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Evolve DLC drama photo
Evolve DLC drama

Turtle Rock defends Evolve's DLC, pre-purchase options


Videogames sure have gotten complicated
Jan 16
// Rob Morrow
Turtle Rock studios co-founder Phil Robb took to the company's forums to address concerns about upcoming four-versus-one asymmetrical multiplayer title Evolve's numerous pre-purchase options and plans for downloadable co...
Evolve's PC specs photo
Evolve's PC specs

Turns out Evolve's PC specs aren't the real monster


That's a nice change of pace
Jan 12
// Brett Makedonski
It's becoming a common trend that it requires an increasingly absurd PC to even think about running the latest triple-A games. Evolve is a slight reprieve from that. Prospective hunters won't necessarily need the latest ...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's intro cinematic is a clinic in smokin' stogies like a champ


They should've named this game 'Monster Hunter'
Jan 08
// Brett Makedonski
Evolve's opening cinematic is...well, it's pretty much everything you'd expect. It's a gussied-up version of the game as if it were being played like it's supposed to. You know, a team acting as a team instead of one guy run...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

These are the most popular Borderlands characters


As decided by the fans
Jan 08
// Mike Cosimano
Per the official Borderlands Twitter account, Krieg, Claptrap, and Tiny Tina are the series' most popular characters amongst Borderlands fans. There's no clear indication which character received the most votes, but I wager C...
Evolve Offline Mode photo
Evolve Offline Mode

Turtle Rock Studios confirms offline mode for Evolve


I always suspected there was an 'I' in team
Dec 26
// Rob Morrow
In a recent update on Turtle Rock Studio's Evolve blog, it was confirmed that the asymmetrical four-versus-one shooter will have an offline mode available for those who'd prefer to play the game solo. Thi...
Evolve beta photo
Evolve beta

Evolve launches open beta for Xbox One on January 15


Will be playable till launch
Dec 18
// Alessandro Fillari
The first quarter of 2015 looks to be an exciting period for games. But one such title is looking to keep players satiated all the way till its release. After a successful closed alpha period, Evolve is gearing up for another...

