Ah, so this is what Ubisoft meant when they said they were reinventing The Settlers series with Kingdoms of Anteria. They meant "it's kind of an action RPG now", but also "it's still a city building strategy game", and "not to get picky, but we prefer the term 'Action RTS'". While I try to unpack what 'Action RTS' means, here are some unSettling facts: Anteria will feature "persistent city building", four-player co-op, loot and bosses, and those are certainly words you don't see together very often.
Something about 1849 really appeals to me as a non citybuilding fan. Is it the California Gold Rush setting, which reminds me of the brilliant sweary-murdery TV show Deadwood? Is it the music in the latest trailer, which makes me nostalgic for a bygone (and almost certainly horrible) world I never knew? Or is it the adorable pixel art characters, who hustle and bustle around pre-rendered buildings, like NPCs in some late '90s Square RPG? It's probably all three, and if your proclivities broadly match up with mine, you're going to want to join me after the break.
Freeform city-building game Banished now has a release date, and if you didn't read it in the headline up there, fans of placing and maintaining buildings will be pleased to hear that it's coming next month. The 18th of next month, to be precise, after two-and-a-bit years of development by its sole developer Luke Hodorowicz. You'll be able to buy the sorta-medieval, non-restrictive city-builder from the game's website or from Steam, and it'll set you back "around $20".
The exploration of alternative, bordering-on-insane healthcare remedies wasn't something I was expecting in Tropico 4 any time soon, but that's exactly what's happening with the next DLC, "Voodoo." Basically, conventional healthcare has become so poor thanks to your incompetence, Mr Dictator, that an angry sorceress has stormed over from Soviet Russia to teach you a lesson. Possibly with a rubber-chicken-with-a-pulley-in-the-middle, but also with the whole curse thing she's unleashed upon your island.
One of our favorite digital distributors is running the "Adventures with Activision" promo this weekend, bringing to mind heartwarming tales of friendship, ponies, and heavy discounts on classic games. It's like my childhood all over again!
"Rome wasn't built in a day," some might sniff, but guess what? Nobody cares about Rome. I'm totally going to build PCGamerLand in a day. Maybe even before dinnertime. That's something that's very possible to do, now that Anno Online's entered its English-language open beta.
EA's reinforcement efforts for SimCity's shaky foundations continue shoring up the city-builder's lingering faults, with the most recent update smarting up SimDrivers on the existence of more than one SimRoad. On the official forums, Senior Producer Kip Katsarelis has outlined the next batch of issues the upcoming 2.0 patch addresses, including smarter Street Cars and squashing a particularly heavy Recycling Center glitch.
We've already examined the effects of SimCity's city size limitation after Maxis stressed the necessity of the restriction for a gain in performance. City sizes will remain fixed when the game launches next Tuesday, but in the words of Gandalf (who'd make a pretty great mayor), "Hope remains." Speaking to IncGamers, Creative Director Ocean Quigley says SimCity's team "could certainly make the city sizes larger" as a reaction to more powerful hardware setups.
Update: Aaaaaaand it's gone. EA yanked the video on copyright claims, but our suspicion of a marketing tactic still flows as strong as a properly laid sewer stream. Original story below.
Hmm. New SimCity footage has apparently been leaked (totally coincidentally, I'm sure) in the same window of time that EA's announced details on SimCity's beta. The video shows an 11-minute cut of the city-builder's tutorial guide from a closed beta version, one we saw ourselves when Maxis visited us last year.
We've already heard Maxis' reasons for SimCity's much-debated always-online requirement. The system hooks up your cities with everyone else's through leaderboards, a crazily granular stat tracking system, and enables co-op play with resource sharing for collaborative constructions. Speaking to Polygon, Creative Director Ocean Quigley added justifications, saying the decision was spurred by the way real-life cities interact and the "lonely experience" of previous SimCity games.
When you click on SimCity's presumably building-shaped icon on March 5, you'll meet more buildings. And when those buildings slide past during your flyover, you'll spot a shape on the horizon: yes, more buildings. How do we know? The answer might have come from this intro cinematic trailer from Maxis, but we'd like to think we're all-knowing PC gaming masters. The video shows off the styles of cities you might grace with your mayoral machinations, including an industrial sludge-zone, a casino city, and a science utopia complete with a rocket launch pad. All impressive sprawls, but you'll likely need help from friends (who will always be online when they're playing anyway) for the truly spectacular metros.
Last Friday, Maxis opened a Q&A discussion on Reddit surrounding the development of upcoming city-sim SimCity. (Say that ten times fast.) Among other team members, Senior Producer Kip Katsarelis and Creative Director Ocean Quigley responded to questions about modding support, who Maxis considers the ideal SimCity player, building density, and other topics. Read on for excerpts of the best answers.
SimCity Lead Designer Stone Librande's blossoming casino empire looked fantastic when he first introduced it, including a look at unconventional trash handling methods which is seemingly growing into vogue among the development team. A new followup video checks in on Librande's progress, emphasizes the nifty resource sharing of multiplayer city zones, and starts a fire with meteors. Seriously.
Malicious mayors cackling gleefully over unleashing a cataclysmic meteor shower upon their ward and hearing the anguished cries of immolated citizens won't have to wait long—wait, start over. Kindhearted, altruistic mayors with plans for quality of life improvements and low taxes should plan their first week in office starting March 5, SimCity's North American release date revealed via Twitter. European metro-meisters get a March 8 launch.
Whip out your to-do list. In between your checkboxes for "eat a bagel" and "stare," pencil in "watch 10-minute SimCity video." (Maybe bold it with a Sharpie, too.) Why? Because apart from another glimpse at SimCity's elegant GlassBox engine, the trailer features strategy tips by Lead Designer Stone Librande on constructing a fledgling city of sin, including the classic, never-go-wrong gem "Dump all the sewage into a corner of the town and hope the sims don't notice."
The influence of the Settlers series looms large on social games, all of today's browser based trading and city building games owe a huge debt to Blue Byte's original games. Which is why it's no surprise that they've decided to launch their own browser based, online version of the classic series, complete with a dynamic player driven economy, where gold is only the currency of choice because market has decided it will be.
If this sounds like your kind of thing, then you'll be wanting of our beta keys so you can get an advanced look at the game, and you're in luck! Because we have a whopping 10,000 keys to give away to your lucky readers.
To get a code, simply go to our competition site and fill in your details. First come, first served, so be sure to apply right away. Your beta code will be emailed to you next week when the competition ends, and you can redeem it on the Settlers Online website.
Don't forget to check out our The Settlers Online preview for more details.
It’s easy to feel like your choices don’t affect the world around you in an MMO. When you log out, you disappear without a trace. But if you could build a city in an MMO, it wouldn’t disappear—it’d hang around 24/7 to remind your fellow gamers that whoever built it (you) are totally cooler than they are, and that they should fear you.