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Codex Review - posted by Infinitron on Sun 16 December 2018, 02:17:41

Tags: Das Geisterschiff; Graverobber Foundation

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If you're like me, you may have once thought that zwanzig_zwoelf was just some dude who spent all his time shitposting in our Shoutbox. It turns out he'd spent the last few years teaching himself Unity and working on his first game - Das Geisterschiff, a cyberpunk-themed wireframe dungeon crawler which he finally released back in September (and on Steam in November). Since then, zwanzig has periodically whined politely requested that we review it. It took a while, but in the end Darth Roxor himself stepped up to perform the task. His conclusion? Das Geistershiff is a decent first attempt which is more cleverly designed than it may first appear to be, though it's too short and simple to be considered great. Here's an excerpt:

To dismiss the most obvious bit first, despite calling itself a dungeon crawler, and certainly being one, Das Geisterschiff is not an RPG. There’s no character creation or inventory, statistics are limited to the bare minimum like accuracy, evasion and health, you have four different guns, and that’s basically it.

Then what’s left? A weird mash-up of features that ends up fairly compelling in practice. You are the pilot of a combat suit sent on covert ops that involve prowling through maze-like levels with step-based movement and blasting various undesirables in turn-based combat.

The combat works on an I-go-you-go basis, and though the narrow list of basic building blocks highlighted above could make it seem very simple, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Das Geisterschiff compensates the simplicity with many minor mechanics and quirks that give the gameplay more involvement than just shooting and ending turn.

For starters, all your guns are very distinct and fit for different purposes. The submachine gun is effective at short range and boosts your evasion, the assault rifle is better for longer engagements but makes you move like a slug, the laser rifle is more of a tool for busting through locked doors or mines since it’s too easily dodged by enemies, while the bazooka is a weapon of last resort with great damage but low ammo and splash damage that can also harm you if not handled with care. Choosing the right gun for the job is important, as enemies are varied in movement speed (some can move two steps in combat), behaviour and stats.

Another important thing to consider are your surroundings. Often it’s better to run away from an enemy than waste ammo and health, but for that you need a winding path where you could safely lose the heat. You can also gain advantage from high ground by standing on top of ramps or try to lead baddies into the vicinity of mines and blast them for splash damage, although truth be told you’re more likely to step into them yourself.

Since movement is paired with shooting, and you don’t have to choose one or the other, this gives you some more options as well. You can backpedal and shoot incoming melee enemies or hide behind a corner, then charge and fire off a burst from your smg as they get close. Or you can go for a straight-up crash course and ram the gits, though this makes both you and the target take damage – calculated by comparing the weights of both combatants – which will also let you shoot after the ramming is done. But you have to be careful, because dodging a ramming attack gives the combatant a free action – whether it’s moving back, counter-ramming or shooting, it’s never pretty for those on the receiving end.

You could still argue that all of this sounds basic, and I agree, but the thing is – it works. Thanks to all this, Das Geisterschiff rarely falls into a routine of predictable/throwaway encounters, because something can always go wrong, not to mention that they work well at burning through your resources. These would be health, which can be replenished if you find extra armour plating in a level, and ammunition, which can’t be refilled at all, and which makes running from unnecessary encounters all the more important.

However, there’s one big bummer that strips the combat of many of its merits, and that’s the enemy AI. I can understand simple bots being dumb, but the game also involves fights with enemy commandos who are just as likely to fall for the cheapest of tricks and who sometimes act in odd ways. For example, if you go into a minefield and combat starts, you’d expect your foe to wait for you to come through the hazard, but no, they’re in fact very happy to clear the way for you, often leaving themselves vulnerable once they need to reload after shooting the mines. Further, and this is a much bigger problem, running away from enemies is often as easy as moving around a column in circles until they lose interest and leave.

Finally, I think a major oversight that doesn’t let the combat really shine, and which lends itself to some of the AI exploits, is that you always face single enemies. If they came at least in pairs sometimes, you’d have to think much harder about tackling them efficiently, be careful about getting cornered, etc. Bonus points if you could also turn them against each other with friendly fire or just pre-scripted animosity.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Das Geisterschiff

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Sat 15 December 2018

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 15 December 2018, 01:46:57

Tags: Leonard Boyarsky; Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds; Tim Cain

There have been a few more articles about The Outer Worlds published in the media since last week's big preview blast. Most notably, a short article at Kotaku that clarifies that despite its first-person perspective, the game will not be a Fallout: New Vegas-style open world RPG. Structurally, it'll be more similar to traditional 2000s-era RPGs like Knights of the Old Republic 2. That's a rare combination, which raises the possibility that the game might actually be a bit like Deus Ex. And what do you know, Deus Ex actually gets a mention in today's extensive interview with Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky at PC Gamer. It's a long piece in which Tim and Leonard discuss both the lessons they've learned over the course of the careers as well as the various design decisions they've made on The Outer Worlds. I'll try to quote the most interesting parts here:

PC Gamer: When you thought about the games you've made before, what did you say at the beginning of developing this game that you wanted to do differently? Not just the theme, but the guiding tenants of the design, of the story you wanted to tell, what the player was going to be able to do in the game. What did you want to do that you hadn't done before?

Tim: When we made Fallout, I was always going 'in the main quest, you always have to be able to fight your way, talk your way, or sneak your way through. Since then all this stuff has happened with companions and people love having companions. We're not doing romance because, well, that's been done. But I wanted to explore the things a player can do with his companions that still felt like the player's the hero, but make the companions much more integral to his path through the game. And that's what that fourth path came up, the leader idea.

There are skills that support it. The way you interact with your companions changes, and it's just a really interesting path through the game. It's more of a jack of all trades. Once you switch out companions you're good at different things. That is a really fun character to play because you're like, 'hey, let's go try and talk to these people.' You do it and fail. 'Okay, you two go back in the ship. I'm going to load out these two combat guys and we're just going to go kill everybody.' You can't do that with other characters. You can't just change your build on the fly like that.

Wes: One of the things I thought was interesting in the dialogue you showed: if you don't have a high enough intimidate skill, you'll still show the option there to make the player go, 'oh, I wish I had that.' Are there cases in dialogue using one of those skills, like intimidation or persuasion, where it fails if you're not at a high enough level?

Tim: No, it will always succeed if you're high enough level. One reason we show when you're close is you could always take a drug that improved that skill. You could run back to your ship and get a companion that can improve the skill or you can say, 'wait, I'll be back.' You'd go up a level, put all the points into that skill, and come back. So you have all these options if you're really close. That's why I like it.

Leonard: When you get to major story points or major turning points in the main story arc, nine times out of 10 to get into the place where you can start using your dialogue skills effectively, you have to have an extra piece of information, maybe have done research on the character, find that item that they've always been looking for because you've talked to people and you find that out. It's not just a simple matter of like, 'I'm going to put all my points into dialogue skills and then whenever I talk to these guys, I get those options.' Once you get those options, they'll get you to where you want to go.

