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Paradox Interactive

Hollowpoint photo
Hollowpoint

Hollowpoint gives co-op shooting a fresh perspective


Cover shooting from all angles
Jun 17
// Alessandro Fillari
Update: Cross-play for PS4 and PC will not be a feature for Hollowpoint.It feels like you can't go anywhere without seeing another co-op shooter set for release or being announced for the first time. Since the success of titl...
Hollowpoint photo
Hollowpoint

AI and robots took our jobs! Crackdown 2 dev's new co-op shooter


Hollowpoint
Jun 12
// Steven Hansen
When the corporations inherit the earth, will you be part of the safe bourgeoisie, or a poor with no job to do other than corporate dirty work? Hollowpoint, a 4-player co-op PS4 and PC game slated for this year, assumes the ...
Crusader Kings 2 photo
Crusader Kings 2

Crusader Kings 2's Horse Lords expansion brings in the Khans


Dothraki Sim 2015
Jun 03
// Joe Parlock
Paradox Interactive has unveiled the eighth and latest expansion to the kill-your-child-and-marry-their-wife simulator Crusader Kings 2. Titled Horse Lords, the latest expansion lets you become the great Khan. As in Genghis ...

Review: Magicka 2

May 27 // Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Pieces InteractivePublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: May 26, 2015MSRP: $14.99 If you haven't played the first Magicka, the set-up is still familiar enough: up-to-four-player overhead adventuring and monster killing. The trade tools are the big difference. You're granted immediate access -- there's no progression system, really -- to eight different magics, just about all of which can be combined, in different strings and quantities. There's a balance between stronger spells, which are more complex to cast, and dealing with basic elemental affinities. On a controller, spells are mapped to four face buttons, while L1 swaps to a second set of four spells, a system I much prefer over the first's fighter-like quarter circles. Once queued, they can be cast forth offensively, as area of attack, or unto oneself. And Magicka 2 is more than willing to let you drop a rock on your own noggin as easily as you might heal yourself. Or let you set an unfortunate friend on fire. Magicka 2 gets most of its good will for its co-op, which is why controllers for couch play are sort of preferred, though you can play online, and in parties of any make up (two local, one online, and so on). While playing co-op can make the worst game fun, Magicka 2 is definitely improved with and seems designed around having friends to revive you and to separate enemies whose AI encourages them to clump in writhing, obscuring masses. It is no fun to play solo, constantly drowned in a sea of goblins. [embed]292791:58693:0[/embed] The clean interface and easy drop in, drop out are about the only significant improvements over the original. That and the lack of bugs. Enemy AI mildly trips out sometimes and, especially in co-op, being anywhere near the edge of the screen feels like you're constantly stuck on screen restrictions mixed with level geometry, but mostly it's a clean running -- and lean running -- game. Collision detection also comes into play with the physics heavy final boss fight, which was equally the most creative and frustrating encounter.  The story is told over 10 or so brief chapters with replays encouraged by challenge instances and modifiers (collectable artifacts) that allow for Mortal Kombat Test Your Luck-style additions. Madly increased movement speed (please), extra unsafe damage boosts. There's a fair amount to tinker with. That's if you want to tinker, though. Again, Magicka 2 just feels like more Magicka levels and I felt fairly sated not even having finished the first. There's a giant enemy crab as a sort of sub-boss, and then you fight another giant enemy crab, and then you fight two giant enemy crabs. It gets redundant. Enemies are fodder, relentlessly marching toward you en masse, hardly flinching in the face of your supposedly powerful magics. The crowds get messy and you die, or you do a lot of running backwards while spraying spells at your angry entourage like metal filings chasing a Wooly Willy pen. It often feels like the equivalent to a shooter with lengthy mounted turret sections, the discovery of powerful spell combinations evoking sighs of, "Thank god, I can kill the next wave of 20 goblins more easily." And while I appreciate Magicka 2's lighthearted take on fantasy tropes, I don't like the bulk of its humor, which confuses making references with making jokes. It's like a non-hipster version of Life is Strange, allowing you to be self-satisfied for having seen Game of Thrones rather than Battle Royale. Thwacking a wooden cow -- or your friend -- and it exploding into chunks of meat is always funnier, but Magicka 2's actual jokes at least fare better than the winks and nudges. Repeated insistence that Dracula-accented, narrative-driving Vlad is not a vampire? Even a deadpan loading slide regularly reserved for game tips that just says "Vlad is not a vampire." Funny. Oregon Trail jokes? Belongs on Epic Threadz next to the "I [picture of cartoon bacon] BACON" shirts. If you want to pat yourself on the back for getting in-jokes and you can drum up enough play pals for co-op, you might find Magicka 2 [Borat voice] very nice! Like its references, though, Magicka 2 is just a retread.
Magicka 2 review photo
Spelling inside the lines
Magicka 2's tagline is "learn to spell...again," and that sums up the sequel to the Paradox-published, surprise-millions-selling first Magicka. The second fantasy trope stuffed outing comes from Pieces Interactive, makers of ...

Cities: Skylines photo
Cities: Skylines

Tunnel snakes rule! Cities: Skylines update adds tunnels and more


Euro-centric maps and buildings
May 19
// Steven Hansen
The excellent city-builder Cities: Skylines is going subterranean with its first big update. The expansion includes: Three new European Themed Maps Over 50 European style buildings for the new European map themes Wall-to-wal...

