Electronic Games - What have you played recently?

#41
Any other Total War fans here? I have spent far too much of my life on the historical ones. Currently playing Thrones of Brittannia with Mercia - the most difficult kingdom to win with for me due to being surrounded on all sides and with Wessex having unreasonable expectations of your relationship.
 
#42
Playing Conan Exiles at the moment on my PS4. I am enjoying it with the exploring of the World. I play Solo mode at moment.

The Base building aspect is one of the best I have have so far in a game. Admittedly I have not played Ark or Rust yet to compare.
 
#43
Finished the Geneforge Saga with Geneforge 5: Overthrow. I swear I remember writing the review, but obviously didn't click Post for some reason.

Anyway, this is probably the best of the 5 games - the graphics have been improved, you can play in a window instead of always being in full-screen, and the world background of the different races is improved (the serviles are now more oppressed peasantry). The game is very sandbox - you can choose 5 different patrons/factions each with different outcomes. There are 3 Shaper factions, the Trackovite faction, and the rebels.

You start as an amnesiac working for Shaper Rawal who has a control pod implanted in your chest. He's a typical shaper, but is only in the game for what he can get out of it - power and influence, basically. In your journeys, you meet the following factions:
  • Astoria - Shaper moderate. She favours making an accommodation with the rebels.
  • Alwan - Shaper loyalist. He won't rest until the rebels are crushed.
  • Taygen - Shaper fanatic. Believes all serviles and creations need to be exterminated so the Shapers can start over with better control.
  • Litalia - leader of the anti-shaping Trackovites. They believe shaping to be evil; they allow breeding creations but not other types of creations that are not self-fertile.
  • Ghaldring - the drakon (a type of creation), the leader of the rebellion. They want the Shapers crushed so the drakons can take their place.
Your goal is to get out from under Rawal's thumb, and you need to make a powerful alliance to do so. I allied with Astoria in the end and got the control pod removed; Taygen was far too unpleasant, and Alwan and Ghaldring too extreme. Litalia and the Trackovites came across as impractical.

It was worth playing through in the end; there were some annoyances in that the world map was split between north and south sheets, and the only way to travel between the 2 was via some mountain passes. It was similar to the Geneforge 4 map, but at least was better than the Geneforge 3 map which was separate islands and you had to travel intervening islands to get to an earlier one. The other improvement was an enchanted anvil (for player crafting) in each area. This meant you could enhance equipment from the start like you could in GF3 (where enhancements started). GF 4 only had 2 anvils in the game.

Recommended, but be advised the serviles in the game come across as chattel slaves in Antebellum America, which leaves rather a nasty taste (especially in GF3 where that are only 2 factions available). I'll be interested when the remake of GF1 is released (soon now); I was a KS backer for it. I hope this aspect has been toned down considerably. Otherwise, I'll move onto The Banner Saga; my intention of finally completing Nethergate (a Romans vs Celts Spiderweb game) was stymied because it won't run on the MacBook - I will have to use the old iMac to play it, and that will probably necessitate rolling back to a Rosetta-compatible version of the OS.
 
#44
Actually managed to get the demo of Nethergate: Resurrection working - you have to run it through a Terminal window. Whether my original key works or not I don't know; I may not still have it (I'll have to dig around in Eudora), and my old CD-ROMs got booted into the attic when we had to clear the spare room in a hurry 3 weeks ago (Paul's Mum smashed her wrist and has ended up moving in).

Oy vey, graphics and gameplay is crude compared to even Geneforge 1! It's about playable though; I'll see how far I get with it. IIRC, the original Nethergate is older than GF1, and Resurrection was an updated version of about the same vintage. I think it originally used the Exile game engine.
 
#45
At the moment I'm brightening up my daily walks with Pokemon Go, which my daughters persuaded me to take up.

I keep meaning to finish the second of the new Tomb Raider trilogy, but I'm struggling to find the time. It doesn't help that it's intended for people with better hand-eye coordination than me. :)
 
#46
Geneforge: Mutagen dropped the other week in time for 4 days off. Finished it in Thursday. This is the updated re-write of Geneforge 1; it went through a KS campaign.

Obviously there's a huge improvement in the graphics from the original game (released in 2001!); game play has also been updated, it now plays more like Queen's Wish. Stylistically, the graphics are very Avadon-like; the vegetation in particular. The story-line remains pretty much the same as the original with some additional material (one of the top tier KS rewards was the definition of a new creation and we get the backstory of that as a specific (and difficult) quest. Otherwise there are some more areas and we also get charms - items that affect game play without needing to be equipped. Unlike later Geneforge games and the Avadon & Queen's Wish series, we don't get the ability to create artifacts or improve items.

