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There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man, there’s always a GOOOOAAAALLLL!
Perhaps misunderstanding the phrase “back of the net”, Rocket League [official site] developers Psyonix have announced an oceanic haul for their bumper-to-ball sports ’em up. Next month will bring a free carfootie pitch set in a BioShock-ish undersea sportworld, named AquaDome. I always thought Andrew Ryan was more into golf (or golf was in him) but here we go. Two submersible-ish cars are coming as paid DLC too.
As you might ve spied last month, the 34th edition of the Golden Joystick Awards is open to the public for the first time in the ceremony s 33 year history. As always, winners are voted for by the public, and doing so this year will net you a Golden Bundle from Green Man Gaming for just 1/$1/1 .
That ll get you three games including Spec Ops: The Line, the remake of Sid Meier s Pirates! and a Mystery Game . Exciting. Furthermore, you ll even be able to claim your quid back in Green Man Gaming credit by playing Spec Ops: The Line.
So how do you get all that? Simple: vote on your favourite games of 2015/2016 across the 21 public voted categories be heading this-a-way. Step by step instructions on how to claim your games will be communicated to voters by Green Man Gaming in October.
The 34th Golden Joystick Awards take place November 18 at the Indig02 at London s O2 Arena. Tickets cost 10 each on sale here and are sold on a first come first serve basis.
BioShock: The Collection [official site] on PC is good-lookin’ but, it’s fair to say, A Bit Dicky, pulling off the impressively bungled trick of both recreating some of BioShock’s original issues and throwing a clutch of new ones into the mix too. Take yer pick from enforced mouse-smoothing, no 5.1 sound, messed-up 21:9 support, limited FOV, no graphics settings outside of antialiasing, anistropic filtering, resolution, vysnc and a clutch of crashes. Many of these, though not the crashes, can be resolved via ini file editing (a guide to that is here), but in this, the third consecutive Year Of Luigi, we should not be expected to dirty our hands so.
The good news is that 2K are planning to grab a five-iron and bludgeon most of the major problems into submission. The bad news is that it doesn’t look like we can expect a full settings menu any time soon.
Today, we’re looking back though – a lot has happened since the first game s arrival, including the departure of director Ken Levine from the studio that made two of the three games, and a resurgence of the first-person immersive sim as a genre. Here, we consider all things Bioshock and decide, among other things, which of the games is >actually> the best.
Almost ten years after we first daddied and kindlied and golfed, BioShock has today returned in an apparently fancy-panted remastered version, aka Bioshock: The Collection [official site]. Sadly it s not in the best of shape, in terms of what we PC folk tend to demand from our settings menus and whatnot, but perhaps a more overriding question is but how does it look?>
I shall show you, in thirty different ways. A few thoughts of my own just beneath the cut too.
Bioshock: The Collection [official site] is out today (and free to owners of the originals), which from a PC point of view is most exciting because it gives a big old spit’n’polish to the first two games in the series (Infinite is unaffected on PC, being relatively contemporaneous as it is). Unfortunately it seems that BioShock 1 Remastered particularly has not been as well-loved on PC as it perhaps should have been. It has only the barest-boned of graphical settings, it’s saddled with particularly nasty mouse-smoothing that can only be turned off via ini file hacking, and there are various minor screwy graphical boo-boos too. History is repeating itself: remember the FOV and DRM drama of 2007?
Details – and some fixes – below.
Bioshock: The Collection [official site] is out next week, and as such you’ll be able to play the first two Bioshock games and all of the single-player DLC in renewed detail. Bioshock Infinite is thrown in there for good measure, but it already looks so pretty on PC they’re leaving it as is. 2K Games also plan to give the updated versions free to people who own the originals. How? What’s the catch? I checked, and it turns out it is surprisingly painless. Read on!
