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Dungeons & Dragons photo
Dungeons & Dragons

D&D Forgotten Realms CRPGs are now available on GOG.com


Get the graph paper ready
Aug 20
// Zack Furniss
Aside from a bit of Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, I never had the chance to play most of the Dungeon & Dragons game that came out for the PC. GOG.com and Wizards of the Coast are giving people the o...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Protect your brain from Sword Coast Legends' Mind Flayers


Straight from the Tower of Latria
Aug 17
// Zack Furniss
The Dungeons & Dragons sort-of tabletop simulator Sword Coast Legends is just over a month away now. With this upcoming release speeding ever-forward, developers n-Space and Digital Extremes have begun to ...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends facing slight delay


You'll have to wait three more weeks
Aug 05
// Zack Furniss
Sword Coast Legends, n-Space's upcoming Dungeons & Dragons co-op RPG, is coming out just a tad later than expected. Though the PS4 and Xbox One versions have always had an ethereal grasp on a nebulous "late 2015" release,...
Dungeons & Dragons photo
Dungeons & Dragons

D&D Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide releasing in November


New class options and backgrounds
Aug 04
// Zack Furniss
Since Dungeons & Dragons has been an inspiration for approximately 20,842 video games, I'm going to start covering all forthcoming 5E releases. I know there's at least a few of you in the audience who either take on ...

Review: Magic Duels: Origins

Jul 31 // Caitlin Cooke
Magic Duels: Origins (PC [reviewed], iOS)Developer: Stainless Games Ltd.Publisher: Wizards of the Coast LLCReleased: July 29, 2015MSRP: Free As its name implies, the story mode within Magic Duels: Origins centers on the early lives of well-known Planeswalkers in the series -- including Jace, Chandra, and Liliana. Each backstory is broken down into five chapters, which detail coming-of-age moments in their lives before becoming full-fledged Planeswalkers. Chapters begin with a short prologue and art piece which set the stage for the upcoming duel, and upon completion end in a similar vein. Battle Mode is the main attraction, containing the normal modes you’d find in any Magic game -- Versus battle (vs Human), Solo battle (vs AI), and Two-headed Giant (2v2). Solo battles come in three flavors -- easy, medium, hard -- however, you’re not able to select your AI opponent (the deck is random). It’s also unclear how the matching system works for the Versus battle system, since the servers were down the majority of the time and I wasn’t able to test it out. I also found it unfortunate that there are no extra fun modes present, as was common in the DoTP series (like Planechase or Archenemy), which I personally miss. In Origin’s free-to-play model, players collect coins via completion of Story and Battle duels or by shelling out cash. Coins are then used to trade in for booster packs, which are added to your overall collection. A single booster pack runs for 150 coins, which equals roughly $2.00 if you were to purchase the coins yourself. You can also buy coins in bulk at a discount, going all the way up to 7,500 coins for $39.99. Origins makes it surprisingly easy to collect coins -- completing a Planeswalker’s story (5 duels) is enough to get you a pack, or dueling a random human roughly 7 times could net the same amount. Quests, which are essentially achievements, rotate in and out and dish out coins when certain stipulations are met (for example: win two duels with a forest/mountain combo deck, put 20 +1/+1 counters on a creature, et cetera). After only a few hours of playing through some of the story, a few battles, and earning Quest achievements, I had enough coins to unlock 3 or 4 packs. I was surprised that the built-in cards were fairly solid (and a lot of new ones, to boot). Origins also features Planeswalker cards, an added layer of challenge which is also a first for Magic’s online games. It didn’t take me long to build some decent decks after opening a few booster packs, although with 251 total cards and only 6 cards in a pack collecting them all seems daunting. Deck-building has come a long way since the Duels of the Planeswalkers series was first introduced. In Origins, the two options are to build everything from scratch or to use the deck wizard. Building a deck from scratch gives players pretty much any freedom they need when building a deck -- it even has a nice filter system, allowing players to sort by parameters including rarity, type, and cost. Swapping cards in and out is pretty seamless, and I like that I could go through my booster cards to pick out the ones I want and have the game do the math and complete the rest of the deck for me. The deck wizard is much more restrictive, but probably the best option for brand new players. After selecting mana types, it walks players through three steps and explains which cards to choose along the way. Being a casual player who doesn’t really enjoy building decks, I actually found the deck wizard to be even more overwhelming than the “build from scratch” option. It’s oddly restrictive, as it doesn’t really give you much room to look at your available cards -- each step only displays a handful of cards to choose from at any given time. Although Origins has a number of viable options for deck-building, there were a few strange occurrences I noticed when building decks. When using autocomplete in the deck-builder, sometimes odd choices would be made -- for example, a lone forest land card would be slotted in when no forest mana was needed, or a card that calls for enchantments when none were found in the deck. Origins also makes it difficult to rebuild a deck if it was originally made with the wizard, as you’re not able to switch freely between modes. This means that if you get new cards in your booster pack that you want to add to your decks built with the wizard, you’re pretty much out of luck. My attempts to join a multiplayer duel over the course of two days were pretty much thwarted with network errors, which is a real bummer seeing how playing with actual people is the crux of playing Magic. I also found that occasionally the game would boot me out of the server entirely, rendering my account virtually useless. Hopefully Stainless will be able to sort out the server issues, as the game does not allow you to collect or spend coins, even in Story mode or AI battles. This is quite frustrating since the main purpose of the game is to collect these coins to spend them on booster packs and improve your deck. I also found it disappointing that you’re not able to earn coins via playing with friends. I’m assuming this is because it would be much easier to cheat the system, however, even giving small rewards via Quests, or a small amount of coins seems like it would encourage more friendly duels versus people taking advantage. Despite their servers not being ready, I feel Magic Duels: Origins brings the best of both worlds together, finally: a fun way to learn and play Magic with the competitiveness of collecting and putting together strong decks for duels in a fairly balanced system. I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt, hoping that the server issues improve with time, but in the meantime playing through the story and battling AI is still entertaining. Those new to Magic will find it easy to dive in and learn the intricacies of deck-building, while more experienced players should finally have the customization and card variety they’ve been asking for. Nothing beats the real thing (playing in person) for a lot of expert Magic players; however, I feel like this is a big step in the right direction. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Magic Duels: Origins photo
Free-to-play done right
My addiction to Magic began with the first Duels of the Planeswalkers game for the 360 back in 2009. Although it had its shortcomings (mana tapping, anyone?), the DoTP series created an accessible way for new (or rusty) playe...

Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Here's a full dungeon crawl in Sword Coast Legends


My dicebag is shaking with excitement
Jul 13
// Zack Furniss
Ever since I had a chance to play Sword Coast Legends at E3, I've wanted to watch a dungeon run from the perspectives of both Adventurer and Dungeon Master at my own leisure. I guess I failed a perception check and ...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends' Dungeon Master surpassed my expectations


A critical success?
Jun 20
// Zack Furniss
I was supposed to Dungeon Master a session of Dungeons & Dragons tonight, but that post-E3 fatigue comes in hard. So why not tell you about my hands-on session with n-Space's Sword Coast Legends, a new asymmetri...
Magic Tactics shut down photo
Magic Tactics shut down

Magic: The Gathering Tactics will shut down next year


All those cards you bought? Yeah, they'll probably be gone
Oct 22
// Darren Nakamura
Have you been playing the free-to-play strategy game Magic: The Gathering - Tactics? If so, you don't have long to continue, as Sony Online Entertainment and Wizards of the Coast have decided to "sunset" the game on March 28,...
Baldur's Gate: Reloaded photo
Baldur's Gate: Reloaded

Baldur's Gate recreated as Neverwinter Nights 2 mod


Boo will miss you!
Jun 06
// Joshua Derocher
A crazy mod team has spent seven years recreating Baldur's Gate in the Neverwinter Nights 2 engine. Not parts of it -- the whole thing. They didn't just start, either; it's done and it took seven years. Yup, it's crazy. It's...