Review: Knights of Pen & Paper 2

May 13 // Zack Furniss
Knights of Pen & Paper 2 (Android, iPhone [reviewed], PC)Developer: Kyy GamesPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: May 14, 2015Price: $4.99 (Android, iPhone) Knights of Pen & Paper 2 takes the concept of tabletop gaming and squashes it into something that fits comfortably in your pocket. Miniatures, character sheets, and multiple reference books aren't required to enjoy the world of Paperos. Instead, you'll play as both the dungeon master and up to five adventurers. As dungeon master, you will set up encounters, choosing where your quest will lead and how many/what type of enemies the adventurers will fight. Adventurers must be created by making choices in three different categories: the player's high-school archetype, their character's race, and their character's class. Each choice factors into the adventurer's combat prowess. That's a picture of my cheerleader dwarf barbarian up there for reference. The core stats are now based on the three 20-sided die you see above: red is body, green is senses, and blue is mind. Body determines damage, threat, and how quickly you shake off status effects. Senses is in charge of critical hits, initiative, and attribute rolls. Mind rolls affect health, energy, and your success when you try to investigate an area to find secret items. It's always satisfying to watch these little dice roll, and I'm glad to see they made the stats a bit more clear this time around. After assembling your party, you begin your quest to stop the Paper Knight, a player who is using the 2nd edition of the role-playing game against the wishes of the dungeon master. The residents of Paperos are suffering from the clashing of the 1st and 2nd editions and it is up to you to restore the balance. Having any familiarity with how drastically different editions can be between actual tabletop games goes a long way towards how much you'll get out of Knights' plot. To reach the Paper Knight, you're going to be fighting all manner of beasts ranging from lowly snakes to sky pirates. The turn-based combat has been beefed up since the first game, where the tactics mostly boiled down to finding your favorite ability and putting all of your skill points into it. Character classes still feature four abilities each, but it no longer feels like there's only one obvious choice. The sequel is more focused on status effects such as wound, weakness, stun, and poison. I was happy to find that the RPG sin of useless status effects wasn't implemented here -- the majority of enemies can be targeted by these abilities, and they even begin to feel necessary as the plot progresses.  Spamming one high-level spell isn't the only way to win anymore. My fights frequently went something like this: my Ninja would throw a smoke bomb to stun a crowd, my Thief would throw a barrage of knives to do double damage to the stunned enemies, and then my Warrior would cleave through a row of enemies. My Paladin would hold the threat from remaining monsters and my Mage would finish them off with chain lightning. The variety of character classes helps to reduce repetition, though I eventually got tired of the random encounters sparked by traveling on the world map (there's a roll for that too, of course). Like any good RPG, there is equipment to find and buy, though the crafting system is somewhat odd. While the first Knights had you waiting for real-time hours to pass before you could upgrade a weapon, you can now combine certain items to make better weapons and armor. What's strange is that by the time I had finished the campaign, there were still only a few recipes and I hadn't even seen a couple of the items that could be used. You are able to combine a weapon with an enchantment scroll and a charm to improve its stats, but I never found any charms, at least to my knowledge. It feels as if there are going to be more items to find later on when more content is added. Knights 2 isn't heavy on microtransactions like the first. Though you can buy gold to create more adventurers first or to buy better gear, it never feels required. Kyy Games has found a fun way to provide more content along the way that doesn't force you to pay real money. At any time you can press a magazine button in the top-left corner to see this month's edition of Modern Dungeon, an in-game tome that allows you to buy new character classes, archetypes, and trinkets while also providing silly lore. You can grind for in-game currency to buy these, and there's supposed to be an issue every month. I'll be checking in June to see what's been added. Paperos looks clean and crisp in the new 16-bit style. I played most of it in portrait mode because the interface is larger, but it does cut off most of the environments and I ended up missing some details. Landscape mode is better on the eyes but the buttons become so small that they are difficult to consistently and accurately press. The music is simple and catchy but much too repetitive. I hope you like hearing the same five songs over and over.  I can't help but wish that the jokes were kept to being about the intricacies of editions in Dungeons & Dragons instead of trying to be "sooo random." I realize humor is subjective, but hearing players accuse the dungeon master of making things up on the spot is more entertaining than finding a pixelated Bill Murray who wants your help to "bust" a "geese" because he's a geesebuster. Between Game of Thrones puns and trolls engaging in Internet-speak, I found myself rolling my eyes more than chuckling. If you're a Family Guy fan you'll probably find a lot to love here, but I'm judging you right now. Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is by no means a serious game, and this lightness can be as refreshing as it can be annoying. The refinement of the combat has gone a long way to mitigate the tedium of the first game, but the humor and plot won't do much to keep you engaged. I had enough fun with it that I'm looking forward to next month's Modern Dungeon. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] http://www.destructoid.com//ul/292095-/barbarian-noscale.jpg
Knights of Pen & Paper 2 photo
Fun, but it ain't funny
I played the majority of the original Knights of Pen & Paper on various toilets within the boundaries of Southern California. It was an enjoyable if shallow take on pen-and-paper RPGs with some cringe-worthy, referen...

Magicka 2 photo
Magicka 2

Magicka 2 is running a 'sneak peek' build from now until May 10


You'll have to pre-order
May 06
// Chris Carter
If you pre-order Magicka 2, starting today until May 10 you'll have the chance to access the "Sneak Peek" build of the game. In it, you can access the prologue chapter, the first mission of the campaign, and "The Festival," ...
Speedrun photo
Speedrun

Pillars of Eternity, beaten in less than 40 minutes


Speedrun
Apr 15
// Steven Hansen
Conrad lost a lot of his life to Pillars of Eternity when he reviewed it. Clearly the poor sap was playing it wrong because Jiseed beat the damn thing in less time than it takes to watch the newest watercooler TV episode. Sk...
Not the mama photo
Not the mama

Magicka: Wizard Wars releasing April 28, gets 80's power ballad


Not Magicka 2
Apr 09
// Steven Hansen
I think calling a trailer, which is a kind of montage, a montage trailer kind of does disservice to the idea of a montage, as we typically expect it edited into a more traditionally continuous work, but fine. The ballad is f...