To answer one of your previous questions, this is maybe something we have learned, over the years. We used to do dialogue where you had to pick the right choices all along this path to open up the [skill-based] dialogue choices, and then you have to pick the right dialogue ones, and it's just like 'I put all my points into dialogue and if I blow this, I'm screwed, because I'm going to have to end up fighting this guy.' So we wanted to make it still feel challenging. It still felt like you were making choices, but a much more directed form of that. So you don't have to get every decision right to get into the right place to be able to pick the right dialogue skill, if that makes sense.

Wes: I think a lot of people will see shades of Mass Effect in Outer Worlds. In Mass Effect you would go to a planet, do a whole hub and then you leave and you probably wouldn't go back to it if it wasn't like the Citadel. How are the explorable spaces in this game going to compare? It seems like you're gonna be returning to places a bit more. You're spending more time in different areas of these two planets?

Tim: You're returning to the planets a lot, but going to different areas.

Leonard: And it just depends how you want to play it. What we showed off in the demo, that's a fairly large area. You could go through there and spend a whole bunch of time exhausting everything in that area. I don't know if there's anything that sends you back to that specific area, but in other places we do have things that'll send you back so you can see how your choices have influenced the outcome. Once again, it's the open-endedness of letting you play how you want. If you're on a main quest and you're like, 'oh, I want to get here so I can get over to this place, maybe I won't spend all the time like exhausting every corner of this map.' It feels a little bit more open-ended, or at least we hope that's what it will feel like to players.

Wes: Are there any other forms of interactivity in the game, beyond combat and talking to characters? You showed a really brief lockpicking segment that seemed like it was just, hold a button and if your skill is a high enough threshold, it works. Are there puzzles or minigames, things you're intereacting with in the world?

Leonard: We originally talked about lockpicking minigames or hacking minigames. There's a couple different schools of thought. Some people here believe that they have yet to run into one of those types of minigames that is actually satisfying to play over and over and over again. And, you know, once again, we're starting from scratch. If I want to play a stealth character who lockpicks a lot, if I don't like the kind of minigame we picked, then is it going to make my experience worse? That is an art in and of itself. So instead of us taking time to figure out the different minigames and iterate on those games and polish them and make them fun, we would just rather concentrate on creating this great new IP with this new world that people are going to love, hopefully. And this great story and this great setting. It would be detrimental if we came up with minigames that weren't fun. I don't think it's detrimental to not have those minigames as a stealth player.

Tim: We put a lot of puzzles into the game itself. There's this is one area where if you're really good at hacking, you can hack a terminal and get the robots to attack each other, but if you put your points more into sneaking, then you can go sneak into an area to get the access code for that terminal and get them to fight each other. And then if you're just so good at sneaking and have absolutely no hacking whatsoever, just sneak by the robots altogether and don't even try to get them to fight each other. But what I like about that is you often find people go, 'I keep trying to sneak by the robots but I can't. What's that computer do? Ohhh.' If you're trying to do something and it's too hard there's always another way to do it. And we tried to do it without the Deus Ex 'there's always going to be a big vent.' Sometimes it's like, what in this environment have I not tried to use yet? Or am I like two points away from being able to hack something? Wait, this drug makes me smarter and smarts make my hacking better. Ding, I can temporarily hack this. And that just feels fun. It feels like a great use of both that drug and my hacking skills.
Other topics covered in the interview include combat quality (they're trying, but it's going to be a compromise) and the possibility of a pacifist playthrough (they're not sure, but in any case killing robots doesn't count). There's also a frank admission by Tim and Leonard that the original Fallout was basically a fluke (something that Leonard has spoken about before) which made them think they could do it all alone. The subsequent experience of the Troika years humbled them and taught them to become more focused team players.

There are 102 comments on Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky on The Outer Worlds at PC Gamer

Fri 14 December 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 14 December 2018, 19:36:14

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker; Pathfinder: Kingmaker - The Wildcards

The Wildcards, Owlcat Games' first DLC for Pathfinder: Kingmaker, was delayed a week and is out today (once again colliding with an Obsidian release!). As stated in last month's season pass announcement, The Wildcards adds a new race - Tieflings, a new class - Kineticists, and a new companion - Kaessi the Tiefling Kineticist. It's not a big DLC, but then Owlcat seem to have enough work on their hands as it is. Maybe that's why there's no release trailer, which is weird because even the Bloody Mess free DLC got one. I'll just post the description:

Fiend blood runs through their veins, whispering cruel truths and evil ideas. Who are they? Tieflings, the outcasts of the civilized world.

Living channels of elemental energy, tamers of wild power - who are they? Kineticists, masters of occult elemental skills.

A mysterious stranger crosses the threshold of your barony - marked with the blood of devils, gifted with the power of the elements. Who is she? Discover for yourself!

This new DLC for Pathfinder: Kingmaker includes:
  • A new playable race. During the poll to decide which bonus race we were going to add to the game, one particular option was requested a lot (besides the winner - Aasimars): Tieflings, the people with a drop of demonic blood in their veins. They didn't make it into the base game, but became the natural choice for the first piece of post-release content.
  • A new playable class. They master the raw power of the elements, channeling it into their wild talents to manipulate the world around them. Kineticists are living conduits of primal energy, deadly both in close and ranged combat.
  • A new companion. If you combine a race with a class, you get a character. Welcome your new companion, the Tiefling Kineticist who comes, just like every other companion, with her own storyline. She could also be a romance option and may hold one of the positions in the Kingdom.
The new companion will join your party in the beginning of Chapter 2. Those who would like to add the companion to their current playthrough can do so at any point before the end of Chapter 5 ("War of the River Kings"): the companion will ask for an audience at your throne room. However, we would advise to begin your acquaintance with the character as soon as possible.​

The Wildcards is available now on Steam and GOG for $8. Alongside the DLC comes a new hotfix, which you can read about here. Kingmaker's second major patch was also supposed to come out this month, but has been delayed to mid-January.

There are 37 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker - The Wildcards DLC Released

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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 14 December 2018, 02:07:21

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - The Forgotten Sanctum

Although it might be overlooked in the wake of The Outer Worlds' announcement, today Obsidian released The Forgotten Sanctum, the third and final expansion DLC for Pillars of Eternity II. We already learned a good deal about The Forgotten Sanctum in last month's Fig update, but now there's finally a trailer. It's narrated by the archmage Maura, who appears to be up to no good.

Alongside the core content of the expansion, Obsidian's team of youngsters have also added something called the Critter Cleaver, a Doctor Moreau-esque contraption that allows you to vivisect and recombine your pets. Josh Sawyer is suitably horrified by what his underlings have created. You can read more about it in the new Fig update, which also has a bunch of new screenshots and the latest details about the expansion's accompanying Patch 4.0. I'll quote the parts that have changed from last month's update:

Patch 4.0

Thanks to all the wonderful Watchers who participated in the Beta test, the Deadfire team is proud to release patch 4.0 alongside "The Forgotten Sanctum". Check out the full list!
  • One additional sub-class per class:
    • Tactician (Fighter)
    • Furyshaper (Barbarian)
    • Debonaire (Rogue)
    • Steel Garrote (Paladin)
    • Arcane Archer (Ranger)
    • Forbidden Fist (Monk)
    • Bellower (Chanter)
    • Priest of Woedica (Priest)
    • Ancient (Druid)
    • Blood Mage (Wizard)
    • Psion (Cipher)
  • Two new Mega Bosses
    • The Arcane Savant, Sigilmaster Auranic - Don't judge this megaboss by her size - Auranic may just be the most powerful wizard the Watcher has had the misfortune to face.
    • The Helfire Construct, Dorudugan - This construct comes wreathed in flame and comes crashing down to face any who dare face it.
There's a tone of finality to this update, which also includes a full list of all the major updates Pillars II has received since it was released in May. However, there have been rumors of an additional secret god challenge mode that doesn't appear to have been added to the game, and the console port is coming out next year, so perhaps we haven't seen our last Fig update quite yet. The Forgotten Sanctum is available now on Steam and GOG for the usual price of $10.

