Monday, October 31, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #100: Stand by for Titanfall!

                It may be overshadowed by the latest or future releases, but Titanfall 2 came out last week and from my experience so far I can say it’s great. I’m saving the campaign for when I’m done with my current singleplayer “project”, but the multiplayer comes as an improvement in every aspect over its predecessor.
                Titanfall was quite innovative at the time, but it died quickly due to the lack of content and the separation of the playerbase through unnecessary DLCs. Respawn Entertainment has learned from past mistakes and in addition to a singleplayer campaign, Titanfall 2 comes with more multiplayer content and a ton of improvements.
                The most important thing to say about the multiplayer is the expansion of every possible option the players have to customize their loadout. While Titanfall had a shortage of weapons and titans, Titanfall 2 offers a good amount of choices without overdoing it just for the sake of it. There are enough weapons to play with accompanied by enough customizations to adjust them to your needs. The titans also have received an overhaul for the better, now six in number, each titan comes with its own weapon and a wide array of abilities to make these powerful war machines unique. Like all these changes weren't enough, there are a ton of cosmetic unlockables that will have completists playing for months to unlock them all.
                In terms of gameplay, the game hasn’t changed much, it’s still the same fast paced shooter combining futuristic warfare with parkour in a spectacular fashion. The time-to-kill has been reduced (to my disliking) which is part due to an improved netcode (yay!) and part to a drastic reduction in the pilot’s health pool, but I’ve already adjusted to this change. The classic game modes made a return with a few new ones to add variety for those already tired of Attrition and Hardpoint. I can’t say I have many complaints about the multiplayer at this point and I’ve sunk over 6-7 hours into it, but from my experience so far I can say that the game could use a ranking system and a few more maps. While I know nothing about a possible ranking system, more maps will be added to the game in the future and this time around they will be free for everyone.
                It might be too early to say, but from all the shooters I’ve played this year, Titanfall 2 seems like my best investment. The game probably won’t keep me playing for hundreds of hours, but there is no harm in that, I favor quality over quantity every time.
My powerful friend is coming!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #99: Into the Endless Space!

                Over the years AMPLITUDE Studios has become one of my favorite developers. Games like Endless Space and Endless Legend have a place into my heart and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the little development adventure that was Dungeon of the Endless. So, when I heard that AMPLITUDE was going to become a subsidiary of SEGA, I was quite worried. It’s not like the studio hasn’t already gone the road of multiple DLCs releases, a practice rather common for 4X and Grand Strategy, but being subsidiary of a big publisher has all kinds of strings attached. Therefore, I was anxiously waiting for that moment when Endless Space 2 Early Access was released to check out how much things have changed.
                I got my hands on Endless Space 2 a day before its release, but due to a tight schedule I couldn’t play much until recently. I dived into the unknown space at the helm of Vodyani, a new race almost drove to extinction by over-industrialization. Saved by the ancient Endless technology, the Vodyani have turned to religion becoming an overzealous race venerating the technology that saved them. Now, they move across the stars consuming worlds of life to feed their existence (cool, right?). This is a quite atypical race, providing a unique experience through a gimmicky gameplay that combines the old fashion civilization development with a nomad way of life.
                Endless Space 2 still follows the same recipe as its predecessor, combining a brilliantly designed minimalistic interface, a fascinating lore, a lovely art style, good graphics, soothing music and a strategically gameplay above all else, but does it at another level. What’s impressive is that despite using the same recipe, the game feels fresh. The addition of politics spices things quite a bit and the races play so differently that the replay value goes through the roof. It also helps that every good feature from Endless Legend was transferred here, so expect quests and minor factions that will add more depth to an already complex gameplay and expand the lore of this unique universe. Even the combat has been revamped, it’s still focused on strategy rather than tactics, but it got rid of the annoying cards system and embraced a more cinematic presentation.
                The list of new or improved features is big, so I won’t go through all of them. There are still a ton of features and mechanics missing, including four races, three victory types, two research trees and much more. But as it stands now, the Endless Space 2 Early Access is a solid base for a game that has its fair chance at strategical greatness.
My race is set on consuming this!


Friday, October 21, 2016

Things you should know about Battlefield 1!