Evolve offers a refreshingly robust and devious co-op experience

Dec 18 // Alessandro Fillari
Evolve (PC [previewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One)Developer: Turtle Rock StudiosPublisher: 2K GamesRelease: February 10, 2014MSRP: $59.99 "It's given us this extra push, that extra motivation," said Chris Ashton, co-founder of Turtle Rock Studios and design director of Evolve as he recalled the general reception from fans. It's been about a year since its debut, and the fans have certainly taken to the game. After two alpha test periods, and its wildly popular station at PAX Prime -- I tried playing, but the line was ridiculous -- Turtle Rock was keen to show off more of what the game has to offer. "I think all the good and positive reception has added to the pressure, y'know, but I keep telling a lot of the guys that's it's the hardest thing we've ever done in our careers," said Ashton. "But I keep telling everyone 'great pressure makes for great games sometimes.' Though everyone is tired and worn out, seeing the news stories and positive reviews has made it all worthwhile." One of the new bits to share was the reveal of the new monster class, the Wraith. In addition to the Goliath and Kraken, essentially different takes on the warrior and mage archetypes, the Wraith is very much like the assassin class, except it's a twenty-foot-tall monster with massive claws and tendrils. Despite its size, the Wraith is the fastest thing in the game and can easily make quick work of the hunters, though it'll definitely take some time to master. Unlike the other classes, the strength of the Wraith lies in its stealth tactics and speed. The creature can warp in and out of danger with ease, and can use sneak attacks to quickly defeat the hunters and lesser prey. Its decoy ability allows it to summon a Wraith clone to attack nearby enemies, leaving the player in an invisible state, and the Supernova move gives a massive speed and power boost to the creature. Though the other classes were fun, I had a real blast with the Wraith. During the rescue game type, I stalked the group of hunters while they were struggling to find survivors to take back to base. Using my decoy ability, I sent my clone in against the group. As they scattered trying to take it out, I found the medic straggling behind them. At this point I used my Abduction move, which allowed me to warp to the hunter and drag him back to where I came. Alone, the medic was downed rather quickly by the Wraith's attacks. After they found the wounded medic and attempted to revive him, I swooped in like a hawk and used my Supernova ability to wipe the party in a frenzied flurry. It was awesome, and hearing the opposing team shout "He's on us!" felt oh-so satisfying. One of the most impressive things about Evolve is how well it was balanced. Even though the monsters are extremely powerful, the hunters are well equipped to handle the beast. Turtle Rock took a lot time refining and fixing issues with the game in order to maintain the balance and consistency with the asymmetrical multiplayer. "We playtested the crap out of it, iterating and finding what works and what doesn't -- and we forced our way through that idea of four vs. one gameplay to shipping the game now," said the design director. "It always seemed like a straightforward idea to us, like four quarters equals a dollar, right? In our minds, it always made sense. For four hunters who work together, and they use their teamwork right and coordinate, then they could be as powerful as this two-story monster." Though the Hunt mode offered quick and easy fun, the recently unveiled Evacuation mode will no doubt offer the most comprehensive and epic experiences that Evolve can produce. Referred to as a "grudge match across five maps" by its design director, five players are brought into a multiplayer campaign that shifts and alters depending on which side wins. For Turtle Rock Studios, this was an opportunity to up the ante on their previous work with the Left 4 Dead series. "We wanted to have a campaign in Evolve, but we wanted to do it in a different way," said Ashton as he described the genesis of Evacuation mode. "In Hunt, you can have a fifteen minute experience, and that's a good time for a lot of people.  But there's another scenario where me and you want to get online tonight and we want to play roughly an hour, and have an experience that has a beginning, middle, and end. That we all felt like we saw really cool things and that it all wrapped up nicely. We wanted to focus on replayability, to potentially have thousands of different possibilities." With four players taking on the role of the hunters, and one as the monster, you'll have to secure, defend, hunt your enemies to expand your power. On the final round, Evacuation reaches its crescendo as both sides must use all their acquired resources and skills to finish off the opposition. Spanning different game types spread across several maps, each round feels like a real struggle to succeed. If the hunters win a match, then they can acquire teleport machines that allow for easy travel or armor plated turrets for stronger defenses, but if the monster wins a match, then the environment will become corrosive to the hunters, and new beasts will come to assist your side. It's incredibly dynamic, and no campaign will feel the same. I played games on both sides, and the two felt incredibly different. I was impressed with how balanced it felt. Initially, I worried that being pitted against a skilled opposition would make the game unpleasant and result in a string of losses, but the mode also includes an auto-balance feature that will sightly boost the strength of the losing side, just to keep things interesting. The developers at Turtle Rock Studios wanted to ensure that the game is still winnable, despite the odds. Sometimes matches can feel like they can drag out, especially if both sides know what they're doing, I still felt the urge the pick up another game upon completion. Moreover, there's plenty of content that covers almost all the bases. Don't want to play with other players or deal with matchmaking? Then you can stick with bots offline that are just as competent as real opponents. Bots are an often overlooked feature, so it's reassuring that the developers are giving players options. As a huge Left 4 Dead fan, I found Evolve be a real evolution of the formula. You remember those moments in L4D where you just knew that the enemy was toying with you? Well, this title certainly brings those moments back in a big, and even more devious way. I found my time with Evolve to be incredibly fun, and it brought out the best of what co-op play is all about. There's a signature moment that's constantly happening, and I'm just dying to see what I can expect from the full release next year.
Evolve photo
I'm gonna have me some fun
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Evolve, the new co-op shooter from Turtle Rock Studios. Helmed by the same developers of the original Left 4 Dead, fans have certainly been chomping at the bit for more information. Afte...

Borderlands Remaster photo
Borderlands Remaster

Australian Classification Board listing points to Borderlands collection on current generation consoles


You all saw it coming
Dec 11
// Darren Nakamura
It seems like every post about Borderlands has the same comments in it: a scathing remark about Aliens: Colonial Marines, a proclamation to wait for the Game of the Year Edition, and a prediction that 2K and Gearbox will...
GTA Australia photo
GTA Australia

Take-Two: Think GTA 5 is offensive? Don't buy it


Slatoff lashes out at Australian retailers
Dec 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Take-Two Interactive boss Karl Slatoff is disappointed in the Australian retailers that recently pulled Grand Theft Auto V from shelves in response to a consumer petition. Speaking at the  BMO Capital Markets 2014 T...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Bonus mission for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel ties into Tales


Help Dr. Nakayama with a secret project
Dec 09
// Darren Nakamura
[Update]: In an email to Destructoid, 2K has confirmed that the Handsome AI bonus mission will be included for free as part of the update adding Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, not part of the Holodome Onslaught DLC pack that ret...
Civilization Beyond Earth photo
Civilization Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth update is live, makes all my strategies obsolete


Thanks, Xenobama
Dec 08
// Darren Nakamura
A pretty substantial update rolled out for Civilization: Beyond Earth earlier today, addressing some of the issues that the more hardcore Civ fans have had with the title. I took a read through the extensive patch notes and.....
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's second piece of DLC is out December 16


Welcome to the Holodome
Dec 04
// Darren Nakamura
2K Games announced today the second DLC pack for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and as with the first pack, it is commendable in some ways but disappointing in others. In The Holodome Onslaught, Axton and Gaige join the crew in...
Hanger 13 photo
Hanger 13

2K announces new studio Hangar 13, working on a new game


Ominous
Dec 04
// Chris Carter
2K has announced today that they have formed a new game studio called Hangar 13, located at their HQ in Novato, California. It's led by developer Haden Blackman (who began at LucasArts and has worked with DC and Marvel), and ...