There are 29 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #59: The Forgotten Sanctum Released

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Thu 13 December 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 13 December 2018, 01:38:21

Tags: Ctrl Alt Ninja; Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest

Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker appears to be the first journalist to get his hands on a preview build of Druidstone, the upcoming turn-based tactical RPG from the former Legend of Grimrock devs at Ctrl Alt Ninja. The preview appears to consist of a multi-stage combat scenario, with resource attrition playing a major factor. John finds the game's emphasis on tactics and resource management over system mastery and powerbuilding appealing. It certainly sounds quite challenging, although keep in mind we are talking about John Walker here. Here's an excerpt:

The last thing I was expecting Druidstone: The Secret Of The Menhir Forest to remind me of was a deck-builder. Not least because it doesn’t feature any decks. And yet, there’s something about this deeply tactical isometric RPG, from Legend Of Grimrock’s creators, that contains the same spirit of gradually gaining a deeper and more refined understanding of a limited set of tools, through repeated failure, and incremental improvement.

This is at first glance a very traditional turned-based RPG – much as Grimrock recalled the glory days of the first-person dungeon crawler, this visually suggested memories of late-90s BioWare-ish battling. But playing it, it quickly becomes apparent this isn’t going to be a game that lets you spam your most powerful attacks at repeated mobs, but rather something that’s going to demand a lot more planning, a lot more forethought. This is going to be tough.

Gosh, it’s so tough. At one point over the weekend I emailed the game’s creators, Ctrl Alt Ninja, to say, “Ha ha, you got me. This is impossible, isn’t it?” They’d warned me it was hard. “Pretty hard for first timers, so good luck!” they said when first sending me this single level, before deploying a telling smiley face. But, I thought I’d realised, they were teasing me. Because once I’d managed to survive the first two mobs (three attempts), I then took about five goes to get past the third. (This is no rogue-like – the game checkpoints you within a level, although I was soon to learn this is as much a curse as a blessing.) But I did it! I was mastering this thing!

And then the level’s boss appeared, and started conjuring four other utterly lethal enemies every third turn, while at the same time turning the floor on which my team were standing into some terrifying roulette of death. I had a single go at just attacking everything, and that quickly proved suicide. So I thought: tactics! I left two of my three heroes on the other side of the door before triggering him, perhaps sacrifice the one guy while the other two sprint for freedom? Oops, nope, because a) the key to rescue the prisoner we were here for in the first place was in with the boss, and b) it turned out that coming in the way I wanted to escape were approximately 49 billion skellingtons, priests and demons, and they were flipping raising other monstrosities from beneath as they went.

So it was that I sent my you-got-me email. “Oh haha, it’s literally impossible!” I began. “You meanies,” I finished. And yet when their reply came back, it was a list of tips. They were for real. I’m meant to be able to do this. “Now, go and defeat that sick bastard,” Petri Häkkinen concluded. “I’m counting on you!”

Yeah I think I know who’s the sick bastard mumble mumble.

One of the most important points Häkkinen made in his hints was to say,

“If you have wasted a lot of abilities early in the mission (it can easily happen to beginners because they don’t know the basic premise of the game yet), it could be easier to just restart the demo and replay the early parts. You will find the early fights much easier this time.”
Yup, that really was it. Because as I mentioned, Druidstone is a game that makes me think of Slay The Spire meets XCOM 2 before it makes me think of Neverwinter Nights. At the start of this level, each of my characters has a healthy list of abilities, spells, attacks. But a lot of them have little numbers alongside. Aava, a ranged character with a bow, also has the ability to raise a companion from defeat! Except that has a little “1” by it. And that means she gets to do it precisely once this entire level. That’s not per encounter, but per whole mission. Her volley attack that allows me to hit two enemies in one shot also comes with a dreaded “1”. Meanwhile little Oiko, a sort of mage-thief, can stab up close as often as he likes (which isn’t often with his paltry health pool), and fire ranged Forcebolts with alacrity, but his AOE Fire spell only has three charges, and powerful chaining Lightning just the one.

And yes, of course, I’d used them all up when fighting the mob of rats, then the small gang of skeletons, and indeed mopped up any remaining taking on the even more powerful band of druids who appeared after. My cupboards were bare but for the simplest attacks come the big boss, my heals and revives had gone, and I wasn’t in any fit state for anything. And you know what else? He was right. Playing again those earlier fights that had left me so ragged? They weren’t so tough! Without any of the limited abilities, too!

It’s that sense of having a far better understanding of my ‘deck’ from each repeated attempt at each set of encounters, which cards I really don’t want to exhaust, as it were, that made this the case. Except, that is, until the priests and their guards.
See the full preview to learn how John's Druidstone adventure ended (spoiler: he failed to finish the scenario). Although still in alpha, it sounds like the game is in very good shape. Hopefully we'll get to see some footage from the preview build ourselves at some point.

There are 16 comments on Druidstone Preview at Rock Paper Shotgun

Sun 9 December 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 9 December 2018, 02:06:24

Tags: Operencia: The Stolen Sun; Zen Studios

A few years ago, due to the runaway success of the original Legend of Grimrock, it seemed like a new blobber was being announced every other month. That success largely failed to repeat itself, so it's a surprise to encounter a new one in late 2018, coming right after the failure of Bard's Tale IV. Especially when it's being made by Zen Studios, a Hungarian developer best known for their pinball adaptations. The game's title is Operencia: The Stolen Sun, and it's a turn-based dungeon crawler with a setting based on Hungarian folklore and mythology. It actually looks rather pretty, although some will disapprove of the apparent absence of party creation. As usual, here's the announcement trailer and Steam page description:

Zen Studios’ modern homage to classic first-person dungeon-crawlers takes you to the land of Operencia, an unconventional fantasy world inspired by a faraway land referenced in countless Central European folktales. An old-school turn-based battle system combines with inspiration from unexplored mythology to offer an RPG experience that feels unique yet also familiar.

A Tale for the Ages
An unknown force has abducted the Sun King Napkiraly, leaving Operencia in a state of perpetual darkness – and eventual doom. From hidden royal tombs and cursed castles to an ascent up the World Tree to reach the Copper Forest of the Land of the Gods, explore diverse settings throughout the far reaches of the land…and beyond. Each location boasts its own unique atmosphere, visual style, level design and puzzles, and many take place entirely outdoors.