Review: Pillars of Eternity

Mar 26 // Conrad Zimmerman
Pillars of Eternity (PC)Developer: Obsidian EntertainmentPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: March 26, 2015MSRP: $44.99 The world of Eora, the setting for Pillars of Eternity, is a magical place. The environments are meticulously crafted and beautiful. Whether it be shimmering rock formations growing from the ground in mountainous terrain or a hideous altar in a dank and forgotten tomb, the visual design instills an urge to seek out every nook and cranny of a map. Character models do not fare as well, with muddled features and skin textures. They aren't hideous, per se, but simply stand out in a manner which is unappealing in comparison to the game's otherwise consistently good visual design. The player takes the role of an immigrant seeking a fresh start in the colonies of the Eastern Reach, whose encounter with a mysterious cult awakens a great and terrible power within them. Worse yet, the region isn't the bright opportunity it was promised to be. A curse has fallen over the land, its children are born hollow monsters without souls, and the helpless populace is growing increasingly desperate. Taking place in just a tiny region of the larger world of Eora, the Eastern Reach is still dense with lore. Five nations interact in these colonies, with thousands of years of history, and there's a remarkable amount of information to learn about it as progress is made through conversations or written volumes. The materials often raise as many questions as they answer, as there is much the people of Eora are still learning about their world, and there's a real sense of mystery and wonder about it from beginning to end. [embed]289590:57936:0[/embed] If you don't like reading, you're going to have a pretty miserable time. A surprising quantity of dialogue is voiced, all performed brilliantly, but this is just a fraction of the content. And, as is often the case in fantasy settings, there are a ton of odd names and places to keep track of, including nearly a dozen deities, assorted personalities, and events -- and there will be a quiz. Thankfully, the game maintains an exhaustive cyclopedia which can easily be referenced most of the time (although, not during conversations when it would be of the greatest value). Key to this setting is the concept of a soul as a quantifiable element, a form of seemingly self-perpetuating energy. Much remains unknown about souls and a field of study, Animancy, has arisen to research and experiment with them. In their natural cycle, souls take residence in bodies prior to birth, giving them life until their point of expiration, with the soul eventually moving on to a new life. Each time it transitions, a soul loses parts of itself (or perhaps gains lost parts of others), effectively becoming a new person. The soul, however, retains most of the experiences of its past lives, locked away from its present one except in rare cases when a soul becomes awakened. Such an awakening happens to the player's character early in the story and becomes the focus of their quest, seeking a means of reversing the effect before it drives them mad. Now what is known as a "Watcher," the player can experience the past lives of others and speak to souls which have yet to move on, but is plagued by visions and nightmares. Gifted and cursed, the Watcher will learn of the role they once played in shaping the world of Eora and how they might yet change it again. Despite taking place in a relatively small region, there remains a massive scope to the events in the main plot and an enemy truly worthy of revulsion. By contrast, the companions the player will meet along the way are all likable figures. Even the curmudgeonly Durance, a priest with a complicated love/hate relationship toward his Goddess, comes across as someone you'd like to go on an adventure with. There are eight companions to meet, each with their own reasons for traveling that can be explored in optional quests and conversations on the road. Up to five companions can travel with the Watcher at a time, and custom adventurers can be created by hiring them from any inn in the Eastern Reach, useful for filling gaps in a combat strategy. All exploration and combat in Pillars of Eternity plays out as issued commands executed in real-time. The passage of time can be slowed to make issuing commands easier (the reverse is available to make trekking across previously explored areas faster), but there's frequently so much activity in battles with a party of six that the always available option to pause and strategize is a necessity. Pausing is so crucial, an entire menu is dedicated to offering a wide range of situations in which the game can be made to automatically pause. It's a godsend in a combat system which is all about micromanagement. Moving individual characters into and out of harm's way, targeting spells and abilities (taking into account casting time) to maximize effects, switching equipment to adjust for differing enemy types, and other such second-to-second decisions quickly become a part of every fight. As such, the experience of a typical combat encounter is a bit like being in a fun sort of traffic jam that you can have an impact on the result of. The action inches forward one step at a time, the player reacting to movements of the enemies, seizing opportunities, until the tide turns and the last enemy dregs are mopped up without interference. There is a lot to keep track of, and it can be easy for party members to be knocked unconscious if not attended to, which can then weaken the entire party until they start dropping like dominoes. The system has a simple interface, point and click for movement and attack with other abilities available above a character's portrait. Mastering it, however, requires considerable planning and strategy in both preparation and execution. Death, curiously, is an aspect in which Pillars is quite forgiving. When hit, characters lose points in two stats, health and endurance. If the character runs out of endurance, they will be knocked unconscious and are out of the fight until it ends. If they lose all of their health, they become maimed, and any subsequent damage will almost certainly kill them. While there is certainly a risk to the character when this happens, the effect is removed with rest and it's rare to be in a position where rest is impossible (either by using a single-use item in the field or traveling to an inn). The difficulty of combat encourages discretion, as does the game's character growth system which only awards experience for accomplishing goals and exploring the world, not for killing enemies. When characters attain a new level, points may be spent to increase their skills and they can acquire new class-based abilities, chosen from a list. Leveling up is a much more streamlined approach than character creation, eschewing any option to control the development of attributes in favor of the game's six basic skills. This makes leveling up feel like less of a chore than many other games of this type, a welcome trait when the player may be dealing with half a dozen characters all earning a level at the same time. Equipment is the other means to improving a character's abilities. Shops in the various communities carry special arms and armor at random for exorbitant prices, often with potent effects. Equipment can also be enchanted to confer bonuses, or even crafted entirely, using materials collected from monsters and the environment. The crafting system is not complex or deep, just an available list of things which can be made based on recipes, materials, and level, but it does provide ways to gain an additional edge. Pillars of Eternity offers a lot of content and a good variety of ways to experience it. Four difficulty settings exist, along with the brutal "Trial by Iron" mode, which allows only one save file, automatically deleted if the Watcher dies. Dozens of side quests and lesser tasks are available by chatting with townsfolk or just stumbling around in some cases. A stronghold acquired early in the game can be restored to its former glory, offering more quests and assorted benefits, but must also be defended from threats both outside its walls and from the unexplored depths below. Many quests can be resolved in multiple ways, with different effects on the player's reputation in the world, allowing for a considerable amount of narrative replay value as well. A decent range of racial types pairs well with a wide variety of character classes, especially in the range of magic-using classes which have a noticeable diversity in the function of their abilities. Obsidian has crafted a game full of challenge, intrigue, betrayal, and heart. The Eastern Reach is bleak and hopeful at the same time, and the main plot is packed with twists and surprises with staggering ramifications for a world players will feel they have become part of. Its combat is tense and relentless despite the capability to pause at any point, the mechanics offering complex strategic challenges with difficulty settings to accommodate most levels of skill. Pillars of Eternity proudly carries on the legacy of the classic computer RPG, and those who remember them with fondness should find in it a welcome addition to the genre. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Pillars of Eternity photo
It's all about soul
Pillars of Eternity is a sort of game which appeared unlikely to exist again in any meaningful way. Isometric, party-based role-playing games certainly seemed like the sort of thing people made, "back in the day," something t...

