Think of the Banu Merchantman which has a crew capacity for 8 people and costs 430$. Divide 430$ by 8 people and you get the price of the cheapest game package. Go gather your friends and buy one!
These massive ships are NOT intended for solo play.
People who buy large ships now are simply trying to support the game’s development.
Also: every ship will be available to purchase with in-game money. GTA V does this well. It gives people a reason to try to make in-game money. Something to strive for. An objective.
COMPLAINT #4 – The game will never be finished
Star Citizenhas been in development for 8 years now. The same amount of time as the sci-fi single-player game Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt Red studios – which is expected to be delivered in 2020.
However, unlike Cyberpunk, Star Citizen is nowhere near completion. At the same time, and unlike Cyberpunk, it shares its progress with the community regularly, instead of working behind the scenes and ultimately presenting a finished game. The complexity of developing each game is also radically different.
Some claim that the game will never be finished because of the feature-creep-Cthulhu. Others say their plan is actually to never even deliver a finished game. Even more skeptic ones say that Chris Roberts has run away with the crowdfunded money to a tropical island in the Pacific.
If you’re one of the investors (a.k.a. players) who feels frustrated by the way that they seem to keep adding new features and delaying the final delivery – then consider accepting it as a requirement or, instead, by blaming it on the idealistic dreams of the community.
A couple of years into development Chris Roberts suggested he could deliver a simplified game in two or three years. One day a poll showed up on the Star Citizen website. The developer wanted to figure out whether the community would prefer to see a simplified version of Star Citizen within their initially planned timeframe or instead to deliver a more in-depth experience, one which would require a longer development stage.
As I somewhat expected, the community overwhelmingly (I believe almost 70%) asked for the later without knowing exactly what the real timeframe would be.
This meant that Chris Roberts could freely deliver his dream game. One he had been preparing for most of his career as a film director and game developer (Wing Commander, Privateer, Freelancer). Now he had big plans for Star Citizen and hiring the feature expansionist Tony Zuroveck (Ultima series) would only reinforce his interest in developing very in-depth and detailed game mechanics.
Innovation and delay
Even though many of these features or minigames are a gameplay delight, they take time to develop. A very long time for some. They also exponentially increase the number of bugs to tackle and problems to solve.
One of these features is the planetary tech they’ve developed. To render such massive planets and avoid loading screens sure was impressive – but it was also one of the reasons why the so-difficult 64-bit precision had to be accomplished in the engine.
Ships, in order to support the newly added features or concepts also have to be redesigned from scratch, like the Cutlass Red which serves as an ambulance and integrates with the health system, or the Carrack for the exploratory aspects of the game.
As a result, yes, feature creep is real and a real concern. It does divide the community between those who just want to play the game as is but in a more polished state and those who instead want the game to become better, with more content, features, and professions to explore.
Star Citizen will never be released!
We should consider that the initial team for Star Citizen was rather small (50 employees) and the company had to slowly grow. Now they employ approximately 500 people in 5 studios across the world. This meant that more people had to be introduced, and teams still had to learn to work together on core aspects of the game, which ultimately lead to a slow start.
To support the growing number of employees, the initial record sales of the game wouldn’t suffice.
Looking at their latest financial report, one would quickly realize that what’s keeping this game in active development aren’t the initial sales anymore, but rather the on-going ship purchases, upgrades and merchandising. These sales sustain the whole team throughout the year.
Some people claim that they’re only making ships and concepts for ships to make money.
Well… this is… true. They need to do so, in order to keep the project alive and proceed with development.
The reality is that the players are frequently buying paper ideas that aren’t yet realized in-game and are likely to change. Understandably, spending a lot of money on something that doesn’t yet exist seems difficult to accept for many outsiders.
Tic Tac Tic Tac
Adding to all this, as time goes by, age takes a toll on the game’s engine and assets, which has to be updated from time to time. Physics-Based Rendering (PBR) wasn’t a common feature in games back in 2012, but as time passes and technology evolves, it had to be introduced to avoid the pitfall of ending up with an already outdated game on release. This meant refactoring all ships once again.
The same happened when the components feature was introduced. Ship components are parts of the ship that can be handled, fixed or replaced. The ships weren’t prepared for that and had to be refactored one more time.
Due to the live development approach, CIG prefers to deliver functional updates to allow the players to access other features or content. These features are developed iteratively, being later on optimized, improved or further developed to add new innovations. The fact that they keep revamping the same features over and over is not a pre-planning issue but instead a requirement of the live development process.
I don’t think Chris Roberts is on an island in the Pacific.
This is his dream work. His unique chance to build his masterpiece.
His previous games have revolved around this theme and now he’s finally got a chance to make his vision truly come to fruition on his terms without any form of corporate pressure. Why waste the opportunity?
The fact that the game development costs are just as high as their regular revenue is a concern as there’s a point when players stop investing in new ships and merchandise. They will constantly need to reach out to new players in order to keep development going. This could also be seen asfinancially and strategically sound to work as fast as they can with the assets they have access to.
Apparently, last month was one of the most profitable ones for Star Citizen with many new citizens joining the ranks.
I’m convinced by my peer’s attitudes towards this game that there is a significant amount of people who are actually interested in the game but still patiently waiting for it to release before buying it. Maybe still afraid of it being vaporware. If true, this should act as a life-saving device as they can “release” the game whenever they want and get a large influx of fresh new money to sustain development for a few more months or years. The truth is that the game is more than playable right now, even if it still lacks content.
Star Citizen is said to be being developed to achieve a 10-year longevity goal. This is the main reason why they wish to build a solid core game engine that allows for improvements and extra content over time.
Game development tends to become faster and faster as more of the foundational game mechanics are set in place. We should see a LOT more content coming in 2020.
What are your thoughts on Star Citizen and this article? Do you share my view? What are your concerns?
Leave me a comment below, or check one of my other posts! If you liked this one, you might also like THIS one.
You should also check out my Star Citizen Ship Comparison Tool which is currently on standby waiting for some support from the community. Leave me a comment if you would like to see it shine again!
GTA Online – Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase.
This is the message that a bunch of players are seeing when they try buying chips from the cashier at the newly established GTA Online Diamond Casino Spa & Resort in bloody Los Santos.
The very anticipated Casino has just opened today – but gambling is not for everyone. Killing, stealing, trafficking is all well and good in GTA Online but DON’T YOU DARE GAMBLE!
