Banished Puts the Sim in Simple

Banished

As far as town simulators go, Banished doesn’t bring any new or glamorous mechanics to the table. That’s just fine, because its composition and pacing as a whole are excellent. The tutorial covers the need-to-know, and everything else is picked up from just playing the game. There’s more to it than you’d think, enough so that you can’t expect to run a perfect session without a serious bit of experience.

As per the city simulation standard, Banished is a top-down RTS oriented around resource management and the survival of your townsfolk over in-game years. Each of the four seasons are broken up into mid, early, and late segments. Winters are the harshest, obviously, with snows beginning as early as mid-autumn and ending as late as mid-spring. Until your town is hustling and bustling, the colder seasons fall into pure “survival mode.” The entire game is survival, but… you know, hunker down and tough it out style survival as opposed to cheerful crop-planting survival.

Food and firewood are the biggest numbers to watch. If you don’t keep those up, your town won’t last the first few winters. While hunters, gatherers, and fisherman provide a slow trickle of food year-round, your farmers will be doing the heavy lifting. Several 15×15 fields will stave off starvation, and food variety will keep your townsfolk healthy. A trick I learned in order to keep your food supply consistently decent is to turn all your farmers into fishermen after the autumn harvest. Can’t do much in the winter aside from frolic in the snowy fields and freeze to death. The cold also kills unharvested crops, so be sure to grab them all by early or mid-autumn. Assign no less than three workers per field to ensure it goes quickly!

Banished

Foresters are crucial for bolstering your supply of logs. No logs, no firewood. No firewood, no living villagers. Clear-cutting is a viable option in a panic, but as with any resource, sustainability is the most important factor. Raising the top end on logs and firewood is never a bad idea, even early-game. Having multiple woodcutters is necessary once your village hits 40 or so.

Relevant to your population, nomads seem like a source of free labor after your initial villagers start to die of old age, but a higher head count means more mouths to feed. You need a town hall for them to show up, mind you. If you’re looking to nip famine in the bud, keep a few extra unused fields handy. You can toss the nomads onto them so they can make up what they take up as soon as they start taking.

There you have it. A general idea of what you’d be spending $20 on, and some quick tips to help you get started. Replayability is determined by how you take the learning curve; if you pick it up quick and/or have experience with this type of game, its longevity won’t be particularly impressive. Regardless, whether you’re a town sim pro or a complete novice, dropping a twenty for a some good hours of intensive micro-management won’t be a waste.

Banished

Daniel Starkey of Gamespot put around twenty more hours into Banished than I did, and he hasn’t learned the secret of avoiding nature’s merciless wrath. It’s safe to say that you can expect a challenge in your survival experience! Read all about his experience and take on Banished here: http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/banished-review/1900-6415679/

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Gives the Boot to Bad Loot

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

At first, I didn’t think I’d buy the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion. Forty bucks is a hell of a lot of bread to dish out for an extra Act and a free-roam mode. Or… is it? As I’ve been saying to my dubious Diablo comrades, they’d be paying twenty dollars for the Crusader, the new level cap at seventy, and the content-packed Act V in Westmarch, and then twenty dollars for Adventure Mode. Why would free roam be worth that much? Oh, I’ll tell you. Not ‘til after I’ve explained the former, but I’ll certainly tell you.

The Crusader is the new stalwart character class. Strength is their main stat, tanky-DPS is their role, and holy is their standard damage type. You can’t leave the house without a shield; many of your skills augment block chance and scale their damage off of block magnitude. Hell, one of your first passive skills is wielding two-handers one-handed so you can keep that wall between you and your living lootboxes. Not that you need it, cuz they’ll be dead from all the brutal area skills you call down from the heavens. And here you thought the wizard was the only human artillery cannon in the game.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Act V puts these skills to the test. It’s longer than the other Acts, as to be expected of a Blizzard expansion, and fits well as the new endgame. Malthael, like every other enemy in Diablo III, is impersonal and unyieldingly intent on being a dick. The ex-Angel of Wisdom wants nothing more than to use the Black Soulstone to wipe out the human race and end the Eternal Conflict once and for all. A noble cause, surely, but since the player is human… No can do. The final fight reminds me of Touhou. You’ll find out why once you get there.

