The We Were Here series is back with more co-op puzzling for players to sink their teeth into. Join us as we take a look at the fourth and latest entry, We Were Here Forever.
Tell me about the puzzles.
For the most part, we found the puzzles to be fairly engaging. Being separated often means one player has access to information that can help the other, such as a book that contains the correct combination to a vault at the other player’s location, and there is certainly enjoyment to be had beating them this way, via a combination of teamwork and brain power.
However, there were times where puzzles felt a little lopsided, with one player having more to do than the other on occasion. Others featured unique symbols that had to be described to the other player, which wasn’t always as straightforward as it sounds given the vague nature of their shapes.
Would you recommend it?
If you’re a fan of the series then yes, certainly, although newcomers who have little or no investment in the story shouldn’t be put off as you’ll at least be getting the most premium entry in the series; WWHF is a more visually polished game than its predecessor, with lots of detail in the chunky stylized visuals, decent animations, and well-crafted atmospheric environments.
If you’re into puzzle games, especially co-operative ones with friends (online only, mind), then for the low entry cost it’s probably worth a shot.
Autumn! What a wonderful time of year. The leaves are turning a lovely reddish gold, the nights are drawing in, and Call of Duty is once again dominating the gaming landscape. Join us as we team up with the gravelly voiced crew of Ghost, Soap and Price for an action packed adventure in Modern Warfare 2.
Sounds good, but what about the multiplayer?
The main attraction for a lot of CoD fans, MW2’s multiplayer does not disappoint, building upon the excellent foundations laid by the 2019 MW reboot.
Weapons are even more customisable, with tons of attachments and upgrades to unlock, while new game modes have also been introduced to compliment the always enjoyable likes of TDM, Domination and Hardpoint.
What sort of new game modes?
Prisoner Rescue sees teams protecting or capturing a set of prisoners, with roles reversed at the end of each round. Players only have one life but can be revived by teammates if they’re quick.
Elsewhere, Invasion mode plays out like a giant version of Titanfall's Attrition, with teams racking up points by killing enemy players or AI.
Ground War itself isn’t new, but it’s been refined to the point where it can be considered a decent rival to Battlefield’s iconic Conquest mode.
So, would you recommend it?
Absolutely. Modern Warfare 2 is a substantial offering, with plenty of PvP and PvE multiplayer modes and an enjoyable, visually impressive campaign that introduces some fresh ideas to the series.
Expect the game to have quite a bit longevity as well, with a reported two-year’s worth of post-launch content and updates coming its way as opposed to the regular one-year cycle.
During our recent jaunt around EGX, we got to play some awesome games, so we thought we'd round up a few to let you know what they are like.
First up, it's time to head to Small Heath, Birmingham, for some general trouble with the Peaky Blinders in Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom.
So what do you do in the game?
Having managed to get hands-on with a demo of the game, – far more hands-on than usual, since it's VR and motion controllers and all that – we can reveal that the leader of the Peaky Blinders himself, Tommy Shelby, does feature in the game and is authentically voiced by the extremely talented Cillian Murphy.
In the section we played, you begin being smuggled into Birmingham by van and then can investigate the garage where you're dropped off, which is more exciting than it sounds.
You'll then meet up with Tommy at the famous Garrison pub and share a drink, which involves removing the cork from the bottle and manually pouring it into a glass without dropping it into the floor, and lighting a cigarette before making a difficult choice.
There's also an opportunity to take out some of the enemies of the gang by testing your shooting gallery skills in three dimensions.
When I've tried Virtual Reality in the past, I felt a bit sick, how is it these days?
It's been a few years since we spent a lot of time in VR and this demo was such a huge leap in visual quality alone it immediately made us sit bolt upright, or rather it would have done, if we hadn't already been standing…
There are options available to customise the controls to your preferences, for example being able to choose between sitting and standing. The modern motion controls also help you to move with far more precision than early VR headsets, or the more interface of the Wii era.
In terms of movement, you can either teleport forwards or walk around using the left stick, and then either rotate your body physically or pivot with the right stick. It takes a little getting used to, but the game eases you in by putting you in smaller, more contained environments to begin with and then gradually giving you more to interact with, so the risk of motion sickness should at least be lessened.
