The Behemoth’s Pit People is getting a simultaneous early access launch on both Steam and Xbox One next month. We've explored the hexagonal world to bring you our first impressions ahead of time.
That first battle introduces the turn-based battle system that will be instantly familiar to fans of The Banner Saga or XCOM. Whilst the movement may be similar to the aforementioned luminaries of the genre, it differentiates itself by not allowing the player to attack enemies directly. Instead, after choosing to move your team and 'execute' your gameplan, your team will move into the selected positions and decide who to attack on their own.
It's an interesting mechanic which, albeit somewhat counter-intuitively, adds an even deeper level of tactics; if you place a powerful melee fighter adjacent to two enemies, for example, they may take down the weaker opponent, or they may determine that the best course of action is to go for the tanky brute, potentially leaving them open to two counterattacks when play switches to the opposition.
As you progress through the story you'll meet new allies and be able to use them in battle. Some may have their own weapons, allowing you to utilise new skills, such as adding ranged fighters or healers to your team, eventually culminating in a well-balanced, six-man band of fighters.
Traversing the open world entails moving your caravan through a samey, hexagonal landscape, in which a 'fog of war' obscures your view. Encounters are illustrated by wandering enemies, and bumping into one of these respawning combatants will initiate a battle, though some can be avoided by taking a different path. When you're out in the open, planning is key, as any member of your team who gets eliminated will be unavailable in subsequent battles - until you return to your house, that is, which is situated in the main hub area.
You can purchase an item that allows you to enjoy the same healing benefits by establishing a camp, regardless of where you might be, but you’ll want to think carefully before using one of these consumables. You’ll likely face a longer and more perilous journey back once you’ve met your objective and it comes time to actually return home.
A wealth of customisation options can help keep your party going, decking out characters with different weapons and attire, some of these accoutrements changing up their stats, whilst others simply function as new skins.
On the multiplayer front, Pit People supports co-op, along with a tournament mode, in which you can take on players in 1v1 or 2v2 PvP battles, or simply practice against the AI. These arena battles can be useful to get some much needed coin and try out new strategies without needing to worry, as the arena is located right next to your house, permitting quick retrieval of any downed troops.
Overall, our time with the game thus far has proved very enjoyable. The visuals are characteristic of the developer, the gameplay is solid end-to-end, it’s funny, and the audio melds incredibly well with the permeating sense of light-hearted despair. We’ve played enough to get a good grasp of what will be on offer come release, and can safely say that fans of The Behemoth and strategy alike are in for a good time. In short; this is one to watch.
Grasshopper Manufacture and their bonkers CEO, Suda51, bring us the free-to-play PS4 exclusive Let it Die. Join us for a quickie to see where it falls in their, somewhat patchy, legacy.
Let it Die combines some of the strongest elements from a number of games we love, not only making them work as one, but also work in a free-to-play context.
What if I run out? Game over?
Thankfully, you don’t have to start entirely from scratch. Though the experience associated with and items carried by the departing character are gone for good, any stored items and currencies will still be available to you. Unlocked shop items also stick around, while beaten floors can be skipped for an in-game price, making deaths more inconvenient than devastating.
That’s not too bad then. How does multiplayer work?
Add a dash of Metal Gear Solid V's asynchronous online play to the pot. You can create/acquire multiple characters to switch between, so it’s advisable to put those that aren’t in active use to work elsewhere. They can either be sent out to hunt players for spoils, or used to defend your base from potential home invasions.
On the other side of the coin, you can be the aggressor and storm bases in an attempt to steal non-premium currencies from players, as well as potentially kidnapping and converting their defenders.
Does it get your seal of approval?
It definitely does. Let it Die combines some of the strongest elements from a number of games we love, not only making them work as one, but also work in a free-to-play context. When you consider its genuine innovations - they are there, in spite of the cherry-picked DNA - it’s very easy to look past occasionally clunky controls and a few server issues.
Critically, Infinite Warfare isn’t doing that badly, and if I were to assign the game a numerical value, it would be a solid 9. But every time a clip turns up on my Xbox Activity Feed or I watch a YouTube video the comments seem to be filled with people declaring Call of Duty dead, or informing everyone else that the game is terrible.
There was one mode, however, in which I wasn’t constantly cannon fodder for everyone else, called Frontline. This mode keeps spawn points locked to each side of the map, so you always have a good idea from where the opposing team is coming from, and it really helped negate the constant threat of being killed from every direction. Plus, anyone trying to sneak into your ‘base’ is helpfully highlighted in orange.
While it’s not the all-consuming multiplayer experience of the Modern Warfare series, or even World at War, it’s a decent way to kill a few hours, and once you get used to the pace and find the right game mode for you, it’s not as overwhelming as it first appears.
Don’t let the negative comments surrounding the game put you off; give Infinite Warfare the chance it deserves, you won’t be disappointed.
