Final Fantasy's hardest bosses are usually hiding somewhere, waiting to wipe out your party immediately. For Final Fantasy 15's PC release, the developers added a big spider robot called Omega, which is buried in a part of the Insomnia city map near the close of the game. It's described as a weapon forged to fell the gods—and when I ran past it on my way to another objective, it wiped out a party member's health in one hit.

I haven't beaten Omega, and I'm not sure I ever will. Final Fantasy 15's combat doesn't demand enough strategy to make for interesting boss fights, only long ones—exemplified by the slog that is the battle with mountain-turned-angry-turtle, Adamantoise—but in some ways the effect of knowing it's there is the best thing about Omega. That part of the city is no longer safe. It's ready to kill me.  

This has always been the case with the 'Weapons' and superbosses from Final Fantasy games of the past: they're usually giant horror creatures, representing the game's ultimate challenge. It's not the idea of a long boss fight that's exciting to me—it's how they're presented. 

Final Fantasy 10 was the first entry I played, back in 2002—I've since played them all. I'd gotten pretty good at the game's complex progression system and learned how to take down every boss quickly. It's not a hard game, as long as you don't skip random battles and keep your characters developing—but then I returned to Besaid Island, one of the game's opening areas, and met my first Final Fantasy superboss. You can see the scene play out above: the sky changes colour, a bald man screams 'infidel!' and a dark version of one of your summoned allies arrives to demolish your party. It's actually a bit spooky. Or at least, it seemed that way when I was 14. 

That almost horror movie-like reveal technique is used in a few other Final Fantasy games, too. One of the most memorable for me is Ultima Weapon in Final Fantasy 8. You fly to an area known as the 'Deep Sea Facility', mysteriously placed in the middle of the ocean as a secret dungeon for the player to find. Once you reach the bottom of the facility, things get more bizarre: an alarm goes off, the rocks resonate and this thing suddenly attacks. The build up to the boss and the eerie sense of place is what makes it a great boss fight—not the fight itself, which is pretty easy if you've got Squall levelled up appropriately. Check out Bizkit047's video below to see what I mean (note: Squall has been renamed 'Kevin'). 

Go, Kevin, go! This is why I'm a big fan of Final Fantasy's superbosses. They're endgame content, not tied into the main story, so they offer value to keep playing after you've seen the credits—but the developers clearly think hard about the way such enemies are introduced, and what kind of atmosphere their presence creates. Omega is just the latest in a long line, and I love the way it's explained as a god killer, created by man. I can't be bothered to fight the thing, sure, but it's a cool explanation for why it exists. 

Final Fantasy 7 has arguably the spookiest superboss of all: Emerald Weapon. Even though the game's dated visuals mean the creature doesn't have the same impact that it used to, this thing swims around the world's dark oceans, and can only be encountered in the submarine you obtain deep into the game. Sometimes it'll just hover right in front of you, and its location will be revealed by little bursts of air coming out of its sides, emerging from the dark. Like most Final Fantasy superbosses, it'll pretty much kill you in moments unless you've mastered the game's combat and progression systems.  

Why did I ever think this thing was scary?

Final Fantasy has many obvious traditions: chocobos, cactuars and a guy called Cid all spring to mind. But this is probably my favourite. I love the idea that mastery is hard fought in Final Fantasy, and that there's always the chance there's something else out there in the world, waiting to murder your party. 

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege

Tachanka is Rainbow Six Siege's least popular operator and its most popular operator. As a defender, he's mostly useless. You'll only see him selected if you're playing with someone inexperienced, or someone who's intentionally trolling the other team. Data released by Ubisoft confirms this—Tachanka has the lowest pick rate throughout the lifespan of Siege, and often the lowest win rate among defenders. By far.

But as a meme, he's beloved: members of the Siege community refer to him as "Our Lord," among other godly designations. Tachanka is the heavy, loud, unsubtle, steel-helmeted Russian in a game that's often about speed, stealth, and trickery. He's natural comedic relief in an otherwise tense, serious FPS, and Tachanka appears plenty in Siege's memes and comics, like those drawn by prolific community artist SAU-Siege.