Apparently, people from at least 50 countries, including Portugal, Hungary, Israel and Argentina have been prevented from trading in any chips.
These left-out players aren’t able to access the free daily bonuses at the cashier, or the wheel spin at all. It may also affect bonuses from the Penthouse, missions, world collectibles, and unique clothing and items.
Apparently, there’s a region lock to access the Casino’s features. This includes buying chips and playing with them – effectively limiting all gambling activity for some players.
We’re talking funny money here. In-game cash translates to the same amount of in-game casino chips which can only be refunded to in-game cash.
If there’s one thing Rockstar is used to deal with …is lawsuits.
Apparently, the reason for this region lock is that Rockstar does not want to register as a gambling entity (such as with other online gambling websites). Even if you now have to accept a new EULA, this effectively means that they’re not able to deliver this type of content to a large number of countries.
As far as I understand the law (and other games that do this), the real problem here is the fact that players are able to buy in-game currency with real money and then spend it all gambling (instead of buying new in-game cars). Well, if that’s the problem, then the already present chip currency could be used to *legally* buy stuff without having to convert it to the real-cash-connected GTA bucks – that wouldn’t be gambling and that would solve the legal conundrum. Think about it Rockstar!
Make sure you follow me on Twitch if you wish to stay up to date about when these things change or a legal alternative has been found!
Most countries have grey-area laws on online gambling. Most regulate physical gambling effectively but lack online regulation.
Here in the EU, only a few players in Germany seem to be able to access the Casino features. This has sparked a rush to VPN services. Players are trying to connect via VPN to get a German or American IP address in order to play at the Diamond Casino. Note: Some people argue that this practice may get your account banned for trying to bypass common online identity checks.
Rockstar support is inefficient
Rockstar support is completely inefficient at informing players why they’re unable to use the Casino. There’s not a single official reply to queries regarding this situation and the players were left to figure it out for themselves.
I’m hoping that they eventually revise their region-lock limitations or that, at the very least, they inform players that they won’t be able to access this content beforehand. Some people are complaining that they bought Twitch Prime to access the “free” content and Penthouse at the now pointless Casino.
Players will eventually find a way around this issue. They’ve done that before with private servers, hacks and the RP server boom in the past couple of years.
They will find a way to make it work – legally, or otherwise.
In any case, it feels lame that the largest GTA Online update in years is locked to so many players around the world.
And there I was. Looking at the shiny new slot machine. Press E to interact. ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to: www.rockstargames.com/support
This update should never have been developed in the first place. Their energy should have been spent on new content that everyone would be able to enjoy. Besides the Casino and the Penthouse, the remaining content is just a couple of missions, a few new unremarkable vehicles, and a pair of easily-outdated cosmetics.
Heists is where GTA Online truly shines – co-op missions with cinematics and a story to play with your friends. Yet, no new heists have been released in a VERY long time. Instead, we’ve been stuck with mostly cosmetic updates that don’t effectively expand the story or the replayability of the game.
The truth is that the game is still fun.
Rockstar-outlawed private servers and RP have given it a boost recently. But the updates have mostly been delivering content that is both very expensive and insubstantial.
I live in Portugal. I’ve got a casino across the street from my home and I’m not able to play on GTA Online with funny money. *shrug*
Before we start dissecting Steel Division 2, let me clarify that most official screenshots suck. They’re done at a very high zoom level to showcase the 3D unit model details. The game isn’t played like that so let’s cut the crap. Every screenshot I will add to this post will feature the average camera angle and zoom for most players. Sorry if it doesn’t look as pretty as those incredibly detailed tanks and planes – but that’s the reality of how the game looks because that’s how you will play it. The game is beautiful in its own way, but the screenie close-ups aren’t fair to what the game truly plays like. This bad habit of showcasing aspects of games that aren’t relevant really upsets me as it tricks players into buying something that doesn’t look like what is shown. I also hate cinematic trailers btw. So this will be the first and last close-up you’ll see in this post:
Steel Division 2 – I was excited but slightly skeptic at the same time. There were a few good reasons for that.
Eugen Systems has been developing this engine for quite some time now. The game shares similarities with one of my favorite games of all time: A magnificent war tabletop-like game called R.U.S.E. Man, I wish I had this blog when R.U.S.E. first came out back in 2010!
I promise I won’t spend this article talking about the oldie. The truth is that most of the game mechanics present in 2019’s Steel Division 2 were already present in 2010’s R.U.S.E…. as well as every game in the Wargame series.
The 3 rules of war: location, location, location.
Steel Division 2 features a GIGANTIC war map where you’re able to scheme, plot and outthink your opponent using clever unit maneuvers and critical timing for moving your troops.
The game demands that you think in advance, that you prepare for all possible attacks and counter-attacks. It demands concealment, ambushes, suppression and quick battle-critical decisions.
As a general, you focus on securing key locations on the map. It’s simple: the more you have, the more likely you are to win the battle. To achieve that you need to put boots on the ground.
Occupy and fortify villages with your infantry units. Place anti-tank guns at the main roads and anti-air units in the forest. Support with long-range artillery and have a couple of big, heavy tanks ready to flank any attacking force. Fuel and repair your planes to help push back the enemy.
Yet, you’re going to lose this fight. Sorry.
You forgot to place your recon units where they can spot the enemy at a distance.
The enemy force advances towards the town. You know they’re advancing as they slowly push the red line that splits the map between your sector and the enemy’s.
You don’t know what’s coming your way so you move your tanks towards the enemy. BAM! They’re blown into tiny pieces by the enemy tank destroyer. You can’t even see it as it is too far away and your recon units are nowhere to be seen. The enemy rushes towards your position. Once they’re in sight of your anti-tank gun you realize they actually have no tanks and your gun is useless at this point.
Too late to fall back. A number of storm infantry rushes towards your anti-tank gun and quickly take care of it. Your infantry units are holed up inside the village houses and are able to effectively suppress the enemy infantry. Enemy artillery falls on your units and it completely destroys their hideout. As a final act of despair you send your planes to destroy the enemy artillery. Unfortunately, they’re shot down by a couple of enemy anti-air units hiding in the woods.
The inevitability of war
The truth is that Steel Division 2 feels a bit pre-scripted in the sense that it is hard to bounce-back once you’re losing a match. The story of the match is mostly written during the first 15 minutes of it. Efforts to change that are often met with resistance. It is pointless to throw new units to lock your position as they will take too long to get there.