Did you wear the Colovian Fur Helm? If you played Morrowind you probably did. The Colovian Fur Helm is a piece of armor you can easily get at the start of the game it literally falls out of the sky for you, being worn by a wizard whose spell doesn't work as intended and you'll probably keep it for a while. At the start of Morrowind decent helmets are hard to come by, especially if you're cheap. The downside is that the Colovian Fur Helm looks like a big hairy nipple. No matter how badass the rest of your armor is, topping it off with a hat that makes you look like one of the Coneheads will ruin your ensemble.
I thought about that hat recently when I was watching Hearthstone designer Ben Brode , which players have called a bad card. Actually they've called it worse things than that, but let's stick with bad. Some players actually like winning with bad cards, Brode explained, before going on to discuss its potential for use in a non-competitive fun deck . Long past the point where it was a liability, I wore that silly Colovian Fur Helm because I'd started thinking it was funny defeating ghosts and monsters while wearing a conical nipplehat. It was bad, but that's what made it perfect for me.
Plenty of games have items in them that prove unpopular with players. Maybe they're equipment in an RPG, cards in a digital card game, guns in a first-person shooter, or power-ups in an arcade game. They could be ugly. Their stats could be terrible. Most players may shun them, but they still serve a purpose.
James Lopez, producer on the Borderlands series, provides me with the excellent names of several guns from Borderlands 2 that players considered bad: Flakker, Bane, Fibber, and Crit. They all had their moments to shine, however, as there was an ebb and flow to the popularity of guns in the games some were popular right off the bat but some were 'undiscovered' for a while until the community found things that made them special , he says.
The Flakker for instance is a shotgun that shoots multiple explosive projectiles. They detonate at medium range, making it almost worthless against distant or nearby enemies. Plus, it fires very slowly. While the Flakker seems underwhelming for a weapon of 'legendary' rarity, it does have its uses. The sniper character Zer0 can combine it effectively with his Rising Sh0t ability, which lets him earn bonus damage for a short duration after every successful attack. The amount of bonus damage increases every time you hurt an enemy, so a single good shot with the Flakker can max out that bonus, after which you switch to a better gun to make use of it.
The Bane on the other hand is a submachine gun that drops your movement to a crawl and constantly shouts at you. When you shoot it screeches like Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber making , and it announces every reload by bellowing Reloading! Even taking it out it will make it announce Swapping weapons! Dropping the in-game volume to zero won't prevent it from ruining your eardrums, either. And yet there are people on YouTube using The Bane to defeat Borderlands 2's endgame raid boss .
Borderlands is an unusual case in that most of its guns aren't unique like the Flakker and Bane, but procedurally generated. They combine effects in randomized ways so you might end up with a sniper rifle that reloads almost instantly or a pistol that shoots burning bullets. It creates variety and depth, Lopez explains, as well as the possibility of the user getting a one of a kind gun that nobody else will have. You might pick up two Maliwan fire SMGs of the same level but they re not going to be the same. And it might turn out that one is more your play style than the other, and the one you don t like might be perfect for someone else in your party.
When you do find a unique gun in a Borderlands game, something with a name like Good Touch or Teapot, you know it's special. That inspires players to figure out why a seemingly bad gun exists instead of chucking it aside like the disposable randomized weapons Borderlands games are full of. As Lopez puts it, Giving them names creates a theme about the gun, a connection to how you got it, and can also inspire the community to learn more about it through forums, videos, wikis, etc.
At the other end of the spectrum from Borderlands and its millions of guns is Assault Android Cactus, a twin-stick shooter in which each of its playable android characters only has two weapons. Some are regular fare like a flamethrower or a beam laser, but the android named Aubergine wields something different: an indestructible drone called Helo that causes damage in a circle and controls like a fishing rod. Hold down fire and the drone moves further away from her; release and it's reeled back in.
Aubergine is the most divisive character in the game, says developer Tim Dawson, some people dig her, but a lot of players couldn't get their head around controlling her Helo drone while moving. She was meant to be an out-there character and push the envelope in terms of twin-stick shooter mechanics, but because she takes so much more work to get good at, plenty of people never did.
