Combat Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Combat RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Has-Been Heroes Guide: Understanding Combat and Your First Heroes Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:38:22 -0400 David Fisher

What can easily be seen as a shallow rouguelike adventure, Has-Been Heroes is actually far deeper, and thinking otherwise will see you fail time and time again. In reality, Frozenbyte's latest adventure secretly hides deep strategy and gameplay secrets that can help you better navigate the game's randomly generated maps. In this guide we'll cover what you need to know in order to finally put the final nail in the Ghoul's coffin.

Understanding the Mechanics of Combat

Has-Been Heroes, interface

Has-Been Heroes focuses on a lane-based style of combat. Each character is restricted to a single lane, but can switch around at will - provided another character has freed the space by attacking. Any time a melee attack is initiated - or if the player hits the left bumper - the game will pause to allow time for strategizing. While this seems simple enough, there's actually quite a bit of information on the screen to understand in order to succeed.

Know Your Enemy

Has-Been Heroes, enemy, skeleton

Enemies in Has-Been Heroes have several bars and icons that represent various statuses about them. While not all of them are present in the above image, they are understood as follows:

  • Red Bar: Health.
  • Green Bars: Stamina.
  • Yellow or Blue Bar: Stun or freeze duration.
  • Circular Icons: Elements that the enemy is invulnerable or immune to.

While your enemy has stamina bars marked by the white number, they are effectively invulnerable to your attacks. Only once you damage the enemy with enough melee strikes or a stun spell will you actually be able to do damage directly to their red health bar. A hero that has dealt damage to an enemy's health will send it backwards in the lane where it will recover its stamina bars. Depending on the hero used, the recoverable stamina bar count may be reduced.

Pay close attention to enemies who start glowing or have unique animations as it typically means they are about to cast a spell. Using a spell on them - or attacking them with enough damage -- will cause them to fail to cast. Failure to do so could mean anything from enemies recovering health or taking serious amounts of damage.

Reading the HUD

Much more complicated than understanding the enemy's bars is your own HUD. Here you will find all the information you need to succeed, ranging from each character's inventory, to spells, and soul charges.

Has-Been Heroes, skills, spells, inventory, menu

  • The Inventory: Accessed by pressing down on the left control stick, the inventory shows you the weapons and equipment currently held by the selected hero. While not entirely important - provided you have been paying attention to who picked up what - it is useful for learning about what each character's primary weapon does.
  • Spell Slots: Each hero has 5 spell slots, with one taken up by their primary spell. When not filled, you can hover over each spell slot to find out what bonus a spell placed in that slot will have. Learning the bonuses of each slot is key to success as there are many spells that greatly benefit from being paired with certain heroes.
  • Soul Charges: Soul Charges are collected by defeating enemies. Depending on what lane the enemy was slain in, the souls will go to the princess closest to that lane. In the case of the central lane, souls will go to both princesses equally. Once full, pressing the right or left trigger will allow you to cast a spell for free. However, doing so without thinking is wasteful as the charges are necessary for unlocking new spells upon failure or successful completion of the quest. As such, it is best to only use this ability in a pinch or against bosses.

Learning the Characters

Has-Been Heroes, characters

When you first start your adventure in Has-Been Heroes you will only have access to the Monk, Warrior, and Rogue. Each is completely capable in their own right, and are balanced in such a way that they can successfully complete the game without the need for unlocked heroes. That said, you will need to learn their unique traits or else you will never be able to complete even the first run of the game.

Each of the starting character's traits are as follows:

Tam, the Rogue

Has-Been Heroes, rogue tam, character

  • Weapon: Rogue's Dagger - 25-35 damage per hit, 15% increased critical hit chance, +25% spell recharge speed. Has 3 base hits.
  • Starting Spell: Doublestrike (25 second cooldown) - Next melee attack has 2x more hits, can be stacked for even more hits.
  • Slot Bonuses: Rogue's third slot spreads buffs across the entire party, while her fourth slot causes projectile spells to hit additional targets at random.

Youngest, fastest, and most agile; Tam is the rogue who only recently joined the Has-Been Heroes team. While she lacks the sheer damage output of Crux the Warrior, Tam is capable of spreading out her damage across three separate attacks. This makes Tam particularly useful for chipping away at enemy stamina gauges, while also dealing a decent amount of damage against stunned opponents.

Doublestrike is a very useful starting spell as it enables Tam - or any of her allies - to strike twice as many times as they normally would. This also means Tam herself will be able to strike at least 6 times before going on cooldown for her melee attack. The ability also stacks, so if you are able to use Tam and Metacles to wear down a boss's stamina, you can get Crux to dish out serious damage with multiple powerful attacks.

Sir Crux, the Warrior

Has-Been Heroes, warrior crux

  • Weapon: Warrior's Sword - 125-150 damage per hit, 50% faster melee recharge, spell casting increases damage of next melee combo by 30%. Attacks once.
  • Starting Spell: Hot Potato (30 second cooldown) - Burns the target for 3 seconds, and removes 10-16 stamina.
  • Slot Bonuses: Fourth slot causes buffs to be reapplied after they expire.

Crux, like many warrior classes across various games, is simple and easy to use. He attacks only once per melee combo, and deals a heavy hit each time. By casting spells, players can increase this damage to about 160-200 per hit. This makes Crux an essential character until you have a better fighter class character for your team.

When it comes to strategy, Crux should be used as a meat shield when necessary, and only attack when the time calls for it. If you don't have Doublestrike ready - or if there isn't enough time to stack it - don't be afraid to spam his melee attack on enemies since his cooldown is very short compared to the others.

Crux should act as your spell mule for non-damage or buff spells since he only has a single slot bonus that won't possibly get filled until you have finished your first run of the game. That said, don't spam his Hot Potato ability on weaker enemies since it will be necessary for taking out bosses, and is otherwise best used on hordes to rack up multi-kill bonuses.

Metacles, the Monk

Has-Been Heroes, monk metacles

  • Weapon: Monk's Staff - 1-9 damage per hit, +30 spell damage. Hits 2 times.
  • Starting Spell: Curse of Frost (15 second cooldown) - The next time the targeted enemy is attacked, it will become frozen.
  • Bonus Slots: Third slot increases area of effect for spells, fourth slot doubles burn durations, fifth slot fires a second projectile.

While Metacles is completely worthless in terms of physical damage, he nevertheless plays an important role in team balance. Since the Monk is able to attack twice, he makes for a perfect stamina breaker or lane pusher for when the odds are against you. Just remember to avoid letting him get too crowded or else you will face certain defeat. 

Spellcasting is where Metacles truly shines as his spell bonuses are overly useful for damage spells. As such, Metacles should be given spells at every opportunity possible -- provided that the bonus slot matches the profile of the spell, otherwise pass them to Tam or Crux. Metacles will also require a gross amount of spell cooldown or enhancing items, so be sure to pass them to him whenever possible. Likewise with HP recovery as he is the most vulnerable of the group.

When fighting bosses, be sure to cast all your damaging spells on the boss whenever possible since they usually bypass stamina. While you can also use his melee attacks to wear down a boss's stamina, he is likely to break the stamina and cause very little damage. As such, he is better suited for pushing lanes back.

That's all for now!

Has-Been Heroes, characters, win

With this knowledge, you should be able to handle your first few quests with relative ease. That said, practice is essential for Has-Been Heroes since there is an absurd amount of strategy involved for what on the surface feels like a simple game. Remember to always arrange your heroes according to lane density, as well as the tips here, and your first victory should be within reach in no time!

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Closed Beta Starts March 27 if You Pre-Order Thu, 02 Mar 2017 17:33:18 -0500 Justin Michael

Torn Banner Studios has announced that the long-awaited successor to its previous game, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, is ready to make its way to closed beta testing. After a year of alpha testing, the closed beta for Mirage: Arcane Warfare is scheduled for launch on March 27 -- granting anyone who pre-orders the game instant access to to the closed beta servers.

So, what can we expect from the closed beta? 

  • Over 10 different maps made available throughout the beta testing period, spanning multiple game modes such as Capture-the-Flag and Team Objective modes.
  • An automatic matchmaking system that pairs players based off of skill level to keep things balanced.
  • 6 playable character classes, each with their own unique styles, customizable ability sets, and a multitude of voiced emotes.
  • A special reveal of a new character -- the Entropist -- a mage who rides a flying carpet and wields a magical staff.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare pre-orders will open up through Steam on March 27, the same day that the closed beta starts. So make sure to follow the Steam page and add the game to your wishlist if you're interested in trying it out. 

5 Classes We Want to See in Future For Honor Updates Thu, 02 Mar 2017 08:00:02 -0500 Rob Kershaw


Since For Honor isn't particularly bothered about historical chronology, we'd surmise that it probably doesn't care a great deal about historical accuracy either. With that in mind, why not introduce the Amazons?


They're the greatest tribe of warrior women who never lived, a myth founded on tales of Scythian females buried with weapons which potentially influenced Greek legends, and then perpetuated to the present day. There's no actual evidence they existed, as much as Xena: Warrior Princess would try and convince you otherwise.


But if they had, wouldn't it be great to see an all-female faction in For Honor, showing the testosterone-heavy title how fighting should be done?


Let us know in the comments which historical warrior groups you'd love to see added to future For Honor updates!


As far as warriors go, none have been more successful at conquering the world than the Mongols. They controlled more territory and have won more battles than any other faction in the history of civilization. They also defeated Russia in winter, a feat that could have changed history had it been repeated by the Germans in World War 2.


But they were also a truly organized war machine with incredible martial acumen, and not just the barbaric horsemen they're often portrayed as. They'd definitely give the Vikings a run for their money in the landscape of For Honor.

The Immortals

You can't really have the Spartans in a game without including the Persian Immortals. Despite wearing their nicest leather underwear -- if you believe the film -- the 300 Spartans were battered by Xerxes' army, and the victors would therefore be prime For Honor material if both factions were introduced at the same time.


Wielding swords and spears and wearing scale mail, members of the Achaemenid would certainly be able to hold their own against others in Ubisoft's hack 'em up.


This Greek army didn't take any chances with its recruits, signing up kids as early as the age of five, and even abandoning those they deemed to be inferior human specimens.


Hollywood and the small screen may have glamorized them, but in reality they were a disciplined, regimented lot and would be more than capable of holding their own against the likes of crude Vikings and ponderous Knights. Perfect fodder, in other words, for inclusion in For Honor.


Ninjas make everything better -- fact. They may normally be found in the shadows, but with the variety of weapons and skills at their disposal, they could rule the battlefield. Just look at Joe Musashi: the one-man army.


Given that they were considered to be a lower caste than the Samurai, there's ample opportunity to spin that out into a tale of revenge against the elite and improve For Honor's rather lackluster campaign mode.


History should never get in the way of a good game. At least, that seems to be the mantra Ubisoft live by in For Honor, a game which mixes Samurai, Vikings and medieval Knights. These three disparate bands who -- at least according to the written word -- never met in combat at the same time.


But why stop there? There are plenty of warrior factions that can be plucked from the annals of history in order to create new classes. As For Honor expands -- and it will need to, in order to keep gamers coming back for more -- Ubisoft will need to consider adding more playable factions beyond the initial three.


To give them a helping hand, we've put together some suggestions.

5 Reasons I Don't Play MMORPGs Anymore Sun, 19 Feb 2017 15:00:45 -0500 Emily Parker


I am not alone in leaving MMORPGs and developers have noticed. The biggest by far, World of Warcraft, capped off at 12 million subscribers at the height of Cataclysm (five years ago) and dwindled to 5 million up until Legion's launch. We don't have any numbers for how well Legion is performing, but it's pretty unlikely it will ignite a lasting recovery. 