Your allies won’t help you. They’ve got problems of their own – and due to the size of the map they’re too far away to be of any help. In fact, it kind of feels like your allies are mostly just cosmetic. Fortifying and defending a position tends to be easier than to attack an enemy outpost, but you can’t defend forever. The enemy will eventually score. This inevitability of battle actually forces you to keep adjusting your tactics. You will now need to use choke-points for ambushes and to support your troops with a different mix of units. Hopefully, the enemy won’t be prepared for those.
Good timing and a plan for falling back is most times a requirement and a prelude to a successful counterattack. A counterattack victory is glorious but oftentimes happens due to the enemy spending all of their units before the battle timer runs out.
The Phase system splits the match into three timed phases where you’re able to deploy different types of units. It allows you to set up your forces in any way you like during each phase, allowing you to carry more units and more experienced ones as time progresses. You lay out your own strategy as a tabletop card game.
You will decide how many tanks you’re carrying into battle, how many artillery pieces, planes, snipers, but also which vehicle is transporting them and which weapons are they carrying.
This breathes new life into any stagnant fight. It ultimately forces players to re-adjust their tactics to fight the new enemy units. Even if daunting at first (when you just want to rush and play the game), it becomes the key to your strategy. Something uniquely yours to surprise your enemy with.
The game truly shines in multiplayer, where battles are dynamic and unpredictable. Even though communication is lacking and, in most public games, pointless.
Singleplayer, however, lacks that. The AI is very slow and very predictable.
Matches seem to last for hours. It seems like both AI sides are just too polite to hurt each other.
The most exciting single-player feature is the Army General maps. In this game mode, Real-time battles are just a fraction of a much larger turn-based conflict. Akin to the likes of a Total War campaign map, you’re able to move your armies in a large conflict map and fight the battles in real time. This however is a brand new feature that still requires some polishing.
The UI lacks context information and it is unclear how units move and which units will fight in a battle. The missing tutorial is also a major downside. The fact that real-time maps are always the same (instead of being dynamically generated based on the campaign map) is also a downside.
I would love to see Hearts of Iron sized maps of the whole conflict and being able to truly wage war at a continental scale. However, these maps only represent a few hundred square kilometers. Due to the scale of the units on the map and how fast they reinforce, you’re not really able to plot a major flanking or bubble maneuver with your units. Instead you’ll see a blob of units spread along a slowly-moving borderline. The fact that you’re forced to reach a destination within a limited number of turns also prevents you from planning a massive invasion.
This game tires your brain. In a good, albeit costly way. I really enjoy playing just a single match per day.
The constant need for micro-management at a massive scale and battles taking longer than 30 minutes (up to 2h in single-player AG) really tire your brain and I usually turn to a brainless shooter like Battlefield V afterwards.
To be fair, Steel Division 2 doesn’t feel like a brand new game. It is very similar to other games being developed for the past 10 years by the same company. However, its game mechanics are solid and it feels like there’s plenty of different battle strategies to explore. The complexity of war and the tiny victories you get in each battle makes it very enjoyable. You’ll feel that losing a match can be very enjoyable if the battle was fair.
Steel Division 2 is a realistic and complex combat representation that really forces you to think ahead.
The learning curve is steep. Especially if you’ve never played any previous games of the series – or if you wish to become an expert and keep track of all the stats and micro-manage each unit.
However, the massive scale, beautiful graphics, detailed and accurate combat systems and the dynamic multiplayer, make it one of the best and most realistic games of its kind.
Just don’t expect to have your hand held in war.
I would value this game at 60€ if you’re a war enthusiast, 25€ if you’re a Tropico 6 player and 15€ if you prefer non-RTS games.
If you’re new to Tropico, let me explain why you need to try it out: ‘Dictatorship is just a rude label. You have been divinely appointed to guide your people… but now you need to stay in power. By any means necessary.
Things get trickier over time, as each and every decision you make tips the 8-sided scale of your people’s support towards a certain faction. If you appease the communists with a shiny new school, the capitalists will surely dislike the costs it imposes on your budget and might even rebel. Ah… do not worry Mr. El Presidente, bribery is still an option, and there’s plenty of jail cells available in your island!
The game becomes more and more complex as you play it. It steadily grows the number of actions you’re able to perform, the number of buildings available to build, and the number of factions present. This level-up scalability keeps things fresh and interesting, even for experienced players.
Shiny, sweaty engines & bananas
The landmark game in the city-building genre has a brand new game engine – and it looks amazing. It allows for even prettier graphics, which have always been key to the Tropico series.
One of its major improvements is the new archipelagoes system. El Presidente is now able to expand his godly benevolence to nearby islands. This new iteration also adds true multiplayer features. There might be some concerns over saving 4h-long multiplayer games. However, the prospect of having an archipelago run by several dictators with different ideologies is quite thrilling.
A lot of the game has changed but the essence is still there. You get to run a beautiful Caribbean island whilst struggling with famine, poverty, explosive cigars, religion, rebellions, allegiance to foreign superpowers and rivalry with Caribbean neighbors. You are still able to turn your island into a religious commune or a capitalistic intellectual haven.
The introduction of world landmarks (that actually serve a purpose), raids, and the expanded trade options feel like all previous Tropico DLCs have been added to this new game for free. It also seems like it has plenty of room for new, solid, expansions.
The combat system is still bad, as it has always been in the series, but they’ve added plenty of new buildings, factions, and abilities, which keeps things interesting.
Tropico 6 does not set itself apart from the series. We wouldn’t want that anyway – but it does a few things very well.
The game is really fun to play and explore. New and experienced players will enjoy the type of complexity and progression it provides – and it feels like a substantial upgrade to previous iterations of the Tropico series, without changing its core concepts. Even though it seems like there’s a bit of “soul” missing to the game, it still gets my vote and I can’t wait to play more.
5/5 Pops – a solid score for a solid game that orders you to go play it. Now.
If you enjoy this soviet-era funny-but-not-so-funny approach, you might be interested in checking Papers, Please: The Short Film! Go check it out now!
If instead you would prefer to support this blog and get Tropico 6 at a discount price, buy it through here!
We’re talking about a new successful Kickstarter campaign. It raised almost 38.000$ for the indie game dev studio Isolated Games in Barcelona. It is scheduled to be released in Q1 (maybe Q2) 2019.