Review: Cities: Skylines

Mar 10 // Jason Faulkner
Cities: Skylines (PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux)Developer: Colossal OrderPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: March 10, 2015MSRP: $29.99 (Standard), $39.99 (Deluxe)Rig: AMD FX-6300 @ 3.5 GHz, with 8GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 7950, Windows 8.1 64-bit For those who are fans of the SimCity series, Cities: Skylines is an easy jump as far as game mechanics go. The initial actions to create each city will be much the same. You are mayor of a burgeoning village and there is a specific set of requirements to ensure the initial happiness of your townsfolk. First a connection must be made to the road system, then a simple power system and water supply must be routed to the site of your future homes and businesses, and finally you can zone your first residential area and watch all the little houses start popping up. From there you’ll engage in the delicate balancing act between residential zones, industrial zones, and commercial zones. Citizens need jobs and goods to buy. Commercial businesses need employees and citizens to sell to. Industrial facilities need workers and businesses to supply. Take one of these out of the equation and you’ll begin to see unhappiness spread throughout your city. It all seems so simple, until you start adding the myriad of other components that slowly show themselves as your city ages. [embed]288859:57693:0[/embed] Running out of money is an ever-present danger in Cities: Skylines. If you spend too much you may run into the red and never recover. If you spend too little, you run the risk of slowing the growth of your town. I loved the unforgiving budget dynamic. It added so much challenge without being unfair, and making the hard choice between my citizen’s happiness and the need to tax so the coffers would remain full was always a struggle. Making sure that people can get where they need to go in a timely matter is a major concern for any city planner. I made the mistake of going the cheap route in the early days of my mayoral career and connecting the core chunk of my township with simple two-lane roads. As I expanded, I neglected to go back and upgrade to four or six lanes, and by the time I was expanding into newly annexed territory to begin laying high-density residential and commercial areas, and offices, my core industrial complex was rapidly filling with abandoned buildings. As my industry output grew with my population, I failed to realize that the narrow roads kept products from getting where they needed to go, and because they couldn’t sell anything, my factories shut down one by one. Keeping an overall plan in the back of your head during the entire life of your city is essential to success in Cities: Skylines. Although my overall grid-style layout served to make zoning simple, my failure to cope with my traffic problem ended up costing me major tax profits when I had to tear down almost every one of my factories to widen the roads. I ended up eventually running out of cash, and although I was able to take out several loans, I couldn’t recovery and my city slowly stagnated and population started declining. This is but one scenario that could lead to many hours of time lost. However, the difficulty is one of the things that makes the game feel so good. Seeing your city grow from a few houses to a skyscraper-filled megacity is extremely satisfying. Even more so because Colossal Order added something Maxis dreamed of for years: integrated citizen simulations. Your citizens are not just random background blobs. Clicking on them gives you a name, where they live, where they work, and parts of their background, and it’s all dynamic and real. You can watch your citizens actually go to the same home, go to work, shop, and go about the minutiae of life each day. Also, there is a spoof Twitter feed at the top of the screen that is the primary way citizens communicate with you. Seeing their opinions on my actions lent an interesting twist to what could have been a generic adviser panel. Unfortunately, with my hands full building and managing the city, I did not get a chance to see just how persistent these citizen simulations are, or if they’re capable of producing offspring. In the next city I build, though, I will take time out to just watch my citizens and their lives as opposed to jetting around the map. As is natural for a title with this scope, there are a few bugs and frustrations. When building roads and train tracks, I found that if I had to come back to expand a current path or finish an incomplete one, sometimes it was a pain to get the new paths to connect to the old ones without stating “there is already an object here.” Eventually I was able to overcome any problems with that, but it can be a little too time consuming to have to wrestle with the whole thing. Citizens' tweets can be inaccurate as well. I had the same person tweet me that they were having water problems and upon checking the water availability overlay, there were no areas that weren’t receiving clean water. This was another bug that wasn’t a huge deal in the long run. However, with a game that depends so much on your inhabitants’ happiness to assure your success, it caused me to freak out a little too much. Cities: Skylines not only returns to the ideals which made the city-building genre so popular, it expands them. I enjoyed every minute I played this title, and the planning, building, and nurturing of my city brought forth imagination and creativity from me like few titles ever have. If you’re a long-time fan of the genre, or just wanting to try it out, you can’t go wrong with this game. There’s a bit of universal appeal that comes with building and maintaining your own virtual city, and for a while I thought that magic had left the industry. I was wrong. Cities: Skylines is a title that will eat up hours of your time, and with a commitment from the developers to continue support for the title in the future, and Steam Workshop integration, the huge amount of replayability the base game has will become even bigger. I wholeheartedly recommend this game and can’t wait to see what modders and Colossal Order have in store for us in the future.
Cities: Skylines review photo
The magic of SimCity has returned
The connection between the design and implementation of the sidewalks and streets we use on a daily basis requires a huge mental leap for me. Walking down the cobblestone in my city and looking up to see the sky framed with ...