The good news is that the horizon looks promising for some changes to the genre. In fact, given a few years, these old as dirt issues might be gone completely. 


Which MMORPGs do you still play? Do you have other issues that I missed? Would you rather they just stay like they are?




This monster is probably the most cited reason for leaving an MMORPG. Fetch and kill quests can only be reformatted so many times until you are so sick of doing them you'd rather grind your way to max level. 


Shout out to all the games that are trying to work around this stale progression model. Experience for crafting, achievements and skillful combat chains can all be used to substitute questing for those of us that are having trouble doing much more of it. 


Combat in MMORPGs


Don't we wish all MMORPG combat looked like this promo shot of Guild Wars 2


There is a reason the majority of combat shots MMORPGs use to promote themselves are all zoomed in, with no UI and at some clutch point that probably took the developers forever to set up. 


I appreciate how complex MMORPG fights can get, and I don't want the genre to lose that. Player roles, raid strategy and crowd control all make MMORPGs special, so if new games are going to try and introduce new combat systems -- I hope that they will keep these things in mind. 


It's also worth mentioning that technical restrictions hold back how fanciful the combat could be in most games. Mechanics will always need to be simpler when a server has to register them for thousands of people. 


I do think that the next generation can do better. Looking at you, Camelot Unchained.  


Cash Shops and MMORPGs


This problem is as obvious as the solution is unclear. 


There is absolutely no reason for developers to stop scraping together their best content and dumping it into their cash shops. Clearly, the initial burst of money they make doing it outweighs their drop in players. 


I like to pretend I'm going to make some kind of moral stand when I start a game with a cash shop. It doesn't take long until I'm justifying $5 on that sick tiger mount -- $5 I could have just spent somewhere else. $5 I could have spent on something more meaningful. 


MMORPG Group Finders


Another product of convenience, and also one that should be included in some way, shape, or form, is the group finder. 


The whole hecking point of an MMO is to play with other people. I have no idea why developers are constantly taking away any reason to.


Actually, I do know why: it's because we keep saying that we want it. It is irritating to communicate with other people when we're trying to just get some tasks completed, but how else are you supposed to get to know the people on your server outside of your guild?


I'm sure there's a smarter way to implement these systems without removing them. Taking them out completely would just mess everything up, but having a system that requires absolutely no communication is even worse.  




Fast Travel in MMORPGs


This one is clearly debatable given your play style, but fast travel took a lot of the magic out of otherwise great MMORPGs ... at least for me.  


I can remember a conversation I had over five years ago with a fellow Elder Scrolls fan. He told me he thought it was a huge mistake that Skyrim was including fast travel, and that it was enough of a problem that he would likely not bother picking it up.  


I vehemently defended fast travel options that day. I used flying mounts in WoW to state my case. I talked about how I loved them, and that there was nothing wrong with making a game less tedious and more convenient. 


But, like a thorn in my side, his argument has followed me through the years. He was right. I was wrong. That's a gross thing to admit, but fast travel clearly shrinks the size and wonder of the game world.


There should be a healthy balance between realistic fast travel like airships and flight points, and the player's access to it. Providing it in abundance just encourages players to skip the majority of a game's content. 


There has been a rule floating around the self-help community since 1993. It states that 10,000 hours of practice can make you an expert in any endeavor.


I have no idea whether this is true or not, but it's safe to say I could have a decent golf career had I spent my time doing that instead of playing one of the 20 odd MMORPGs I've dabbled in. 


Unfortunately, at some point, those MMOs lost their charm for me. I still pick them back up as their developers release expansions -- and I always look forward to those around the corner -- but it's been several years since I logged any daily playtime. 


At first, I thought it was me. I thought, "I'm too busy," or "I have to focus on other things." But just like when that line is given in any other break up -- it's actually always them. These are the five reasons I don't play MMORPGs anymore.

Top 10 Coolest Mechs in FPS Games Tue, 29 Nov 2016 07:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio

1. Adam Jensen (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Many games allow you to battle against mechs, some will let you fight alongside with them and others will let you pilot them. What can be better than any of these alternatives? Becoming a mech yourself.


Set in a cyber-punk dystopian future, Deus Ex: Human Revolution players play as Adam Jensen and have the ability to purchase upgrade to enhance his body, using cybernetic implants and microchips.


Through these physical improvements, players can see through walls, fall from any height without injury and even punch through a wall. The protagonist begins the game with a mundane body, but as the story progresses, he becomes a walking tank.


Who needs to deploy a mech on the battlefield, when you can become one yourself?


Which mechs in video games make you feel the most powerful? Let me know in the comments below.

2. Ronin (Titanfall 2)

The developers of the Titanfall franchise found a way to solve the lack of options for players to choose from in the first entry of the series. The second installment of the series contains six different mechs and of them is Ronin.


This robot is the result you get when combining a gladiator and a gigantic robot. Equipped with a sword, it can deliver deadly melee attacks, while it can also use a shotgun to blast its enemies away.


Unlike most mechs that feature machine guns and missiles, making them suitable for medium-long ranged combats, Ronin gives to players the opportunity to get closer and more personal with the enemies.



3. Mech Hitler (Wolfenstein 3D)

In the game that helped to establish the first person shooter genre, players controled an American soldier who had been captured during World War II and taken to castle Wolfenstein. The objective of the game was to escape from the castle, defeating its security guards in the process.


Stopping the possible escape ranked high on the priority list of the Third Reich and when near the exit, players needed to defeat the man who many consider to be the greatest threat this world has ever seen: Adolf Hitler.


Developers figured this was not enough; however, and decided to arm Hitler with a mech suit, equipped with two machine guns.


This encounter will forever be in the memory of the FPS fans from the 90s.

4. Atlas (Titanfall)

The first game of the franchise met an unfortunate end, as the initial crowd dwindled up to the point of leaving most servers in abandonment. One of the reasons for this was the number of Titans available for players to choose, but that does not mean that the few mechs featured in the game were not satisfying.


Above all, one stands out: Atlas.


While the other mechs mandated players to choose from either speed or strength, Atlas was the balance in between.


Presenting players with an equilibrium between agility and force, this mech adapted to nearly every style players could have and this factor made it unique.  

5. Incinerator (Hawken - Early Access)

Currently in Steam Early access, Hawken brings to players an intense first person shooter experience and allows them to step inside a variety of mechs, which players can customize as they wish.


Of all robots players can pick, one stands out: the Incinerator. Capable of delivering damage to several enemies at once, using its weapons to set opponents on fire, while protecting its allies, by absorbing the energy from the attacks of other mechs, this robot is designed to leave a trace of destruction behind.

6. Liberty Prime (Fallout 3)

Fallout 3 presented players with the opportunity to witness one of the greatest combat assets ever seen in a video game. Equipped with an eye laser and tactical nuclear bombs, it can turn the entire battlefield into ashes with the blink of an eye.


Initially built  to fight against the Chinese army, this mech fights alongside the player, in order to storm the wastelands of the post-apocalyptic version of Washington D.C.

7. REV9 Power Armor (F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin)

The first mech of this list that players actually control. In the F.E.A.R. franchise, players may feel depowered, as they need to take down a legion of supernatural creatures, an army of elite security guards and a battalion of telepathically controlled super soldiers.


There is a moment in the second game of the franchise; however, when all of this changes. As players strap themselves in the cockpit of the REV9 Power Armor, nothing can stop them, as they blast their way through the enemy lines.


Equipped with rockets that can take down several enemies at once and a machine gun, for more precise shooting, this mech can suit the style of each player.

8. Gaige, the Mechromancer and Death Trap (Borderlands 2)

Borderlands 2 makes another appearance in this list with the fifth playable character of the game. Back in High School, Gaige built a robot, named Death Trap to protect her from bullies and once she moved to the wastelands of Pandora, the dynamic duo started to fight a different type of bandit.


Players who chose to play with her were able to summon Death Trap, a small mech capable of attacking enemies with a variety of melee attacks that will keep its master safe from the foes of the wasteland, and from bullies.  

9. The Badassasaurus (Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage)

The world of the Borderlands 2 created an unlikely combination of comedy and a first person shooter. Developers achieved the comedic tone of this game through many techniques and one of them consisted of allowing players to face absurd enemies.


This was the case of the final boss of the Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage DLC, where players needed to take down not only a gigantic mech, but also what characters in the game described as a “Giant Goddamn Metal T-Rex”.  Because a giant robot was not deadly enough.

10. Mech Dog (Wolfenstein: Thew New Order)

This installment of the franchise offered players a perspective of how the world could have changed for the worst. In an alternate reality where the Nazis have won World War II, players must fight along with the resistance, in order to claim Earth back from the hands of the Third Reich.


Throughout the journey, players encounter many types of enemies, including the Mech Dog. While it is not very strong, its agility makes it perfect to ambush players that will need to be faster than the machine.


This enemy offers balance in the experience, as most of the enemies are human and move slowly. The mech dog changes that and developers often used it to catch players off-guard, using the old trick of creating patterns and then breaking them. Once players had become accustomed to the normal enemies, the game caught them by surprise, by throwing the mech dog in the combat.




If you are reading this, it means you have an interest in video games. You have probably played games that made you feel powerful, by giving you swords, rifles, grenades and every kind of arm you can imagine (Deus Ex: Mankind Divided allows you to fire a blade out of your arm). Only, nothing beats the sensation of piloting a gigantic robot, as you blast your way through the ones who dare to stand in your way.


Video games are cool already, but by adding mechs, the “coolness factor” is multiplied by a factor of 10.


Either fighting or piloting them, every time you encounter a mech in a game, you know that's the perfect moment to grab a beer and kick some rear. But in a universe full of dazzling machinery, it is hard to pick your favorite one. In order to ease your burden, we have taken that task for you. You are welcome.


We listed the ten coolest mechs featured in first person shooters. Strap in and check them out.

Everything You Need to Know about the Titan Mechs of Titanfall 2 Fri, 28 Oct 2016 05:08:08 -0400 Caio Sampaio

Since I was a child, I had the dream of climbing onboard a robot to crush invading forces. Little did I know I would indeed have this opportunity one day. When Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts (EA) released Titanfall on March 11th, 2014, I was able to live my childhood reverie.

The community of the game crowded the servers at day one, but dwindled significantly over time.  One of the biggest reasons for this exodus was the fact that the game only featured three different Titans, with little diversity between them -- making it difficult for players to find a style that suited their play.

Developers attempted to fix this issue in Titanfall 2 and one of the measures they took was adding more mechs for players to choose from when the game comes out this Friday, October 28th. Now, as the release of the second installment of the franchise draws near, we look at its Titans and how each one will influence your gameplay experience.


The sniper of the group. Equipped with a Plasma Railgun, this mech suits the style of those who wish to play strategically, eliminating enemies with a single well-placed shot. Unlike snipers in FPS games like Battlefield, the fast paced nature of the Titanfall franchise does not allow players to stay in a single location for a long time, meaning the players must stay on the run as often as possible.

Locomotion is facilitated, as Northstar gives players the ability to take off vertically and hover through the air -- which combined with theater traps and cluster missiles, can mean death from above to your enemies. 

Featuring attacks that deliver strong bursts of damage, but have a slow rate of fire, this mech is ideal for players who want the challenge of playing strategically, planning movements and attacks, whilst having no room for error. By the time players have the chance to deliver a second shot, they will probably be dead.