Evolve is about more than just monster hunting

Dec 03 // Kyle MacGregor
Ashton, along with his partner in crime, creative director Phil Robb, provided us with the rundown on Hunt anyway. Evolve follows a team of four hunters who endeavor to take down a colossal alien monster. Though, as we soon learned, that's not always the primary objective. Turtle Rock revealed three new game types: Nest, Rescue, and Defend. Nest was by far my favorite of the bunch, as hunters attempt to eliminate a handful of monster eggs before they can hatch unto the world and terrorize its colonists. Of course, the alpha monster will have some say in the matter, doing its damnedest to save the young. Part of that effort may involve hatching one of the eggs prematurely, allowing the alpha to double team the humans alongside a stunted Goliath. It's a delicate balance of risk and reward, enlisting the help of an infant demon, simultaneously increasing your firepower whilst also bringing the enemy one step closer to their goal. The mode also lends itself to new tactical possibilities for the hunters. Typically, it's in your best interest to stick together, as a single human is no match for the monster. But the monster also can't be in several places at once, and the hunters always have the option of splitting up and taking out multiple eggs in concert. I have one word of advice for players keen on employing this strategy, though. Make sure to keep an eye on your surroundings. It really sucks getting gobbled up by a carnivorous plant and have no one around to help. Rescue mode turns the tables on the human team, giving them something to protect. After a group of colonists is attacked and flees into the wilderness, it's up to the hunters to locate, revive and lead the survivors to rescue shuttles. Meanwhile, the hulking monster is trying finish the job. This can lead to some pretty tense moments, trying to target these civilians while four well-armed soldiers harass you from afar, as well as flashes of frustration. Nothing is quite so disheartening as coming up short because one of these goons gets hung up on a piece of scenery. The final mission type we saw, Defend, is something of a retrenched horde mode. There's a massive spaceship looming overhead. It's loaded with civilians, refueling, and preparing to escape. There's one problem, though. Small waves of Goliath minions led by a stage three alpha are headed its way, aiming to take out the generators and make the whole thing explode. It's a spectacle and makes for an intense showdown.  While each of these modes can be played individually, Turtle Rock showed us the game's full array of content via Evacuation, essentially Evolve's take on a campaign. Five players at a time huddled into small, sauna-like rooms, each stuffed to the gills with high-end PC equipment to get our hands on the game. Though there is a narrative woven throughout Evacuation, it's sparse. Taking place on the overrun planet of Shear, colonists have five days to fend off the monsters and get out of dodge. Each day is a mission, the outcome of which impacts the next. Say the monster sabotages a dam, for example. The following stage will be flooded with water full of man-eating eels. Robb told me about another scenario where the hunters win and release "a shit ton of birds" into the atmosphere, making it hard for the monster to maneuver without tipping off folks to its location. It always culminates in a Defend mission, but the journey to that point has the potential to be different. Apparently there are over 800,000 possible combinations of mission types, maps, and environmental effects. Pair that with an expansive roster of twelve characters, each of which with their own unique skills and abilities, and it feels like I've barely scratched the surface -- even after spending several hours with the game. It was difficult to walk away from Turtle Rock Studios and Evolve without positive impressions. The game certainly seems to have a lot of potential, and I can safely say I'm looking forward to its February 10, 2015 release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Should you wish to get a taste of Evacuation mode before then, be sure to check out the open beta, which is coming exclusively to Xbox One in January. 
Evolve preview photo
You can scramble eggs, too!
"Hopefully, nobody has any questions about Hunt," Turtle Rock co-founder Chris Ashton said, his eyes darting around a cloistered room flush with press. "We've been talking about that forever!" Over the past several months, th...

Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's story trailer makes its monsters look more badass than ever


Introducing Evacuation
Dec 02
// Brett Makedonski
Everything we've seen of Turtle Rock's Evolve thus far has largely been without context -- two points of view ranging from "go kill that giant thing" to "go kill those four little people." This trailer isn't exactly wil...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Catch a jaunty tune (and an elbow to the grill) in this Tales from the Borderlands trailer


Episode One: Zer0 Sum
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
Telltale titles and Borderlands are almost polar opposites. One has you constantly making tough, game-altering decisions. The other only asks that you decide between shooting everything and dying. (Hint: you defini...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum

Nov 25 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 25, 2014 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Any who have played a Telltale game in the past few years will find few surprises here. Play is split into sections of walking around and examining the surroundings, making dialogue choices that sometimes have profound effects on the path of the narrative, and navigating interactive cutscenes through quick-time events. That said, Tales from the Borderlands includes a few new lore-appropriate features. Rhys, one of the two protagonists, is in management at Hyperion. Three years after the fall of Handsome Jack, he has schmoozed his way into the upper echelon of the corporation. In doing so, he has access to advanced technology that grants him special abilities. His left eye is a cybernetic Echo Eye that can be used to scan objects for additional information, which often contains funny descriptions. His right arm is entirely robotic, and can be used to communicate with his friends or call down a custom combat Loader bot when the situation gets hairy.  Fiona, the other main character, is a Pandoran scam artist. Without a large company's assets at her disposal, she instead relies on her wit and the power of cold, hard cash. Having money on hand opens up additional narrative options through purchases or bribery. In contrast to the core titles in the series, money is a finite resource here; if it is spent early, it will not be available for potential use later on. This type of quandary also comes up with Fiona's hidden pistol: It has one bullet in it and the choice of whether to use it or not at any given point is not an obvious one. [embed]283779:56317:0[/embed] The narrative moves back and forth between Rhys and Fiona, who form a fragile alliance toward a common goal. The two get separated occasionally, each sent to experience a different set of simultaneous events. When the two come together, it has an almost Tarantino-esque feel, where the player gets to see the same scene play out through another viewpoint and with additional context to frame it. Part of that effect stems from the fact that the story is being told through flashback by the two not-quite-trustworthy characters. There are points when one or the other is obviously embellishing the story, which brings up the question of whether they are stretching the truth in other, less obvious instances. One slight disappointment with the storytelling is the illusion of choice it sometimes helps to create. In one sequence, the player is asked to describe what "the most important part" of the story is, and a handful of very different choices are made available. Though it initially seems like this choice could drive the story in one of a few hugely different directions, it turns out that all of those choices happen and it is only a matter of which the character emphasizes. That said, the overall narrative is fantastic. Despite the shift in focus from gunplay to wordplay, the events that unfold are sufficiently exciting, violent, and absurd to fit into the Borderlands universe. If anything, the tone of Tales is a little less wacky than that of Borderlands 2. There is still the over-the-top depiction of a lawless land, but a back alley stabbing in Tales feels heavier and more real than a bandit dissolving from a corrosive shotgun blast in previous games in the franchise. The writing does a superb job of capturing the dark comedy of the Borderlands universe. There are probably as many "laugh out loud" moments in Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum as there are in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which is impressive because the latter is about ten times longer than the former. And some of those moments are not just snorts or chuckles, but actual sustained laughter. This might be the funniest Borderlands game to date, and it is at least the densest in that sense. The downside to Telltale's focus on crafting a great story is that it seems like classic adventure gameplay takes a backseat here more than ever. Exploration sections are cut short before the player can finish scouring an area and the only things close to being puzzles are Rhys's decision on how to spec his Loader companion for an impending battle and a simple memory exercise for Fiona. The Telltale Tool engine might be showing its age with other new releases, but it shows off Borderlands' signature comic book style well. Pandora is every bit as bright and colorful as a desert wasteland can be, and it looks great despite the low polygon count. Aside from the disappointing lack of puzzles and limit on exploration, Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum is excellent. Where the first episodes of other Telltale series can start off slowly, Tales maintains high energy throughout. Its consistently funny writing and duo of unreliable narrator protagonists set the stage for a great overarching story, and it feels very much like it belongs in the Borderlands franchise. If the rest of the season maintains this level of quality, Tales from the Borderlands will be up there in history with the other great recent Telltale adventures. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Telltale Borderlands photo
Two tales worth telling
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] When Tales ...

Irrational photo
Irrational

Irrational's hiring again almost a year after 'winding down'


Who wants to work with Ken?
Nov 24
// Brett Makedonski
In February, Ken Levine (bio)shocked the gaming world by announcing that Irrational Games was shutting down. Well, sort of. The plan was to lay off the majority of the staff, and continue forward as a small group dedicated to...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Jack the Doppelganger is too sexy for his shirt


But he leaves it on anyway
Nov 11
// Darren Nakamura
I frown on the idea that additional Vault Hunters are being offered for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's season pass in place of story DLC (rather than in addition to it, as Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho were in B...
WWE 2K15 photo
WWE 2K15

Yes! Yes! Yes! This is how WWE 2K15 rocks arenas


Daniel Bryan, The Usos, and Corey Graves
Nov 04
// Brett Makedonski
Nothing gets a crowd going quite like their favorite wrestler's music hitting. 2K put a lot of work into realistically recreating entrance routines in WWE 2K15, and this video shows off the developers' efforts. Whether it's ...

