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Author: Kevin McLennan

Kevin is old, 30 years old to be exact. With old age comes an appreciation for the finer things in life. By finer he means faster, better, more efficient, he means a PC. Where once there used to be Sega Mega Drives, Playstations and N64s, now there is only the PC. But that's quite alright, cause he always hated that he could never order a Pizza Hut on his SNES. is a part time worker full time gamer who loves indie and retro games as much as AAA titles and MMO's. When not playing on his Xbox or PC he often makes way for his N64, SNES and Gameboy. Likes to think of his play style/attitude to life as tactical but this often turns out to be gung-ho and spur of the moment.
The Council Episode One: The Mad Ones – The Verdict

The Council Episode One: The Mad Ones – The Verdict

The Council is an adventure game set in 1793. Playing as Louis De Richet the first episode titled The Mad Ones begins with an invitation to a mysterious island by the secretive Lord Mortimer. Unsure of the reason for your presence on the island or that of the other bold characters, many questions are raised in your mind. Having recently been informed about the disappearance of your mother you have reason to believe that she may be on the island but know little more than that. It is your intention to discover the motives behind your mothers disappearance and piece together the goals of the other guests who all seem to have their own strange stories.

Character development is a key part of The Council‘s unique approach to the adventure genre. Adding RPG elements to a point and click game is certainly a new direction and one that feels like it’s been implemented well for the most part. The first thing to notice is that you have to choose one of the three skill trees; Diplomat, Occultist or Detective and then further advance this tree with specific talents. I chose the Detective tree as this is a mystery game after all and I wanted to feel adept at spotting the smallest of clues. From this tree I can choose to further advance my Questioning, Psychology, Vigilance, Logic and Agility skills with each point added meaning using these skills during main gameplay costs less ‘effort’.

Effort is a points based resource that can gathered and used during main gameplay. You start with six points of effort and utilising skills from your chosen tree uses a couple of these points or less depending on your skill advancements. The good thing is that just because you chose a certain tree doesn’t mean you will always be locked out of skills from other trees, it just means they will cost a lot more effort. Running out of effort is not something you will want to do as it usually means things will not go your way. People will see through your motives, you will miss hidden clues and some conversation topics will be closed off to you.

In past adventure games when making key decisions you are sometimes tricked into feeling as if you have majorly affected a plot, dialogue or outcome in some way but with The Council this – at least initially – doesn’t seem to be the case. Depending on how you developed your character you are literally locked out of some options as your talents have not been improved. This might sound a bit unusual but it fits well and the RPG element helps you role play the story and become more involved in it.

During conversations you can use items to help sway the outcome in your favour, unfortunately the inventory and item usage is not the most intuitive. There are four items that help you with things like gaining effort points and discovering character weaknesses but learning what these do and which symbol corresponds to which during the heat of a conversation took me a while to get used to.

Occasionally during conversations you will have a confrontation with another character. During the confrontation the opposing character is basically sussing out your integrity and your aims. This is an interesting part of the game that unfortunately seems too rushed to enjoy properly. Between the amount of text on screen, the timed dialogue answering and balancing the use of items I find it hard to focus properly during these moments, meaning I occasionally miss out on lines of dialogue or text. As enjoyable as these sections are I feel they should be a lot more manageable and streamlined.

Voice acting in The Council can be a bit hit and miss. During the thick of things It’s often quite good, but there are the odd moments where things sound awkward or unusual especially with the protagonist and this can be off-putting. Unfortunately the exact same goes for the script writing. During most conversations and narration the script is good, but again there is always the odd line that stands out as slightly strange. The developers Big Bad Wolf hail from France and I wonder if somewhere along the line the translation has not been handled in the best way. It’s only minor however and for some people this might not even be an issue at all.

One area the developers have really nailed is the design of the game and the character design especially is great. Each character has a strong and memorable image that makes them stand out as individuals and is among the best design I have seen in recent games. The level design is also top notch. Never did I feel like anything was out of place or that repeated textures and items had been used in a way that seemed lazy. Every room and building had bold and unique design.

After this introductory first episode I’ve been left with an overall good impression of The Council. I’m very interested to see where it goes with the rest of the episodes, how the characters and story develop and how the choices you make in the game really affect it.

