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On paper, Unsung Story sounds like one of my dream Kickstarters. It is, or perhaps was, a new tactical RPG "envisioned by" Yasumi Matsuno, director of Final Fantasy Tactics. His name, and a few others including talented translator/localiser Alexander O. Smith, is likely the reason backers forked out over $660,000 for the Kickstarter back in 2014. Playdek is the company developing it, however, and their Kickstarter updates have become increasingly infrequent over the last couple of years.
The latest update—four months since the last—announces that Unsung Story is currently on hold.
"There has been another delay in reporting to you since our last development update, and we apologize for that. Our continued intention is to make a great game, and get Unsung Story to development completion and released to you and the gaming public. During the last few months we have had some development setbacks that are affecting our timeline and progress on the game, while also affecting what we need to do in the immediate future as a company.
"After we posted our latest development progress, we unfortunately lost a few key staff members that were part of Unsung Story development, and that has had an impact on any progress since then, as well as our product focus. We now have one internal team capable of working on a single project, and for the financial strength of the company we need to focus on a few products in the near term that have the ability to get to a retail release before Unsung Story is able to. While this is a difficult choice to make, it is one we need to do for the ongoing financial health of the company. For Unsung Story, we will explore options for outside development help, and will look to see if we are able to bring on an outside team that can assist us in furthering development. While we aren t assured this will come to fruition, we do want to make sure that we are exploring any options at hand that can make progress on the game."
The most recent look at the now-on-hold game came last October, via a work-in-progress look at Unsung Story's combat system. It's not clear how far along development is, but the chances of it coming to fruition are obviously currently quite slim. Many of the comments under that update post are angrily calling for refunds.
If you're looking for a Final Fantasy Tactics-style RPG that stands a better chance of being released, you might want to keep an eye on Endless Fluff's Fae Tactics.
On this week's Mod Roundup, an enterprising fan of The Last of Us has added a map from Naughty Dog's zombie epic into Grand Theft Auto 5. Also, Fallout 4's quick loot window has been modded into Skyrim for less intrusive scrounging. Finally, XCOM 2 is out and mods have already begun to arrive, including one that lets your soldiers carry a gun that looks like a puppy. Aww.
Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.
If you like the loot UI of Fallout 4, something similar has been modded into Skyrim. You can see in the short video above that approaching a container (even if that container is a dead body) brings up a small window and displays a list of loot without opening your entire inventory pane.
The Last of Us never came to PC, but now you can enjoy a bit it in your game of GTA 5. This map approximates the look and feel of the game. With so much vegetation on display, however, the modder recommends having 8GB of RAM to avoid everything lurching to a halt. At the very least, you can look at his work in the video above.
While we knew there would be official mods for XCOM 2 available at launch, and mod tools arriving with it, we're still pleased a modder managed to get something out on day one. Something very important, as it turns out. Diligent creator JonTerp modded in a gun that looks like a happy little dog. The aliens won't see it coming.
Looking for more mods? Check out our newly updated list of the Best Mods for Skyrim.
Duelyst went into open beta at the end of last year, and it quickly became one of my favorite digital card games. Counterplay Games has done a great job of emphasizing so many of the things I love about Hearthstone, while also making the entire formula significantly more complex by adding a gridded board. And it's that board which really makes Duelyst a whole different game.
As I get better at playing, I've started to learn a few things I wish I had known before I started Duelyst. Some of those are pretty straight forward, but other tips might not come as naturally as you'd expect. If you're at all interested in trying Duelyst, and assuming you come from a background where you have some knowledge of collectible card games (Hearthstone or otherwise), the advice below will help you hit the ground swinging...
You may want to jump straight into online matches, and while trial-by-fire is not a bad way to learn, completing as many of the single-player challenges as you can is extraordinarily valuable. Not only do you get a boatload gold from doing them all, the single-player challenges ramp up in difficulty nicely, slowly teaching you about new cards and strategies for when you get into the real game.