Deals photo
Deals

Next week's Cities: Skylines pre-order deals up to 27% off


The citybuilder you're looking for?
Mar 06
// Dealzon
Next week's release of Cities: Skylines has a pre-order discount right now making it cheaper than 2013's SimCity at MSRP. The new city-builder game from Colossal Order starts at $29.99 and can be pre-order for ...

Saving the newly erected Ass from poop water in Cities: Skylines

Feb 23 // Steven Hansen
I started my four square kilometer city next to a river that flowed into the ocean. A smart city planner would’ve taken this advantageous location location location and immediately gotten sewage treatment plants funneling shit (literally!) downstream and out into the ocean where it's fine and not a problem at all. A smart city designer would've taken a screenshot of their work rather than snap a camera phone picture. However, the city starts on the Roads panel. Draw some roads from the highway that serve as the foundation for your city. It's easy, too, to paint on lines or curves. It's a bit too easy, in fact, to start painting beautiful, phallic roadways and eat into your starting budget. I made too large a dick to handle -- fiscally, anyways. I painted the automatic areas on either side of the street with zoning designation (residential, commercial, industrial) and suddenly I had houses erecting and entitled citizens demanding things like power and water. [embed]287913:57461:0[/embed] Skylines is actually quite good at leading you. Little icon demands pop up over homes showing what you're missing (power, water) and you go over to those tabs and start building. Erect power lines, funnel water to homes. As you hit population milestones, more options open up. Schools, fire departments, police departments, hospitals. I was a bit stuck, though, before all that as I had a city -- I named it Ass, by the way -- in turmoil. Shit-covered turmoil, limping along one stretch of pipe at a time, as much as the budget could handle, inching my way towards the coast so I could empty houses of their fecal waste. Buildings were abandoned, people tweeted obnoxiously with the built-in, faux-Twitter app that citizens occasionally use to talk about their Ass. Once I got the shit out of the homes, though, I really turned things around and Ass began growing exponentially, to the point where I was working on beautification projects (parks) as much as adding a second fire department to cover the eastern half of Ass. With built-in Steam Workshop support, too, your own potential Asses aren't limited to the 3D models provided. An hour in, crisis averted, I was still in a relatively podunk state. I hadn't come close to filling my starting four square kilometer tile, and you can patch together up to nine of them. And despite the scope, you can zero in on the most minute details of the simulation, as far as naming an individual city inhabitant and following them until they die. If you are looking big picture, though, there's lots to do beyond rote construction. You can map out and name districts, add city policies (want a smoking-free haven?), set taxes. Maybe build yourself a nice gentrified city, or develop a suburb escape as urban areas filled with crime. My simulated town of Ass never reached significant complexity, but Cities: Skylines' usability, given everything there is to do, impresses and should prove enough scaffold learning to facilitate highly functioning, complex cities from even the stupidest of us. Like the ones who name their city Ass and draw it like a dick.
Cities: Skylines preview photo
Scratching that Sim City itch
Paradox is sticking with, "let’s talk about our product on its own merits" tact with its upcoming city-builder from developer Colossal Order, but I am under no such nice-marketing guide (nor do I know tact, as this post will confirm). Cities: Skylines is looking to be what busted ol' SimCity should’ve been.

This trailer is funny photo
This trailer is funny

Vlad the closeted dracula talks Magicka 2 co-op friends in therapy


Paradox makes the best trailers
Jan 27
// Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 continues to outperform most games when it comes to trailers. And believe me, I know something about funny videogame video content. It's also quite fun. I had a chance to play Magicka 2 on PS4 l...
3, 2, 1...let's jam! photo
3, 2, 1...let's jam!

Get tready to learn about Hearts of Iron IV's tanks


3, 2, 1...let's jam!
Nov 20
// Steven Hansen
I like it when a company modifies their logo to fit with the theme of whatever it's attached to. It's a stupid thing to like and here it's just an old timey World War II filter, but I like it nonetheless (see: SEGA matching ...
Warlock 2 photo
Warlock 2

Why'd it have to be snakes: Warlock 2 gets Nagas DLC


Wrath of the Nagas
Oct 08
// Steven Hansen
Warlock 2: The Exiled is getting its first expansion later this year, Wrath of the Nagas. With it comes a new game mode, "A clear threat," in which you have to trounce the encroaching water snakes on their amphibious buildings.  Along with the Naga race comes new playable Great Mages, including Naga general Rhin-gaa-rook whose scaly mug was the thumbnail image for this post. 
Obsidian photo
Obsidian

Pillars of Eternity delayed for polish and feedback


Another game now slated for 2015
Oct 02
// Jordan Devore
Obsidian Entertainment's next big role-playing game, Pillars of Eternity, won't make it in time for a late 2014 release as previously planned. It's now set for an early 2015 launch, with the extended schedule going toward inc...
Magicka 2 trailer photo
Magicka 2 trailer

Free Magicka 2 if you can do a better karaoke video than a dracula


PC, PS4, cute dog
Sep 12
// Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 is upping the intentional weirdness in its trailers with Vlad the dracula singing karaoke, 90's internet aesthetics, and close ups of a cute dog. Not a bad look. There's also this website, which looks like a Geocities page and encourages you to download the track and lyrics and film your own karaoke music video for a chance to win a copy of Magicka 2 when it releases. 
Ancient Space photo
Ancient Space

