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How game design encourages order and chaos in equal measure

A while ago I’ve had a discussion with a certain Spelunky-loving editor of this website in which I argued that most roguelikes, Spelunky in particular, were too chaotic for me to handle. I like the orderliness of a JRPG or a round-based strategy game, games where after a while things follow a reliable pattern. However, there’s a flaw in my argument, which is that game design, no matter what type of game you prefer, is all about learning patterns. It’s only through learning these patterns that emergent play, the chaotic and unexpected stuff, can actually happen. On the box, The…

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Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales review – a card game with the heart of a blockbuster

I had concerns about Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. What worried me most was the story. It’s the most important thing; the premise the game is sold on, and a chance to return to the world of The Witcher. How could Thronebreaker possibly follow on from the outstanding The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? When I first played, I wasn’t sure it could. The queen whose royal sabatons I was filling left me cold. I couldn’t relate to her stuffy world of advisors and generals, and I didn’t like them. Her mission to reclaim gold stolen by bandits? Hardly mutant monster-hunter Geralt…

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review: a polished, pulsating battle royale

One of my favourite things to do in Blackout, Call of Duty’s take on battle royale, is to crash through windows. I know it makes a lot of noise, I know it alerts nearby enemies to my position and I know there’s a door right next to the window. But I just can’t help myself. Sprint, vault, smash! I’m inside, glass on the floor, loot to pick up or – hopefully – an enemy player who dies at my hand while marvelling at the grandeur of my entrance.Vaulting through windows is so much fun because it’s so slick. It just…

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Starlink: Battle for Atlas review – zippy combat meets uninspired busywork

My favourite moment in Starlink: Battle for Atlas occured when, muddled and in the heat of a fight, I attached a weapon the wrong way around. Ubisoft’s latest is a very late entry into the toys-to-life marketplace: when you play it, your controller houses a little mount upon which you slot a pilot, a star-fighter, and various weapons that then appear in the game. This being 2018, everything on that mount is a repository for levelling. Those pilots come with their own special abilities and their own skill trees, while ships have their own handling and stats, and can be…

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Metal Gear Solid HD back-compat for Xbox One is the best way to play

If there’s one game franchise crying out for the full current-gen remastering treatment, it’s Metal Gear Solid. The classic MGS titles have remain untouched since 2011’s excellent Metal Gear Solid HD collection, with no sign of any Xbox One or PlayStation 4 re-releases – despite the emergence of MGS cutscenes apparently running on the Fox Engine on a Japan-only pachinko machine, of all places. However, there is some good news: the 2011 remaster is now backwards compatible on Xbox One, and as things stand, this is easily the best way to play these brilliant games on modern hardware. Expectations do…

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Here are the stars of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing jumping on the Fortnite bandwagon

Fancy a steaming side order of cringe with your Sunday dinner? Of course you do. So here are the stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing trying out some of Fortnite’s most iconic moves, including Groove Jam, Hype, Fresh, and Floss.The comments to the tweet are a delicious – and predictable – blend of outrage, hilarity, plentiful emojis, and at least one inevitable Brexit hashtag. This one’s probably my favourite, though:Much to many commenters dismay, though, it seems the tweet was just a bit of fun, as apparently Fortnite was nowhere to be seen on the show itself last night. Read…

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For Honor's Marching Fire expansion includes 'graphical enhancements' to lighting, weather, and textures

For Honor’s upcoming Marching Fire expansion will include a huge graphical overhaul.The “Graphical Enhancements Showcase” segment of a recent livestream illustrates exactly what’s been improved, which includes a major update to global illumination, updated sky tech, plus new tone mapping and colour grading, too. Ubisoft – which started the upgrading process just after the multiplayer brawler was released – has also reworked all textures in the game.Read more…

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Traps, treasure and ancient tomb raiders

You’re exploring the ruins of an ancient, forgotten tomb when you hear the sudden, tell-tale grind of a pressure plate underfoot. For a fraction of a second all is calm, but you know something’s coming. The only question is what. Poison darts shot from hidden sconces in the wall? An unseen trapdoor opening over a pit of vicious spikes? A blade swinging down from overhead? Or that old beloved classic, the rolling boulder.We take it for granted that gaming’s ancient dungeons and tombs are filled with booby traps just as much as that the torches are still burning or that…

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Hands on with Ghost Mode, Hitman 2's new 1v1 online multiplayer

Hitman 2 will release with a brand new 1v1 competitive online multiplayer mode called Ghost Mode.This is the first time that stealthy slaphead Agent 47 has indulged in any kind of competitive multiplayer, although the recent Sniper Assassin mini-game did offer a taste to series fans.Ghost Mode pits two players against each other in a race to be the first to take out five targets undetected. Whilst players are given the same targets and are able to see each other in-game, they actually exist in separate instances. This means their actions will not affect the other player’s world.Read more…

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