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That is the premise behind this Titan. Equipped with a shotgun, this close-quarters gladiator is the opposite of Northstar. It delivers deadly attacks when near foes, but it fails to be a menace at a distance due to the lack of precision and range of its gun. 

This mech relies on a sword as a secondary weapon, which players can use for melee attacks and for blocking incoming fire from opponents. Another feature of this item is the "arc wave" attack, which allows players to swipe their swords on the ground -- creating an electrostatic discharge that damages and slows those around the mech.


Burn your enemies down with the Titan that unleashes hell in the battlefield. Equipped with a thermite launcher, this mech fires thermal projectiles that set everything in its vicinity on fire, causing damage to several enemies at once. The burning ashes, however, do not stop at the barrel of its rifle.

This heavy-hitter also features a thermal firewall that acts as a shield, protecting the player and inflicting damage on nearby enemies. As a special attack, players can create a firewall and send it towards the opposing team.

While all of this may sound like mayhem, this mech also features the possibility of a strategic approach. Players can deploy flammable gas canisters that will be exploded by the slightest spark. Ideal for creating traps.


Leeroy Jenkins was an avatar created on World of Warcraft, and he was immortalized once his user ran into a cave full of high-level monsters, while yelling the name of his character. He killed himself and his team in the process. Using Legion as your Titan, you will have the chance of performing a similar stunt -- but with a happier ending.

Wielding a powerful minigun, with the option of switching between close range and long range precision rounds, this mech is ideal for players who do not wish to think much about creating a strategy. You can plan your moves as you go and pull a "Leeroy Jenkins" on the battlefield, because your weapon automatically locks on any enemy within range.

The special attack of this mech comes in two forms. For the short-range mode, firing the minigun knocks back nearby enemies. While in long-range mode, the bullet causes damage to the Titans in its path, leaving a trace of destruction behind. 


After burning your enemies to ashes, it is time to summon a thundering storm in battle. Using an energy rifle, players can use this mech's special ability to cut through anything and anyone who stands in their path. Those who attempt to follow it may fall victim of its laser-triggered explosive mines, which players can deploy in the map.

As a defensive mechanism, this mech uses the power of electricity to create a vortex shield, which can absorb incoming bullets and send them back to the enemies.


Last but not least comes the Titan that combines a tank and a mech. Players can blast through their enemies with the 40mm cannon that features explosive rounds and partial lock-on, while using a sonar to detect enemies nearby. There will be nowhere to hide.

Its special attack consists of shooting fully locked-on missiles. Its shield allows players to resist damage and shoot through the particle wall in front of them.

Three Deadly Combinations

In a game with six different classes, each one has its own strengths and weaknesses -- but they all are complementary to each other. Working together and combining forces will be the decisive element that determines which team will thrive and which one will fall in the battlefield.

Collaborate with a friend as you travel through the maps of Titanfall 2 and become the ultimate dynamic duo. As Saren said in Mass Effect: "the strengths of both, the weakness of neither."

Here are three Titan combinations you'll want to try with a friend when you start playing.

1. Northstar and Scorch

Despite delivering long-ranged deadly shots, the rifle Northstar wields takes few moments before another projectile is ready to go. If players miss the shot, these instants between one attack and the other can culminate in the death of the player.

This is the opportunity for Scorch to shine, as it can use its medium-ranged attacks and its ability to damage several foes at once, thus serving as a back up to defend Northstar.

The same principle holds true if reversed. Northstar can protect Scorch by eliminating other enemies wielding long-ranged guns.

2. Ion and Ronin

With its shotgun, Ronin is almost unstoppable when facing one enemy at a time in a close quarters situation. But due to the delay between each shot, it may be a sitting duck against several foes.

This is where Legion comes into play. Using its shield, this Titan can cover Ronin and send bullets back at the enemies, thus reducing the number of opponents Ronin may have to focus on at a single time.

3. Legion and Tone

Tone features a shield players can shoot through. But most importantly, it is equipped with a sonar that lets players detect nearby enemies. If Tone and Legion charge towards conflict, with the former marching in front of the latter, Tone will know where enemies are and will choose the best course of action, as Legion follows.

With the strategic guidance of Tone marching in front, as Legion uses the force of its minigun to blast the enemies, this duo is a force to be reckoned with.

What does the future hold?

The Titanfall developers certainly faced many challenges when designing this game -- and one them was ensuring it provides a balanced gameplay experience to its players. There cannot be a dominant strategy for users to pick. Analyzing each Titan shows that they are complementary to each other, and this is a good indication that the game is balanced -- at least moreso than the original.

The design of the Titans, however, is not the only factor that dictates whether the game is balanced or not, as level design also plays a crucial role. It is important to craft a map in which there is room for each mech to use its skills efficiently, rather that be long, medium or short-ranged attacks. A prime example is the Noshar Canal level featured in Battlefield 3.

There is a section of the map dedicated to each style the players may prefer, as seen in the picture above. For close quarters action, they can venture themselves through the containers, while others may run through the center of the image, in order to engage in a medium-ranged combat. Players who prefer to snipe can climb on the crane or move to the railroad. This type of "one size fits all" approach is what the team behind Titanfall 2 should aim for, in order to ensure that every class in the game will be able to shine.

The "Angel City" level featured in the first game of the franchise has been confirmed for the sequel. And considering how it allowed players to follow different modus operandi, this bodes well for the future of this production.

If developers at EA and Respawn Entertainment manage to deliver a balanced experience, through the classes of the Titans and the level design, Titanfall 2 will be a must-play for every player who enjoys first person shooters.

Whether the game will live up to the expectations, remains to be seen, but we will find out today when it becomes available for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Interview with Frogdice President Michael Hartman - New MMO Stash RPG: No Loot Left Behind Sat, 15 Oct 2016 12:15:12 -0400 QuintLyn

If you're an MMO fan who hasn't heard of Stash RPG: No Loot Left Behind before, you might just want to check it out. The latest project from Frogdice -- creators of such games as Tower of Elements and Threshold RPG, Stash is a turn-based, tactical grid combat MMO with a unique table-top style and truly interesting social and housing systems. 

Announced at PAX East 2014, Stash  -- like other Frogdice projects  --  went through a successful round of community funding on Kickstarter. Frogdice asked for a fairly modest amount of $50k, and with the help of over 800 backers exceeded the mark in September of 2014. Since that time, they've been hard at work bringing the game to life and doing all the things necessary to get a game to the players, such as getting the game Greenlit on Steam before releasing into Early Access in September.

After being introduced to the game by one of my co-workers, I was drawn in by the art style and the idea of a turn-based MMO -- not to mention the idea of an MMO that allows players to have a place in the game without requiring them to spend all their time fighting monsters and running dungeons. Wanting to know more about the game, I sat down with Frogdice founder and President, Michael Hartman to talk about the company, Stash, and some of the process behind the game.

Surviving Kickstarter

Since Stash is a Kickstarter success, I  began by asking about the campaign and how they make it work in an environment where gamers have become skeptical of crowdfunding games. Noting that the failures of other game have given Kickstarter a bit of a negative image among gamers, I asked what made the company elect to use the service and what helped make Stash successful on it.

According to Hartman one of the biggest components for a successful Kickstarter these days is to already have some kind of a fanbase. As he noted, Frogdice has been around for 20 years, and over that time, they have developed a loyal following for their games and their shared universe. In fact, this following has allowed the company to use Kickstarter four times to success -- twice for Stash alone.

Hartman feels a built in fanbase is imperative because Kickstarter doesn't generate the amount of traffic on its own that it used to.  As Hartman explained the situation using his own projects as examples:

"Organic traffic from Kickstarter is much lower now even though Kickstarter campaigns and the games have become bigger over time."

However, if a developer has a solid fan base and treats them well, they're far more likely to succeed in the crowdfunding space. In the case of Frogdice, there's a 20 year relationship history between them and their fans.

20 Years and Counting

Considering the fickle nature of the game industry, with devs moving from company to company every few years, I was curious about what kept Frogdice going strong and Hartman and his associates going. 

Part of the answer is simply that Frogdice is, at its core, a family company. Michael and his wife Pang started the company and ran it together for 15 years before they started adding to their staff around 2011. Now, the company consists of a core group of 7 individuals (plus about 5 part time staffers). Six people are working on Stash.

Two other factors that have kept the team going is the simple fact that they love making games, and that they love their community. In fact, they know their fanbase on a more personal level than a lot of companies due to their interaction at their convention FroggaCon. Unlike conventions similar to PAX, FroggaCon is planned and executed by the development team, who spend time interacting with their fans and creates a mutual respect between them.

"We run our own convention purely for the sake of fostering a strong community. We want to help players meet each other and know each other as people. We want to meet them as well and hang out on a purely social basis. FroggaCon has a lot of games and events related to our games, but primarily it is just a social get together where people who play and work on our games hang out as regular people. It is a lot of work and very stressful, but after 16 FroggaCon's we still love it and hope to keep doing it."

As Michael points out, when they first started all of this, he and Pang weren't even married. Now they're not only married but have two kids. And just as the fans have watched them changed, they have watched the fans they've gotten to know over time change as well.

That said, he does admit that running a convention can be brutal, but the benefit is the mutually caring relationship between the company and the fans.

Old-School Influence and Table-Top Feel

Moving on from the company's history and philosophy, we discussed what influenced the decision to create an MMO with a table-top-style map and miniatures (or in this case "Pegs") as player characters.

As one might expect, there's a tiny bit of nostalgia involved in the decision. Michael and his wife started out their gaming careers with Dungeons & Dragons, and later moved on to classics like Bards Tale, Baulder's Gate, and Warhammer. He notes that while these early games were turn-based for technical reasons and were replaced with the real-time combat style as technology evolved, people are starting to realize that there is still a place for turn-based. 

For one thing, turn-based combat is "more cerebral" giving players time to really think about what they should do in order to succeed before taking action. It appeals to a broader amount of people -- being easier for both the young and old to pick up and play. Yet, it still rewards the hard core player without being as punishing to those without twitch-based reaction times.

Michael also noted that it's about time for a game like this, especially if you're one of those people who remembers what everyone expected when MMOs first came out. Prior to World of Warcraft, gamers assumed that there would be a wide variety of MMO types. Once WoW hit and became incredibly successful, however, everyone began trying to copy it, causing most MMOs to become loose clones of each other. 

Now, players are beginning to look for something different again, and developers like Frogdice are there to offer them unique games with unique features.

Changing Your Peg

With Frogdice electing to design characters as table-top style miniatures, I was curious as to how things like mounts and pets would work with them. (Stash boasts both mounts and pets as a feature of the game.) At the moment, according to Michael, mounts will not be represented visually in the game -- although they hope to change that in the future. Instead equipping a mount will simply increase the player's speed.

That said, players can change the look of their Peg, using character cosmetics and armor. They can even change the look of their base. (When creating a character there are currently four bases to choose from.) Eventually, Frogdice plans to make mounts -- and pets -- part of that cosmetic change. Eventually players will be able to equip their pets and have them sit on the base of their Peg with them. (They'll also be able to play with their pets in their BOO.)

There's No Place Like Home

Speaking of features, probably one of the most unique features in Stash is the game's housing system -- known as "Base of Operations" or BOO. All players start out with a BOO from level one. It's nothing fancy. In fact, it's just an instance containing a bedroll on a plot of land. But the possibilities are endless as players can develop and level it up until it's a castle -- that is, of course, if that's what they want to do. There's no requirement to level the BOO and player can opt for simply leveling up the portions they need -- stash, stall, farm, etc -- while keeping the bedroll.