This game set in space is actually an RPG hybrid with roguelike, management and shooter aspects.
Following the story of an experienced captain who just lost his/her ship, your objective is to upgrade your ship and crew, make decisions, convince others to join your cause and, obviously, fight the baddies.
The RPG aspects of the game have been reinforced with dialogue choices that actually matter and …dice throwing. -I know. Throwing dice in space is funny.
A space oddity
To be honest, I had a hard time figuring out where to start my analysis for this game. It is so different from other games that it becomes hard to pick a corner to start unveiling it. At the same time, it shares similarities with so many “very” different space games like Star Citizen, Freelancer, X4: Foundations, Fractured Space, Avorion or FTL.
Your path through the stars
Something I love about space games is the inevitability of movement. You’re always going somewhere doing some thing – and the way game devs mimic the movement of a large ship truly enthuses me. I love feeling the (weightless) weight of a large ship moving slowly and sometimes carelessly through an asteroid field.
Oh, by the way check out my post on Sea of Thieves! You’ll understand where my poor space sailing skills come from!
Even though Between the Stars focuses on combat between medium-sized ships, it does that very well. It is not that easy to fight in an asteroid field and you’ll notice that it almost feels like you’re commandeering a real sea ship instead of a space combat fighter.
This somehow adds glimmer to that special Enterprise feel of exploring space and interacting with other crews – which happens often. Combat can be dangerous and …unnecessary.
As expected, they’ve added space stations and planets where you’re able to dock, trade, repair and interact with quest givers. Crew combat is also possible against other ships and it relies strongly on dice throws and crew experience.
To boldly go somewhere
You never really know where the game will lead you to next – you get to interact with other ship crews, explore abandoned shipwrecks or delve into dangerous uncharted territory. Your choices on how to approach these events are critical as they will affect the outcome of the situation.
When exploring an abandoned ship stranded in space I came face to face with a beserk A.I. in critical defense mode. It was trying to protect the ship’s components from intruders.
I felt like my poor choice of words mattered. Even though I knew the final outcome was likely going to be similar since it was still an early mission.
The fact that the game tries to present itself as unique in each playthrough is very refreshing as it does so gracefully.
Procedurally generated space, crews and events work well with the space theme, since you truly feel like an explorer in an unscripted universe.
Here’s a notice to the general public: please stop comparing procedural games to No Man’s Sky. Don’t take one bad marketing example to kill a dev technique that can be incredibly fruitful.
Sound in space
The audio experience is great, except for certain dialogues that seem poorly recorded and an average voice acting.
This is not yet the final release version of the game, but it feels a bit sad that the game lacks characters with a strong… character… and an enticing voice to go along.
The audio graphic representation is incredibly accurate though! It feels like they’ve spent more time coding the audio bars than actually recording the audio!
In the absence of physical characters and advanced facial expressions, the sound is critical to convey strong emotions that will drive the narrative! I know we’re in space but… sound matters!
The color of a black hole
The graphics are incredibly sharp and colorful.
Even though the UI, space stations and asteroids lack some style and sophistication, the ships planets and backdrops look amazing and combat and special effects are a delight to the eye. 5760×1080 resolution is supported, but the UI does not adapt well.
The game also lacks the complexity of trade lanes that Elite Dangerous or X4: Foundations sport, but we must keep in mind that this is not really a trading game.
Trading is somewhat present, but this is more like a shooter action-based game where trade lanes are, for the most part, purely cosmetic.
Overall I did enjoy this fresh new take on Space RPGs. I tend to prefer longer campaign-based games, but it felt fresh and I’m curious to explore the release version which will feature more content, stories and new gameplay mechanics.
It is not a triple-A game, but considering the budget for the game it truly is fantastic.
Development is still unfinished and unpolished. I will refrain from rating it. But I will point out that it looks gorgeous, has great potential for an enticing storyline and I’m looking forward to playing the final version.
I just got my hands on Division 2! It was okay, as expected. I was happy enough.
There’s a reason why The Division 2 is called “The Division 2”. It is not an army reference as one might think at first glance. It instead reflects on the game’s premise: the United States of America aredivided into two factions (…and a half – I’ll explain later on).
Good on one side, Evil on the other. Classic.
The Division 2 takes place 7 months after Ubisoft’s 2016’s controversial success The Division. Unlike the original title which was set in a very snowy New York, this one is set in Washington D.C.
The reason for this change, according to the developers, is that, besides the political aspects – that the franchise seems to enjoy tackling – the city of Washington allows them to expand the playable map into new types of areas.
Green spaces, wide open regions, open rooftops and suburban zones that are harder to depict in the much more urban New York. Wider roads also allow for much more interesting combat with more room for flanking maneuvres.
What has changed?
Not that much! Is it a better game than its predecessor? Sure is. Here’s why:
Gaming development cycles dictate when you’re getting a sequel and whether it is going to be good or bad, innovative or unsurprising. With a bunch of new releases and solid sequels, 2019 is expected to be a good year for the gaming industry.
When a new franchise pops up, it usually delivers a brand new game engine. That was the case with The Division. It had a rough start – it was riddled with bugs and people were complaining about everything from server instability, bugs, weapons getting stuck all the way down to violence and political concerns.
Technical issues tend to occur more often with new game engines. These obstacles take time to fix, rebalance and adjust. When a developer starts working on a sequel, they don’t design a whole new engine from scratch. Instead, they upgrade the one they’ve got from the previous game, which makes it sturdier and feature-rich. It is also much more cost-effective to build and market.
This is the case with The Division 2. It is a solid, expanded and well-polished game, but kind of …unsurprising.
The biggest changes
The game seems like a meatier, tougher, more solid version of the original rather than a brand new sequel – but it introduces a series of small but rather interesting changes.
Scenery: the most obvious change. It has moved from snowy New York to summer Washington D.C. It is still an American urban region that looks somewhat similar to its predecessor. There’s so much more garbage on the streets now!
Lighting has been improved with more detailed light sources and reflections. It also feels less saturated and dramatic when compared to its predecessor. Water effects and glass reflections look brilliant.
Specializations have been added to the game. Three skill trees are now able to be unlocked once you reach the level cap.
Photo mode is a new feature with which you’re able to take the prettiest selfies – it even includes filters that make your eyes pop!