If you're Ubisoft, what do you do with a character like Tachanka in a competitive shooter? Game director Leroy Athanassoff addressed that question in the Q&A portion of a panel at the Game Developers Conference yesterday in San Francisco.

"The design issue is, this game was made in a context where, when we were working on it, we didn't know how Siege was going to be played. The core ability of Tachanka is deploying a turret, trading his whole movement ability to firepower. It's not something that works in Rainbow Six Siege. Because of the destruction, because of the entire game, not being able to move is not something that works."

From Ubisoft's panel, a graph showing pick and win rates for each operator for Year 2 Season 3 of Siege (mid 2017). Tachanka and Ela are massive outliers.

The core issue, Athanassoff believes, is that the logic of reworking Tachanka is at odds with the affection the community has for him, and that his identity as a meme has value. "The thing is that, if it was not 'Lord Tachanka,' we would have revamped the operator and maybe totally changed it, like maybe removed the turret and create something else. But at some point it kind of… he become, I would say, kind of a god for a lot of people," Athanassoff joked. "So we have this situation of if we really want to address it, we need to change it in a way that it won't be Tachanka anymore. It's kind of a difficult decision to make ... As the Lord is above us, I would say he's in a nice place right now."

While Ubisoft may not have plans to further buff or alter Tachanka, perhaps as an acknowledgement of that community love, we saw the Spetsnaz soldier as one of the handful of voiced characters in the recent cinematics for Siege's PvE Outbreak event, the closest thing to a story Siege has had in its more than two years since release. You can also find him in vinyl in the Ubisoft Store.

What Remains of Edith Finch

During a GDC panel about how the team at Giant Sparrow used 13 different game prototypes to provide the foundation for What Remains of Edith Finch's story (our favorite of 2017), Creative Director Ian Dallas revealed what their next game will be about. 

The final slide of the presentation features two birds, a wacky cube toad, and a school of fish. And below the Planet Earth collage was the message. See it for yourself below.

Dallas didn't elaborate much on the subject, essentially repeating what was on the slide, but he did say they're looking for talented animators to help out. You can apply at Giant Sparrow's website, which is also housing a few more details on the new project.

"Our next game is still very early in development, but we know it's going to focus on animation as a means of conveying mood, revealing character, and providing for player expression."

Exciting stuff, given how effective Edith Finch was at conveying its dour, overwhelming themes. If the vignettes where you bounce between playing as a cat, shark, owl, and giant tentacle are good reference for a starting point, then a project that explores and expands on what it means to move as an animal is an especially exciting prospect in Giant Sparrow's hands. The project description continues:

"We're drawing inspiration from works like Ico, Windosill, Spirited Away, The Life of Birds, and the spirit of Winsor McCay and early Disney films like Bambi and Fantasia that used (for the time) cutting edge technology to build something that didn't feel technical at all, but instead felt personal and enchanting. That's our hope anyway."

We're still years out from playing it, for sure, but we'll wait as long as necessary for videogame's Bambi.


Jalopy is a lovely road trip simulator that wheels players around the territories of the former Eastern Bloc. It's been in Early Access since April 2016, and has now set March 28, this Wednesday, for full release. 

When I first discovered former Formula 1 developer Greg Pryjmachuk was partly responsible for Jalopy, I was intrigued. Driving an East German Trabbie-aping Laika 601 Deluxe is a far cry from high-velocity F1 cars, and while I loved my time with it I'm not sure I properly understood it. 

Miodrag Kovachevic's 2017 Now Playing, on the other hand, is a wonderful example of someone who does. As explained in the article's intro, Miodrag grew up in '90s Yugoslavia, an Eastern European country that no longer exists. They speak about their family's Yugo—"a metal box with wheels that was the embodiment of cheap communist cars"—which, despite lasting 27 years, appears to mirror the game's Laika 601 Deluxe.  

