Picture of Richard Cobbett

Richard Cobbett

Contributor

Richard writes words for a living, but you know that already. He loves puns, wants to ban all spiders from games, and isn't quite as cynical as you think. Follow him on Twitter.

Evolve wasn't the game I expected. I knew going in that it was an asymmetric FPS from the makers of Left 4 Dead, in which one team of four futuristic hunters chases down and defeats a rampaging monster, controlled by a fifth player. In my head, that (very uncharitably, I admit) sounded like it was going to be, well, Left 4 Dead-style shooting, only in the future, and one person on the other team controlling a scaled up Tank or Witch or whatever.

Everything went wrong when six Siege Worms suddenly appeared out of the ground. Think Dune's sandworms, only without their water allergy weakness, as comfortable in the grasslands of humanity's new home as its deserts, canyons and the less familiar fungal blooms. Attempts to keep very, very quiet or point to the nearest enemy city didn't go so well, as one giant's tendrils whipped every soldier in the area into human paste, before turning its attention inwards.

Lego The Hobbit review

There, but not yet back again.

As much as Lego The Hobbit was inevitable - as well the last words Bilbo would ever want to hear while being flown around by those eagles - it does rather beg the question: "Wait, now?" We're only two thirds of the way through the unnecessarily bloated film trilogy, leaving a gap the size of Smaug's corpse in the story, with a concluding DLC pack nothing more than a rumour at present. For now, though, we have the initial parts, "Too Many Dwarves" and "Holy Crap, What an Awesome Dragon": two blockbusters, now with endlessly more blocks to bust and enough irreverence to make that barrel ride look like the Silmarillion as read by Orson Welles.

Avoiding the spoilers, there's not a vast amount left to say about this second episode of season two of The Walking Dead. It's not that nothing happens, even if it does take a while to; it's because there's at least one big continuation from the 400 Days bridging episode, the big dramatic moment would be mean to even hint at, and the finale... that's about as off-limits as things get, except to say that it's very effective, brutally tense, and best only played once for more than one reason.

Shadowrun Returns was a frustrating game for me. I wanted to love it but didn't even like it - not much, anyway. Its original campaign ranks as one of my bigger disappointments in recent years, feeling more like a Neverwinter Nights-style glorified engine demo than a game in its own right; its title ultimately sounded like a promise that one day Shadowrun might Return, even if it took the fans breaking open the included editor and Steam Workshop functionality to make it happen. Your mileage on this may vary, and if you dug its Dead Man's Switch campaign, great. I know, however, that I'm not alone in having been deeply underwhelmed.

Down the replay rabbit hole

Why Ken Levine's plan for endlessly replayable narrative could be a risk not worth taking.

Ken Levine wants to chase a dragon, and whatever the (inevitably more complicated) truth behind the shuttering of Irrational in order to do it turns out to be, let's take that recently restated goal at face value. "To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable." Huge challenge. Noble sounding goal. Bad idea, looking as seductive on paper as a treasure map promising great riches and fortune, but ultimately leading right down the same kind of rabbit hole that Balance of Power creator Chris Crawford has now been spelunking for over 30 years.

Divinity: Original Sin alpha review

To adventure is human...

Divinity: Original Sin reminds me a lot of Ultima 7, and that's a Good Thing. It doesn't play like it, it doesn't particularly look like it, but it has at least a piece of that game's soul embedded at its core, throbbing with a pleasing hum.

Rust alpha review

The naked and infamous.

Eurogamer's alpha and beta reviews are reviews of games that are still in development but are already being offered for sale or funded by micro-transactions. They offer a preliminary verdict but have no score attached. For more information, read our editor's blog.

Games of 2013: Saints Row 4

Saints, be praised!

There have been better games this year. There have been more ambitious ones. In terms of scale, Grand Theft Auto 5 throws Saints Row 4's production budget onto the screen between 30-60 frames per second. None of them have made me grin so much from start to finish though, or made me so sad to hit the final mission and know the good times were about to end. Quite an achievement for a series that started out actually offending me for how much it ripped off GTA to finish by making me wish GTA 5's cash had bought it even 1/10th of its sense of fun.

The Walking Dead: All That Remains review

Telltale's acclaimed horror series returns in the first episode of its second season.

Officially, this episode is called All That Remains. A more accurate one would be Pulling No Punches, because if it's about anything, it's Telltale proving it's absolutely not afraid to hit a little girl. Emotionally. Physically. Repeatedly. Anywhere and everywhere it could possibly hurt. No longer are you shielded from the apocalypse by Lee, a muscled man capable of taking charge with both wits and fists. Now, you're just Clementine; small, frail and alone, in a world that hasn't gotten any kinder since the apocalypse. Zombies and scavengers don't discriminate though, and neither does pain. There's no shortage of any of them in store for her.