New gadgets available, namely barricade-standing turrets and rolling seeking mines, among others.
Spongier enemies: They seem to absorb bullets! Low-level enemies seem to require a huge amount of bullets to die. It doesn’t really break the game, but it affects immersion and realism and drives the player into much longer (often slightly boring) fights.
Smarter enemies – with the new wider combat zones, you’ll see them perform flanking and cover maneuvres as a group. This makes combat much more interesting as it forces you to retreat and move to cover more often.
NPC settlements form in newly liberated areas. It is actually pretty cool to see them go out and fetch supplies, food, etc. Adds immersion.
NPC Backup – they seem to request and offer backup in sporadic fights across town.
“Free” DLCsfor a year. No further comments.
GUI is definitely different, but the changes are mostly cosmetic as the core features are all there from the previous game.
New faction. Once you finish the campaign the game will reshuffle and redraw by introducing a whole new faction called the Black Tusk. They will occupy previously liberated areas with their drones and robotic dogs and gadgets. Exciting!
It is worth mentioning that the character creator was awful in the public beta, only allowing you to pick randomly generated characters.
All of them looked like hillbillies… And they’ve occupied the White house… Hmm… …
Sure. There are still problems to be fixed – as expected – but in terms of core gameplay, The Division 2 sure is well-built.
A couple of issues stand out from my (limited) experience in the public beta:
Enemies seem to suddenly spawn right in front of the player, preventing a stealth approach on occasion.
All melee enemies are female – why not add more variety?
The yelling sounds by the enemy faction seem repetitive and very limited
Game crashes every hour – apparently due to desynch between the server and the client
I’m pretty confident that all of these issues will be fixed before the release on March 15th.
Did you not enjoy The Division at all? Then this might not be the game for you as it only feels like an improvement to the first one! Or instead… try playing it with friends… They make everything more fun!
In the end, I have to admit that I had a lot of fun with the private beta and I can’t wait to play with my friends tonight! The game is fun and it is actually pretty cool to see all the little details that set it apart from the 2016 title.
I’m curious about the story behind it, but I’m sure it won’t be the main reason why I’ll be playing this game. Guaranteed buy though.
I look forward to publishing a lengthier and updated review once the game is finally released! Stay tuned (subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter for updates)!
I’m a huge fan of the Guns of Icarus franchise. Flying a steampunk balloon-ship, firing cannons at the enemy ships and repairing damage with a huge hammer and a group of friends is solid-steel fun and the type of fun you’re able to find in Sea of Thieves as well. Even if it was a different concept, I thought Volcanoids could be just as fun – so I decided to try it out.
Volcanoids puts you in control of a mechanical contraption that works pretty much like a submarine… but on land… It digs like a mole rat!
Apparently, some mean mechanical beings have triggered several massive volcanic eruptions to sustain their own energy needs. Those explosions destroyed villages and turned the land into a sad gray wasteland. It is now up to you to survive and explore and eventually find and dismantle the enemy’s mechanical drill.
You need to be careful though as the volcano is still active and spewing rocks and ash from time to time. When the volcano erupts you need to run to your drill and go underground to avoid damage.
…And the mean robots are still out there. …And they don’t like you.
Because these guys will attack you and your drill, you need to craft bullets and turrets to protect your beautiful machinery. To craft, you will need to gather materials from nearby mining sources.
Managing power supply is also very interesting. You need to bring coal to your drill and turn your systems on and off to be able to keep the whole thing running without going out of energy. This adds a welcome new layer of complexity to the game.
Make it do things!
The game really shines when it comes to the feeling of presence and the immersion you get when you enter the drill and make it do things. When you first start your machine all those cogwheels turning and the noise makes you feel like you’ve given life to Frankenstein. IT’S ALIVE!!!
Just like Frankenstein, this game is still missing some bolts.
We have to keep in mind that this is an early access game by a very small indie dev team. They’ve got a great concept to explore but still many things to fix or improve.
In my view, Volcanoids shouldn’t be available on Steam just yet. It lacks polish – especially in terms of gameplay mechanics that were, in my opinion, missing.
This decision to go public this early in the project might unfortunately result in a cascade of bad and undeserved reviews by unaware or unwilling buyers.
I’m hoping that this won’t dishearten the devs into giving up on this project and move on to something else. That would be worse than a volcano covering us all in ash!
For such a small team of devs they’ve accomplished something worthy of note – it is just the many small things here and there that need improvement.
The truth is that besides the obvious bug fixing that is expected from an early access game (I didn’t encounter any bugs whatsoever – and I was playing at 5760×1080 just fine!), it lacks some core gameplay mechanics and graphics improvements.
I really enjoyed building and expanding the drill piece by piece, section by section. I even enjoyed the countdown (the volcano erupts as timely as a geyser!), which, even though it isn’t very realistic, adds an urge and a sense of purpose to the game.
It would be great to have a seismographer that warns you whenever a random eruption is about to happen but, instead, we’ve got a very precise countdown which is very …predictable.
The tutorial is incredibly long as it details all of the complex crafting processes one by one instead of mixing it with quests and letting the player explore the machines by himself.
Tutorials tend to be unpolished in Early Access games and that’s okay given the circumstances. But let’s be honest, at the very beginning, Minecraft didn’t have a tutorial and it succeeded because the gameplay aspect of building something over time was easy and very captivating.
The same happened with Kerbal Space Program where the player is free to build and make mistakes without a guiding hand going through all of the processes – as long as they’re easy enough to figure out.
Making mistakes is part of the fun.
Nuts & Bolts
I felt like the knobs and bobs inside the drill weren’t as interesting as they could be. There’s a very (unnecessarily?) complex crafting system in place but, to my disappointment, it mostly requires that you use GUI crafting menus instead of pulling levers and pressing buttons. Most of the machines inside the drill are very similar to each other and are often times duplicated, which makes it even more confusing and somewhat frustrating to find the right one. You are able to build them wherever you like as long as they’re on the walls of your drill. This will let you organize them somewhat.
The gameplay aspect lacks some depth. You just go around gathering minerals to build new structures in your drill and destroying the enemy’s structures. The game would certainly benefit from posing challenges to the player, like new minions, more complex quests, exploration areas and gameplay challenges. You also get this feeling that the narrative ends when you start playing as there’s not much of a story afterwards.
