“Vigilio Confido.” I am watchful; I am relied upon. That’s the XCOM motto. It’s never spoken out loud, but it’s written on their symbol, and it’s written onto the hearts and minds of your soldiers, scientists and engineers. XCOM is back, ladies and gentlemen—and boy does it feel good.
You’re probably wondering why you’re here, Commander. It’s because 20 in-game years ago, XCOM lost. The global defense network that was meant to repel an alien invasion failed. The aliens then took over government and military functions worldwide. So in XCOM 2, the aliens rule the world.
A fraction of the original XCOM still exists, just in a fractured state. Instead of operating across the planet with the weight of every government behind them, XCOM 2 leaves you, Commander, in charge of a now-mobile command center, operating from the fringes of society and in the literal shadows, and striking with guerilla tactics and efficiency. It paints a different picture from the satellite view, but XCOM 2 operates much the same as XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM: Enemy Within.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based strategy game. There are three playing fields. One is that satellite view, the one where you’re looking at a projection of a spinning Earth, where you define your overall strategy. Two is mobile command center, a former alien vessel (though, strangely, the game never talks about that explicitly), giving you a 2D crosscut view of the rooms you’ll build out into a base proper. Three is the one you’ll get cozy with real quick: the tactical, boots-on-the-ground, attain-every-objective, shoot-every-alien view.
A lot happens on every one of those views. I’m only an hour or two in, but the pacing feels good. It feels as good as XCOM: Enemy Unknown felt in 2012. A sorry set of excuses kept me from playing 2013’s XCOM: Enemy Within, but I got the gist of the rebooted XCOM series. I was in love with it then. And if this PlayStation 4 version holds itself together, I’m on track to fall in love with XCOM 2.
Most importantly, the battlefield feels as tense as ever. We’re in the future, sure, but the first couple maps aren’t anything too crazy yet. In fact, they’re remarkable for how mundane they are. The tutorial mission is a rescue operation for yours truly. They pull you out of some cryogenic vat like a sleepy Master Chief from Halo. The next mission is to acquire a power source to fire up your not-flying-just-yet mobile command. The mission I just now finished, the third, is to take out an alien transmitter. These are all very worthy objectives, no doubt. But the maps you’re playing on aren’t hyper fantastical in nature. There’s a little more neon than you’ve seen in Enemy Unknown. The architecture is slightly more slick than the brick office buildings and yellow gas stations of yore. The maps, however, are solidly, squarely built, just like they should be.
You need to know where you stand at all times in XCOM 2. Where you’ve got half cover, where you’ve got full cover, and where you’re exposed. You need to be cognizant at all times where your fog of war reaches beyond your eyes on the field. XCOM 2 is doing an admirable job of this on nearly every front.
But the graphics are hitching, here and there. There’s a little chop to the cutscenes, and a little chop to the movement, when, for action sequences, it gives you a few seconds of over-the-shoulder cam with your soldiers on the move. Maps with multistory buildings have a thing or two to learn about getting out of the camera’s way. A few times I’d only see a health bar on an alien when I should physically see everything that’s happening with that alien, except the walls didn’t cut away properly to reveal the battlefield. And, when the camera follows your soldiers, popping out of cover, fragging an enemy contact, then recovering, the camera films the dead air for maybe one or two seconds too long. That doesn’t sound like much, but everything else happens at such a snappy pace, making the action camera seem a little laggy. “Cut, cut already!” I can almost hear the director shouting.
To stress out your tactics even more, XCOM 2 adds a countdown timer to each mission. At least every mission I’ve engaged so far. Not a real-time clock, but one giving you a countdown to accomplishing the mission objective before everything, I assume, goes into a fail state. I had, for instance, eight turns, I think, to recover the device that now powers my mobile command. They justified it by saying the power source was in an unstable state. It would’ve been a bummer to move toward that objective, take down the alien guards, and then fail because I hit turn number nine, when I only had eight turns to complete it. But that’s not how it went down. On my final turn, I had my squad leader swing herself up onto the truck flatbed holding the unstable power source and pull off a successful hack, stabilizing the power source and, incidentally, adding a permanent +20 to her hacking stat, one of two bonus objectives with a two percent or three percent success rate.
So I like what I’m seeing so far. I’ve been lucky enough to have the infamously random and percentage-driven combat to give me fair rolls of the dice. I’ve been lucky enough that the frame rate stuttering hasn’t deducted much of my enjoyment of the fast-paced cutscenes. And I’ve been lucky enough that the camera (which needs some work around tall structures) hasn’t compromised my strategy too much yet. It’s obvious that it’s not working as intended, and that it’ll require one, maybe two, diligent patches from developer Firaxis—and post-launch support is something I have complete faith and confidence in Firaxis doing. Firaxis knows how to hold up its end of that bargain.
I’m also fist pumping in the air that a strategy game of this caliber has even made it onto console. It’s obvious that strategy games are a tough sell once you leave the PC market. But I’m glad (so glad) XCOM 2 is here. I’m looking forward to the rest of my playthrough. Watch for my full review coming within two weeks. I hope you enjoyed watching the Clinton-Trump debates on Monday night; now if you’ll excuse me, I have our alien overlords to overthrow. Because "Vigilio Confido," Commander.
