Sid Meier's Pirates!

PC games are full of arcane artifacts spurring on ancient civilizations, Nazis riding dinosaurs, and Ghandi nuking the entire planet. Historical accuracy isn’t always a priority, and even the ones that try to get it right have to take some liberties with the facts modern scholarship hands down to us to be, you know, a fun game. But there is a definite divide between games that offer a mere nod to history (or use some vague, pop culture-informed stereotype of it as a jumping-off point) and those that actually put in enough research time to get at least some of the important facts straight.

It’s hard to measure a variable like “historicity” when it comes to games—and yes, that is a real word. Games that put history first tend to wind up overly complicated rather than fun, so I've highlighted genuinely great PC games that go out of their way to include some historical accuracy. In particular, I chose games that accurately and ably depict a facet of history that is often misrepresented or ignored in other, ostensibly historical games.

In chronological order based on their setting, here are the most historical PC games.

Screenshot via Steam user OriginalNickname

Total War: Attila - Most historical game about the collapse of the Western Roman Empire 

Attila pulled Total War’s tired campaign formula out of its slump and gave us a living map that portrayed the cultural, political, and environmental challenges facing Rome in her twilight years. Rather than playing into the stereotype of angry, marauding barbarians showing up out of nowhere to sew chaos, the map really put you in the middle of why these invasions were happening—the oncoming of climate change making northern regions progressively less supportive of large populations, and the migration of the Huns into Eastern Europe.

It was also the first Total War game to model the fact that not all societies have permanent cities, and how tributary relationships could form between cultures as a pressure valve against open war.

Assassin’s Creed series - Most historical depiction of ancient cities 

There is very little about the plot of any Assassin’s Creed game that could be regarded as staunchly historical (though we do get some cool nods here and there—the Siege of Masyaf in AC1 is a thing that really happened). However, they’ve gone to great lengths to depict, in full scale, what it would be like to walk the streets of Renaissance Florence or medieval Jerusalem. From the crowds, to the architecture, to the small details, there is a lot of history to experience just by wandering the environments. My personal favorite is Revelations’ post-Ottoman-conquest Constantinople, perhaps one of the most interesting cities in world history snapshotted at one of its most interesting ages.

Screenshot via Steam user Mr.Nekator

Crusader Kings 2 - Most historical modeling of medieval Western European politics 

With expansions highlighting Satanic cults and fanciful, “What if?” Aztec invasions, there is plenty of ahistorical nonsense kicking around CK2 these days. But at its core is a system that does an excellent job of modeling how politics worked in Western Europe from about 1000 to 1400 AD. We take for granted the concept of a nation state in our modern world, but if you lived in Auvergne, France in 1150, you were probably loyal to a person, not a flag or a constitution. All of CK2’s titles have holders, and it is they who interact and play the grand game against one another.

A strong realm can crumble under a weak king just as a poor realm can rise to glory under a great king. And while the hierarchical depiction of feudalism it presents is highly disputed in modern scholarship, excellent expansions like Conclave have added more weight to the lateral bonds that many historians argue were the greater driving force among the nobility of the age.

Expeditions: Viking -  Most historical Viking game

I was impressed immediately by how apparent it was that the designers of Expeditions: Viking put stereotypes out of their mind and hit the books. As my primary historical interest area, I have a high standard for games about the Viking Age, and this one really has you doing a lot of the things a viking ruler would have actually found him or herself doing.

There are kinship-based blood feuds to manage. There is the emphasis on the necessity of presenting yourself as both a strong and a just ruler, not taking for granted that people will follow you based on your name. It even models the effects those notorious raids had on Scandinavia—bringing back captives and wealth that would help build infrastructure and birth three of the most influential kingdoms in European history.