The control you have over the drill is very limited. Whenever you wish to move it, a cinematic shows what’s happening from the outside. I found out that I preferred skipping the cinematic and instead look at the inside of the drill moving around like a snake as it digs deeper into the earth. I expected the drilling process to be riddled with clanks and bangs and shakes and smokes – it was instead very smooth, unfortunately!
To graphic or not to graphic
The game looks gorgeous in the screenshots – especially the driller. That’s the beauty of steampunk! It always looks great!
But the reality is that everything else seems a bit too simple, low-poly and jagged. Some would call it “dated” – which is a terrible tag for a new game.
This could be improved by using a different text font, a new lighting system, better resolution textures, more detailed terrains and objects or, instead, a minimalistic and innovative graphic style – which is tricky when it comes to steampunk.
As it is, Volcanoids looks above-average-good. Not yet great – but… with room for improvement. The unique theme makes screenshots very interesting at first glance, but in-game everything seems a bit too simple.
One of the features I fear the most in their development plans is adding co-op multiplayer and PvP. From my own experience as a game developer, single and multiplayer games have two very different development cycles. Adding multiplayer to a singleplayer game is VERY tricky and time-consuming. They’ve got a great premise for a single-player game with a lot of work yet to be done. Allocating resources for the development of multiplayer is a risk that I wouldn’t take… although it could be fun to play with minions on your side and attacking someone else… but the game has to shine in areas like gathering and UI interactions first.
Back to the surface
I won’t give a rating to this game just yet. It wouldn’t befair to rate it as it is clearly still missing features. We can’t really judge it on what it currently is or what it could become.
However, as I stated before, the game has some curious and unique aspects to it that make it fun to discover – but the player will lose interest quickly if he finds nothing new to explore. Multiplayer could be interesting but given the amount of polish and content that is still required, I’m hoping to one day see this just as a good singleplayer game.
If you’re unsure whether to get this game or not, my suggestion would be to let it cook for a little longer before trying it out. If instead, you would like to try something new then go ahead – get this one while it’s hot!
Volcanoids has a Trello page where you’re able to keep up-to-date with development and see what they’re up to. It also features a Discord channel where extremely friendly devs are regularly giving away keys.
I’ll be paying attention to Volcanoids as it could turn into something really fun in a year or so. I’ll review it again by that time!
Meanwhile, why not check out my other post about this other innovative game called Dungeon of the Endless? Go try it out!
I’m trying to figure out what it is… Something feels different when playing Battlefield V.
As you might have noticed from my previous post on gender wars in Battlefield V, there’s a bunch of stuff in that game that feels out of place. Slightly strange and even awkward at times!
I know – it all sounds silly – and it is indeed hard to explain. Battlefield V is very similar to its predecessor, Battlefield 1 (again, EA has trouble with numbering systems), but somehow …its gameplay FEELS totally different. It isn’t easy to figure out what has changed – but something definitely did.
When playing on my first map ever someone was crying in chat:
-“This game has way too many animations!”
I thought that was laughable at first. I couldn’t figure out how that could be a bad thing.
The quantity and especially the quality of animations is one of the key factors in driving immersion in a game. Consider the effort that AAA games are putting into animation nowadays!
GTA V, Star Citizen, The Last of Us or L.A. Noire have amazing casts and technology to provide a truly credible cinematic experience.
Competitive multiplayer games have specific needs…
But I think I get it. He might even be right. There are so many things moving, running, burning, falling, firing, exploding… down to the micro animations that each character and weapon has!
Player characters are now even able to run while crouched or lay on their backs while firing and also roll around while waiting for a revive.
It does take some time before we’re able to get used to all of that. For a new player, it may indeed feel a bit overwhelming.
The truth is that maps are indeed ENORMOUS …and too small at the same time! It comes down to what maps are available in each game mode and how player respawns work. Indeed there are gigantic maps but most of the action is focused around one or two objectives and nothing else is going on on the rest of the map. This is not entirely bad. The problem is the map layout.
The way they built most of the maps as a narrow rectangle doesn’t really entice the enemy to flank and capture an objective behind enemy lines in the Conquest game mode. Which is a good thing as it prevents massive waves of enemies from spawning behind the player.
The problem seems to be the fact that it condenses the action around those two choke or capture points. It becomes a slaughterfest for both sides.
Add to that how easier it is now to spawn next to your squadmate in the middle of a thick battle.
Maps are also uncommonly detailed with plenty of open buildings, rocks and hills, where it is easy to hide for a whole match without the enemy ever seeing you. Yesterday I spent the whole match lying down inside a truck capping an objective and forcing the enemy to stay in that area not to lose it. They never found me. Summit1g also did that a few days ago. He just stood there while waves of enemies went by. Interestingly, at the same time, there are groves everywhere yet it is still terribly difficult for a sniper to get a good and clear vantage point. This pleases some and angers many.
Add weather to the mix: wall-thick fog shows up quite often in larger maps.
Thick fog reduces visibility drastically and it forces players to go into close-quarters and melee combat.
Then there’s the fact that there’s so much more to do now. Starting with the new ability to build fortifications. You are now able to build sandbag defenses, barbed wire, and anti-tank barriers. This is a cool new feature, but plenty of players die trying to build these often times ineffective defenses.
Sure, medics are still healing and recons are still sniping. But you are now able to find new perk packs to picking a class that are probably ignored by most players. They certainly affect gameplay and may take some time for a new player to figure out.
As an example, Support is the only class able to build stationary turrets in specific maps but that isn’t clear to most players.
Every player is now also able to revive squad members – but medics do it faster and can even run faster IF they equip the Swift Effort perk AND tag a wounded soldier. We’re not just talking about class-based effects, but combat perk packs that affect how a class performs.
Having so many new perk options makes the game smarter. Not everyone appreciates these changes, however.
Personally, I don’t dislike them, but information is lacking when you first start to learn to play with these classes – there are many of them – and indeed they do feel very different to play with – starting with the weapons.
Weapons feel incredibly differentfrom class to class. Many people complain that medics have water guns and that support isn’t able to use their LMGs to actually kill enemies – instead only able to lay down suppressive fire. I feel like that’s actually a good thing in disguise.
Even though it is frustrating to play as a medic and not be able to kill the enemy in front of you most of the times, it forces players to focus on their class abilities. In this case, healing and reviving players.