The Verdict – Headshot

Platforms Available – PC, Xbox One, PS4
Platform Reviewed – PC

Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Steam review code supplied by PR.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Is Brilliant

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Is Brilliant

The revival of the CRPG is still going strong and with each big release comes a whole host of improvements. The recent release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 has continued that trend and with a $2,000,000 Kickstarter to back them up you would certainly expect that to be the case. Immediately the most noticeable aspect of improvement are the visuals of DOS2. I played the enhanced edition of Original Sin and while I don’t remember it being bad for 2015, graphically DOS2 has definitely seen an improvement. The UI is also a lot easier to use and the level design is excellent, I mean it. Some of the best that I’ve ever encountered in any game ever. There is more of a focus this time around on spinning the camera so that you can see the map from all angles, finding hidden paths and loot that you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed and this gives a lot of added depth to the maps that almost seemed a little flat in the original.

The audio and writing has also received an improvement with most characters having voice over lines and conversation topics. This can sometimes be a sticking point in RPG’s with the sheer amount of NPC’s that can occupy a city or area of the map, but Larian have done a good job of making each character sound unique and have a unique character to them. Every time I come across a new NPC, whether that be a main character or just someone with a few lines, I feel like I owe it to them to listen to what they have to say and that’s really testament to the writing of a game when there are probably hundreds of NPC’s in the entire game.

One of the main sticking points for me in the original game was the combat mechanics and while they are largely the same there is definitely an increase in difficulty and tactical depth. It’s a lot harder to take on groups of enemies that are one or two levels above that in your party. In fact there have been battles that after trying to beat a few times I have had to give up and mark on the map for later in the game. This is far from a bad thing, I love it, it reminds me of a lot of games I played as a kid. There should absolutely be enemies and areas of the map that are unreachable unless you are very powerful or very clever, it adds a certain sense of mystery to these areas and encounters and makes them more than an encounter with ‘nameless mob’ in ‘random map area’.

Along with all of these improvements is also a sense of huge scale, in terms of the map, the story, the game world and really just the game as a whole. I shied away from calling this article a review because even at this stage having played 40 hours I can tell this game has much much more to offer and will easily end up being a 100+ hour game. To review it properly for me would just not be practical unless you want to wait a few months. That’s obviously not a dig at the game as the content they have added is top notch and I’m pretty sure I will enjoy every one of those 100+ hours. If you enjoyed the first Original Sin then this will definitely be up your street with bags of content and improvements, highly recommended so far.

Tyranny: Bastard’s Wound – The Verdict

Tyranny: Bastard’s Wound – The Verdict

Ten months after its release Tyranny has received its first DLC ‘Bastard’s Wound‘ which adds additional areas to the map and with it new NPC’s, a new quest arc, companion quests and achievements. Obsidian have also released a free patch along side the DLC that expands the content in the third and final act of Tyranny as well as including additional voice acting and a new path to the ending of the game.

The main story behind Bastard’s Wound surrounds a hidden encampment, yet untouched by the invading forces of Kyros. The settlers of this camp have been forced to pitch up in the Old Walls, a sacred place that is usually punishable for entering let alone setting up a village in. Within this small community people and beasts of various factions have decided to work together to keep themselves hidden from the armies of Kyros and so rule themselves. The only problem is that you are the Fatebinder and, well you guessed it, you happen to find out about this hidden village.

The good news is that if you liked Tyranny as much as I did then I feel you will enjoy a lot of what Bastard’s Wound has to offer. I finished the base game pretty quickly after release, so having not played for about ten months it was really easy to pick the game back up and play this DLC without feeling like I was lost in the game world or that I had forgotten every decision that I’d made. In a way that could be a good or bad thing depending on what you prefer. Bastard’s Wound can certainly be played outside the main game without affecting the central story arc too much as far as I can tell, but for those who wanted a more involved DLC this might just seem like more fluff added for completionists of the game. Don’t get me wrong this ‘fluff’ is as well scripted and polished as the main game and adds an semi-interesting story line to the game, but I just felt like it had no affect on anything outside of itself.

If Bastard’s Wound has one saving grace it’s that the newly added companion loyalty quests are pretty good. There are only three which is a shame, but none the less they help to flesh out the characters a bit more and build up their individual stories. In general though the decisions you make don’t feel like they carry as much weight, the characters you meet are not as memorable, the DLC as a whole is quite short much like the main game when compared to it’s peers. Bastard’s Wound is a nice enough addition to the main game but I feel nothing would be missing if you didn’t happen to pick it up. For those who are looking for more Tyranny, it has some decent missions and delivers exactly what you would expect from a 10-15 hour DLC.