Adventure Mode! This is what keeps the game going after you’re sick of and done with all the plot business. When you enter a new Adventure Mode session, each Act and its areas and dungeons are populated with five bounties to complete, consisting of elite enemy elimination, dungeon clearing, completing events, and cleansing cursed chests/shrines. Once you’ve gotten stamped for all five, Tyrael will hand you a Horadoric cache, which is essentially a resplendent chest you open from your inventory. It drops everything a normal chest would, plus keystone fragments and blood shards.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Keystone fragments open up Nephalem Rifts, which are infinite dungeons that end in fights with unique bosses. The loot is always good, and the blood shards you get can be traded with Kadara for random (potentially legendary) items. More often than not, she’ll give you rare grade salvage fodder, but at least you’re not walking away empty-handed.

Which reminds me, Loot 2.0 is reason enough to pick up and play Diablo III all over again, even after complete disillusionment. It’s the difference a ring with a little bonus damage and a ring with a load of bonus damage, four hundred in your main stat, cooldown reduction, and bonus experience. You feel me? The streamlined difficulty system makes leveling up much more efficient due to the fact that enemies always scale to the level of the session’s host. Boosting the difficulty increases enemy health, rewards, drop rate, and provides other loot-oriented perks. The higher the better! Try Torment VI, tough guy. Get you some tier two legendaries.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Chris Garter of Destructoid reminded me of something else! The Auction House is gone. If you play, you already know that. I’ve never touched it since I hate player-driven markets, but if you liked it, then… whatever! The new loot system is better than some boring game-ruining overpriced shop full of scammers and jammers any day of the week! Here’s the review link, leading to a review that may well renew your hope in D3 as mine hopefully did: http://www.destructoid.com/review-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-272063.phtml

The Dragon’s Crown Crew

Dragon's Crown

It’s about damn time I reviewed Dragon’s Crown in all of its side-scrolling beat-em-up glory. The, ah, controversy surrounding the art style is hardly as fun as playing the damn game. I’m certain I’m not alone in saying that Vanillaware is the video game company that you can trust in this modern age of shitty sequels and uninspired roguelike indies. Between the gorgeous hand-drawn artwork and the rewarding quest system (and the food porn, damn you all), Dragon’s Crown is basically the king of beat-em-ups at this point in time. The plot is short enough to condense into a paragraph, so after that, I’ll just ramble about the classes, I suppose.

You are an adventurer. You come into town lookin’ to score a position in the Adventurers’ Guild and score in turn some gold, skill points, and awesome artwork by completing quests. After some tutorial-level shenanigans, you’re enlisted by the nobles of Hydeland to return some precious artifacts, which then segues into you discovering that an ancient dragon is soon going to awaken, claim dominion over all magic, and then devour the world. Your destiny is to collect talismans from the nine secondary bosses of each stage and then open a gate to the Ancient Dragon and murder it dead.

*cough* once for each difficulty *cough*

Dragon's Crown

What was that? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of you getting your ass kicked on Infernal difficulty. The elite enemies are true. Ever heard of stunlock? Anyway, as promised, I’ll explain the characters to you.

Babyface Fighter is your standard DPS tank, excellent at handling crowds and laying down the defensive tactics when things get dire. He is a human helicopter in that you can just button mash and send his sword into an epileptic fury of ass-shaving destruction. Literally. Save for the ass-shaving part; he shaves limbs off more often than hair. Between auto-blocking shield gimmicks and excellent air and ground combos, Fighter is an excellent entry-level character.

Muscly Amazon is a little confusing, in that she’s capable of dealing ridiculous damage after dealing almost-ridiculous damage while hurting herself. What confuses me is that she’s actually pretty squishy for a melee character, and yet her kit relies on her being at low health. Don’t get me wrong, her axe becomes a planet-cracker once she’s riding the pixel-HP bar, but damn if it isn’t a gamble. Sure, you can buzz-saw through the Ancient Dragon’s life like an industrial tool with a firm, toned ass, but if you so much as find yourself staggered, you dead gurl.

Dragon's Crown

Shaggy Wizard excels at offensive spells, or so the game would have you believe. He’s got a pretty damn nice set of spells to toss at enemies, most of which cause knockback, status effects, and/or instant death. There are a few spells that are neat but goofy, however: Extinction instantly kills a single non-boss enemy. Considering how many enemies there are… Nah. Meteor Shower deals tens of thousands of blazing apocalyptic damage, but it takes twenty some odd seconds to cast. Some enemies can’t be staggered or stunned once they begin attack animations. See the problem? Finally, the wood golem. Fuck yes, wood golem. Put all your skill points in that and have a giant treebro rustle your enemies to their cores. Damage sponge, knockback spam, flips the fuck out whilst on fire subsequently murdering everyone… why wouldn’t you?

