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Written by Ex0du5_2169 on Friday, March 31st, 2017

Battle Brothers: Build and nurture your own mercenary company and then lose it all in a single mishap.

Battle Brothers is a new release by Overhype Studios. A turn-based tactical RPG set in a grim medieval open world that uses procedural generation to great effect. The gameplay feels like a cross between Mount & Blade: Warband and Heroes of Might and Magic 3. This combination lends itself well to many different play styles. There are also late game crises, not dissimilar to Stellaris.

The start of the game puts you straight into battle with a little exposition. Your sellsword company is all but decimated and needs rebuilding. You should probably get on that straight away because the world is unforgiving. Hiring mercs, buying and choosing their equipment, restocking supplies, that’s all on you. Balancing your budget so you can still afford to pay wages is very important, leader and accountant, what’s next?

Battles feel a little like Heroes of Might and Magic.

Expect losses in this line of work!

So you’ve spent all of your hard earned cash? You need to take up some contracts. How much you will earn depends on a number of factors, the most important (to a point) is your renown. There are a number of ways to become more renowned, setting and completing goals is one of them. They also help build a narrative for your company. Contracts range in difficulty, as you become more well known the bigger jobs become available. This is where things start to get messy (if they aren’t already). Your Battle Brothers can die, they will die, fairly frequently in fact. You need to be prepared for losses. It’s permadeath, they don’t come back, except maybe as the undead. Sucks to be you.

Virtually every contract you take will involve battle (unless you’re very lucky). Keeping your people alive will involve tactics, keeping formation is one such way. I won’t tell you how to play, that’s your choice, but learn quickly, for your own sake. If you manage to get your people through a few battles they might level up. For each level you can select a perk and distribute some stat points. The numbers may seem small but they can greatly increase your odds of survival.

Make sure you equip your troops.

Everything fits together nicely.

The character design in Battle Brothers is actually very appropriate. If I were to attempt to describe a fantasy medieval peasant it would likely look very similar. If you find a barber shop in a town you can even customise your troops. From character design to level and world design, everything fits together nicely. Nothing seems out of place, which is great for immersion (even for a 2d game).

While I am still playing Battle Brothers and have not got to the late game content, I am impressed. There is a good level of difficulty (even on the easiest mode). The mechanics work brilliantly and the gameplay and GUI are easy to understand and use. While I would love to see fully animated characters rather than tiles, this does not detract from my enjoyment. Even the soundtrack is easy to listen to and creates a nice ambience.

In summary; I am thoroughly enjoying Battle Brothers. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys gritty medieval warfare or tactical turn-based games. Fans of Mount & Blade: Warband will almost certainly find a home here. While the release price may seem little expensive, the replay value and overall content does seem to make it worthwhile. Definitely one to watch, I wonder if they’ll eventually add mod support?

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!

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Written by Ex0du5_2169 on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Working the forge all day for people with no manners, so, like a job? It’s My Little Blacksmith Shop!

I found this little gem over on itch.io some time ago, to say I have high hopes for it is an understatement. Currently being developed by Dasius of Noble Games Studio; My Little Blacksmith Shop has some serious potential. Please don’t misunderstand, the game is in very early access and is quite some distance from completion. However, what we do have is a labour of love and a dedicated developer, who readily interacts with a growing community. Dasius has taken inspiration from other titles including Skyrim and Blacksmith Simulator by Planet Howard. Work started while feeling the itch for more but not wanting to sit watching progress bars and numbers.

But what is it?

My Little Blacksmith Shop is exactly as it sounds, a fantasy smithing simulation. You play as a blacksmith, you order materials, you make equipment. It might sound simple and boring and it’s true that there isn’t a huge amount of content. There is, however, already limited progression, including a simple levelling system. Add to that a variety of materials and a range of items to forge, it might not seem like much but it works well. The shop environment is set up logically, the forge itself is outside the back door and there is a chest for payments. There are shelves and racks for storage of parts and even finished products. Customers can (and will) purchase items you put out for display which is a refreshing touch.

As the character, you are involved in every step of item production. From heating the ingots in the furnace, hammering them on the anvil and even quenching the forged item. You’re not finished yet, now you need to take it to the work bench to attach the grip and guard. Finally, take it to the customer, who has been waiting the whole time (with a timer ticking down), and you’ll be paid. Payment depends on a number of factors: Is it a blade or a hammer? Did you fit a regular or fancy grip? What material is it made from? There is a fair amount to consider and a whole lot more to come!

