Turn-based strategy game Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground will be releasing May 27th on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One, according to publisher Focus Home Interactive and developer Gasket Games.
I’ll be honest, they had my attention at ‘Warhammer’ and it being a turn-based strategy game doesn’t hurt either. Adding in CCG (collectible card game) mechanics ratchets things up another notch… Customizable troops? Ok just take my money!
It doesn’t hurt that the game looks pretty sweet to boot. Check out the trailer about the Maggotkin of Nurgle, one of the game’s three factions, and watch for more on this one after it hits retail.
Black Legend is a turn-based strategy roleplaying game (SRPG) from Belgian developer Warcave, where the systems are the highlight and offer enough to overcome a lot of design shortcomings.
There’s not much to the story but, in a nutshell, you’re looking to overcome an alchemist named Mephisto who has taken over the city of Grant along with his army of henchmen and enough dogs to give ‘101 Dalmations’ a run for its money, all made evil by the alchemist’s poisonous fog. You’re not doing this by choice, as you’ve transgressed against the Crown and have been pressed into service – an interesting enough start to the story, but that’s about as far as it goes.
You’ll run the somewhat bland-looking streets of Grant, slaying groups of enemies and unlocking doors to open shortcuts for the next time you’re coming through the area, as you undertake quests for the people in the Merchant section of town while working towards your goal of clearing the town of evil. There’s no in-game map, so expect to be lost more than a few times even with the multitude of signposts on the streets. My early annoyance at the vagueness of the city layout faded as I explored more and opened more shortcuts, and there’s a late-game transportation change that eliminates almost all the ‘I have to go WHERE?’ concerns.
For as much time as you’ll spend trying to find your way from the Harbour District to the Slums, you’ll spend far more time engrossed in the character class system. Starting with access to only the Mercenary class, players gain access to more of the game’s 15 classes – and the unlockable skills they can bring to the battlefield – by finding or purchasing new equipment. Each weapon offers different attacks, and using them fills an experience bar to unlock the attack permanently, provided you have a weapon in the relevant category equipped.
In most games a player will find the class they like and stick with it, but in Black Legend you’re far better off to swap through all the classes and gather up as many skills as you can because, in addition to a class’ normal array of skills, you can also bring in a handful from other classes. This allows you to create amalgamations that ramp up your power, essential if you want to beat the game’s harder difficulty levels.
Having that array of attacks available is key because of the game’s other combat mechanic, which applies a debuff in one of four colours: red, yellow, black, and white, to the enemy based on the attack. Enemies can have up to three of each debuff on them at a time, which can be ‘catalyzed’ by a melee or ranged attack to do extra damage – particularly useful in boss fights or higher difficulty playthroughs.
With a group of four characters in your party, there’s really no end to the combination of skills you can bring to the battlefield – plus the benefits offered by equippable trinkets and usable items. I leaned towards having a duo of heavily armoured warriors able to dish out multi-hit attacks while also able to counter enemy attacks, supported by a ranged user who was my go-to for catalyzing attacks, and a mixed healing/assassin class who jumped in as needed.
What I Loved:
Great character class depth
Unlocking skills to create a merged super class
What I Liked:
Interesting city design, after the initial ‘where do I go’ frustration
Tons of weapons and armour to find
What I Disliked:
Some bugs, though mostly squashed by pre-release patches
Story doesn’t really go anywhere
What I Hated
The Final Word: Black Legend isn’t an SRPG that I’ll be talking about the graphics, the story, or the enemies in years to come, but the class and combat systems are something I’ll remember forever.
Black Legend is available March 25th on PC, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Xbox version reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.
Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 builds on the bones of the 2019 original, putting gamers behind the wheel of even more of the utterly ridiculous big-tired behemoths of the track and letting them loose in all-new open world environments.
In-arena racing, destruction, and trick events won’t wow you, but they’re fun enough in short bursts even with controls that never feel quite right. The twin-stick controls, where the left analog stick turns the front wheels and the right stick turns the rear wheels, allows for true all-wheel steering so you can do those ‘on a dime’ spins the big trucks are known for, but it makes them incredibly prone to rolling over and leaves you at the mercy of a computer-controlled camera.