Jiggly Sorceress is the reason why I say Dragon’s Crown is the boobiest game I’ve ever played. Her spells are primarily support and utility, like summoning food and stage hazards, but don’t let that make you think she’s only good in a booby-helpy role. She can drop boulders on people, toss lightning around the room like used tissues, and summon a skeleton army. Skeletons that heal when she eats food. Do you see what I’m saying? You can minion-spam while safely casting spells and sustaining everyone. PFSH, who needs allies when you have bonebros, am I right? Yes, I am.

Dragon's Crown

Stumpy Dwarf is a cheating son of a bitch. He can pick up enemies and slam them into other enemies, which in turn causes them to smash into other enemies. Everything he does makes people die. On top of that, he gets extra unarmed damage, an at-will defense buff, and the ability to completely ignore damage below a certain threshold. If you want to powerplay, please select the Dwarf and proceed to throw your allies around while in town. They’ll love it. Listen, you can already hear them laughing and loving your sense of humor.

Finally, the Archest Elf. Not just archer, you see. This adorably deadly lass is anti-enemy incarnate once you get her into the higher levels and slap on multi-shot and charge damage. Applying elemental damage to her arrows causes DoT fields when used in charge attacks, so you can imagine why multishot comes in handy when facing off against larger enemies like bosses. You know what they say, right? Big enemy, big hitbox. And when you fill the field with burning/toxic death… Oh, yeah, and she can pull knives out of her pants and deal backstab damage. Definitely reliant on utility skills, though. Rack up the dodge and extra item uses, people! Don’t neglect your arrow count!

The Edge finds that it’s hard to get over the fact that Dragon’s Crown is the boobiest game. It’s a little presumptuous to call the exaggerated anatomy for both sexes objectification of women specifically, but that’s completely okay, I was startled by the Sorceress at first too. Still, it’s hard to find a review that dislikes Dragon’s Crown’s actual gameplay. This isn’t one of them! Hoo hoo: http://www.edge-online.com/review/dragons-crown-review/

The Ups and Downs of Warframe

Warframe

Now that I’ve played Warframe a lot more, I’ve gained some insight into the structure of the game and the means by which it acquires revenue. While I am most likely going to rant a fair bit about certain aspects, keep in mind that Warframe is still in open beta, thus subject to sudden content updates, rebalances, and other changes.

First of all, I’d like to cover the paywall. Paywalls tend to be interest-killers after players are specifically told that a game is free-to-play. Warframe’s paywall is spontaneous and brutal; your inventory is limited, and once you run out of space, you need to buy more slots. There is no way to purchase inventory slots with in-game credits, so don’t bother searching for alternatives. Warframe slots are 20 platinum apiece, while weapon slots are 12 for 2. This isn’t too bad, considering you can get 75 platinum for $5, on top of the fact that the daily login reward has a chance to drop 20, 50, and 75% off platinum purchase coupons. What is brutal is that players are not informed that they will eventually run out of inventory space, thus the spontaneous inability to collect new gear and subsequently level up your account will cause most players to drop Warframe like a bad conversation.

Warframe

As I mentioned in my prelim review, this one is a game of patience. Things take time: The crafting system, finding good mods through alerts, grinding for drops, waiting for the login reward to be a decent discount… It’s hard to be a casual Warframe player, as most of the perks come with regular activity. If you can tolerate the early stages and the sudden but cheap paywall, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Regarding solo play, it would be best if you knew that this is a game you absolutely cannot one-man-army unless you are specifically equipped to do so, or are a total pro at third person shooters. The revive system is built around multiplayer, and is not forgiving to lone wolves. Enemies spawn in full force, deal full damage, and the like. In multiplayer, your team can revive you within 20 seconds if you get downed. Without even having a team to revive you… yeah. No mercy. Down is dead. Bad luck, chummy. A bit of good news is that you receive four revives per Warframe per day, so if you have a lot of Warframes, you can afford to screw around alone.