What did you think overall?
Honestly, it’s the most impressive VR experience I’ve ever played. Even in just a fairly short demo there was so much detail packed into the world and the attention to detail in all of the period items you examine is incredible.
How the experience will extend into a full game experience, in terms of the variety and keeping the gameplay fresh throughout, might be a challenge, but the immersiveness of the format and all the touches the licence tie-in offers, such as the iconic theme tune by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, immediately transports you.
The high visual fidelity of the backgrounds also helps draw you into the world, and the environmental storytelling, which was a particular focus for the team, makes you want to spend more time poking around every environment, looking for clever little touches.
Finally, add to that the authentic feel to the characters you interact with, largely voiced by their original actors – though unfortunately without Helen McRory, who passed away during the development process – it really shows off the best of what VR can do.
You can see more on Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom in our video round-up of EGX 2022 on YouTube.
With the centenary of the House of Mouse right around the corner, a new game has come to transport us to Disney’s fairytale land. We see what all the fuss is about with Disney Dreamlight Valley in the latest entry in our quick-look review series.
You mentioned Mickey and co., what sort of other characters are there?
Part of the fun is discovering characters as you go, but to give you an idea of a few you’ll meet at the start, there’s Merlin from The Sword in the Stone, Remy from Ratatouille and Wall-E from…well…I’ll let you guess.
At certain points when you are introducing new characters you have to choose between one and another, and it’s not clear from what we’ve played so far if you’ll eventually be able to unlock everyone, but our gut says you will.
Each character has their own relationship with the player, so you build friendship levels by interacting with them, doing activities with them while “hanging out” and giving them the aforementioned gifts.
What’s the gameplay like?
The experience feels very similar to Animal Crossing, with mining, planting seeds and watering them, and crafting items from recipes all present and correct. The look and feel has the cartoony look and feel of Disney, as you’d expect, but the animation and user interface has definite influences from the likes of Fortnite and The Sims.
A lot of the time you’ll be talking to the other characters, fetching things for them or making food for them. Particularly fun is cooking with Remy, as a nice bit of attention to detail sees the colourful squiggles you might have seen in the film in the game itself.
So, what’s the verdict?
At this early stage the game is still feeling a bit rough around the edges, with visual bugs and game-breaking ones causing us to quit out and reload numerous times. That said, developers Gameloft are definitely on to something here.
The game is easy to pick up and play, and gradually clearing the darkness and scary thorns out of the world is very satisfying. Add to that the opportunity to potentially befriend your favourite Disney character and things start to get even more exciting.
How far the fantasy world will go remains to be seen – will we see a tiny Grogu going about his business in Dreamlight Valley in future? – but already there’s potential, and an Autumn update is confirmed to bring at least Woody and Buzz from Toy Story (notably without Tom Hank’s voice however) and The Lion King into the fold.
Everything is quite surface level, but it’s wholesome and fun, and a great game to enjoy with your loved ones, particularly those who are less comfortable with gaming.
The game is already a bit of fun and with a bit of polish could be something truly magical.
Have you been playing Disney Dreamlight Valley? Let us know what you thought in the comments, or in our Discord.
In the return of our conversational quick look series, we check out Team 17’s Hell Let Loose.
What are the basics?
There’s a long list of classes, though it’s best to keep things simple at first by picking a Rifleman. Clutching an M1 Garand, you might be charged with storming the beach at Normandy, or defending it, then the game plays out a lot like Battlefield’s Rush mode. It’s on a much larger scale, however, so enemy encounters can be few and far between.
What happens when you get into a fight?
There’s a realistic slant on gunplay in that you won’t take more than a hit or two before going down. You can bandage yourself up to avoid bleeding out, or a Medic can do the job for you, but supplies are very limited.
Working as a squad helps, since the Officer can put spawn points down in an attempt to keep everyone together. There’s also an element of wider team coordination here; Officers have access to a special command comms channel, enabling them to coordinate with other squads and even tanks.
Ooo I like tanks, can I drive one?
Vehicles are fairly hard to come by, but yes. Those different roles include a Tank Commander and Crewman, both of which must work closely together.
In even rarer air, there’s a spot on each team for one Commander. This role directs friendly forces in a kind of a real-time strategy meta game, without ever getting stuck in on the frontline alongside everyone else.