Miodrag's insights inspired me to return to Jalopy, which I then found more enjoyable than before. You should absolutely read the piece in its entirety, but I've pulled out a couple of paragraphs below: 

As I drive through procedural ’90s Germany, I don’t recognise any of the environments, but I still feel a sense of nostalgia. My car is slow and the roads are barren, without a single billboard in sight. The radio plays songs that sound like Eastern Europe in the ’90s, (or Western Europe in the ’60s, depending on your perspective). A few infant ’90s tracks tentatively edge themselves in, not yet knowing whether they’re electro or industrial...

When I finally reach Yugoslavia, the game shows off the coastal area—something I’ve never seen before. But the roads still feel familiar. They bend in weird and dangerous ways, while stone hills loom over them. It’s nowhere in Yugoslavia; it’s everywhere in Yugoslavia. I gaze at the sea and reflect upon my journey. Have I changed like my Laika has? Different on the inside, with only the shell still the same? The car breaks down again and I’m reminded that no, it’s still the piece of garbage it has always been. 

Jalopy will launch in full on March 28, and will be subject to a limited-time 40 percent launch discount on Steam. It'll support 19 different languages, too—check out that list full over here.

Tomb Raider

I hope you weren't too terribly excited for those Tomb Raider remasters that were announced earlier this month, because they've been canceled. The teaser videos are gone and Realtech VR, the company that was purportedly handling the remasters, said in a cryptic tweet that it is now focused on new AR and VR projects. 

The only follow-up it has provided was in response to a request to release just the HD textures, in which it said simply, "We can't respond sorry." But Square Enix told GamesIndustry that it was responsible for the kill order, because the remasters hadn't actually been given the green light in the first place. 

"While we always welcome passion and excitement for the Tomb Raider franchise, the remasters in question were initiated and advertised without seeking approval. As such, they were never officially sanctioned," it said in a statement. "Ensuring fans receive high quality gaming experiences is at the heart of our mission as a company, which requires all projects to go through proper channels." 

A Realtech VR rep said in an email that it couldn't discuss the specifics of the matter for legal reasons, but added that the studio "had a great experience with Square Enix" while developing the mobile versions of the first two Tomb Raider games.

"But our recent research, studies and reviews on Tomb Raider 3 were unwelcome, although those rights are protected with Fair dealing in Canadian copyright law," the rep said. "Right now, we don't have any business with Square Enix anymore."

Slay the Spire

What’s this? Oh it’s Anti Flame listening to Travis while he beats the crap out of Slay the Spire in five minutes and six seconds. Hitting 15(!) relics en route helps but you have to credit the speed of the decision-making, and speed of the clicking. In a great Slay the Spire run the RNG has to fall your way, but it’s still easy to mess up, especially if you’re trying to go really fast.

Here is what is going on in this video. 

The whale: If you beat a boss in Slay the Spire at the start of your next run a whale turns up and offers you some powerups. Anti Flame picks “Enemies in your next three combats have 1HP” which is obviously great for quickly getting through the first tier of the tower.

Flex: Flex costs nothing and gives you a strength buff that increases the power of your attack cards. Anti Flame upgrades this at the one minute mark to get a nice +4 strength buff which combos with Whirlwind.

Whirlwind: This deals 5 damage X times to all enemies, where X is the amount of energy left in your pool. Just before Anti Flame buys this at 1:20 he picks up the Lantern, which gives you one energy extra at the start of combat. That means with the right opening hand you can deal 20 damage to everything, even more if you’ve flexed up. A couple of nodes along the route Anti Flame upgrades Whirlwind to deal 8 damage X times. You can see where this is going. 


Thunderclap: This deals damage to everything on screen, but importantly it also applies vulnerability to everything, which means Whirlwind does even more damage.

Energy potion: Fighting the first boss Anti Flame uses an energy potion when he draws Whirlwind. Seven energy means Whirlwind attacks seven times. The big slime is vulnerable from an earlier thunderclap, so the attack does 84 damage and kills the boss outright.

Offering: Okay this is getting silly now. Offering hurts you but gives you two energy and draws three cards. It's perfect for getting Whirlwind and Flex to draw consistently. A few seconds later in the boss chest Anti Flame gets a free upgrade to Offering which makes it draw five cards.