The vast majority of these throw you into the middle of a match and give you a single turn to kill your AI opponent. This forces you to read all of the cards in your hand, learn about the minions already on the field, and then think about how all of those things work together in order to deal the damage you need. The likelihood of encountering a scenario like this in ranked play is pretty low, and chances are most people would miss most lethal combinations this complex in the heat of the moment, but just learning all of these interactions in a controlled environment will help you wrap your head around Duelyst's strategy.
Plus, as I mentioned, you'll come away from the challenges with a good start to your card collection. Speaking of which...
You don't unlock all of a faction's basic cards until you get them to level 10, a task which doesn't take a huge amount of time. But going one level further and getting them to level 11 earns you a free Spirit Orb, Duelyst's equivalent of a card pack. Each orb has five cards in it, one of which is guaranteed to be a rare or better, and getting six packs for free this way is a welcome influx of deck-building options. And that doesn't even include the other bonuses you'll get for completing quests along the way, like the first time you get a faction to level 10.
Apart from the packs and gold, this is the best way to become familiar with the styles of each faction. Because they all have a unique keyword, different factions can end up playing very differently. Vanar's Infiltrate keyword makes them very aggressive, always preferring to be on the opponent's side of the board. Meanwhile Songhai prefers to deal burst damage from afar and will often keep their general back. You won't know these subtleties unless you actually take control of the faction, and you'll also eventually learn which style fits you best.
And if grinding all the way to level 11 for a free pack seems rough, I have good news...
If you are coming from Hearthstone, you'll be very happy to hear about how much quicker your card collection will grow in Duelyst. You get two quests per day, and there are no quests to "win x games with a particular class"—only play games with a specific faction, the outcome doesn't matter. You also get 15 gold every two wins, compared to Hearthstone's 10 gold every three. A Spirit Orb still costs 100 gold for 5 cards, so you're genuinely just getting cards faster.
What's more, those cards are likely going to be better. Or at least "rarer," as all the drop rates are scaled up. Compared to Hearthstone's legendaries, which drop once in every 20 packs on average, Duelyst's legendaries show up about five times as often, with one in every four packs. Epics are twice that, showing up an average of once every two packs. As you'd expect, not all the legendary and epic cards are amazing and powerful, but you'll get to the ones that are quicker. And you'll need them, as there's no extra limit on having legendary cards in your deck.
But even if you don't pull any legendary cards, there are great basic options...
I'm seriously not kidding on this one, you could put three of each of these minions into every one of your decks and it wouldn't be a bad idea. At least, not when you're starting out and don't have many other options. Healing Mystic, Repulsor Beast, and Ephemeral Shroud are all low-cost creatures that offer great utility, and they're available to you right away.
While the latter two don't have very good bodies—the difference between 2-health and 3-health in Duelyst is massive, as the enemy general always has at least 2-attack—playing a Healing Mystic on turn one just to apply pressure isn't a bad decision if there's no better option. And what Repulsor Beast and Ephemeral Shroud lack in stats, they make up for in effect. Buffs are fairly common in Duelyst, making a cheap, neutral Dispel incredibly useful. And if your opponent plays a giant minion you can't kill, just use Repulsor Beast to move it to the opposite end of the map until you have a better answer.
What's more, the bodies they produce can't be underestimated in a game about positioning...
Fundamentally, the mana tiles at the center of the board are there to make players move toward each other. And while you should definitely try to use them quickly and to your advantage, you won't lose the game simply by missing one extra mana. You can potentially use these tiles to snowball from an early lead, but more often than not you'll be using them to summon small bodies that can be cleared out by the enemy general.
In a way, denying your opponent the extra mana is just as important as being able to effectively use it. There's nothing wrong with ending your turn with leftover mana if it means the enemy doesn't have that mana available to use on their turn. Of course you want to try and make good use of them, but if your options are risk your opponent taking one for the chance of using it on your next turn or wasting the tile, I would waste it every time.
What mana tiles are also really good at is teaching you early positioning. Proper minion positioning is probably the single most important thing to learn in Duelyst, because you can use any minions—even small ones like the three above—to limit the options your opponent has while also increasing the area you can summon new minions to. To learn good positioning, first start by thinking about where you place minions in relation to the early game mana tiles. From there, you can start looking at more complex scenarios.