In my opinion, the best way to play Warframe is to binge on inventory slots and craft as much as you can. The weapons and Warframes available are all unique and fun, so by experimenting, you’re more or less guaranteed to find something that suits your style. On top of that, crafting and leveling items provides dramatic experience boosts to your overall rank, which will in turn allow access to higher level gear.

Warframe

On the flipside, frequent play makes you realize just how redundant the game can get at times. Grinding for experience and items and levels can be a real chore, especially if you’re playing with randoms. Playing with buddies, taking occasional trips to the Orokin void, derelict, and being escorted to stupidly high level areas can be great fun if your boredom is becoming terminal.

Two final personal notes: One, why the hell does Zephyr take 600 rare as hell Oxium to craft? Rhino does her job better in almost every way. Two, this Phage trend is making me feel irate whenever I see glowing tentacles. Don’t look too deeply into that last statement.

Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer played the Ps4 version, which doesn’t seem to matter because he firmly believes that both versions are utter bullshit. I don’t blame him! It’s a casual game that locks out casuals. Pack rats be warned, however: this game will eat your soul. Here’s the alt review if you want to read about Warframe in a very negative light: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-12-02-warframe-review

Saints Row IV, Now We’re Talkin’!

Saints Row IV

Now, I’m not sure how many of you even vaguely desired a return to the Saints Row series after the Third came out. It certainly lacked the raw customization glory that the second yielded, favoring zanier missions and weirder plot. All the same, the desire to remain tame caused it to come off as a little lackluster; a shy step into avant-garde. Saints Row IV, however, is an entirely different story.

In the Fourth, the Third Street Saints are now political assassins, sent to take down terrorists in the Middle East. One thing leads to another, Playa defuses a nuclear missile headed towards Washington D.C., and presto change-o, you’re the president of the United States. After several entertaining scenes of saying “fuck you” to cancer or world hunger, punching a political opponent in the head or balls, and generally being a deviant badass, aliens invade and abduct all your homies. Their boss Zinyak gives the Playa special treatment; an ass-kicking and a special spot in the Zin Empire digital storehouse.

Yes. Aliens. This is what you have been waiting for. At least, I hope it is, because it’s hilarious. Playa is then placed in a stasis chamber and mentally inserted into a Matrix-like computer simulation. After enduring a “Leave it to Beaver” themed brainwashing program, Kinzie helps the Playa escape, which involves running around naked and woozy and covered in alien prison cell goop and murdering alien guards. Don’t worry, your birthday suit doesn’t make you take extra damage.

Saints Row IV

From that point on, the game functions more or less like any other Saints Row game. Complete story and side missions to gain control of the map and conquer the Zin Empire from within its own digital framework. I am leaving something rather important out, though. Something that makes Saints Row IV TRULY fun, and sadly makes driving cars obsolete…

Superpowers! Yes, this is mechanically similar to Prototype, but done better. Sorry, bioweapons, buuut the space-gangstas kicked your butt. By hacking the Zin systems, Kinzie can empower you with a multitude of different abilities which have their own multitudes of variant functions. Elemental blast, telekinesis, ground stomp, and elemental auras are your offensive abilities, allowing you to turn any firefight into an ice, electricity, or oh no we’re all suddenly tiny fight. Your passive abilities are super speed and super jump, which make navigating fake-ass Stilwater all the easier. Additionally, most side missions are restructured to focus on the use of your superpowers, because driving around with a tiger in your passenger seat just doesn’t cut it this time around.

Saints Row IV

The weapons also get considerably sillier, and offer skins that reference other sci-fi movies with similar pea shooters. Want to be Han Solo, Robocop, or Terminator? Want to dress up like Neo and be The One? Now you can, all while shooting black holes, dropping the bass with your dubstep cannon, and sending people sky-high with the abduction gun! How exciting! And for you nostalgics out there, don’t worry about not beating people with a giant floppy dildo. They brought that back, and gave it a pretty glowing recolor too. It even has a brother! The tentacle bat! Disclaimer: equally floppy. Okay, I should probably let you discover the weapons on your own rather than blather about it.

You can still store and customize vehicles, as well as unlock special variants by completing side missions. It definitely feels unnecessary once you start upgrading your super speed, but some of them look so darn cool you just HAVE to pimp them out and use them as nitrous-powered battering rams. As a perk, there’s no fall damage, so feel free to do very silly things with tall buildings.