Where History Meets Legend
Operencia is home to an intriguing mix of unexplored mythology and fantastical versions of actual historical locations (e.g., Deva Fortress, Balvanyos) and characters (e.g., Attila, Seven Chieftains of the Magyars), all coming together to form one cohesive new gaming universe. Several of your own seven party members take influence from heroes of forgotten tales told hundreds of years ago, such as the brave knight Mezey and Sebastian the Dragon Slayer.

Classic Gameplay and Exploration
Along with a deeply strategic turn-based battle system full of spells and special skills to execute, tile-based movement encourages thorough exploration of each area. For added challenge, turn on Cartographer mode to plot out each of the 13 maps yourself. How many secrets will you find?

Beautiful Presentation
Breathtaking hand-drawn cutscenes and fabulous 2D character portraits bring the story to life in a style not easily compared to any other game. More than 30 colorful roles are fully voiced through top-tier performances authentic to the game’s Central European roots.

Other Key Features
  • Explore 13 diverse, puzzle-filled levels
  • Defeat more than 50 enemy types
  • Switch between 7 fully upgradable – and memorable – characters
  • Robust difficulty settings allow you to select options such as limiting saves, implementing permadeath, and disabling auto-mapping to create your own
  • Stunning visuals powered by Unreal Engine 4
  • An epic orchestral score composed by Arthur Grosz
  • Fully 3D environments, enemies and objects, plus high-fidelity advanced effects with dynamic shadows and lighting
  • AAA Indie production quality and polish with top-tier voice acting, soundtrack, cutscenes and writing
Zen Studios' goal is to create Hungary's own "Witcher moment". I really don't think they're going to achieve that with this game, but hey, might as well put those pinball bucks to good use. You can read more about Operencia on the game's official website. It's supposed to come out sometime next year.

There are 44 comments on Operencia: The Stolen Sun is an upcoming turn-based dungeon crawler by a Hungarian pinball developer

Fri 7 December 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 7 December 2018, 19:01:12

Tags: Charles Staples; Leonard Boyarsky; Matthew Singh; Megan Starks; Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds; Tim Cain

We didn't have to wait long to learn more about The Outer Worlds. Not only were a whole bunch of highly detailed previews published today, but Game Informer got their hands on 14 minutes of gameplay footage. The footage reveals a game that is clearly aiming to be an all but explicit Fallout: New Vegas clone, from its traditional dialogue trees and silent protagonist to its authentically Gamebryo-esque janky combat. There's even a VATS equivalent slow mode called Tactical Time Dilation (TTD). In the scenario shown, the protagonist and his two companions answer a distress call and embark on a short mission to retrieve a corporate scientist's stolen research (on "diet toothpaste") from a group of bandits. There are low intelligence dialogue options, and we get to see the flaw system mentioned in the game's Steam description in action. It's a shame about the two annoying journos talking over it, though.

Here are links to all of today's previews:

There's more information in these previews than I can possibly be bothered to summarize on my own, but pretty much any one of them will tell you all you need to know. Obsidian seem to have little to hide, which makes me hopeful that the game will come out on schedule. For the most critical edge, the RPG Site preview is probably the best. They also have a bonus interview with Megan Starks. Oh, and one last thing - there are no romances!

There are 129 comments on The Outer Worlds Gameplay Footage, Previews and Interviews

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 7 December 2018, 12:14:41

Tags: Leonard Boyarsky; Obsidian Entertainment; Private Division; The Outer Worlds; Tim Cain

Yesterday was The Game Awards, the annual video game awards show hosted by cheerful industry propagandist Geoff Keighley. As usual, there were a bunch of premieres and trailers unveiled at the event. Even BioWare showed up to remind us that Dragon Age still exists. But we were all watching for one reason only, for that moment when Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky went up on the stage to reveal Obsidian's new RPG, now officially confirmed as The Outer Worlds. It's a colorful first-person sci-fi action-RPG set on a corporate-controlled space colony on the edge of the galaxy. Here's the announcement trailer and the description from the game's Steam page:

The Outer Worlds is a new single-player first-person sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division.

In The Outer Worlds, you awake from hibernation on a colonist ship that was lost in transit to Halcyon, the furthest colony from Earth located at the edge of the galaxy, only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy it. As you explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter various factions, all vying for power, the character you decide to become will determine how this player-driven story unfolds. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.

Key Features
  • The player-driven story RPG: In keeping with the Obsidian tradition, how you approach The Outer Worlds is up to you. Your choices affect not only the way the story develops; but your character build, companion stories, and end game scenarios.
  • You can be flawed, in a good way: New to The Outer Worlds is the idea of flaws. A compelling hero is made by the flaws they carry with them. While playing The Outer Worlds, the game tracks your experience to find what you aren't particularly good at. Keep getting attacked by Raptidons? Taking the Raptiphobia flaw gives you a debuff when confronting the vicious creatures, but rewards you with an additional character perk immediately. This optional approach to the game helps you build the character you want while exploring Halcyon.
  • Lead your companions: During your journey through the furthest colony, you will meet a host of characters who will want to join your crew. Armed with unique abilities, these companions all have their own missions, motivations, and ideals. It's up to you to help them achieve their goals, or turn them to your own ends.
  • Explore the corporate colony: Halcyon is a colony at the edge of the galaxy owned and operated by a corporate board. They control everything... except for the alien monsters left behind when the terraforming of the colony’s two planets didn’t exactly go according to plan. Find your ship, build your crew, and explore the settlements, space stations, and other intriguing locations throughout Halcyon.
The Outer Worlds appears to be aimed squarely at fans of Fallout who are disappointed with recent offerings from Bethesda, and it's certainly being received that way. We know the game has been in development since 2016, so it's not surprising that it's scheduled for release next year. Screenshots are available on the Steam page and on the game's official website. It looks like there are also going to be some previews coming out later today, so stay tuned.

There are 280 comments on Obsidian's new game is The Outer Worlds, a first-person sci-fi RPG set on a corporate space colony

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 7 December 2018, 00:46:56

Tags: Cliffhanger Productions; HandyGames; Jagged Alliance: Rage!

Since it was announced back in August, Jagged Alliance: Rage! has done precisely what its title indicates - make people really mad. At least when they bothered paying attention to it, which wasn't often. Three weeks after it was revealed to the world, it was announced that the game would be out on September 27th, further confirming suspicions that it was some sort of half-finished project by bankrupt developer Cliffhanger Productions that THQ Nordic had decided to pick up and shove out the door. I guess things didn't go as planned though, because they ended up delaying it to today just a day before that deadline. Whatever the case, it's out now. Here's the launch trailer, still with the bizarrely, almost fascinatingly unappealing art direction.

There are no mainstream media reviews of Jagged Alliance: Rage!, of course. I'm not sure if it's completely or just mostly terrible, but at this point it doesn't really matter, does it? The curse has taken another victim. If for some reason you want to add your voice to the game's small chorus of negative Steam reviews, you can get it there for $20, with a 10% launch discount until week.

There are 16 comments on Jagged Alliance: Rage! Released

Thu 6 December 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 6 December 2018, 23:58:33

Tags: Kenshi; Lo-Fi Games

Kenshi is an open-ended sandbox RPG set in a brutal Dark Sun-esque desert world. It's one of those games where you can go anywhere and do anything, including building cities and leading armies. Think Mount & Blade, but even crazier. Which it should be, seeing as it's been in development for twelve years, including over five years on Steam Early Access (beat that, Bannerlord!). As stated, the game is finally out today. The uncut launch trailer should give you a good idea of what the Kenshi experience is all about.