The Verdict – On Target

Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC

Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Steam review code supplied by PR.

NEW VIDEO GAME RELEASES – JULY 2017 SCHEDULE

NEW VIDEO GAME RELEASES – JULY 2017 SCHEDULE

Welcome to The Reticule’s definitive roundup of gaming releases throughout July 2017. All release dates stated are for the EU, across all currently available platforms including Playstation, Xbox, PC, mobile and others.

7th
Accel World vs. Sword Art Online
PS4, PS Vita

11th
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
PS4

“The biggest addition to The Zodiac Age is what we missed out on with the international release years back. XII took a lot of grief for the license board, and Square Enix made vast improvements by adding distinct jobs to incentivize replayability and tactical gameplay. This means you’ll be able to make Vaan a black mage if you want (but who would ever choose Vaan, right?) or maybe you’ll make Basch into a thief so he can nab you some precious goodies. Many proselytize this version of the game, and it’s pretty amazing to finally get it on Western shores. We’re also getting a much-needed fast-forward mode like the (amazing) Dragon Quest VIII remake on 3DS, which should make some of those more tedious sojourns into danger more manageable.” RPGFan.

13th
Antihero
PC

17th
Albion Online
PC, Andriod, iOS

“Albion Online is a sandbox MMORPG set in an open medieval fantasy world. It has a fully player-driven economy; all equipment items are player-crafted. You can freely combine armor pieces and weapons in our unique classless system – you are what you wear. Explore the world and tackle challenging PvE content. Engage other adventurers in small- or large-scale PvP, and conquer territories. Gather. Craft. Trade. Conquer. Leave your mark in the world.” Albion Online.

18th
Children of Zodiarcs
PC, PS4

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
PC, PS4

20th
Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy
Andriod, iOS

21st
Splatoon 2
Nintendo Switch

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star
Nintendo Switch

25th
Fallen Legion
PS4, PS Vita

Pyre
PC, PS4

“For those who played Supergiant’s previous titles, Bastion and Transistor, Pyre‘s art style and presentation will be familiar. While neither Bastion nor Transistor felt small, Supergiant claimed that Pyre ups the ante. We likened Pyre‘s team-oriented competitions to a magical version of NBA Jam. The competitions are referred to as Rites, fast-paced three-on-three battles where the goal is to take out the other team’s signal flame before they manage to extinguish yours.” Digital Trends

Redout
Nintendo Switch

“Redout is a stylish, futuristic racer bringing back the speed and vertigo of genuine arcade racing — get in the ship and slam that throttle. From the first moment, you will feel the enormous amount of power coming from your engine. Hovering a few meters above the ground going over 800 km/h is no piece of cake. Redout will take advantage of the Switch capabilities by using the right Joy-Con analog stick increase or decrease speed and left Joy-Con stick to drift around curves.” IGN

27th
The Darkside Detective
PC

28th
Hey! Pikmin
3DS

Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused?
3DS

Five For Five – Odyssey

Five For Five – Odyssey

Every now and then I come across a game that surprises me in a good way. Usually these games are ones that I’ve had a brief glance at, said “Ooh, that looks cool” and then eventually got round to playing even if that has been months down the line. Odyssey is certainly in that category but this time rather than ‘getting round to it eventually’ I was lucky enough to get hands on with the demo so that I could let you all know just how interesting a game it really is.

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Tyranny – The Verdict

Tyranny – The Verdict

So here’s a question for people who like that kind of thing. What exactly is an evil man? Surely good and evil are simply decided by which side of an army or faction you are born into? Maybe it depends on which views you are brought up with or what you come to believe to be true on your own terms. Or is evil a more personal thing, something that is defined by your actions no matter where you come from or what your background is? Paradox Interactive’s new RPG Tyranny really poses this question to you from the get-go by allowing you to choose your backstory in the lead up to actually taking control of your character. The army of Kyros under which your loyalties lie, have taken over most of the known world aside from one small peninsula in the south. As one of Kyros’ leaders in the eventual occupation of these lands, you begin the game by deciding exactly how your armies go about capturing the district. I won’t spoil any of the important choices for you, as this intro literally shapes the game you play and choosing the level to which your evil or mercy extends is half the fun of the early game.