Saints Row IV

Final note, apparently Saints Row IV is a dating sim, and everybody is cool with getting it on with guys and girls! And robots. Talk about your loving space-crew, huh? I won’t give away any saucy details, but damn if it isn’t tough to get to the romancing scenes. They’re definitely worth it, though, if you know what I mean. Wink wink.

You can trust Stuart Andrews of TrustedReviews when he says that Saints Row IV is silly and fun. Like, REALLY silly, and REALLY fun. I agree that it’s also nice to see that Saints Row has finally found its own identity as a game, tossing in subtle (or blatant) references that make you go “I remember that!” and then use such nostalgic paraphernalia to blow up a hovertank full of aliens, or by course of doing something nostalgic blow up a hovertank full of aliens. There are more options, of course, but explosions speak louder than words. BOOM! http://www.trustedreviews.com/saints-row-iv_Games_review

Warframe, Good First Impressions

Warframe

For some reason, my tolerance for MMOs is critically low. I know I’m expected to spend a lot of time on them in order to actually start enjoying them, but I prefer games that provide players with a constant sense of progression. Warframe, to my surprise, does just that with an oddly intuitive equipment crafting and modding system. Experience applies not only to the Warframe you play as, but to every piece of equipment you use during missions, so you can watch both your character and your favorite weapon transition from shit machine to goddamned mean.

Platinum is a resource that you’ll become familiar with one way or another, as it is the currency acquired by spending real money or possibly attending special in-game events. Platinum offers what I like to call “impatience benefits,” as most of its uses are related to time: You can purchase extra resurrects though you get 4 free per day, you can bypass the wait on crafting, or alternatively buy the item outright from the in-game store. While Platinum makes available many powerful utilities, it doesn’t quite fall into pay-to-win territory. Purchase and crafting of equipment is locked by Rank, a level system attached to your Warframe account as opposed to a single piece of equipment.

Warframe

From my short experience with the community, it seems that veterans like wowing new players with endgame items and then powerleveling them to help them acquire said items. Whether this extremely newbie friendly interaction is the result of a clever crafting system or a predominantly PvE gaming environment, I cannot say, though I do thoroughly enjoy breezing through the early game with a specific piece of powerful equipment in mind. Mind you, there are places specifically designated for PvP, namely Conclave and Dojo duels, but I haven’t touched those.

One of the mechanics that I absolutely adore is the use of collectible-en-masse mods. These are upgrades that can be applied directly to a weapon, Warframe, or sentinels in order to improve performance or shift specialization. Mods do anything from increase the size of your clip to adding elemental damage to your weapons, and can be upgraded by fusing them with duplicate mods or fusion cores. This comes at a cost of in-game credits that exponentially grows as your mod’s rank increases, noted by the growing number of white bars on the left side of the “card.”

Warframe

Mods have a power cost, which may range from miniscule to staggering, depending on what they do. It should be noted that upgrading a mod via fusion will increase its power cost, save for Warframe-specific abilities. The number of power points available on a given piece of equipment is taken directly from its level, meaning a level 7 sword will have 7 power points. Polarity is when a mod slot is decorated with a special symbol. Placing a mod in a slot with a matching symbol will cut the power cost in half, while placing it in a non-matching slot will increase the cost by a fourth.

Right, well. Time to talk about actual gameplay. Warframe is an over-the-shoulder shooter with a focus on movement and melee. The use of crouching, sprinting, and jumping is quintessential to maintain proper positioning and maximizing damage output while minimizing damage taken. There are exceptions to this rule, such as bullet sponge Warframes or block/deflection centric mod builds, but even then you usually want to stay mobile.

Warframe

You’ll run into many different kinds of missions throughout the game: rescue/escort, extermination, defense, survival, assassination, and more. Assassination essentially means a boss fight, by the by, and those are the final missions of any given sector/planet. Bosses are guaranteed to drop good stuff, so grinding bosses is never a bad idea if you’re capable.

Mike Suskie of GamesRadar brings up a good point about Warframe. Casual players won’t be able to enjoy this particular parkour shooter to the fullest extent, as acquiring new gear requires commitment. I would not recommend treating Warframe as a singleplayer game, as the daily revives aren’t plentiful enough for long-term solo ops. And yes, the parkour can be hard to grasp, so I highly recommend remapping your controls. Also, toggle crouch is a bad idea. Here’s the alt review: http://www.gamesradar.com/warframe-review/

Dragon’s Crown, Complainer Disclaimer

Dragon's Crown

I would have loved to make my first review of Dragon’s Crown a gleaming article full of praise and nuance, but it looks like I’m going to have to break down the game’s art style so all you super sensitive types can get past the box art and actually enjoy the damn game. If you’re already on the level, then feel free to skip this review and wait for the content review. Alternatively, you can keep on reading for your own personal enjoyment. Do whatchoo want. I ain’t your mom.

