It's The PC Gamer Show! Episode two is an RPGstravaganza with special guest Josh Sawyer, who stopped by to demo Obsidian's Infinity Engine throwback Pillars of Eternity. The PC Gamer US team also discussed the greatest RPGs of all time, played some co-op Divinity: Original Sin, and talked to Sawyer about his time as the director on Fallout: New Vegas.
In this episode...
Act I: Wes, Cory and Tyler talk about what makes a great RPG as Cory prepares the PC Gamer list of the 25 Best RPGs. Will action-RPGs make the cut? Act II: Cory and Obsidian's Josh Sawyer talk about Fallout: New Vegas, including how the game drew from Black Isle's canceled Fallout 3 "Van Buren" project and the inspiration behind Sawyer's challenging JSawyer mod. Act III: Cory shows Wes the basics in co-op RPG Divinity: Original Sin after playing it for 50 hours in a single week. Cory likes Divinity: Original Sin a lot. Act IV: Josh Sawyer walks us through a new demo of Pillars of Eternity, showing off character creation, scripted interactions, and combat.
The PC Gamer Show is a new and evolving project for us, and we want your feedback to help make it better. What kind of segments do you want to see? What games should we play and talk about? Who should we have on as guests? What's coming up next?
Shout at us in the comments below, or shoot us an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're listening. And we'll see you in two weeks.
It s another good day to be a PC gamer (isn t every day, though, really?) with a new set of Steam Summer Sale deals to pad your library for the long hot days of hiding inside ahead. If nothing has caught your eye yet, there s still another weekend to go, but we re pretty happy with today s selection they re not all brand new, but between the heartfelt Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and the vast wasteland of Fallout New Vegas, there's a few hundred hours of amazing and diverse gaming at a deep discount.
Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal. 5 - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons 80% off: $2.99 / 2.19 - Steam store page There are a lot of great stories in games, but few are as affecting as the one here, a story about two brothers traveling a dangerous world to save their father. The characters you meet are painted in broad strokes, but each one has an endearing quality the scene with the ogres is just delightful. It s not just a great story, though: the puzzles in Brothers, and how you solve them by controlling both siblings at the same time, are a joy to solve, even if they re not particularly difficult. It s not a long game, but it s a great four-hour journey for the money. 4 - The Blackwell Bundle 90% off: $1.99 / 1.49 Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST This is an absurdly good price for the first four Blackwell games a series of noir adventures about a psychic detective and her decidedly dead partner. What makes the series worth experiencing is its refusal to fall back on traditional adventure puzzles. Progress is rarely about what you've picked up, but rather what you know. Information is a tool to be used, and investigation reveals new leads and ways to overcome your problems. Beyond that, there's a dramatic story played out between likeable characters; a story that slowly escalates in impact up to the (non-bundled and less discounted) fifth and final game. You can grab Blackwell Epiphany for 40% off. 3 - Torchlight II 75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page Let s celebrate choice: Diablo III has improved a lot since launch (the Auction House closes today, by the way), but here s one of our other favorite action RPGs, and you can currently buy eight copies of it for the price of one Diablo III. We don t know why you would do that, but hey, Steam gifts are a lovely way to show a friend you care. 2 - Metro Last Light Complete 66% off: $6.79 / 6.79 - Steam store page Metro: Last Light is still one of the best-looking games on PC, and it s our go-to game any time we want to see how well a PC runs. But it s also a great shooter, with a few stealth sections that work better than you d expect. It s also surprisingly sad: it s not often that a first-person shooter will move you as much as post-apocalyptic Moscow does. This Complete edition also adds all of the released DLC for the game, including the single-player focused Chronicles pack. 1 - Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition 66% off: $6.79 / 5.09 - Steam store page Wandering the wasteland is one of the best parts of any Fallout game, and New Vegas collected edition here gives you a lot of wasteland to cover. The base game feel more like an open, living world than Bethesda s version of a post-apocalyptic D.C., but the collection of add-ons five in all makes that world even denser. Factor in the thriving mod community on Steam Workshop and you could be living in that wasteland for a long time.
Other great deals today Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.
Nidhogg (66% off) $5.09 / 3.73 Gone Home (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74 Spec Ops: The Line (67% off) $9.89 / 6.59 Syberia Bundle (90% off) $1.49 / 1.09
In the Fallout universe, The Enclave -- deservedly -- have a bit of a bad reputation. On the other hand, they have cool armor and they're always landing vertibirds all over the place like total badasses, and while that doesn't make me like them, it at least makes me think they're kinda cool. That's why For The Enclave, which recently released its final version, is the Fallout New Vegas mod for anyone who's always wanted to join the Enclave.