Wasteland 2 beta review

Nuclear and improved.

Eurogamer's alpha and beta reviews are reviews of games that are still in development but are already being offered for sale or funded by micro-transactions. They offer a preliminary verdict but have no score attached. For more information, read our editor's blog.

Hearthstone: Blizzard's secret weapon

What's in the cards for Warcraft's new cousin, and the future it predicts?

Obvious as it is in more than one way, Blizzard played its cards perfectly with Hearthstone. Its World of Warcraft-themed card game, which goes into open beta next month incidentally, began as a side project. Almost immediately, it became a phenomenon. Over a million keys have been sent out during the closed beta, and still that's nowhere near enough. Sites have buckled under the stress. Howls of protest have echoed throughout the net. Quite possibly the developers of Scrolls have wept, and not without cause if so.

Why Heroes of the Storm is the MOBA that you'll love or hate

Blizzard's move for accessibility is a boon for those new to the genre - but how will it go down with existing MOBA diehards?

Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA/ARTS/LMG/WHATEVER that existing MOBA/ARTS/LMG/WHATEVER fans are going to hate - and that's okay. The obvious comparison is to look at it and Dota in much the same way as Hearthstone vs. Magic: The Gathering. Actually play it though, and it quickly becomes clear that the better comparison is to see it as Super Smash Bros versus Street Fighter 2 - if only because it's going to be far easier to pick a character because they're your favourite. That's not to say there isn't scope for high level play, just that it's something to work up to rather than an immediate slap in the face.

Blizzard sets a steady course for WOW with Warlords of Draenor

With a classic Warcraft feel and fan-pleasing features, the MMO is entrenching in its old age.

Last year, World of Warcraft was at something of a crossroads. With subscriptions falling and new contenders like Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic applying pressure like never before, it was hard not to see Mists of Pandaria as Blizzard's one last big attempt to revive the game's fortunes and draw a whole new audience. It didn't really work out, but that's okay. The audience World of Warcraft retains is nothing to sniff at, and it's that audience that Warlords of Draenor seems primarily aimed at. There's no new low-level content on offer, no big surprises like Pandaria's pet battles that might suddenly attract players who were never going to buy into today's questing and raiding, and the story underpinning it is a deep-dive into Warcraft lore that's going to be most appreciated by players whose Warcraft experience started way back in Orcs And Humans.

Rebuilding Rapture

Behind the scenes on BioShock: Burial At Sea, and the impossible city's improbable return.

Andrew Ryan chose to build the impossible, but it was Ken Levine who decided to rebuild it. He chose Rapture. Again. A city where the artist would not fear the polygon count; where the programmer would not be bound by primitive Unreal shaders, Where great ambition would not be constrained by the limited expectations of DLC! With the sweat of Irrational's brow, Rapture is reborn as it was always meant to be - an objectivist utopia without equal, with a little film noir spice sprinkled on the top for good measure.

BioShock Infinite - Burial at Sea preview: Assessing Rapture's return

How does Irrational's return to the sea shape up?

In the BioShock multiverse, there's always a lighthouse, there's always a man, and there's always a city. In the world of film noir detectives, the constants are somewhat simpler. There's always a dame. There's always a case. The only variable is how much trouble both will inevitably turn out to be - and in the underwater city of Rapture, you don't need to be a professional s**t-magnet like Booker deWitt to find plenty of that.

Questing for heroism in MMOs

Dungeons and dragging on.

Dungeons and raids are usually the most exciting part of any MMO, but there's still depressingly little heroism to be had in most of them. To be fair, there's a tiny sliver of time when this isn't the case - when a new dungeon arrives in, say, World of Warcraft, and teams have to go face its bosses and other challenges without a convenient wiki on hand. Those early days can be amazing.

Eve Online: Into the second decade

The future of the future, today.

Ten years after its launch, Eve Online is in a strange place. It's a game with just 500,000 players, nothing by most MMO standards, yet one whose stories, heists and controversies regularly spark interest in a wider audience that would never actually dream of playing it. On Twitter, I asked my followers what would make them give it a shot at this point. "Nothing," was the standard answer. "A complete reset," answered a couple more. Perhaps most notably, "Any change that would make me want to play would stop it from being Eve."

A postcard from Reykjavik: Inside 2013's Eve FanFest

So that's why our man's gone to Iceland.

