Christmas is almost here and 2017 is drawing to a close, so we’ve decided to mark the occasion with our final podcast of the year.
Hello there! You've stumbled across a treat: we have a brand new podcast for you to watch and listen to, which features Gamescom 2017 and also includes some exclusive gameplay from Conan Exiles (as you can see above), which is currently in Game Preview on Xbox One.
We never asked for this. It's been five long weeks since our campaign began, we've lost friends, brothers and sisters in arms, but we have to keep going.
Our fifth mission has now been successfully completed, please play close attention to the after-action report below:
On the brink of our next mission, Operation Storm Dragon, we find ourselves at an important decision. Should we focus on training up our current forces, or diversify and initiate new troops. We already have some soldiers such as Chris "Crisco" Brand and Rob "Bob" Holt waiting for their first mission, while others like Max "Makka" Taylor are itching to get back in the field.
We are even experimenting with ways to bring our fallen comrades back into the fold, so there is hope for the continued careers of Dan "NinjaDan" Fronteras and Liam "Dutch" Andrews.
For those of you unfamiliar with the hard work of these brave souls, familiarise yourself with the five after-action combat reports below. Study them closely, as who knows when you may be asked to join the team in the field. If you have questions about the team's performance then leave them below.
Gentlemen, ladies - Semper Fi, and expect the next mission next Friday.
It's one of the biggest gaming shows in the UK and from Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 September the NEC in Birmingham is taken over by a host of games developers, gaming fans and cosplayers. We went and had a look around, managed to convince a few people to speak to us, and we've got a video round-up to share with you all.
Eager console gamers the world over were able to get their hands on Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall 2 during the weekend, in the first of two open multiplayer tech tests.
What are your initial thoughts on Titanfall 2? Let us know in the comments.
*Skill is subjective.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst teased the gaming community at large over the weekend with a Closed Beta offering its opening levels and a chance to explore the city. We had a look around and James has captured our thoughts on what is shaping up to be one of EA's biggest releases this year.
The journey of The Division (or, Tom Clancy’s The Division, to give it it’s overly-long full title) hasn’t been easy. The game was announced at E3 back in 2013 to a lot of hype and excitement, but has been shown an increasing amount of skepticism ever since - so what’s it like now?
The premise of a city overtaken by an unknown disease might not be the most original story this year, but it does serve as an impressive, and relatable setting for the third-person shooter.
It isn’t described as a shooter though, but as a classless RPG, so is it? Well there are three skill trees which you can progress through, with only a handful available in the pre-release gameplay we’ve experienced so far, which you can reset to adjust your character for different experiences - playing with friends as opposed to playing alone, for example.
Despite being an online-only title, the game, in theory, is completely playable by yourself. In reality though, the content at the disposal of solo players will feel extremely limited compared to those going around in a group, making their own fun.
When you try to answer the question of what The Division is, the easiest comparison is Destiny, but with the difference in pace it feels like an unfair one.
The story missions themselves, which challenge you to complete objectives to build up your central base with security, medical and technological upgrades (which offer additional skills, and perks, the latter of which we’ve yet to be allowed to mess around with), in theory making the overall game easier.
One of the biggest selling points, outlined in the most recent trailers for the game, is the seamless experience when shifting between areas and game types. Thankfully the experience so far does hold up, with only the odd drop in framerate when moving into an action-packed ‘no respawn’ zone, for example. Being forced to slow down when entering your base does bring back memories of the slow walk from Gears of War, but really it’s only a few seconds you feel restricted.
the gameplay definitely holds up to what could still be considered the industry-standard for the genre. Movement feels fluid, and plenty of button prompts and lines on screen make traversing the map easy (but you can turn them off if you find them distracting). Weapons feel quite basic at the moment, with only a few available making it difficult to feel a real difference, or the impact of mods, which give bonuses to things like reload time, stability and optics.
The ever-present HUD (which can also be hidden) gives the game a very familiar feel to Splinter Cell Conviction, which created a lasting impression by projecting objectives and other information directly onto the map itself. Here it’s more subtle, with the aforementioned button prompts highlighting areas of cover and different options while an orange arrowed line leads you to your next objective like a strange, futuristic ski lift.
When you try to answer the question of what The Division is, the easiest comparison is Destiny, but with the difference in pace it feels like an unfair one. Missions are scattered around the map, ranging from to encounters with AI enemies to more interesting side missions, which hint at elements of detective work through the digital reconstruction of past events, alluding to some of the more memorable moments of the Arkham series - though it remains to be seen if that potential is taken and run with once more content becomes available.
At the moment the biggest frustration is not having enough icons to investigate on the map, even the nearest side missions can send you to places half a kilometre away, and though that isn’t much in reality, it feels like too far when you’re trotting over there on foot and have to go half way around a block to get to an alleyway on the other side.
The Dark Zone, the game’s designated Player vs Player area, feels like little more than an area for destructive elements to group together at present, with even less to explore and uncover, though perhaps this is due to content being held back for the game itself, but it seems strange to offer such an underwhelming amount of content in what is held up as one of the game’s core features.
