The Division, it’s no longer such a new game now, and I imagine that most people who play it have long since reached the level cap and are in the ‘End Game’. Me? I’ve played about 24 hours’ worth, am at level 21 and just over halfway through the story missions. I might as well share some thoughts on how I’m getting on… …
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.
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: 1 – Faeria 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. 2 – Faeria 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. 3 – Faeria 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.
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.
Distance is a game that frustrates me, not because I don’t like it or because it’s not a good game, but because I’m just not skilled enough to play it and therein lies the biggest problem I have with what should be a really enjoyable and fast paced arcade style racer. If it wasn’t for the fact that the rest of the game was so good I probably wouldn’t even mention it and off paper I’d put it down to bad design or lack of effort on my part. But the truth is that it’s well designed, fun to play, smooth running, has a great soundtrack and an increasing fan base that have already created thousands of custom maps to play on. It’s just a shame that this one mechanic slows all that down for me in such a way that I simply cannot compete with other racers in multiplayer and sometimes not even complete full race tracks at all.
If you want to see what Distance is all about for yourself, click on the video below.
With no solid release date set as yet, developers Refract hope to release some time in the first quarter of 2016. Distance can be purchased on Steam or via the official website for PC with other platforms to follow.
Sitting in the dim interior of my camper van, I stare intently at a low resolution monitor. On the bright screen before me, a remote feed transmits live infra-red images from cameras placed deep in the forest outside. I sit silently, impatiently flicking between the remote feeds, occasionally pausing to look up from the monitor and stare out of the windows of the camper van, listening intently to the whispers of the wind and creaking of the nearby trees.
In something of a surprise, even to myself, I found that I was playing The Division briefly on the weekend. I was surprised, because I truly didn’t expect that I would be playing any, or many, of the AAA releases of the past week or so until the autumn at the earliest. But I spied The Division on Steam, and I just couldn’t help myself. I had to get a taste of what this possible Destiny beater was all about and squeezed in about an hour with the game, and took in the sights and sounds of Brooklyn. …
Back in October, I got stuck into the Beta for Rainbow Six: Siege and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a limited range of maps to play through, but I could already tell that this was shaping up to be a very good shooter. Now that I’ve had a chance with the full game, I am happy to confirm that Siege is a very good shooter, but one that needs to find its feet. …
When I was at EGX, I mentioned on Twitter that I hadn’t played anything from the Assassin’s Creed series since the high-seas action of Black Sails, but that was about to change as I was in the queue for Syndicate, the latest game in the series that will be taking us to Victorian London. I also took some fairly ropey photos of Ubisoft’s booth for the game, but that’s by-the-by. I played Syndicate at the show, not once, but twice. Both times, I was impressed. …
There was one game in the Rezzed indie game section at EGX that repeatedly caught my eye. I walked past the booth several times became ever more interested each time I saw it being played. Unfortunately, for a long while, the game was really busy with people spending a considerable amount of time playing it. I finally got a chance to play it, and from the moment the introductory video played, I knew I was playing a potential Game of the Show. That game? Giant Cop of course. …
I was walking around the Rezzed section at EGX today, checking out all of the latest hip, cool and new indie games, when amongst the hordes of humanity, one little game stood out. Loud and proud, it proclaimed itself to be The Escapists: The Walking Dead. What was this I wondered? Could it possibly be some tie-in between The Escapists, a 8-bit pixel-art game about escaping from prisons (that I have woefully failed to write about) and The Walking Dead graphic novel which also features a prison along the way (as well as zombies of course)?
I thudded myself down onto the plastic stool, picked up the Xbox One controller and set about checking it out. …
Since an overall sense of disappointment with Hitman: Absolution, (a game I’ll be honest, I actually quite liked) fans have been pretty vocal about what they wanted from the next iteration of the Hitman franchise. Large, living-world levels, a freedom to choose your approach and a selection of ways in which to bring about your targets departure.
In short, they wanted another Hitman: Blood Money. …
Being one of the most trend-setting gamers around, I’ve always got my eye out for the newest and most unknown titles. This month I’ve been trying out something called Grand Theft Auto 5.
For those of you that don’t know, Grand Theft Auto 5 is an impressive open world game in which you travel the fictional state of San Andreas with camera-phone in hand, taking pictures of the fascinating wildlife and interesting scenery. Occasionally you’ll run into mostly unpleasant characters who will try to encourage you to perform rather unpleasant and often unlawful acts, but otherwise you’re free to explore the land and oceans in relative peace.