Ancient Space is a new space RTS from Paradox Interactive


Dwight Schultz is in it! Murdock from the A-team!!
Aug 21
// Alasdair Duncan
If you're anxiously waiting for that Homeworld HD remake to arrive, we can console ourselves with another nice-looking space-based RTS game in Ancient Space which will dock with us later in the autumn for PC and Mac. Develop...
Hollowpoint photo
Hollowpoint

Hollowpoint will feature four-player co-op, out in 2015


'Never a routine mission'
Aug 12
// Chris Carter
Publisher Paradox Interactive has entered a partnership with Sony, and one of the games that will hit the PS4 from that deal is Hollowpoint. It's described as an action game where you lead a mercenary outfit, and it will feature four-player co-op. It's out in 2015 on both PC and PS4.
Hearts of Iron IV trailer photo
Hearts of Iron IV trailer

Hearts of Iron IV wants you to rewrite World War II


Or try to make it happen exactly as it did!
Aug 11
// Steven Hansen
Why do you have to be at gamescom to make a gamescom trailer? This (a very little bit of) gameplay trailer for Hearts of Iron IV asks that. I think we should all shoot our own gamescom trailers, too. Upload 'em and put them in the comments.  If you want beta details, they're here. Otherwise, see an early Hearts of Iron IV preview from the beginning of the year.
Paradox Interactive photo
Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive will have Magicka 2, Hearts of Iron IV available at Gamescom 2014


Victoria will always have my Heart of Iron
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Paradox Interactive will have quite the lineup at Gamescom 2014. Hearts of Iron IV and the new RPG IP Runemaster, along with several "secret projects," will be among the in-house developed titles shown this year. Joinin...
Magicka 2 photo
Magicka 2

Magicka 2 revealed at Sony press conference


'Learn to Spell Again'
Jun 09
// Brett Makedonski
Since the Magicka wizards didn't know what to do with themselves once their unemployment extended into the thousands of days, they decided they'd just get back to doing what they knew best. Magicka 2 was announced ...
 photo

Sabotage economies in the next Europa Universalis IV expansion


Wealth of Nations out May 29
May 22
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations will be out on May 29. This is the second expansion for the strategy title, and the main focus is all trade. There's going to be new trade and diplomacy features, and plenty of things...
Magicka Early Access photo
Play the game before the rest of the world
[Update: Codes all gone! Hope you got yours!] Our friends at Paradox Interactive have hooked us up with a bunch of Early Access Steam keys for their upcoming MOBA Magicka: Wizard Wars, and we're handing them out to the Dtoid ...

Paradox photo
Paradox

This crash-course video explores the origin of Paradox and beyond


Expect to see more historical strategy games
Apr 30
// Jordan Devore
I don't have it in me to become invested enough in grand strategy titles to enjoy playing them, but I always had a soft spot for Fraser Brown's Paradox reviews. This is a genre made possible by a passionate player base and t...

Paradox is publishing Obsidian's new game, Pillars of Eternity

Mar 18 // Steven Hansen
Obsidian also released a comprehensive FAQ on its forum for its Kickstarter backers. "Simply put, Paradox is assuming responsibility for the marketing and distribution of Pillars of Eternity. What this means is that Obsidian can now devote all of their time and resources to the development of Pillars of Eternity and make the game the best it can be." "We like when developers try to go crazy with things," Wester said during the announcement. "When I played South Park: The Stick of Truth, I laughed at a game for the first time in 20 years, probably since Monkey Island." The partnership makes a lot of sense and could yield great things with future Obsidian projects.
New Obsidian game photo
Pillar? I hardly even know her!
Paradox Interactive, makers of grand strategy games (Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings) and Magicka, are teaming up with Obsidian (South Park: The Stick of Truth, Fallout: New Vegas) for their new RPG, Pillars of Eternity. O...

