Borderlands 3 has released today and, just like with Pokemon and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, we've got some pretty strong opinions on who you should start your career with. Join us for a light-hearted, friendly, debate about the best character, and the others, in Borderlands 3.
Sam | FL4K
I have to be honest and say that I really don’t like the Borderlands series, although Telltale Games’ narrative-based adventure Tales from the Borderlands does stand as a notable exception.
Gearbox Software’s looter shooters have historically bored the pants off me and so I’ll be opting out of Borderlands 3, likely much to the chagrin of the salivating general gaming populous. If I were to be a glutton for punishment and give the latest cel-shaded shooter a try, however, I’d probably opt for FL4K the Beastmaster.
This gender-neutral, robotic Vault Hunter doesn’t do anything to appeal to me in themselves, but coming bundled with what are essentially three pet doggy companions makes for an easy win. Unfortunately you can only summon one at a time, but it’s pretty cool that they all have different abilities designed to complement your chosen playstyle as you upgrade their master’s attributes.
As for FL4K’s competition? Zane’s a total snooze fest, Amara’s stuck in the shadow of fellow multi-muscly-arm-owner Machamp, and Moze is pretty much just a Titanfall reject...
Liam | Moze
Sam’s Team Talk choices have come a long way since the dark days of Sobble, but once again we find ourselves at loggerheads following a fleeting alliance against Chris, James, and their moody magicians, although I will allow that Zane is by far the most boring character on offer here, closely followed by Amara and her magic fists.
I mean, if you’re going to survive on a hostile planet, it’s best to do so in the company of a giant death machine that also cooks dinner and doubles up as an alarm clock, rather than with a mutant ‘dog’ in ski goggles. Titanfall reject indeed!
But there’s also an element of pragmatism to my choice. I know you’re supposed to play these sorts of games with people you like, or, failing that, your friends and family, but nine times out of ten I’ll end up going stag, so having an autonomous mech in tow will at least give enemies something else to shoot at. As Moze herself points out: “When your BFF’s a BFG, you don’t need anyone else watching your back.”
James | Zane
Having played as Zero on a recent replay of Borderlands 2, it's been an assassin-tastic time on Pandora, and I'm looking forward to continuing the adventure in a similar vein.
Zane is a different kind of character though. While Zero is quiet and robotic, Zane is described as a suave, James Bond-esque character who is "wealthy and has a lot of gadgets at his disposal."
There's an advantage immediately to choosing the gentleman's assassin, in that he can equip two action skills rather than one, which lends itself to a wider variety of movesets across his Doubled Agent, Hitman and Under Cover skill trees.
You have the tried and tested decoy (now known as a "Digi-Clone") as well as a SNTNL drone and a shield barrier to play with as we explore not just Pandora, but a few other planets for a change.
In skills, I'm amused to see we have one called "Nanites or Some Shite" which causes your barrier to give you and your allies health regeneration, faster reload speed and quicker shield recharge when cowering near it.
The character itself is related to bandit leaders Captain and Baron Flynt and is a "semi-retired" hitman, suggesting he might have seen a few things in his time. Though with Borderlands as a series it's rare your character is particularly important to the plot, more along for the ride.
Let us know who you've chosen and if we managed to change your mind.
The Sims 4: Island Living is the seventh major expansion for Maxis’ popular life-simulator, taking players (and their Sims) to the tropical paradise of Sulani for a slice of laid-back island living. Following a successful launch earlier in the summer, we chatted with Jill Johnson, Associate Producer on the The Sims 4, about escaping the rat race, island upkeep and the danger of mermaids.
The amount of colour offered by a change of scenery is one of the first things you notice, and players have a responsibility for looking after the island to keep it that way. How easy was is to balance the aesthetic elements with making the experience compelling for players?
From a visual standpoint, we had a few discussions early on concerning the starting stage for Island Conservation. We universally knew we didn’t want the starting point to look like a bleak wasteland, but we also needed to have that wow moment in contrast for the final stage of conservation.
Especially in the earliest phase, boosting up your Island’s conservation takes a bit of commitment. We did this intentionally so that when you’ve finally picked up that magic last piece of trash or spread the word to enough people, you get a very satisfying sense of investment when you get a vibrant notification telling you that your island is thriving.
Our Art and Design teams got pretty creative by pulling a handful of different levers to keep a noticeably visual progression without roughing up the starting point too much. The palm trees and the coral gets a little bit brighter. Instead of nets and piles of litter, eventually you start to see more fish and turtles and butterflies. Bright and colorful flowers start to show up. And my personal favorite is the striking bioluminescence you can spot glowing at night.
There seems to be a disaster movie element here, with your active volcano in particular stopping Island Living from being a total paradise. What sort of unexpected events will players be dealing with this time?
Oh yes, the volcano. It’s true, one of the pillars of Island Living is a peaceful, relaxing lifestyle. But this is still The Sims! And we definitely have some people on the team who love to grief their Sims. Other than possibly getting pummelled by lava bombs and catching on fire - if the Volcanic Activity Lot Trait is on your lot, of course - your Sims can find themselves in some other compromising situations around Sulani.