And if you want to learn some more complex strategy, there's a place for that too...
Finally, we have The Gauntlet; a draft-style mode similar to Hearthstone's Arena. You are repeatedly given an option between three random cards until you've built a full deck of 40. Then you face other Gauntlet decks and see how many wins you can get before getting three losses, gaining better rewards the further you make it. It can definitely be challenging to know what is and isn't good in The Gauntlet, and it's risky when an entry ticket costs 150 gold, but it can also be a great place to learn about new cards you don't have in your collection.
The only problem is that The Gauntlet is currently only open two days a week, Saturdays and Wednesdays. Counterplay has done this to make sure there are always opponents to be found when queuing up for The Gauntlet, as the playerbase is still relatively small. If you don't manage to finish a run before the end of the day, your deck and progress will be saved and you can continue on the next available day. It can be intimidating, but it's a great way to grow your collection and learn about the game at the same time.
Duelyst is currently in open beta, and you can sign up to play for free right here.
Dead by Daylight is a horror game, if you hadn't guessed. It's a horror game that pits a bunch of paranormal and, well, not normal exactly movie monsters against a gaggle of regular humans. It's an asymmetrical multiplayer game, basically, where one player takes the role of the murderer, and four others play as the (possible) survivors. If it sounds a lot like that Kickstarted Friday the 13th game, that's because it seems a lot like that Kickstarted Friday the 13th game, but there are a few wrinkles that should set it apart.
Wrinkle the first is its differing perspectives. The player roleplaying as the monster will view the game in first-person, while their huntees will be blessed with a third-person view, presumably so they can see if something's about to stab them in the back. Wrinkle the second is the assortment of monsters, ranging from human-ish slasher villains to supernatural entities. Another wrinkle is that it's being made by Naughty Bear and Wet developers Behaviour Interactive (and published by Payday devs Starbreeze).
You'd probably forgotten all about Naughty Bear and Wet. Sorry.
Dead by Daylight does sound intriguing. It will feature procedurally generated environments, unlockable abilities, and various equipment and environmental objects you can use to slow down or escape from your potential killer. There's no footage, and no screenshots yet for the "coming soon" game, but here's a Steam page and a developer diary:
That free Shadowrun: Hong Kong expansion we mentioned the other day? It's out now, free if you already own the game. The slightly confusingly named Shadows of Hong Kong campaign takes place after the main game, offering "6+ hours" of cyberpunk roleplaying. Here's a summary:
"Set in the weeks following the events of the main campaign, the Shadows of Hong Kong bonus campaign will give you—and your team—the opportunity to turn the tables on the elite corporate police force that once hunted you. Through layers of corporate greed and urban strife, you will contend with dangerous enemies, uncover a deadly conspiracy, and cement your reputation as a Prime Runner… assuming that you survive, of course."
If you own Shadowrun: Hong Kong on Steam, GOG or Humble, you may have noticed that it's now called Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition, and boasts the aforementioned free expansion, along with "a variety of game improvements" and a developer audio commentary. Steam should automatically update your game to the new version; you might need to download the game again on GOG or Humble.
If you don't own Shadowrun: Hong Kong yet, it's currently 50% off on Steam and GOG for the next few days.
XCOM 2, the character creation game with a small strategy component, is finally out (and it's amazing). This time around, XCOM 2 has a significantly more robust character creation kit that allows you to export your soldiers to a file, which you can then share and throw at unwary internet passersby. The problem is, the game doesn t exactly tell you how to go about it.
Here s how you can create, export, and propagate your creations with the rest of the world.
From the main menu, click Character Pool, and then Create Character. Think about who will break your heart the most when an alien eats theirs, and do your magic. Dwell on what you ve created. Is it right for man to play God? Yes? Good. Moving on.
Next, we need to create a new character pool, which is simply a bin file the game exports the characters of your choosing to—the shareable bit. Head back to the main Character Pool screen and you ll see a list of every character you ve created so far. Check the boxes next to the characters you want to share and click Export Selection.
