Phil Savage: Driving to distraction
Myself, Tom Senior and Samuel all finally attempted GTA Online's heists last weekend. Honestly, we didn't get very far—a combination of low level characters and multiple pints of cider ultimately hindering our criminal ambitions. Despite that, it was great fun. GTA Online is a weird thing. In public groups, it's a lonely and sometimes broken mess. But with a few friends on a private map, it's a much more enjoyable playground—even when, outside of missions, there isn't that much to do. Eventually, we all piled into a car and took off to steal a bus. We failed, but had a damn good time anyway.
Tom Senior: Witcher 3 mods
It begins. Modders were always going to crowbar open The Witcher 3’s insides, now CD Projekt RED has given them extra leverage. The official modkit isn’t the most comprehensive editing suite, but it’s an official endorsement of the mod scene, and modders have a tendency to do far more than you’d expect with almost nothing. Mods do wonders for a game’s longevity, particularly if the game is a sprawling RPG. The mod scene is one of the main reasons that you still see Skyrim hovering around the top ten most played games on Steam years after launch. When it started to age, modders gave it a new lick of paint. When the quests ran out, modders made more. Good mod tools can convert a self-contained lump of linear entertainment into a flexible platform that can sustain new adventures and even drive players to madness.
Chris Livingston: From Dawn to Duskers
I've gotten an early look at the sci-fi roguelike Duskers, which will hit Early Access on August 20th, and I'm enjoying it so much I haven't even played Rocket League in the past few days, which is saying something. I'll have a proper write-up next week, but it's a sort of real-time strategy game about exploring derelict spaceships to harvest their resources. You accomplish this by piloting drones through the ships' interiors while trying avoid, trap, or destroy dangerous alien life forms and hostile security systems.
It's also a bit of a puzzle game, as you move your various drones around, trying to determine the safest way to navigate these ships, power up and use certain nodes, access all of the rooms, and get your drones safely back to your ship. There are also some scares, and plenty of dread. You can't see inside of rooms without your drones physically entering them, and while your drones can have various abilities, such as motion detectors, sensors, and probes, it's still a harrowing experience to open a door without knowing for sure what might be behind it. Throw in hull breaches, radiation, equipment failures, and the fact that your drones have names which means you wind up caring about them, and it's an enjoyably tense experience.
Samuel Roberts: Resident Evil 2 returns
Capcom has good form of bringing ports to PC, even when they’re not necessarily as optimised as I’d like, and this week the company announced that Resident Evil 2 is being remade. I played Resi 2 on PC originally, and it was a fairly handsome port, even though I remember it being awkward to control with the mouse and keyboard. It was, for me, the best of the first era of static camera/survival horror Resi. I’m not entirely sure what form this remake will take, but whether it’s the over-the-shoulder shooter approach like Resi 4 or something a bit closer to the original Resi’s traditional-style remake (which was remastered for PC earlier this year), it’s definitely worth a revival, even if just to retell that story in Raccoon City without the especially annoying voice-acting from the original.
Tyler Wilde: Pretending to be good at Hearthstone
I hadn’t launched Hearthstone since last December, but after Tim published this supposedly surefire Tavern Brawl deck, I decided to test his claim. It works. It’s evil, and it works.
I’ve won 10 games and I’m not sure it’s even fun for me anymore. I was kind of thrilled when I made someone concede on the second turn, but also kind of disgusted with myself. I haven’t even played the game in over six months! It’s not fair!
Here’s what happened, in layman’s terms: My opponent went first, which meant I got an extra card and the Coin, a special card I can play to get an extra Mana Crystal during a turn. And that made all the difference. I’d been dealt a perfect hand.
My opponent did nothing on the first turn, and then it came to me. I played the Coin, which gave me two Mana Crystals to work with. The special rule in this Tavern Brawl is that every time you cast a spell, you summon a minion to the board. The Coin counts as a spell, so there’s one minion out. I then spent my two full Mana Crystals on Wild Growth, which gave me an extra empty Mana Crystal. Another minion appeared on the board. Then I cast Innervate, a zero-cost card that refills two Mana Crystals. Another minion appeared on the board. With two more mana to work with, I cast my second Wild Growth, and got another empty Mana Crystal.
It didn’t really matter what I played on turn two. I had four Mana Crystals to my opponent’s two and four minions already on the board. I could have cast Savage Roar to give all my minions +2 attack and then hit his face for nearly half his health, but I didn’t. I played Soul of the Forest because, whatever, and that’s when it ended. I’m sorry, whoever you were! Blame Tim. He corrupted me with this power.
Wes Fenlon: No, Sonic, Noooooo
Somewhere deep inside, we've all known that Sonic the Hedgehog is not a platforming mascot, but a conduit for soul-deep otherwordly terror. But we've never truly had proof, irrefutable proof, even as the Sonic fan-fiction and Deviantart forever scarred the children of the Internet generation. Until now. Experience the Sonic Dreams Collection, and be forever changed.