The modders behind For the Enclave know the best thing about the Enclave is their mode of transport, and starts their mod off in the perfect fashion. Rather than just have some schmuck courier run up to you, or simply add a quest marker to your Pip-Boy journal, they bring in a vertibird to locate you in dramatic fashion. A chopper landing just for you on any occasion is always awesome, but a vertibird touching down in front of you in the post-apocalypse? Double-awesome.
Aw yeah. Picking you up in style.
It seems an Enclave general has noticed your badassery and perhaps has gotten a bit tired of being on the receiving end of it. You're invited to an underground bunker, the Enclave's version of a Vault, really. You can travel there on your own time or climb into the chopper that's just landed. Personally, I chose to take the ride. Why the hell wouldn't you? You've got something better to do than ride a chopper?
Hey, a map. Every mod should have one of these.
The Enclave bunker is big and sprawling, with hangers, barracks, a command HQ, an armory, and several levels of corridors, which is why its so nice that the modders took the time to place maps all over the place, mounted on the walls. Let's face it, it's no fun running around in circles, repeatedly opening the same doors and climbing the same stairs as you try to find your way out of a facility, which was a problem even in the vanilla game.
Don't I know you from a box cover or something?
Despite your reputation and the fact that the Enclave went looking to hire you, you still have to start at the bottom of the food chain and work your way up. There's a couple small, fairly routine tasks you'll need to perform before you get into some serious Enclave business, but it won't be long before you're strapping on power armor and doing some heavy lifting for your new crew.
Ghouls. Why did it have to be ghouls.
One early mission will have you investigating a gloomy underground laboratory. It may seem like a spoiler, showing that picture of ghouls, but trust me, you will know there are ghouls around the second you walk into the lab the because you can hear them. Constantly. Screeching. It just takes a while for them to, like, actually show up. Maybe it's just me and the fact that I always found Fallout's ghouls completely unsettling, but this entire mission was creep-tastic.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Wait, I joined 'em! Why do I still have to beat 'em?
It also turns out that things in the Enclave are not super stable, and the militaristic faction has itself split into sub-factions. There's a splinter branch of the Enclave, and they're not super happy that you're pitching in to help. Hopefully you've already got on your new power armor, because this other Enclave is no picnic to deal with.
I'm wearing stealth armor but using a grenade machine gun. I'm sending mixed messages.
Soon you're in all-out war with the splinter Enclave group, and sent on a mission that's part stealth and recon, and part massive military conflict. Best of all, you get a chance to see more vertibirds swoop across the sky, touch down on the earth, discharge a bunch of Enclave troops -- and they've arrived to help you, not kill you. How sweet it is.
Oh man, I'm boned. Er, no, wait! They're on my side! I'm saved!
I don't want to blab about the entire mod, but there's a lengthy and challenging multi-part main quest, and a handful of side quests you can complete for some of the mod's new characters. You'll eventually unlock custom living quarters in the new bunker, and there's also a new companion that becomes available when you've progressed through some of the missions. There will be some new random encounters as well based on certain choices you've made during the main quest.
So can I play Threes! on this thing or what
There are often waits of a few days between new missions in the mod, meaning this is a good mod to mix in with other activities or quests: when the Enclave has a new task for you, you can trust them to come and find you. There's some custom voice work in the mod, though it's mostly kept to a minimum, which is genuinely refreshing. Sometimes mod makers, when creating dialogue, create quite a lot of it, but here the talking is sparse and to the point.
This mod has been in development for a good long while, and earlier versions have been released in the past, but this appears to be the final version and is definitely worth your time.
Installation: You can download the mod right here. Just make sure you've checked both the .esm and .esp file in your data files when you launch the game as both are needed. You'll also need to be at least Level 15 for the quest to activate. There are also some addition files for improving performance and adding new Enclave uniforms, read the "Installation" section on this page to learn more.
Mark Morgan may not be as "instantly recognizable" as composers like Jeremy Soule, Jack Wall or Jesper Kyd, to name just a few, but to a certain subset of gamer nerd-dom he's easily the equal of any of them. He has more than a dozen titles to his credit in a career that began in 1995 with Dark Seed II, but there are three in particular--Fallout, Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment--that established him as one of the most unique and memorable talents in the business.