The drone has advantages, like being able to cause damage to enemies while you hide behind a wall, but it's tricky to get used to compared to more straightforward tools like the shotgun or the drill. Not many players bother getting to grips with Aubergine and her drone.
Even so, I'm glad she's in the game, Dawson says, she came about from realising our weapon designs were stagnating mid-development and sitting down to brainstorm something off the map. She's not only a good character for players who stick with her, but her existence in the game challenged us to make later weapons like the Railgun and Giga Drill more distinctive.
Assault Android Cactus also has power-ups that appear regularly throughout each level. Each power-up initially appears as a red Firepower boost (adding hovering guns to your arsenal), but if it's not picked up immediately will transform into a yellow Accelerate boost (adding movement speed as well as slurping pick-ups toward you), and finally a blue Shutdown (sending enemies to sleep). The fact that players can choose which of the three power-ups to collect by timing it right inspired a vigorous debate on the game's forum over which was best.
Accelerate came off worst of the three by a fair margin. Despite boosting speed, decreasing damage taken and pulling battery and weapon orbs in, some players began actively avoiding Accelerate, says Dawson, seeing it as a wasted opportunity to grab one of the other two power-ups, both of which had more overt offensive potential.
In the choose-your-own-adventure card game Hand of Fate, each of the player's items is represented by a card that becomes that piece of equipment and appears on your avatar when combat begins. They fall down on you like rain, if rain was made of helmets and axes. Though Hand of Fate is a very different game, just like Assault Android Cactus and its Accelerate power-up, players prefer equipment that has overt offensive potential .
According to its creative director Morgan Jaffit, Something we notice a lot is that people generally prefer items with direct effects, rather than those that act on another system. A good example there is Skullcap of Prophecy, which reduces your cooldowns if you kill an enemy with a weapon ability. There's a lot going on there for a player to think about how often do they kill enemies, how often do they get to use weapon abilities, how does reducing cooldowns help them, etc.
The Skullcap of Prophecy can be part of a powerful combo when used with weapon abilities capable of finishing enemies off, reducing the cooldown on the ability that triggered the Skullcap in the first place in a repeatable loop. Most players don't bother with it, however, preferring to use gear that increases damage directly or doesn't require a decent weapon to synergize with.
Likewise, gear that has negatives as well as positives generally gets picked less than items that are a straight benefit, says Jaffit. Forbidden Armor give you bonus damage resistance, but stops you being able to heal. People tended to just wear slower, less effective armour instead of dealing with the downside.
And that's up to you. Choosing not to use items that handicap you whether they provide some balancing advantage or exist simply to let you challenge yourself or fit a specific theme you're roleplaying is a choice that's yours to make. But even if you do make that choice, the bad items you avoid still serve a purpose. As Jaffit says, you always need contrast. No single item is 'good' in the abstract, you need other items to compare them to.
If every card in Hand of Fate or Hearthstone was perfectly balanced for use with every playstyle, there would be no thrill to finding ones that suit you. If the power-ups in Assault Android Cactus were the same you'd never race dramatically across the level to grab the one you like, and if every gun in Borderlands was useful at every range and in every situation you'd never switch between them and find the perfect moment to bombard some bad guys with a shotgun that shoots exploding swords.
Even beyond stats, items with no value can be imbued with purpose by passionate fans. In Dark Souls, one of the starting gifts, a pendant, does absolutely nothing. Why would anyone pick it over a key that unlocks doors throughout the game? Fans of Dark Souls labyrinthine lore speculated on how the pendant might fit into the mythos until director Hidetaki Miyazaki revealed that . But by then it had served its purpose, making Dark Souls just a little bit more mysterious.
That Colovian Fur Helm served a purpose too. When I finally sold it in favor of wearing something made of enchanted green glass, I felt like a proper hero for the first time, not that joker straight off the boat with the pointy head.
I would have missed the Colovian Fur Helm, but fortunately the shopkeeper I sold it to was so impressed he put it on immediately and continued wearing it for the rest of the game. Everybody's bad item is valuable to someone.