When deciding whether to shell out on the game, it will largely depend on how much you enjoy the style of something like stablemate franchise Assassin’s Creed. The map will be something covered in dots to explore and you’ll find yourself being constantly distracted by something on the way to something else. The overall objective is clear - to restore New York City to glory - but whether there will be enough constructed narrative woven in to hold your attention will depend on what style of storytelling you prefer. There’s an awful lot of detail put into the world, though perhaps not as much as in the original reveal, but so far it doesn’t seem narratively driven, more that items have been put in to populate an area and make it look ‘lived in’.
The Division has had three chances to exceed our expectations and so far has only succeeded in meeting them, whether this will change on or post release (the game has already confirmed three major expansions) remains to be seen, but for now, stay frosty.
We chat to Delirium Studios’ designer and creative director, Arturo Monedero, about new game The Delusions of Von Sottendorff & His Square Mind, Justin Bieber, Monkey Island, the European indie scene, and mosquitoes.
Forty people have been involved in the production process, over four years of hard work. This is a big difference from our previous work The Rivers of Alice, which was a much more intimate and personal creation. Von Sottendorff retains Delirium’s soul though, but we have completely changed our tone.
What inspired you and your team during the development stage?
We wanted to develop a new platform game, with a different and original mechanic - but in keeping with the flavour of the classics. We also wanted to recreate a more "European" aesthetic and atmosphere. One could say that there are three key references in which inspired the development: for mechanics, the 15-puzzle game; for its platform side, Jet Set Willy (a very old Spectrum game); and for the story & character, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (by Terry Gilliam). My own nice memories of those references have impregnated this development.
Can you tell us about your team at Delirium Studios? How you got started, where you're based etc.
Sure! This adventure began nine years ago in Bilbao - a beautiful city in northern Spain. Delirium Studios has three main partners, all there from the very beginning: Asier Quesada (CEO), Ivan Armada (CTO) and myself (CCO). We began developing advergames, animation and 3D. We needed to learn a lot before making the leap to the video games industry, and becoming independent developers.
After three years we got there, with Kinito Ninja - our first game. We got some revenues and some international awards with this first title, so we decided to focus on game development. At that point we left advertising agencies and “clients” aside. This was one of the most courageous decisions we have ever made in our life, but one that provided us more happiness…
Gradually, we accelerated our productions’ quality level, until The Rivers of Alice saw the light – a title as personal as it was strange, but the one which placed us in the national and international scene. Today, we have six people in the team, but at some points we are as many as twenty - crazy!
...It is a very difficult market - between AAA and indie developments, there is a tremendous desert...
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market?
It is a very difficult market - between AAA and indie developments, there is a tremendous desert. The player is so demanding because he/she really does not care if your game is developed in Bilbao or New York - it is difficult to make a space for yourself on the international tablecloth. To achieve it takes time and hard work – a great effort.
In Spain, the situation is not particularly good, four hundred studios have emerged, and the country has no capacity to absorb all the titles going on sale. International communication is a must – not investing in it could mean your studio vanishes before you get to launch your second title. I would like to know what American indies’ point of view is in this regard… Would they feel the same as I?
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Years ago, I would have said to start up a studio with three friends and explore... Nowadays, I really think the levels of market saturation don’t allow enough space for trial and error... I would advise them to get experience from a larger company. It is interesting to get hired and learn as much as you can before: i.e. how do they work, how do they produce, why do they do what they do like they do, etc. Do not stop learning and observing until you have enough experience to make the leap and become a well-trained indie developer. We would probably only need four years to produce what took us eight…
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
This is a tricky question, it is impossible to answer! LOL! It is true that there are games that become a milestone, such as Monkey Island, which taught me that games could be a story, could have humour... Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Schafer and I felt like a teen fan in front of Justin Bieber, hahaha!
There are so many games I can’t leave out, such as Flashback on the Mega Drive, Age of Empires, Journey (which reconciled me with current video games) or The Last of Us (which taught me there is already hope with AAA).
What are you hopes and plans for Von Sottendorff looking into the future?
We are very excited for our game to get out there, we hope players are gonna like it! We think we have made a great game, and we are very much proud of it – we paid particular attention to the little details. We think it's a great covering letter for Delirium Studios, and Nintendo the best possible framework. If you let me dream, I would like to see Von Sottendorff on other platforms later on, and if it gets some success, I would take out my notes to start with the second part! But I am a dreamer…
What's next for Delirium Studios?
Personally, I am in the funnest moment of my job, giving shape to new ideas to become new titles. It is like being faced with a clay block that you have to start molding. It is too early to say what is it going to be about or which mechanics will be included at this time. However, what I could say for sure is that we always aim to develop differently, to make very unique stuff or to tell an interesting story - otherwise, we wouldn’t develop.
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Oh! Lots of doubts: Do I have a TV? ... I see many logistical problems in there… and I don’t know if I will be rescued. Uhmm.. I think it would be more sensible to take a Game Boy, with a huge battery pack and hundreds of games. It's simple, it would never break down, it has great games and without a back-lit display, mosquitoes won’t bother me!
Thanks to Arturo, Asier and Alexandra at Delirium for the interview. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff & His Square Mind is out now for Nintendo 3DS - look out for our review in the coming weeks. Why not check out Delirium’s earlier work, The Rivers of Alice too!