As I began writing this preview, Armello was on the cusp of Kickstarter success. As I finished it, it achieved that success, comfortably passing the $200,000 AUD mark with a couple of days still to run. It's a validation for League of Geeks, the patchwork development team behind the project because, while Kickstarter is often a source of funding for many niche projects, it's fair to say that Armello is particularly niche, perhaps even quite singular.
At first glance, Hitman GO might seem like a strange departure for the series, a sudden and unusual tangent for the adventures of the cold, calculating killer named Agent 47. We're used to the Hitman games presenting us with a third-person perspective and placing us in environments that, at their best, are an assassin's sandbox, full of deadly tools and vicious opportunities. Our victims are as suspicious or oblivious as our actions warrant, as we don disguises, improvise weapons or engineer happy little accidents that help them meet their end.
I think the genre title "real-time strategy" is something of a misnomer. It's misleading. Sure, while most such games are about assuming generalship and carefully marshalling great throngs of tanks and troops, shaping them into the savage pincers that will squeeze your opponent until they burst like a zit under pressure, being a military commander is really only part of it.
Every Sunday, we dust off an article from the Eurogamer archive that you may have missed at the time or may enjoy again. Valve announced The International 2014 for Dota 2 this week, so we thought we'd revisit Paul Dean's piece on the origins of the MOBA genre. This article was originally published on 16th August 2011, so some facts and figures are now out of date, but it still tells an interesting back-story and provides a snapshot of the genre's progress at that time, back when Dota 2 was a barely known quantity.
It was a while before I discovered proper wizards. When I was young, magic was a benign thing: lighthearted entertainment for early evening television. The magicians made things disappear or convinced you that the card you were holding wasn't what you thought. In Magicka: Wizard Wars, you can cast spells that will make people explode into chunks of bloody meat. You can also drop rocks on their heads, scald them, set them on fire and even have the grim reaper chase them down, surgically removing their soul with one swift swing of a scythe. This is more like the magic of my adolescence - less about tuxedos and tails, more about rage and brutality and burning brimstone.
It's sparkly. It's really sparkly. And it has giant penguins.
I'll be straight with you here: I'm not sure what I want next in life. I do know that I want more, that I need to keep aspiring to things, and I think life should have its fair share of excitement, of passion, of burning desires and glorious fulfilment. Inside me, very quietly, very determinedly, I strive.
My first thought when sitting down to play Infinite Crisis was that, if nothing else, Turbine's superhero MOBA would serve very well as a sort of superhero sandbox, a place where long-standing disagreements about who's toughest could finally and definitively be resolved. How would the Green Lantern fare against Harley Quinn? Would Batman really beat Superman in a fight? But wait, which Batman, exactly? Which Superman?
Though Paradox Interactive has been gradually broadening its portfolio over the last few years, the grand strategy games produced by the internal team at Paradox Development Studio have remained the predictable and reliable cornerstone of their catalogue. Historical series such as Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Victoria and Hearts of Iron have all enjoyed sequels and expansions, fascinating hardcore strategists for well over a decade. They've established the studio as one focused on intricately detailed, carefully researched games that are firmly rooted in the real world, albeit ones that give players the chance to send history in new and unexpected directions.
I can't tell you the names of any of my inmates in any of my prisons. The smallest holds a couple of dozen, the largest has over a hundred, crammed together like battery hens in a place whose only purpose is to provide effective and prolonged detention. Some are serving lengthy terms for very serious crimes, others wander free after just a few game hours within my walls. None of them make any kind of impression on my memory.
The moment that I knew I wanted to be a Viking was the moment that I pushed another man off a cliff. I didn't mean to do this, but gravity and circumstance joined forces and suddenly he was gone. I suppose I didn't know my own strength. I suppose I also ignored the clues to my own strength that included: my big suit of armour, my big helmet, my big sword, my big shield.
Thief is going to be different. Of course, the series is being rebooted, reimagined after ten years in the shadows, so it's bound to step forward cloaked in a very different mantle, and it's unreasonable not to expect some substantial changes. Nevertheless, pull that hood back and you may not recognise the face that stares back. Thief is going to be different.
Swen Vincke is a menace. I'm trying to solve a mystery, something that may or may not be a murder, but he seems much more interested in wandering off, in petty theft or in getting into fights. When I try and help him out he has a habit of setting me alight, knocking me down or simply getting me killed. "Whoops," he says, as he prepares to resurrect me again. He insists these are accidents.
The best item in Dota 2 is the Force Staff.