How Paradox Interactive found success in a niche market

Feb 05 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
"Overall it was a good year," Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox Interactive told me as we sat by the pool in a Miami hotel. Revenue was up by 35 percent in 2013, with profits over 200 percent. Sure, it's not Activision money, but for a company of Paradox's size that's pretty good. "On the other hand," Fredrik went on, "it was very uneven when it comes to how products performed. Q1 was a disappointment overall, but Q4 was just fantastic." Part of the reason 2013 ended so well was due to the release of Europa Universalis IV. It was their best-selling, and best-scoring title on Metacritic last year, as were its expansions. EU IV has sold over 300,000 units since its August launch, and Fredrik estimates it'll move another 300,000 to 400,000 by the end of this year. What was really startling to learn from Fredrik was that the average playtime in Europa Universalis IV is 190 hours. What put Paradox on the map so to speak are hardcore grand strategy titles, which are primarily real-time strategy games that take place on literally a world map. From the outside it's easy to look in disbelief that people are so into these games. "Our games are not for everyone," noted Fredrik during a press conference earlier in the week. "And that's a statement I'm happy to make. We're not after the 100 million audience, we're after the people who want to play our games. Who want to get deeply involved in our games, and engage for hours and hours." Paradox is doing great these days, but their start was quite rocky to say the least. Fredrik was in business with publisher Strategy First to put out games, but when that company went bankrupt, and subsequently owed Paradox $300,000, it forcibly pushed Fredrik's hands into the self-publishing business. This was long before the indie revolution, so it wasn't quite as simple as it is nowadays. "We wanted to publish our own games in America. Everyone told us this was impossible to do, so we just had to try it." They signed a deal with Atari, and their first game out in the States was Crusader Kings. It was six months late, and it had come out one week after Rome: Total War. "It was a big disaster in many ways."  At around the same time as this Atari deal Paradox had set up an eCommerce website where they sold over 4,000 units of Crusader Kings. "We took two hours after office hours everyday to go pack these games and ship it to everyone. When I look back at these days, this is where we come from as a company. It's very important to remember that because I was the one actually packing those boxes." It was a year later in 2005 with Hearts of Iron II that Paradox Interactive finally had their first major hit. It sold 80,000 units in America, and Fredrik proudly boasted that figure against The Matrix Online, which would end up selling around 25,000 units in America. "I was going to present this at an Atari sales meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, and just before me on stage was the guys behind The Matrix Online. So they lined up their marketing budget and said 'We have $5 million in marketing budget. We're going to spend $2 million on TV, $2 million on print, and $1 million online.'  I had $75,000 in my marketing budget. "So what I did before I went up on stage was to delete all the numbers and just speak in general terms about how we did marketing and our view of the game. It just shows that marketing budget is not everything. It's very important to care about your products and make sure you deliver a good product." Today, the company's mission statement is design videogames to fit the "Gamer Lifestyle." "I want people to feel that the passion that comes from the company to also reach out to the gamers. If we are not passionate about our products how are the gamers supposed to be passionate about [them]? "We make games for people who identify themselves as gamers. Gaming is an important part of their life ... Some people dedicate their life to watching sports, or skydiving, or collecting stamps -- people playing Paradox games dedicate their lives partly to playing Paradox games." Fred himself plays all the games they publish, with one example being that he's clocked in over 150 hour of War of the Roses. "Gordon [senior producer on the game] still kicks my ass. So I'm not a very good gamer, but I love it and I play a lot. The loyalty that Paradox sees with their fanbase makes a lot of sense when Fred talks about what they put into their games. Offering titles that have a lot of value, such as the level of replayability given, along with changing the experience over time with free and paid downloadable content, goes a long way with the player base. "With our DLC policy, when we create something, for example, Conquest of Paradise which gives you the opportunity of a randomized new world, we give you the update for free. So they get all the fixes, all the extra things within the game, but if they want to unlock the features [such as a new playable faction], you pay for it. "As the game evolves, Crusader Kings II has been out for almost two years, we've developed it so much that it's almost a totally different experience playing it now compared to playing it two years ago. We do that to a game and people will come play it again. We have in the last 30 days combined for Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis IV, people spent six million hours playing those two games. That's a lot of hours, [especially] for being niche games." From creating worthwhile DLC, to not monetizing on people's frustrations with their free-to-play initiatives, Paradox has a pretty good mindset when it comes to developing their games. They've especially been good about supporting the modding community, and this year they plan to take things a step further by employing one person dedicated to overseeing what the community is putting out with mods. "We've been discussing how can we support the modding community in a better way. The first thing we need to do is just get someone who can dedicate their time and effort to help people out. Asking like what kind of tools do you want, how can we help promote it -- coordinate all the efforts that's done in the modding community. "We have so many great mods for our games. When Europa Universalis IV was released, after 24 hours we had over 30 mods already in the works that was registered in Steam Workshop. "If we see a promising mod team now, we would rather fund them fully from start to finish and coach them through the project and make sure the project gets really good. So what else is on Paradox's plate for this year? At their annual convention that took place in Miami this year, the company announced their first ever procedurally generated role-playing game, Runemaster, Hearts of Iron IV was revealed, plus we got to see Magicka: Wizard War's new mode, the Rajas of India expansion for Crusader Kings II, got hands-on with Warlock II: The Exiled, and experienced the latest with War of the Vikings. Additionally Paradox has a couple of new titles they've signed with two "high-profile developers," which we'll be learning more about in the coming months. That, and they announced a new studio called Paradox Arctic, home to veterans from DICE and Starbreeze Studios. So they have a good slate of games coming out this year, but what else is on the horizon? Paradox will be embracing the mobile platform more, and confirmed that they are working on games from their existing and new brands for the new console generation. Paradox will maintain a strong focus on the PC as they have no intentions of leaving it behind. Plus they'll be keeping a close eye on how the Steam Box does. That said, the company has opened up to developing on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the same reason they've been wild proponents of the PC market. "We want to do our games on open platforms," Fredrik told us. "Which means if we want to patch a game, we can patch it. We decide when we patch it, and how we patch it. We don't need to be charged money to update the game as a service to our gamers. That's very important to us. We can't have a platform holder who tells us what to do, and what not to do. We need full freedom on how we connect our gamers on what we deliver. "There's going to be a lot of interesting changes. The dominant console makers who used to define the industry are no longer doing that anymore. They kind of figured that out themselves. They're now more open to content which puts them in a better position than before. They're starting to source content instead of block content, which they did before. They actually had a gated community where like 'Okay, you want to publish for console? You have to do these 20 steps first.' Basically only big companies could do it. "What we're seeing is so many different screens that people are gaming on. I don't really care what machine we're publishing on as long as we reach our hardcore audience. A lot of people see us as a PC company and the reason for that is that it's been the simplest and most open platform to actually publish for. We might be a Linux publisher in two years depending on how the Steam Box does. I really hope the Steam Box will be a success." This new console generation and the major changes and shakeups happening in the mobile and PC space make it overall hard to predict what lies in the future for the gaming market. Whatever may come, Fredrik believes that keeping the mentality of the indie-minded company will see them ride the waves with whatever changes may arise. "There's so many interesting opportunities in the industry. The way I see Paradox is that we still have the mentality of a start-up company. We're 120 people, another 150 people on contract making games externally, and when we meet for our management meetings, there's a vibe in there like we can do anything. "I feel it's crazy in a way because we never slowed down, sat back, and were happy with what we're doing ... But we'll see. You still have to be humble about where the industry is going. Better companies than Paradox have fallen. My hope is that we're going to grow to be three times the size that we are today in five years, but still keep the mentality of the small company that was shipping the Crusader King boxes in 2004, because on the inside, I'm still that guy."
Paradox Interactive photo
Discussing the past, present, and future with CEO Fredrik Wester
Paradox Interactive is best known for their hardcore grand strategy titles on the PC market. Makers of such hits as Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Magicka, and many more games, the Sweden-based company celebrated 10 year...