2K games have everyone a tour though Suplex City yesterday as the WWE 2K17 TV spot was released. Today they released a small update about one of the updated features in the game. The one thing that I am really loving about all of the new updates in WWE 2K17 is how 2K has been going through the games and fixing a lot of the little things that have been quite bothersome in previous games. One of these updates is with the revamped "taunting" system.
For years each wrestler in the game would have four taunts assigned to the d-pad. Really the only thing these taunts were used for were filling your momentum meter so you could quickly get your signature and finishers. The down side is that you could easily just stand there and constantly spam taunts to fill your meter and this really didn't capture the look and feel of taunting on WWE TV. The other thing is that you could only taunt in two positions. Either in the ring or outside the ring.
This year taunts work in one of two ways. You can use them to give yourself a damage boost, or you can use them to fill your momentum meter. The other great thing is that this year there are tons of new positions you can taunt from including the ring apron, the corner, wake ups and the turnbuckles. The WWE 2KDev youtube channel released a new video showing off the massive amount of new taunts that are included in this year game.
Hi-Rez's shooter Paladins recently entered open beta and it was a pretty big hit on Steam as over 100,000 new accounts were made in the first 24 hours and made it into Steam's Top 10 games by player count. Due to the success of the open beta launch on Steam, Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris says that they would be expanding the Paladins Invitational... "We’ve also seen a very strong interest in Paladins from competitive players and esports organizations worldwide and are therefore extending the Paladins Invitational to include more regions and more teams”
The first even Paladins invitational will take place January 5th - 8th at the Hi-Rez Expo where the SMITE World Championships will also take place. The Paladins invitational will feature teams from North America, Europe, Brazil, Latin America, Australia/New Zealand and China and they will battle it out for $150,000.
For more info about Hi Rez Expo including how to get tickets, be sure to check out their official website. If you can't make it to the event, it will be streamed live on Hi Rez's official Twitch channel as well.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on building a nice portable HTC Vive box. In it, I used a DoubleSight DS-10UT
10" touchscreen USB monitor that really served me well.
DoubleSight was nice enough to provide one for the article and they are now nice enough to provide a 35% coupon for the monitor.
Just head on over to http://www.doublesight.com/
We’re rolling into October in just a few days and the releases just keep pouring into stores. Once again, we have a ton of releases in store for the week, both digital and retail. One of my favorite PC games is finally heading to consoles as Darkest Dungeon launches for both the Vita and PS4. This psychological roguelike is unlike just about anything you have ever seen. While it appears to be a straight forward, turn based adventure game on the surface, you will soon realize that this game is a lot deeper than most you have played. The battle system explores the psychological effects of exploring and battling, which you have to treat between quests or else face the mental and physical effects they cause to your team members.
Soccer fans have their annual release of FIFA 17 on the books for this week. This year’s edition brings a new visual engine which takes the experience to the next level. The game is now powered by the same graphics engine that is used for the Battlefield series and the recent Star Wars Battlefront. Plus, EA is trying something new with a story mode of sorts in the game that has you taking a player from obscurity to super stardom.
Zen Studios is checking in with two more Pinball FX 2 tables based on MArvel Comics thanks to the Women of Power set. This adds the A-Force and Women of Power table to your collections, both of which focus heavily on the females comic fans know and love such as the Black Widow, Squirrel Girl, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Wasp.
Finally this week, we also have the console release of XCOM 2 on both the PS4 and Xbox One. The direct follow up to 2012‘s amazing XCOM: Enemy Unknown is set 20 years later and has you fighting back on an occupied Earth. Fans will find the deep gameplay and customization options that they have come to know and love from the series.
What is on your list this week?
React Game's Super Dungeon Bros. is set to hit Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 on November 1, 2016. Matt saw the game at E3 and got some good co-op action while he was there.
Super Dungeon Bros. will support cross-platform play with the PC and a console. Xbox One and PC players can play together while PlayStation 4 and PC players can also team up. You can't, however, play Xbox One people with PS4 players.
Below you can see what the story is about in this rock themed medieval dungeon crawler. Because the dungeons are procedurally generated, they'll be different each time you play.
You'll be able to grab the game for $19.99 on release date.
Over the past few weeks we've introduced you to the residents of Suplex City. Now it's time to take you on a bit of a tour. 2K has recently released a new trailer for WWE 2K17 that was shown tonight during WWE Clash of Champions on the WWE Network...insert $9.99 joke here. The video, set to "Downtown" by Petula Clark, shows just how dark and grim Suplex City can be...and now I want an action game based on Suplex City. Not sure how you'd do that, but if WWE Crush Hour exists, I'm sure they can find a way to do GTA: Suplex City.
