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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Two Point Hospital is a game that makes absolutely no bones about being a nostalgia trip for anybody who played Theme Hospital in the late 90s. I should know, since it's aimed squarely at me. When Theme Hospital launched, I was nine and my parents, a doctor and a nurse, thought it was hilarious. They were delighted by it; even now, in fact, my father occasionally refers to his work as a Consultant Parasitologist as 'doctor required in inflator room'. ]

Morphies Law is a team based objective shooter with a day of the dead themed aesthetic and a strong gimmick - namely that, when you shoot an enemy, you steal mass from that part of their body and add it to your own. Get a series of headshots, for example, and you'll be tottering around as a bobblehead. Rake someone's legs with bullets, meanwhile, and you'll start strutting around like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

In many ways, playing Overcooked 2 is like returning to a favourite restaurant after a long absence and ordering what you always used to have. The comfort of familiar, nourishing food is hugely enjoyable, of course, but it's the sense of coming back to something that's truly special. When playing Overcooked 2 there's a lot more shouting and swearing, but the principle is the same - this sequel is strikingly similar to the first game, but a few well-chosen additions and refinements breathe new life into one of the best couch co-op experiences going.

FeatureJacking in to Cyberpunk 2077 - with the help of the tabletop game

A deep dive on character classes and augmentations.

Cyberpunk 2077's showing at this year's E3 was extremely strong. The 50-minute gameplay demo I saw left me hungry for more, but it also left me wondering - just how much of CD Projekt Red's game was pulled from Mike Pondsmith's pen-and-paper role-playing game? In other words: just how much Cyberpunk 2020 is there in Cyberpunk 2077?

So often DLC can feel a little forced, but every once in a while there comes something with a real sense of mischief - an expansion showing you that not only does the developer know why the initial release was a success, but that they aren't afraid to get really weird with the next instalment. By reflecting and riffing on the core experience, these bits of DLC elevate the base game while reminding players what made it great in the first place. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is a great example, and so too is Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure.

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.

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