Picture of Johnny Chiodini

Johnny Chiodini

Video Team

Johnny is one quarter of the Eurogamer video team - specifically the part that looks like it comes from East London. He loves pen and paper role playing games, his dog Watson, and pretty much any video game with a bit of grimdark to it. You are almost certainly pronouncing his surname incorrectly.

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I've been playing a lot of Sea of Thieves this week and so far it feels very much like being in an exciting new relationship and not being able to work out why your friends aren't as happy for you as you thought they would be - a heady combination of being incredibly enthusiastic, with just a slight creeping sensation that you're making a fool of yourself. I'm not overly bothered, mind you - I'm still having a lovely time - but it did get me thinking about what exactly draws me in so strongly while putting others right off.

When it comes to tinkering with a game like Vermintide, it's very easy to muddle what made the original work - the video game equivalent of messing with the thermostat rather than putting another jumper on. I remember feeling that way when Left 4 Dead 2 launched; I loved the first game, but there was something about the sequel that felt off. I had issues with the pacing, chiefly, but there was something else about the experience that didn't quite work, like it had lost some essential part of what made it great along the way.

I've been playing a lot of Blades in the Dark recently - it might just be the best pen and paper role playing game I've ever encountered. Blades is an RPG in which the players form a fledgling criminal gang in the grimy industrial city of Duskvol, pulling off daring heists and trying to stay one step ahead of their enemies and the long arm of the law. What makes it truly special, however, are the mechanics aimed at making the experience as sleek and swift as possible, because if there's one thing from which pen and paper RPGs suffer, it's an overabundance of planning. No matter the size of an encounter, players love to try and concoct a plan to cover all bases - an irresistible exercise in frustration, as the best laid plans of mice and men and tabletop role players gang always agley.

I spent a couple of hours this week playing a preview build of the upcoming Assassin's Creed DLC, Curse of the Pharaohs - which, as the name suggests, is all about the ire of Egypt's rulers. Specifically, the dead ones. With some careless grave robbers helping themselves to powerful artefacts, the Pharaohs have grown restless and put a curse on the game's new region of Thebes.

In the music industry, people often refer to Second Album Syndrome - a phenomenon whereby a popular artist sets about making their sophomore record, only this time the stakes are considerably higher due to increased exposure and fan expectation. This sometimes leads to artists trying to reinvent themselves, or go bigger in order to keep up with demand. Middle-earth: Shadow of War is kind of like a difficult second album, only the band has hired a 90 piece orchestra and asked Matt Bellamy from Muse to do the lyrics. And he's turned up with 20 new effect pedals.

VideoWatch: We fought Shadow of War's Balrog

The dark fire will not avail you.

When Middle-earth: Shadow of War was first announced, one of the things fans focused on most was the appearance of a Balrog in the game's announcement trailer. For anyone whose Tolkein knowledge is a little rusty, a Balrog is a creature of legendary proportions - one showed up in The Fellowship of the Ring and took Gandalf with it when it left.

If you're even remotely familiar with the work of Ian Higton, you'll know he has two great pleasures in life - these being Far Cry games and titting about. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to hear that Ian played Far Cry 5 a little while ago and things got a little silly.

Two months ago, a new story trailer for Middle-earth: Shadow of War was released and I think it's fair to say it raised a few eyebrows. In the midst of a lot of sword swinging and story exposition was the reveal that the game's narrator, first glimpsed in the game's announcement trailer, was none other than Shelob. This came as a surprise, given Shelob is, in fact, an enormous spider.

Doubt and uncertainty are, I think, very difficult things to accurately portray in video games. We're used to the idea that an encounter, a mission or a shot may not go our way but, in a medium that by design requires us to succeed, the idea that we may not be capable - that we may be innately destined for failure - is a difficult thing to convey. With Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, developer Ninja Theory has managed it beautifully.

Shadow of War has a ranked online mode

Mordor your friends' troops.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War players will have two ways to invade other people's Mordors when the game launches this year. The first of these is a new mission type called Social Conquest; the other sees the return of Vendettas from Shadow of Mordor with one or two tweaks.

Writing flavour text for games must be a strange job. On some days you're shaping the world around you, expanding and enriching the story with a tantalising trail of literary breadcrumbs (the Dishonored series would lose a lot of its depth and charm without the letters scattered about the place, for one). On others, however, you're less an epistolary world builder and more an archivist-cum-forger, creating mundane artefacts from a culture that doesn't really exist.

VideoWatch: The video team fights to the death

...in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

I think it's safe to say that the Eurogamer video team has the PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds bug at the minute. It's also a truth universally accepted that, at any given moment, the people on said team are only a hair's breadth away from attempting to murder one another. So, in order to combine these two interests, this week we set ourselves a challenge. Splitting into two teams, we jumped into the same game of Battlegrounds in order to see who could survive the longest.

Doomfist has finally arrived in Overwatch after what felt like an interminable wait and, to be honest, he's not quite the hero I was expecting. He's a surprisingly mobile assault character who isn't voiced by Terry Crews and, at least thus far, I'm a big fan. He's a bit tricky to master, if you ask me, but all in all I think the Overwatch team has done a good job of making an interesting new hero.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is quickly becoming a favourite among the Eurogamer video team. While we're hardly what you'd call pro players, there's still something undeniably fun about running around the game map, frantically gathering weapons in a bid to stay alive. Even if you die in the opening minutes, there's something about Battlegrounds that lends itself well to stories. Like the time I got confused and punched Chris to death, for instance - or the time we actually managed to win, against all odds.

I adore The Binding of Isaac. I used to play it every day without fail, losing myself for an hour or more in the nightmarish caverns of Isaac's mum's basement. With so many hours (and deaths) racked up, I was alarmed to learn that Chris had never played it at all, so I sought to fix that in this week's Late to the Party.

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