Let's check in on where the combo is at. At 2:07 Anti Flame gets a five energy start thanks to relics, then plays Flex+ to boost damage, Offering+ to draw the rest of the combo, Thunderclap+ to damage and apply vulnerability to everything, then Whirlwind to wreck everything on screen.


"FUCK!" Anti Flame goes left instead of right at 3:05 missing out on two ? nodes. These can give you upgrades and relics, and are faster to click through than a fight. If Anti Flame had gone right here the run could have come in under five minutes.

However, one of the fights drops a second Whirlwind. Swings and roundabouts.

Pen nib tip: This relic causes every tenth attack card to do double damage, which is why Whirlwind does ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHT damage to a boss at 3:41.

Alanis Morissette: The soundtrack changes at the four minute mark and the damage output leaps considerably. Coincidence? I think not.

Overkill: Fighting a boss on the third tier Anti Flame uses double offering and double flex to stack insane damage. One Whirlwind does 456 damage. The run is a formality at this point. 

Endgame: The final boss falls to Flex, Offering, Thunderclap, Offering, Offering, Flex, Thunderclap, and an 11-energy Whirlwind that does 176 damage killing both enemies outright.

Good job. Slay the Spire is currently in Early Access but it's already great. Check out our beginner's guide if you're just getting started. You never know, you might be the one to crack five minutes.

Slay the Spire

If you're reading this Slay the Spire guide, you no doubt know that Mega Crit Games' roguelike card battler is absorbing, addictive and annoying in equal measure. Although easy to learn, it's deceptively deep and difficult to win. The random elements can make it seem like a crapshoot. Most runs are beatable, though, if you make the right choices. Here's a primer on the wisest picks.

Think on your feet

One of the best yet most frustrating things about Slay the Spire is that there's no guaranteed strategy for success. Each run offers different cards, potions and encounters, so you must work with what you're given. Early on, watch for cards or relics that you can start to build a strategy around, and adapt accordingly. Until your build begins to take shape, avoid cards that only deliver value as part of a combo: Body Slam, for example. However, the game also discourages too much specialisation. Almost every build has a monster tailored to find its weak spot. 

Read the map

The first three levels of the game have the weakest monsters. It's a good idea to fight these opening encounters to build up your gold and card options. After that, things change. Higher up, look for paths that avoid standard monsters as the rewards aren't worth the risk. Pick question marks and campfires instead. Miniboss fights can be hard, but they net you a relic which is often a worthwhile payoff. On acts two and three, scroll up and check the icon at the top of the map, as it indicates which boss lies in wait. These fights are hard and demand specific strategies, so start tailoring your card and shop choices to prepare for them.

Don't get greedy 

Every time you get offered something, there's a "skip" option. It's there for a reason: you want to maintain a small deck. Adding in every half-decent card you see will make your deck bloated, so it's less likely you'll draw key combos. Ditching the weak Strike and Defend cards you start with is therefore very useful. Unless you're running a lot of card draw effects, aim for the smallest deck you can, ideally under 15 cards, full of mutually supporting effects. Once it's working, skip even rare or powerful cards if they don't benefit your build. 

It's less common that you won't want a relic, but if the effect will hurt your play style, leave it behind. Some boss relics, such as the Snecko Eye and the Runic Dome, have downsides that make them rarely worthwhile. If your potion slots are full, and you're offered a better option, you can discard one to grab the new elixir.

Nothing is free

Most choices have a downside. Zero energy cards might seem an automatic boon, but they still clog up your deck, making it harder to draw more critical cards. The only exception is if the effect also draws a new card, or your deck already has a lot of card draw. At bonfires, it's usually best to upgrade a card unless you're under half health or about to face the boss. However, some card upgrades barely improve on the original. If you run out of worthwhile upgrades, it's okay to rest unless your health is very high. 

Watch the whale

If you reach the act one boss, which you will on most runs, the next attempt starts with a choice of bonuses offered by a talking whale. All except the first have an associated degree of increasing risk and reward associated. Never take that first choice: the benefits are too meagre. Same for the last choice as it's always too risky: starting relics are very powerful. Judge the positives and negatives of the middle two options and select accordingly. The best bonuses are those that net you a relic, or remove cards from your deck.