My personal favorite danger is the shark. If you swim out into the deeper, darker parts of the ocean there is a very real threat that you may encounter a shark. Pro tip: If you don’t get your Sim out of the water right away, you might just get pulled under and die.
If you displease the Island Spirits from the Island Spirits Lot Trait or the Island Elementals that are tied to the Child of the Island Personality Trait, they will make your luck turn sometimes disastrously bad.
And last but not least: not all Mermaids are sweet and friendly. Mermaids can use Summon Ocean Threat or use their Siren’s call on other unsuspecting swimmers that leaves them in a very bad state.
Dolphins also inhabit Sulani's waters, though encounters with them are markedly less threatening to your health
With The Sims being loosely based on our own exciting lives, how do you make things like dealing with insurance claims and the more serious business of child protection fun and interesting? Is it difficult to find the right balance between real life and Sim life?
We try to keep most things in The Sims generally light-hearted & entertaining, even when dealing with the less glamorous parts of life. We also don’t want our Sims universe to be this pristine perfect utopia, because what’s the fun in that? Sims can fart, Sims can die, and sometimes Sims can milk a Cowplant.
Many of our players love being able to play a realistic life, homework and all. Like any of our features, when dealing with something mundane or dark, we play the feature and feel it out. Our development team has gotten a very fine sense of what feels appropriate and what might need a little more silly.
If something’s feeling too boring, maybe we’ll adjust the tuning to make it less of a grind or add some extra funny chance to fail. If something’s feeling too serious we might liven it up a bit with some goofy animations. We try to keep a balance.
For those who might have been away from the series for a while, or players who haven't tried The Sims before at all, do you feel like this is a good point to jump into the delightful world of Simlish and unprompted kitchen fires?
Of course! It’s never too late to jump in and pick up The Sims. One of the coolest things I think The Sims has to offer is that, similar to most of the game pieces, even the packs you chose to play help make your experience modular. So if Island Living is the only expansion pack you own, you won’t be worse for the wear. Your Sims just might be a little more chill than others. Tee hee.
A number of previously released titles have been finding a home on Nintendo Switch recently, from PlayStation-era masterpieces like Final Fantasy VIII and Spyro the Dragon, to the more modern titles that were announced during the latest Nintendo Direct. There's a world of potential adventures awaiting Switch owners but none we'd like to see more than these.
Games have grown slightly more complex over the years...
Sam | Super Mario 3D World
Picking a Nintendo game might seem like a bit of a cop out, but honestly, what games better fit Nintendo platforms than the company’s very own?
Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS is one of my absolute favourite platformers - it’s seriously sublime! When I found out that the sequel would be a Wii U exclusive my heart sank. I wasn’t clambering into the dumpster fire that was the Wii U, but for a time those flames were mighty tempting...
The Switch has enjoyed a variety of Wii U ports during its time so far, including various other Mario titles, but for some reason 3D World hasn’t yet been shown any love. Its level-based structure and portable roots would make it a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch gaming on the go, while if it’s anywhere close to as compelling as the original it’d be a great candidate to get stuck into for longer periods on the TV at home.
It’s a bit baffling to me that the inferior 2D games got bundled together for a re-release, but 3D World and the likes of Pikmin 3 remain forgotten Wii U relics.
We'll forgive Sam for cheating a little, as this is clearly an oversight by Nintendo.
Liam | GTA: Chinatown Wars
Like most games from my past (and if I’m being honest, more than a few from the present), I never managed to reach Chinatown Wars’ end credits, so it would be great to have another stab at Rockstar’s excellent slice of old-school GTA action without having to dig out my Nintendo DS or sit through a sub par phone version.
Yes, the Switch might be lacking a second screen, but the one it does have is more than ample enough to hold both displays found on the DS version side by side. Also, thanks to its touchscreen capabilities, we wouldn’t necessarily have to miss out on any extra interactivity found in the original game such as inventory management and grenade tossing.
Of course, keeping such a feature would mean the game could only be enjoyed in handheld mode, but I don’t think that would be a problem for most people. There are already a couple of handheld only titles out there, like Severed, and the game’s simplistic visuals might not look so great stretched across big screen TVs of today.
Plus, with Nintendo’s next dedicated handheld system, the Switch Lite, right around the corner, now could be the perfect time to introduce a whole new generation of portable gamers to Rockstar’s forgotten gem.
What better way to deal with a stressful commute?
James | XCOM 2
Turn-based strategy is far from the most popular genre in gaming these days, but with the success of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle on the Switch, I’d say the genre is ripe for a decent port. Enter XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, the re-tooled and more character driven expansion to the original game, ready to challenge you to take over the world, again.
