Phil Savage: A far cry from Far Cry
I wasn't expecting Far Cry Primal to be, well, Far Cry Primal. It's Far Cry without guns or vehicles. It's Far Cry with a greater emphasis on survival against deadly animals. It's, all being well, Far Cry without having to do missions for a bunch of pricks in order to kill some other prick. But is a pre-civilisation Far Cry really a good idea?
Hopefully, yes. Based on the setting suggestions Ubisoft was floating at the start of the year, I think they've landed on a good theme. If it was a choice between this and “a Far Cry game that is set during a zombie outbreak,” then I'll take the one with saber-toothed tigers every time. More exciting is the idea that this is a Far Cry that can't fit neatly into the template set by Far Cry 3. I found Blood Dragon to be a huge disappointment, and Far Cry 4 to be a great—albeit predictable—iteration on the series' ideas. Primal is directly targeted at certain Far Cry tropes—specifically hunting and crafting—but there's a lot of familiar elements that won't fit. Hopefully, Ubisoft will instead fill that gap with some fresh ideas.
Tim Clark: Riding a wave
A few weeks ago I was on a boat. Specifically: a Blizzard boat. There I got to speak not only with the Hearthstone design team, but also a number of players and streamers. I’ve been writing up those chats for our Pro channel, so far including Savjz, Brian Kibler, and this week, Forsen. Next up is Reynad. It was great to spend a little time speaking to them all, but also a little strange. I spend so much of my time watching these people play on Twitch, that it felt like I already had an established relationship with them. But from their perspective I was, of course, a stranger. Actually, the most interesting thing was seeing how they interact with each other. The in jokes, the enthusiasm for discussing strategy, and the optimism about the game’s future. It’s a great scene and one I love covering. Hopefully that comes through in the articles. This weekend, I'll be at the Americas! Say hi if you're there Sunday.
Samuel Roberts: Some like it Hoth
The Star Wars Battlefront beta is in motion now—chances are, a lot of you will be spending your weekend playing it, which is nice, as it’s a generous slab of game they’ve put out there. I had a chance to sample it in Stockholm ahead of release, and I think it’ll divide players just by how simple it all is. Guns don’t reload, they cool down. Sniper rifles are ability bonuses, not weapons in your inventory. Getting used to that, and the thinking behind those decisions, will take some work for players—but I really enjoyed what I played, even if I think hardcore shooter fans might struggle to love it.
Perhaps this weekend will prove me wrong. How are you finding the new Battlefront so far? Do you miss being able to climb in snowspeeders and take off? I do a little bit.
Tyler Wilde: Spaceships blowing up
Star Citizen has had a rough couple of weeks, with claims of mismanagement and accusations that it's some kind of scam or impossible project. It's a difficult situation. On the one hand, Cloud Imperium Games’ response to its accusers has been heavy-handed. On the other, we currently have nothing but hearsay against the company, which it refutes, combined with a temperamental crusade from a (now ex) backer.
But here we have exploding spaceships. These exploding spaceships are really cool. It's reassuring that despite its recent problems, CIG is communicating its progress to backers as usual, and also making spaceships blow up. I want to play what Chris Roberts and CIG have set out to make, and so I hope it’s being made scrupulously—this messy fight, however, hasn’t convinced me of anything, except that it’s a mess. At least we have these great explosions.
Tom Senior: Human Evolution
The new Deus Ex is great. The modern engine and a refined art style (goodbye, brown filter) gives the series the fidelity boost it needed, while smart design decisions successfully address fans’ problems with Human Revolution. The energy limits have been relaxed, and Jensen’s augs can be adapted to fit both lethal and non-lethal playstyles.
It’s also a lot slicker than I was expecting, thanks to a bunch of small changes that feel oddly familiar. You can trace the speed-hacking mechanics back to Bioshock 2's hack darts, which also used a quick rhythm minigame to let you disable cameras. You can look at your gun and tweak its properties, Crysis style. The new dash behaves a little bit like Dishonored's blink move. The stealth alert system, which uses gradually filling white arcs to let you know where you're in danger of being spotted, is very similar to the recent Far Cry games. This isn't a bad thing. All those systems worked well, and they translate perfectly into Deus Ex’ gritty sci-fi universe. Bring on the February launch.
James Davenport: Samorost Glee
During my deep dive into musical moments in PC gaming (coming tomorrow!), I revisited some of my favorite soundtracks not only in gaming, but ever. Two primary highlights are Ben Babbitt’s work on Kentucky Route Zero and nearly all of Amanita Design’s music. While revisiting the latter's catalog, I was reminded that Samorost 3 is still slated for this year *melts* and noticed that a series of "pre-remixes" was released, presumably meaning they're remixes of early music from the game. They're all amazing. Take a listen in the embed below. And if the art is any indication, Samorost 3 isn't only going to sound great, it's going to turn my eyeballs into mush too.