Sounds interesting. Is it worth sinking some time into?
Because of how matches are structured, each leg of an attack has a fairly significant time limit - if the defenders almost hold out at each stage, an individual match can last well over an hour.
Hell Let Loose is a faithful and unforgiving take on World War 2, but some players will miss the creature comforts offered by almost every other modern shooter. It definitely throws back to the heyday of the Medal of Honor series, both in the way it plays and the inevitable similarities in weapons and themes. Overall, it’s definitely worth a go – especially for PS5 owners as it’s an October 2021 PlayStation Plus title.
We first had the pleasure of meeting Ole Toubro back at Rezzed 2018, when he was part of the team at Danish developer Mighty Moth, working on the aviation exploration title Above. He’s since moved on to form an even smaller team, with his new studio Not-Disclosed Games. We caught up with him to discuss games, the industry, lockdowns, Pilsners, the connotations of the word "tolerate" and last, but by no means least, hot tubs.
So, tell us about your new company, Not-Disclosed Games.
We are currently two people working with coding and design. We have been working together for quite a while and we do some contract work together as well. We also have half a guy doing sound and we are actually looking for an artist with the right finesse and skillset.
Your first game is twin-stick horror/sci-fi shooter Universe Apart. Can you tell us about the game, and what led you to combining these genres?
We both really like twin-stick shooters and my buddy had made a tiny playable one so we just built from that - adding everything around it. Trying out different art, ways to make it tile-based and random, have long-term gameplay etc. etc. After we got the shadows working we knew we had to make some horror elements - that gameplay and implementation is ahead of us: So if people have suggestions they should hit us up on Discord :)
What impact has COVID-19 had on the development stage?
Well I guess indie game developers have a pretty clear advantage in this - most of us were already used to working from home. I actually think this might have been a benefit for indie games, I mean just look at this February Steam Festival - the line-up is pretty fucking awesome.
What is it like to be such a small team in such a humongous ocean of development companies? How big a risk is it to release a game in the current climate?
Yeah the talent out there is quite amazing isn't it. I actually don't mind being a tiny fish swimming among all these different companies. Be they huge or small, multicoloured or grey, quirky or mainstream, hypers or truthers. I think the medium has far from matured - perhaps it never will - and it is just quite wonderful to be a part of. Our game is still in an early stage, but we like what we are creating - so we are pretty sure others will too.
We discussed the process of creating, and releasing, games/music/art last night; how strongly we both feel about actually getting stuff out there and provoking a reaction - good or bad. Could you elaborate on that?
Yeah that was quite a good chat wasn't it :) I mean to really piss people off you can't be charging them as well, can you? Or is that exactly what the giants excel at with various broken products, stupid release schedules, in-game purchases or advertisements. I don't know. I just think many people outside games see every little hiccup as a catastrophe, they take it personally and some even want the drama. And the marketing teams behind the large games fuel this: There is no such thing as bad press! Fact is very few people know how stupidly hard it is to make a good game - and to make art, as we were discussing last night, you have to infuse that tremendously hard process with message and meaning, dare I even say soul. Some teams are at the right place and time to do that, and some even get hyped and reach a broad audience - to the benefit of everybody involved. Let me sail on my own tiny little hype train or boat or whatever: Universe Apart will have existential dilemmas and abusive elements - they are just not in the demo yet - or are they? :)
"Don't be too hard on yourself, trust your feelings and reach your deadlines."
Where do you see the future of gaming? Is it VR? Streaming services? Traditional consoles/PCs?
All of those… and implants and AR and huge simulations and tiny interfaces and stuff that game us. I actually think game theory integrated with everyday stuff is the next big thing - you already see it to some degree in software like TikTok, Instagram etc. Whole processes we interact with are currently being designed for our conscious and unconscious selves to interact with - and that is pretty much games.
Coronavirus has put the pause button on life, allowing many people to assess where they are, and what they actually want to do with their time/for work. With that in mind, what advice would you give to someone looking to get started in the gaming industry?
