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Luke Dicken

  • @Dover – I talked to Karoliina about this topic and the soundbite I got out of her about this is that this is a simulation about cities rather than citizens. With that said, she did indicate that citizens would have specific jobs and specific homes, so none of the BS Sim City shipped with. That said, needs etc would be on a household basis.

  • ThumbnailAnnounced last week at Gamescom, Cities: Skylines is the next game from Finland’s Colossal Order, the studio behind the Cities in Motion series. There is a clear history here, where the Cities in Motion games […]

    • Really excited about Cities Skylines after reading both this post and the AMA on reddit. My only concern is the simulation of the actual residents of the city.

    • @Dover – I talked to Karoliina about this topic and the soundbite I got out of her about this is that this is a simulation about cities rather than citizens. With that said, she did indicate that citizens would have specific jobs and specific homes, so none of the BS Sim City shipped with. That said, needs etc would be on a household basis.

  • I’m told that Warmachine is a pretty robust tabletop RPG/war sim type game. It’s something that passed me by completely, except being tangentially aware of it through reading posts over on Penny Arcade over the past few years where they’ve been pretty heavy players. Going in to this therefore I had pretty limited idea of what to expect.

    On the face of it, Warmachine: Tactics feels like a fairly faithful replication of tabletop mechanics – inasmuch as I could see this game working very similarly there and the arbitrary rules have to have come from somewhere. It’s a small-squad game in which your hero and squad attempt to kill the other team’s hero. The hero is a Warcaster, and is supported by infantry of various types and units that are akin to small mechs (Titans for you young folk – although in my day a Titan came from the forges of the Adeptus Mechanicus and towered over the battlefield) called Warjacks. What’s cute about the Warmachine universe is that it has a very steampunk feel to it, which makes these little mechs very visually appealing, and allows for a style that’s quite distinct from its competitors.

    warmachine-tactics-screenshots-4This is broadly looking like your standard turn-based strategy affair with some twists inherited from a strong tabletop heritage. Units have the usual move/action or run choice, and a resource called “focus” allows you distribute additional action point equivalents to Warjacks within range of your Warcaster, or keep them to allow the Warcaster to fire off spells and other actions. It feels like there’s potential here for something quite nice and that can scratch an itch that hasn’t been attended to for a little while.


    Warmachine is a product of a successful Kickstarter that funded Summer 2013. A year later, and the $1.5 million dollars raised has seen the game now come to Steam Early Access with a whopping £38 price point (making it the third most expensive Early Access game on Steam – behind Galactic Civilizations III at a staggering £76 and narrowly behind Wasteland 2 at £40). By all accounts the justification for this was to ensure that the Early Access price point was the same as the price offered on Kickstarter for early access, which is to some degree reasonable and ensures that all players get access to the same content at the same time at the same price. It’s commendable in some ways. But at the end of the day, it also means that this game right now costs £38 and that means that it has a lot of promise to deliver on – something needs to be pretty special to justify this price.

    Warmachine-TacticsI wanted to say that Warmachine accurately replicates the tabletop game, because that would at least explain why it feels so ponderous and slow, but those who have played both say that’s not the case, so I’m at a loss. Perhaps that’s coming from purists and what Privateer Press have created is very close to the original, or a distillation of it. For whatever reason, right now the gamefeel is just wrong. A turn takes 4-5 minutes, and when playing against a human opponent that means that you need to clear a good hour for a game minimum, and likely more as you each maneuver your team around. But there’s only a handful of units on each side. There’s an onslaught of information in a poorly laid out interface and none of that really tells you anything about what things actually mean. There’s no tutorial, so you are left to watch one of the developers try to explain complex mechanics by example as best you can in a set of “tutorial videos” that really only help cover the absolute basics. I thought I might find a human opponent at least able to provide some tips or help me out and was dismayed (and thoroughly confused) to find no way of communicating with my opponent. No chatbox, no barks to trigger, nothing. Which only adds to the feeling of isolation – in effect giving you an excellent tour of the worst parts of the tabletop experience (convoluted rules and an entire glossary of terms) with none of the benefits (social engagement and fun).

    Cygnar-vs-KhadorBottom line – the UI is janky, the learning curve is almost insurmountable and the content is largely absent, especially in offline mode. It’s all fixable, but lets come back and remember that there is a premium price point to have access at this stage. And the value proposition just isn’t there. The game has a touch of potential, but its business model combined with a weak EA build put it very at risk of falling into a bland, beige hole from which it won’t recover. Unless the developers can turn it around, it’s going to be left with niche appeal to those who already know the franchise from the tabletop. It’s just not ready for prime-time yet and as such I feel kind of guilty for even writing this – even though this is based on a preview copy that they themselves shipped out. This game isn’t ready for players and it’s certainly not ready for press and I can’t in good conscience suggest anyone spend their money on it currently.