You can power game by switching allegiance to different servile sects as you progress through the game; as with the original, I stuck with the Awakened as being the least distasteful. Serviles remain the gengineered underclass which still comes across all but slavery. I really hope future remakes of later games tone this aspect down, especially in GF3 & 4.

Creations have been streamlined; instead of having to find canisters for the improved creations, you automatically get the second tier creation once your shaping skill and specific creation ability are high enough. For example, the base creation is a fyora - a small fire breathing reptile which requires Fire Shaping 1 and Create Fyora 1. Once you boost both sufficiently you get the ability to create a cryora - a cold-breathing reptile. There are 3 shaping skills and 3 creations available in each skill, along with 2 special creations (one is the KS creation, the other is something of a running joke throughout the GF series). Shaping creations locks up Essence; which is also used to cast magic spells, so most of the game you spend balancing the need to create creations to fight for you with the need to cast spells to keep them (and you) alive until you boost your Essence Mastery high enough.

Unlike the Avadon series, character advancement is through the use of skill points; you get 10 each level which are used to boost attributes and skills as you wish; the skill tree seen in the Avernum HD remakes, Avadon and Queen's Wish has been replaced by the older sandbox style. The game doesn't seem to be level capped like Avernum, but you eventually run out of XP to gain - as you advance in level, you get less XP for weaker monsters until you don't get anything at all. I almost made level 18 prior to reaching the end game; apparently, it is possible to reach level 20 or 21 but I suspect that involves play on Torment level (I played on Normal). I did use a cheat code to reset my experience half way through; I hadn't understood that a Shaper's prime attribute is Essence Mastery not Intelligence.

There are a few bugs; decent weaponry requires either melee or missile weapon skill at a specific level to wield; I fell foul of having Melee Weapons 5 and not being able to wield a sword requiring that.

Still, all in all, it's a solid remake of the original and hopefully will bring more fans to Jeff Vogel's work.

Recommended.
 
#47
I always fall back to my favourites. Xcom 2 (and original Xcom/Enemy Within) and Knights of Honour which is, without doubt, one of the greatest time sinks I've ever encountered in my life. The number of times I've decided to go to bed because I'm up at 6am and find out it's 4.45am... ugh. Always on the look out for fantasy 4x games (burned out on Master of Orion 2 and Stark Trek equivalent). It's years since I updated my PC and while I have a PS4/Xbox One my hands aren't suited to console controllers. Shovels basically. Had too many years of keyboard/mouse and before then joystick/buttons in the arcades and I'm an old fart to change my ways. My twitchy reflex youngest son runs rings round me to my eternal shame/pride in console games.

All those games I listed are either old, very old, or ancient. I prefer a good game and enjoyable experience against the shiniest newest graphics that require a £700 graphic card. That you can't buy because the supply is zero.

Favourite games are probably turn based strategy. Played a lot of Blood Bowl 1 on PC and the board game (1e some, though that was like a wargame in some respects) probably 3e the most. Didn't like the polystyrene board version. Haven't even opened the latest version. :rolleyes:
 

Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
#48
Very much enjoying slogging thru COVID with the help of Solasta: Crown of the Magister, a pretty damned perfect implementation of the 5e SRD as a campaign with a dungeon maker built in and a growing library of fan made campaigns. It's not perfect, it's not perhaps as rich as Pillars of Eternity, or Baldur's Gate, but it's just the right side of leisurely dungeon running with plot interludes for me. I picked it up in a sale but I feel it would be worth full price or add to a wishlist and wait. It runs fine on my M1 Mac.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1096530/Solasta_Crown_of_the_Magister/
https://www.gog.com/game/solasta_crown_of_the_magister

Screenshot 2021-12-12 at 16.12.42.png
 
#50
Borderlands 3. For a long time my favourite computer games were Diablo II and Half-Life, and if they had a baby it would be Borderlands. This third outing for the SF looter-shooter takes the player(s) beyond their usual stomping ground of Pandora into the wider galaxy, where alien vaults are ripe for looting and bandits and alien life-forms are ripe for shooting. At the moment, I am trying to unlock a portable toilet and free a bandit incarcerated inside by an over-officious AI, while fighting off attacks by his rivals with a bizarre selection of firearms, which is pretty much a typical day in Borderlands.

According to Steam, Borderlands and Borderlands 2 are the games I've played most, and I expect this one to join them in due course.