Would you take a chance on a roll of a die? That's every other moment in the life of an adventurer in the Forgotten Realms. To say that death is around every corner is not to repeat a cliché, it's to state a fact. It's a very, very wild world out there, with much to be found by those who dare step off the beaten track. Some things are wondrous, many are dangerous and more than a few are difficult to fully comprehend.
To mark the anniversary of Doom's release, 20 years ago today, here's a treat from the Eurogamer archive: Paul Dean's retrospective essay on the game, first published on 15th January 2012.
With World of Tanks, Wargaming got free-to-play right. They made almost everything in their game completely free, gave their players an enormous number of toys to play with only asked them to open their wallets if they wanted to customise their tanks or buy one of a small selection of special, premium vehicles that weren't any better than anything else on offer, merely different. Money didn't confer an advantage, only exclusives, simple favours or faster advancement up the same technology tree everyone else was climbing.
In the future, we will all live in a daze, stunned by the technology that will surround us. Our homes will be at the top of towers thousands of feet tall, all of them connected by shining bridges that cut through the sky. Automated drones will keep us healthy, keep us tidy, even make sure we obey the law. We will work in buildings that are great sentinels of metal and light. We will be so rapt, so amazed by the omnipresence of progress, that we won't notice that the maglev train has got stuck, that the school bus is circling like a shark, that our friends can't find the shops next door. Then occasionally, just occasionally, something will knock us out of that daze and we'll realise just how silly the future has turned out.
I have become a magpie.
"No plan survives first contact with the enemy," or so said Helmuth von Moltke, one of the great military minds of the 19th century. Von Moltke was on the wrong side of the Atlantic to witness the American Civil War, but he would've no doubt insisted that his aphorism applied to conflicts everywhere, even those that featured alternate histories with airships and automata, decks and dealing. In any battle, improvisation is key.
Paradox Interactive is a strange company. Now, don't get me wrong, strange can often be a good thing and I certainly am not using this term pejoratively, but Paradox Interactive is strange. Its portfolio is a hodge-podge of critically acclaimed genre titles, surprise successes and widely panned, sometimes alarmingly broken disasters. The eccentric image it projects extends within as well as without, with would-be interviewees facing questions like "Are you a Stark or a Lannister? A Kirk or a Picard?" some of which may be delivered to them by a man who has used the title Vice President of Business Development and Manager of the Unicorn Division.
The battle is not yet joined. While Arma 3 is now available to buy, what you can download from Steam right now only represents an advance guard, a selection of showcase missions and equipment demonstrations. The main body is to follow, with the game's campaigns coming next month as a free add-on. There's the opportunity to join in multiplayer or download extra missions via Steam Workshop, but otherwise it's a slim offering and at the moment Arma 3 isn't a complete game. In lieu of a review, here are some first impressions.
Come, traveller, lean in and let me tell you how I defeated the lizardmen guardians of the Temple of Scales.
In ancient times, when cartography was more art than science, a map was a portrait of an empire. An abstraction of its authority in which complexity and diversity were swallowed in one mass of colour, it was painted with an ease that belied the incalculable efforts demanded in swallowing such territory. It was a snapshot of the glory of a realm; a chance for it to puff itself up in front of its peers and coyly ask, "Do my borders look big in this?"
Divinity: Dragon Commander doesn't possess much nuance, but what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in... well, everything. The sheer quantity of ideas that have been shoehorned into this game is amazing. It's the party punch you once made where you poured in everything you could think of and it actually tasted pretty good. This is a game in which you can make a half-dragon with a jetpack marry a living skeleton - and that's what you do when the action isn't happening.
While gingerly picking my way through the alchemical laboratory at the centre of a ransacked mansion, carefully hunting for clues, I found myself facing a large, glowing stone the size of man. I stepped closer, carefully examined the surface of this gigantic oddity and read the description that this quest's creator had left for me.
It's some time past midnight in Hell's Kitchen. The streets are dark and the air is clammy. Somewhere down a forgotten side street, the mutant, lightning-wielding crime-fighter Storm stands in wait for her colleague. The minutes tick by until, finally, he strides into view. He's the Thing, a towering man with skin like rock.
I have a fear that grows in strength with each review I find myself writing. The fear is that, as soon I've filed my copy, an update will arrive that might rebuild, repair or rebalance the game quite substantially, and suddenly a great chunk of what I've written would be made irrelevant.
I'd never gone to war before.
It could've been over-inflated tyres combined with the rain on the road and a rogue gust of wind coming in off the Pacific Ocean, but the exact cause of the accident may never be known. Regardless, as Jeremy Soule's car hydroplaned into the oncoming traffic on Insterstate 5 that night, as the headlights rushed out of the darkness towards him and as his car began to roll, the only thought in his mind was that he didn't want anyone else to be hurt.