Shop wisely

Gold is in short supply, so you spend it with care. You should only buy cards if they're critical to the deck you're trying to create. Instead, save up for relics. Those that give a boost to strength or dexterity are particularly good value for money. Most of the time the relics on offer won't be worthwhile, in which case use the card removal service. Ditch curses first, then your starting Strike and Defend cards. Potions are never worth it: you'll find plenty for free.

Learn the encounters

All the creatures in the game have particular attack patterns. You'll get a lot further in your runs once you can learn to anticipate their actions and plan ahead. This is very important for monsters like Slimes and Byrds whose actions you can interrupt, earning you a respite from a planned attack. It's also critical for those like the Gremlin Wizard that cycle up to powerful attacks, so you can try to kill them before they get off a big blow. It's especially useful to learn the patterns of miniboss fights. Once you can navigate them in relative safety, they earn you a powerful relic as a reward. You can also learn the question mark encounters, whose choices will play out the same each time. Some selections are much better than others.

Plan your turn

It's tempting to get stuck in and kill stuff, but it's better to consider your options first. Maximise the effects you're planning to use: apply Vulnerable before any other attack cards, for example. As a rule, your priority is to avoid damage, since that will end your run, especially if you're confident you can deal with the encounter. But there are often better ways to do this than accumulating Block. If you can kill or stun an attacking monster, for instance, you won't take its damage. Applying the Weak status likewise reduces incoming pain. If you've got card draw, remember to check what's in your draw pile in case you pull an important card but don't have the energy to play it. Consider all the variables in the situation and how they might work together, and do your best to balance offence and defence.


Frostpunk is a survival sim about managing a city in a wintry post-apocalypse by rationing resources like heat and food, passing hard-knock laws and, if you're Chris, mandating soup. But the more I talk with Pawel Czaplarski and Rufus Kubica of Polish developer 11 Bit Studios, the more I see that it's also a politically charged game about people. It's different from other city builders in that growth is far from your only goal, and it's different from other survival games in that you're responsible for an entire society, not just yourself. 

"It's not like a never-ending city builder. It's more story-driven," Czaplarski says. "This game is about politics. It is about being a leader. You are responsible for your entire city-state. Whatever you shape will be your society. At the beginning you have a few simple tasks given to you to adapt to the situation. You need to get some coal, you need to start the generator. But ultimately you're supposed to lead your society to safety."

It's easy to make snap decisions when you're by yourself. In games like Don't Starve, you're free to do whatever you want with your resources. Things change when you're thinking about a group. Everyday decisions suddenly become difficult and complicated, and at the same time, some decisions become dangerously easy because you're not the one dealing with the consequences. 

"I strongly believe that different rules apply to morality when it comes to groups," Czaplarski says. "Imagine being appointed leader of a country. Whatever you do, people will disagree, at least some of them. But you should think that, in the long-term, your decisions are right, you foresee the consequences. 

"In Frostpunk, citizens ask for solutions to various situations. For example, when lacking manpower, people may ask you about child labor. Normally you wouldn't be sending children to work, but what happens if you're really on the edge? You may decide that sending children to work is actually the best solution."

As Chris discovered, endorsing child labor often leads to unrest and injuries. Luckily the build me and the devs are playing is fresh out of the oven and includes expanded and never-before-seen features. We opt for child shelters instead of child labor, and as a result, later on down the line we unlock the option to have children serve as medical apprentices, which is much safer work than mining coal or repairing massive generators. It's a long-term strategy, and like most long-term strategies in Frostpunk, it's a gamble. 

"The laws you set are irreversible," Czaplarski says. "However, future laws can amend what you've decided in the past. Like applying radical treatment when people are frostbitten. They may lose their legs, but you still take care of them. They need to get food, they need to be treated, they need to be taken care of. You keep them in your society but they are useless. They are a part of your society that doesn't work. But this is your decision as a leader, and you believe it's humane. Later on, if you develop technology for prosthesis, you can create prosthetic limbs and make those people useful again. It's not a question of treating people as a resource, but making decisions that are good in the long-term for your entire society."