Paradox on how to do free-to-play the right way

Feb 05 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Magicka: Wizard Wars is available right now through Steam Early Access, and you can gain access through three different founder packs. There's no monetization implemented yet as they want to work out all the bugs and errors before charging people anything. Eventually the game will open up completely with free access, and their free-to-play focus will follow what Riot Games and Valve have accomplished with their titles. "We do not want to monetize on people's frustration, when people are angry because they lost their lives. We want people to pay for things when they're really excited to play more of the game. "What we see as a good way as monetizing is the way Dota 2 or League of Legends does it. It doesn't change the game, it's not going to be a game winner for you. It's going to change the appearance of your character, [for example]. It's still [about] the inherent skill that you have. Free-to-play has been a big trend in the gaming industry, and for Paradox they'll be going that route only "when it makes sense," Fredrik told me. "I think "free-to-play" is more of a marketing initiative than it's actually a sales or business model initiative. We might go free-to-play with more games if it makes sense. "It's most of all respect the gamers. We don't want to monetize when people are frustrated. That's the nightmare for me, that it's going to be like the old arcade halls that you're so frustrated, you died for the fifth time in Gauntlet and then you have to buy a new life to get back in the game. That's not how we work. But if someone wants a new cool helmet, it doesn't do anything for you, you just look like this totally cool guy, then I like it. I buy a lot of skins in League of Legends for example. I've spent probably $150 so far. It's a good model, I feel good about spending money." Check back later today for an interview with Fredrik Wester covering the history of Paradox Interactive and their future plans as a company.
How to do F2P photo
'We do not want to monetize on people's frustration'
Magicka: Wizard Wars is Paradox Interactive's take on the MOBA genre. While most companies have had trouble getting a foothold in the market thanks to how dominating League of Legends and Dota 2 are, Wizard Wars looks to have...

Charging wildly into War of the Vikings

Jan 30 // Steven Hansen
War of the Vikings (PC [previewed])Developer: FatsharkPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: March, 2014 MSRP: $19.99 War of the Vikings let's you play as the Vikings (the proper choice) or the filthy Saxons (the bad choice). They are mostly the same outside of aesthetic (and Saxons being dumb jerks) and feature three classes made distinct by their primary weapon (sword, axe, bow). Now, your standard warrior can pick up a bow in battle, but he wouldn't be very effective with it. At the same time, an archer that picks up a shield has just made itself a much more formidable target. This isn't quite arcade/arena-style gut 'em up, either. This is a skill-based game, which extends down to the controls that have a bit of a learning curve. Either mouse button are used for either parrying or striking. Holding whichever you're trying to do and mousing left, right, or down will yield a variety of blocks or blows. Just hammering away at an enemy with the same move isn't going to do much, as your sword must meet meat -- not metal or shield -- to do any real damage. If you're feeling intimidated (perhaps it's the beard?), this recent update also has a training mode to help acclimate you to the combat system. In my first few LAN matches I tried valiantly (yes, let's go with valiantly) to show off the skills I'd rushed through learning in the training mode. My strikes were awkward, more probing than expert, as if I were fumbling around in the dark. I struggled to line up the charged special strikes, while my basic blows glanced off shields. I would tend to employ my secondary weapon, a throwing axe, in the hopes of getting some damage done before I would clash with other players. Eventually, I settled into a fitting role as an archer, which carries a much more familiar shooter interface. There, I would reign, arcing 80-yard bow shots like I was Kobe, finishing off downed opponents before they could be revived, and occasionally leading the team in kills. I will need more time to hone my axe and sword skills, but nailing a Saxon in the knee as he charges towards you, bringing him to the ground, was mighty satisfying. Oh, and small-stage, no-respawn team deathmatch is the best.  The easiest way to tell friend and foe apart was the different-colored names, but once we all got into the customization page, things got a bit easier. I outfitted my viking with a flowing green cloak (which keeps your head from rolling away upon decapitation) and a shield modeled after the Italian flag. Oh, and a beard. I acquiesced to beard hype just this once. It felt right. Women warriors are also on their way, though they only exist as unplayable assets for the moment. The utilitarian Viking culture allowed women to solider and they will look similarly dressed as their male counterparts. On the Saxon side, the women are mildly more ornate, presumed to have come from monied backgrounds that would afford them the opportunity to go out a'killing. War of the Vikings is technically pick up and play. You can buy it and play as an archer or swing limply about the battlefield and occasionally land some good hits. You can, at the least, serve as a warm body to help capture nodes in the more strategic levels. But there's enough depth to keep you playing and to keep one-on-one battles an exciting, evenly-matched, back-and-forth affair. It always sort of bothered me in action games when you'd do damage by basically phasing a weapon through an enemy, rather than making solid contact and it having a reasonable effect. It's why Bushido Blade was so cool. Every time I loosed an arrow and it ineptly plunked on a shield, I had to remember I was trying to shoot (and kill) my opponent, not just a character model. Whether you want to dive into the tail end of early access of wait until the full release, War of the Vikings is damn good, different multiplayer fun.
War of the Vikings photo
...Will get you killed. If you suck. Like me.
War of the Vikings, the close-quarters Vikings-versus-Saxons bloodbath, is in Early Access on Steam. Yesterday, it saw its biggest patch leading up to its early March release window. With it comes the content I got to test ou...


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