Laying down suppressive fire still feels pointless – and you won’t last long until a sniper gets to you. It only works well in choke points or bad weather where there’s too much going on before a sniper scope finds you.
All these factors only add to the complexity of learning the quirks of the game. It overwhelms new players and it justifies the frustration that many complain about.
There’s also something very strange going on with close-quarter combats.
My ping isn’t high, but it seems like I always lose very close quarters 1-on-1 gunfights. I’m not missing any shots – but somehow I never get to kill the enemy. As if their weapon fires more rounds in the same amount of time. Or if they started firing before me, even though their animation didn’t start before I shot.
Other players complained about this as well. I’m convinced that this has to do with packet delay management or lag compensation for large numbers of players. It feels unfair quite often.
Above all else, the game has a very different pace.
I’m pretty sure it comes down to the aiming system. In Battlefield V it seems to be harder to aim properly until you get used to the way it works.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a complex aiming options menu. You can actually go into detail by adjusting the aiming speed according to the zoom value of your weapon!
There are also other options that I’ve never seen before in other FPS franchises like “Soldier Aim Ratio” or “Uniform Soldier Aiming”. They include lengthy descriptions that only make it more cumbersome to understand.
The truth is that this only makes good players better and newbie players worse – as most new players don’t even know how to adjust these settings properly. This leads to newbies calling out good players as cheaters and a lot of bad vibes in chat and frustration to both sides.
Hide. Think. Act.
I REALLY like to have additional complexity in games. I like to feel that my skills and battle sense are progressing over time. But I think that, in the end, Battlefield V is not as newbie-friendly as other previous games.
Last night I had a great run. I was determined to figuring out how to play Battlefield V properly. I decided to take a more relaxed, counterattacking stance. If someone fired at me I would… Hide. Think. Act.
I wasn’t going to run towards the enemy nor would I shoot as many bullets as possible at them. I realized that two shots to the head or three to the body were all it took for my weapon to kill. So I started being more mindful of my presence and taking aim before firing or revealing my position.
Aha! I became the top player in most rounds! I think I may have figured the key to succeeding in Battlefield V.
Something different, something new
In the end, it feels like there’s definitely some balance to do and a learning curvethat most players aren’t used to from previous games.
It is hard to understand exactly what to learn and how to progress… But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you manage to relax, learn and enjoy the game for what it is, without expecting it to be something else.
Instead of becoming frustrated, I’m actually enjoying the game now!
We live in a world where stamping labels on things and people is, sadly, mandatory. There’s no time to waste! The flow and amount of information to be processed and the need to clarify what something is, or is not, demands that we categorize everything and everyone as quickly as possible.
We have truly entered The Age of Labels.
It is part of who we are as humans. The Universe doesn’t care whether there’s light or shade, day or night, a half-full glass, a dead cat in a box or a tree falling in an unpopulated forest.
But we humans do care.
This is how our brains save disk storage space. We compress info into tiny boxes with labels.
Concepts are easier to access and we can figure them out quickly by simply reading the label on the box.
Unfortunately, this somewhat compromises our ability to think differently. To be innovative. To think out of the box – and to be appreciated and recognized for that.
Music that doesn’t belong to any genre in particular tends to be ignored by most people, as we tend to flock to our tried-and-true favorite genres. The same happens with movies and games.
With so much new content available to us each day, the most productive way for a developer to innovate nowadays is to mix genres. However, like with a nice cocktail, to mix it up properly requires real talent. These guys nailed it.
Luckily it isn’t a game that gets old with age! I managed to pick it up recently since it was free-to-play during the weekend and being sold at a discount.
I just tried it out and it really surprised me:
Amplitude delivered Dungeon of the Endlessback in 2014 – and it caused an issue for most gaming blogs. Why? Well… there was no easy way to categorize it!
It is NOT a strategy game, not a survival game, not a tower-defense game, not an RPG, not a MOBA, not a dungeon-crawler! It is all of those things at the same time… and yet, very different.
The point of the game is to exit an abandoned sci-fi ship with a team of heroes and a crystal (similar to Dungeon Keeper’s dungeon heart).
Unfortunately, the ship’s architects decided that it would be fun to build elevators that only take you to the next floor… and build them in different rooms on each floor. The type of insanity that GlaDOS would be proud of.
Dungeon of the Endless is a unique game, yet very familiar. It delivers a real-time-turn-based game pace. Does that sound confusing enough?
The game presents a real-time game flow, but it grows and expands as you open up doors in an abandoned ship. So, in reality, it only advances when you unlock the next “turn” by opening up doors in real-time.
Over time (aka turns, aka doors opened), you will be gathering supplies and building resource miners or defensive turrets or evolving your heroes.
All these abilities will come in handy when little alien insects start to show up. Apparently, they HATE your beautiful crystal for some reason and will try to destroy it.
Luckily, with all the resources you managed to mine so far, you’ll also be able to unlock new weapons and abilities for your heroes and your temporary “base”.
The game is unlike any other, yet similar to many.
The very pixely graphics and constant smooth animations deliver an intense atmosphere to the game. The very bright colors, somehow akin to fire burning in the background, keep reminding you that you need to escape as quickly as possible from the alien-infested ship. However, some strategy is in order, as resources are limited – but alien attacks are not.
The very pixely graphics and constant smooth animations deliver an intense atmosphere to the game.
The very bright colors, somehow akin to fire burning in the background, keep reminding you that you need to escape as quickly as possible from the alien-infested ship.
However, some strategy is in order, as resources are limited – but alien attacks are not.
An endless dungeon
The gameplay is fast and fun, and the base-building aspect adds a lot of flavor to it. Unlocking new abilities, characters and weapons is definitely the main drive for the player. The superb audio and music also make it a very pleasant experience. I had some trouble with the controls. They’re not complex at all – just very uncommon. Sadly, there’s not much of a storyline to the game, except for a few less-than-funny jokes between heroes. Co-op is a plus, but not necessary since it truly shines as a great singleplayer game.
I really felt like this innovative game was a breath of fresh air. That freshness that started around 2010 with very popular indie titles like Braid, Minecraft or Spelunky seems to have faded with all the sequels and adaptations of those popular games (just think of how many games mirrored Minecraft’s gameplay mechanics!) and innovation started to take a toll.
I’m looking forward to trying out Amplitude’s following success Endless Legend.