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel illustrates the danger of nebulous season passes

Nov 03 // Darren Nakamura
To be clear, I was never one to complain about how Gearbox handled Borderlands 2's season pass. Where many would rail against the developer for producing content that was not included in the season pass (or even the Game of the Year Edition), I always saw it from a more measured viewpoint. Borderlands 2's season pass promised four pieces of story-based downloadable content, and it delivered four pieces of story-based downloadable content along with a bonus level cap increase that those without a season pass had to purchase separately. I bought it in good will before the game came out, and I felt like I got my money's worth. The fact that Gearbox continued to produce content for Borderlands 2 after the season pass had run its course never phased me. People wanted more stuff to do on Pandora, and were willing to pay for those experiences. The extra characters and Headhunter packs were far from essential to the experience, and they were never stated to be included in the season pass to begin with. As an informed consumer, I did not feel cheated. However, there were those who did feel cheated, and that might have contributed to this current mishandling. Many in the Borderlands community complained that BL2's season pass/Game of the Year Edition did not include all of the post-release content, and according to Gearbox Product Manager Chris Faylor, this move is an "[attempt] to address that." So now, instead of four story-based DLC packs that are included in The Pre-Sequel's season pass, along with other pieces of downloadable content that are available for additional fees, it sounds like the total amount of content is being reduced in order for it all to be included in the season pass. Worse yet, if we take the official Borderlands blog post's words literally, we can expect "another character, a level cap upgrade, a new campaign, and more," which lays down a particularly dismal tentative DLC schedule. Where previous games in the series featured four additional story packs, are we really meant to expect only one this time? Looking back at the Pre-Sequel season pass announcement, it is not that 2K lied or even blatantly misrepresented what players should expect in the season pass. So little information is there that the developers have quite a bit of leeway with it. Even on the official blog post, there is never any mention of what type of DLC is planned. The only information given are the phrases "new characters," "new challenges," "new missions," and "new experiences," which in hindsight are incredibly vague. All that is concretely stated is that there would be a season pass, that it would include four undefined pieces of content, and that buying the season pass would cost less than buying all four pieces individually. The problem here is one of expectation. Borderlands featured four pieces of downloadable content, and all four were story-based additions that included new areas to explore, new enemies to fight, and new missions to take on. Borderlands 2 continued that tradition with its four main DLC packs, along with a bevy of other content. I am certain that I am not alone in having made the assumption that the four add-on packs promised in The Pre-Sequel's season pass would follow that same pattern. I do not mean to belittle the amount of work that must be necessary in the design, balance, and playtesting of an entirely new character or even something like Borderlands 2's Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (Playthrough 3). I do not doubt that the teams behind those additions feel that they put a lot of effort into producing something worth selling for ten bucks, and I do not begrudge them for it. However, while those add-ons may require comparable amounts of work, the value of those additions for the consumer is much lower than that of the traditional story packs. So even though no promises are technically being broken, and 2K plans to deliver four digital additions to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for the price of three through the season pass, I cannot blame any who bought it for feeling cheated. The content fits the requirements laid out, but the value is not there. Even if the plans were to change from here onward and the season pass ends up including one new Vault Hunter and three story DLCs, the value of the pass over purchasing content piecemeal hinges on the quality of all three packs, and the series does not have a perfect track record on that front. Even for somebody who did not purchase the season pass, this news is disheartening. With a shorter base campaign and the possibility of only one story-based DLC pack, the lifespan of this game looks to be much smaller than those of its predecessors. It's like walking into a shipping container expecting a pizza party, only to find that the pizza is a hologram and the shipping container is about to be shot out of a cannon at the moon. In the months after Borderlands 2's release, there have been many in the community expressing extreme disappointment when it comes to the handling of post-release content. However, for those who complain that there exists content not included in the season pass, the intended solution was never to reduce the total amount of content in order for it to fit. Though it might have been an attempt to appease disgruntled fans, Jack's Doppelganger as DLC #1 for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has only bred more contempt in the community.
Borderlands DLC opinion photo
Glad I skipped this one
Over the weekend, details came out of PAX Australia regarding the first downloadable Vault Hunter for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At first, it looked to me like a commendable gesture for a series that receives a lot of criti...

Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Jack's doppelganger in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will fight using digital clones


Just like Handsome Jack does in Borderlands 2
Nov 01
// Darren Nakamura
2K announced at PAX Prime that one of Jack's look-alike bodyguards would be the first DLC Vault Hunter for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, but information past that was scant. Pieces of his back story can be found via semi-hidde...
Evolve alpha photo
Evolve alpha

Hunt's off: Evolve alpha postponed on PS4


That's unfortunate
Oct 31
// Brett Makedonski
Bad news for monster hunters on PlayStation 4. The Evolve Big Alpha event has been postponed. The good news is that now your weekend is suddenly free again. Turtle Rock Studios posted an update on the Evolve site to...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Here are the details of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Bloody Harvest Celebration


Lots of exploding pumpkins, basically
Oct 31
// Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's free, limited-time mini event Bloody Harvest Celebration just launched a couple hours ago. The teaser image has several pumpkin-flavored pieces of art, but little extra information. I jumped into...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's free Halloween content is live right now


Bloody Harvest, now on Elpis
Oct 30
// Darren Nakamura
Last year, Borderlands 2 kicked off its Headhunter series of DLC with T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest, a Halloween-themed mini-expansion that had players meeting up with zombie T.K. Baha and shooting a lot of pumpkins. It looks li...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's always different, and you'll see that in the Big Alpha


Almost endless possibilities
Oct 28
// Brett Makedonski
Back in May, I wrote a handy preview about how Turtle Rock Studios is striving for infinite replayability with Evolve. This interview with the developers has them going into detail in their own words about how tweaking almos...

Very Quick Tips: Civilization: Beyond Earth

Oct 23 // Darren Nakamura
General tips: When exploring uncharted territory, take movement one hex at a time. Explorers get two movement points per turn, and it is smart to keep one banked in case your unit walks into an ambush (see above). Aliens are more aggressive to those near Alien Nests, or to those who attack other aliens. Stay away from them with non-combat units (especially Colonists). If possible, place your capital on a coastal hex. Creating connections between your capital and your others cities affords a nice energy bonus. Land connections must be built by Worker units as roads, but sea connections are automatically put in place between two coastal cities. Coastal cities will also have more options for trade routes later. Consider all aspects of geography when placing a new city. Mountains and canyons are nearly worthless with respect to production, but make a city more defensible from attack. Some advanced units can traverse canyons, so they are not as effective as mountains in that regard. Buildings: Build at least one of each building, even if you don't think you need it. The mission system will often augment the ability of buildings after one has been constructed, so they can gain semi-hidden abilities. For instance, the Repair Facility (required technology: Engineering) gives a minor production bonus to land units, but can also be modified to increase orbital coverage after one is built. Early on, the Trade Depot (required technology: Pioneering) is one of the most important buildings to increase energy, science, food, and/or production output. Later, the Autoplant (required technology: Robotics) can be upgraded to increase the number of trade routes a city can hold. Fill up those trade routes early and reap huge benefits over the course of the game. On that note, the Ultrasonic Fence (required technology: Ecology) is a crucial building, because it can be upgraded so that trade units are never attacked by aliens. Build one as soon as possible specifically for this ability, and others only where necessary for its standard ability. Resources: There are six strategic resources, but only half are visible on the map in the beginning. The Chemistry technology reveals Petroleum, the Engineering technology reveals Titanium, and the Geophysics technology reveals Geothermal. Gaining some or all of these technologies before building a second city can help in making a better placement decision. The other three strategic resources, Firaxite, Floatstone, and Xenomass, are immediately visible, but respectively require the Robotics technology, the Terraforming technology, and the Alien Sciences technology in order to use them. All of the more powerful units are only available after specializing in an Affinity, so it is smart to decide early on which Affinity to follow. In general, Firaxite corresponds to the Supremacy Affinity, Floatstone corresponds to the Purity Affinity, and Xenomass corresponds to the Harmony Affinity. Use nearby resources to help make the decision. Alien Nests always appear on tiles with Xenomass, and as a corollary, Xenomass can always be found under Alien Nests. If you need access to Xenomass, then you may have to do some bug hunting. Diplomacy: You can often get away with one non-aggressive act against each other civilization by just apologizing. These acts include: completing expeditions near enemy borders, placing orbital units near enemy territory, and having a spy caught in an enemy city. The AI will often suggest ludicrous trades and offer favors in return. These favors are typically only worth about 100 energy or a strategic resource when you call them in. If another civilization gets to a choice city spot before you can settle there, it is possible to gain it without going to war. Open up a deal, put the city on the table, and ask what it would cost. The price can be high in strategic resources, but early in the game those don't matter much, so it might even be effectively cheap.  Combat: Siege Worms are formidable, but it can be worthwhile to kill one. A mission early on tasks you with killing a Siege Worm, and its rewards are fairly lucrative. If one hangs out near your cities for too long, you can kill it with ten city bombardments without risking any units. The reward for killing the first Siege Worm is not adjusted for inflation, so if you wait until you have better equipped combat units, it is not as impactful. Air units work under a modified rock-paper-scissors mechanism. Strikes are ranged attacks against ground units and must be ordered each time. Intercepts will target air units ordered to Strike within range. Sweeps act like Strikes, but instead check for any Intercepts in the area. It is always safest to begin with a Sweep before trying a Strike, but that is often a wasted action. Cities can hold up to three air units at a time. Before being upgraded, a Carrier can only hold one air unit. 
Beyond Earth guide photo
Help for going above and beyond
Civilization: Beyond Earth is fantastic, but even though it does a lot through tutorial popups, missions, and the Civilopedia to help new players, it can still be daunting. With several new systems in place, even series veter...

Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

Oct 23 // Darren Nakamura
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (Linux, Mac, Windows [reviewed])Developer: Firaxis GamesPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: October 24, 2014MSRP: $49.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Civilization veterans will be immediately familiar with most of the systems in place here, as they mimic those in Civilization V closely. Players found cities, within which they manage production, food, energy, culture, science, and health. In the international arena, there is diplomacy, trade, exploration, espionage, and war. Everything is interconnected in some way, and success comes to those who find the proper balance of it all. The interplay between all of the different systems and resources is complex. While the series has made positive strides with tutorial popups and the exhaustive Civilopedia it is still dense and a little inaccessible for new players. Some information is difficult to find but through trial and error. It is easy to know what Civilization is about, but it takes dedication to really know Civilization. Fortunately, getting to know Civilization is inherently rewarding. Finding interesting synergies between technologies and powers makes the player feel smart. Forming plans and seeing them through to fruition is intensely satisfying, and it is largely responsible for the series' notorious addictive quality. All of that is present in Beyond Earth. [embed]281963:55814:0[/embed] The most touted new feature in Beyond Earth is the Affinity system. Previously, unique units were tied to specific factions, but here they are dependent on a faction's level in one of three Affinities: Purity, Supremacy, and Harmony. Each Affinity represents a fundamentally different philosophy for how humanity should interact with the alien world. Purity followers believe that humans are special and should change the new world to be more Earth-like. Supremacy followers believe that humans should be cybernetically augmented in order to respond to environmental hazards. Harmony followers believe that humans must biologically adapt and become more like the indigenous life in order to survive. The Affinities are level-based and the choice is always open to increase any of the three through technological advances and mission rewards. It is generally smart to specialize in one Affinity, since the more powerful units require a minimum level, but it is possible to maintain a broad approach and take a little of each. The choice between Affinities sets the trajectory for the narrative of Beyond Earth. Though it is easily ignored for any who get into this strictly for the gameplay, the story is emphasized more strongly here than any any previous title in the series. It always starts the same: Humans wrecked Earth and have to find a new place to live. Which Affinity is focused on (if any) determines which victory condition is most easily attained, and each victory ends the story in a different place than the others. Another new tweak to the systems is in the Virtues. Breaking from Civilization V's system and instead following the same philosophy behind Affinities, none of the Virtues are mutually exclusive. Each time a new Virtue is earned, players may choose to develop down one of four trees: Might (military power), Prosperity (food), Knowledge (science and culture), and Industry (energy and production). There are benefits for generalizing as well as for specializing, and no one strategy is clearly better than another. One completely new aspect of Beyond Earth is the orbital layer. Set above the normal ground-level action, there is a hex grid layer representing the position of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. These orbital units can have various effects over areas, including increasing output of affected tiles, improving combat prowess for units underneath, or attacking from relative safety with a planet-carving laser. Placing an orbital unit near another civilization is not considered an outright act of war, though most will not take kindly to it. One memory I will keep for a long time involved General Kozlov placing a tactical support satellite near my borders, so I retaliated with an orbital laser in range of three of his cities, just waiting to be fired if he should misstep. It was the sort of cold war stuff that is often absent in games like this. The technology system received a substantial overhaul in more ways than one. Naturally, the science-fiction setting demands the imagination of new technologies. Those found in Beyond Earth range from currently existent (titanium mining) to really "out there" (constructing a giant flower that allows a neural connection between all humans and the living planet), though most are based firmly in plausible ideas for future technology. The most obvious change to the technology system is that it is set up as a radial web, expanding outward from a central point. The choice is available to set up a strong base of general knowledge, to make a beeline for any of the furthest techs, or to do anything in between. Most Affinity gains occur through researching specific technologies, so the tech web is also the arena that has the greatest effect on how a given civilization approaches the new world and how it plans to seek victory. There are five victory conditions: one for each of the three Affinities, one reliant on non-Affinity technologies, and the standard "destroy all the other civilizations" victory. Purity is attached to The Promised Land victory, which seeks to settle Earthlings who stayed behind on the new planet. Supremacy is attached to the Emancipation victory, whose goal is to return to Earth and demonstrate the power of cybernetics. Harmony is attached to the