A free-roaming squad based RPG focusing on open-ended sandbox gameplay features rather than a linear story. Be a trader, a thief, a rebel, a warlord, an adventurer, a farmer, a slave, or just food for the cannibals.

Research new equipment and craft new gear. Purchase and upgrade your own buildings to use as safe fortified havens when things go bad, or use them to start up a business. Aid or oppose the various factions in the world while striving for the strength and wealth necessary to simply survive in the harsh desert. Train your men up from puny victims to master warriors. Carry your wounded squad mates to safety and get them all home alive.

  • Freeform gameplay in a seamless game world in the largest single-player RPG world since Daggerfall, stretching over 870 square kilometers. The game will never seek to limit you or restrict your personal play style.
  • Custom design as many characters as you want and build up a whole squad to fight for you. Characters will grow and become stronger with experience, not just in their stats but their appearance too.
  • Original take on the RTS-RPG hybrid genre. No "hero" characters with artificially stronger stats than everybody else- Every character and NPC you meet is potentially an equal, and has a name, a life.
  • You are not the chosen one. You're not great and powerful. You don't have more 'hitpoints' than everyone else. You are not the center of the universe, and you are not special. Unless you work for it.
  • Build a base where you can research new technologies, upgrade your defences and craft new gear.
  • Purchase and upgrade your own buildings to use as safe fortified havens when things go bad, or use them to start up a business.
  • Variation and possibilities of gameplay. Be good, be evil, be a businessman, be a thief, live in a town, live in the desert, travel alone, travel in hordes, build a fortress, raze a city. Devote yourself to freeing slaves, or maybe end up a slave yourself.
  • Dynamic, ever changing world. Support or hinder whoever you wish, or keep to yourself, the world won't stop moving. This is not just a "game", you are living and surviving in a simulated world.
  • Get captured by cannibals and eaten alive, or sold off by slavers and forced to work in the mines. These are not scripted events, just a regular part of this chaotic world that ruins your life by chance. Anything can happen, yet anything can be overcome if you have the strength.
  • Absolutely no Level-scaling. The world does not level up along with you, and the shops don't change their inventory to only items matching your level. At the start of the game almost everyone will be stronger than you, and survival will always be a struggle. The game won't hold your hand or help you when you're down.
  • Realistic medical system that affects gameplay. A character with a wounded leg will limp or crawl and slow the party down, wounded arms means you must use your sword one-handed or not at all. Severe injuries will result in amputees needing robotic limb replacements. Blood loss means you can pass out, and the blood will attract predators. A character’s stats are affected by equipment, encumbrance, blood loss, injuries and starvation.
  • Intelligent AI that allows for characters to reason and work towards long-term goals and desires. Squads work together and carry their wounded to safety. Characters can be setup to take care of micromanagement for you and run production in your base.
  • Aid or oppose the various factions in the world while striving for the strength and wealth necessary to simply survive in the harsh environment.
  • Independently developed with no design influences, or alterations dictated by men in gray suits who have never played a game before in their lives.
  • Original game world. There are no fantasy-knock-off cliches. No magic.
Kenshi isn't the kind of game mainstream reviewers grok, but it's got thousands of positive reviews on Steam. It might just be a new classic of the genre, although I don't know if Codexers have patience for this sort of game nowadays. If it is your type of thing though, you can grab Kenshi on Steam or GOG today for $30.

There are 75 comments on Kenshi Released

Wed 5 December 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 5 December 2018, 01:22:25

Tags: Aeon of Sands - The Trail; Two Bits Kid

Today's second release is Two Bits Kid's Aeon of Sands - The Trail. It's a surreal, story-driven dungeon crawler with CYOA elements and a comic book aesthetic, which has apparently been in development for six years. Pretty wild stuff. This is the sort of game the Codex should have paid more attention to, and probably would have if it wasn't a blobber (and a real-time one at that). It's not too late to make amends, though. Zed posted the release trailer back in October, so I'll just quote the game's description here:

Aeon of Sands – The Trail is a retro low fantasy RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world, with first person, grid-based exploration, puzzles, real-time combat, and a fully illustrated, non-linear, choose your story adventure.

The game follows the misadventures of a likeable slacker, who is suddenly thrown out of his cozy home into a terrible, infinite desert that seems to hate him.

Accompany the vain, nap-loving clerk Setrani through his first major adventure.
Guide him on his travels through a dangerous land, ravaged by the weather and by tribal conflicts. Struggle with him as the desert, wickedly, sets trap after trap on his path.

The story is driven by multiple-choice dialogues, in which you are repeatedly confronted with new absurd situations.
Based on your decisions, new areas can be explored while others become inaccessible, you meet new companions or make enemies of them.

It's basically Choose Your Own Adventure featuring Dungeon Crawling!


“One of the most brilliant pieces of design I’ve seen in forever“ Rock, Paper, Shotgun
  • Choose your path, or stumble around blindly! Let nonlinearity be your pal!
  • Replay it! Do it differently all over, and still manage to sabotage civilisation!
  • Travel the large desert like there's no tomorrow!
  • Play with magic, which is most often as dangerous to you as to others!
  • Face multiple endings, and more often, your own!
  • Real-time combat
  • 20 locations and more than 60 mazes and dungeons to explore
  • More than 140 dialogues
  • Completely hand drawn 2.5D environment, 240 hand-drawn illustrations
  • Up to 2 other characters can join your party during play
  • Each character’s personality influences the outcome of the story, and opens up new paths
You can grab Aeon of Sands on Steam for $20, with a 10% launch discount until next week. I'd like to hear some impressions - this game could be like the Disco Elysium of blobbers.

There are 30 comments on Aeon of Sands - The Trail Released

Tue 4 December 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 4 December 2018, 22:11:48

Tags: Funcom; Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden; The Bearded Ladies

Today is the release day of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, the post-apocalyptic turn-based-tactics-with-furries game from Swedish studio The Bearded Ladies that was announced back in February. There are many games with similar feature sets that have had no problem calling themselves RPGs, but the developers of Mutant Year Zero have insisted on marketing their game as a "tactical adventure". Certain previews published over the year have helped clarify that decision. Although story-driven, the game is linear and fairly short, with a focus on stealth and tactical combat. It also has no character creation, which would be a particularly crucial feature for an RPG based on a tabletop game. So I guess they've kept expectations low, which is probably a smart thing to do for your first game.

But has this quality-over-quantity gambit succeeded? The reviews run the gamut, but in general the answer seems to be yes. The PC-centric sites approve of the game, and Rock Paper Shotgun in particular are in love with it.
So if you want some well-paced, good-for-what-is turn-based action, you can give Mutant Year Zero a try for just $35 on Steam. This has turned out to be another pretty crazy month for RPG releases though, so you might want to wait a while and see what else is in store.