First, we need to create a new Character Pool where our grumpy little Jedi will live. Click Create New Pool and a prompt will come up asking you to name it. Type in something recognizable and hit Confirm to get dumped back to the character pool list. Now, this is important and easy to miss: your characters have not been exported yet. Click on your newly created character pool to get a prompt that asks if you really want to copy your character into the selected pool. Hit Yes.
Your custom soldiers are sent to the titular pool where they ll chill in some temperate, sterile waters sipping on a fruity cocktai—er, wrong pool. They ll actually be chilling in a bin file located by default in your documents folder.
Find the Importable folder and look for your character pool bin file.This is what my file path looks like on Windows 10:
Copy and distribute the file using whatever method suits the sharing: flash drives, cloud storage, a few floppy disks, or dog courier.
To import custom soldiers from other sources, copy the provided bin file to the Importable character pool folder—the same place your character pools export to—and boot up XCOM 2. Head to the Character Pool from the main menu again, but this time, click on Import Character. Find the name of the bin file you d like to import from and give it a click.
Finally, select the characters you d like to import and, boom, they re in your active character pool, ready to assist with the alien murder whenever necessary.
Want some practice? We'll have some soldiers to show off soon. In the meantime, share yours in the comments.
Tom Senior: Welcome back, CommanderI snuck into the Highs and Lows article first this week, which means I get to write about how good XCOM 2 is before anyone else has the chance. Aha! I m looking forward to seeing everyone s reactions when they run into some of the cruelest aliens and unlock the highest armour tier, which looks sweet. All over Twitter today I ve seen people filling out their campaign with custom soldiers named after pals. The mod scene will kick into gear in no time.
Sometimes a game launch births a creative scene. I think people will be creating and sharing around XCOM 2 for a long time, and I think it has the potential to reach beyond the usual audience for strategy games. It s exciting for us, too, not just as players, but because we get to cover it for years and feature the coolest stuff you re making. The Witness, Homeworld, Rise of the Tomb Raider, XCOM 2—What a great start to 2016.
Angus Morrison: Remembering the Second World WarIt s easy to clamour for the return of World War 2 shooters—it s been fashionable for a while now—but it s harder to do anything about it. This week, two unlikely teams have bypassed Dice and Treyarch and taken matters into their own hands, proving that not only the demand but the drive is there to reimagine WW2.
Day of Infamy, a total conversion mod for New World s Insurgency, is being built with the plucky community spirit we like to imagine the Allies carried with them across the battlefields. New World did the groundwork and has now made Day of Infamy compatible with Insurgency s live build. Now the community are pitching in to support the war effort, supplying maps, models and textures in service to a superb free offering.
Battalion 1944 is still more ambitious—a game in its own right under development be a small team from Derby, UK. They espoused a heartfelt vision of simpler times when shooters were rugged and skill-based, and the populace responded with 100,000 in Kickstarter cash in three days. Get this ridiculous jetpack off me and pass my M1 Garand.
Chris Livingston: Sky s the limitI spent some time updating our list of the best Skyrim mods this week. A lot of time because there are lot of mods. Nexus Mods can be a rabbit hole like TV Tropes or Wikipedia—you can lose days in there just following links. You ll check out one mod, and the modder will suggest that their mod goes really well with several others. So you ll check out those others, and they ll suggest their own lists of complimentary mods. It s hard to assemble a best-of list when the list refuses to stop growing.
At one point, when I had roughly 25 tabs open, I just kinda got goosebumps. Modders are amazing. All of this work, this passion, this dedication and creativity and know-how… it s overwhelming. More than anything else, modders are what makes PC gaming such a rich, exciting, ever-changing experience. Thank you, sincerely, each and every one of you.
Tyler Wilde: Suburban dreadI moved in with my mom recently, where I'm going to stay temporarily before I take a one-way trip to Maryland, which I assume is just a mound of snow with a big monument sticking out the top. That's a worry for later. For now, it's the quiet that's getting to me. I've lived in San Francisco for the past seven years, and off and on before that, and I'm used to a certain amount of noise: drunk people yelling at 3 am, cars honking, sirens. I stopped noticing it after a while but its absence is all I hear out in the suburbs. I'm just getting started at 11 pm, but here it's like everyone's shut themselves into coffins—it's dead.