The game does include an RPG-like leveling up system, where trucks will earn experience used to level up the chassis, engine, suspension, tires, etc… to help improve all aspects of their handling. Even with that, I found it hard to get to a point where I’d say I was comfortable throwing one of these 1,400+ hp monsters into a drift around a corner or that I could hit the ground after a big jump without anticipating the near-inevitable rollover.
The career mode is lengthy, but events get repetitive quickly enough that all but true monster truck fanatics are going to want to space it out a bit by playing a few and then doing something else. There are a lot of races and a whole lot of trucks to take them on with – the full roster is just shy of 40 of the big metal monsters – so expect this to take some time to wrap up no matter how you choose to tackle it.
Where the game really comes into its own is in the five open world environments, which you can explore either alone or with friends in same-screen or online play. Jumping into these Monster Jam Worlds and bombing around with a friend is a lot of fun, and home to some of the more unusual physics bugs when vehicle collision physics don’t quite work out the way you’d expect.
What I Loved:
Open world environments are a great add
Multiplayer is a blast
What I Liked:
Lengthy career mode offers replay value
RPG system offers progression even in small play doses
What I Disliked:
Events get repetitive quickly
Fighting the camera
What I Hated:
The Final Word: Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is fun in short bursts and monster truck fans will love it, but it’s not the big step forward I’d hoped for.
Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and PS4. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.
Truck simulators are common – and almost disturbingly popular – on PC, with Euro Truck Simulator probably the best known of the bunch, but it’s not a genre that’s really caught on with console gamers. A distressing lack of polish means On The Road – Truck Simulator is unlikely to be that breakout title, but it’s not all bad…
For starters, this truck sim really nails most of the audio. Jamming through the gears is great and the engine noise is certainly serviceable, but there are a lot of smaller sounds that add to the experience. The way the brakes squeal that little bit as you ease off them is perfect, for example, as is the pfft of the air brake and the little rumble of the cab shake as you roll the power on.
I also really liked how you could customize your seat position, pushing forward or backwards to get the field of view you wanted, and raising/lowering the seat to see more of the road or the instrument panel. Getting the seat ‘right’ is a tough thing in a real vehicle, and it’s just as difficult here.
You’ll want to get the seat right, because you can spend hours on these roads just cruising from location to location. This is a reasonable replica of Germany, though it only includes just over a dozen locations that you’ll visit to pick up and deliver cargo, with thousands of kilometers worth of virtual highway to drive.
Unfortunately, that’s the end of the things I really liked here. There’s a lot of ‘well, this is ok’ stuff here – from the thousands of kilometers of German roadways that you can drive to the feel of the big rigs you’ll be powering down them, expanding your company with new trucks, drivers, and routes – but also a lot of ‘this could be a whole lot better’ disappointment.
Mirrors, for example, are an essential part of your driving experience…but they don’t work in On The Road. I thought it was a bug at first and restarted the game, but they never changed off a flat gray texture. It’s possible this is still just a bug, as the game has quite a few right now, the funniest of which is the way vehicles spawning in the distance drop down to the road like they just jumped off a ramp you can’t quite see.
The lack of mirrors makes cornering far harder than it needs to be, and though you can ameliorate this a bit using the third-person camera perspective that does entail fighting with camera controls that should be a whole lot smoother than they are. Getting the camera angle right can take longer than parking the trailer should have.
Adding to the frustration are obstacles like shrubbery or light poles that a big rig with a fully loaded trailer should – and have, in real life – be able to just knock over. In On The Road, however, those lightweight obstacles will stop you dead in your tracks leaving you prey to every other driver on the road, who apparently think nothing of smashing headlong into the rear end of a trailer loaded with hogs heading to market.