First of all, if you read the review I did of Vanillaware, you’d know that it’s a group of 20 or so incredibly talented artists from different game companies who wanted to get together and make gorgeous video games. Odin Sphere, GrimGrimoire, Murumasa: The Demon Blade, and Dragon’s Crown; gorgeous goddamned games, and I don’t just mean visually. Each and every one of those games had depth and replayability like I’d never seen. To this day, nothing compares. A game that relies on sexualization of characters to sell itself would lack such qualities.

Yet, some people feel that Dragon’s Crown’s quality should be assessed entirely by its box art. If you’ve played GrimGrimoire and seen Ms. Opalnaria’s bust and survived the time loop, or battled with Queen Odette’s jiggly skeleton funbags and saved the world from the dragon Leventhan in Odin Sphere, you already know that this is just a trending controversy. I know it’s unheard of, a game that has boobs that doesn’t sell itself with boobs, but bear with me.

Dragon's Crown

Yes, Dragon’s Crown is by far the one of the boobiest games I’ve ever played. However, it’s also the muscliest. Male and female anatomy are done up to the point of satire, which normally would suggest that no one in the real world is expected to look like this, but all the same has apparently incited grievance. Now, I know that today’s world is one of cracking down on sexual stereotyping, but there comes a time in life when you have to know to treat things as tongue-in-cheek.

Yes, the Sorceress has boobs bigger than her head, and they bounce around jovially when she does literally anything. Yes, the Amazon has an incredibly muscular butt and legs that compete with Chun Li’s. But have you seen the Fighter? He’s got a chest like a goddamned upside down triangle and a waist like Jessica Rabbit. If I as a guy am supposed to strive for that type of body, then clearly there’s something very wrong with modern beauty. There is, incidentally. I’d say the same about the lady bodies, but seriously, you can just piece it together. Anyway.

Dragon's Crown

One reviewer (who shall go unnamed, but feel free to run a Google search for a quick laugh) complained about the design of the female player characters, saying that they were hypersexualized. In response, a member of the Vanillaware art team tweeted a picture of several half-naked dwarves, suggesting perhaps that might be more up the reviewer’s alley. Several screens of butthurt text ranting and raving about homophobia and sexism and what have you later, it became clear to me that it’s possible to completely misinterpret the anatomy as idyllic instead of absurd stylistic fantasy.

If you as a video game playing individual STILL find yourself offended by the art style despite the heuristics presented before you, go look at literally any MMORPG and tell me that the underboob and high heeled greaves are stylistic and not implemented solely to get horny gamers to dump money and time into such games to get even skimpier outfits. Stylistic on one side, marketing ploy on the other. See what I’m saying?

Dragon's Crown

If, by some random lapse in self-awareness or perhaps by the inability to see past your own sensationalized opinions, you still find yourself offended by the imagery presented to you by Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown, I sincerely hope you’ll go to your local hardware store and fuck yourself with the wrong end of a shovel. You don’t deserve to enjoy this game.

Next review will be about actually playing Dragon’s Crown! Won’t that be fun? Hint: It’s really fun and challenging. Be back soon!

Armored Core Verdict Day, the Polished Shit

Armored Core Verdict Day

I guess they had enough money left to make another one. What a goddamned shame, eh? Armored Core Verdict Day falls short in terms of quality in the exact same way Armored Core V does, but I suppose having a sequel for the sake of a sequel trumps the drive to output quality video games. From Software? Ubisoft? You need to stop. In the same way Soul Calibur V demolished their beloved weapons fighting franchise by adding one-dimensional Naruto character parodies, you have succeeded in dramatically altering the base nature of your game in favor of… what, exactly? Is the strategy to make terrible games that any average joe can pick up and play so long as he has a horde of online friends to play with? Okay, enough with the vagaries. Let’s get down the reasons.