Ha yeah - I don't know if I am the right person to ask that - but here goes: Don't be too hard on yourself, trust your feelings and reach your deadlines. Listen to old songs you liked, games you played and loved, movies you adored - none of them are perfect. If caught in the right sardonic mood you could tear each one of them apart and paint them in the worst light possible... So: Do your best, believe in yourself and release!
What game(s) have had the biggest impact on your life?
I am quite fond of simple ones from my childhood that set a mood and let you live there for a while: Lotus, Wolfenstein, Lemmings or Commander Keen - and I could go on :)
In terms of real impact there was this aesthetic little game where you can only move right and you get older as you move, find a dog and another person to love and take with you, then the hair greys and the dog and other person are left behind as tombstones and you also end as a tombstone - that game made me cry. I can't remember it's name, or find it online, it might have been a flash game - that we the human race moved right and left behind…
I also thought quite a lot about the profound idea in Iain M. Banks’ Surface Detail where this guy hosts simmed VR hells for several other races. Consider that: Hell or gods does not exist, but if you violate certain religious laws your sentence is to be uploaded to a virtual hell! WTF? I love how that sets one's mind going about mortality, souls and life itself.
Final question... You're stranded on an island that happens to be blessed with power. Which console/gaming machine do you take and why?
Being stranded on an island sounds like a lot of hard work. I think I would bring a switch so I could play a twin-stick shooter, while being busy on the latrine :)
Thanks to Ole for taking the time to chat to us. Click here for more information on Universe Apart.
M2H, the team behind Verdun, have finally brought their latest WW1 shooter Tannenberg to consoles. Join us as we take a quick look at the multiplayer title on Xbox One.
I enjoy Verdun, but finding online matches is tough. How does Tannenberg fare?
At the time of writing, close to the game's release, the Tannenberg player base seems relatively healthy.
There’s usually enough players around to make at least one or two full matches, though it is a niche game and that may soon change. While we haven’t had to make use of the included bots to bolster numbers just yet, there could be a time when AI opposition becomes a necessity and not a luxury.
What about the visuals?
Tannenberg isn’t the prettiest game out there, but it looks decent enough on console. Motion blur can be enabled to soften some of the rough edges and the frame rate can be unlocked, though even when running on an Xbox One X the latter caused noticeable screen tearing and occasional performance stutter.
Would you recommend Tannenberg?
Yes. The old-timey weaponry and rugged looks might not be to everyone’s taste, but give it a chance and you’ll find a fun, alternative multiplayer experience that can be genuinely thrilling.
We Were Here Together makes its console debut this week; join us on an expedition to the Antarctic for some cooperative puzzle solving on Xbox One.
I enjoy a good brain teaser; will I find the puzzles too easy?
Puzzles start off fairly intuitive, but there’s a sudden spike in difficulty after the first hour or so that sees things get a lot tougher. We also enjoy a challenge, but too often it felt like we were relying on trial and error rather than our grey matter, with some solutions proving to be fiendishly difficult. More than a few times we had to resort to referencing outside guides after drawing a blank trying to find patterns or clues for puzzles that seemingly had none.
Would you recommend it?
Those who prefer a good amount of guidance with their games might want to steer clear, but if you’re a fan of the previous titles, or affordable puzzle games that don’t hold your hand, then at £10.74 We Were Here Together is worth a go.
We’re back with another quickie, this time for WarpTrough, a portal-grabbing platformer from indie developer Roofkat.
Campaign, you say?
Aye, but a very short one, maxing out at around an hour or two. It’s a decent enough offering (if a tad nonsensical) with monsters, demons and otherworldly beings all making an appearance. Throw in a couple of bad puns for good measure, alongside some alternate outcomes, depending on your choices, and the mode is worthwhile.
However, it’s WarpThrough’s gameplay, rather than its story, that’s the real draw. The weekly challenge mode prompts players to rack up high scores with a select character and level, and is arguably the meat of the experience.
Would you recommend it?
Yes. The £9.29 price tag might seem a little steep at first glance, but collecting shiny orb-like portals is surprisingly addictive (as anyone who’s played Crackdown can likely attest to) and there’s a good amount of replayability, particularly for those who enjoy climbing leaderboards.
The final frontier has been the setting of choice for countless titles over the years, but Surgical Scalpels are upping the ante when it comes to vacuum-based fun by putting the vast, empty void we call space front and centre in their upcoming game, Boundary.