All this, and the game freezes up or crashes far too often for my liking…
What I Loved
Some great – and subtle – truck audio
What I Liked
A version of Germany that’s reasonable condensed
Truck feels ‘ok’ to drive
Expanding your trucking empire, hiring drivers, and managing routes
What I Disliked
Low-end graphics for environments – especially buildings and trees
Tons of pop-in couples with low draw distance to hurt visuals even more
Simplistic menus, with no explanations
Routine game freezes or crashes
What I Hated
The Final Word
I think transport sims can be as popular on consoles as they are on PC, but On The Road The Truck Simulator isn’t the breakout game the genre needs to make that happen.
On The Road The Truck Simulator is available now for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and is playable on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles via backwards compatibility. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.
Disjunction is set in 2048, but it feels like a throwback to the 90’s with a pixel art style, enemy ‘vision cones’, and old-school difficulty that’s straight out of the SEGA Genesis days.
Jumping into three characters over the course of the game, starting with Frank, then the hulking Joe, then finally the SMG-wielding Spider, players will explore a cyberpunk version of New York to unravel their individual stories that – as fate would have it – happen to intertwine. Each character has unique abilities that they bring to the streets of the Big Apple, along with an RPG-lite skill tree that can augment those abilities.
Frank, for example, can fire shock projectiles, provide cover for himself with a smoke grenade, and – if it’s all gone wrong – can even heal himself. The downside to that last ability is that he must stand still to do it, but a quick skill upgrade later and players can heal Frank’s wounds while on the move. It might not seem like much, but in a game that’s so dependent on keeping out of camera and enemy vision cones, movement is critical.
Levels have a checkpoint somewhere within them, but they can save your progress only once. I occasionally found it better to kill myself off to restart the run through the level or from the last checkpoint instead of saving hard-fought progress that would have left me in a bad spot moving forward because I had, for example, burned through all my ammo. In true Metal Gear Solid fashion, moving the corpses (or, theoretically, the unconscious bodies) of enemies out of the line of sight of other enemies, sentry drones, or constantly scanning cameras is essential – but easily forgotten.
Mission difficulty starts low but ramps up quickly. As a result, it can be tempting to say to hell with stealth and shoot your way through the last few guards in the way of your objective – but this is reflected in your post-mission conversations. Kill a few guards and you’ll hear complaints about the bloodbath you left behind and it does change some aspects of the game, but it’s up to you whether that criticism bothers you, much less changes your behaviour.
I had fun sneaking and blasting my way through the story despite it being a bit cliched, and a lot of that is down to the excellent conversations. Frank dealing with Sybil at the game’s outset, for example, has a great back-and-forth, especially if you leave a few bodies behind, that feels very authentic. Jumping over to Joe for the next set of levels brings a totally different conversation style – including the option to be the strong silent type if you’d like.
All too often different characters in a game with multiple protagonists are written with all of them using the same sense of humour, the same slang, and responding with the same emotional tone – but there’s none of that here and I really appreciated that.
I was a big fan of Evolve, one of the first games to take a crack at the ‘4-vs-1’ asymmetrical playstyle, but that gameplay just never really caught on with a wide audience. Since then, however, we’ve seen that audiences are ready for a non-traditional multiplayer experience and games like Among Us, Dead by Daylight, and Friday the 13th have proven asymmetrical play can catch on.
Enter Monstrum 2, which is set to enter Steam’s Early Access program at the end of the month. Following up on the 2015 original, which was a single player game with roguelike elements, the developers at Junkfish have veered off into asymmetrical multiplayer this time around.
Up to five players can take part in the game’s tense ‘prisoners vs monster’ scenario, where the prisoners seek to escape a research facility in the middle of the ocean while the monster tries to…well, do what monsters do.
Scaling difficulty and procedurally generated facility layouts should help keep gamers coming back, the tough part is getting them to try it in the first place. The battle for hearts and minds beings with an open beta that will run January 23-24th, with the game hitting Steam’s Early Access program on January 28th.
Here’s the press release:
Monstrum 2 arises from the watery depths to enter Steam Early Access on January 28th 2021
Brand-new trailer reveals the Malacosm. Open Beta weekend January 23-24
13th January 2021– BAFTA-nominated and Dundee-based developer Junkfish is excited to announce that Monstrum 2, the asymmetric survival-horror game, will enter Steam Early Access on January 28th 2021.