That said, those who do level up their BOO, will spend as much time leveling it as they do their characters. In Stash, the housing system is a core feature of the game. It's where players will handle their crafting, farming, and market actions. 

“When players own a piece of the world it makes them feel more like part of that world and the community.”

The inside of the house is upgrade-able as well. When the house is first built, it consists of a single room. The player can then begin to build more rooms, change the shape of rooms, and add furniture and objects.

Unusual Influences

Considering how unique Stash's housing system is, I was curious as to what other games might have had some influence on the team's design.  As one might expect, Michael listed a few MMOs, particularly Dark Age of Camelot which made housing useful. He noted the crafting machines and NPCs which functioned as a vendor. He and his wife were so fond of DAoC's housing system that they kept their subs for a year after they kept playing just to keep from losing the house. Another MMO he mentioned was EverQuest 2 -- primarily for its decorating and market features.

Interestingly, non-MMO games and casual RPG's were a heavy influence. These include non-combat games like those on Kongregate or from developer Big Fish. And then there are the classics like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon.

Build It and They Will Come

Another truly unique feature in Stash is the crafting system. Simply put, players can spend all their time crafting and not worry about doing anything else. In fact, players can have a level one character and still hit 100 in crafting. There's no need to be a warrior. You don't have to go out into the world, run quests, kill mobs, and do most of the stuff MMOs require to level crafting. 

Michael noted that while players might have to venture out in the world to get some start up capital before beginning their crafting careers, they could theoretically get money and recipes from a friend and not worry about the whole adventuring thing at all. 

To make things even better for crafters, the Frogdice team has made crafted materials and items the best in the game, so there will always be a market for what they are making. A boss might drop some legendary material that can be made into a legendary weapon, but it won't drop the weapon.

It is worth  noting that if those interested in crafting do have to go out into the world to get started, they don't have to worry about any kind of death penalties until they reach level 10.

Bindings Not an Issue

Another interesting feature that involves crafters is the fact that -- for the most part -- items do not bind when equipped or picked up. In fact, with rare exceptions, the concept of binding items had been done away with altogether. Players can give items away or loan them to other players temporarily -- meaning you'll never get stuck holding on to (or destroying) an item that someone else could use.

Michael feels that this will lend more to the epic fantasy theme, hearkening to points where people will give or loan an item to the adventurer helping them complete their quests.

Often in MMOs, developers and players feel this kind of free-wheeling item sharing will have a negative impact on the game's economy. However, Michael compares it to something as simple as owning a car. As he puts it:

"When you own a car and decide you want a new one, you don't keep the old car and just store it in the garage do you? No, you sell it. Why would you want to hold on to a car you're not going to use any more?"

In his view, part of the value of items is in the ability for them to be acquired. If a player is stuck just holding onto an item and can't get rid of it, it has no value.

Of course, Frogdice does have other mechanics in place to keep the economy from becoming flooded with certain items. This involves a donation system in which players donate to deities and outposts (which we'll tell you more about below.)

The Story Belongs to the Players

A lot of games boast about how the players can have an impact on the game's story. However, when it comes down to it, they don't have quite the impact that one might think. This is especially true of MMOs where players are generally thrown into the role of the sole hero tasked with saving the world... along with everyone else. 

With this in mind, I asked Michael how Frogdice goes about creating a story that players can impact.  As it turns out, this is something that the company has been doing for a while -- even in its earlier games, such as Threshold. Using two kinds of events, story line and base line. 

Michael describes story line events as having a a major impact on the game and involving the interaction of the staff. The most basic of these are invasion. If players don't defend against the invasion, vendors or services can disappear. Deities can change is some way as well, either their function changes, or they are replaced or even disappear.

A big enough event can even change the geography of the world.  Michael offered an example of a giant meteor strike that destroys the landscape around it.  For something like this, the team would write up a script, or outline of things that can happen at certain points. Then they implement one step at a time in the game, watch what happens and adjust the script in the next phase to account for player reaction. Sometimes they don't need to adjust at all, others they do. 

The Frogdice team feels it's important to respect what the players do and be prepared for it. There is one caveat, however.

"Never set it up so the game is ruined if something happens."

Effectively, the team takes more of a table-top DM approach to events, rather than just planning it and dropping it on the server. 

Baseline events, also allow for player impact. These include fairly standard things such as players competing in teams to see who will rule an area, donating items to the deities to make theirs more powerful, and similar activities. Combat, crafting, and economics can all have an impact and alter the world of Stash a little.

Why Don't the Big Guys Do This?

In consideration of the fact that Frogdice is able to do this, but it's not something you really see from major MMO companies, I asked Michael whether he felt that the company size had anything to do with implementation. 

In his opinion, it would be easier for a bigger company to pull this kind of story telling off -- and he's not sure why they don't do it. He did however speculate that it might simply be because large companies are averse to anything that can cause a negative reaction among players. Sure, there are technical difficulties involved in this kind of story telling, but there is also a social cost. When players lose something due to a plot point, they might be inclined to quit.

That said, Michael feels what they gain from these events negates the cost.

"The gain of having a dynamic world makes up for the sadness people have when something goes away."

What Should People Know that They Might Not Already?

Nearing the end of the interview, I asked Michael if there was anything that he felt people should know about Stash that they might not. Since his wife was unable to sit in on the interview he pinged her with the question as well. 

Outposts - The BOO for Clans and So Much More

Michael wanted to discuss Outposts -- see, I told you we'd get to that again later. These are something that have not been implemented in the game as of yet but are being worked on. Outposts are a lot like the player's Base of Operations, only more. 

When players begin the game, the first region has a city complete with services, vendors, and places to learn crafting skills. However, as they wander out into the world, other regions will not necessarily have this. This is where Outposts come in.  

"As you explore, every major region has Outposts that can be claimed by a clan and leveled up like a BOO by donating materials, even non-clan members can donate."

If a clan runs an Outpost in a specific region, other clans can use it as staging ground for other things they are doing. These Outposts offer strong bragging rights for clans, and at some point in the future clans can attack Outposts owned by other clans in the hopes of taking it over. This will add another political dynamic to them as players who use an Outpost owned by one clan may not take kindly to them being attacked -- even if they aren't part of the clan who owns it.

A side perk of the Outposts is that they will offer players access to their BOO without having to return to the starting region.

All About Mechanics

Michael's wife and partner Pang felt people should know about the balance of mechanics in the game. She noted that Stash has a really good mix of both casual and hard core mechanics. If you're hard core, it rewards that number crunching -- exacting style of play. But casual mechanics such as crafting, running a farm, and fishing -- while casual friendly -- are still important to the game. 

She did touch on Outposts as well, noting that they will be the most hard core thing for players to do. However, for these Outposts to function both casual and hard-core players will need to work together. Combat people are needed to take them over and protect them, but casual people are needed to donate and contribute in order to build them up and make them better.

Available Now in Early Access

Stash is available on Steam Early Access as of now and will run players $15 or $50 depending on the package they choose to purchase. Each package comes with store currency equal to the amount they've spent and bonus items. Noting the Early Access prices, I asked Michael whether the game was intended to be buy-to-play, free-to-play, or something else.

He noted that currently it is indeed B2P, however this will change at official launch, when it becomes what he refers to as "pay what you want." He doesn't want to call it F2P due to the associations with free-to-play mobile markets and the like which tries to force people into the mind set of buying things from the start. Rather, he believes that players should just be encouraged to play and love the game, and when the time is right, they'll purchase things on their own.

For those who might be interested in purchasing an Early Access pack for Stash, I have been informed that Frogdice is running an event in game until 4pm Eastern on Monday. Players will be able to earn an additional 50% in combat, crafting and gathering. Resource nodes will produce double the output. There will also be a variety of games, events, contests, and rewards. AND! Staff will be in game chilling, answering questions and talking about the game.

Fill Your Blood Gauge with Vampyr's Combat Sun, 02 Oct 2016 14:57:40 -0400 Glitchieetv

New combat screenshots of Vampyr have been released by Dontnod Entertainment. Showing off the bloody game play, the screenshots hightlight the main character, Dr. Jonathan Reid, making use of his new vampire powers; as well as more traditional weapons. Vampyr will be released in 2017 for Xbox One, PC, and PS4. 

Taking place in 1918's London during the Spanish Flu, Vampyr revolves around Dr. Reid as he hunts for the truth about his affliction. Now a vampire, he will have to face off against mutated humans, vampire hunters, and even his friends on his journey. During combat, Dr. Reid's Blood Gauge fills up allowing him to unleash vampire abilities such as destructive spells.

With a non-linear skill tree,the game allows players to customize Dr. Reid to their play style, whether it is head on assaults or more defensive play. Each skill can be upgraded one of two ways, further allowing a player to fine tune combat skills. Combat can also be affected by choices made out of combat, such as feeding on humans. Paying attention to who to feed from and when to flee will be important in leveling up the character.

Vampyr brings a fresh flavor to vampire games. Will you be investigating Dr. Reid's new affliction when the game releases?



How to Succeed In At Demon on Demon Combat - Beginner's Guide to Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse Wed, 21 Sep 2016 05:04:10 -0400 ForTheTwo

Shin Megami Tensei has never been the most forgiving of RPG franchises. Death comes easily, and even random encounters can wipe an unprepared party. The series is beloved for its challenge, forcing players to carefully consider their next step, trying to constantly prepare for the unexpected, and struggling to survive when they find themselves out of their element.

For newcomers, the game can feel deliberately unfair: an experience that rewards long-time fans and experienced players unavoidably penalizes players for failing to perform tasks the game never bothered to explain were possible. Often, a player's first taste of a new mechanic is when they're wiped repeatedly, and have no clue how to avoid it.

At worst, they assume that because Megaten is a decades-old JRPG, and go grind for a few hours -- killing the momentum of a game that's designed to present a constantly changing and challenging landscape of abilities, skills and demons. When a SMT game is running at full pace, it's a wild ride of constant suprises, new enemies and environments challenging the player, who is forced to continually remake their party, recruit new allies, and sacrifice their strongest companions just to keep up.

For new players looking to get up to speed, fans of spinoff series like Devil Survivoror seasoned RPG veterans looking to get a taste of Persona'reclusive older sibling, we've prepared the following guide.

Fantastic Beasts and How To Fight Them

Don't Take A Turn, Press It.

While Apocalypse'Press Turn battle system is hardly new -- it was first introduced in 2003's SMT: Nocturne -- the only games to make use of it have been either mainline SMT titles or spinoffs, making it an unfamiliar and off-putting concept. While the game explains the most basic aspect of the Press Turn System, attacking an enemy's weakness to gain extra turns is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • The number of actions you have is equal to the number of living party members. This makes healing low-health allies a priority -- as losing them can make you waste entire turns trying to summon a replacement, operating with fewer actions each time.
  • An attack that is nullified or reflected removes all remaining actions from the attacker's turn, while a dodged attack removes two actions. If you're trying to find an enemy's weakness, using an untested elemental attack is best saved for the last action of the round.
Demon Skills: Proficiency Not Required

The small bar of skill icons at the bottom of each demon's status screen are slightly deceptive. Rather than a static or scaling change in the power of element-affiliated abilities, these icons represent a small number of relatively minor effects.