After a brief rundown of some of the game’s basic features – customisable weapons, gun range, multiplayer modes etc. – we were handed the controls for our first match against a few members of the development crew. Despite being well experienced in the FPS genre, the lack of gravity and our newfound ability to move in six degrees of freedom initially took some getting used to.
The slower, considered movement of our avatar (a heavy Support class, but the floaty nature of space means nearly all classes move at a similar pace) coupled with the temptation to go blasting off across maps led to more than a few deaths as we were caught in the open by the opposition. Drift too far from the action, as we often did, and you’ll suddenly find yourself lit up on enemy radar. Linger even longer near the fringes and you’ll end up in the middle of a micro meteor shower that’ll quickly rip through your suit and health. Safe to say it took us a couple of matches before we eventually found our space legs.
Surgical Scalpels are aware that for many players, like us, this will be their first taste of zero-g combat in a competitive FPS. The development team have, therefore, tried to make gameplay as intuitive as possible by implementing a control scheme that’ll feel instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a mainstream shooter like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Some elements are naturally going to be a little different, given the setting; there’s no jump or crouch/prone in space, after all, so those are swapped for ascend and descend abilities, while shoulder buttons traditionally saved for grenades are instead used for rotation.
Most classes – save for the Flanker, which we’ll discuss in a bit – come with a grapple that can be used to navigate close-quarter areas at a slightly faster pace than the standard thrusters allow (we used this method to pull off a particularly impressive surprise kill during one match) or quickly reach floating structures, from where players can set up ambush opportunities or catch a moment's respite to regenerate health and manually patch up any major leaks in their suit. The game also makes excellent use of the DualShock 4’s gyro sensor, which allows for easy precision aiming while on the move – a feature that was particularly handy while we were still getting to grips with zero-g traversal.
Maps themselves, like the rest of the available tech and weaponry, are in keeping with the game’s near-future aesthetic; we played one that was dominated by the scattered remains of a destroyed space station, with plenty of solar panels and pod-like compartments to hide behind. Some parts, like those huge solar panels, are destructible, with players able to shoot holes in them and peek through in a way that was very reminiscent of Rainbow Six Siege’s breakable walls.
When I asked if Surgical Scalpels had any plans to add maps set on the surface of a planet or moon where there might be a touch more gravity, I was told that it could be a possibility in the future, but that post-launch DLC would first focus on adding more classes, with three more said to be arriving at some point after the game launches. The base game will begin with five classes in total, of which we tried the Support, Recon and Flanker (there’s also a Sniper and Medic class).
The Support class is the most armoured, with a huge exoskeletal-type chassis on its back that, while bullet proof, also has the largest silhouette. Most come with two main weapons, an ability, and two secondary weapons - such as heavy cannons or missiles - that are attached to the frame of the big backpack. Recon was our favourite, thanks to a gadget that detects enemy players once it is dropped or launched. Every class’ suit will alert you with audio (and eventually visual, once they’re close enough) warnings to the presence of a nearby enemy, but having one of these beacons floating around proved to be extremely useful at helping us track down the other team’s players amongst the large map’s debris and hiding spots.
We definitely see the aforementioned Flanker class being the most popular, however, due to its “ninja-like” abilities and speedier movement. This class never shows up on enemy radar, and instead of a grapple it has a triple action quick-boost ability that easily outpaces the standard ‘sprint’ found in other classes (it also won’t reveal your position to the enemy if it overheats, unlike the latter). Even though the loadout we tried only came with a shotgun/pistol combo, the reduced range was worth the trade-off for the extra speed and stealth. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a nerf coming its way post-launch.
While our session drew to a close before we could really get to grips with what the game had to offer, what we did play was enough to convince us that Surgical Scalpels could have something special on their hands. First person shooters can often feel formulaic, but Boundary brings something refreshingly different to a crowded table. Once you’re over the initial (albeit gentle) learning curve, the controls prove to be comfortably intuitive, and the extra freedom of movement considerably liberating. Most importantly, underneath it all is a decent shooter that, a few pre-launch bugs aside, felt reassuringly solid, despite the unconventional lack of terra firma underfoot.