By the way, any other Pokemon Go players? I need more in-game friends to crack some achievements... :)
 
#51
My first impressions of the new expansion Legacy of the Sith for Star Wars: The Old Republic. No story spoilers from me. My favourite part has to be the ability trees for the Combat styles. You get to pick and choose between some cool abilities, and can design your own builds, depending if you want, such as single target, AOE, burst, or sustained damage. You can customise your builds and save them as loadouts, which you can switch between out of combat. So when fighting trash mobs, you may go down the AOE or burst path to clear them away more quickly. For a boss, you might pick a sustained single target build that will do more damage over a longer fight. And To be honest, I didn't miss any of the pruned abilities.

Testing Deception and Hatred on my Sith Assassin, out of the two, Hatred was a monster! That's what I thought until I tried out Vengeance on my Sith Juggernaut, and realised that the AOE potential is in credible and in the next league. In theory Hatred could pull better numbers thanks to infinite DOT spread capability, but Vengeance eats mobs with its new ability tree choices. One thing I like was the ability Shattering Burst, which causes enemies who die from your DOTs to explode and damage nearby enemies. It's great fun watching them all fall like dominos.

Okay, what was bad about the expansion? The problem with BioWare is that the stories are much shorter than they use to be. The new story was longer than a KOTFE chapter, mainly because there is a lot of running around, cut scenes, and a wall of mobs with healers to fight. Yes, after the grind fest of Spirit of Vengeance, where you had a wall of strong and elite mobs backed by healers, the developers obviously felt the need to pad everything out with mobs backed by healers yet again. It gets rather boring after a while, because the way gear stats work now, everything takes longer to kill. Yawn.

Okay, moving onto the new Flash Point. Let's put some of the bugs aside, because I've encountered quite a few in the story part and in the Flash Point that either required me to either kill my toon or port them back to my Stronghold before continuing, the Flash Point itself is sort of okay. It's a little tedious, with a lot of running back and forth in the same zones, plus a section with constant AOE attacks on a narrow stair case whilst being attacked by groups of mobs. Plus if you are stealth toon that relies on stealth to say backstab, just forget it. Mobs detect you and spawn on you at their leisure. At least this time there wasn't packs of strong and elite mobs backed by two healers, which is a relief.

My overall thought is the developers have made it tedious on purpose, to slow you down. But they didn't have to in the new Flash Point, because the zones are pretty large as it is, and most of the time you're simply walking though areas with mobs scattered rather thinly. The boss fights themselves are pretty straightforward, even the second one with its multiple adds, various traps, and AOE attacks. Although I did pop Heroic Moment at one point during this fight, mainly because my companion was about to die. (Please don't stand in the stupid red shit, thank you). The the final boss was easier than I expected, and a little anti-climatic. I was expecting <REDACTED> to put up more of a fight.

My final thought on the story portion and Flash Point for this early update in this expansion. If you're playing a tank or healer, just forget it. It will take you forever to grind through the waves of mobs. One part even has you killing mobs going in, and then you find yourself killing more mobs on the way out along the same route. My advice to players with tank and healer toons is for you to switch to a DPS build just to do the story. As a stealth toon, you will be able to skip some of the mobs, but some bonus objectives is pretty much kill everything in your path, and it gets rather boring after a while.
 
#52
Queen's Wish 2: The Tormenter dropped the other week and I finished the first run-through of the game. This takes the storyline on from Queen's Wish, and there is the ability to port background stuff from the previous game so the storyline is continuous, although your character resets to Level 1. As with the previous game, you play the youngest child of Queen Sharyn of Haven, and you are sent on an inspection tour to a restless province to restore the province to peace and harmony with Haven.

This game seems better balanced in play. The previous game I found there were issues with the resource system; it was way too easy to get a bottleneck on one of the resources needed to restore your forts. Here the map made it better - each of the sub-provinces was better divided into a Lower and Upper area, so it was far easier to sort out the lower areas in turn before going into the harder Upper areas. It was also easier to manage quests - each sub-province had a number of self-contained quests, plus game-spanning quests that required visits to numerous areas. I rather liked the multi-stage quests; you start out sorting a minor problem, but have to revisit the area to sort out another problem, and so on. That way you start getting resources faster, and don't have to re-clear the area if you need to bottle out - areas re-spawn if you leave before the boss-fight.

Some of the areas seem to re-spawn anyway; there's a nuisance area which you have to fight through coming and going, even though you've made arrangements to get passage; you may have to totally clear the area to stop this happening. Another niggle is that one area there's no fast-travel map, and the final area you can only fast-travel to the entry point and you have to travel through the unmapped area to get there.

The moral choices seemed less obtrusive in this game; the inspection was of the 3 local governors and the 4 provincial chiefs. One governor was totally corrupt, one was incompetent and the third was tolerable. I replaced the corrupt governor during the game but not the incompetent one - he was going to get replaced through channels later on. I averted the worst of the rebellion; 3 of the provincial chiefs decided not to rebel, the 4th was the rebellious one, but enough of my actions caused enough popular unrest to aid the rebellion, although it was ultimately crushed.