Everything just feels right. Nothing is out of place, unless you want it to be.

The future is looking good!

I spoke to Dasius about the future of My Little Blacksmith Shop and there are some big plans! Deeper interactions with a small community, friendships and the ability to buy a bigger shop. Perhaps the most exciting thing for me is the plan to allow you to equip the townspeople, in order to defend against an unknown force. This is before we even mention the crystals, I’m sure we’ll find out what they are used for eventually. Of course this is all long term, a considerable amount of time is being spent fixing bugs before adding new content. This is Dasius’ first major project, during which the aim is to learn a multitude of new skills. The dream is to build a strong team and studio filled with the creative passion that is already evident.

I like it, I like it alot!

It’s safe to say that I already enjoy My Little Blacksmith Shop. If the future plans all come together then I can imagine investing a large amount of time into the game. I shall be keeping an eye on progress and will likely write another article with any significant updates. There is currently no official trailer, though I will update this page if one is released. Have you tried it? What do you think of the future plans? I would love to hear your thoughts.

The graphical choices certainly lend themselves well to the fantasy setting.

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!

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Written by Ex0du5_2169 on Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Conan Exiles – Nudity and death. Only the nudity is optional.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not what Conan Exiles is all about, with the exception of death. You will die, more than you might think. Developed and published by Funcom: Conan Exiles sets you on the path of a customisable exile in an unforgiving land. Not unlike ARK or Rust, Conan Exiles is a survival based game with emphasis on building and exploring dangerous areas. You can choose PVP or PVE game modes, that’s not all, there is also single and local cooperative play included.

Character creation is a given and fairly easy to use. Choose from all the usual options for customisation, though there is another slider: genitalia. I’m being serious. I’ll let you discover the details yourselves, the results are fairly comical. Leaving that aside, there is one major difference to Conan Exiles: religion. You can choose from a total of 4 Gods to worship (though that number is set to increase as development progresses). There’s one for cannibals (Yog), the snake (Set) and justice (Mitra). There’s also Crom but he doesn’t care. Once your character is created you will be presented with a list of your crimes, some can be rather funny.

Some exiles just aren’t so lucky.

Kill to eat, or die in the process.

Gameplay is as you might expect, 90% of all creatures want you dead and will succeed around 80% of the time. By the time you can kill them easily you’ll be exploring areas with much nastier enemies. It’s a never ending cycle of death. There will eventually be dungeons to fight through, though currently the spawn rate in at least one of them is bugged. There’s an established tech tree, you gain points to unlock recipes as you level up. The tried and tested method for survival games, but it works well. Those who picked a religion (except for Crom, he doesn’t care) will have unique building options as they level up. I almost forgot to mention the Gods’ avatars which can be devastating. All except for Crom.

Crom really doesn’t care.

One feature worth mentioning is the ability to take slaves. Much like taming dinosaurs on ARK, slaves must be broken (tamed) and can then be put to work doing various tasks. Slaves come in the form of NPC exiles you will find in various places on the map. Once you unlock the correct tech you will be able to beat them into submission and take them away, the rest is up to you! Building is fairly intuitive and everything snaps together to make life easier, much like other games of this genre. There are material tiers for extra defence in PVP, though even the first tier of buildings cannot be destroyed by other players until they have steel tools. This is supposed to help new players get started, not that this will stop other players from attacking you, whether you have anything worth taking or not.

Since this is early access there are a huge number of bugs, some more severe than others. There are regular updates though, so don’t let that put you off too much. Overall Conan Exiles is a very playable and enjoyable game though I would suggest playing with friends. When playing alone I found that I would get bored very quickly. Don’t take my word for it, we’re all different after all!

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!

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Written by Ex0du5_2169 on Friday, February 17th, 2017

Avorion: 2017 – A Space Opera

What would happen if X2 had a love triangle with Space Engineers and Starmade? Avorion, that’s what!

Ok, so that first metaphor isn’t an image that everyone will appreciate, but hang in there. Avorion is an ambitious project that uses procedural generation to great effect. Developed by Boxelware, currently a team of 3 people, a significant amount of work has already gone into Avorion. There is even a modding community that the devs are actively working to encourage and expand!

The reason I mentioned X2 when describing Avorion is because the game already features an extensive and complex economy, reminiscent of the X series of games. Building stations, and even your own fleet of ships, is an integral part of the game, you don’t have to, but it can help. When I say building, I mean building; resizable blocks of varying shapes provide a powerful platform to get started. You can make some pretty amazing designs, as in any building game, your imagination (and patience) is the limit!

