The Latest Adventure For Dungeons and Dragons Goes back to its Roots

Thursday, June 22, 2017

If you ask any veteran D&D player about the most unforgiving or harrowing adventure they've had, you'll likely hear Tomb of Horrors mentioned more than once. Originally published in 1978, the Tomb of Horrors is one of the most well known dungeon written by D&D progenitor, Gary Gygax. It is an unforgiving labyrinth of traps and monsters that spelled the end of innumerable characters. It was feared by players, revered by DMs and known even by those who didn't play D&D. And now it is back again in two forms for 5th edition.

Battleborn Should Commit to Free to Play

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Today, Gearbox announced that its long suffering multiplayer shooter Battleborn will be going free to play. Sort of. Battleborn will be available as what the studio is calling a free trial, and still offering the game at regular price through steam and retailers. I understand that Gearbox is still trying to milk Battleborn for all that it is worth, hoping that with enough time, support and exposure that the game will start to pick up. This latest attempt to liven up the player base has come so excruciatingly close to getting it right, but it misses a vital opportunity. There can be no halfsies when it comes time to make the move to a Free to Play model, and the longer Gearbox waffles on this matter, the more alien their game will become.

PAX Continues to Grow: GC Play Expo in China "Powered by PAX."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I first attended PAX in 2007 at the Washington State Convention Center. I've attended every year since, watching new faces come and go and marveling at how much the convention has grown since then. PAX has become something far larger than it set out to be. Now occupying three separate cities within the US and one in Australia, PAX seem now to have turned it's unstoppable march towards helping other conventions find their feet.

Call of Duty WWII Disappointingly Back in the European Theater

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The latest in the banal and simultaneously ludicrous Call of Duty franchise will return the World War II, the first entry since World at War in 2008. I cannot think of a time that I have been more disappointed in a reveal trailer for a game I probably wasn't ever going to buy. Snark aside however, I feel that the franchise has missed a tremendous opportunity to finally expand beyond the European theater.

Ghost Recon Wildlands: Just Cause With Friends

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Last week, a good friend of mine picked up a copy of the latest in the long running Ghost Recon series, Wildlands. Since the first game in the series hit store shelves in 2001, the franchise has ventured into almost every possible genre, be it a third person action game, a Facebook game, even a free to play mmo (offline since December of last year. If in that time, Ubisoft was trying to find the perfect fit, I think they've finally found it in the enormous open world and emergent gameplay of Wildlands.

The Tides of Numerera are Beautiful and Deep

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It has been a while since a game surprised me as much as Torment: Tides of Numenera. With as many games as I play these days, I thought I knew the difference between great writing and decent writing. After just a few hours with Tides of Numenera, I have had to completely readjust my spectrum, or at least include a new level within it. The writing in this game is truly exceptional. It takes me back to the days of Baldur's Gate and Planescape; games that came with huge manuals loaded with the lore of the game's world and characters. It has been so long since I have played a game like it that I forgot how much a game's writing can convey without having to explicitly show it.

MST3K Is Back and I Love it

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that I saw was episode 407, "The Killer Shrews." I was 10 years old and up well past my bed time, looking through the channels on our new satellite dish system when I stumbled across Comedy Central. At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing, and I didn't really get all of the jokes, but I got enough of them to stick around for the rest of the episode. By the end, I had found my new favorite show and I followed it everywhere it went. When the Kickstarter campaign started to revitalize the show once more, I backed it immediately and have been waiting patiently for its return. Now that it's here and I've seen a few episodes (I'm trying not to binge watch it, but its so hard not to) I feel its time for this Mistie to weigh in on the new show.

Crawl 1.0 is Finally Here!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We've reported on a few of the updates that have been released for our favorite early access game Crawl, but today is a particularly special event; Crawl 1.0 is officially here and the game is launching for not just PC, but Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles. We have been big fans of crawl since its very early days and it is great to see just how far its come since the early access went live in 2014.