Banished - Most historical game about frontier settlement

Banished is a fairly simple game. I might even argue that it’s too simple, but the mechanics it chooses to focus on are very much the sorts of things that say, an English settler in the 17th Century Virginia Colony would have been concerned with. Keeping your people warm, fed, and healthy are your main goals. You have to use the resources in your environment and trade with distant lands to provide for a growing population. A harsh winter or a disease outbreak can be utterly disastrous and end your whole settlement—as they often did for early European settlements in the New World.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! - Most historical pirate game 

While Pirates! does allow itself to indulge in some buccaneer stereotypes, it also models a lot of the genuine realities a privateer captain during the Golden Age of Piracy would have to be concerned with. A crew is a ragtag collection of malcontents picked up from all across the Caribbean who will only stay with you as long as they feel like there’s a monetary reward in it. The political interplay between the Spanish, English, French, and Dutch is an ongoing conundrum, and you’ll usually be working for at least one of them. And of course, its modeling of naval combat with wind direction, hull size, decks, guns, and even shot type really gives you a glimpse of all the skills necessary to be a naval officer in that era.

Screenshot via Steam user [HWK] Turenne

Victoria 2 - Most historical game about the Industrial Revolution 

Vicky 2 is probably the most intimidating and inaccessible game on this list, but it deserves its spot for hanging its top hat on aspects of history that often get ignored. The level of literacy among your population matters. More literate societies will become more productive… but they also gain Consciousness, which can lead them towards social movements like communism and demanding an end to slavery, universal suffrage, and labor rights. You know, pesky commoner stuff. It also models industrialization, war profiteering, and the advantages and disadvantages of free markets versus command economies. If you have the patience to learn it, it's well worth the investment.

The Oregon Trail - Most historical game about the Oregon Trail 

An oldie but a goodie. The various iterations of The Oregon Trail that have been released since 1971's HP 2100 version (how’s that for some history!) have all been lauded for their educational value. And with good reason. If a modern person tries to imagine the struggles faced by an American pioneer making the journey from Independence to the Willamette Valley in the mid-1800s, they probably wouldn’t give much thought to how many spare wagon tongues you’d need to bring. But that was the reality, and The Oregon Trail put us in the middle of it. It probably also made us a little more afraid of dysentery than we have cause to be in an era of modern medicine and sanitation, but no game is perfect.

Ultimate General: Civil War - Most historical game about the Civil War  

I know I’ll take my share of hard tac for failing to call out some hex-based, in-depth wargame that features the weight and height of every soldier who fought at Gettysburg compiled from census records, but Ultimate General is the perfect midpoint between attention to historical detail, accessibility, and fun. Its combat engine realistically models terrain, movement, casualties, and morale in real time. The recently released campaign mode even gets into how generals in this era had to prove themselves to the political leadership if they wanted to be well-supplied and have weight given to their strategic advice.

Screenshot via Steam user Stuart

Steel Division: Normandy 44 - Most historical game about tactical combat in World War 2

A truly impressive feat to a military history nerd, Steel Division’s maps are built from actual aerial reconnaissance photographs taken during the Normandy invasion, down to the village layouts and placement of hedgerows. It also features realistic ranges and damage modeling for all of its vehicles and weapons, and even the relative speed and maneuverability of its air units. It limits heavier units to spawning later in a battle to simulate the simple fact that they would have taken longer to get there after first contact with the enemy.

Possibly most notable of all, though, is that it does an uncommonly good job stressing the importance of ground-based reconnaissance on the battlefields of World War 2, and the idea that engagements could be won or lost based on which side had better information.

Screenshot via Steam user 65y Afrika

IL-2 Sturmovik series - Most historical combat flight simulator 

I think most flight sim enthusiasts remember the first time they tried to do a backflip in IL-2 and saw the screen start to fade out, wondering if there was something wrong with their monitor. Not only are the controls and handling in this classic historically accurate, but it simulates the effects G-forces have on a fighter pilot maneuvering at high speeds. Force too much blood into your head and you’ll experience redout. Force too much into your feet and you’ll experience blackout. In addition, the titular IL-2 was depicted in meticulous, 3D detail and the combat missions presented plausible scenarios.

Screenshot via Steam user XaRoS

Verdun - Most historical World War I shooter 

Move over, Battlefield 1. Verdun sets out to accurately depict trench warfare on the Western Front, and does a pretty good job of it for a multiplayer shooter. Its inaccuracies are forgivable sacrifices to scale, rather than in the details. it would be very difficult to get enough players on a single server to really depict some of the bigger battles of The Great War, and a lot more time was spent waiting around hoping not to get blown up by a shell than was spent taking aim and firing at the enemy—which isn’t really fun if you just have an hour a night to jump in the mud with your buds. Particularly impressive is the detail that goes into the uniforms, with items as small as buttons being painstakingly reproduced from period photographs.