There are some amazing designs out there!

I would be lying if I said that Avorion has not eaten a good portion of my life lately, that’s not to say it’s perfect, nothing is, it is very addictive however. There are a fair amount of annoyances and issues, but that’s par of the course for early access titles. Some of the missions feel like they’re used simply to keep you playing longer (*cough* Operation Exodus *cough*). There’s a few bugs but I’m yet to find anything game-breaking. Overall though, they are nothing but minor irritations.

As you might expect, there is resource collection. The resources vary in strength and weight but generally you’re constantly upgrading. Weapons and system upgrades are a big thing and both scale from petty all the way to legendary and cover a huge array of possibilities. While you can play singleplayer, multiplayer is also an option. Building a fleet with your friends? That’s something special. Diplomacy with factions is mostly leveraged using the old adage of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, unless you’re a pirate, then everyone is likely to hate you.

For £13.59 on Steam ($16.89 approximately) it’s quite a bargain, whether you plan to play it on your own or with friends, it’s a great game with huge potential and an ambitious scale. There’s even a rough story, imagine that! I would recommend Avorion for fans of 4x and space sandbox alike. Have you tried it? What do you think of it?

It’s a monstrous mess, but I’m rather proud of my creation.

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!

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Written by Ex0du5_2169 on Saturday, January 28th, 2017

A convention just for tabletop gaming? Sounds like an adventure to me!

Penny Arcade have just announced a new event, this time aimed at catering solely to the tabletop gaming community. The new convention, named: PAX Unplugged, rides on the success of other PAX events and looks to be rather interesting.

As an avid player of Magic the Gathering, DnD, Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower and various other tabletop games, I have to admit, the concept of a tabletop convention is rather exciting.

“With the rise of popularity of board games, we wanted to provide a dedicated space where fans can come together,” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder, Penny Arcade. “We will continue to have tabletop games at every PAX, but Unplugged will focus on stepping away from the TV, monitor and phone to foster face-to-face multiplayer experiences.”

According to the press release, badges for PAX Unplugged will go on sale in the spring. It might be time to start saving, don’t you think?

From card games to tabletop adventures, PAX Unplugged will be sure to have it all!

From card games to tabletop adventures. PAX Unplugged will be sure to have it all!

 

An area that is often neglected at conventions here in the UK, tabletop gaming is, for all intents and purposes, the older sibling of video gaming. I’m glad to see that there is enough interest to dedicate an event to it, even if it is quite a distance from me.

PAX Unplugged is set to take place between November the 17th to November the 19th 2017 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. So, if you live there, or have the money to travel, then you might consider taking a trip to the event. I certainly wish I could, it looks to be rather fun!

What do you all think? Could this be a resounding success? Let me know in the comments section!

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!

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Written by Ex0du5_2169 on Friday, January 27th, 2017

The Supply Drop update has just dropped in but they’re not bringing cake; only guns, bullets and death, lots of death.

You may remember my review of Enter the Gungeon back in April, it was pure rogue-like chaos with a huge amount of guns, themed enemies, traps and stories. Think Binding of Isaac but with guns and a less disturbing art style. Plenty of frustration to be had, like you’d expect. Procedural level design, randomised loot and a distinct difficulty curve. There’s even an amount of preserved progression through unlockables in various forms. A game you can pick up and play very easily.

So, why am I bringing up old news? Well, the Supply Drop update was just released which adds a huge amount of new content, for free! We’re talking hundreds of new rooms; containing new weapons, bosses, enemies, companions and other goodies! There’s even a new ‘Challenge Mode’ which adds random modifiers to rooms, for those among us who really love punishing themselves! Did I mention it’s free?

One of the new bosses - The Mine Flayer

One of the new bosses – The Mine Flayer

The new content, in addition to an already brilliant core, means Enter the Gungeon continues to go from strength to strength. That’s before you consider that they have done all of this for free. Bullet hell has nothing on all this hot lead! Ok, bad puns aside, it’s a great game and I have yet to complete even one of the backstories, that should say something about the difficulty, if not my gaming abilities.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Supply Drop update and will be playing much more over the coming few weeks, as time allows. Free DLC is always a plus in my book. Have you played the Supply Drop update yet? What is your favourite gun? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments.

 

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!