  • For direct healing skills in the -Dia line, proficiency represents a flat increase in the amount healed. This has not been sufficiently tested on demons, but for the comparable skills on the human protaganist, the change was a little more than 4 extra points of healing per level.
  • For buff, debuff and ailment skills, proficiency gives a negligible reduction in MP costs.
  • For damaging skills, similar flat increases were calculated, with the human protaganist as the subject. For physical and gun skills, at max proficiency, an increase of 42 damage, for magical skills, 24 damage.
  • While not insignificant, any potential penalty for putting a skill on a demon who is negatively proficient in will be masked by the natural traits of that demon: a demon with high physical attack but low physical proficiency can easily do as much damage as a demon with an weak attack stat and high physical proficiency.
Buffing Your Stats for Fun and Profit

Another Megaten series legacy is the suprising effectiveness of status effects and statistic buffs on both enemies and allies. It's nowhere near as game-breaking as it was in the first Shin Megami Tensei for the Super Famicom, where ammunition with an overpoweringly high chance to paralyze enemies could make the latter half of the title a cakewalk, but they're strong enough bosses are even balanced around them. 

The game doesn't expect them to be used at every opportunity, but they are a valuable asset, and should not be overlooked; they're just as valid a solution to beating an impossibly hard boss as any other.

  • Sleep, Bind, Panic and Poison abilities can affect friend and foe alike. Because of the nature of the Press-Turn system, curing them should be your first priority. The appropriate antidotes should be kept on-hand in the inventory, but since demons can't use it normally, a demon with the appropriate skills should be kept on hand in areas or bosses that are particularly spammy with ailment skills. SMTIV introduced the Brand affliction, which prevented all forms of HP and Status recovery, but this was only present in lategame and DLC bosses.
  • While stronger foes may resist these ailments, midbosses and overwhelmingly strong random encounters may be designed around weaknesses to these abilities. An enemy with no obvious weaknesses that overpowers a party which can easily handle nearby mobs, for example, will likely succumb to an ailment-based strategy.

Ailments are only half of the picture: buffs and debuffs for Offensive, Defensive and stats affecting Hit and Dodge Chance, are game-changing abilities that should be sought after in allies, and planned for in enemies. While the exact numerical values are tweaked from title to title, on average, damage is at least doubled at the maximum, and halved at the minimum, allowing a prepared hunter to go toe to toe with a boss they might otherwise have assumed they were underleveled for. (Postgame aside, underleveling is almost never the reason for failure: instead, it's often a misapplied strategy, or a misunderstood mechanic.) 

  • -kaja abilities raise the party's stat by a single 'level', while -nda effects lower it by a single level. In Apocalypse, three categories of statistics can be affected in this way: overall offense, overall defense, and agility, which affects the % chance to hit and dodge attacks. These effects scale the same for all units, enemy, ally or boss. 
  • In early and mid-game, where access to these buff abilities are limited and will only raise one stat category at a time, players should not try to amass a large number of buffs in all areas. Much more effective is pairing allied buffs with enemy debuffs in the same stat. Against an enemy who specializes in single hit-large damage attacks, pairing Rakukaja's defensive boosts with Tarunda's offensive debuffs will keep your party alive long enough to mount an attack. Likewise, an enemy who uses multi-hit attacks can be punished by using these skills to give your team at least one guaranteed dodge, reducing their damage and moves per turn all at once.

This is part of a series in GameSkinny's ongoing coverage of SMTIV: Apocalypse. Next, we'll be covering Apocalypse's unique system of party-building in our beginner's guide to Negotiation and Fusion. If you have any questions, corrections, or requests for guides on particular subjects, please leave a comment below.

Indie game Of Kings and Men released for Steam Early Access Thu, 25 Aug 2016 19:17:28 -0400 Janiece Sebris

Indie game Of Kings and Men has been launched through Early Access on Steam for PC. 

The third-person, RPG game's early access will focus on combat systems and key multiplayers modes. The multiplayer mode in Of Kings and Men can now accommodate 200 players in battle. 

Created by indie developer Donkey Crew,  Of Kings and Men has developed the medieval-themed game in their own bespoke engine, which allowed them to create these large, stable battles. 

Florian Hofreither, Project Lead on Of Kings And Men, had this to say about the game's release:

"We believe that Of Kings And Men will write its own history. If the community joins us now in this journey, they will forever be part of our very first era."

Players who gain early access to the game will be able to experience the player-driven battles, capture territories and practice fighting skills through combat. Because elements of the game are still in development, throughout Steam's Early Access, players will be able to exercise different strategical elements to conquer lands through political, economic or military means. 

Until Sept. 1, Of Kings and Men will be discounted at 10 percent. Early Access to the PC game can be found on Steam.

5 Best Classic RPG Battle Systems Wed, 24 Aug 2016 05:05:56 -0400 Alex Anderson_0905

There are tons of ways to design a battle system, and it can make or break a game. For years, many RPGs have been pushing what makes a great battle system and what can work in tandem with the story and feel of the game. Some flop; some rise to the top. Here’s a list of the best RPG battle systems from the SNES to the PS2.


Earthbound is definitely a classic. First released on the SNES in 1995, Earthbound was ported to the Wii U Virtual console in 2015. While the game has a very simple turn-based battle system, it had one feature that made it great: the rolling HP counter. In most games, once you’re hit, the damage is definite. You take the hit, then you do damage control by using potions. In Earthbound, the HP counter rolls down, so, if you’re fast enough, you can heal party members before it stops moving. This is especially helpful when one of your party members is near death. With quick action, you can turn a whole battle around near the end.

The Shin Megami Tensei Series

The Shin Megami Tensei series adds more gameplay mechanics in almost every game which enhance the battles and flow of the game. One of the best battle mechanics is the extra turn system. It goes by different names, but it’s usually the same thing: if you hit the enemies’ weakness, you get an extra turn. This can potentially go on forever and, in some games—most noticeably Persona 3 and 4—you can perform team attacks and deal out massive damage. However, it’s a double edged sword. Enemies have the same advantage. This gives battles an extra challenge. Going into a boss battle, you never know what party members to bring, lending to the eerie feeling of the games.

Tales of the Abyss

Easily my favorite game in the Tales of series, Tales of the Abyss adds the Field of Fonons (FOFs) to its battle system. As an action RPG, Abyss doesn’t have a turn-based battle system. It’s real-time, and was the first Tales of game to add the ability to free run about the battlefield instead of just towards and away from the enemy you were locked onto. In addition to this, the FOFs allowed for characters to mix their Artes, or skills, with different elements, unleashing massive damage on enemy forces. This allowed for another level of co-op gameplay as well. It made players strategize with their friends to lay down the correct FOFs to deal extra damage to tough enemies.



While Fable is remembered most for its alignment system, the combat was also fun and engaging. The mechanics behind the combat were the best part of this battle system. Each time your Hero leveled up, you gained points to spend on a variety of attributes, including: Speed, Accuracy, Guile, Physique, Health, Toughness, Attack Spells, Surround Spells, and Physical Spells. Because there were so many options, the combat felt different for every different character you made.

There was also the combat multiplier, which changed the amount of experience you received based on your hit rate. The more you hit the enemy, the more experience you got, but the more the enemy hit you, the less you got. This system encouraged players to not just swing blindly, but it was still entirely possible to do. Fable was about choice, and this extended into the combat as well.

Breath of Fire IV

Another turn-based RPG, Breath of Fire IV combined 2D sprites with a fully 3D environment. Battles are viewed from overhead and can feature any number of enemies versus only three party members at a time. However, more party members can be in the back row for reserves. While in the reserves, characters cannot take damage or contribute to the fight, but they gain back their HP and magic. While a simple addition, this allows for players to switch characters in a pinch in order to restore their stats.

Also, Breath of Fire IV implemented a Combo System. This allowed for two characters to use specific moves back-to-back to create a stronger attack, such as two fire spells making a much stronger one.

There are plenty of other battle systems that are amazing in their own right. As time goes on, more and more RPGs push the envelope to create better systems to enhance gameplay. Don’t see your favorite system on this list? Go ahead and comment why you love it!  

Best Fantasy RPGs You've Never Heard of But Should Play Wed, 24 Aug 2016 02:00:01 -0400 Captain Booya

The theme of Fantasy and the RPG genre have gone together like bread and butter since tabletop games--before it even became a gradually growing niche in video gaming. There's a seemingly timeless appeal to adventuring beyond the real world's boundaries, putting on your robe and wizard hat, and swinging that huge Buster Sword at anyone who dares provoke your wrath.

Though the other ingredient of a grand fantasy RPG is not only the setting, for avid gamers like myself, but the core mechanics--how it plays, and whether that makes the overall experience fun and engaging over a reasonable period of time. The key to nailing it in this department, is to give the player a multitude of viable choices and customization; whether it be combat, gear, classes, stats allocation, group setups, or freedom to choose where and what you do, as famously delivered in The Elder Scrolls series.

With that point in mind, below is an informed list of a few titles that have successfully built and improved on the formula for an intriguing RPG, whilst making it their own--Though perhaps hasn't gone recognised for that feat in the way The Witcher 3 has.

1. BattleHeart (iOS, Android)

Occasionally, there's a mobile game that is simply fun, innovative, and honestly good enough to be on any platform. BattleHeart ticks those boxes. While it does lack a story outside of the generic 'fight back against the dark forces' and the setting is the archetypal swords and wizards, it oozes personality with just its colorful 2D art style and soundtrack.

It plays like an RTS of sorts, in which the touch-screen controls aid the flow, but if it truly was of that genre, I'd have no business mentioning it here as an RPG. The big difference here, and also what makes it a unique RPG experience, is that you're 'limited' to commanding a party of 4 characters, from a gradual choice of 10 or so which you can recruit at your leisure, swap in/out, manage equipment, and level up. These characters generally fit into the roles of Tank, Melee, Ranged, or Support; all are interesting and have their quirks.


Eduardo the bard appears to be a cheeky nod to FF4's Edward.

Each stage presents you the simple goal of holding off the waves of monsters with your preformed team, in real-time. You have full control over all 4 characters, commanding them to move there, attack that guy, and most importantly using each character's several cooldown abilities, which are unlocked gradually as they level up between stages.

Battleheart has since had a spiritual sequel, Battleheart Legacy, which took many familiar tropes and abilities from this first game and made it into an incredibly solid single-character RPG.

Why it's awesome:

BattleHeart. They named their game perfectly. It's all about the battles. After a bit of a warm-up and recruiting a full party, these stages start to demand your full attention. There are not many times you will simply sit and watch your team and the enemies auto-attack each other.

It's not just a game of blasting through all your cooldown abilities ASAP to do more damage but using them thoughtfully in a way that keeps you afloat on the tide of battle. Characters can't take hits forever, and even a tank will need backup heals or buffs to survive.

It all feels very tightly-knit, in a way that makes classes, gear, ability usage and your personal micro-management all matter; And that is a sin in many RPGs and MMORPGs--that you're often given the choice of so many complexities that ultimately don't matter because the game is too easy to consider them. Which leads me to: 

2. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (Xbox 360, PS3, Steam) 

Another strong RPG that makes your choices of combat preparation matter. It's not the lowest-profile game on this list, but this party-centric RPG by Capcom seems to have remained a sleeper hit--perhaps a side-effect of Skyrim hype dominating the fantasy world through 2012 when the game was originally released.

At the time it was given only average reviews, with too much emphasis given to what it lacks, and nowhere near the recognition it deserved for its ambition to try something new, and for what still makes it stand out to this present day.

The basic gist is you create a character. (And my, the options available there are a doozy. Want your legendary hero to be a fat, black dwarf with blue hair? Your wish is granted!) You then also create your lifelong 'Pawn' companion in the same creation screen, who will always be one of the 3 AI Pawns that will follow and battle alongside you throughout the adventure.