Though the game looks amazing on PC and its fellow consoles, the visuals could easily be paired back a tiny bit and still give a rich, cinematic experience. Plus the turn-based nature of the game stops too much from happening at once, putting less stress on the already stretched GPU and CPU.
There’s an overworld game of course, which lends itself to those shorter play sessions, hopping in and out and leaving the game on pause for a bit until you’re ready to continue the fight against our alien overseers.
There’s plenty of fun to be had docked as well of course, as many have already enjoyed the game, but on the move is where this port would really show its colours. If you want something a bit more forward-looking, then think of this as a proof of concept for a port of the upcoming Phoenix Point, from series creator, and generally nice chap, Julian Gollop.
Rob | The House of the Dead 2
Those of you who are regulars to PTC will be fully aware of my personal trials and tribulations with Nintendo in recent years. But with Link's Awakening and the Lite on the cards, yours truly looks likely to come home. With that in mind, I want some Sega ports, please.
Oh yes, dear chums, once bitter enemies, the years have softened the feud between the two great games makers. Clearly, the whole Dreamcast catalogue on Switch would be grand (please, please make ChuChu 2) but I've plumped for something multiplayer and unholy.
House of the Dead 2 was always a guaranteed party game classic back in t'day, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be again! Grab a friend, take a joy-con each and blast away at the undead - all the while enjoying the gloriously shite voice acting. Perfect.
Truly, party gaming at its finest.
What game do you think would make a worthy Switch port?
The weekend was looking decidedly spooky with The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, an interactive filmic horror-drama, and Blair Witch, a game loosely based on the cult classic, releasing on 30 August. Friday the 13th, Alien Isolation and the newly announced Predator: Hunting Grounds have shown that horror movie tie-ins can be adapted to fit a range of sub-genres, so which spine-tingling stories would Team PTC like to experience through the medium of gaming?
Jack Nicholson's terrifying face can also be used to great effect.
Liam | Tremors
Tremors spawned four sequels (and one prequel) but no game tie-in, not unless you count this effort (shown below) which was made in just 24 hours to celebrate Bacon day. Honouring actors who share a name with sweet, sweet pig meat is all well and good, but it’s about time we had a proper gaming experience based on the 1990 cult classic.
A Tremors game was said to be in development during the early 2000s but was cancelled before ever seeing the light of day. A shame, I think, because the movie’s chief antagonists, known as Graboids, would make a worthy opponent.
These giant, flesh-eating worms that lurk beneath the ground would make traversal one of the most interesting aspects of the game due to their ability to detect movement on the surface. Players would need to find alternative ways to get about a sandbox environment (quite literally if we’re using the film’s Nevada setting) as they search for supplies, weapons and fellow survivors.
Basically, it’s the same ‘the floor is lava’ concept you played as a kid, except touching the ground means being horribly devoured instead of a loose bit of Lego in your heel, although both are, arguably, just as painful.
Is it even possible to improve upon such a gem?
Sam | The Mist
The Mist is by no means an amazing film, but the bones of an amazing game are already there. It’s set in a supermarket, which are always fun to explore due to their inherent variety of items, almost akin to a miniature Willamette Mall from Dead Rising, which in itself was channelling zombie horror flick Dawn of the Dead.
You can also throw a little bit of The Walking Dead into the mix, with characters facing an internal threat from fanatical fellow survivors in addition to the more conventionally monstrous external threat of winged beasties. The existential question of whether or not humanity is the real monster would be at the game’s core, and you could make choices throughout which ultimately helped to shape what, hopefully, wouldn’t be quite as depressing an ending as the twist from the film.
Of course, you’d need to head out of the supermarket in order to complete tasks on occasion, and this is where the true horror gameplay would come into effect. The eponymous mist would obscure player vision, just like in horror classic Silent Hill, leaving little to no opportunity to prepare for what’s around each corner. This would help to make the introduction of each and every enemy - used sparingly to avoid coming off as cheap jump scares, of course - a harrowing encounter.
Whatever choices you make, it can't really go much worse for the Draytons.
James | Cabin in the Woods
I'm not a huge fan of horror films. More often than not they take the easy way out and descend into tired tropes and predictable conclusions played out by wafer-thin characters.
Cabin in the Woods, however, played a bit more smartly with the genre and brought unexpected twists and turns to an otherwise common premise by having the would be slain slowly discover an elaborate, Westworld-esque manufactured reality that is the cause of their suffering. The same sort of thing could be done for the spin-off game.
Imagine an asymmetrical adventure where one player can trigger visual and audio glitches in someone else's computer to throw them off and distract them if they get too close to finding the edges of the game's (and film's) facade. It seems like a natural step forward from the likes of Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid's Psycho Mantis (whom we talked about last week) messing with real world elements of the console gaming experience like forcing you to switch your controller to another slot to continue.
Perhaps being mean to people would be too popular? It would take concentration to become the master of puppets but the marionettes themselves would be having fun trying to feel for the edges, while turning around to find doors are no longer there.
Let the mind games begin.
Which horror films do you think deserves a game tie-in?