And yet Morgan's work in videogames represents only a slice of what has been a remarkably varied and successful career in television, film and even as a member of the band Starship. "In the mid-nineties, I was working mainly in television when an agent friend, Bob Rice, heard the score I was doing for a network show called Prey," Morgan recently told me. "He thought that vibe might translate to videogames and introduced me to a few developers. After doing a couple of games, I discovered that the medium offered a great opportunity for me to explore my goal of writing a score that was minimal, immersive and put the player emotionally inside the game."
His soundtracks for Fallout and Planescape are particularly distinctive because the developers specifically wanted to avoid a conventional orchestral score. "Although Planescape: Torment had some orchestral elements, it still came from an ambient place in order to tell the story, whereas Fallout was simply a very dark ambient game," Morgan said. "The developers knew they liked the ambient vibe, so based on some of my prior work they approached me to explore the possibilities for these games. With Planescape: Torment it was a conscious decision to be more thematic but keep it ambient."
Yet after 1999, the year in which his work appeared in both Planescape and Civilization: Call to Power, Morgan effectively fell off the face of the Earth, at least as far as gamers are concerned. He provided some music for the Giants: Citizen Kabuto soundtrack but otherwise appeared to have moved on to other things. It would be ten years before he returned to games with EA's 2009 release Need for Speed: Shift.
"During that decade, I found myself writing music for television again. Then out of the blue, Charles Deenan, who I had worked with at Interplay and was now at Electronic Arts, asked me to contribute some tracks for Need for Speed: Shift. I had always wanted to do that genre of game, so I jumped at his offer. Soon after, I was offered Prey 2, which I co-wrote with a fellow composer, Jason Graves," Morgan said. "The experience rekindled my love of writing for games. And luckily, soon thereafter I got a call from Brian Fargo, for whom I had worked when he was CEO of Interplay. He was now running inXile, and asked if I wanted to work on Wasteland 2, followed by Torment: Tides of Numenera. Since I had worked on what were essentially the prequels to both of those games, I was thrilled to revisit them."
Morgan said his approach to creating game soundtracks is "collaborative" but the specifics of the process depends on the individual game. He cites Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Trent Reznor as some of his many influences, and added that architecture, specifically the Minimalist and Modernist movements, has played a huge role in his work and "profoundly influenced" how he writes music.
"I am moved by the simplicity in modern architecture. With its space and restraint, you can see it all without being detoured or interrupted by things that don t matter," he explained. "To borrow a quote, 'Subtle enough to not intrude, but bold enough to not become irrelevant.' That s kind of my goal. As this relates to games, I want to effect the player in subliminal ways by keeping them in the moment."
He also allowed that his rather sudden re-entry into the field is driven in part by the emergence of a strengthened indie sector, which has rekindled his interest in gaming. "With the advent of crowd-funding, smaller independent developers can make the style of games that avid gamers want to play. Without the constraints of 'corporate-think,' this freedom translates to the music as well," he said. That gamer sensibility is reflected in his participation in a third game, Stasis, a far more modest Kickstarter project he asked to take part in simply because he thought it looked cool.
"When I first saw the visuals I was hooked. The creators of Stasis, Chris Bischoff and his brother Nic, have such a passion for their game it was infectious," he said. "After seeing their teaser on Kickstarter, I emailed Chris to see if they had a composer. He emailed me back that they didn t, so I talked him into letting me do it."
Despite his early association with the franchise, Morgan said he hasn't been asked to take part in the next Fallout game, although he'd "love to do it" if he could. Neither is he aware of the status of Prey 2, which he is no longer actively involved with. "I don t have any idea of how the gameplay was working out but visually it seemed really cool. I loved working on it, but for me personally I felt I hadn t quite found the sound of the game yet. Before we delivered the final score I had always planned on reworking almost all of my tracks and adding the vibe I thought was missing, but I never got a chance. There were also quite a lot of time gaps between portions of the writing which, to be fair, does happen in many games, but I wish the process could have been shorter and more focused. That said, I think if you played Jason Graves' tracks and mine as a whole score, it had the makings of an interesting soundtrack."
As for the future, Morgan said he's never really sure what it holds, but he sounds happy about his recent resurgence in games. "A lot of the music I m asked to do style-wise is a departure from what I do in TV, so it s really satisfying from a creative point of view," he said. "I also love the fact that, at least with the games I m working on at present, I'm asked, 'Can you make it even darker?' That always works for me."