Looks-wise, the graphics are very old-school - 1990s style was how they've been described. However, I don't play Spiderweb Games for ultra-realistic graphics; I play for the interesting storyline. There's a pseudo-skill tree advancement system; each skill area - Combat, Support and Magic is divided into 3 tiers; you can't advance to a higher tier until you've put at least 2 experience points into the tier below, but there's not a fixed skill path; it's mix and match. The 4th skill area is Cultural skills and is something of a grab-bag; this is totally free-choice, but you need to either be from a culture to get that skill or need to learn it in game. Note that the game stops providing XP after level 19 (mind you, you are significantly better in combat than the mooks by then).

Combat is based on action points, and how quickly you act depends on your speed. This is affected by weapons and armour; heavier types have speed penalties, which can be off-set by the crafting system. Certain pieces of equipment have crafting slots (1 to 4) which can be filled with runes or augments. There are some restrictions here - you can't have multiple examples of the same rune or augment in the same piece of equipment, and there are restrictions in what can be placed in that piece of equipment. Another issue is skill tier; to use better types of equipment, you need to be trained in that skill at a suitable level. You get access to better equipment as you rebuild your forts; you need a certain number of smithies to access better arms and armour, and so on.

I backed this via Kickstarter; the game is available for PC and Mac on the usual places, and will be ported to iOS in a few months.

Overall: good game play, interesting story, but if you're after high quality graphics, don't bother.
 
#54
So, a Spiderweb software game.
You love these dont you @Maddz, do tell us why.

Here's the link for others https://store.steampowered.com/app/1947750/Queens_Wish_2_The_Tormentor/
I've been playing Spiderweb games since I ran across a demo of one of the Exile series (rebooted as the Avernum series) on a Mac mag CD-ROM. They aren't the most modern of games (the graphics are a case in point), but as a computer RPG, they come closer to table-top than others. One of the things I like about them it that the gameplay isn't all about violence - there are non-violent options available. There's also a strong meta-plot element to them, and generally the games are sand-box style rather than linear (apart from Avernum 4 & 5). I also like the moral choices that have to be made in game - that's particularly visible in the Geneforge and Queen's Wish series.

The Avernum series are the most heroic in style, and the Geneforge series has the truly appalling premise that the Shapers have literally created a slave race - the Serviles - and the series is about how are you going to interact with them (Geneforge 3 has only 2 options - Shaper loyalist or supporting the Serviles in their quest for self-determination; other games in the series have more options). The Queen's Wish series is about the corruption of colonialism - the Haven Empire have conquered a number of other lands and the other peoples are restless to the point of rebellion - do you grind them down under the iron boot of Haven or support more liberal attitudes? This conflicts with your loyalty - such as it is - to your family.
 

Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
#55
I've been playing Spiderweb games since I ran across a demo of one of the Exile series (rebooted as the Avernum series) on a Mac mag CD-ROM. They aren't the most modern of games (the graphics are a case in point), but as a computer RPG, they come closer to table-top than others. One of the things I like about them it that the gameplay isn't all about violence - there are non-violent options available. There's also a strong meta-plot element to them, and generally the games are sand-box style rather than linear (apart from Avernum 4 & 5). I also like the moral choices that have to be made in game - that's particularly visible in the Geneforge and Queen's Wish series.

The Avernum series are the most heroic in style, and the Geneforge series has the truly appalling premise that the Shapers have literally created a slave race - the Serviles - and the series is about how are you going to interact with them (Geneforge 3 has only 2 options - Shaper loyalist or supporting the Serviles in their quest for self-determination; other games in the series have more options). The Queen's Wish series is about the corruption of colonialism - the Haven Empire have conquered a number of other lands and the other peoples are restless to the point of rebellion - do you grind them down under the iron boot of Haven or support more liberal attitudes? This conflicts with your loyalty - such as it is - to your family.
Oh I should return to them, the Servile concept turned me off, now I know there are choices I may try again..
 
#56
Somewhat topically, Brett Deveraux over at ACOUP touches on the in-game choices thing a bit: https://acoup.blog/2022/09/09/fireside-friday-september-9-2022/

Yes, the main take-home from the Spiderweb games (especially the Geneforge series) is that your in-game choices have consequences further down the line - even if the choice is between something bad and something marginally less bad. In Geneforge, I've tended to be mostly in favour of autonomy for the Serviles, even if i don't explicitly join any factions. It's possible to play GF1 without allying yourself with any faction, although the optimum course is serial alliances. to get the benefit of decent equipment in the early game.
 
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