Review: Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

Dec 06 // Patrick Hancock
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition (Android, iPad, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Overhaul GamesPublisher: Beamdog / AtariRelease: November 28, 2012 (PC) / December 2012 (Android, iPad, Mac)MSRP: $9.99 (Android, iPad) / $19.99 (Mac, PC) The writing of Baldur's Gate has always been one of its strongest aspects. The story remains unchanged and still holds up. The main plot begins with bandits mysteriously trying to murder the main character in the midst of an iron shortage in the area. Enhanced Edition also includes the "Tales of the Sword Coast" expansion integrated into the main game. While the plot is good, I've always felt as if it were the characters and their interactions that really kept me going through the 50+ hours of gameplay. Protip: Include Minsc in your party. There were already a large amount of characters to recruit in the original game, but the Enhanced Edition adds three more into the mix: Rasaad the Monk, Neera the Wild Mage, and Dorn the Blackguard. Neera quickly became my favorite of the three and one of my favorite characters overall thanks to her unique spell, "Nahal's Reckless Dweomer," a last-ditch effort in which Neera chooses one of her other spells and attempts to cast it. However, this usually fails and the result is completely random; sometimes it's great, sometimes it wipes out the entire party. Rasaad and Dorn fit into the universe just fine and don't feel as if they're ham-fisted in for the sake of new content. You encounter all three new characters within the first two hours of gameplay, and just like with every other NPC, you can accept them into the party or refuse and continue without them. If they are in the party, they will occasionally feel the need to pester you and give you opportunities to ask about their history after resting or entering a new area. It's nice, but it sometimes happens about three or four times in a row, which gets quite annoying. [embed]239662:45947[/embed] The game itself runs on a better version of the Infinity Engine and boasts "over 400 improvements." It definitely runs more smoothly, though there are still some issues with path finding. The user interface is also cleaner and easier to comprehend, though it is far from perfect. Overall, it feels less "janky" than the original, which will definitely be a boon to new players. The AI in general is a bit hit-or-miss. You can tweak it to act according to preset actions, but sometimes there isn't one that fits exactly what you want. If perhaps there were a way to set specific reactions to events, a la Dragon Age: Origins, then the AI for ranged combatants and mages would be much better. There's also a modified in-game tutorial to help explain the Dungeons & Dragons systems at play. It will seem tedious for anyone who has played similar games in the past, yet plenty of game systems go untouched in the tutorial. There are two very lengthy manuals as well, so I'd recommend checking them out if you're confused. The game also crashed on me once during the main campaign, and I've heard other reports of crashes during The Black Pits. Though you should be doing it anyway, save often! The game is hard enough; you don't want to repeat a large segment of the game due to a crash. Oh, did I neglect to mention that this game is brutally, soul-crushingly hard? Allow me: this game is brutally, soul-crushingly hard. There we go. Character death isn't permanent in most cases, but reviving a character requires traveling to a Temple and paying gold to bring them back. But if you take too long to fulfill an NPC's quest, they might turn on you and try to murder you. On top of that, if your created character dies, it is officially game over. Save always. Pause during fights. And, as Minsc would say, "There is strength in numbers, and I am two or three, at least!" The biggest content addition is The Black Pits, an arena-based series of combat trials separate from the main game. It is possible to jump straight into The Black Pits without playing the main game, and it will assign you a party of six to play with. There are 15 arenas of increasingly difficult enemies to get through, which might sound like a complete chore at first. Luckily, the witty writing is still in full effect in The Black Pits. The wizard Baeloth has taken you to these pits and grows continually interested in yet disgusted by your ability to put on a show for the crowd and slay the enemies. In between rounds, you'll get the chance to rest and buy more items from vendors, each with a distinct personality and something to say about both Baeloth and the arena itself. It's a fun distraction from the main story and will take you a few hours to get through, depending on how well you handle yourself in the arena. It's also fully voiced, as opposed to the spotty "sometimes voiced, sometimes not" nature of the main game. Though it may be hard to tell from screenshots, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition really has upped the visuals. Sure, they don't look ultra spectacular, but when you go back and play the original, you'll be shocked as to just how much of a difference there is. A large reason for the improved visuals is support for way more resolutions, including widescreen. The game looks better and you see more of it. Unless you zoom in. Don't zoom in. There are also new cutscenes, replacing the old 3D ones that most people would cringe at nowadays. These new cinematics are hand-drawn and though relatively infrequent and brief are a joy to witness. More character portraits and player voices round out this enhancement, both nice additions, especially if you've trod this ground before. Baldur's Gate was, is, and always will be an RPG classic. The writing is full of wit, the characters and their interactions are exceptional, and the tried-and-true D&D gameplay is deceivingly complex. Sure, there are some minor issues like character AI/pathing, overly chatty and intrusive party members, and the occasional crash, but they fall short of detracting from the overall RPG euphoria. Whether you've run through the game multiple times or have always wanted to, it's as easy as ever to recommend Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition to anyone.
Baldur's Gate EE review photo
Miniature giant space hamster approved
Baldur's Gate will forever be regarded as one of the classic PC RPGs. A lot of people never experienced it back in 1998, and it's not exactly the best-looking game anymore. To complicate things, it can be a pain to get the ol...

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First trailer for Magic 2013 has new mode, teases another


May 23
// Brett Zeidler
So, I've actually just been getting into Magic: The Gathering in the past few days. I picked up Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 over the weekend in the giant Microsoft sale in the Xbox Live Marketplace for just $5. Destructo...
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Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 announced for iPad, more


Apr 06
// Jordan Devore
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers has been quite the money maker for Wizards of the Coast, and I don't see that stopping any time soon. Especially not now that the series is coming to iPad -- in addition to Pl...
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That saucy vixen Tara Long spent some time hanging out with Magic: The Gathering brand manager Paul Levy at PAX today to take a look at the latest updates to the digital version of the biggest collectible card game in the wo...

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Expansion coming for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012


Aug 17
// Joshua Derocher
Magic the Gathering fans rejoice! A new expansion for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is incoming. Sure, we expected it would happen, but we have some pretty screenshots to prove it now. You'll be able to play the new Archene...

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