After some intro, you are placed in the home village and tasked with seeking out and killing a huge Dragon that stole your heart. But not in the romantic way, as this isn't an eastern visual novel.

Of course, the objective to go murder the tower-size dragon is only an overarching, long-term goal, with main quests leading up to the inevitable stand-off. For starters, you'll just be choosing a class for yourself, and later for your 'Main Pawn' too. So begins the quest, where you'll chat to NPCs for tasks, recruit other player's pawns (If you're online) to fit your party's needs, find and combine items, and slay a heck of a lot of monsters, big and small, as you explore caves and the countryside.

Why it's awesome:

The combat style and party dynamic make this game stand out a mile from other open-world RPGs. First off, it's all real-time, complete with opportunities to dodge, block, or cause enemies to stagger due to high damage. Secondly, the ability to literally climb all over large enemies. Nope, it's not a scripted quick-time event, and yes, there are tactical reasons to do this, depending on the enemy. The Strider class, in particular, is most adept at climbing, which, for example, allows him to quickly scale a Cyclops and play one-eyeball-fillet on its face.

He's upset and it's not even happening yet.

The use of elemental attacks can also make a huge difference in your encounters, which are mostly delivered by Mages or Sorcerers. The class you choose to play for yourself and your main pawn affects what you'll desire from the other two you'll recruit--and your criteria will change as you learn more about your enemies, progress to new foes, or change your own class.

Initially, your choice is only 3 classes, or 'Vocations'. But once you hit the big city, Advanced Vocations are available to buy with the Discipline points you earn from killing stuff - Over time, you can switch between, and rank up, all of these classes on your character, and your AI companion, too. This system continues to keep you intrigued for quite some time, and there are benefits too, because you can equip traits earned from ranking up one class to help buff up your build for another.

This might sound like too much depth, but it's all unlocked gradually so as not to be a bombardment to the brain. Half of the fun is discovering what nifty moves each vocation has as you rank them up, and as you pick and choose which abilities to equip before you head out for another outing.


The nature of the vocations also feel less stereotypical for an RPG, too - familiar concepts, (Mages, Rangers, Knights) yet they feel fresh, due to the way Capcom has presented the combat. For example, I personally tend to avoid ranger-types like the plague because it can often be the simple 'pew pew endless arrow spam' experience. When I first fired up this magical game, however, I was intrigued by the Strider vocation, who can not only wield a Shortbow, but employ ninja-like skills with dual daggers, double jumps and dodge rolls.

All of this, wrapped in a world full of dark fantasy creatures like Chimera, Lichs, and Cockatrices. Speaking of dark, Dragon's Dogma also boasts a great atmosphere through it's environmental lightning--And the fact that not keeping your character's lantern alight results in darkness that actually hinders your visionI have yet to experience a lantern-lit trek in a dark forest the way I did with this game, squinting at the shadows of Hobgoblins just beyond the reach of the light.


Rounding off an already excellent package was the re-released version, Dark Arisen, which adds many hours of end-game-oriented challenge, and new beasts to conquer. Given the fact it took 3 years for this to come to PC, it really says something about a lack of these kinds of games, in that it still doesn't feel at all dated now.

3. Valdis Story: Abyssal City (Steam)

In a nutshell, a 2D Metroidvania-inspired platforming ARPG, albeit with a title that appears to just be words with a colon between them. But how much hides under that nonsensical title?

You take control of Wyatt, a gruff, sword-wielding half-demon guy. The game takes place in a strange underwater city, with various zones, which holds some significance in the ongoing war between Angels and Demons. But there are people living there too, which is awfully convenient when it comes to your gear shops and upgrades. 

Why it's awesome:

This is a lovingly crafted indie game. The art style has some anime influence but is unique in its own right. The music is also a salve to the ears, from melancholy exploration tracks to hyped-up boss themes, it always fits the pace and mood of the game.

The gameplay itself is smoothly controlled, platforming and exploration are satisfying. Combat is challenging and varied. Bosses, in particular, are a crazy time, and may well have you retrying several times--But you won't mind, because the fights themselves are a lot of fun, and backed by that awesome soundtrack.

There is plenty of choice in play style as you progress to find weapons and armor in typical Metroidvania style. Leveling up is also more than just a buff to your Health bar--you earn an ability point to spend on one of three skill trees each time. This will quite drastically change what your trump cards are in a fight.

I felt the screenshots didn't do it justice.

Besides that, you also gain access to a whole batch of different elemental magic attacks which you can map to up/down/left/right + a button. These range from offensive combo-aids, to ranged attacks, shields, and one or two utilities to help you reach new areas. Learning to combine these with sword attacks, blocking and dodging, keeps your enemy encounters interesting.

Catering to players who want to master the combat was definitely in the developer's interest, as there are around 5 difficulties to choose, ranging from cake-walk to what the game dubs 'God Slayer' which, given the fast-paced boss combat, most likely gives Dark Souls a run for its money.

Finally, there's some great replay value upon completion, as this unlocks 3 more characters to start up a new game with, and a boss survival arena mode. Though there is some slight crossovers in spells, each character possesses unique attacks and play styles to keep things fresh. A thoroughly packed and polished indie title, that stands up there with the games that inspired it.

4. One Way Heroics (Steam)

 A cute little indie turn-based Roguelike that goes on sale for about $2. The clever naming comes from the fact you spend the entire game moving to the right so that the all-consuming 'darkness' on the left of the screen doesn't kill you. In each new game, you choose a class and some stat traits to shape your journey. You unlock more choices here as you achieve milestones in the game. The idea is simply: Keep going until you can defeat the recurring appearance of the Demon King. Along the way, fighting and grabbing gear and items--Or, at least as much as the ever-chasing darkness allows.

There's a slither of a silver lining in the perma-death mechanic though, as the game lets you shove your more valuable items into a storage box upon death, to be retrieved at the start of a later playthrough.

Why it's awesome:

It has that great retro JRPG feel to it, and manages to keep a light and funny atmosphere despite the dire circumstances in this world. NPC dialogue is used both to educate with hints, and also for humor and goofy antics. I can turn this game on just to enjoy the music, which really sets the pace of it all, and I daresay it hits Final Fantasy levels of catchy.

Final Thoughts

It is my sincere hope that you friendly readers made at least one discovery, reading through this list today. The amount of hours I sunk into each game varies, but all left a positive impression and gave me new insights into what makes a great RPG, if not a great game, period.

If this shortlist has left you with burning suggestions of other fantasy RPGs I missed, let us know in the comments!

The Witcher 3 combat: A little Blood and Whine Thu, 28 Jul 2016 06:41:05 -0400 Captain Booya

The somewhat recent addition of Blood and Wine to the already huge world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the icing on the cake, (Or gateau, as we say in Toussaint) for fans, and something I looked forward to reaching as I concluded Hearts of Stone. And within the (once again) excellently delivered story, we're spoilt to some new gameplay elements too; most notably the quest to unlock additional mutations which can render Geralt a godly death-dealer, if set up correctly with your character build.

Therein lies the issue, though -- reaching god-status in a game gets old quickly. The moment you stop caring about how you approach a situation, is the moment you begin to lose investment.

Above: Ice-augmented Aard Sign delivering cold, shatter-y death.

I should mention that I began the game on "Blood and Broken Bones!" difficulty. I enjoy a challenge, that in turn demands I pursue better gear, skill sets, and potions. By the time I reached Toussaint, I had cranked this up to "Death March!". It was after I began to unlock some of these aforementioned mutations, (Piercing Cold stands out, aftermath pictured above) that I began to wonder what combat scenarios might make use of these new-found strengths.

There's certainly some interesting party tricks and buffs, between the new mutations and Grandmaster gear now available. And there are a couple of tricky new enemies hiding in Toussaint, but for the most part these additions were merely speeding up the rate I could cleanse an area of monster/bandit scrubs. I could manage without, if I had to.

"A one shot? Just like that? Sigh. What is life."

What then came to mind was the Arena mode from The Witcher 2, amongst other games, which has you fighting progressively tougher enemies, with breaks in between rounds to upgrade, or even hire help for the next bout. A nice idea, despite Witcher 2's inferior combat.

Cut back to Blood and Wine, and we have an Arena, which the local Knights take part in for fame and glory. However, this is only used on two occasions I experienced, for some one-off quest battles. This felt like a missed opportunity.

Above: A battle arena archaeologists date to the late 20th Century.

So what's my point? 

Wild Hunt has the best combat in the series, and arguably one of the best combat systems in an open-world game. Once I had a set of Grandmaster gear under my belt and equipped a preferable mutation, I found there was nothing to really throw my weight at in Blood and Wine, minus a certain final story boss.

An organic way to sate such combat enthusiasts, may have been to feature taking part in Beauclair's Arena more regularly, merely for gold, rewards, or who knows what else (It is The Witcher, after all...)

"You're all clothed, will this change if I win?"

Perhaps a rotating bounty board that pits you against tough combinations of monsters, demanding you bring your best or prepare for the worst. Or an endurance mode, forcing you to take more thought on potion usage, being unable to meditate and re-stock until you lose or retire. In short, some kind of late-game challenge that tests your new toys to the limit. The interesting skill progression and choices of play style owes itself to having some content of this sort.

Some might say I'm missing the point, that it's primarily a story game. But we have to observe that same story is about a monster hunter, with two swords and magic spells. And it's obvious that great effort went into both character and armor upgrades, as well as gameplay in general.

Despite what seems to me like a slight missing link at the top of the chain, there's no denying Wild Hunt and this final expansion still live up to the hype.

New No Man's Sky Trailer Showcases Space and Ground Combat Wed, 20 Jul 2016 11:52:38 -0400 Cody Drain

As August draws near, one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the year--if not the past few years, -- grows ever closer to release. No Man's Sky by Hello Games is scheduled to be released on August 9th, and Sony is currently whetting the appetite of eager gamers with a series of four short trailers called "guides to the galaxy."

The first trailer covered exploration, and the second, released today, is all about the different types of combat players can engage in if they so desire.

The video is tantalizingly short at only 65 seconds long, but it starts with space combat. Promising "epic space battles," the trailer showcases a number of dogfights in action, as well as an attack run on a much larger freighter. According to the description for the video, players can encounter a number of threats in space, warning that "pirates will swoop on the unwary, requiring you to evade and escape or fight back to defend your cargo."

Sean Murray and company have suggested in the past that players can choose to befriend freighters or pirates if they want to get involved. Part of the trailer appears to show this intervention in action, as the player vessel defends freighters while a small part of the HUD indicates how many enemy vessels remain:

The second half of the trailer showcases ground combat against the deadly robotic Sentinels. The Sentinels seek to preserve the natural order of each planet, and every action the player takes to disturb it -- attacking creatures or excessively mining resources -- will attract their hostility. Similar to the Grand Theft Auto series, their strength is measured by a Wanted meter, which increases the more you fight back. The reach of the Sentinels extends even into space, so taking them on isn't for the lighthearted.

Planets also feature hostile predators, so players looking for opportunities to engage in combat shouldn't be disappointed.

No Man's Sky looks more and more promising with every gameplay video. There are two more trailers in the series, focusing on trading and survival, and then the hugely ambitious game should finally be on shelves. There's been a lot of hype surrounding this game for years, and Hello Games has given every indication that they have done their best to live up to everyone's expectations. We'll know if they were successful very soon.

Have some thoughts about No Man's Sky? Talk about it in the comments below!