    Should you be excited about Warmachine: Tactics? Not really. Put it on your wishlist and check it out when its actually finished, or wait for a sale to indulge your curiosity.

  • Transparent developers, may mean that this is one to look out for.

    Once upon a time, an indie developer released a 4X game called Endless Space. It was very dense, feature rich game that I bought and then was frankly too intimidated by to try to learn properly. The level of customisation and granularity of the whole experience was super intimidating. Endless Legend is, as you might cleverly deduce from the naming convention, a fantasy spin on this 4x experience from the same developers, and it’s available right now on Steam’s Early Access program. But should you care?

    EL1Civilisation. It had to be said. Someone had to say the name that this game is going to draw endless comparison to. But whilst Civ emphasises historical replication and invites you to take the persona of some of humanity’s greatest leaders throughout time, Endless Legend is, as they say, quite the other thing. Set in a world torn apart by cataclysm and now rebuilding, Endless Legend already has a lot of the basics down, and is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

    The game plays on a hex-divided map, each hex has resources. Cities control the resources within their territory, and use those to build, line the city treasury, feed the population or research new technology. So far, so standard for this kind of game. The world is also divided into regions, and each region can only have one city in it, presenting a new territorial twist on the genre. Within a region may be minor cities which must be pacified to your cause, or present a constant source of nuisance threats to deal with, again a slight iteration on what has gone before, but the battles are perhaps Endless Legend’s biggest diversion from the norm – rather than a straight numerical comparison or a dice roll, there is an element of tactics as you deploy your forces and make choices as to their targeting and disposition. It’s not as rich a combat system as say the Total War series, but it’s a welcome touch of depth that differentiates this from other titles.

    el3However Endless Legend’s main trick seems to be its story, told through a series of quests that – at least based on initial impressions – will lead the empires to explore the world and establish the lore. This ties in well with a gentle undertone of RPG, with heroes that level up, learn skills and can have new gear equipped. It feels like the aim is for a subtle blend of Civilisation with more traditional dynasty builder games such as Crusader Kings.

    At this point there’s not a whole lot more to say about Endless Legend. It’s going to be a slightly novel 4X game in a fantasy world, and it looks beautiful with slick 3D models and an exquisite attention to detail in places. But it’s still early. The UI is a bit utilitarian, the lead in to the game is currently poor and a lot of the flavour text currently feels like placeholders given it is often more of a description based on the real-world history.

    el2At £26.99 RRP, Endless Legend is pricey for what you get today. There’s a lot of work still required, and those of you who have read my other previews may know that I’m personally very wary of putting money down on the promise of work that has yet to be finished. One thing I will note is that the developer seems to be quite transparent and communicative, which is always a good thing, and – uniquely as far as I’m aware – is also adding a variety of elements to the UI that are bordered in construction tape. It’s a great way of ensuring that you signpost where development is going and what to expect whilst also ensuring that expectations are managed.

    Should you be excited about Endless Legend? Maybe. With stiff competition heading to the same platforms from Civilisation Beyond Earth, it remains to be seen if the team at AMPLITUDE Studios can differentiate their game sufficiently to stand out. If 4X is your thing, this should definitely be on your radar.


  • ThumbnailInspired by Baldurs Gate, will Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity be held in the same light?

    Almost two years ago, Obsidian Entertainment took to Kickstarter to ask for support for “Project Eternity”, and the […]

  • ThumbnailSteam’s Early Access program is proving to be quite contentious as games use it to gather attention before they are ready, and players get access to buggy works-in-progress to play with before they are done.

    In […]

  • That’s a shame Rockhaven, it hasn’t done that to me yet and I’m up to level 7 or 8 – that’s on a relatively new/unspoilt Mini though, so maybe that’s what’s keeping things good for me?

  • ThumbnailLuke is torn by Game Insights Transport Empire

    Transport Empire, a new free-to-play offering for iOS and coming soon for Android is an enigma. It’s a re-imagining of the classic Tycoon-style games, where you […]

  • ThumbnailWasteland is a game that you’d be forgiven for never having heard of, horrible young people that you are with your hippity-hop and your standing on my lawn. It’s been eclipsed by the game it spawned as a […]

  • ThumbnailOnce upon a time there was a guy who was a frequent punching bag for the games press. He would proudly claim that his games were made of the finest bits – so fine in fact that only the most discerning eye could […]

  • ThumbnailIdentify theft is a major issue these days – from protecting our bank accounts and credit cards right through to our online profiles. Our identity is one of our most cherished possessions. But imagine for a moment […]

  • ThumbnailI knew he was trouble the second he walked through the door. He had a video game in his hand and a look of desperation in his eye. Said he had nobody else to turn to, nobody would take his case. He’d been on the […]

  • ThumbnailSo ok, let’s be honest. We all got really excited about Leviathan Warships on the strength of a trailer. And it was a bloody good trailer! It had everything I want from a trailer – ingame footage of actual […]