Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Jon Shafer was 21 years old when he became lead designer of Civilization V. Now working at Paradox on an unannounced project and on his own historical strategy game At The Gates in his spare time, he says he’s learning from the likes of Spelunky along with the more obvious strategic influences. We spoke about how the second half of every Civ sucks, the part the series played in his life, the perils of boredom in strategy design, how much we love maps, and what the future holds for both Shafer and Paradox.

I began by asking how he ended up sitting at the Paradox Convention, in Stockholm, the city that has now been his home for two weeks: “It’s quite a long story, actually.”

That story begins in Denver, around 2003.

… [visit site to read more]

XCOM: Enemy Unknown - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

The original X-COM (UFO: Enemy Unknown), Julian Gollop tells me, “succeeded in spite of itself”. I asked him how he felt about the game now, twenty three years after its initial release, and particularly about the way it’s often placed on a pedestal. He didn’t expect it to be a success and certainly didn’t think he’d be making a game heavily based on its legacy almost a quarter of a century later.

Yet here we are. The crowdfunding campaign for Phoenix Point [official site], a sci-fi horror strategy game about an alien onslaught, has just begun. Gollop is back where many people feel he belongs, and this time round he seems extremely confident in his game’s design.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Oh sure, it’s basically been pennies for years, but nothing motivates the merely curious like free-free-free. For that is the case for X-COM: UFO Defense aka UFO: Enemy Unknown, the 1994 alien-bothering strategy game that kicked off a series now made something of a household name by Firaxis’ remakes. Only until tomorrow, though. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Amanda Kerri)

Video games always come with an expectation that the player will suspend disbelief to some extent. Genetically engineered super-soldier clones don t exist, radiation has never and will never work like that, and overweight Italian plumbers could never make that jump. In most cases, if we are unwilling or unable to suspend our disbelief, we may well struggle to enjoy the game and our questioning of the basics of its reality would probably make us insufferable to be around.

There are some games however, where the realities of our world are key to enjoying the game. These are the builders like City Skylines, simulators and sports games like Prison Architect and FIFA, and even crime games like Grand Theft Auto. One genre has a particular problem when it comes to maintaining a foot in the real world yet still creating a setting where one can have fun without becoming mired in morally questionable events and choices: historically based games. And among historical games, few subjects are as complex to represent as slavery. Many have tried, from Europa Universalis IV and Victoria II to Civilization and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, and in this article I’ll investigate the portrayal and use of slavery in these games and more to explore what they get right, what they get wrong, and how games could do better in future.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Many people thought that the comprehensive and tough as nails Long War mod was the best thing to come out of XCOM: Enemy Unknown so the news that the team behind it would be producing mods for the sequel, in partnership with Firaxis. If only they were working on a full-blown Long War mod though for XCOM 2 [official site], wouldn’t that be something?

Well, they are. Intriguingly, the announcement comes from Firaxis rather than Pavonis, the team formerly known as Long War Studios. Whether that means this will be a super mod with in-house assistance or a full-fat expansion (the difference between those two things might be nothing more than a pricetag) we don’t know, though more info is due “in the coming weeks”.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC strategy games ever made, now brought up to date with the riches of the last two years. From intricate wargames to soothing peacegames, the broad expanse of the genre contains something for everyone, and we’ve gathered the best of the best. The vast majority are available to buy digitally, a few are free to download and play forever. They’re all brilliant.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

A month ahead of its release, I ve spent a week with Civilization VI [official site]. The build of the game is near-complete, though only ten of the twenty civs are playable and there are some limits on startup settings. When I heard that I d be able to play so much of the game so long before release, I hoped that was evidence of 2K s confidence in what they had to show.

Whether that s true or not, they should be brimming with confidence. Civ VI is excellent.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

Almost ten years after our first trip to Rapture, the BioShock trilogy has been re-released and (in some cases) remastered. The Collection [official site] looks lovely but it’s far from perfect.

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.

… [visit site to read more]

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