So far it's worked pretty well for us, too. Of the three game projects Morgan currently has on the go, Wasteland 2 is expected first; no release date has been announced, but it's well into beta testing. Stasis should come next, nearer the end of the year, while Torment: Tides of Numenera is slated to arrive in 2015. To find out more about Mark Morgan and his music, hit up markmorganmusic.com.
School can be a drag, especially when a bunch of atomic bombs have turned your classmates into flesh-eating ghouls. This week, however, class is back in session in the Afterschool Special mod for Fallout: New Vegas, which lets you take an abandoned, decaying schoolhouse and transform it into an awesome high-tech base of operations, with a lab, a crafting center, a health station, and best of all, the CIMS: an awesome computer that can sort, organize, and store all of your worldly possessions at the touch of a button.
(Please note, the picture above of me decapitating a Fiend's attack dog with a laser rifle doesn't specifically have anything to do with the mod. It's just more exciting to look at than a picture of a schoolhouse.)
Afterschool Special (originally released a while back but recently updated with some new tweaks and features) takes place in Springvale, which is based on an actual town in Nevada, and focuses on Springvale School, which is based on an actual school in Springvale, Nevada. The in-game school isn't much to look at: just another rotting, dilapidated building in a world full of them.
Hopefully the interior of the real school is a bit nicer. That is, until you come along. Poke around in the rubble until you find a scribbled journal entry, and you'll discover that a fellow named Paul Edgecomb had some plans to renovate the school, but the guy he hired has since gone missing. Paul lives nearby in a small repair shop with his Ghoul buddy Dean, and offers you the chance to take over the renovations and inhabit the school yourself. It's also worth noting that the custom voice work done on Paul is incredibly well done: it feels authentic and fits perfectly into the game.
This isn't simply a matter of Paul handing over the keys to the school: you've actually got to roll up your sleeves and get to work. First, you ll need to empty out the junk that litters the school floor: busted wood, desks, chairs, and other odds and ends. Being something of a jerk, I decided to dump it all in my neighbor's yard, and was a little disappointed when the desks and chairs, instead of falling into a big messy pile, just hung motionless in the air for some reason. Then I realized that a bunch of desks floating in your yard would probably be even more annoying then a pile of them. That made me feel better.
Why are these desks hovering in mid-air? Just another mystery of the Wastelands. Once the place is cleared out, it's time to mop the floors. Two notes about mopping the floors. First, you'll be happy to know you don't actually have to mop the floors, you just have to press a button and the mod tells you that you've mopped the floors. Second, I am actually disappointed that I didn't get to literally mop the floors. Something about mopping the floor in Fallout, I dunno, it just seemed like it might be fun. How often do you get to mop in a video game? Not terribly often. The next step is to gather some of the goodies for your new pad, like toolboxes, lockers, and other items. They will become part of the centerpiece of the restored school, the CIMS, or Computer Inventory Management System (more on this in a bit). Paul is nice enough to give you some clues as to where to look for the items you'll need, and you'll also wind up doing some random scavenging and visiting traders to fill your order. Or, you might just root through people's houses and hope they don't get too upset.
It's not what it looks like! I just killed this guy so I could steal his stuff! Okay, it is what it looks like. Once the interior of the school is in good shape, you'll need to restore the building's electricity to power the lights and computer system. The mod is actually quite detailed in this respect, and I wouldn't be surprised if the mod s creator was an actual electrician. In additional to gathering some electrical components and batteries, you'll need to find a spare solar panel, which means another trip out into the world to hunt down the gear you need.
Surely they'll never miss it if I take just ONE of these. You think this place looks high-tech? Well, wait until you see my setup:
Even in the post-apocalypse, it's nice to be eco-friendly. Once you've gotten the power running, you can finally use the new CIMS, and discover what a great time-saving device it is. Typically, when my inventory is full, I'll waddle over to some container in my house and start dropping things into it, being careful not to store things I want to keep on me at all times. This isn't difficult or anything, but it tends to take a while, requiring a lot of scrolling and clicking and thinking, and then retrieving items out of the box, which is stuffed with a bunch of everything, also takes more thinking.
Punch a button on that computer, and your belongings are all neatly sorted into those lockers. With the CIMS, you just walk up to the computer and ask it to sort any category you want. If I want to unload all my crafting supplies, I just tell the computer, and boop, all my crafting supplies are neatly stored in one location. Do I have a bunch of extra sets of armor or clothing? Beep. Same deal. Do I have 28 different guns I'd like to keep but not carry with me? Do I want to figure out which to sell and which to save, but I don't want to do it right this second? Click.
