2014 has brought us a tiny surplus of indie, turn-based strategy games. And happily, they’ve all been thematically and mechanically different: The Banner Saga (an elegant Viking epic), Xenonauts (a spiritual sequel to old X-COM), Dead State (a Fallout-like zombie sandbox in Early Access). Halfway is less complex and sprawling than these games, which ends up as both a shortcoming and an asset.
In an op-ed written for Space.com, Civilization: Beyond Earth Lead Designers Will Miller and David McDonough talk about the game's scientific underpinnings, how the tech tree will differ from previous Civilization games and why "the inflection point" means that humanity's first interstellar colonists will be completely on their own.
The above image may look like a cat walked all over an MS-DOS word processor. What it actually depicts, however, is unspeakable violence and brutality. A field strewn with spent arrows, severed limbs, and pools of blood leads to the trap-riddled narrow entrance of an underground fortress. Corpses of elves, goblins, trolls, humans, and even dogs rot in the open air, slain in attacks on peaceful trade caravans. The inhabitants of the fortress do not care. They got what they wanted from the wagons. Any outsiders who happened to be captured alive in the cage traps will soon be thrown screaming into the open magma pits several floors below.
This is Dwarf Fortress: an endlessly sprawling simulator of procedurally generated worlds awaiting dwarves brave enough to plunder their precious metals. Simple graphics interact with the imagination to reveal more detail than the most vivid high-polycount game—for anyone willing to learn Dwarf Fortress's notorious complexity. It's actually not as hard as you think, and 2014's Dwarf Fortress update dramatically expands Adventure mode to tell sprawling RPG adventures with the same depth as Fortress mode. It's the perfect time to learn, and we're here to help. You'll be pouring magma on goblins in no time.
Cliff Harris of Positech Games doesn't think it's much of a surprise, but just in case anyone was wondering, he made it official today that Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is in the works. It's all about doing the job properly this time around, he said, and that means the sequel will be "bigger, bolder, better and have more cool effects than you can shake a laser gun at."
Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future.
Hexagons have never looked this good. Endless Legend paints a watercolor fantasy across its 4X strategy grid, and the pieces that fill those hexagons—distinct warring factions, indigenous races, fire trees and magical orbs and mysterious ruins—build a rich and deeply complex game world. Complexity is typically expected from 4X strategy games, but playing them before they're complete is not. And Endless Legend is definitely not complete.
Hold position troops! Before you go charging towards Mount and Blade: Warband's Steam page, at least finish this paragraph. The mostly excellent, somewhat rough-around-the-edges RPG is now free to try until Sunday, 1pm PDT. And for those intent on conquering its brand of questing, troop-management and tactical battling, the game is 75% off until Monday.
In addition, the game now offers Steam Workshop support—hopefully meaning its wealth of great mods will soon be available for easier install.
It's been around a year since we last checked in on Door Kickers, and in that time KillHouse Games' top-down SWAT-like seems to have come on leaps and bounds. It's just reached beta status, words which here mean 'has added a levelling system for your troops, improved waypointing, a challenge system that rewards with XP, oh and this huge list of other stuff'. If you've bought into the game already you've likely received an email by now informing you of the update; for everyone else, the following trailer will clue you in on what you're missing.
"CivilizationCraft" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but I don't imagine too many players will get hung up on the name. After all, an open-source multiplayer mod that recreates a very Civilization-like experience in Minecraft is such a good idea, it's almost dangerous.
Company of Heroes 2 has spent the last year being tweaked, balanced, and building an online community, and the latest DLC, the Western Front Armies, is a great step at advancing that success. The main game didn’t do so hot with scripting and acting out a campaign storyline, so this DLC ditches that: there’s no new single-player included. Instead, the focus is entirely on adding new blood to the multiplayer servers with the arrival of the German Oberkommando West and the US Army.
Xenonauts began life as a reimagining of the classic turn-based strategy game X-COM: UFO Defense. But where 2012’s excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown modernized the setting and recreated the franchise’s systems in broad, easy-to-read strokes, Xenonauts threw itself headlong into the details. From individual, grid-based inventories to a line-of-sight cover system and destructible environments, every mechanic from the classic has been reimagined, rebuilt, and given an extra layer. The result is a deeply engaging, indie version of an alien invasion that stands toe-to-toe with X-COM—the classic and the reboots.