What I will say is that as with other Paradox games the writing and character development in Tyranny is of a very high standard. Rarely does it feel like you’re reading a piece of filler text but instead insightful and interesting dialogue and backstory, and taking part in decisions that literally shape the game and characters you are playing in and talking to. Just be prepared to do a LOT of reading. If reading is really not your thing, then I would seriously consider your attitude towards this game as skipping text would, in my opinion ruin the enjoyment of the overall game.

In a majority of games in this genre party interaction is something that I often find tedious and an endeavor that has no meaningful outcome. Party conversations in Tyranny however hold weight as each character that you talk to will react differently to you depending on your choices in game and the ways in which you interact with them on an individual level. You can gain fear or loyalty from them, making their own actions change according to yours. This is the same for larger factions and NPC’s in the game, who you can also gain and lose reputation with depending on your actions. This certainly makes conversation choices a lot more meaningful for me and means if you want to role play the evil guy you better be prepared to deal with the consequences. The only disappointment from the party members is that there is not a whole lot of depth to them after conversation. You may visit an area in the game that they have a connection with and they will hardly even talk. There’s also not much in the way of ‘loyalty quests’ or anything to connect them personally to these places and I feel like they lack a bit of depth in that department, which is a shame. A personal quest or two that included each of the characters you can add to your party would go a long way to solving this problem.

The voice acting is also of a high standard when it shows, but not all interactions are voiced. I’m not sure if this was due to me playing the early review release of the game which im told would be missing the odd bit here and there or if they decided that it just wouldn’t be practical to have every section of the game voice acted. Certainly the main story line arc was mostly voice acted and if I think about it long enough that’s probably enough for me.

The writers don't shy away from being in your face about their characters feelings.
The writers don’t shy away from being in your face about their characters feelings.

There’s a lot to take in to account when getting into your first few proper combat situations in Tyranny, although if you have played Paradox’s other game Pillars of Eternity, you will feel semi-familiar here. Once you build up a party and level them to suit your play style things get a little easier, but initially I found it a touch hard to manage the ability overload you are faced with. There is the option to let AI manage your party members but this is best turned off if you’re thinking about tackling one of the harder difficulty levels as sometimes they can be infuriatingly slow to react, especially when switching between targets that are further apart from each other. Thankfully you can pause combat and manage each characters abilities and if things are moving to fast for you in real-time, there’s an option to toggle slow combat speeds.

Once you get into the thick of the stats, abilities and equipment management, it’s actually quite enjoyable if you like that kind of thing. The spell system allows you to essentially create your own spells and assign them to any character, with higher cost spells being restricted to characters with high lore values which are normally casters anyway. Spells are created with a ‘Core Sigil’ deciding what element or type of spell it will be, an ‘Expresion Sigil’ deciding how the spell will effect the target and an ‘accent’ which modifies anything from casting range to the strength of the spell or how long the effect of the spell will take place for. Each sigil has a lore value and this is what restricts you from just giving the strongest spells to every character. For your mage assuming you have one in your party, spell creation is something of a strong point in the game, allowing you to entirely shape the type of combat style you want later into the game once you’ve collected a lot of sigils.

On top of the spell system each character has their own skill tree with multiple options from which they can learn new abilities or improve combat traits like armour penetration or health. Certain pieces of equipment can also provide abilities but are mostly for stat improvement and aesthetic value. Overall the combat and ability system is fairly in depth and as a person who enjoys tweaking optimal stats and abilities I enjoyed the system that Obsidian have put in place here, certainly when compared to other games of the same genre which almost seem to shy away from making these things in any way complicated for whatever reason. In a game that isn’t entirely about combat it makes sense not to completely overload the player with combat based decisions and I feel this medium depth level worked well at not spoiling my enjoyment of everything else that Tyranny has to offer.

I really enjoyed the medium level depth of the combat, skill and ability system in Tyranny.
I really enjoyed the medium level depth of the combat, skill and ability system in Tyranny.

Graphically and in terms of level deign Tyranny is a really good looking game much on the same terms as Pillars of Eternity, which makes sense when you take into account that the same team developed it and it’s made with the same engine. The levels are really well designed both visually and the way in which they can be transversed and interacted with. It’s almost as if concept art has been improved upon by artists and designers leading to some stunning scenes and intelligent design. Throughout the whole game I don’t think there was a single area of the game where I thought the designers had slipped in quality.