Kerbal Space Program - Most historical game about the space program 

With its science-based modeling of orbital mechanics, propulsion, and aerodynamics, Kerbal Space Program is a great platform to teach about the history of spaceflight. In fact, the developers at Squad agree, and are working on an official Making History expansion. But if you don’t want to wait, the community has already beaten them to the punch. A number of mods, including the Historical Missions Pack, allow you to experience launches spanning from the first German V2 rocket tests all the way up to SpaceX and beyond. 

Deus Ex series - Most historical game about… the future?

So this one is mostly my own speculation based on observation of current trends, rather than anything backed up by in-depth scholarship. But I’ve always been impressed with how well Deus Ex depicts what I see as humanity’s likely next steps. Huge strides are being made in brain-computer interfaces, prosthetics, and artificial intelligence, while advancements in fields like spaceflight and laser swords are becoming increasingly hard to come by. Were I a betting man, I’d put my money on the assumption that we’ll see the world of Adam Jensen come to pass long before the world of Captain Picard.

Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio


The Steam Summer Sale continues and of course, Kerbals couldn’t be left out of this craze, so we prepared a huge discount you should definitely check out.

We invite new players to be part of the Kerbal Space Program family! Join us on our official forums, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest news regarding everything Kerbal.

Happy launchings!
Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio
Hello everyone,

We have very exciting news to share with the KSP community today: Take-Two Interactive has purchased Kerbal Space Program. The important thing to know is that this big news doesn’t change much for the KSP community. Squad and the current development team is still here and we’re hard at work on KSP and its future updates, but now we are fortunate enough to do so with the help of an experienced publisher like Take-Two, and we couldn’t be more excited and happy to see where our conjoint collaboration will take KSP forward. 

Right now, we’re still focused on the Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion and we’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress. And yes, we’re keeping our promise of free DLC for everyone who purchased KSP through April 2013! We’re continuing to work closely with Blitworks on the updated version of KSP for consoles, which will be available on the Xbox and PSN digital stores when it is complete. This will be a free update for anyone who already owns KSP on Xbox or PS4. We can’t wait for you to play what we’ve been working on in the coming months! 

This is a very exciting time for KSP and the Community, and we hope you’re as thrilled as we are. The team at Take-Two are big fans of KSP, who have been persistently knocking on our door trying to work with us for a long time. They share your passion for the game and we’re really eager to see what Squad and Take-Two can do together for Kerbal Space Program moving forward! 

Happy launchings!

-The KSP Development Team

Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio


Kerbals are now polyglots! We are incredibly proud and excited to announce that [/i]Kerbal Space Program[/i] is now available in four more languages: Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Spanish. This means that more people will be able to enjoy the Kerbal experience in their native tongue.

Each language was carefully localized so it keeps the humor and charm of the english version. Keyboard layouts, UI and textures were also modified to please local players of each region.

To give you an idea of the scope of this endeavour, we had to carefully revise all lines of code to start cataloging all the aspects that needed to be localized and addressed. We translated more than 95,000 words, created 456 images for textures and UI, prepared 684 slides for the KSPedia and everything was carefully revised by a team of more than twenty dedicated volunteers.

And that is not all, we are also including the integration of Asteroid Day mod into this update, which is now localized and its contracts are balanced for a career game play-through, too.

Additionally, for 1.3 we have added the Ambient Light Adjustment feature - a Boost value to the ambient light setting (similar to the highlighter boost slider). This one brightens the render engine settings to bring light into the darkness. Something that will come in handy if you like to capture and share ingame footage.

You can find the complete changelog here.

Kerbal Space Program 1.3: Away with Words is now available on Steam and will soon on other third party resellers. You will also be able to download it from the KSP Store if you already own the game.
Kerbal Space Program

We wrote yesterday that Valve had hired on an undisclosed number of developers from the Kerbal Space Program team, a noteworthy occurrence because when Valve hires indie dev teams, games like Counter-Strike and Portal are sometimes the result. Valve confirmed the hire but revealed nothing about the details, saying only that a proper announcement would be coming soon. 