One of the most exciting games we’re getting a look at during E3 is Sid Meyer’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, the newest entry to the venerable strategy franchise. The game is set after a colonial exodus from Earth—for the first time, this Civ won’t be about going to war with Gandhi and forming an alliance with Cleopatra. The new planet comes with its own challenges and goals, according to an interview the game's co-lead designers gave to GameTrailers at E3.
E3 is in full swing and that means an overload of press events, trailers, interviews and hands-on time with the latest and greatest of upcoming videogames. But I'd like to take a break from all that sound and fury for a moment, if I may, to let you all know that the strategy classic Sid Meier's Civilization V is now available for Linux and SteamOS. (Oh, and it's on sale, too.)
Calling all magnates, tycoons and financiers, Europa Universalis 4 has a business deal for you. Wealth of Nations, the game's second major expansion pack, is now out and offering trade-focused improvements and additions... for a price. For those more frugal in nature, Paradox are also releasing a new update, introducing major changes for owners of the base game.
Long-suffering Linux gamers will get a nice treat later this summer as XCOM: Enemy Unknown will finally make its way to the platform, in a bundle including all add-on content and the Enemy Within expansion. The "new" game is being developed by Feral Interactive, which until now has worked exclusively on games for Apple platforms (including the OS X version of XCOM), as its debut Linux project.
Frankly, I am not the man you want running your country. Over the course of my extended presidency I’ve smuggled rum into a prohibition America, sided with Axis powers during both World Wars, systematically stripped away the rights of my citizens, and assassinated a grandma for opposing my regime. I’m not proud of these things, but I’m glad I felt the need to do them. For all that Tropico 5 adds to the city-building series—and all the ways it doesn’t advance the formula enough—its greatest success is in pushing you towards the murkier aspects of dictatorial rule.
It's been just over two months since Age of Mythology: Extended Edition was cheekily announced by an alpaca hand puppet during an Age of Empires 2: HD Edition developer live stream. Yes, this is how classic games are brought back into the world. AoM: EE goes live on Steam today and brings with it the original's Titan expansion campaign as well as a host of other tweaks and upgrades under the hood.
At the Game Developers Conference in March I previewed Endless Legend, a fantasy 4X strategy game from Amplitude Studios that is now available on Steam Early Access. I wanted to spend more time talking to Amplitude's creative director, Romain de Waubert de Genlis (above right), about the recent resurgence of the 4X genre and the success of his previous game Endless Space. We decided to talk over lunch with another 4X designer, Daniel DiCicco (above left), who is working on a sequel to his indie success StarDrive. Over the course of an hour we discussed different approaches to 4X design, their all-time favorite 4Xs, what they think the genre is missing, and more.
It's a long, meaty conversation about one of the most complex corners of PC gaming. Read on to join us for lunch.
Arcen Games' The Last Federation only came to light in February, and yesterday the grand-strategy-featuring-turn-based-shmup-combat-bits saw release. One day the secret of Arcen's astounding productivity will leak out - my money's on founder Chris Park owning some sort of Time Turner - but before that dread reveal we have plenty of time to wallow in their copious, innovative, if not always entirely successful output. The Last Federation is now available on the official site or on the Steams, along with your standard slight reduction in price and beautifully impenetrable launch trailer. I have no idea what's going on in the next two minutes, but just look at all the tiny lasers and explosions.
Civilization: Beyond Earth interview - everything you need to know about the new factions, aliens, technology and more
Civilization: Beyond Earth has been announced. We're the first in the world outside of Firaxis to play it, and you'll be able to read my hands-on impressions in the next issue of PC Gamer UK. While I was at Firaxis, I had the chance to sit down with the two lead designers, Will Miller and David McDonough for a comprehensive hour-long chat about every aspect of Beyond Earth. Read on for details on Beyond Earth's affinities, its dramatic sci-fi tech research web, orbital gun platforms, alien Siege Worms, new high-concept win conditions and loads, loads more.
Firaxis announced the next stage of Civilization's evolution at PAX today. Civilization: Beyond Earth will take Sid Meier's classic turn-based strategy formula to an alien world for the first time since Alpha Centauri.