Destiny 2 is Announced

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The official trailer for Destiny 2 dropped today. It seems to confirm what most of the active community had suspected for a while. The Cabal have destroyed the tower and the last city (first hinted at through a MEGABlox set description a few months ago), leaving the guardians and other survivors on the run with few supplies. Players will be starting over with all new gear and powers, essentially only keeping the appearance of their character as established in the first game. Perhaps most interesting of all though is the news that Destiny 2 will be released for PC. This presents me with a bit of a conundrum.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Finding the Good Amongst the Rushed

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We picked up a copy of Mass Effect Andromeda the other day for our PS4. We've heard all the talk about the facial animations and some of the weird movement and I can confirm that these issues do indeed exist and are prevalent enough that they detract from the overall experience. I'm just as disappointed as many of the players out there, but instead of ranting and raving about how ridiculous and unacceptable the situation is, I've been trying to understand how the game came to look like it does now and focusing on the things the game has done well.

Civilization VI, Part 2: Player Clues

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Welcome the second part of my analysis of Civilization VI and its design. Last time we talked about some of the changes Firaxis brought to Civ VI, namely the new districts and the builder units. Today we will be addressing the way that Civ VI clues players into the best places to build districts and improvements and how it allows a player to glean a great deal of information in a short period of time.

REDUX: Spartan Ops is Episodic Gaming Done Right

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recently, some execs from 343 Studios commented that all future Halo games will feature Split-Screen co-op, calling it "a hard lesson." There is another feature that I would love to see return, though it wasn't nearly as popular. The Spartan Ops from Halo 4 were, in my opinion, one of the best additions to the series. This from the guy who lists ODST as his favorite game in the franchise. I doubt Spartan Ops will ever return, but here's a reminder of why I really loved it.

VR is Finally Ours. Here's Why We Chose the Vive.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We have talked sporadically about VR here on the site. As the technology has gained ground we have found ourselves increasingly anxious to take part in the games and experiences offered by it. MoreGun and Ssalarn may have found the PlayStation VR suited their need well, Wesley and I have felt for a while now that the Vive offered more what we hoped for from a VR experience. Well, the wait is finally over, and we have acquired Vive, but I'd like to take a moment or two to talk about why we went the way we did.

Civilization VI, Part 1: Districts and Builders

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Civilization is one of those classic series' that most gamers know of at least by reputation. A consistently solid franchise that sits as the crown jewel of the Sid Meier empire (if you'll excuse the pun), the entries in this franchise have regularly met with critical acclaim, and seldom fallen below the threshold of adequacy. Each game in the series has introduced new mechanics, adding more complexity to the game. that is, at least until Civilization V came along and did away with many of the previous titles systems and mechanics in favor of a more streamlined and accessible experience. Some players decried these actions as signs that Firaxis had sold out or been too lazy to make a more complex game. The vast majority of people however, after a few pieces of DLC and a number of iterative patches came to love Civ V and it currently sits as the widely accepted best of the franchise.

Civilization VI picks up the torch right where Civ V left it, continuing many of the themes established by its predecessor. The espionage system defined by Civ V's  later DLC remains intact, as do large swaths of the game's trade system and religious mechanics. What really distinguishes Civ VI isn't the similarities it bears to previous games. In the places that it innovates, Civ VI manages to accomplish a spectacular feat; it has added depth and complexity while preserving accessibility.

Go Get the Humble Freedom Bundle ASAP!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

From time to time, I'll plug the latest Humble Bundle if there are some really interesting games within it or it supports a particularly good cause. Well right now, the Humble Freedom Bundle has both of those things and I highly encourage you to pick it up as some of the games in the bundle have limited quantities available.

If You Haven't Read the Expanse Series, I Suggest You Start Now

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sci-Fi on the scale of the Expanse is a difficult thing to come by. The novel series is currently on its 6th principle novel with the 7th due out later this year. The Syfy channel series based on the novels has just started its second season and is an excellent adaptation. But, as is often the case, the books are really where its at. The Expanse takes hard sci-fi to new places and creates a truly immersive, frightening and exciting view of our possible future. If you haven't read it yet, start soon.