The Technomancer Review: Telling a compelling story, giving stylish combat Tue, 28 Jun 2016 04:04:13 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

While playing The Technomancer, developed by Spiders, I was worried about what to write. It has very good combat, if a bit repetitive at times, very smooth animations that sometimes run a bit long, and interesting story and decent writing. Yet it has long awkward pauses, an extensive upgrade tree, and sometimes feels like there is just too much.

Despite all of the caveats, which are mostly due to a limited budget, I would recommend The Technomancer to anyone who likes action RPGs -- similar to, but not, The Witcher and Mass Effect.

The Technomancer, mars, zacharia

The Witcher meets Mass Effect, but isn't them

Set on Mars, The Technomancer follows the revolutionary exploits of Zachariah Mancer -- Mancer being the name given to all Technomancers. You start out as an initiate, but you very quickly become a Technomancer. By doing so you learn a secret, one which plays a pivotal role in a few decisions you must make. Along the way you make friends, enemies, and neutrally solve differences -- bribes. 

I found myself disliking one specific character, not because the game told me so, but because I didn't like the methods he was taking to keep his city safe -- but I understood why he had to be a harsh sometimes. In fact, while helping him out, to gain his trust. There is a moment in the The Technomancer where you ask for help from various people, when I asked this character for help he refused, saying he did not trust me enough. This was after routing out several spying factions from his home, you could say I was upset, and angry.

The Technomancer, mars, technomancer


The ones who follow you are not your ordinary bunch of followers. You have an eccentric father figure scientist -- not crazy, just different -- a very forward female rover explorer, a giant intelligent mutant, a plucky rogue named Lucky, and a slightly away with the fairies but complicated character who you first meet as a princess. Each one has their own backstory, and quests.

Most of these quests revolve around finding, and beating up people they hate. The most interesting of these centers around the rover driver, Amelia Reacher, whose father disappeared. You can choose -- and of course I did -- to help her or not, by doing so you discover her father's disappearance is linked to another in your crew. It's a rather interesting twist, which I didn't expect.

The Technomancer, mars, dome


You start in the first city of Mars, Ophir. A pristine city, with a hidden dark side of corruption, slavery, and abusing the down trodden in the slums. Through circumstances out of your control you are forced to flee Ophir, from here you explore new cities, and ancient domes. While uncovering the secrets of Mars, and of your own order, the Technomancers. Each city looks very different from the last, but I found the domes all look rather similar. Even the final 'most impressive dome', looks and feels the same as the previous ones, it is just bigger. But, this all could just be because they were built at similar times by early Mars settlers.

One specific location, in Ophir, called The Underworld is particularly annoying. It's a twisting maze that you are forced to navigate many times to get to different places in Ophir. Each time you pass through it every enemy respawns, which leads to traveling around taking a very long time. The same applies to each location in Ophir, only The Underworld doesn't allow you to run away from combat due to ladders, and ledges you have to climb -- which you can't when in combat.

The Technomancer, mars, sun, lighting

Upgrade trees, and combat

There are 4 main upgrade trees:

  • Warrior, which applies to staff combat for crowd control and area attack.
  • Rogue, which enables the use of a knife and gun for fast intelligent combat.
  • Guardian, which effects the use of club/hammer and shield wielding for a more defence orientated setup. The only stance which allows you block.
  • Technomancer, which is reserved to grant you the most powerful of your lighting abilities, some for attack, some for defence.

This is where everything gets a little more complicated, as there are 2 more upgrade paths. One's ability focused, allowing you to be better at lockpicking, stealth, crafting, or in conversation, among other things. The other is stat based, granting you more health and carry room, or gain better critical hit chances and damage, and many other things. These upgrade trees feel a little superfluous, as points for it are not gained every level. If they were merged, and you gained a point for it every other level, I think it could work better than it does.

The Technomancer, mars, sneak

Combat stances can be changes at will, each of the 3 stances offers a very different combat experience. Warrior, rogue, or guardian, which ever you pick Spiders have done a very good job at making each one feel very fluid, and fun. That's one thing I never thought I would say, The Technomancer has very good combat. While it won't win any awards, it is very fluid. The best part is when you get a critical hit, the game goes slow motion, which not only shows off some very surprisingly impressive animations, but also just makes the combat feel good. You know you have a critical hit because of an awesome slow motion scene, not because some numbers told you so.

This can all get a little repetitive, as each combat stance offers 3 different attacks -- in the case of the guardian style a block -- but you really only find yourself playing around with one of them. I played mostly as a rogue, with dagger and pistol, I would roll around backstabbing enemies and shooting from a far. The warrior style feels like what the game wants you to use, as you are a Technomancer and all Technomancers use staffs, but it doesn't penalise you for your choice of combat style. Fight with a long stick, large blunt object, knife and shooty bang bang, or spark your enemies unconscious, each one feels great. A feat which I am still amazed by, considering the comparatively small budget I imagine The Technomancer had.

The Technomancer, mars

The Technomancer won't be winning any awards, but it kinda stole my heart

The only real issues this game has boils down to the fact it didn't have a AAA budget, something which makes me very happy; that a game can be made to this level of polish with so many restrictions imposed by budget. The major issues boil down to awkward silences, when someone should be interrupted mid sentence they simply stop for a while, and appear to wait to be interrupted -- very polite of them. Then when lockpicking, the door/box/locker doesn't automatically get opened, meaning you have another button press to access the sweat loot or area -- I think we have just been too spoilt. Lastly, when you have climbed up or down a ladder or ledge an animation plays out of your walking for a while, it's just a little bit too long and it becomes annoying.

Other than all of that, and some serviceable delivery of lines, The Technomancer is an excellent example of, not only what can be done on such a comparatively small budget, but of action RPGs in general. It gives players the ability to swiftly switch strategy on the fly, while making each equally as valid as the previous one -- and just as fun. The Technomancer also follows a rather interesting plot, and even has multiple endings based on your decisions throughout the game. It starts as one man's journey to contact earth, and turns into a fight to free the people of Mars. It has interesting characters, who are not perfect, with some doing morally horrible things for the protection of the larger group. Some characters start out appearing selfish, but turn out to just be a little lost in what they were doing.

If you are a fan of action RPGs, and can stomach some flat line deliveries and awkward pauses, The Technomancer is definitely a game you should pick up.

[Note: Copy provided by publisher, Focus Home Interactive, avaliable on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows - Steam]

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Public Beta Sign Ups have Begun Thu, 16 Jun 2016 17:43:56 -0400 HaruOfTime

Mirage: Arcane Warfare is a multiplayer FPS combat game where players battle using magic and melee action. The public beta is planned to start this summer, and you can register for it now on the Mirage website. There will be certain requirements to participate, but those details have not been released yet. The game is being developed by Torn Banner Studios, the makers of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. 

According to the Mirage website, there will be six playable classes in the game, each with their own distinct play style:

Vypress – An elusive and agile assassin that uses her mobility and speed to cut foes down.
Alchemancer – Powerful mage that relies solely on the devastating power and capabilities of his magic.
Taurant– Hulking brute that excels at melee and uses his size and physical strength to dominate enemies upclose.
Tinker – Defensive trap specialist that uses her cunning and wit to defeat larger opponents.
Viglist– Stalwart defender that supports her teammates with her control over the battlefield and knockaround capabilities.
Entropist – Staff wielding hybrid that has a magic carpet and a mixture of offensive and support capabilities.

The game's magical fantasy world is influenced by ancient Persia and Arabia. Battle on desert sands, in bazaars, and palaces as you fight in a brutal civil war over the use of magic itself.

For more information about the game and to sign up for the upcoming beta test, check out the Mirage website.

Tom Clancy's The Division Beginner's Guide: map navigation, combat tactics and group management Wed, 09 Mar 2016 11:09:57 -0500 Serhii Patskan

The Division is an MMO shooter with an open world that lives by the rules of its own. There are places you want to go first and avoid the rest. The leveling plays a huge role here, so don’t try to be a hero, just follow our guide for The Division and take the most effective path.

Some areas will have stronger enemies than others, so it’s important to gather a team of agents before you move out to more dangerous zones. But before that, you’ll need to have a proper gear, weapons, and have activated enough skills. So, be patient, this will take some time.

Navigating the map

Tom Clancy's The Division map navigation

The game takes place in New York, which is divided into 17 districts and The Dark Zone. Each district and The Dark Zone have its own levels of difficulty, so every time you enter a certain area the game will notify you about the level of the given district. Your character needs to be at least very close to it, if you want to navigate through the map in a more or less safe way.

For example, your first district is Brooklyn, which is suitable for levels from 1 to 3. So, each next district will warn you if an area fits your current abilities. Of course, you can go wherever you like, but don’t be surprised if you get killed on the spot. The Dark Zone should not be entered at least before you reach level 10.

Almost every district has its own safe house, where you can buy supplies, take on missions, meet other players, and fast travel between the districts. You cannot fast travel to The Dark Zone - it can be accessed only through activating special checkpoints.

But your main location is the Base of Operations, which you need to establish after you arrive at Manhattan after the tutorial zone. At the Base, you will have the same possibilities as at any other safe house, plus you will be able to upgrade your talents, skills, and perks, which are essential for survival.

As soon as you feel that you need to be supported on your way through the city, it’s always a good idea to start assembling a team by using the matchmaking menu at the safe houses. There you can join three other players for a total team of four agents. With a group like this, you will be able to quickly deflect waves of enemies and beat even the hardest bosses.

If you want PvP, then you need to travel to the Dark Zone – this is where all the action takes place. You can also extract some valuable loot there, but be well-prepared before entering the zone.

Other areas that you should be aware of are the so-called contaminated areas – this is where you need to wear a protective mask in order to survive.

Here is the list of all districts and zones with their corresponding levels:

  • Brooklyn (level 1-3)
  • Chelsea (level 2-4)
  • Hudson Yards (level 2-4)
  • Camp Hudson (level 3-4)
  • Pennsylvania Plaza (level 3-5)
  • Garment District (level 5-9)
  • Tenderloin (level 9-12)
  • Hell's Kitchen (level 10-13)
  • Times Square (level 10-13)
  • Clinton (level 14-15)
  • Flatiron District (level 15-16)
  • Gramercy (level 16-18)
  • Stuyvesant (level 18-19)
  • Kips Bay (level 20-23)
  • Murray Hill (level 24-26)
  • Turtle Bay (level 27-28)
  • Midtown East (level 28-30)

The Dark Zone:

  • DZ01 (level 10-12)
  • DZ02 (level 13-15)
  • DZ03 (level 16-18)
  • DZ04 (level 22-24)
  • DZ05 (level 27-29)
  • DZ06 (level 29-30)

Combat tactics

Tom Clancy's The Division combat

There are six different factions in the game: The Division, Cleaners, Rioters, Joint Task Force, Last Man Battalion and Rikers. You belong to The Division – an organization that hires agents to preserve the order in the times of emergency.

Four of these factions - Cleaners, Rioters, Last Man Battalion and Rikers – are hostile, while Joint Task Force is composed of police officers who are your allies, and they will help you deal with the enemies on the streets.

There are six types of weapons in The Division: pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, marksman rifles, and light machine guns. Each weapon can be modified to your liking with all kinds of attachments and personalized skins.

Each weapon has a limited number of modifier slots – their quantity depends on the type and the rarity of the weapon. Using weapon mods to your advantage is highly advisable.