Want to empty your pockets into neat, labelled collections? There's an app for that. When I want to do some crafting or peruse weapons or whatever, it's just a matter of opening the correct labeled storage spot. Couldn't be easier. Once you ve got your CIMS set up, you can also purchase other improvements for the school: a healing station, a crafting oven, a science lab, and a workbench. You don t have to stop there: further quests can lead you to repair the old, busted fence outside and add a garden and picnic area, essentially turning the schoolhouse into a schoolhome. As you can tell, this isn't a massive, dramatic, or even particularly dangerous mod (unless you run into some random enemies while scouring the world for parts). It is, however, a great add-on, good for those who have run out of things to do, or providing something enjoyable to work on while taking a break from other, more strenuous quests. The end result is a comfy and extremely useful base of operations in Springvale, with the inventory management system, an extraordinarily comfy bed that gives you the well-rested perk after just an hour s sleep, and a custom map marker for easy travel. There s even a switch on the outside of the building that, when flipped, toggles between the school's vanilla version and modded version. And, like I said, the voice work is surprisingly great.
The best kind of school: one with no annoying kids in it! Installation: Download the latest version here. Drop the contents in your FNV data folder and make sure the mod is checked when you begin. Then head to the schoolhouse and find the note in the rubble. The only issue I noticed was the CIMS occasionally couldn't sort items that were added by other mods.
Internet. Internet never changes. Which is why, once again, we're having to cross the irradiated wasteland of rumour and speculation. There's a chance - remote though it may be - that Bethesda are readying the broadcast signal and preparing to announce Fallout 4 to whichever isolated pockets of humanity care to listen. Of course, there's also a chance that this is nothing, and that Fallout fans will be left to starve on a diet of broken, empty dreams. It's how they would want to go.
The first clue was the emergence of the website TheSurvivor2299.com. It's a countdown site, ticking down to the 11th December, and featuring the logo of the series' Vault-Tec company. The site also plays a Morse code signal, which translates to '11-12-13'. A WHOIS lookup of that site shows that, apparently, it was registered by Bethesda's parent company Zenimax.
So far, so good, but a number of factors cast doubt on the site. You can find a great rundown of evidence for and against the site's legitimacy on the Fallout Subreddit, but, to summarise, it was both registered by a different company than Zenimax usually use, and is using a different, self-branded DNS. Eyebrows were also raised at the date, which is in the dd/mm/yy format so beloved by myself and my countrymen.
Of course, the counter-argument is that Bethesda have done this to foster such uncertainty - with believers citing when Blizzard did a similar thing with one of their viral teaser sites. It's also worth nothing that the 11th December is the date of the VGAs, an award ceremony which is known for its game announcements. And for being embarrassing to watch. People have also pointed out that of course they were going to use dd/mm/yy, because 11-12-13 looks cool.
We're not done yet. There's another twist: a Fallout 4 trademark has been registered by Bethesda Softworks. Even that's far from definitive. A recent EU trademark for Half-Life 3, supposedly from Valve, was later removed when it turned out to be a hoax.
Given all this, we turned to Bethesda in the hope that they could act as the Geiger Counter against these deadly rumours. Their response? "No comment". Make of that what you will.
Those silver metal briefcases you see secret agents using in movies are cool. Walking away from explosions as if you’ve seen a million of them is cool. Destroying your enemies and slipping away scot-free is cool. You can find all of that combined cool in Briefcase Bombs, a mod for Fallout: New Vegas, which lets you build timed charges into briefcases, plop them at the feet of your enemies, set the timer, and then stroll casually away. Boom. First things first. If I’m going to be carrying around slick silver briefcases like some kind of secret agent, I need some secret agent duds. When I load my game I find myself looking like this:
I can't carry a briefcase around in this get-up. I'll look insane. This look is fine for bashing in members of Caesar's Legion, but I'm going to be carrying out calculated assassinations in population centers. Too suspicious.
That's more like it. Playing as a woman, naturally, I had to use this mod just to be able to put on a suit. Also, I killed a gangster and took his fedora, but when I put it on my womanly-woman head, it turned into a pillbox hat with a veil. BOOOO. I’m an agency assassin, not a debutante. Stupid magic hat. Now, I visit my contact, Mr. Holdout, outside a casino in Vegas. The mod lets him sell me schematics for the briefcase bomb, both versions: regular ‘splodey version, and nuke version. Yup. Nuke in a briefcase. Want. I buy both, and start gathering the ingredients. First up: briefcases! The mod makes them not just storage containers but items you can pick up and take with you. As chance would have it, I was recently at the Atomic Wrangler Casino, and noticed a bunch of briefcases in the cashier’s booth.