Ultimately Tyranny is a game about making decisions and unlike some games who promise a lot it really makes these choices count. During my play I compared my choices and outcomes to that of a friend and I’m happy to say that there was no illusion of choice, your actions really do change things like the people you meet, the areas you visit and smaller sub areas that you may or may not have access to, how people react to you, what people call you, items you find in the game and probably much more than that.

To sum things up Tyranny is a well designed and enjoyable RPG that makes decisions count, has enjoyable combat, interesting characters and well written dialogue. It places itself in a fairly unique setting and certainly makes being evil a lot of fun. Above all of that I think the thing I like most about Tyranny is that it’s not very often in a game that I get to actually make the decision I want. In most other games I may be provided with options but certain game world rules mean that none of them suit exactly what I want to do in that situation. In Tyranny however I can happily kill off an NPC, slap someone in the face, throw them off a building, show mercy, save their life, take a bribe, or basically anything I want if I deem it necessary as I am literally the law bringer and in the end this is what makes it most enjoyable for me.

The Verdict – Red Mist

Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC

Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Steam review code supplied by PR.

Torment: Tides of Numenera – Early Access Report

Torment: Tides of Numenera – Early Access Report

Torment: Tides of Numenera is an upcoming CRPG developed by inXile Entertainment and is currently in Early Access on Steam. It’s the spiritual successor of Planescape: Torment, the cult hit from 1999, but unlike it’s predecessor will also release on consoles rather than just PC. In this article I aim to go over some of the major points of the early game and the stage at which the game is at in the development process.

First of all I should address the fact that Planescape: Torment was known for it’s well written dialogue and I’m happy to say that the writing in Tides of Numenera is excellent for the most part. Even the non-conversation, narrator style parts of the writing shine and quite often they feel like reading a sci-fi/fantasy book. The characters seem well developed even in this early stage. In my time with the game there were a few party members who jumped in and out during different quests and they all had unique personalities that fitted in well with the overall story arc. The city area I visited was well populated and each character seemed to have their own piece of unique written speech and a few side-quests here and there. There is the odd section where speech options or characters words were missing but this could be to protect the main story line or anything the developers don’t want to get out just yet and nothing that I would consider to be out of the ordinary.

The character creation event at the start of the game is a welcome break from the standard “choose your hero and modify every aspect of it” that is usually presented in an RPG like this. Instead you make your way through a scripted event which has choices at certain points. These choices decide where the stat points go into your character and so define your class, be that spell caster, melee or a mixture. As welcome as this change is it could do with being a little more in depth in its explanation. This will of course be your character for presumably tens, possibly even hundreds of hours worth of gameplay so you want to make sure that stats, abilities, classes, choices are explained in full detail. As far as I could tell there was no visual customization options at all and instead you can only choose male or female. After the scripted event you can adjust your character some more to suit your play style.

During my time with Tides of Numenera progression through areas seemed slow at first but I am the kind of person that likes to take a new map area and dissect it, talking to as many people as possible, exploring every area of the map and finding as many quests and secrets as possible. While progress for me continued to be slow when I encountered a new area, this proved to be more a credit to how well the developers have done at populating the maps with interesting people, engaging stories, quests and secrets rather than anything else.

1

So you’ve heard a lot of the good, now for some of the not so good. There were some bugs were present for me early on. One occasion of a game freeze before combat, not being able to read tooltips, missing text, pretty much what is to be expected for the early stages of an early access game. None of these aside from the game freeze actually disrupted my gameplay much and even that was fixed with a simple reload of a previous autosave.

Tides of Numenera seems nice graphically although not stunning considering it’s been built on the same engine as Pillars of Eternity which i feel looked a nit nicer. The game still looks good though and the levels are well designed but the UI and menus seem a bit clunky and are not great to look at. They’re probably going to need some work before the final release as in my opinion that could be something that really pulls a game like this down. Inventory management, map and quest checking and general menu navigation are main parts of the game and having an inadequate or ugly UI can sometimes put me off spending more hours with a game.

Combat is a very early stage as so doesn’t feel great yet. I have only come across once instance of combat and replayed it a few times just so I could see all the different options available to me. InXile have made it clear they are at an early stage of balancing the combat and that is clear to me. Skills are not explained well enough yet and some stats/spells have no tooltips or not enough info to explain how they affect a target or yourself.

