Samuel Roberts: Intergalactic Barnacles
I’ve played Elite Dangerous for about 12 hours and in that time I’ve accomplished little outside of delivering produce for no profit while listening to the Interstellar soundtrack (I know, so obvious. I’m just culturally malnourished outside of computer games). Like EVE or Minecraft, Elite has become something I enjoy from afar while otherwise pounding through games that have an end credits sequence, because I find closure comforting in games.
This week someone found a space ‘barnacle’ in the game as part of Horizons’ Planetary Landings content, and players now speculate whether there’s a connection between this and other unusual objects in the Elite galaxy. If this is Frontier’s plan to unveil more and more lore over the course of Horizons’ year, then that’s such a cool idea—I can’t wait to hear more about what players find out there. Side note: in the UK edition of our magazine, out this week, you can get an exclusive PCG-coloured skin for your Cobra.
Tom Senior: It hollows
In a fit of growing excitement over Dark Souls 3, I’ve started hunting down YouTube footage taken during last year’s network stress test. If you are avoiding all details about Dark Souls 3 before the April launch, you may consider the following spoilers, so skip ahead to Chris’ entry on Hurtworld, which would make a good alternative title if Dark Souls fell through somehow.
Combat looks much faster, as though some Dark Souls 1 footage has been deliberately sped up, but the most interesting change is that your character doesn’t go hollow. This state of semi-zombification is an important curse in Dark Souls lore, one that you’d previously have to battle by shoving motes of humanity into your chest. Now you start human and kindle yourself with an ember, which makes you glow and smoke a little. Series director Hidetaka Miyazaki says that Dark Souls 3 will be a game about lords, probably the Lords of Cinder, which raises interesting questions about who or what you are. Are you a Lord of Cinder yourself, competing with other demigods for ultimate control over Dark Souls’ cycle of fire and dark? And why have the dragons returned?
Chris Livingston: World of hurt
I started playing Hurtworld, an Early Access survival game (really, aren't all survival games Early Access?) and I'm having a fun time so far. It's essentially Rust, only with a more cartoony look as opposed to a GPU-punishing one. You know the drill: you begin wearing only shorts, gather wood and stones, and start crafting tools and weapons. You meet people who say they want to team up but then jab a spear into your back, you respawn and find the person who spear-stabbed you and spear-stab them, you hunt critters and build campfires and cook meat and craft proper pants.
Hurtworld bills itself as a hardcore and "punishing" experience, but I'm glad to find it's neither, at least not compared to other survival games. You don't even have to eat all that often, and when you die you keep the stuff you've crafted. My pants and shirt, my spear, hatchet, and pickaxe were all still in my inventory when I respawned after another player speared me to death. The only thing I'm finding punishing are some of the crafting requirements. Making a campfire costs 20 logs. Making a bow—a flippin' bow—takes 50. 50 logs! For a bow! I think I'll just look for another player carrying a bow and spear-stab him.
Angus Morrison: Survival mode
I don’t like to generalise, but if there’s anything the Eurovision Song Contest, the one Finn I know, and the Finnish Game Jam has taught me, it’s that Finland is the most metal country going. They could choose to game jam at a desk, like your standard human, but no. They did game jam on a moving bus, but that was only metal to the same extent that, say, Foo Fighters or Sweden is. Now a contingent of 20 Finnish devs are heading up to the Arctic Circle to game jam without internet, running water, or a steady supply of electricity—making Metallica sound like gentle acapella.
Dubbed Survival Mode, the weekend is part of the Global Game Jam 2016 at the end of this month, and that far north it’ll take place under 24-hour polar night. I’m all for mad gaming stunts, and I can’t wait to find out how you code with frostbitten fingers.
Tyler Wilde: It’s a Lovely Planet
Lovely Planet Arcade is coming out this summer, and I’m pretty pumped. The original Lovely Planet is this oddly-styled shooter that required you to hit every target in the level while making trick jumps along the way—Super Meat Boy by way of Quake. Sometime not too long after it came out, creator Vidhvat Madan mentioned to me off the record that he was thinking of doing something different for the sequel: no looking up and down. He confirmed that approach in a blog post few months ago. It’s been a long while since I’ve played a new shooter with no y-axis, so I’m really curious to see how I react to it. Will I get used to it, or constantly shove my mouse upward futily? I’m not sure, but I love how bold this decision is. Just the thought of it might turn people off, but what if adding constraints squeezes Lovely Planet into a denser, purer test of spatial intuition?
James Davenport: Steam card baron
Two weeks ago, my Steam inventory was a cluttered place. When trading cards and badge crafting was introduced, I was on board for a bit. I made a few badges for some of my favorite game, but I wasn’t really into badgering friend for trades or scoping the market for cheap card flips. Time passes and now my inventory is spilling over with the damn things. I forgot about them, until this article hit our front page.
I was curious how many Steam bucks I could make from selling all of my trading cards. I have a ton of games, about 600, and 800 plus available card drops. Most cards seem to sell for 5 to 10 cents, and if I sell even half at 5 cents that’s $20 I didn’t have before. Two weeks in, and I’ve made $50 after selling approximately half of my cards. Having never been a money guy, I feel powerful, influential. I may recklessly preorder a game with my profits. The remainder? CS:GO knives are on me tonight, folks!