In a statement issued shortly after the hiring came to light, however, Kerbal studio Squad clarified that these were employees that had left Squad, then later joined Valve. This isn't a Portal-like situation, in other words, where Valve has absorbed up a full, existing dev team. Further eliminating any confusion, Squad added that it's still operating, and maintaining KSP, as an independent outfit. 

"There was news today that former KSP developers have joined Valve. We want to clarify that Squad is not joining Valve, and we continue to be an independent studio with the core KSP team remaining at Squad, hard at work on the improved KSP for consoles port,  Update 1.3 and the Making History Expansion. The KSP community shouldn't be concerned about this news having any impact on the game," the studio said.   

"Regarding the developers joining Valve, it is important to note that we have had several people working on our team over the years, and it is common among development studios for team members to come and go. If some of them joined Valve, it is on their own behalf and we wish them good luck and success in their current and future endeavors. So do not worry, everything continues normally with KSP." 

In an email, Squad clarified that no current KSP developers had left the studio to move to Valve. "These people departed Squad prior to joining Valve," a rep said. "We do not know who they are exactly or how many there are, either." 

Valve's pickup of former KSP developers remains interesting because whatever they're working on is apparently big enough to warrant its own announcement, and any new Valve project (if that's what it turns out to be) is worth keeping an eye on. But I'm actually glad to hear that Squad is remaining independent, too. Kerbal Space Program, in design and execution, is about as indie as it gets, and you can call me sentimental if you like but it's nice to know it's going to stay that way. 

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program has been around in one form or another since 2011, and went into full release in 2015. But even with all that water under the bridge, the past year has quite possibly been the most tumultuous for developer Squad. Last May, creator and lead developer Felipe Falanghe announced that he was leaving the studio and the game; and this May, it came to light that Valve has hired the development team, or some portion of it. 

The news came by way of a Game Dev Unchained interview with former Valve developer Roger Lundeen, now with Turtle Rock, whose credits include CS:GO and Portal 2. "[Valve] is still buying up mod teams. There's the group of... the modders who made—is it Kerbal Space Station? ... I think it just happened about four or five months ago, six months ago," he said. "They just gave that entire team jobs." 

"Those guys are out of Mexico, I believe. I don't know how many have gone up to Valve, but I just heard that the crew that made Kerbal Space Station [got hired]," he added.   

Lundeen is obviously a bit off the mark with the title—it's a Program, not a Station, and it's not a mod—but his information, as it turns out, is accurate. It's not known how many members of the studio have been picked up, but a Valve rep confirmed that at least some of the Kerbal team had been hired and added, "We'll be announcing more soon." 

We'll let you know when they do.

Update: The headline has been changed to reflect that the new hires were not current members of KSP studio Squad when they joined Valve.

Kerbal Space Program - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 40% on Kerbal Space Program!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Tuesday at 10AM Pacific Time
Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program has been around for a long time in one form or another. It was first playable in mid-2011, and spent two years on Steam Early Access before launching in 2015. It was clearly time well spent—you don't get a 96/100 review score for half-assing it—but despite the brilliantly strong launch, we really haven't heard much about it since. 

Today, however, Squad delivered some pretty big news with the announcement  of the first KSP expansion, Making History. It includes two distinct components: The Mission Builder, a set of "intuitive drag-and-drop" tools that will let players design and share their own missions, and the History Pack, a series of pre-made missions that will recreate historical, real-life missions into space.   

The expansion will also add new parts to the game, including fuel tanks, adapters, decouplers, fairings, and command pods inspired by the American and Soviet space programs, and also Kerbal Personal Parachutes, which can save a Kerbal's life as long as they don't try to use it in the cold void of space. It will also bring scoring to the game, giving players a way to compare their performances at the end of missions.   

Pricing and a release date will be announced later, but Squad confirmed in a separate post that it is standing by its April 2013 promise that all updates and expansions—including this one—will be free for people who bought the game prior to the end of that month.

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 40% on Kerbal Space Program!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time
Community Announcements - daniele.peloggio
Hello everyone!

Kerbal Space Program 1.2.2 is live!

To see the changelog for this patch, click here!

Cheers!
...

Search news
Archive
2017
Aug   Jul   Jun   May   Apr   Mar  
Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2017   2016   2015   2014   2013  
2012   2011   2010   2009   2008  
2007   2006   2005   2004   2003  
2002