This latest digital adaption of the Warhammer 40k universe is being handled by Black Lab Games, the same folk behind the rather good Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock. With this established pedigree, I went into Battlesector with excitement and came out the other side feeling reasonably hopeful. The future is…well, I mean, the future is mostly brown with a lot of blood and violence, but by Warhammer standards, that’s pretty good. Due to launch next month, I got a chance to get hands-on with this new turn-based tactics title set in a universe of dirt, grit, sweat, blood and massive armour. How’s it shaping up?
The Dirt series has had a bit of trouble settling on an identity, with DiRT 2.0 being the pure rally sim and then DiRT 4 trying to juggle rallying and a bunch of other stuff on the side. But now it seems like Codemasters might be settling into a rhythm because DiRT 5 is on the opposite end of the spectrum from DiRT 2.0. The colours are vibrant, the music is loud and the focus is on jumps, bumps and wheel-to-wheel racing. We don’t even know if there will be any regular rally stages. With around a month until launch, Codemasters offered me a preview build of their newest mode: Playgrounds, a place where you can make your own events and share them with the world.
Sometimes it feels like you can’t walk a few steps without accidentally tripping over another Warhammer game. They are absolutely everywhere and their quality tends to vary dramatically thanks to Games Workshop handing out the license to anyone that pays them a few Jelly Beans. Thankfully we’ve gotten some pretty good Warhammer games of late, and Warhammer: Chaosbane is looking to continue that trend. Due to launch in June, I got some time in with Warhammer: Chaosbane during its closed beta. So let’s talk about that.
As I admire a painting while munching on a pork pie I can’t but help reflect on the senseless violence that I’ve been a part of over the years. How many enemy combatants have I gunned down without a second thought? How many people have I run over? How often have I just punched people for no reason except that it was kind of funny? I give a mental sigh and move my avatar over to the balcony of this time-traveling air-ship. Was it all worth it? Is this truly what we humans are? Violent beings whose entertainment must always contain some form of mindless violence? As I smack my target over the head with a blunt object, I wonder to myself, should I go with the sword or the knuckle dusters for the next victim?
In the dead of night, I’m wading through a deep swamp that’s hindering my movement, feeling far too vulnerable for my own good. To the right of me I can hear the echo of rifle fire as several players duke it out for dominance, but as a solo player I have to be more careful. Ignoring the gunfire and steadily weaving through the myriad of beasts lurking in the darkness I make my way to the final clue which reveals the location of my quarry; a giant arachnid that’s far too realistic for my liking. And that’s when I freeze, the nearby ambient noises having changed and alerted me to the sound of other players who are also hunting the beast. Two of them emerge from the treeline, the probable victors of the gunfight I heard earlier. They’re unbearably close to me, and for me, it’s the tensest moment I’ve felt in a video game in a long, long time. A 2-on-1 fight won’t go well for me, not with these rifles, but at the same time, the temptation to take out the competition is strong. I take aim and…
Man, I’m just not sure how I feel about Battalion 1944 after many, many hours in its virtual battlefields full of madly bouncing soldiers careening through the air while they carefully take aim, a truly stunning recreation of what the Second World War was actually like. Yes, what they teach you in school is simply untrue; the Allies won the war purely through an incredible tactical innovation where their snipers would leap into the air and around corners, gunning down all that opposed them.
Previewing a beta build for a game is always a tricky prospect because naturally it’s going to have bugs and problems, and it can be tough to tell how many of those are going to get fixed before launch. In this case, though, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is going to be arriving on April, a mere two months in which to fix a game that is quite frankly a mess in its current stage. More importantly not amount of bug fixing is going to turn it into a great game.
We Happy Few takes its cues from the novels like 1984 and Brave New World. This isn’t a criticism; both books are wonderful reads and you owe it to yourself to sit down and begin turning those pages. Currently in Early Access you step into the shoes of Arthur, a man who works in a building where they censor articles to ensure that nothing bad seems to be happening. You see, sometime during World War II the Germans successfully invaded Britain, and to repel those invaders something so horrible was done that the entire population ended up taking a drug called Joy which makes everything seem…wonderful. It also has the rather lovely effect of making them forget things. People wear strange white masks with permanent smiles, and while on Joy they have a spring in their step and a friendly greeting for everyone. Joy alters their perception of the world, as evidenced when Arthur is pressured into hitting what a group of people see as a pinata, but is actually the corpse of a rat which they proceed to consume, believing it to be delicious candy. IN reality Britain is a mess, with huge swathes of it eating horrid, rotten food and barely surviving. It’s a fascinating world with a heavy atmosphere that feels unique within the world of videgames, although I’m sure someone will hastily correct me. People amble around with creepy white masks on, jumping up and down in puddles and going about their lives with such eery cheerfulness. Damn it, people, this is the UK. People aren’t cheerful here.
Most gamers have an understandable sceptisicm when it comes to free-to-play games, and rightfully so. The majority of them turn out to be nothing more than cynical cash-grabs where the developers blatantly try to push people towards breaking out their walleys by making earning in-game items through normal play a tedius grind, and ensuring that things which can only be bought with real money offer powerful advantages. Sometimes, though, we get something that seems to respect its audience by giving them a well designed game, relying on the fans to help support it. Such is the case with Dreadnought, a 5v5 tactical shooter about humungous capital ships clashing in a violent display of destruction. Currently in closed beta I checked the game out and came away feeling pretty hopeful for the full release.
With the game due for release within the next month, not counting potential further delays, I’m going to keep this preview short and to the point, mostly just tackling the skirmish mode so that when I go to review the full game I’ll still have plenty to talk about. Currently if you buy the game you’ll get access to the ongoing beta that should hopefully result in the game being reasonably balanced in time for launch. Purchasing now or within two months of launch also means you grab an early adopters bonus of sorts in the form of two new factions for free, whenever they’re ready. The point is the game is essentially on sale now, and that means people deserve to know if it’s any good.