I truly enjoyed this game. Even though it lacks a good storyline, it balances that with a fast and fun gameplay, beautiful graphics and a great ambiance. If you’re looking for something FRESH, this is the game you want to try.
It features very clean and appealing graphics (unlike Atlas. Ew.). It really conveys a lighthearted, sunny and happy swashbuckling experience …an extreme opposite to the surprisingly gruesome Warhammer: Vermintide 2!
Sea of Thieves feels like a simple game (maybe a wee bit too simple?). The game peppers the seas with tiny curious islands and it gives you a map or a riddle that you need to figure out in order to find a treasure chest.
Oh… and remember: X marks the spot.
A day in the life of a Pirate!
You dig, dig, dig …until you hear a loud *THUMP!*.
YES!!! You found it! That wood casket is sure to bear all sorts of precious metals and gems!
Your grin turns to grimace when you realize that you’ve angered the lost souls protecting that cursed chest! Now there’s a horde of skeletons rushing towards you. You can’t hit them while holding your precious chest… so you run back to your ship!
When you hear the *clikety clack* that the banana-eating skeletons make while trying to catch you shiver slightly, but that doesn’t stop you. Once you are on your ship and you lower the ship’s sails it gently picks up speed and you wave at the skeletons that can’t figure out how to swim to get to you.
Riches onboard. You head towards the nearest outpost.
It must be worth a fortune – you say to yourself!
Still dreaming of the brand new hat that you’ll be able to buy with all that money, you fail to notice the dark sails that approach your ship from the East. Too late.
Trouble on the horizon
*CRUSHCRACKSHHWSHSPSH!!!* – Your ship is being rammed from the side by a massive galleon. PIRATES! PIRAAATES!!!
You rush to the lower deck to fix the geiser-like holes in the hull of your ship. The enemy cannons are roaring outside! You need to hurry the repairs and come back up to divert your ship from their firing lines!
You turn around and a strange wood-legged pirate stands next to you. Sword in hand.
“DUEL ME OR DIE” – he says. The request doesn’t really make much sense… but you rush to your sword and the fight begins.
A dirty fight with a one-eyed pirate
The dirty pirate lunges straight at you with very fast swings. All you can do is evade the massive sword spam. He hits you once… twice! But you still breathe! Putting the sword at an angle blocks his next attack and he is pushed back with a surprised stance!
The enemy clearly has an advantage now that he has hit you but… dang it… you’re a pirate too! Rules mean little to you!
You grab your pistol and BAM! shoot him in the empty eye socket!
He falls to the ground and you rush to the helm and steer away from that despicable pirate’s ship.
Apparently, in the midst of battle, they started being attacked by a mythical giant shark! It’s probably best to grab this opportunity and rush towards the nearest outpost and sell the treasure chest as quickly as possible before they dispatch the giant fish and catch up to you again!
As you move away from the battle you feel a strong sense of relief!
The sails are being raised and the battered ship will soon be safely parked at the dock. Selling the cursed Captain’s Chest earns you just the money you needed to buy that fancy hat that you were dreaming of.
HA! The next time you encounter those pirates you’ll impress them with your brand new hat!
Hats, hats everywhere!
Indeed, a gold hoarder like you needs to spend all of your hard earned money on something. They say that money can buy anything. Well, not in this game.
Unfortunately, in Sea of Hats you are only able to buy cosmetic items!
It is a shame because, if you’re like me, you dress like a very sleazy pirate (in fact, that’s the only way a pirate should dress like!). Once you own your favorite character outfit and ship equipment, there’s not much else to crave for.
There’s no character progression, no skills, no weapon upgrades, no crafting or equipment upgrades for your ship, not even craftable banana sandwiches! This makes the game feel pointless at times. My in-game bank account is filled to the brim but I don’t feel like spending my gold on anything. And, to be honest, I feel like I’ve only been playing it whenever a new regular update comes along, bringing with it brand new content to explore.
One could argue whether or not the lack of upgradable items is an issue if the game succeeds in entertaining you with every other aspect of it.
The truth is that it would turn a great game into an amazing one. To have something to crave for… an objective that pushes the players into exploration and adventure.
Who knows… maybe they’ll add a bit more of that in future updates…
A game to be played… just for fun? We’re not used to that!
It is kind of amazing to think that a great quality game from a large enough developer managed to avoid pay-to-win schemes or major grind systems.
The truth is that it doesn’t feel like you’re grinding when you’re distracted by the fact that you are actually enjoying it. They focused solely on making a game that is fun to play and that brings people together. And they succeeded brilliantly.
Even if the islands look very similar to eachother, the quests obvious, the monsters predictable and the combat too simple, there’s a lot of plain fun to be had with your friends. The emergent gameplay that comes from having PvP in the open world really drives you into incredibly epic battles with other players.
Very seldom did I get angry for losing a fight, since the excitement you get from it is well worth the money lost.
Friends improve every game!
I must underline the need to play with friends. You will feel lonely playing it alone in your tiny sloop in such a large ocean.
However, if you have no friends, you really don’t have to worry.
It is SUPER easy to make new friends by playing this game with an open crew. The Sea of Thieves community is surprisingly friendly and they often ask you to add them to your contacts list.
Almost everyone uses a microphone, which is critical to interact with other players when you’re busy repairing 13 holes in your sinking ship. If for some strange reason you don’t own a microphone, you’re going to want to get one after playing Sea of Thieves.
It is true, the game lacks content and diversity for its steep price, but they seem to keep adding new stuff every now and then which is well worth checking out regularly.
I won’t lie. It is expensive for the content it provides.
They claim that the price tag is worth it since you can use the same copy in Windows as well as Xbox. We both know however that it is uncommon for a gamer to buy the same game twice for different platforms.
But considering the enjoyment you’ll get from playing it – it is still well worth it.
What an amazing game!
Games aren’t perfect. They can’t make everyone happy. Sea of Thieves has got flaws. Every game has got flaws.
But it brings something new to the table. And puts a grin on your face.
If you’re looking for something innovative that features beautiful art, very polished gameplay and that guarantees laughter while meeting new people – this is it.
Prior to release (in March 2018) I told my friends that Vermintide2 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 Vermintide2 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A great (and cheap) co-op game with an astounding fun factor, amazing graphics, character progression and great replayability grant Warhammer: Vermintide 2a solid 5/5 pops.
But… was this the best Co-op game of 2018? PC Gamer thinks so – what do YOU think?
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!
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.