I'll be back. I pick the lock, creep in, and take ‘em all (along with the money). Next, I’ll need dynamite, and I know where to find that: Powder Gangers have got plenty. I apparently was very helpful to the Powder Gangers at some point in my life, because they're all very nice and think nothing of me visiting their camps, poking through their things, and killing them to search their bodies. Weirdly, killing them in cold blood gives me karma, but stealing dynamite from their camps loses me karma. Now I’ll need some egg timers, and that’s where being a slick secret agent is put on hold for a while as I scour every kitchen and scrap pile I can find. Since the Powder Gangers are being so nice about everything, I head to their stronghold, the NCR Correctional Facility, and nose around in all their drawers and boxes. Eventually, I find one near some guy named Hannigan, and later (much later) locate a few more in random spots in the world. I head to Novac to use the workbench there and raid the shelves for the rest of the scrap needed. Now, to dispatch my enemies. Which enemies? The ones I’ve just made. See, every secret agent knows the first rule is to leave no traces. And I’ve been leaving traces all over the wastelands. Mr. Holdout, for instance. He knows I bought the schematics. When people start dying of exploding briefcases, he'll know who's doing it. He's got to be dealt with.
Hey? Can you watch my stuff for a minute? I approach Mr. Holdout, put a briefcase down beside him, and set the timer for 25 seconds. Then I stroll casually away.
Thanks. No one suspects me or comes running. It's just an unfortunate explosion with no one to blame, especially not the woman walking calmly away in the other direction. Now, to take care of that cashier at the casino. He's missing seven briefcases. He's bound to wonder why. He might start asking questions about that woman who came up to his cage and stared at his seven briefcases thirty seconds before they vanished.
Looks like he... CASHED OUT. Next, I head back to the NCR Correctional Facility where I found that egg timer. Egg timers just don’t disappear, and that Hannigan guy has probably been wandering around asking if anyone’s seen his egg timer in a loud voice. Time to silence that voice.
Hey, Egg Timer Boy. Looks like your TIME...
... is EGG. I mean, UP. Your time is UP. That’s all of my enemies taken care of! Of course, I still want to build a briefcase nuke and blow something up with it, but I haven’t come across any mini-nukes, which is the main ingredient. I finally find one, at Nellis Air Force Base, where a Boomer tending to a cornfield has a nuke launcher on her back. I try to pick-pocket a mini-nuke off her, but she catches me. I’m super popular here at the base, for doing good deeds I exactly can't remember, so it’s not a big deal, but I still need that mini-nuke. How to get it? I decide to use my last briefcase bomb to bomb the Boomer to death so I can take her nuke and make a new briefcase bomb. If that sounds convoluted and pointless -- bombing someone just so you can build another bomb -- you just don’t understand the secret agent game. I shadow her until she stops to water the crops, then place a briefcase at her feet.
Looks like this year's HARVEST...
... is going to b-AGGGGGH STOOD TOO CLOSE TO THAT ONE. WAY TOO CLOSE. After healing my wounded limbs, I build my briefcase nuke. Where to use it? Where have I left evidence that needs to be erased? Oh, wait, I know.
No witnesses. No evidence. Mission accomplished. And listen, don’t tell anyone about this, okay? I still have a briefcase or two lying around. I’d hate to have to use them. Installation: You'll need the official Gun Runners Arsenal DLC to use this mod. It's a couple bucks on Steam. Download the mod, extract both the .esp and .bsa files and drop them into your New Vegas data folder. Make sure you checkbox the .esp file when you load the game.
Remember when buying a game didn’t feel like a guarantee of seeing the ending? There are still hard games out there, Dark Souls flying the flag most recently, but increasingly, the challenge has dripped out or at least softened, often leading to sadly wasted opportunities. What would Skyrim be like, for instance, if its ice and snow wasn’t simply cosmetic, but actually punished you for going mountain climbing in your underpants?
With a quick mod – Frostfall in this case – you’re forced to dress up warm before facing the elements, and things become much more interesting. That’s just one example, and over the next couple of pages you’ll find plenty more. These aren’t mods that just do something cheap like double your enemy’s hit-points, they’re full rebalances and total conversions. Face their challenge, and they’ll reward you with both a whole new experience and the satisfaction of going above and beyond the call of duty.
