All posts under Feature
Heroes of the Storm

By on April 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm

It’s been four months since Heroes of the Storm changed from “technical alpha” to “closed beta”, which is long time in the world of fast-changing, highly-balanced competitive games. I’ve been playing on and off in Heroes since the alpha (here’s my earlier report, where you’ll discover that I’m a huge “casual” and I “must love Candy Crush”), and so the first thing I can really say authoritatively about the game is that the closed beta is pretty much the same.

I’d love to say that it’s a revolution or that it’s changed the game from the ground up, but it didn’t. You know why? Because the game was already insanely polished. I love you Blizzard, but putting the words “technical alpha” on a game that is already at a more functional state than some major AAA releases was proooobably unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, although it is a nice fallback if something does break horribly.

So let’s get one thing straight: the closed beta isn’t a game-changer. But it is great, and it’s clear now that as times goes on, Blizzard have got a much better idea of what they’re trying to achieve. One only needs to look at the Artifacts System — introduced in July last year and removed just two weeks later after very negative feedback — to see that they’re keen to hear what people have to say. As part of that process, Heroes of the Storm is now tighter and more focused than before.

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controversy

By on April 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm

This opening paragraph of my long-winded opinion piece discusses who I am and gives a bit of background to where I’m coming at the question from. Perhaps I’ll talk a bit about the current state of affairs as well, just as a set up to the rest of the article.

Everything seems fine. But what if it… wasn’t?

That’s the inane and pointless question I’ll be asking you as I pad out this article to fill my quota.

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Bloodborne

By on March 31, 2015 at 10:46 am

It’s very tempting to fall back on comparables when talking about Bloodborne, but to say “If you liked Dark Souls, you will like this” really does From Software’s latest a disservice.

The fact is you may love Bloodborne after struggling to get into previous games in this loose family – and even if you did love Demon’s Souls and the two Dark Souls games, there’s no guarantee you will also like Bloodborne, which is quite a different game.

Oh, the basic set up is the same. (Unforgiving combat where even low-level enemies pose a threat all the way through the game. Having to repeat long, dangerous gameplay segments each time you die. Terrifying boss battles.) But the really interesting thing about Bloodborne is that it actually takes more of an action approach than its precursors.

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Evolve

By on March 30, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Evolve’s first wave of its somewhat-controversial DLC lands tomorrow on March 31st, and includes four new hunters, a new monster, and two new maps — although the new maps are free to everybody who owns the game, not just the DLC. We had the chance to sit down for a few hours last week to go through all the new additions.

It’s not really a secret here at GON that I really like Evolve. A lot. I think it’s a very clever and interesting game, and if I’m to be honest I’m a little bit sad that it’s not as popular as I’d like. I’ve been open about why I think that is — it’s too friggin’ expensive (read more of that argument here). And so playing these new hunters and monster fill me with what can only be described as frustration, because they demonstrate to me that Evolve is just such a mechanically interesting and clever game… that nobody seems to be playing.

Each new addition bends and twists the rules of the game in a cool new way, adding layers of complexity to a title that is sadly underappreciated — and will probably continue to be so as long as 2K continue to charge top dollar for it. Anyway, enough about that. Is the DLC worth it? Let’s break it down.

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Dirty Bomb

By on March 27, 2015 at 2:23 pm

The big change ahead of Dirty Bomb‘s soft launch was the introduction of the tiered loadouts system. The first question that comes to anyone’s mind when playing a free-to-play game is “how do they make their money?”

It’s a good question, and one increasingly more relevant as more companies adopt the monetisation scheme in an effort to cut costs and increase profits. Who wouldn’t dream of making the next League of Legends or World of Tanks, right?

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Pillars of Eternity

By on March 26, 2015 at 11:31 pm

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting a long time for Pillars of Eternity. The record-breaking Kickstarter campaign finished in October 2012, which means the faithful have been waiting over two and a half years. As one of the first major Kickstarted projects to see fruition, there will be an abnormally large percentage of you that don’t need me to tell you whether to buy it or not – you’re already receiving a copy as a backer reward.

But let me assure you regardless: Pillars of Eternity was worth the wait.

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Battlefield Hardline

By on March 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Battlefield Hardline marks a revolutionary departure for the Battlefield series, and it’s not just because of the new Cops ‘n Robbers setting.  Instead the key difference is that this is the first time DICE, creator of the series, has handed the helm over to another developer, Visceral Games. Visceral has proven itself to be a very versatile developer, albeit one with a spotty quality record, releasing everything from survival horror series Dead Space, through to cover-based co-op shooter Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, to third person action game Dante’s Inferno.

Unfortunately the old mantra of “Jack of all trades, Master of none” seems to be an appropriate description of the studio; with very little experience in first person shooters, its work on Battlefield Hardline shows that Visceral simply doesn’t have the expertise to back up its obvious enthusiasm for the genre.

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Battlefield Hardline

By on March 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Battlefield Hardline’s single-player game is really weird. Can you remember the last time a Battlefield single-player story was actually worth playing? I mean seriously, it’s been years. Sorry DICE, but really, years.

