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 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.
A free content update for The Falconeer drops this morning. The update, called ‘The Kraken’ adds new diving and exploration missions, as well as new locations. New tutorials will help onboard new players, and quality of life changes will help keep them playing.
I really liked The Falconeer when it launched – read my review here – and I’m looking forward to jumping back in to see the new content later today.
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.
Let’s be honest, 2020 has been a bit garbage to this point but Geoff Keighley and The Game Awards helped salvage things a bit with a ton of reveals. Mass Effect isn’t dead! Crimson Desert looks awesome! Outriders still doesn’t look like it’ll let us down!
There’s a lot to celebrate, but here’s my favourites:
Best known for their MMORPG Black Desert Online, Pearl Abyss is looking to shake things up a bit with Crimson Desert – an open-world action-adventure that looks…well, let’s be honest, I spent about half this trailer thinking it was a new next-gen-only Assassin’s Creed game.
That’s not a negative – the AC games are fantastic examples of the genre, and I’m pumped to hear more about Crimson Desert soon. The game is slated to hit in Winter 2021, with both single-player and online multiplayer components – we’ll see if they go full MMORPG with it or not.
The Callisto Protocol
You had me at ‘directed by Dead Space creator Glen Schofield’… Set on Jupiter’s moon in 2320, the game promises to be a next-gen take on survival horror.
“We’re setting out to make one of the most terrifying games of all time, and we can’t wait to share more about The Callisto Protocol next year,” said Schofield, Striking Distance Studios’ founder and CEO in a statement.
Next-gen jump scares are going to be heartstopping…
Disco Elysium The Final Cut
Disco Elysium is an RPG that you really have to play to appreciate. With a ton of freedom at your disposal and a superbly written world to explore, this is one of the best RPGs of the last decade and a must-play.
The game is expected to release in Summer 2021 on PS5, Xbox Series consoles, Switch, and PC – a free upgrade on PC for existing owners.
The Initiative was formed two years ago by Microsoft, assembled with top-tier talent and they’ve continually been stocking it with more over time – and now we know what they’re making…a Perfect Dark reboot.
I can’t lie, I was hoping for a killer new IP from this massively talented studio, but hey – this does look pretty killer so I’ll give it a chance.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
After years of having the license abused by bargain bin-quality games, Warhammer 40,000 has had a remarkable resurgence recently with a string of solid releases. That looks to continue with Darktide – slated to hit shelves in 2021 for PC and Xbox Series consoles.
Vermintide was great, and I have high hopes for Darktide – and whatever comes next for the Warhammer IP. I can finally get excited about it again!
Back 4 Blood
A spiritual sequel to Left 4 Dead and it’s by the developers behind the hugely successful cooperative zombie shooter?
I didn’t even need to see the awesome looking gameplay footage – that was just gravy.
Back 4 Blood hits June 22, 2021 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, and PC.
They didn’t tell us a lot, but it does look pretty so it has that going for it which is nice.
I’m a huge BioWare fan, so I’m interested in whatever comes next in the Dragon Age franchise. I just hope they don’t keep us waiting too long…
Fall Guys: Season 3
The popular hot take is that Fall Guys fell from glory, but the truth is the game is still doing amazingly well and is still a lot of fun to play. Season 3 looks to expand on that when it hits, December 15th.
Evil Dead The Game
This was a great surprise and it looks WAY better than I would have expected.
Coming in 2021 is really all we know so far.
It Takes Two
From Josef Fares, director of A Way Out, comes It Takes Two – a co-op game that looks like a ton of fun with a huge amount of gameplay diversity.
The game’s slated to hit shelves March 26, 2021.
Century: Age of Ashes
A free-to-play team-based shooter that’s hitting Early Access in February, Century: Age of Ashes sports giant dragons and skill-based combat with 3 classes: Windguard, Marauder, and Phantom.
Players will have some options as to how they want to approach combat when this game hits Steam Early Access. Can’t wait to see how it shakes out.
** You’ll have to check out the actual The Game Awards trailer here, as it’s behind an age gate. **
Developed by People Can Fly – that’s a major reason I’m interested in Outriders, despite the underwhelming nature of other loot-based shooter/melee games recently – Outriders looks awesome. It’s slated for February 2, 2021 and I’ll be there day one.
Monster Hunter Rise
I don’t get in as much Switch time as I’d like, thanks to the kids keeping a deathgrip on it, but I’ll find time for Monster Hunter Rise.
The demo hits in January!
F.I.S.T Forged In Shadow Torch
Previously announced for PS4 and PC, FIST will now be launching on PS5 as well and it’s super weird but I’m here for it.
It’s a Metroidvania with a whole lot going on. Check out that trailer and tell me you’re not at least a little interested.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
** Check out the age-gated trailer from The Game Awards here. **
A rebuild of NieR Replicant for its 10th anniversary? OK, you got me.
As a vampire hunter, Evil West has you tasked with wiping out the undead menace and saving the world. Battle solo or with a friend? Ok, who do I trust to watch my back in a supernatural apocalypse?
Coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, and PC in 2021.
I still don’t know if Scarlet Nexus is going to be good or not, but it’s caught my interest and that’s good enough for me.
Scarlet Nexus is slated for release in Summer 2021.
Personally I’m not so sure about this one, but I have a three-year-old who can name every single dinosaur that I can plus about a dozen more so there’s no doubt I’ll be running around in this dinosaur-filled environment whenever it releases.
I just hope this releases in a better condition than the original did.
Elite Dangerous: Odyssey
I’m a sucker for space games and Elite Dangerous has been a personal favourite for a while now. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next, and this expansion releases in early 2021 to allow on-foot exploration among a ton of other improvements.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story
IT’S MORE BATTLECHASERS! PLAY IT!
Ruined King has been moved to a simple ‘some time in 2021’ release date at this point. Hope to hear more soon.