First and foremost, counterintuitive design. As mentioned in my Armored Core V review, the surplus of ready-position weapons doesn’t contribute a damn thing to the game. Nobody wants to stand still while they’re firing. When you come from fast-paced skill and reflex oriented games like Armored Core 4 and For Answer, you want to collect every gun possible to maximize your strategic potential. If the mission recommends long range, you want to have access to sniper rifles and railguns. Common sense, right?

Armored Core Verdict Day

Armored Core Verdict Day, like its retarded cousin, breaks this heuristic trend by forcing the rock-paper-scissors thermal, kinetic, and chemical weapon system. While playing solo, extended and multi-goal missions are unplayable. If you try to carry one of each weapon type, you will run out of ammo and be stuck using a disadvantageous gun that takes several minutes to kill a single resistant enemy. In the former games, I was able to employ adaptive builds that would allow me to function optimally during extended missions, but now it seems Verdict Day demands multi-person specialization.

The new movement system is shamelessly terrible and even more counter-intuitive than the weapon system. The devteam must have been making an inside joke when they said they wanted V and VD to have fast-paced pulse-pounding mass-multiplayer action. Real sardonic sense of humor they seem to have. Glide boost (the new overboost) isn’t even half as fast as the speeds you could reach in 4 and For Answer. ACs are reduced to a laughable crawl at all times (whether walking or boosting), and the kick function at the end of quick-dashes is the Call of Duty equivalent of no-scoping; A pointless and impractical way to hurt people. Additionally, you can’t fly, which is a limp-dick simplification that makes combat all the more tedious. The best you can do is kick off walls and then hover very slowly in your preferred direction. Or you can drop back to the ground where all the shitty combat takes place. Your call.

Armored Core Verdict Day

You want to know why the latest Armored Core games are going to absolute shit? I have a secret for you. It’s called “western mech fighters.” Western mech fighters favor hyperrealistic slow’n’clunky mechanical boxes that look like someone took a car, gave it legs for wheels, and welded guns to the doors. Eastern mech fighters favor humanoid looking mechs that move fast, hit hard, and have fancy looking energy weapons. Armored Core’s transition from eastern to western is unnecessary and very offputting for returning fans. But then again, it doesn’t seem like they want any actual fans. Just money. But that’s the norm these days so that makes it okay, right?

Armored Core Verdict Day

Scott Butterworth of IGN is… rather forgiving in his assessment of Armored Core Verdict Day. It’s obvious that he’s not a legitimate veteran of the series, which really explains this first-impression sounding review. Alas, that’s exactly what the devious moustache-twiddling developers had in mind when they shat this thematically fuckways sequel abomination onto the market. If you REALLY want to experience the best era of Armored Core, you want Last Raven, 4, and For Answer. If you want to be neutral towards the series and regard it as yet another inbred multiplayer pandering fuckfest, play the one that I just reviewed. Mkay? Here’s the link to the better review if you want to delude yourself: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/10/01/armored-core-verdict-day-review

Risk of Rain Tips and Tricks 2

Risk of Rain

As promised, here is the second half of the Risk of Rain character tips and tricks. All that remains is the Engineer, Sniper, Acrid, and Mercenary. No Miner, because I don’t like him. Let’s dive right in, shall we? Remember, these tips apply mainly to multiplayer and may not work very well solo.

The Engineer. Though versatile, he is best relegated to damage support due to his lack of finesse in melee range. Being able to drop Bounding Mines allows you to kite, while dropping Auto-Turrets allows you to redirect monster aggro. This works on all enemies, including the final boss, so always keep a turret handy for tight spots. Thermal Harpoon is stunning and painful but auto-targets enemies, so don’t expect it to hit what you want it to when a horde is about. Tri-nade loses usefulness quickly, but is your only choice when your other abilities are cooling down. If you need an item to augment it, go for slow or knockback. Try to relegate most items to your damager and only pick up some marginal survivability. Goat hooves and rusty jetpacks will help speed up the positioning process.

Risk of Rain

The Sniper. Don’t even think of playing this one without a dedicated tank to keep enemies off your back. With an active reload mechanism and only two offensive abilities, you are not built to handle a crowd solo. Reloading well offers bonus damage, giving your one-target Snipe some much-needed edge. Steady Aim is a charge-up boss-killer ability, capable of dealing insane damage at the cost of forcing you to stand still. Apply Spotter: SCAN to guarantee crits against the highest threat, and use Military Training to backflip out of dangerous situations. All the Sniper needs is damage and passive regen, so heap up the Crowbars and Bustling Fungus.

