Malindy Hetfeld has been looking back to Mass Effect 2 and particularly its planet scanning, the downtime busywork that rounds out the moments you're not shooting, chatting, or walking around your ship. It's the kind of pacing element designed to add friction, which for some players can feel more like abrasion. For me it's an important part of the "be a spaceship captain" fantasy, which the second game nailed more than any other.
Luke Winkie's been playing Madden NFL 20, and he reports the career mode—one of those mini BioWare RPG dialogue choice things—fades away in favor of straight up-and-down football a bit too fast. I've never tried a sports game story mode, though the one Spike Lee directed for NBA 2K16 has me curious. Of course if it's just the football you're here for, that's apparently good as ever.
Cian Maher has been playing Skyrim as an Accidental Werewolf thanks to the Cursed Ring of Hircine. It did not go well. It's cool that people are still playing Elder Scrolls games in offbeat ways and sharing the stories. I reinstalled the special edition earlier this year to pal around with modded-in companions and restock a magical artifact museum, then went to Transylvania with a whip to fight the undead. Good times.
On the subject of games that live on thanks to people finding novel ways to play them, Joanna Nelius's latest adventure in The Sims 4 involved subjecting her Sims to unreasonable quantities of unclean laundry, forcing them to live in something like a hoarder house. No sir, they did not like it.
John Strike went back to Dune 2000 and its wonderful FMV cutscenes. This is what They Are Billions is really missing—John Rhys-Davies standing in front of a green screen. It's a good time to feel nostalgic about the RTS, surely the next genre due a retro comeback. Much as I'm enjoying the turn-based strategy renaissance, I understand wanting to be able to recommend something other than Company of Heroes when the topic comes up.
Chris Livingston checked out the new casino in GTA Online and realized the NPCs were winning a lot more than he was on the slot machines. So he did the only rational thing you could do in that situation. He started pretending to be an NPC to increase his odds.
I've been playing Age of Wonders: Planetfall. Age of Wonders is a PC-ass series, turn-based strategy with hexes, and after several fantasy games they've gone sci-fi. It's still planet-level conflict, but those planets aren't being fought over by jerk elves and religious orcs but heavy metal cyborgs and humans who've been in cryosleep for centuries and woke up to a very different galaxy. You know how the Altered Carbon guy wakes up after 250 years and things are still similar enough he can drive cars and operate computers? In Planetfall 200 years pass and humanity's split into multiple engineered subspecies, including Amazons who've ditched the male gender entirely and also ride dinosaurs. Though the systems have been tweaked from Age of Wonders 3, it's the radically different setting that's really refreshed it.
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Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.