The multiplayer sequel to the cult-favourite original, Monstrum 2 features new monsters, new puzzles, and new procedurally-generated environments, as up to four prisoners attempt to escape Sparrow Lock, a sea-stranded research facility, from one of its monstrous experiments.
Will you escape Sparrow Lock?
As a prisoner, explore Sparrow Lock to clear obstacles, unlock new areas, and find useful items which can help you outwit the monster. But remember: stay hidden and out of sight. If spotted, you’ll enter an intense game of cat-and-mouse, vaulting and sliding your way to safety if you hope to survive the chase.
Combining first-person stealth gameplay with a puzzle-first focus on survival horror, players will need to strategise a means of escape together, rather than confronting the monster head-on. With scalable difficulty adjusting to the number of players and procedurally generated layouts, traps, rooms, and puzzles, no playthrough will be the same!
Or relish the thrill of the hunt?
Master three distinct monsters when Monstrum 2 launches on Steam Early Access, each with their own unique unique abilities and playstyle. Smash through walls, climb on ceilings, leap across distances, or teleport to your prey. Each monster leverages the environment in unique ways to ambush unsuspecting players.
Revealed in the brand-new trailer today, players will be able to terrify their competition with the Malacosm; a molluscan, Lovecraftian nightmare. Place locator traps to damage prisoners and teleport across the map, phase through walls, and take a glimpse through your prey’s eyes with the clairvoyance skill for a hint to where they’re hiding.
Open Beta Weekend In anticipation of launch, Monstrum 2 will also receive an Open Beta weekend on January 23-24. Join on Steam to be among the first to scavenge the depths of Sparrow Lock and all the horror contained within…
I have to admit I didn’t foresee HITMAN supporting VR, but the new gameplay trailer from IO Interactive reveals exactly that.
The trailer – check it out here – makes it look great, which has me curious as to how it’ll play on PS VR. Situational awareness has always been key for Hitman, so restricting your view would up the challenge significantly.
HITMAN 3 arrives January 20th on PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and the Xbox Series consoles, Google Stadia, and PC. The game will also arrive on Nintendo Switch, playable using cloud streaming tech.
If you’re interested, HITMAN and HITMAN 2 are both on sale on assorted platforms and the games will import into HITMAN 3 so it’s a great time to jump into the whole franchise.
Here’s the press release:
HITMAN 3 VR Gameplay Trailer Revealed
New Trailer Reveals Key Details about IO Interactive introducing VR to the World of Assassination trilogy
HITMAN 3 takes immersion to the next level with PS VR. HITMAN has always been about immersing yourself in a living, breathing world. A world filled to the brim with interesting characters, secrets, and opportunities. But you’ve never experienced it like this.
HITMAN 3 will be available on 20 January 2021 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC. HITMAN 3 will also be coming to Nintendo Switch, playable via cloud streaming technology. Pre-order today for access to the Trinity Pack, a celebration of the World of Assassination.
About IO Interactive IO Interactive is an independent videogame development and publishing studio with offices in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. As the creative force behind some of the most talked-about multiplatform videogames in the last decade, IOI is dedicated to creating unforgettable characters and experiences using their award-winning proprietary Glacier technology. IO Interactive are developing and publishing the very first James Bond origin story with the working title Project 007. For more information, visit: https://ioi.dk.
ROCKFISH Games struck gold with EVERSPACE, a single-player space shooter that used roguelike elements to keep gamers coming back, but they’re not content to just mine the same vein with the sequel.
Instead, the indie developer will be moving to an open-world space shooter design for EVERSPACE 2, and will be using fan feedback to influence the ongoing development via Early Access on Steam and the GOG Games in Development program.
The Early Access launch will include HOTAS support, for those with flight sticks, allowing even better control over your chosen craft. EVERSPACE 2 might be a year or more out from full release, but the game looks gorgeous and – based on hands-on time with early preview code – plays very smoothly as well.
