Tom Senior: Living the N64 dream
I normally get quite cynical about Kickstarter announcements that promise to revive your childhood for money, but not so for Yooka-Laylee. I was never especially enamoured with Banjo-Kazooie, but nonetheless I find myself swept up by the enthusiasm Andy brought back from the Playtonic studio today. When you think “studio”, perhaps you picture a big open plan office full of developers typing away in little multi-monitor nests. Not so for Playtonic, building levels back-to-back in a small West Midlands business park. That hasn’t stopped them from putting together a Unity build that’s already fun, and recalls some of the joy that fans experienced bouncing around Rare’s colourful worlds all those years ago.
Samuel Roberts: Even more divine
Divinity: Original Sin was one of last year’s best success stories—it’s great to see a classic RPG thrive on PC. But, I must admit, it’s one of last year’s great games that I just haven’t got around to yet (Endless Legend, Wasteland 2, and the rest of Dragon Age: Inquisition are also on the pile of shame. It’s really more of a mound at this point). This week Larian announced it’s doing a Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition for consoles, which is good news for that team.
That work is feeding back into the PC version as well: Original Sin is getting controller support as well, with a UI reworked for that purpose, not to mention a slew of other additions, like story rewrites and even a brand new ending. I’m all about the positive gestures to long-term fans. Judging by the response in our comments on the story, it’s a well-regarded decision.
Chris Livingston: Editor in Chief
I had good fun this week with The Magic Circle, a game that lets you edit the properties and behaviors of the creatures you encounter. Find a robot that flies around with propellers, for instance, and you can strip it of that ability and apply it to something else, like a mushroom. Now you've got a mushroom that flies around with propellers. Come across a corpse and infuse it with the walking ability of a dog and you can create a zombie.
You can also dictate a creature's allies and enemies. At one point I was faced with a creature that had killed me several times, so I summoned my menagerie of mushrooms, zombies, dogs, and robots, and edited them all to view this powerful creature as an enemy. They attacked, won, and I edited the safely dead creature to be my ally. The moment I resurrected it, however, there was a mad flurry of violence as my dozen or so allies immediately killed it again. Oh, right! I have to re-edit them to not hate my new friend.
It took a while. Every time I thought I'd fixed everyone, I resurrect the beast and someone would jump on it again, kill it, and I'd have to look through everyone's properties to see who was still angry. I actually yelled at the screen at one point "No, he's our friend now!" as the final holdout, a rock I'd imbued with the power of movement and melee attacks, steadfastly continued his assault.
Wes Fenlon: Mark of the Invisible, Inc.
Klei's Mark of the Ninja is easily one of the best stealth games I've ever played. It's full of cool abilities and tools for sneakily ninja-ing bad guys, and completing a whole level undetected is immensely satisfying. But my favorite thing about Mark of the Ninja is that where other stealth games feel vague and imprecise, Mark of the Ninja is mechanically exacting. Noise, visibility—it doesn't try to simulate realism the way most 3D stealth games do, and it's so much more fun as a result.
This is all a long way of saying that I haven't played Klei's new stealth game Invisible, Inc. just yet, but I'm pretty damn excited about it. It's one case where I'm glad a game was released in Early Access, where Klei could work with the community to tweak how its systems operated together. It's so easy for stealth games to be frustrating, and now Klei has made two great stealth games with completely different playstyles. And that pun is just too good.
Tom Marks: Falling in love again
The first TowerFall DLC came out this week and it’s glorious. Which is to say any excuse to play that game is glorious. There is a reason we gave the base game our Best Multiplayer Award for 2014, despite it only offering local multiplayer. It is that fun, and the Dark World DLC just made it better. Dark World is not the most extensive DLC ever, but everything in it has the same level of quality and polish that came with the original. All the charming animations and sound effects are there, and the 4-player co-op mode has some truly difficult and fun boss fights not found in the base game. Plus they added a zombie pirate character, so I’m sold.
Chris Thursten: HASHTAG ROAD TO TI5
I love that Valve is running open qualifiers for The International this year. Until now, it’s been impossible for a team to tumble into Dota 2’s pro scene by accident. We now live in a world where Dota 2 Cool Runnings is an (incredibly miniscule) possibility, and that’s great. I’ve entered my team: we’ll be playing tomorrow, in the European bracket. We’re up against 1024 other teams in single-elimination best of one rounds. If we get through the first day, I’ll be absolutely ecstatic. Hell, if we get through our first match I’ll be delighted.
According to my calculations, there are technically 4,142 teams participating in The International this year. That factors in the ten direct invites, the thirty-six teams invited to the four regional qualifiers, and the four lots of 1024 teams participating in the regional open qualifiers. Technically, then, the very worst we can do is 4,142nd in the world. I’ll take it! I completely understand that this is not how anything actually works, but I do not care.