Misery Game: Stalker: Call of Pripyat Link: ModDB
All those weapons scattered around? Gone. Anomalies? Now more dangerous. Magic mini-map? Forget it. Valuable quest rewards? Good luck. Things you do get: thirsty, and factions who send goons after you if you anger them. On the plus side Pripyat is much more active, with a complete sound overhaul, and new NPCs to meet – who all have to play by the rules too, with no more infinite ammo. If you can survive here, you’ve got a good chance when the actual apocalypse comes.
Project Nevada Fallout: New Vegas Link: Nexus Mods
Nevada is a good example of making things more difficult without being openly psychotic. Levelling is slower, players and NPCs get less health, and obvious features are now in, such as armour only being a factor in headshots if the target actually has head protection. It’s also possible to toggle some extra-hardcore options, such as food no longer healing and taking care of hunger/thirst/ sleep on the move. There’s a sack of new content, and an Extra Options mod is also available, offering even more control.
Brutal Doom Game: Doom Link: ModDB
Despite what modern ‘old-school’ shooters would have you think, Doom was a relatively sedate experience – fast running speed, yes, but lots of skulking in the dark and going slow. Not any more! Brutal Doom cranks everything up to 11, then yawns and goes right for 25.6. We’re talking extra shrapnel, execution attacks, tougher and faster monsters, metal music, and blood, blood, blood as far as your exploding eyes can see. It’s compatible with just about any level you can throw at it, turning even E1M1 into charnel house devastation. The enemies don’t get it all their own way, as Doomguy now starts with an assault rifle rather than simply a pistol, and a whole arsenal of new guns has been added to the Doom collection – including the BFG’s big brother.
Full Combat Rebalance 2 Game: The Witcher 2 Link: RedKit
This streamlines the combat and makes the action closer to how Geralt’s adventure might have played out in the books. He’s more responsive, can automatically parry incoming attacks, begins with his Witcher skills unlocked, and no longer has to spend most fights rolling around like a circus acrobat. But he’s in a tougher world, with monsters now figuring out counterattacks much faster, enemies balanced based on equipment rather than levels, and experience only gained from quests, not combat. Be warned this is a 1.5GB file, not the megabyte Hotfix that’s claimed.
Requiem Game: Skyrim Link: Nexus
Elder Scrolls games get ever more streamlined, and further from the classic RPG experience. Requiem drags Skyrim back, kicking and screaming. The world is no longer levelled for your convenience. Bandits deliver one-hit kills from the start. The undead mock arrows, quietly pointing out their lack of internal organs with a quick bonk to your head. Gods hold back their favour from those who displease them. Most importantly, stamina is now practically a curse. Heavy armour and no training can drain it even if you’re standing still, and running out in battle is Very Bad News. Combine this with Frostfall, and Skyrim finally becomes the cold, unforgiving place it claims to be.
Radious Total War: Shogun 2 Link: TWCenter
Not only is this one of the most comprehensive mods any Total War game has ever seen, its modular nature makes it easy to pick and choose the changes that work best for the experience you want. Together, the campaign AI is reworked, as are the skills and experience systems, diplomacy and technology trees. There are over 100 new units. Campaigns are also longer, providing more time to play with all this, with easier access to the good stuff early on in the name of variety. There’s even a sound module that adds oomph to rifles. Add everything, or only the bits you want. It’s as much of a tactical decision as anything else on the road to conquering Japan.
Game of Thrones Game: Crusader Kings II Link: ModDB
Real history doesn’t have enough bite for you? Recast the whole thing with Starks, Lannisters, Freys and the rest and it will. This doesn’t simply swap a few names around, but works with the engine to recreate specific scenarios in the war for the Iron Throne. Individual characters’ traits are pushed into the foreground, especially when duels break out. Wildlings care little about who your daddy was. It’s best to know a fair amount about the world before jumping in, and the scenarios themselves contain spoilers, but you’re absolutely not restricted to just following the story laid down in the books.
Realistic Weapons Game: Grand Theft Auto IV Link: GTAGarage
Guess what this one does. A bowling league for Roman? Cars that drive themselves? A character who appears to tell Niko “You have $30,000 in your pocket, you don’t need to goon for assholes” after Act 2? No, of course not. These guns put a little reality back into the cartoon that is GTA. The missions weren’t written with that in mind, obviously, but there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a shot. Worst case: murdering random civilians on the street is much quicker, easier and more satisfying. At least until the cops show up to spoil the fun. Range, accuracy, damage, ammo and fire rate are all covered, though be warned that you shouldn’t expect perfect accuracy from your upgraded hardware. This is GTA after all. Realism is not baked into its combat engine.