Some Thoughts on the Current State of Battleborn

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Image courtesy of Gearbox

It has been a very long time since I played Battleborn. My last few sessions with the game a few months ago were undeniably bad experiences, but I booted it up again recently to see how much things have changed. I played a couple of the new missions (Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion and Toby's Friendship Raid) and a few rounds of multiplayer and while there certainly have been some additions, I wouldn't say that the overall makeup of the game has changed and I don't think I'll be going back again any time soon.

2 Games About Serious Issues

Thursday, January 26, 2017

This past week has been very difficult for a great many people in this country and around the globe. For those of you who fall on either side of the issues, it is vitally important that we be able to maintain an open dialogue with each other. To that end, I have selected 2 games that I think deal with some very serious issues and would be a great place to start having conversations about topics like surveillance and the value of a free press. 

Starting a New Campaign From Scratch

Thursday, January 19, 2017

When we talk about video games, replayability is an oft touched on topic. We like large games that invite players to experience the stories within it again and again. That's why games like Skyrim, Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto V have such staying power even years after their initial release. As a tabletop player though, it is very unlikely that you'll be tempted to play through the same module or adventure path more than once. Maybe I'm wrong, and this really isn't a thing, but I have never encountered a player or group, who upon finishing off the BBEG and closing the book on their quest turned around and said, "great job everyone! Let's do it again, but this time we'll all play different characters and be total dicks to everyone."

As a DM, I have run the same module more than once, but it has always been for different groups of players. The closest thing we DM's come to replayability is our player's engagement with the worlds we imagine for them. Over the last few weeks, I've been working on creating a world for my players to inhabit. It's a slow process that involves a lot of reading, writing, drawing, rereading, erasing, rewriting and redrawing. In the end we hope to have created an environment that the players can make themselves at home in and really become a part of. The first session, the reveal of that world is one of the most terrifying moments as a DM. Will the players like it or will they spend the next few hours shitting on the world you've spent weeks creating?

The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Pre-apocalypse Javier. Looks like a young guy with a whole lot ahead of him.

I've been following Telltale since their early days with Sam and Max and Monkey Island (both new additions to two of my favorite Lucasarts adventure series) but I don't think many will argue that their work on The Walking Dead really put them on the map. The story they told proved that they were capable of far more than just comedy. The story of Lee and Clementine remains one of my favorites from the last 10 years. Though it ended tragically for Lee (I draw the spoilers line at 3+ years. Sorry, folks.), we've still had Clementine around. She was the player character for Season 2 and is back in Season 3 as a very important NPC. Seeing the way that she has grown and changed over the course of the story has brought hope and heartache and Season 3's 2 episode debut shows no signs of changing that.

I'm Prepared to be Disappointed by Andromeda

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In anticipation of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I've been replaying the series on PC. I'm now a few hours into Mass Effect 2, which I consider to easily be the best of the three existing games. But as I've spent more time with the series, I've come to realize something very important. Andromeda may not end up being very good. For everything I've seen of it, intriguing as it all may be, there remains the distinct possibility that it won't live up to the lofty expectations heaped upon it.

REDUX: Monikers is Simply the Best

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

We left out this fantastic game from our holiday list! Wesley and I played a lot of Monikers with family over the holidays and we just didn't feel right about not mentioning it. So here is our original piece about it, reprinted here for you.

While at PAX Prime last year, we had the opportunity to play Monikers with Alex Hague, one of its creators. Crammed into the crowded Indie Megabooth, Alex dealt out a few cards to each of us from which we assembled a deck of our favorites. Each card had a name of a person or a thing on it and our goal was to guess what thing was on the card from a description given by another player. In the second round, we were asked to guess the same cards with only one word clues and the final round forced us to play charades-style, with only gestures and slight sound effects. In fifteen minutes, we laughed uproariously while fumbling to describe or act out the things on the cards. As soon as we were able, we bought our own copy and tonight we played it with my mother and brother.

We Are Back for 2017!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hello readers! We had a long and lovely break over the holidays but we are back and ready to jump into 2017. We played a number of games over the break but there are a few that stood out. Here's a quick run down of some of the games that captured our attention during our winter break.