Then all of a sudden Hardline comes along, with actually interesting characters, an actually interesting story, and flashy crime-drama flair that blows Battlefield’s “hoo-rah, war is good / oh no, war is bad” military muddle away like so multi-million dollar cobwebs.

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StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void

By on March 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

StarCraft is the $5,000 guitar of video games. You think it looks cool, and love having a bit of a play, but it’s best left in the hands of someone who can really shred.

Yet the past two StarCraft II expansions have managed to yank me back in. And based on the preview I experienced at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco this month of the third instalment – Legacy of the Void – I’m sure it’ll steal quite a few hours of my time again.

games.on.net was given limited hands-on access to Legacy of the Void’s multiplayer. While we didn’t get to see a lot, we were able to try the new Archon co-op mode – and it may just help some newer players get back into the game which, quite frankly, still has a scary learning curve.

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world_of_tanks_boomomatic

By on March 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm

After a rubbish night’s sleep and a taste of some sichuan cooking (or szechuan, but I think the former is the actual province responsible for the cuisine) I asked for an interview with the English casters, hoping to get a bit more background on the scene and the second day’s proceedings. I hadn’t forgotten last night’s contradiction, but time was running out.

I’d actually met one of the casters, Benjamin Novotny, the previous day, albeit briefly; he’s based in Taiwan, having moved from the United States to further his university studies in Chinese languages. He asked me if I was from a European gaming site, I replied that I wasn’t and he simply walked away…

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world of tanks

By on March 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm

This journey started last year at PAX Australia, when I was sitting on a panel talking about the state of eSports in Australia. The discussion had run for nearly an hour, and yet not a single word had been mentioned about World of Tanks, despite the game having one of the strongest communities – on PC, anyway – in Australia.

I pointed out as much, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Mind you, that was a bonus: nobody in the panel had any experience, knowledge or interest in the game, and nobody in the crowd seemed to care either, despite Wargaming’s free-to-play beast having such a strong foothold in Australia (and at PAX!).

How could so many know so little about a game with such a strong following? I put that question to Wargaming at PAX, and their response was a plane ticket to Taiwan to find out for myself.

So when I left Sydney, I had one simple question: what precisely is World of Tanks?

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Far Cry 4 Valley of the Yetis

By on March 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Far Cry 3 — and Far Cry 4, which is just Far Cry 3 with a hat on — are all about one thing: outposts. Murdering bad guys in inventive and creative ways, involving bears as often as possible, is the bread and butter of Ubisoft’s new Far Cry, and it’s great. It’s genuinely great, and when I fired up Valley of the Yetis and began to take over my first outpost, immediately falling back into my old habits, I could feel a big grin spread across my face right away.

“This is what it’s all about,” I said to myself as I murdered a weird Tibetan mountain man with demon horns and threw his screaming body into a ravine. “This is what is best in life.”

Once they were all dead, Valley of the Yetis turned around and handed the outpost to me, and said “Now, you defend it from us.”

Yes, Valley of the Yetis. Yes I will.

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Grand Theft Auto 5 Heists

By on March 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Heists in Grand Theft Auto 5 Online. A long-awaited dream come true for many, though it’s worth remembering that in most instances, dreams end in a rude awakening before they can reach any sort of… satisfying conclusion.

It makes sense that in any large scale criminal endeavour, the most unreliable aspect is the participants. In GTA 5 Online’s heists, this comes in many forms, Network disconnections, deaths, mid-heist ragequits; the ways in which other players can get in the way of a successful heist are legion.

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Offworld Trading Company

By on March 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm

The former Civilization veteran behind a recently released economic real-time strategy title, Offworld Trading Company, says the reception to the game has been strong – but its unusual structure has made it a difficult sell.

“I don’t think we’ve figured out how to market this game,” Soren Johnson, the former lead designer of Civilization IV and now head of Mohawk Games, told games.on.net at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco last week.

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League of Legends

By on March 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Getting rid of toxic and abusive environments in a game community doesn’t just benefit players – it has the potential to spread and start making the entire internet a better, safer place to interact.

Jeffrey Lin, head of the analytics research team at Riot, delivered this message at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco last week. He issued a strong directive for developers – you have a responsibility to make this happen.

But in order to do so, designers can’t wait days or even weeks before banning player or sending warnings, Lin said. They need to be immediate and extremely clear – otherwise, negative players will just continue their behavior.

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thewalkingdead_clem

By on March 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

Telltale isn’t too concerned whether you think its projects are “games” or not, said the company’s CEO Kevin Bruner last week, instead arguing players should appreciate the projects for what they are – an innovative way of combining story and technology.

The comment was made during a presentation with Bruner,along with key writers and designers from Telltale during the Game Developer’s Conference. The group discussed what makes the company’s unique brand of adventure-style titles work.

“Whether they’re games or not, we don’t really care,” said Bruner, to applause from the room.

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