To understand Eve Online, you need to visit Reykjavik. It won't help with mundane details like which battlecruiser to aspire to, but the ride from Keflavik airport to both CCP and FanFest's home town is an eye-opening experience. Simply knowing that Iceland has a hostile interior is nothing compared to actually seeing it - not merely how small its patches of civilisation are amongst seemingly infinite emptiness with no trees and often nothing to see but the remnants of volcanic activity covered in moss, but the kind of community it takes to handle it.

Shining a light on CCP's World of Darkness

The waiting sucks, its first gameplay footage doesn't.

Vampires are no strangers to keeping secrets, but they're rank amateurs compared to how well the World of Darkness team has kept a lid on what they're working on for the last few years. Today though, that changes - at least a little. It starts on a rooftop, in a city of night and rain. A girl is on the prowl, her slinky outfit as much as her fangs hinting at what's coming next for the poor guy standing a few steps away. She approaches. They caress. She slams his head hard against the brickwork and drains him dry as casually as throwing back a beer, before equally casually leaping twice her height up a vertical wall and slipping unseen into a more social world of cool parties and gothic chic at a rooftop bar.

Visit Eve Online in Oculus Rift

A virtual FanFest surprise.

What do you get if you combine Eve Online with the Oculus Rift? A loud enough whoop to knock the roof off this year's FanFest in Reykjavik, followed by the kind of queues God himself has never seen to have a go. I'm actually writing this in advance of the announcement, but I'm quietly confident. One of the most beautiful space games ever. Virtual reality. 1500 people who travelled to Iceland to celebrate Eve Online. There will be whooping.

Saturday Soapbox: The high cost of high standards

Why the next-gen gamble is turning into Russian Roulette.

According to Square-Enix, Tomb Raider had a disappointing launch. Tomb Raider sold 3.4 million copes in its first month. These two sentences don't belong in the same universe, never mind the same paragraph. In light of this and other complications that saw the company post a $138 million loss for the year, it's currently planning a review of itself. Much like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, presumably this will read "Good gameplay, really dumb bosses."

Questing for freedom in The Elder Scrolls Online

A prisoner of tradition, a victim of heritage.

The words 'theme park MMO' get thrown around a lot these days, but rarely have they felt more apt than during my four hours with The Elder Scrolls Online. If Skyrim, Cyrodiil and so on are worlds, TESO smacks of the World Showcase from Disney's Epcot - familiar sights remade in fibreglass to be admired but never seriously mistaken for the original. Not as many gift shops. Far more spiders. This time, the park owners will actively block your path until you agree to sit through the local equivalent of "O Canada". Still, the comparison fits.

Hitman HD Trilogy review

Hitman, maybe, one more time?

His name is Agent 47, and I do believe you know his work. He's the world's greatest assassin; travelling the globe to bring a civilised kind of murder for hire to those who deserve it, and somehow world famous despite his greatest talent being getting in and out with nobody knowing he was ever there. Take nothing but lives. Leave nothing but mystery. That's the Hitman way.

I must have thought about Alpha Protocol 2 a hundred times, which is pretty good going for a sequel that doesn't exist. It's not even really a game in my mind, but an aspiration - a benchmark, really - of what so many games I love could be, if they'd only lower themselves to take a few design tips from an RPG that was effectively deemed a failure before it even hit the shelves.

Saturday Soapbox: Expert Business Predictions For 2013

Richard Cobbett peers into a Poundland crystal ball.

2013 looks to be a challenging year for the games industry. With no new PlayStation or Xbox on the immediate horizon, anyone already queueing up has a long wait ahead of them. Even titans of the industry will find themselves squeezed as the cost of developing games rises without vast floods of new money to pay. Most importantly, the first real wave of Kickstarter games will be landing, determining the fate of crowd-sourcing in the wake of the Mayan apocalypse.

The final hours of City of Heroes

Heroes holding out 'til the end of the night.

On the last night of the world, things are surprisingly quiet. There's the occasional alien invasion, just for old time's sake. In hidden laboratories, mad scientists who haven't heard the news that City of Heroes is to be shut down at midnight continue their plans to conquer a doomed world. Civilians find themselves alone in empty streets. "Where's a hero when you need them?" they sigh.

PlanetSide 2 review

Auraxis to grind.

War in PlanetSide 2 isn't hell, though your first experience of it probably will be. You create your character and pick a faction. Then you're unceremoniously dropped - literally, from space - right into the biggest battle the game can find, surrounded by enemies and tanks and anything else that happens to be around, with a life expectancy measured in milliseconds.