Only odd snippets of voice acting have been added already and so there’s not much to be said about that just yet.

To summarize, Torment: Tides of Numenera certainly looks to be a very interesting game that is hopefully going to continue the incredible revival of CRPG’s in the past few years. The developers are doing a good job with the writing, characters and level design so far but still have a lot of work to do. While taking all that into account if you’re looking for a finished game to sink you’re teeth into, you’ll want to wait for the final release. There are still a lot of changes going on behind the scenes and the final game is probably still a good while off yet. On the other hand if you’re interested in the game and want to poke about to see what the developers have been doing so far, there is plenty of stuff to keep you satisfied, just be prepared for a few bugs, unfinished dialogue and the odd crash.

Niffelheim – Early Access First Impressions

Niffelheim – Early Access First Impressions

Niffelheim is a 2D side-scrolling RPG currently in development in Steams Early Access Program. In it you play as a Viking who’s soul has been diverted on its was to Valhalla. You can craft armour and weapons, collect resources, upgrade your home base and defend it against numerous foes. Niffelheim is a true early access game in the sense that there are a lot of features still to be released, but the games developers are hard at work and keep in regular contact with the players via the Steam forums.

To see what the game looks like click the video below where I go through

Niffelheim is cuurently available on Steam for £14.99 link can be found here.

Faeria In-Depth Early Access Preview

Faeria In-Depth Early Access Preview

As a well versed player of digital CCG’s Faeria is a game that instantly feels familiar to me. Upon launching the game up for the first time I find myself looking at the cards and even before I play my first game everything makes sense in terms of understanding the mechanics of the cards, which although under different names are shared with other digital CCG’s I’ve played in the past. What’s different about Faeria is the use of an environmental board on which the cards in your collection can be played and can move around before entering combat. This simple addition adds a whole new level of tactical thought to a game which already has all the layers of a normal digital card game. The combination works so well that I found myself sinking 4 hours a day over the first weekend of playing.

A typical game starts with an empty board and hexagonal shaped ocean pieces on which you place your land. Depending on which faction you build your deck from you can either place mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, neutral land called prairies, or a combination of any and all of these types. You can then place your creature cards onto these lands. Your creatures can only be placed on your own lands although they can be moved onto opponent lands after they have been on the board for 1 turn or more.

From here it’s basically a game of chess with your creatures facing up against your opponents. It’s important to note there are also four Faeria wells at the corners of the board. Faeria lets you use your cards and abilities and controlling these wells can sometimes be critical to winning either long games where your opponent will run out of Faeria if not managed properly, or rush games where you will be placing a lot of creatures and using a lot of event (special ability) cards within the first few turns.

Matching your card choice to your play style is also a large factor of success and it’s important to know what all your cards abilities are and how you can best play them. This of course takes time experimenting and refining your deck when you think something’s not quite right, or not exactly how you want it to be. Whether you play defensive, rush, or go for a deck themed around a particular feature like ranged combat or a focus on efficient trades it’s important to have a game plan.

Once you’ve had a good look at the cards and have drafted a deck you’re happy with, it’s time to get into the thick of the action, and there’s a few choices of game types to be made. Firstly you should be focusing your time in solo mode, where you unlock all of the codex cards (basic game cards) by defeating AI opponents from each of the factions; water, desert, forest and mountain. Once you have done this and refined you deck with any of the new cards you should head into battle mode. Here you can play against other real players in ranked or un-ranked play. Un-ranked is a good way to test new or experimental decks you have been creating, while ranked mode, going from 25-1 and then onto God rank is the ultimate test of your deck crafting and playing skills and stands as a mark of your commitment and skill with the game. Pandora is another mode players of CCG’s might also be familiar with and is also known in other games as draft mode, or arena. This has yet to be implemented in Faeria but is very near and from what I’ve heard will work much in the same way that it does in other games.

Faeria Booster Pack

As you gain ranks and level your character there are certain awards that can be picked up. Gold for buying booster packs, card crafting material and avatar pictures. There is also a shop in which you can buy all these things and booster packs, but the good thing about Faeria is that in this early stage with not too many cards it’s strikes me as not very pay-to-win, which is of course a great thing. As the game progresses (as with all CCG’s) the struggle will be in keeping up with all these new cards and the change of the meta game towards these cards. That moment is not upon us yet and if you wish to get into Faeria I would say get in early and try to keep on top of the cards as much as you can.

