The Castle Doctrine review

Patrick Carlson at

I've just left my wife and kids home alone so I can rob one of my neighbors, John Gordon Buffington. I bring a backpack stuffed with tools: some sturdy clubs for smashing windows, a saw to hack through wood paneling, and because my part of town is full of clever and dangerous people, water to short-out the security system and some drugged meat to fling at any guard dogs I run into. I expect I'll have to deal with more than one angry pit bull before I can break into the Buffington vault.

Total War: Rome 2's giant Patch 9 improves AI, performance, and balance

Phil Savage at

When it comes to these iteratively improving patches, the change-lists can bleed into one big mass of "everything is better this time, again". Patch 9 for Total War: Rome 2 targets improvements to "performance, unit behaviours, unit balancing and much more," which seems suspiciously familiar to the summary of every patch that came before. Skim over the lengthy details, though, and you'll see that this is a substantial and wide-ranging update.

There are plenty of performance updates, targeting campaign performance and battle-screen framerates. The AI has received plenty of tweaks too, with pathfinding and battle logic seemingly the focus of CA's tinkering. Also in the patch notes... well, a bit of everything really.

Age of Wonders III trailer shows rogues and their bearded dwarven succubi

Patrick Carlson at

At heart a two-faced schemer, Age of Wonders III's rogue leader class seems to attract the best kind of people. Demons, thieves, and killers are some of the resources on hand for players walking a darker path in Triumph Studios' upcoming turn-based strategy game. We get a glimpse of some of the rogue's more underhanded tactics in a new trailer introducing the class.

Oxide's engine tech demo throws thousands of starships into strategy battles

PC Gamer at

New independent studio Oxide Games wants to reshape the way strategy games are built. The five-man team—mostly ex-Civilization V developers—is building a new 64-bit 3D engine called Nitrous, with a focus on adding some technical muscle to new turn-based and real-time strategy games. The aim, according to the studio, is to help developers add massive scope to upcoming games.

Europa Universalis IV video explains Conquest of Paradise's randomised maps

Phil Savage at

America is kind of a big deal these days. Maybe you've heard of it? Maybe you're even inside of it while reading this. If so, watch out for the cougars.

For Paradox Interactive, the country's fame has posed something of a problem. Conquest of Paradise, the first expansion for Europa Universalis IV, is all about the discovery and colonisation of the new world. Only, you can't discover something if you know where it is. How they've solved that is the subject of their latest video diary, which explores the new random map generation that means you never know just what you'll find when you finally cross the Atlantic.

Wargame: Red Dragon trailer makes war look good

Phil Savage at

Wargame: AirLand Battle was about as beautiful looking as its title was stupid sounding. From the evidence of this first trailer for the tactical strategy series' upcoming sequel, the slight reduction in nonsensical nomenclature hasn't brought about any drop in graphicsability. Or deadliness, for that matter. While the dragon of the title refers to the Asian setting, and not a new fondness for fantasy lizards, there's still plenty of fire-power on show.

Stardock CEO confirms Star Control reboot is a prequel, will include multiplayer

Emanuel Maiberg at

Waiting for a reboot of one of your favorite franchises can be emotionally draining. Will it reignite an old flame like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, or defile your memory of it like SimCity? Stardock CEO Brad Wardell knows you're probably really stressed out about the Star Control reboot he's been working on for the past six months, but it's cool—he said a bunch of things in an interview with Ars Techinca that should calm you down. Most importantly, he said that reboot will be a prequel and that it will include a multiplayer mode. "We plan to start the game around 2112 with aliens first contacting the Earthlings and the formation of Star Control," Wardell says.

Sid Meier interview: Ace Patrol, Civ's evolution, and the future of strategy games

Cory Banks at

Sid Meier is a game design legend. He co-founded MicroProse in 1982 and created Civilization, one of the longest-running and most loved series in gaming. Now the creative director at Firaxis—and overseer for both the Civ and XCOM franchises, Meier can be choosy about what he works on. His choice: Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies, a WWI-era turn-based strategy game that's small in price but big on strategy, and even influenced by tabletop games.

PC Gamer spoke to Meier about his interest in smaller game design, and how it let his team take some risks. He also shared his view of the changing strategy game market, and how he thinks all gamers are strategy gamers at heart.

Total War: Rome 2 - Caesar in Gaul launch trailer promotes more military conquest

Phil Savage at

If nothing else, you've got to admire the Roman work ethic. Want to be adored by the people? Start a war. Want to relieve the boredom of politics? Start a long war. Want to get more glory than a rival? Start a war before them. As shown by this launch trailer for Total War: Rome 2's now available Caesar in Gaul expansion, the new campaign you'll be fighting through is largely being fought because Rome really wanted some more war.

Crusader Kings 2's Game of Thrones mod to welcome the Mother of Dragons next week

Phil Savage at

"Khaleesi"... "Car-leesy"... "Kaleeeessi". Oh, sorry. You've just caught me practising my Jorah Mormont impression. I want to get it perfected before next week, when Crusader Kings 2's brilliant Game of Thrones mod will launch its Essos update. That's because the arrival of the Eastern continent will also mean the introduction of its most famous inhabitant: Dany Stormborn and her three dragons.