The biggest chunk of my twenty or so hours spent on the game, however, have been in the single player campaign. The last Call of Duty game I played to completion was Modern Warfare 3, which was a bit of a let-down after the terrific entries that came before it, but I thoroughly enjoyed Infinite Warfare’s solo effort.
While most people lambasted Infinity Ward for choosing to go with a futuristic setting - a theatre which has been well trodden by shooters in recent years, especially by Call of Duty - I thought the far-flung setting was a good opportunity to mix things up and introduce some innovative features to the series, which is why I picked the game ahead the other big FPS titles out there.
And as it turns out my faith was well rewarded, as the campaign is a gripping, action filled affair, boasting the kind of ‘lived in’ future I prefer, as opposed to sleek designs and figure hugging spacesuits. Yes, the SetDef are a little on the nose (we get it, they hate freedom) but the story is, for the most part, well-written and performed, with some decent set-pieces and impressive locations.
The pacing of the missions is spot on; one moment you could be fighting your way through the confines of an enemy carrier, the next you're jumping into a Jackal fighter for a dogfight in space. It’s excellent stuff, and there’s even a surprisingly tense stealth mission and some very cool zero-g combat thrown into the mix for good measure.
The extra difficulty of Specialist Mode means there’s plenty of replay value too, and having to consider gameplay impacting flesh wounds and inventory management (albeit on a small scale) makes the game more tactical, and a little reminiscent of the Operation Flashpoint series.
Optional side missions further flesh out the experience, earning new equipment and perks which help turn battles in your favour. In total, there’s a very generous tally of 31 solo missions to pick from. There’s even a Mass Effect style map from which you select your next mission, and like the Normandy’s galaxy map, it offers up a little extra backstory on some of the locations, which is a nice touch.
Infinity Ward have also done a decent job of filling the Retribution with a likeable cast of supporting characters, some of which are up there with the likes of Soap and Price, and I couldn’t help but get a little choked up when a few of them inevitably met their end (this is a Call of Duty game after all).
As for zombies, it seems fun enough, but for me that game mode reached its peak in the World at War map, Der Riese, which struck a decent balance between experimentation and picking your spot and defending it until the bloody end.
There’s probably a lot of people out there who, like myself, gave up on Call of Duty a long time ago, and have been wondering if it’s ever worth going back. If that is the case, then don’t let the negative comments surrounding the game put you off, give Infinite Warfare the chance it deserves, you won’t be disappointed.
PlayStation Experience, or as its better known as PSX, has debuted at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, and has showcased a fantastic lineup up of the latest and greatest PlayStation announcements. I’ve put together some highlights from this year's convention.
Displayed in classic cinematic fashion, Naughty Dog hit a home run with their announcement and conformation of The Last of Us: Part II, which featured some familiar and seasoned faces. Rest assured, Ellie and Joel are back, and it looks like Joel really did live up to at least one of his promises.
Set 5 years after the events of The Last of Us, we take the role of Ellie in this latest instalment, and in a recent Q&A, Writer/Director Neil Druckmann explained that the game will focus on the resonants of Hate. Quite a contrast in comparison to its original counterpart.
Additionally, TLOU fans would be thrilled to know that, indeed, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson will be reprising their roles as Ellie and Joel for the second time. Great news as, after the perfomance they both put in, it just wouldn't have been the same without them. A film based on The Last of Us had been half-heartedly announced back in May this year, remaining silent ever since. In light of this recent announcement, it’s looking like the sequel could be a plausible explanation for its delay. The game as it stands is in the early development process, but already fans are eagerly anticipating Naughty Dog's next moves over the coming months, myself included.
In pursuit to uncover an ancient Indian artefact, Chloe and Nadine will encounter many challenges whilst facing the land's hostile residents along the way. Also, in standard Naughty Dog convention, the game is looking equally as stunning to its year old counterpart, A Thieves End, if not better.
Hopefully, the integration of two female protagonists will give Uncharted a jolt in the direction it needs, making for an interesting concoction of chemistry between both cast members, and a homely addition to the franchise.
Naughty Dog haven't put the series to rest as of yet and it's great to see.
At a PSX Panel, Kojima had confirmed that Mikkelsen will be playing Death Stranding's antagonist (I guess the grimacing glare was a give away). Take my money, Kojima. I trust you'll put it to good use with that brilliant mind of yours.
Check out the live streams from the event below, and let us know your highlights from this years exhibition.
Back in April we were fortunate enough to give rock-hard puzzler Binaries a go at EGX Rezzed. We’ve been talking to its creator, Ant Workshop, about the game, VR, modding and Hollywood - enjoy!
What inspired you and your team during the development stage?
Binaries came about mainly because I really like games like Super Meat Boy and n+, but I’m awful at them. There are a few genres like that, where I really love the idea of them but I’m just terrible - skateboarding games are another. Anyway, I figured I could either put a lot of time into mastering someone else’s game, or I could make my own and be good at it because I would know the layouts of all of the levels, and I could tailor it more to my skills. That’s why Binaries is a bit slower paced than the immediate references, I wanted something that people like me could slowly figure their way through, rather than something that’s based heavily on keeping your momentum going.