The Acrid. This one’s my favorite class, and possibly the most versatile of the ten. Festering Wounds is a short-range melee attack that applies infinitely stacking poison damage, which allows bruiser tactics. Neurotoxin is a linear piercing and stunning short-range attack, excellent for deterring crowds and applying debuffs. Caustic Sludge applies goop to the ground which speeds you up while slowing and damaging enemies. Epidemic is the trump card; upon hitting an enemy, it will apply a DoT and then spread to other nearby enemies. Building on-hit items will turn Epidemic into a crowd-melter that scales all too well into harder areas.

Risk of Rain

The Mercenary. A melee class with plenty of invincibility frames. If possible, locate Wicked Rings and Alien Heads and couple them with crits to ensure that your abilities are always cooled down. Laser Sword is your basic melee, while Whirlwind deals a bit of damage while propelling you into the air. Doubles as a double-jump! Blinding Assault is the first instance of invincibility frames, as it allows you to rapidly dash through enemies up to three times, providing the first two hit something. Eviscerate causes the Mercenary to become untargetable while dealing six instances of moderate damage to the nearest enemy. Coupled with crits and cooldown reduction, you can potentially stay in Eviscerate indefinitely.

Thus ends this helpful followup article. I do hope my insight provides you with the means to murder the hordes of enemies that Risk of Rain will throw at you.

Starbound Beta, Into Infinity

Starbound

Yeah, the Starbound beta just came out yesterday, but I’m gonna go ahead and give all of you tentative players a fair look at what one day of experience can get you. It’s unsurprisingly impressive, as I have been following the project since its very early stages, and I have had a chance to observe all the effort and unique features put into this space explorer. This IS a space explorer, by the way. The universe is infinite, which also describes your ability to travel. The only thing that limits you is fuel and difficulty.

Any good space explorer game would give you a ship. And so far, Starbound seems pretty good. Having a ship as a central hub equipped with a 64-slot item storehouse is extremely convenient. Depending on your preference, you may want to place your crafting stations on your ship so you can access them from anywhere on the planet’s surface. Or you could build a house on-world and stuff them in there, your call. For the time being, drop zones are unchangeable, so try not to build your house willy-nilly unless you like running long distances.

Starbound

The quest system is an excellent source of direction early-game. It gives you slight nudges in the right direction while leaving most of the discover-and-learn up to the player, thus preserving the sense of exploratory survival Starbound presents.

Speaking of survival, there are four vital gauges you’ll need to be aware of. The first is HP, which is a video game fundamental. You have no natural regeneration (to my knowledge), so the only way to heal is to use bandages, which I’m not telling you how to get. The hunger bar is easy enough to deal with. Find/grow food and eat it. Most planets are rife with food. If not, you’ll have to use a hunting bow to murder local aliens. Only bow kills will cause them to drop raw meat or leather, so don’t try to use melee weapons if you’re hungry. The heat bar is the reason why you shouldn’t go to moons or arctic planets without extensive fire-based preparation. Once you start freezing, your health drops fast. The air bar goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: breathe, dummy.

Starbound

Creatures and planets are procedurally generated, meaning you’ll be hard-pressed to find places and creatures that look exactly the same. There are many different biomes, though so far I’ve only encountered forest, moon, arctic, and arid, but that’s because I like meandering about aimlessly and taking things that I think look neat without regard for my sense of progression. Like NPC structures! You’ll find villages and dungeons and plenty of other unnatural buildings that will yield mountains of loot to you. Some will be friendly enough to not kill you on sight and sell you things, so make sure to check ‘em before you wreck ‘em.

Though only a comparatively minor and simple aspect, I think I need to cover Pixels, the universal currency. You cannot share pixels (yet), and you lose 25% of your current wealth on death. Pixels are required in many crafting recipes, so you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time gathering them if your mortal coil tends to unwind on a dime.

Starbound

On a final note, tech is hard to come by, but infinitely useful. For those of you who don’t know, tech in Starbound is the “abilities” that go into your four tech slots. I’ve only got the dash at the moment, which has allowed me to essentially negate fall damage and, well… fly. More or less. The energy bar regenerates pretty fast, so even when I burn it all in a burst, I’ll still have enough for one more dash before I hit the ground.

That’s about all I’ve got for the time being. More to come as I find it, so stay tuned!

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