                Battlefield 1 was officially released this morning for those who didn’t pay extra for the Early Enlister version. Many of you are really excited and can’t wait for the launch. Here are a few tips holding the necessary knowledge to help the beginners out there to jump into the game combat ready, but could also be useful for the rusty veterans.

Ranking up and unlocking new weapons

                Since the modern times of the Battlefield series, all the games had a ranking system and Battlefield 1 makes no exception to this rule. What Battlefield 1 does differently is the way weapons are unlocked. In the past ranking up your class or your character was enough to unlock the weapons in the order set by the developers. Battlefield 1 provides a bit more freedom in this matter. Each level up of your character rank awards a progressively increasing number of Warbonds, a currency that can be used to unlock weapons and gadgets which are gated behind each particular class rank. The advantage given by this new system is that players can now choose the order in which they unlock their weapons, instead of having it forced onto them. For the completists out there, Battlefield 1 will have you working as each class can be ranked up to 10 and the character can go up to 100.
The variation is real!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review!

                Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is another RPG delivered with the help of crowdfunding, raising over 70,000 dollars through a Kickstarter campaign, a sum which proved enough for Witching Hour Studios to finish this game.
                Masquerada is set in a brand new Venetian inspired fantasy universe. The action takes place in Citte de la Ombre, a city rich in music, free of religion but with a rather dysfunctional society where the status of each individual is dictated by Mascherines. Mascherines are magical masks with enigmatic origins which give the wearer the power to bend the elements. Through events of the past, the power of the masks has lead to a split in the society. Those legitimately wearing the Mascherines are part of the Masquerada, the high society of Ombre divided in multiple guilds which are in a constant political turmoil to the detriment of the city and its people. Those who don’t wear Mascherines are known as the Contadani, the common people striving to survive in a city that isn’t so friendly to them and with a government that doesn’t serve their best interests.
This long lasting schism between the city’s population has inevitably lead to a civil war as the Contadani have been raised to battle against the oppressing power of the government and the guilds in an attempt to acquire Mascherines and equalize the score. The death of the main instigator doesn’t put an end to this war as the rebels managed to acquire Mascherines for themselves before their leader heroic death in battle.

Screenshot of the Week #98: Blazing skies!

                I subscribed to Origin Access and got to play the Battlefield 1 paid demo (I think this is the best way to describe it) to test the improvements made over the Open Beta Test and the design of the maps because Sinai Desert wasn’t all that impressive.
                I got to play on all the available maps in the 10 hours trial version and while all look cool and are enjoyable, only The St. Quentin Scar stuck with me. This map depicts perfectly the image of WWI battles with a long line of muddy trenches filled with used howitzer shells and torn apart by craters next to a village which has not been destroyed, yet. A gruesome battlefield that’s offering a better WWI combat experience in one of the most splendid environments I got to see in an online game.
                Not much has changed in terms of gameplay, Battlefield 1 is still a fast paced shooter with a focus on action and a slight disregard for tactics. On the bright side, the game has been balanced based on the OBT feedback. Tanks have been nerfed and the medic is useful again. Thanks to some bugs fixing cavalry can’t kill passengers inside heavily armored vehicles anymore and there are less annoying problems to worry about.
                On the technical part things are as they always have been with these games since Battlefield 3. The netcode still feels skimpy, I’ve seen a few teleporting players and a lot of spongy enemies which is a mix of netcode problems and low damage weapons (I’ve seen LMG chest shots dealing 8 damage). The sound design, which was already awesome, has been improved with new additional sound effects to horses, elite classes and many more. The graphics don’t disappoint either, all the maps look amazing and there is a great attention to graphical details which I really loved (weapons getting muddy, that’s the headline!). The optimization is on point with the game running smoothly on the highest settings no matter the map which says a lot considering some of the maps are full of details.
                Overall, the Battlefield 1 feels and plays a lot better, but if you weren’t impressed in the Open Beta, don’t expect any miracles. The content variety does help to get rid of that grindy feeling and there is a lot more to experience now, but at its core it’s still the same game it was two months ago.
I died watching this crash.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Battlerite Molten Warhound Giveaway!