The idea for the colour scheme came about from an old blog post, I can’t remember where, about how Hollywood was too fixated with colour grading its films and posters to blue/orange. Having two characters I needed a pair of colours that were really distinct from each other and they fit the bill perfectly!
Can you tell us about your team at Ant Workshop?
So, I’ve been in the games industry since I left university in 2000, it’s basically the only full time job I’ve ever had - I went straight into a level designer role based off a portfolio of Quake, Half-Life Counter-Strike maps I’d built in my spare time (when I should have been studying, probably). In my time I’ve worked at about half a dozen companies, including a number of Rockstar studios, and a stint for ActivisionBlizzard’s mobile. After 15 years I had too many ideas built up for things I wanted to play that weren’t getting made, and decided to do the indie thing. Ant Workshop is based in Edinburgh, which is really great because Scotland has a really strong local development scene and everyone’s very supportive. We’re a small company - it’s basically me and a bunch of collaborators that I’ve met working at previous companies.
"I think games are in a pretty great place right now - no matter how you like playing stuff or what your lifestyle is, there’s a gaming device that suits..."
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market? Can you take artistic risks and still make a profit? How helpful are shows like Rezzed in creating buzz, and more importantly, sales?
I think it is tough to get visibility on your game. The flip side of tools becoming so much easier to use and consoles opening up to smaller developers is that a lot more games are being released and competing for attention. Unfortunately this is happening at the same time as websites are finding it harder to generate revenue so there are fewer writers covering stuff, and a lot of the bigger sites are doubling down on covering stuff they think will get a lot of hits. So you end up in this chicken-and-egg situation where you have to get coverage to prove that people will be interested in articles covering your game. Thankfully this is where youtubers and the like come in, they’re generally a lot better at covering smaller stuff. We’re also seeing Valve gradually making changes to Steam to make the front pages a lot cleverer in how they show each individual player stuff that’s relevant to them.
Personally I’ve found consumer shows great for chatting to players, and if you have a game that’s at the right stage of development they’re invaluable for getting feedback. I’m not sure they’re great for driving sales though - the numbers just don’t stack up in terms of how many people could actually play your game over a 3 day event.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
I would imagine the free availability of professional-quality tools now is brilliant for folks wanting in. Like I mentioned, I had to make maps and mods for other games to prove my abilities - these days there’s nothing stopping you making a full game in Unreal, Unity or GameMaker, and you’d have an amazing portfolio piece to show off.
Where do you think the industry is heading? Is VR the future in your opinion?
I think VR is very cool, I still struggle to see it being totally mainstream. I think games are in a pretty great place right now - no matter how you like playing stuff or what your lifestyle is, there’s a gaming device that suits that. I can’t really see everything moving back to a situation where there’s one strongly dominant format.
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
This is tough! So Quake and Half-Life undoubtedly got me my actual “in” to the games industry, but the machine that really cemented my love for games was the Amiga. It just blew me away what could be done on that machine. I’m not sure I could pinpoint an exact game on it though, there’s so much choice!
What does the future hold for Binaries & Ant Workshop?
Having launched it on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac and Linux this year, I think we’re pretty much done with Binaries at this point. I’m really happy with the game, and players have been really enjoying it, but equally I’ve put so much energy into it that I need to step back and leave it for a bit (I do have a title for a sequel though - Binaries 10).
Ant Workshop’s currently working on two new games - one is a mobile single touch “runner”, where you hop from planet to planet escaping an exploding sun. The other is a twin-stick shooter that’s sort of a combination of Luigi’s Mansion, Nuclear Throne, and the film Die Hard.
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
It’d be a toss-up between the Xbox 360 and the PS4. Possibly the latter would just edge it out as I’ve only just started on Fallout 4 so that would keep me going for a long time!
Thanks to Tony at Ant Workshop for talking to us. Binaries is available now on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac & Linux.
Curious to hear our thoughts on the game? Then it's a good job we took it for a quickie!
We’ve taken the controller-smashingly good puzzler Binaries for a quickie, and in spite of being a demandingly huge challenge, we couldn’t help but crave repeat business.
Will I get my money’s worth?
Currently the game is retailing between £7.99 (Xbox One) & £8.99 (PS4). Just beating all 100 levels will take most people somewhere around the 8-10 hours mark, skill dependent of course. It could easily take you longer than that though, due to the game’s brutal difficulty in places. The added bonus of having letter rankings to aim for also really adds to the replayability, making it a bargain purchase in our eyes.
Do we have any concerns? Would we recommend it?
We thoroughly enjoyed our first five hours with the game, and can’t wait to jump back in, so it’s a yes from us. Those of you who are weak-willed beware, mind, for Binaries is harder than peanut brittle, and just as dangerous!
Interested in knowing more about Binaries straight from its developer, Ant Workshop? Then check out our interview with Tony Gowland.