Maia lands its colonies on Steam Early Access

Patrick Carlson at

By billing itself as a hard sci-fi experience, indie space-colony sim Maia has posed a fascinating set of questions for itself. Available since Tuesday through Steam's Early Access alpha testing program, the strategy game's reference to a classic sci-fi genre points toward the gritty, dangerous, and sometimes darkly-futile nature of exploration.

Frozen Endzone trailer shows turn-based touchdowns ahead of this week's beta

Phil Savage at

Sport, up to now, has been dangerously lacking in bi-pedal robots. This seems like a big failure, given that bi-pedal robots aren't going to demand massive salaries, drunkenly assault clubgoers, or spend the majority of their time filming adverts for razorblades. As role models go, they're pretty much perfect. In this sense Frozen Endzone is depicting a utopia: one where automated athletes do battle, all without ever feeling the need to spit on the pitch.

Crusader Kings 2 mod brings zombies to the middle ages

Phil Savage at

You see folks, this is why April Fools' Day is dangerous. Or awesome. Delete depending on your affinity for zombies. Back in the dark ages of seven and a bit months ago, Paradox Interactive released a teaser for a fictional Crusader Kings Z, a game that hypothetically merged zombie invasions with medieval European strategy. Months later, and that joke is now a real thing that you can play in Crusader Kings 2. Thanks mods!

Crusader Kings 2: Sons of Abraham video focuses on Jewish and Islamic improvements

Phil Savage at

Thanks to a slip of the finger, I'm now thinking about the game Crusader Kingz. I imagine it would be a grand strategy in which you formed a hip-hop collective and, through bribery, intrigue, and sick rhymes, conspired to bring down the So Solid Crew. I would play the heck out of that game. As it turns out, though, this development diary is more concerned with Crusader Kings 2 and its Sons of Abraham DLC. Where the last video concentrated on changes to Christianity and Papal politics, this time Paradox explain their Jewish and Muslim mechanics. That's mechanics as in game systems.

Unity of Command's new DLC takes a Black Turn with 1941 German invasion

Patrick Carlson at

After seeing red it only makes sense to fade to black. Unity of Command is getting a new DLC campaign, Black Turn—Operation Barbarossa 1941, which focuses on German operations on the Eastern front after last year's Soviet-centered Red Turn. Although historical details behind the massive—and notorious—military action are well-known, it looks like the Black Turn's end game allows for a "what if" result.

Neptune's Pride 2: 64-player game mode being tested in preparation for public release

Phil Savage at

I'm not sure how I feel about getting emails from Neptune's Pride. Dirty, I guess? It was a game responsible for some pretty reprehensible behaviour, as part of a month-long campaign of stress, plotting and backstabbing. After it was over, I swore never to play it again. Then Neptune's Pride 2: Triton appeared, so naturally I played it again. Now it's emailing me, seemingly for no reason other reason than to taunt me with a reminder of its existence, and to reveal that its developers are testing out 64-player games of mammoth machination and mental manoeuvring.

Total War: Rome 2 is coming to SteamOS early next year, logically also to Linux

Phil Savage at

These kids with their hip new terms. Creative Assembly have announced that Total War: Rome 2 will be "coming to SteamOS". Which is a fairly torturous way of saying that Total War: Rome 2 will be coming to Linux. Which it will, because SteamOS is Linux.

The reason for specifically name-checking Steam's upcoming OS is because CA seem keen to tout the game's move to conquer the living room, with planned support for Big Picture mode and the Steam Controller. After all, as Ceasar himself once said, "I came, I saw, I lounged lazily in my pants, eating crisps and moving tiny generals around a campaign map."

Company of Heroes 2: Victory at Stalingrad DLC will launch alongside Turning Point update

Phil Savage at

Earlier this week, we detailed the planned fixes and features of the free Company of Heroes 2 update, Turning Point. Now, Relic have announced Victory at Stalingrad, a DLC pack that will launch alongside the update, bringing new co-op and solo challenges, and three AI battles. Set in the Winter of 1942, it covers the Soviet counter-attack battles of Operations Uranus and Little Saturn. And yes, I've only highlighted those names in a crass attempt to encourage comment thread jokes.

Rise of Venice review

PC Gamer at

This review was written by Jon Morcom.

Venice, 1455. The Renaissance is stimulating dizzying levels of creativity and La Serenissima is acknowledged as if not the crossroads, then at least the Spaghetti Junction of all trade in the Occident. Born into a city rife with political manoeuvring, family feuds and rising damp, you are Giacomo da Narni, continuing your family’s proud mercantile tradition and advancing yourself socially until you reach the exalted title of Doge.

Company of Heroes 2's Turning Point update to add new maps and 'World Builder' tool

Phil Savage at

Relic have announced that they're reaching a Turning Point. Confusingly in this case, it's a Company of Heroes 2 update, and not a new commitment to make nice games about not ordering tiny men to angrily shoot each other. As well as more multiplayer maps, this update also puts the tools of battle in the hands of the soldiers, by giving the community a World Builder tool that will let them create and share their own battlefields.