"What's important is that you don't know this at this point," Kubica says, referring to Frostpunk's many branching laws. "You may go for radical treatment but you don't know what comes further. It's the same with child labor. Usually people tend to send children to work because there's an immediate effect. But I prefer to go with child shelters because later on I can use them as medical apprentices. That's a long-term strategy." 

It's especially difficult to resist the allure of immediate, short-term payoffs because you regularly receive requests from citizens. They need homes, they're freezing, they don't have enough food. One of the most interesting requests citizens make is the desire to explore the outside world. Frostpunk is set in an alternate 19th century where the world froze over just after steam engines were invented. Your main city is situated in a frozen crater, and people are curious about the outside world. Is it really as bad as it seems? Are their missing loved ones out there somewhere? Is yours really the last city on Earth? The only way to find out is to send exploration parties into the frozen wasteland, which carries huge risks. 

At any given moment, you can bet that someone in your city is unhappy, and it falls to you to decide when to listen. You can ignore requests and complaints, but that builds discontent, one of Frostpunk's two most important resources, the other being hope. If your discontent bar maxes out, your citizens are liable to riot. Likewise, if you run out of hope, your citizens will likely abandon your city. Both result in you failing the scenario—there's currently one main scenario and two sub scenarios with unique challenges—so you have to at least meet your citizens halfway. For me, that's the most exciting thing about Frostpunk. You're the one in control, but there's no such thing as one-way communication. Your people also talk to you. 


PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is getting an Event Mode, which developer PUBG Corp describes as "a periodically changing preset Custom Game where we will be trying new things and experimenting with different game parameters." It sounds a bit like Fortnite's themed, limited-time offerings

But before we talk about that, let's talk about flare guns. "We would like to reveal one of the features that will be included in our next iteration," so reads this Steam Community update post ahead of the following image:

Flare guns. But what will they be used for? Alerting teammates to your location? Distracting enemies while your pals get the drop on 'em? Calling in supply drops? Questions, questions. 

Okay, back to the Event Mode. These unranked exhibitions will be experimental in nature (although will provide BP) and stand apart from public matches. Starting off simple, the new initiative's debut will boost squad numbers from four to eight and will double the drop rate of rifles.   

"Please keep in mind that the first iteration will only feature TPP on Erangel to ensure effective matchmaking," explains the developer. "Anyone who owns a copy of PUBG can enjoy the Event Mode. To play in the Event Mode, please use the relevant UI in the bottom left of the main menu."

No hard release date for any of this just yet, but PUBG Corp expects to move from test to live servers soon. 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

OMEN by HP and FACEIT have announced the OMEN UK Open—a new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament set to run from next month through November, 2018. The UK-exclusive contest promises a total prize pool of $30,000, with $12,500 of that in cash and $17,500 of OMEN by HP hardware. 

Qualifiers kick off on April 15 and are open to teams and solo players alike. The opening stage is split into eight preliminary rounds, followed by a two-month league, and wrapped up by open finals on November 17 and 18. The tourney in its entirety will be broadcast on the OMEN by HP Europe Twitch channel.

Further to the competition itself, OMEN by HP will also run the OMEN UK Open Community Caster Challenge—an initiative that gives talented commentators the chance to win $2,500 worth of OMEN by HP products, and the potential opportunity to cast the OMEN UK Open Final.  

"With the launch of the OMEN UK Open, HP is celebrating the competitive spirit that drives grassroot gamers across Britain," says George Brasher, UK and Ireland MD at HP, in a statement. "We know that enthusiast gamers need the best equipment and competitions to reach their goals and showcase their talent. The OMEN UK Open is a unique opportunity for HP to provide this platform and support the expansive UK CS:GO community—a passionate group of gaming fans at the very heart of esports."

The Omen UK Open qualifiers begin on April 15, and the tournament will conclude with Finals on November 17 and 18, 2018. More information on all of the above can be found here, while those interested in Community Caster Challenge sign ups should head in this direction.


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