Here’s the press release:
EVERSPACE 2 Early Access Set for January 18, 2021
Alongside the upcoming Steam Early Access launch, EVERSPACE 2 will also arrive on the GOG Games in Development program.
Hamburg, Germany – January 5, 2021 – ROCKFISH Games has announced their highly anticipated upcoming single-player space looter shooter EVERSPACE 2 will arrive in Steam Early Access and the GOG Games in Development program on January 18, 2021. Priced at €37.99 / $39.99 / £31.99, the game will launch in English with professional voice acting for the first 12+ hours of the story campaign and several side missions that take place in the first two star systems of the final game. The initial version will be good for at least 25 hours of gameplay, while introducing pilots to EVERSPACE 2’s core gameplay mechanics of space combat, exploration, mining, puzzle-solving, traveling, trading, itemization, crafting, ship customization, player and companion perks as well as five different player ship subclasses.
The full version for PC, including Mac and native Linux support, will be released at a reasonably increased price in the first half of 2022 and come with UI and text language support for German, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
“After multiple rounds of community testing by some 2,000 players, and great feedback from various gaming outlets and content creators on the closed Beta, EVERSPACE 2 is ready for Early Access. We can’t wait to receive feedback on the initial release version from space game enthusiasts on Steam and GOG,” says Michael Schade, CEO & co-founder of ROCKFISH Games. “Of course, the game is far from being finished. On top of the two star systems EVERSPACE 2 pilots will be able to explore in Early Access at launch, we plan to have four to six more as well as several additional player ship subclasses beyond the Interceptor, Sentinel, Striker, Gunship, and Scout at launch, to be gradually added on a quarterly basis. In the final game, players will also be able to enjoy twice as much story content plus lots of worthwhile endgame activities. We look forward to working closely with our community over the course of the next 12 to 18 months to make an outstanding narrative-driven open-world space looter shooter.”
Also, due to high demand from hardcore space simulation fans, the Early Access version of EVERSPACE 2 will offer fully configurable HOTAS support and presets for popular Logitech and Thrustmaster joysticks hardware setups.
EVERSPACE 2 can be wishlisted on Steam where the initial prototype version of the game is also available as a free demo. On GOG, the game can be wishlisted here.
About ROCKFISH Games GmbH ROCKFISH Games is a 100% independent game studio specializing in high-quality Unreal Engine 4 action video games for PC and consoles. Industry veterans Michael Schade and Christian Lohr founded ROCKFISH Games to create a new breed of adrenalin-filled adventures for space shooter fans through their acclaimed EVERSPACE IP. After spending over 20 years as joint entrepreneurs in the 3D graphics and mobile gaming space, Schade and Lohr built ROCKFISH Games from the ground up alongside a small team of veteran developers to the current studio of 25 cherry-picked developers and community experts from across the industry.
Using Kickstarter as a platform to build a new community in 2015, ROCKFISH Games reached a runaway success with EVERSPACE, which has sold over two million copies on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. Building on this success and propelled by yet another wildly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2019, ROCKFISH Games is dedicated to crafting a true next-gen open-world space shooter experience driven by quality storytelling as an open-development project together with space action aficionado from around the globe in their upcoming title, EVERSPACE 2.
Star Renegades, a tactical roguelike from Massive Damage Inc, gets a massive update on PC just before Christmas, bringing PC players a whole lot of new toys.
In addition to a new planet, the update offers a handful of new enemies including three adversaries, two behemoths, and a new drone type.
Console players will have to wait for the update until early 2021. The game is currently available on PC, Switch, and Xbox One – it’s available via Game Pass for both Xbox and PC, is also expected to arrive on PS4 in early 2021.
I have long considered Xbox Game Pass to be the best value in gaming and in my mind it’s not particularly close – and that was BEFORE Xbox dropped this Game Pass trailer at The Game Awards showcasing what’s coming soon to the service.
Morkredd, Cyber Shadow, Neoverse, Killer Queen Black, Medium, Among Us (PC only), Yakuza 3, 4, 5, and 6.
Oh, and a little game called Skyrim.
Game Pass is currently available on promo with three months for $1 for new subscribers. No better time to jump in than now.