                With the help of Stunlock Studios I’m glad to present the Game Slasher’s first giveaway. We are going to give away one Molten Warhound mount, which is a limited edition mount that can only be obtain through giveaways from streamers and specialized websites.
You can sign up for the giveaway here and earn multiple entries by following The Game Slashers on Twitter, retweeting Battlerite Early Access Impressions and visiting The Game Slashers.

Good luck,

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #97: Swimming lessons!

                I wanted to write something about Endless Space 2 since its Early Access release was quite a big deal for me because I’ve been enjoying this series from the beginning, but this week’s highlight goes to Mafia III.
                I can’t say that I’m a Mafia fan, I played the previous games and I think they were great, but stories about the Mob are not really my coup of tea. But as a sucker for 3rd person shooters I gave Mafia III a shot and I’m enjoying it. I’m not that far into the game, but I got to experience what the gameplay has to offer and I’m very content with the shooting mechanics and the stealth sections. Despite people being worried about it, the story seems pretty good and it’s backed by one of the most amazing voice acting. There is also the 60s setting which is quite a rare sight in video games and with it comes all kind of music that I like. But suddenly, the list of good things stops here.
                Like Arkham Knight before, Mafia III is another example of a game with potential ruined by technical issues. To be more precise, Mafia III is a technical mess. It all started with a 30fps lock which kept me away from the game until it got patched, but that’s just the sharp tip of the iceberg. The graphics are blurry and visibly outdated with a ton of glitches and laughable problems. For a game that looks outdated the optimization is a mess. The AI is questionable, sometimes the NPCs act surprisingly well, other times they are total idiots. The list of problems is huge and filled with both frustrating and amusing bugs. I think soon there will be more funny videos about this game than actual gameplay ones and that’s a bit sad. Not because Mafia III doesn’t deserve to be shamed, but because behind all these problems hides a game that probably needed just a few more months of development and QA…
Hardcore training for the Olympics!

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Battlerite Early Access Impressions!

                I tried Bloodline Champions a few years back and I liked it, but at the time I was otherwise engaged with the worldwide phenomenon League of Legends to have eyes for other arena based games. Those who extensively played Bloodline Champions will find Battlerite extremely familiar. Some would even say that it’s just a reskinned version of the Stunlock’s Studios older game, but even as someone who isn’t so experienced with the previous title I have to firmly disagree.
                Battlerite is as a game built on the concepts brought forth by its older brother, but has grown to stand on its own as an attractive alternative to an overcrowded yet stale market. A proof for the desperate need of innovation is the success the game has since its Early Access release. I’ve always been a fan of games that do things differently and not just for the sake of being different, but as away to explore new gameplay mechanics - to innovate and Stunlock Studios have done just that (to a certain degree). Learning from past mistakes the developers are shaping misused good concepts into a game that has the potential to successfully join the eSports scene.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #96: Masquerada

                Do not get confused by the title, I’m not talking about Vampire the Masquerade, we are still waiting for Paradox to confirm that Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky are working on a new title set in the World of Darkness. This article is about Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, a game created by Witching Hour Studios with inspiration drawn from games like Dragon Age: Origins and Transistor. 
                I have some mixed feelings about this game. The story is extremely intriguing and I’m quite captivated by it despite being linear and having no dialogue choices. Somehow it managed to get me sucked into this complicated universe filled of intrigue, mystery and weird Italian names that I struggle to remember. The voice acting is also worth praising bringing to life this game’s loveable characters. The artistic direction isn’t bad either, but the graphics are underwhelming even by indie’s standards Masquerada does wrong at the one thing that makes games like this noticeable in the new era of gaming, the combat.
                The game has a real time combat system with pause, similar to many of the old DND RPGs, but with an action speed and mechanics more suitable for a Hack & Slash. The dynamic leaves little room for tactics and the limited skill system doesn’t help one bit. The pause serves mostly as a way to switch targets and cast spells without losing precious time or taking unnecessary hits. The tactics available usually rely on desperate kiting while trying to resurrect downed party members and little else is possible due to the frenetic speed of the action. It’s quite a shame, because a good combat system could have provided the depth this game needs to stand out.
                I’m not putting a negative verdict on Masquerada, it’s just a shame that a game with such a captivating story isn’t accompanied by the strong gameplay it deserves.
The beginning...

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