The Long War Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown Link: NexusMods
You’re looking at eight soldier classes, many more missions, invaders as focused on upgrades as your own science team, and a much longer path to victory. Research is slow, not least to make early weapon upgrades more useful, while the aliens are constantly getting more powerful. Their ships are better, their terror missions are more regular, and more of them show up for battle. In exchange, you get to field more Interceptors, the council is easier to appease, and the ETs don’t cheat as much.
Ziggy's Mod Game: Far Cry 3 Link: NexusMods
Ziggy makes Rook Island a more natural place, removing mission requirements for skills, cutting some of the easier ways to earn XP, increasing spawn rates to make the island busier, and throwing away the magic mini-map in favour of a compass. The second island is also unlocked from the start. Smaller changes include randomised ammo from dropped weapons, being able to climb hills that you should realistically be able to, and wingsuit abilities made available earlier to get more out of them.
Minecraft has a Survival mode, but it’s not desperately challenging. Terrafirmacraft takes it seriously, with hunger and thirst that must be dealt with at all times, and key elements added such as the need to construct support beams while mining to prevent cave-ins, and a seasonal cycle that determines whether or not trees will produce fruit. Many more features are to be added, but there’s enough here already to make survival about much more than throwing together a Creeper-proof fort.
Synergies Mod Game: Torchlight II Link: Synergies Mod
This adds a new act to the game, over a hundred monsters, new rare bosses, a new class – the Necromancer – more and tougher monsters and the gear to take them on. There are also endgame raids to add challenge once the world is saved yet again, and more on the way – including two new classes (Paladin and Warlock). It’s the top-ranked Torchlight II mod on Steam Workshop, and easily the most popular. Be aware that it’s still in development, and has a few rough edges.
Civilization Nights Game: Civilization V Link: Steam Workshop
While Brave New World has officially given Civ V a big shake up, for many players Nights remains its most popular add-on. It’s a comprehensive upgrade, adding new buildings, wonders, technologies and units, with a heavy focus on policies and making the AI better. The single biggest change is how it calculates happiness, citizens adding cheer simply by existing, but the slow march of war and other miseries detracting from the good times. Annexed a city? Don’t expect too many ticker-tape parades. Yet keeping happiness up is crucial, as it’s also the core of a strong military. This rebalancing completely changes how you play, while the other additions offer plenty of scope for new tactics and even more carefully designed civilisations.
Ultimate Difficulty Mod Game: Dishonored Link: TTLG Forums
This makes Dishonored’s enemies more attentive, faster and able to hear a pin drop from the other side of the map. When you get into a fight, it quickly becomes an all-out street war. The biggest change is to Dishonored’s second most abusable ability: the Lean (Blink of course being #1). Corvo can no longer sit behind scenery, lean out into an enemy’s face and be politely ignored. He’s now much more likely to be spotted – especially in ghost runs, where his advantages are now limited to the Outsider’s gifts rather than the Overseers’ continued lack of a local Specsavers.
Hardcore Game: Deus Ex Link: ModDB
New augmentations! Altered AI! Randomised inventories! Also a few time-savers: instead of separate keys and multitools for instance, a special keyring has both, while upgrades are used automatically if necessary. Difficulty also changes the balance considerably, from the standard game to ‘Realistic’ mode where you only get nine inventory slots, to ‘Unrealistic’, which makes JC Denton the cyborg killing machine he’s meant to be, but at the cost of facing opponents who warrant it. In this mode he gets double-jumping powers, and automatically gobbles health items when he gets badly wounded. Good luck though, I still got nowhere.
You may remember clashing with the overly gruff Monster of the East in one of Fallout: New Vegas' endings. Legate Lanius—whose name is Latin for "butcher," naturally—wasn't terribly complex beyond being New Vegas' token Bad Guy, but a fan film is seeking to change that by attempting to color in his backstory. This here is the first teaser for the fan film Fallout: Lanius, which is debuts this weekend.
Haven't played New Vegas? How convenient, then, that Steam is currently selling it for a mere $2.50. You won't need to overly familiar with the wasteland to appreciate this high-concept action flick, however. Lanius' origin story is a lovingly put-together project by filmmaker and gamer Wade K. Savage, with the likes of New Vegas writer Chris Avellone being amongst those who donated to its crowdfunding campaign last year. While this teaser doesn't reveal very much at all, it won't be long till we learn fully about Lanius' frenzied ascension to brutality—the world premiere happens this Saturday at PAX Australia.