There are 39 comments on Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Released

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Tue 4 December 2018, 17:57:52

Tags: David Walgrave; Divinity: Original Sin 2; Jan Van Dosselaer; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

Gameumentary have followed up on their Larian documentary from October with an additional 50 minute documentary about the making of Divinity: Original Sin 2. This one is more focused on the rank-and-file developers, showcasing the areas where they tried to improve over the first game - writing and reactivity, art and music, combat and area design.

It's a fun watch, but lacking the historical breadth of the first documentary, probably not as essential. The most interesting part begins 35 minutes in, where they talk about the game's last few months of development. It turns out the undead player race really was only added at the very end, something which required a lot of last minute dialogue rewriting.

There are 4 comments on Making of Divinity: Original Sin 2 Documentary by Gameumentary

Fri 30 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 30 November 2018, 01:16:36

Tags: Battle Brothers; Battle Brothers - Beasts & Exploration; Overhype Studios

Shortly after Battle Brothers was released last year, developer Overhype Studios announced that they were ending development on the game and moving on to new things, much to the frustration of fans who felt that there was much left to expand upon. The free Lindwurm DLC they released later that year was small consolation, but it may have been a clue to what was coming. The Beasts & Exploration expansion released today delivers pretty much what it says on the tin. In the four months since it was announced, Overhype have published weekly development updates introducing the myriad of new features it adds to the game. That includes numerous new enemy types such as giant spiders, witches and the mighty kraken, as well as a variety of new items, new mechanics and new scripted events. Overhype have helpfully provided links to all of those updates here. There's no launch trailer for Beasts & Exploration, so I'll just post its store page description:


The 'Beasts & Exploration' DLC for Battle Brothers expands the game with a larger world, full of unique hidden locations throughout that offer new possibilities and rewards to the daring adventurer, as well as challenging new beasts roaming the untamed wilds. Craft your own gear from trophies you collect, customize your equipment with a new system for armor attachments, and engage in profitable beast hunting and exploration!

  • Legendary Locations - Hidden legendary locations offer new possibilities, lore, unique opponents, and unique rewards for the daring adventurer in a world that is 25% larger.
  • New Opponents - Five challenging new beasts populate different parts of the wilds, and three fearsome bosses guard valuable treasure. All of them come with unique mechanics and loot.
  • Crafting - Trophies from slain beasts can now be crafted into cloaks, armor plating, armor for your wardogs, shields, potions and other items to customize the look of your hardened mercenaries and benefit them in combat.
  • Customize your Gear - Wear cloaks, shoulderguards and more for additional benefits with the new armor attachment system, and use the new paint items to paint shields and helmets in the colors of your company.
  • New Weapons and Armor - A collection of new weapons and armors allow for new play styles and character builds.
  • New Contracts, Events and Ambitions - Engage in profitable beast hunting and exploration. Immerse yourself in leading a mercenary company with even more illustrated events.
  • New Music - Two new music tracks accompany you on your adventures.
  • New Achievements - Challenge yourself with new achievements.
The Beasts & Exploration DLC for Battle Brothers is available now at Steam and GOG for just $10. Alongside it comes the version 1.2 update for the base game, which you can read about here. Hopefully this will be the first of many DLCs, although realistically I wonder how much longer they can keep working on this one game.

There are 33 comments on Battle Brothers Beasts & Exploration DLC Released

Thu 29 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 29 November 2018, 01:15:30

Tags: Himalaya Studios; Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements

Himalaya Studios' Mage's Initiation was crowdfunded way back in February 2013, during the golden age of Kickstarter. It was part of a trio of crowdfunded Quest for Glory-likes, along with Infamous Quests' Quest for Infamy which came out in 2014 and the Coles' own Hero-U which was finally released earlier this year. The game, in case you've forgotten, is an adventure-RPG where you play as D'arc, a novice mage who is tasked with saving the land. Himalaya have really taken their sweet time with it, having spent 15 months on voice acting alone. A dodgy combat video they released back in 2016 had us worried that the game had gone down a feature creep rabbit hole. However, it looks like things have come together, and today they finally announced a launch date - January 30th. Here's the obligatory teaser trailer and accompanying press release:

Sixteen-year-old D'arc has spent most of his life confined to the Mage's Tower, studying elemental magic under the instruction of Ele'Wold's most accomplished scholars. Now his skills will be put to the test with three quests across a mystical land he knows only from stories and dreams.

But something's rotten in Ele'Wold: the realm's once benevolent winged guardians have turned hostile and restless redcap goblins are on the warpath. Can D'arc pass his initiation *and* rescue a kingdom on the brink of chaos?

Mage's Initiation is an adventure/RPG hybrid inspired by the venerable Quest for Glory (a.k.a. Hero's Quest) and King's Quest series by Sierra On-Line. It's the second commercial adventure game from Himalaya Studios, who have also released four free remakes of classic Sierra games under the moniker Anonymous Game Developers Interactive (AGDI).

  • Choose from four character classes -- Fire Mage, Air Mage, Water Mage, or Earth Mage -- each with unique magical spells and puzzle solutions.
  • Explore a vibrant fantasy world with hand-drawn graphics reminiscent of the Sierra, LucasArts, and Revolution adventure games of the early 1990s.
  • Select between three point & click interfaces: a Sierra-style icon bar, a LucasArts-style verb coin, or a streamlined compact UI.
  • Run into combat for an RPG experience, or avoid it for pure adventure.
  • Automatically gain new strengths, spells, and abilities as your character improves -- no stat grinding required!
  • Get your money's worth: branching storyline and optional side quests provide replay value.
  • Fully voiced and lip-synced.
As the gaming world moves on to newer things, it's nice that Quest for Glory fans are getting one last unabashedly classic spiritual successor. Mage's Initation has a Steam page now, so go wishlist it.

There are 34 comments on Quest for Glory-like Mage's Initiation releasing on January 30th

Wed 28 November 2018

Game News - posted by Zed on Wed 28 November 2018, 22:04:00

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Private Division

It looks like there will be at least one thing of interest at The Game Awards show on December 6th, hosted by Geoff "Dorito Pope" Keighley. Obsidian is teasing a game reveal and it's most likely the RPG spearheaded by industry veterans Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky. The teasing comes in the shape of a couple of faux ads, one for Auntie Cleo's (general goods store?) and one for Spacer's Choice (gun shop?).


Visit (.net – haha, losers) and take part of this super-fun marketing ploy.
Also, according to this tweet from the Pope himself, the game will be published by Private Division. Maybe this wasn't news but I've never heard of them before.
Shameful update: Apparently the publisher was not news, I just forgot about this piece of news from a year ago. Hell, we've even had a gander at the game's possible title!

There are 341 comments on Obsidian teasing game reveal at The Game Awards

Wed 21 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 November 2018, 01:39:25

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - The Forgotten Sanctum

Not to be outdone by Owlcat, Obsidian chose today to do a DLC reveal of their own. Today's Fig update gives us our first look at The Forgotten Sanctum, the game's third and final expansion DLC. It's a high-level adventure where the player will travel into the depths of a dungeon formed out of the flesh of a sleeping god at the behest of the archmages of Eora. The expansion is due out on December 13th. Here are a few screenshots:

[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
The more interesting part of the update however is the preview of Patch 4.0, which will be released alongside the new DLC. It turns out that what I thought was going to be a Patch 4.1 is just part of one very big patch. The highlight is the Woedica god challenge mode, which will disable health regeneration and turn all per-encounter abilities into per-rest abilities (AKA "Vancian spellcasting"), effectively restoring IE/PoE1-style strategic resource management. Josh Sawyer provides!