  • For example, use better optics on your rifles to quickly headshot your enemies. Otherwise, you will have to deal with their armor, which can absorb a lot of your ammo.
  • After the combat, you can loot ammo from the bodies of the defeated enemies or at the Base of Operations and safe houses.
  • Besides ammo, you will need med packs, explosives, and various temporary buffs. Resupply them before each combat - you will need them.
  • Use covers at all times - they will protect you from the damage.
  • If you happen to encounter enemies of the level you can’t beat, then be stealthy and move from one corner or hideout to another, as you don’t want to engage in the combat, but rather get passed them quietly.

Group management

Matchmaking is one of the most exciting features of The Division – this is where you can team up with other players and go on missions together. Here are a few important rules you should follow before each co-op game:

  • Be sure to invite players that are in the range of 5 levels from yours. For example, if you are level 20, try not to recruit a player with level of 10, otherwise, they will not survive the districts with the level of difficulty of 20 or higher.
  • If you happen to be invited to the group of high-level players, then try to play a supportive role in that team and let the higher ranking players go forward.
  • Use the ability of the group leader to set up pathways for your squad members on the map. In this way, you can direct their actions and approach your missions with utmost accuracy.

Making your way through New York is much more exciting when you know how to deal with its hostile environments, so keep this simple advice in mind and you should finish the game really soon.

Come back soon for more Tom Clancy’s The Division guides at GameSkinny!

Build and manage your own factories in Factorio Mon, 07 Mar 2016 10:57:30 -0500 QuintLyn

You've crash landed on an unknown planet, and are all alone without any equipment or shelter. What you do have are a whole lot of raw resources at your disposal and all the time in the world -- provided the hordes of roach-like creatures don't kill you first. 

Factorio, a base-building strategy game created by indie developer Wube Software, is a fairly deep game, offering players a wide range of building and automation options. Explore the area, find resources, build simple structures, do research, develop electricity and automation, and build more elaborate structures. You can do it all. Just don't forget about setting up your defenses, or it will all be for nothing.

Plenty to do... 

Like many resource building games, Factorio is not heavy on narrative. That simply isn't the game's focus. However, that doesn't mean you won't still spend hours at a time in the game, as it offers plenty of options on how to play. 

In it's current state, Factorio offers four campaigns that also function as tutorials, three custom scenarios (with the option to create your own), a map generator (also known as Free Play), and co-op multiplayer. I'd highly recommend playing the campaigns before jumping into the other modes as they will give you a much-needed handle on the production process.

As with most world building games, you're going to start out small...chopping down trees, mining coal, and various ores, crafting weapons and tools, and putting the foundation in place for your impressive factories. While doing the small things, you'll expend some of your resources on research to be able to build larger structures and automate the production of smaller things. Start off with steam-run machines and move up to generating your own electricity. Build radar dishes to help you find out what's out there -- it could be other people.

Depending on the mode you're playing in -- and the map -- you'll be spending quite a bit of time carefully balancing your activity between building your factories and other structures and building up defenses against the nasties running around out there.

You will also be given different objectives depending on what mode you are in. Each campaign will offer a variety of objectives, partially as a portion of the tutorial. The map generator will drop you into a free-play mode after allowing you to customize your settings. Once in, it will ask you to build a rocket to explore space.

Factorio Space Travel

A lot to learn...

Even with the tutorial-type campaign mode, there's still a lot you'll have to figure out on your own. There are quite a few recipes (or blueprints) available in the game. Some are available right away. Others you'll need to research; investing not only time but resources.

Luckily, there's already a well-edited wiki that will help you right along with a lot of that. Since there's a lot to remember in the game, you'll likely want to keep it on hand.

Defensive combat...

Combat in Factorio is a more defensive than offensive endeavor; and in some modes it can be made almost inconsequential based on your map creation preferences. While you will build defenses around and within your factory to protect it, you'll still need to keep yourself armed as well, especially if you intend to explore a lot. You'll be able to build better personal weapons and armor as you go along to help out with that.

Being smart about it...

The really cool thing about Factorio is that you don't only have to rely on weapons in order to defend yourself against biters, spitters, and worms. If you're creative enough, you can come up with solutions using your factory assets to create additional defenses.

The community has already come up with brilliant defense management concepts, and I can only imagine things will get more creative as the game is expanded upon -- both by the devs and the modding community.

Speaking of mods...

Yes, there is room in the game for mods. You'll even find a tab dedicated to it when you launch the game. The game only comes with the "Base Mod" at purchase (at least for right now), but I expect we'll be seeing plenty more as the community grows and the developers continue to update the game.

A pretty detailed pixel game...

Graphically speaking, Factorio delivers nicely -- especially for a game with a pixel art style. Every item is nicely detailed and you'll have no problem telling even the most similar sprites apart. This is good because you're going to have so much going on after a while that you'll need to be able to see everything well. With any luck, you'll have a massive factory with lots of parts to keep track well as protect from invading critters.

A beautiful soundtrack...

Upon first playing the game, I'd highly suggest taking a listen to the soundtrack. It is gorgeous. You may want to do a little adjusting on the audio before going in, however... especially if playing the campaign modes. The alert sounds can be a bit much and really mask the music. 

It's not a small soundtrack either. The music is actually available separately on Steam and there are 26 pieces on the album. That's a pretty solid selection for any game.

factorio farm

Is it worth the price? 

Ah, the real question... It always comes down to money. At $20, Factorio is not the cheapest indie game you'll ever come across. But then, it's not cheaply designed. A lot of thought went into the production of this game and it shows.

The game has a variety of options that allow players to adjust it to fit their personal playstyle and, with updates and mods, will likely introduce even more in the future. Because it is a building game, players will likely find themselves spending hours in it. (Don't worry, you can save as you go along.) Replayability wise... well, with the options of free-play, the map creator and a (slightly limited for now) co-op mode, there's a lot of room for replayability. All that considered, $20 is not all that hefty of a price tag. 

In fact, the only real complaint anyone might be able to have about the game is the amount of time they're going to find themselves putting into it. There's a lot to learn and it does take a while to get things done; especially starting out.

Because of the time and patience required, as well as the lack of narrative, you likely will find yourself needing something else to do while playing. After a while, I just set one of my favorite shows to run in the background and watched it while playing. After that, time flew by and it was hours before it even hit me how much time I'd spent in the game.

So, yes, it is fair to say that the game is worth the price. Between what is already in the game and all the possible things that can be added with mods and updates, anyone who loves building and strategy games will more than get their money out of Factorio for a long time to come. 

Bethesda director addresses "new" combat and player freedom in Fallout 4 Wed, 16 Sep 2015 05:40:41 -0400 Andrea Koenig

In a new video, Fallout 4 director Todd Howard speaks out about Fallout 4's open world gameplay and Bethesda's decision to call in id Software for weapon combat.

Player Freedom

The idea of player freedom in an open world is a concept of rising popularity; build the world and immerse characters in it. In a franchise like Fallout, with such a large player base, this fan favorite is a must for the fourth installment.

Howard describes it as the world being the main character of the game, and devs want to show that world to you. To do that, they must think like the player. He says:

"What would I do in that circumstance? Who would I want to be?

And that makes it much more personal to you, and much more of a different experience. And in the end, it's what we would want to do the most as players as well. The more we can say 'yes' to the player, the better we are."

As for Fallout 4, he describes it as "Saying 'yes' in a better way." 

There won't be a lot of new things to do, but there will be some, and the old world exploration things that long-time fans have already done are improved upon.

Calling in id

It has been used in earlier hit games like DOOM, Wolfenstein, and Quake. Those who have followed them for many years know that id Software is part of Bethesda.

As such, they've been called in once again for Fallout 4 to improve gunplay. When questioned about it, Howard states:

"If you were to pick it up and play it, it does feel like a modern shooter. I won’t say anything bad about Fallout 3, but we wanted this not to make any excuses for the fact that it’s a role-playing game, for how the action felt."

If you were looking for more than the old RPG combat feel, you're in luck. The team behind DOOM has your back.

In case you're still worried, Todd also mentions that the team is starting from scratch for their combat, so there's a high chance that the id team has more control in the combat that we realize.

To hear more about what Todd Howard says about Fallout 4, you can check out the video above. The video also has examples of gameplay in combat for those itching to get a glimpse.

What If We Could Stop Killing Enemies in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided? Fri, 01 May 2015 11:02:47 -0400 Elijah Beahm

Often times, with even the most flexible games like Deus Ex, we are faced with a situation in first person games where we must choose to kill a fellow human being in-game. Sometimes it's because the game is scripted that way. Other times it is because they caught is sneaking around a corner. But there's a problem with this traditional "stealth or kill" dicotomy that so many first person games depend upon.

What if there's an alternative to that?

You see, in real life, killing is meant to be the final option. You don't go into an arrest with guns blazing and you don't stop a man from running by headshooting him. Yet, in our shooters, we rarely consider the fact that the act of shooting itself doesn't have to be lethal. We're so used to this "no matter where you shoot, the guy just dies" mentality that we've diluted what real life shooting is like.

Take for instance, the example of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. If you shoot a man in his leg, he doesn't even stumble. All it does is register to the game that you have delivered "X" damage to him. It won't matter if he's a regular human or a cyborg; the reaction is always that of a machine, not a human.

Nope, can't be bothered to just stab/shoot your hands.

Do you know what would happen if you shot a man in the leg in real life? He'd probably lose his footing, maybe grab it in pain, and/or hastily shoot back but has a much higher chance of missing. If you shot him in the arm, he might not be able to even hold a gun properly. He'd be incapable of being a serious threat, and be more busy struggling to survive. He might even beg for his life, if he isn't brave.

So why is it we don't have this kind of "death state" for games? We can simulate an enemy being taken out quietly in a non-lethal fashion, why is a loud and painful means only available in a handful of games, and even then, be limited to essentially the same as a non-lethal takedown. A knockout in Arkham City is just as much a kill as in a shooter, it's just painted differently.

What if instead, in Deus Ex Mankind Divided, we could choose to wound or cripple enemies? For once, a non-lethal playthrough does not require you just use the most overtly PG means of disabling opponents. Instead, you walk the line between protector and vigilante. If Daredevil, Batman, and more can all have a no killing rule, why can't Adam Jensen or any other role playing shooter protagonist do it too?

Given the choice, players finally have to face the reality of what shooting their opponents would mean. 

It lets us frame the concept of taking a person's life as a much more personal and visceral thing, rather than simply taking out an PC. Sure, you can just pop headshots and not ask questions, but you actually have a middleground now. You can be the ghost, or you can be the non-lethal John Wick.

For some, that might be a fun new challenge all to itself. To be so talented that you don't even need to get a killshot could be as enticing and rewarding as to slip through unnoticed. The kinetics and speed would be something brand new yet fit the pacing Eidos' Deus Ex prequels have always aimed for.

They could take a note from Dead Space as well, and make enemy design that emphasize certain weaknesses and strengths in their armor and augmentations. Maybe one guy has armored arms but his knees are exposed. Another is a walking tank, but you can break the armor on his gauntlets and make him drop his gatling gun. The potential offered here would be quite intriguing all on its own.

Now, is this actually going to happen?

Sadly, probably not; but that doesn't mean the notion should be dropped. As our games try harder and harder to be taken seriously, we need to recognize the simpler things that we experience in the real world but not in games.

A bullet sponge enemy is fine for something like Gears of War, but for more sophisticated games, we aught to have more depth and believability to them. Personally, I really look forward to the day I can go through a shooter and not have to kill everyone, but still use my favorite guns. Until then, I'll keep using my stun gun, tranq rifle, and stealth takedowns.

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