Transcendence victory, which aims to meld minds with the planet itself. Contact is the Affinity-agnostic victory; it involves building a beacon to communicate with an intelligent alien race. Narratively, each victory represents its corresponding philosophy well. The three Affinities approach the world with entirely different ideas, and their stories have appropriately different endings. However, the biggest failing of Civilization: Beyond Earth is that four of the five victory conditions feel too similar to one another from a gameplay perspective. Though the narrative reasoning varies, the basic framework for The Promised Land, Emancipation, and Transcendence is as follows: Research the required technologies, level up the corresponding Affinity to 13, build a planetary wonder, then defend it for approximately 30 turns. Contact largely follows the same path but without the minimum Affinity requirement. What happens after a planetary wonder is built varies between victory conditions, but not enough to make the individual experiences feel unique. From a balance perspective, it is easy to see why Beyond Earth adheres to this formula. It ensures a similar timeline regardless of path and it gives opponents clear warning that a player is nearing the end, allowing last-ditch efforts to race for another victory or topple the leader. For a series known for having multiple paths to victory, and especially for a narrative emphasizing just how divergent the ideologies within it are to one another, it is disappointing how similar each win condition is. There is no cultural, economic, or peace victory. There are only what amount to four science victories and a military victory. That said, the journey to get to the end does have a different feel depending on which Affinity is followed. The unique units bestowed to each Affinity interact with the environment differently and the benefits afforded allow for varied play styles. Where Purity and Supremacy fight against the planet's toxic miasma, Harmony learns to harness its power. Where Supremacy and Harmony benefit from leaving alien life alone, Purity gains combat bonuses against it. Where Purity and Harmony are geographically limited, Supremacy leverages its superior engineering in order to easily spread its influence across the map. Following the orbital escalation with General Kozlov described a ways above, he eventually did attack. After beating back his forces and teasing a peace treaty out of him, I dropped several tiles worth of miasma on his cities, just as a reminder for what happens when one messes with the African Union. He was cleaning it up for years, choking on it the whole time. Classic. In a separate encounter, Hutama of the Polystralians made note of my relative military weakness and, fueled by avarice and envy, broke our neighborly trade relationship in hopes of coming out a few cities richer. Although I was outgunned, he grossly underestimated the severe tactical disadvantage the local canyons and mountains put him at, and his forces were sunk to the bottom of the ocean before they could make landfall. That all highlights one of Civilization's greatest strengths: It provides the framework for totally awesome stuff to happen and lasting memories to be formed. Beyond Earth excels in that virtue with its new additions. Aesthetically, Beyond Earth really nails it. The three different planetary biomes add visual variety, and the rich colors pop. The palette features a lot of teal, pink, and purple, which conveys the idea of an alien world well. The soundtrack is appropriately grandiose during the climaxes and subdued during the lulls. Upon a dastardly betrayal or the completion of a planetary wonder, sweeping string pieces evoke a feeling that history is being made. In all, Beyond Earth is excellent. It maintains the secret sauce that the series is known for while adding setting-appropriate systems that change the gameplay up in interesting ways. Orbital units are inherently cool and add depth to international encounters. The narrative is thoughtful and important without being too preachy. Affinities show that the team put a lot of effort into considering how differing viewpoints may tackle the challenge of founding an alien world, as well as the consequences of those actions. If only there were more variety in the structure of the victory conditions between divergent philosophies, Civilization: Beyond Earth would be a perfect game. Even with that dissonance, it is damn close. The Civilization pedigree holds a lot of weight after all these years, and Beyond Earth more than lives up to its name.
Beyond Earth review photo
Stellar
"Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet." That is really all Firaxis and 2K needed to say to get people excited for the next entry in the long-running turn-based strategy series. There is a fair amount of new ...

Excalibastard photo
Excalibastard

I picked up the Excalibastard in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel


Kind of unfair, since I had a head start
Oct 17
// Darren Nakamura
There has been a bit of talk about an interesting legendary weapon in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel that is in plain sight, but unavailable at first. Excalibastard is stuck in a stone in the area Stanton's Liver, and only those...
Civilization Beyond Earth photo
Civilization Beyond Earth

The intro cinematic for Civilization: Beyond Earth is actually pretty touching


Showing off the narrative backdrop for leaving Earth
Oct 15
// Darren Nakamura
I have been working on a review for the upcoming sci-fi strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, and one of the things I could not wait to talk about is the introductory cinematic. It seems silly, but for a seri...

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