2K and Hangar 13 have recently released the official Mafia III gameplay demo video that was shown at Gamescom and the Tokyo Games Show. The near seventeen minute video show Lincoln Clay takes out one of Sal Marcano's underbosses, Tony Derazio. In just a couple of weeks on October 7th, you can choose how you want to take down Derazio and the rest of the Marcano family yourself when Mafia III releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
I've put up a few posts over the past month about some of the leaders in the upcoming Civilization VI. As with any PC game there are some specs that need to be met if you even want the chance to run your own civilization, and 2K has posted the minimum and recommended specs to run Civilization VI.
For starters, they have the listed OS being Windows 7, 8.1, or 10, but they also list each as 64 bit, so if you're still running a 32 bit system, you might be out of luck. Either an Intel Core i3 or an AMD Phenom II is required as is 4 GB of RAM, 12 GB of hard drive space, and a 1 GB DX 11 video card which they listed either an AMD 5570 or an NVIDIA 450. Not too terribly bad as I'm sure a lot of gamers probably have most of this already covered.
The University of California–Irvine will pay for half your college tuition but, oh bummer, you have to play video games to get the scholarship. Time Magazine took a stab at making a Top 50 Video Games of All Time list last month; it might be the first one of these you've seen that puts Half-Life 2 at #17, and where Pong rubs elbows with Castlevania and ESPN NFL 2K5. And while the United States might have new Star Trek and Wonder Woman stamps, Poland has a stamp of The Witcher.
What are you playing this weekend?
Russell Archey, Staff Writer, @NeoScyther
I'm closing in on finishing up Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. I'm about halfway through the final dungeon and have taken care of most of the optional stuff outside of the three optional boss re-fights. Beyond that, it's just grinding my way up a few more levels to prepare for the final boss. I'll also be starting up Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary in preparation for my review. It's been far too long since I've fired up a Boulder Dash game, so I'm really looking forward to this one.
Sean Cahill, Staff Writer, @seancahill24
This weekend I will be playing the game called "Flying to Chicago" where I'll be spending the weekend with family and taking in a Chicago Cubs game. This means busting out the handheld systems, so I look forward to diving into Bravely Second for the first time.
Sean Colleli, Staff Writer, @scolleli
After completing BioShock Remastered, I'm moving on to the second game in the Collection, BioShock 2. Charles scored the original version a 9.5, and I still maintain that BioShock 2 is the best game in the series. It lacks the initial first-impression punch of the original, but it also lacks the freshman clunkiness, its insecurity-driven need to be about something, and thus the bluntness of its story. Instead, BioShock 2 is a more subtle, more elegant, and more human evolution of both the story and gameplay that made the original so good, and thus the sequel is even better. Its DLC chapter, Minerva's Den, is also a beautifully poignant bookend for the whole series. BioShock 2 was unfairly maligned as a shameless cash grab when it was released in 2010. It is anything but. Now that it has been re-released in the remastered BioShock: The Collection, I encourage anyone who missed it the first time to give it a chance. I'm betting you will be pleasantly surprised.
Randy Kalista, Staff Writer, @randykalista
I'm falling in love with Mad Max. I'm only half a dozen hours in, so I don't know what the longview looks like. But I dig the gameplay loop so far: bolt stuff onto car, smash War Boys, find Guzzolene, drink water, burn rubber. It's a simple life, but I'm a simple guy. Then, just to drive the breakdown of societal norms into the ground, I got This War of Mine on mobile. Seeing the civilian side of the Siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia should make for a sobering weekend. I'm great at parties. Also, yes, I'm that dude downloading the free Dear Esther: Landmark Edition dynamic theme to my PS4. Long live the walking simulator. I reviewed the game. It's still fantastic. A fantastic 9 out of 10.
Aidan Kelly, Staff Writer, email@example.com
This weekend I'll be working on getting my Dark Souls III Bloodshades character up to the SL140 meta. I'm certainly not a good PVP fighter but shenanigans are to be had and I'm all for that. Destiny: Rise of Iron looks great and I'm excited to see how the new raid mechanics are going to work. Other than being a skeleton and drooling over the new Destiny armors, I'll be involved in some Battlefield 4 bouts in anticipation for Battlefield 1. The delayed GTA V graphics overhaul came out this week and I'll be looking forward to seeing the awesome work done by the modding team.
Rob Larkin, Staff Writer, @Rob_GN
Whole lotta Destiny this weekend. Played the first mission of the new expansion, Rise of Iron, while on my lunch break the day it came out. I'll be exploring all that's on offer for the vast majority of my time, and gearing up with my clan to have a go at the new raid on Sunday. While waiting for the release, I did get back into Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag last week and if anything is going to pull me away from Destiny, it might be that for a few minutes a day, but not much more.
Matt Mirkovich, Staff Writer, @Stillmywords
For me, it's all about Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. I'm also trying to work on a backlog that only grows more and more insurmountable by the week. I haven't finished Deus Ex yet, BioShock has my attention again thanks to the HD remasters, and I'm even looking at Skyrim again now that my PC has the power to create small universes with ease. And then there's always something that Final Fantasy XIV needs from me, now I feel like leveling another tank class since Paladin has fallen way out of favor, and patch 3.4 drops next week with a massive wealth of content. Don't cry for me, I'm already dead.