At the moment Faeria costs £17.99 on Steam and with this you get 20 booster packs, 10 entries in to Pandora mode when it becomes available and exclusive aesthetic item for your god. Eventually it will be free-to-play but then the bonus for supporting development during early access will be gone. Assuming that Pandora entry is about 100 gold and ignoring the exclusive avatar items, this would have cost you 3000 in game gold, which takes while to farm though quests, so to get this quick boost as soon as you start the game feels worthwhile to me.

The Good and the Bad of Faeria
So you’ve probably heard enough about the in’s and out’s of Faeria to decide whether it’s your kind of game or not, but as a whole is the game worth playing or not? Let’s start with the positives.

Positives – The beautiful art style, familiar feel, smooth gameplay, the fact that it’s not pay-to-win, is easy to pick up and hard to master and lacks in RNG compared to other CCG’s are all great but fairly small reasons why you should play this game. The main three points for me are that: 1Faeria already has a great community of players who are all willing to help you understand the game and craft better decks and can chat to you thanks to the forum link you find in game. 2Faeria has a uniqueness about it in that it has an almost board game feel but it actually a CCG. The mix of evolving environmental board and chess game of your cards on this board is brilliant. 3Faeria even in this Early Access stage receives regular updates to balance the cards that people are playing every day. This is a great way to keep the community feeling in touch with the game and the changes that are happening whilst also receiving all the normal bug fixing and so on you would expect for a game in Early Aceess.

Negatives – Considering this game has only just entered early access on Steam there are actually very little negatives about it. This is probably in part down to the community and the open communication the developers have with the community, allowing them to suggest feedback and directly send screenshots or reports of bugs to a live developer and a team of moderators. However in the spirit of fairness I feel it would be unjust if I didn’t mention the minor negatives I have found with the game so far. 1 – There is a running battle log at the side of the screen, this is helpful but only has a history of a few turns. It would be nice to be able to scroll down this list and see what happened previously as occasionally your opponents turn can be comprised of several different moves, attacks and spells and the log quite often doesn’t even go back a full turn. It could also do with a little more explanation. Sure a creature attacked, but who did it attack? Quite often the target of spells and attacks are not shown. 2 – When opening booster packs and finding new cards, there is no indication of where these new cards are when you go back to the drafting stage. It would be nice if there was some kind of highlight that showed where these were for new players who were not acquainted with all of the games cards yet. 3 – There is currently no player interaction while in game. No emotes, no chat between friends, nothing. While some players may enjoy the silence it would be nice to have the option to chat to friends if you wanted. 4 – As the player base of Faeria is just taking off, matchmaking can be a bit unfair at times. You can be placed with an opponent five ranks above or below you, or even face the same opponent twice in a row. I assume this is because of the smaller player base and I’m sure it will be rectified in due course. It’s not like it happens all the time anyway!

If your interested in checking out Faeria further I’ve included a gameplay video below where I detail a couple of strategies for playing and talk about some other aspects of the game.

Faeria can be purchased for £17.99 on Steam, but will become free-to-play in September.

ARK: Survival Of The Fittest – Early Access First Impressions

ARK: Survival Of The Fittest – Early Access First Impressions

I’m sure many of you have already played ARK: Survival Evolved the largely popular open world survival game with dinosaurs taming abilities. Well either way you’re in for a treat with ARK: Survival of the Fittest as it includes almost everything from the main game but in a much shorter more confined time frame. If there’s one thing that I don’t like about these new wave of survival games, it’s that it always seems to take forever to establish yourself on a server and get to the good part of the game where you’re defensible and not being picked on by every player you come across. ARK: SotF immediately blows that out the water with game tending to last between 45 minutes to 2 hours, yet still contain most of the good parts of these longer survival games.

If you have ever seen the film Battle Royale (or The Hunger Games) you will have a good idea of what to expect here. Every player essentially starts with nothing, but can craft weapons and armour and tame dinosaurs just like in the main ARK game. It’s then a battle between all the players on the server to take each other out until there is only one left (or one team left, depending on the game type). The video below should give you a better idea of what to expect.

ARK: Survival of the Fittest is free-to-play and has only just made it’s way to Early Access on Steam a few days ago so expect there to be plenty of updates and changes before the game is fully released.