Patch 4.0 Preview

Alongside the release of "The Forgotten Sanctum", the Deadfire team is releasing a new update with patch 4.0. As the team has done with every major update, they're happy to bring new features to Pillars II. Some of the new features that will be arriving with patch 4.0:
  • One additional sub-class per class - That's right! Every class in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will be getting one extra sub-class, including the oft-requested Priest of Woedica and Steel Garrote sub-classes!
  • Respawning ships on the world map - The ships of the Deadfire will no longer be gone forever once defeated. They'll now respawn, giving you the ability to attack, loot, and take down again.
  • New Magran's Fire Challenges:
    • Ondra's Challenge
      • Storms are larger, faster, and more frequent in the Deadfire now.
      • Enemy Captains are increased in rank and travel faster when chasing the Watcher
    • Wael's Challenge
      • All numbers become ??? with the exception being item count, party character Attributes, Skill, and Level.
    • Woedica's Challenge
      • All Per-Encounter and Class resources become Per Rest.
      • Party Health no longer regenerates outside of combat.
      • While camping, only "Prepared Meals" will recover Injuries and Resources.
  • Two new Mega Bosses
    • The Wizard Savant
    • The Infernal Construct
Unlike the first two DLCs, Obsidian didn't release a teaser trailer for The Forgotten Sanctum's reveal. It does have a Steam page, though. As for the patch, we'll probably learn more about it when the beta comes out in a week or two.

There are 142 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #58: Forgotten Sanctum DLC coming December 13th, Patch 4.0 Preview

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 November 2018, 00:36:33

Tags: Deep Silver; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker; Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Beneath The Stolen Lands; Pathfinder: Kingmaker - The Wildcards; Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Varnhold's Lot

Pathfinder: Kingmaker was released almost two months ago in a disastrously incomplete state and to mixed reviews. That hasn't stopped it from selling about as many copies as Pillars of Eternity II and instantly becoming a new Codex classic, with over 450 pages of discussion as of this writing. We've all been eager to learn what comes next, but it's been hard to figure out Owlcat's strategy. After releasing no fewer than 16 hotfixes to get the bugs under control, they finally released the game's first major patch this weekend. There was also a silly Total War-style Bloody Mess free DLC last month. Now it looks like things are finally coming together, with the reveal of the game's DLC roadmap. The first one is due just two weeks from now. Here's the announcement:

Owlcat Games and Deep Silver announce the upcoming availability of the Season Pass for their critically acclaimed, cRPG Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

Customers who purchase the season pass will receive access to all three upcoming DLCs (paid downloadable content). Each DLC will deliver fresh and exciting content: There are new locations, companions, items, modes and most importantly, new emotions to experience!

DLC #1 – “The Wildcards”

Ardent adventurers of The Stolen Lands will soon have the chance to play the first new DLC! Featuring a new playable race Tieflings, a new playable class Kineticists, and of course combining a race with a class, you get a character! Prepare to welcome your new companion, the Tiefling Kineticist who comes, just like every other companion, with her own rich and engaging storyline.

Oleg Shpilchevsky, Head Of Owlcat Games explains, “A new playable race. During the poll to decide which bonus race we were going to add to the game, one particular option was requested a lot (besides the winner – Aasimars): Tieflings, the people with a drop of demonic blood in their veins. They didn’t make it into the base game, but became the natural choice for the first piece of post-release content.”

DLC #2 – “Varnhold’s Lot”

A new bonus campaign. While celebrating your victory at Jamandi Aldori’s mansion, you’ve met another hero of the Stolen Lands: the mercenary captain Maegar Varn. While you’re building your barony in the Shrike Hills and Narlmarshes, Varn and his people are establishing their own nation of Varnhold in the rocky foothills of Dunsward. What did they have to face? Play this new story, and export the consequences of the choices you’ve made there into the main campaign! This exciting new side story is about the size of one chapter of our main campaign and will take 6-12 hours to complete, depending on your playstyle.

DLC #3 – “Beneath The Stolen Lands”

A new game mode. Sometimes you want to play a story with memorable characters, rich lore, and a complicated set of choices and consequences. But then there are days when you just want to grab a sword, cast some spells, and destroy a horde of monsters! This DLC will introduce a rogue-like randomly generated endless dungeon, complete with a new unique boss. You can explore it in a separate game, or as a part of your main campaign. How deep can you go?

The Season Pass and the first DLC “The Wildcards” is due to be released on December 6 2018.

DLC Information (*dates are estimates and are subject to change)
  • DLC 1 – “The Wildcards” On sale December 6, 2018
  • DLC 2 – “Varnhold’s Lot” – February , 2019*
  • DLC 3 – “Beneath The Stolen Lands” – April, 2019*
(All DLC content requires the base game Pathfinder:Kingmaker in order to play)

Stay tuned for more information soon!
Some might find it disappointing that only the second one of these is a traditional story expansion DLC, but hey, the game is probably large enough as it is. Despite what the announcement claims, the Season Pass is already available for sale on Steam for $25. It's a $5 discount if you buy it instead of getting each DLC individually.

There are 60 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker DLCs revealed, first DLC releasing on December 6th

Tue 20 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 20 November 2018, 22:50:14

Tags: Element: Space; Inca Games; Sixth Vowel

Earlier this year we learned about Element: Space, an upcoming RPG from Argentinian studio Sixth Vowel that seems to be a kind of turn-based tactical take on Mass Effect. The press release said it was going to launch in Q4 of this year. Well, it has launched - on Steam Early Access, which may or may not have been the plan all along. The Early Access launch trailer features an intense narrator but doesn't really showcase any gameplay at all, so I'll also post the gameplay trailer the developers put together for PAX West back in August, alongside the accompanying press release.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2018 – Argentina-based incubator and publisher Inca Games, today announced that Element: Space, the first game from its in-house development studio Sixth Vowel, is now available for PC/Steam as Early Access for $19.99 USD. In this squad-based tactical RPG where decisions have consequences, players must forge alliances and build loyalty to save humanity from extinction. The full PC version is slated to launch in Q1, 2019 for $29.99 USD, with additional platforms to follow.

Inca Games wants to use Early Access to reward fans who have been supporting the team through the game’s development, as well as getting player feedback, doing final gameplay balancing and polishing, and locking down strategic partnerships to help with discoverability and distribution.

“Element: Space is an ambitious title from a studio of our size and, with it being our first game, we feel our players and community are an important component in making the game the best it can be, in terms of testing and feedback,” said Javier Entelman, President and CEO of Inca Games and Sixth Vowel. "We were simply amazed and overwhelmed by the incredible response from players when we debuted the game at PAX West this year, so Early Access is a way we can let those early supporters enjoy Element: Space while we are in the final stages of development.”

More than two years in the making by a team of 50 developers, Element: Space is estimated to be one of the biggest games solely conceived and developed in the Spanish language Latin American region. The challenges and learnings the team faced during the game’s development was the impetus to form the Inca Games publishing arm to help other indie studios in the region, foster LatAm’s games ecosystem, and shine a light on its games and talent.

The Game

As Captain Christopher Pietham, players must align with an ideology, and strategically select and lead their squad of diverse companions into intergalactic conflict; dealing with the consequences of their choices throughout Element: Space’s deep story and rich combat.

The single-player game has core aspects of a classic squad-based tactical RPG but, rather than procedurally-generated missions, each is hand-crafted, non-linear, contains free-form combat, and is revealed based upon the player’s selection of factions, ideology, companions and more. Players experience 8 of the 24 nonlinear missions or submissions each time they play, determined by their choices, for an estimated 12-15+ hours per playthrough, so the game must be replayed to experience the entire universe and story.

There are 8 faction worlds to explore, each with its own distinct culture and agenda, and building bonds with each may be rewarded with unique bonuses. There are also 8 potential companions from which players may select their squad. Each unlocks different stories, weapons and/or specialized combat skills, and amplifies aspects of the other squad members. Woven throughout the game is the ‘Sixth Vowel’, a power which can best be described as humanity’s capacity for altering reality by manipulating sound, light and motion at will, either to help or harm.

Turn-based free-form combinations of movement, skills and attacks enables a team-based approach to the Element: Space combat system. A wide selection of melee and ranged weapons, some unlockable based on faction relationships, is available. Not only does each companion have unique skills, with no two characters having the same combination of archetypes, but each set of enemies combine their abilities to challenge the player in a new way that adds to the replayability of the game.

Element: Space Early Access for PC can be downloaded on Steam, on the game’s website, and soon on Humble Bundle for the discounted price of $19.99 USD while the full version of the game will be $29.99 USD. Early Access players will be automatically upgraded to the full game at launch. For additional information, please visit
As the press release says, Element: Space is available on Steam for $20, and it's also 33% off until next week, which is pretty damn cheap. The final release is now scheduled for Q1 2019.

There are 16 comments on Turn-based tactical sci-fi RPG Element: Space released on Steam Early Access

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 20 November 2018, 00:32:26

Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment

Microsoft's acquisition of Obsidian was the subject of rumors for months before it was finally announced, but their acquisition of inXile came to us a complete surprise. Many are wondering why Microsoft would be interested in Brian Fargo's troubled studio. Today, Robert Purchese from Eurogamer has the first post-acquisition interview with Fargo. I wouldn't exactly say it provides a satisfying answer to that question, but otherwise it's a surprisingly interrogative piece. Here's an excerpt:

How long has the deal been in the offing?

Brian Fargo: I'd have to think about when the exact day was it became very real, but the conversation started back in April, and as you might imagine with Microsoft, it's an incredible vetting process you need to go through, both as a person and a company. Yeah, it takes quite a while.

Who approached who - what was the reasoning behind it?

Brian Fargo: I've known Noah Musler a long time [Microsoft business development bigwig who has old ties with Feargus Urquhart and Obsidian as well]. He dropped me a message one day and said, 'Hey, um, I have a crazy idea - you want to come up and talk about something?' I said, 'Sure, let's do it.'

For me, it's always... My goal is to always get my company in a safe harbour so we can spend as much time as possible working on our games and honing our craft. That can come if you sell 2 million units - that's a great way to get there which everyone hopes for. Or, a deal like this. But at the end of the day that's all I ever cared about.

How was the studio doing before the sale - were you in good health? Could you have continued to operate indefinitely without Microsoft's involvement? Because Bard's Tale 4 didn't set the world on fire, Torment: Tides of Numenera didn't seem to do well commercially, and Wasteland 3 isn't due until next year. Were you on the rocks?

Brian Fargo: Well listen, I'm a clever guy and I'm a survivor, so I always have a plan B, C and D at all times. There were a few companies wanting to give us big contracts recently so I always had that as an option, and some of the projects were really interesting. I would have had to continue to adjust my business model; right now we're primarily crowdfunding and publishing ourselves, so perhaps I would have had to mix it up a bit and continue with things like Wasteland 3 but maybe do a work-for-hire contract at the same time.

I found with inXile I've been constantly flexing both our size and our business strategy to survive, so I would have continued doing that.

Anyway, presumably alongside Wasteland 3, you're beefing up to make something new for Microsoft?

Brian Fargo: Yeah, we will be.

Are you working on something now?

Brian Fargo: Well, we've had a project in development for some time we haven't announced that they're quite keen on, so we'll be looking at that and saying, 'Okay, what does this product look like now we're going to be given extra time and resources?' Evaluating how we could make it better.

Was that game part of the deal? Or was it more Microsoft acquiring inXile and then looking at what you could do?

Brian Fargo: They were certainly looking at what we had in development as an indicator of where we were going. They were interested in us because we are a self-sufficient company that can do good product without hand-holding which they could see, with a little extra resource, could really be pushed up a notch. That, as a general sense, was a motivator, and then in addition they were able to look at what was in the pipe and say, 'These guys are really doing some interesting, innovative things.'

So what sort of size are you looking to bulk up to?

Brian Fargo: In the short-term we talk about increasing it 30 per cent or so. We're not trying to become multi-hundred-person teams but just filling the holes we've been desperately wanting to: having a full-time audio person, having a full-time lighting person, having a cinematics person - these things that could help us improve what we're doing.

For the last few years you've made isometric games but presumably Microsoft wants you to make something flashier? I always thought The Bard's Tale 4 was a good indication of where you could go, and what you could do in 3D with Unreal Engine. Is that the direction the one you're going in? Are isometric games off the table?

Brian Fargo: Ultimately we get to decide what we're going to make - they've been very clear on that. They've not once said 'we'd really love you to do more of this or less of that' - that's never been a conversation. Really it's going to be up to us, and very much us talking to our fans about the things they'd like to see. We're not necessarily walking away from isometric at all. There's still some great things you can do with it that haven't been done yet.

Just to be clear, and I believe Microsoft has said something along these lines anyway, but inXile being similar to Obsidian Entertainment does not mean you're going to be lumped together, or does it?

Brian Fargo: There's absolutely no plans to lump us together or have us work in the same office or anything of that nature. What could come out of it, of course, is we're going to have a tighter relationship. We're going to be less competitive and more like brothers, and as we compare notes I'm hoping there could be some synergies so we can help each other across town. Any number of things could happen, but that will be for me and Feargus [Urquhart] to talk about, for something we think is good for both of us. But ultimately, no, we're not being merged out.
Other topics mentioned in the interview include the PS4 ports of Bard's Tale IV and Wasteland 3 (still happening) and the fate of Fig (if it dies, it dies). In the short term, inXile's plan is to keep on doing what they were doing before, except with bigger budgets, better graphics and hopefully smoother launches. The unannounced title that Brian is referring to is undoubtedly the Wasteland: Frost Point/Frostpoint VR game that the studio has been working on since last year. As for Obsidian, Robert plans to interview them also, but apparently it's been "trickier to organize".

There are 42 comments on Brian Fargo interviewed about Microsoft acquisition at Eurogamer

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