I'm starting to like it, though. I forgot how cool and creepy it is to be out at night among cul-de-sacs and strip malls. It's not silent, the sounds are just droning and more distant: transformers vibrating, street lamps whining, the woosh of trucks on the freeway, echoes of a dog barking somewhere. It's really got me in the mood for some creeps, so I've started replaying Lone Survivor, a great little horror game by Jasper Byrne that tests your grasp on reality in a monster infested apartment complex. If there were more Silent Hill games on PC I'd be set, but sadly they haven t gotten the Resident Evil treatment, so if you can think of any games that capture a similar sort of empty suburban dread, let me know. I want to sit out on the dark porch with my laptop and a beer to set up some cool nightmares for myself.
Phil Savage: The long haulMy internet is bad, so, while I waited for XCOM 2 to download, I decided to kill time with American Truck Simulator. ETS2 is great, but I was worried that the unyielding deserts of Nevada would prove less interesting than Europe's more varied locales. Not so. Dusty open roads are the perfect setting for a long haul drive, and made better through ATS's inclusion of suitably American radio stations.
It's hard not to get swept up in the atmosphere. It's particularly noticeable at night. Every inch of ETS2's Europe feels developed and maintained, so that you're always aware of being trapped in the sprawling artifice of roads and infrastructure. ATS's Nevada feels wilder, and more barren. There's a sense of isolation that feels new and welcome. I'm not sure for how long the currently included two states will hold my interest before repetition sets in, but for now I'm content to cruise across the desert—delivering my goods to wherever they might be needed.
Evan Lahti: PC Gamer II: OriginsAlthough I couldn t help but write something about CS:GO last Saturday, this week was my first official week back at PC Gamer after three months spent trying something else. I feel really lucky to be able to keep working somewhere this meaningful and fun; being away reinforced how rare it is to have a job that encourages and pushes you to explore what you re passionate about.
It s a privilege to do that, and to be heard. It s a privilege to walk up to anyone you want at an event like PAX and ask them a question just because you re holding a microphone. It s a privilege to solve tough problems (like how to put on an event for PC gaming at E3, as we did last year) with people who care about them as much as you do. Onward!
Tyler WIlde: I finally want to fantasyThis is a pretty minor quibble—I ve had a good week—but I m so tired of the game we play with publishers who don t want to admit that their game is definitely coming to PC. I misread our own headline about Final Fantasy XV which said it may be coming to PC, missing the may, and had a weird wave of excitement. I ve never been into Final Fantasy, but I suddenly really wanted to play this one.
While I contemplate what my life is going to be like after I move into a big blocky East Coast home surrounded by parks and schools—not at all what I m used to—the thought of disappearing into a hundred hours of silly RPGing became more appealing than it s been since I first played Mass Effect during a lonely week by myself in a studio apartment. But then I read the may and got bummed. I m 99 percent sure FFXV will be on PC, but all the will they, won t they crap is as exasperating as Ross and Rachel. Just marry us already you dweebs.
Evan Lahti: XCOM 2 performance issuesThe fog of complaints on forums comments and Steam reviews can t paint an accurate picture of how big the issue actually is, but some amount of people are less than happy with XCOM 2 s framerate on rigs that exceed the recommended spec. I m one of them—running a 980 at 2560x1440 on High (not Maximum), I get 40-55 fps in combat and some other areas, like character customization. That s surprising but not awful. More annoying, though, are the occasional (but jarring) fps dips I and others are experiencing during cutscenes and camera movement.
I reached out to 2K Games this morning to see if they have anything to say about it, and I ll be sure to write it up if they get back to me.
Tom Senior: Smash hitI keep meaning to do a feature that rates different customer service experiences across the games industry. Partly because calling out bad practice could encourage change, but also because it's quite fun to read about customer service disasters. We got a good one today courtesy of Bethesda, who requested that a customer destroy the remainder of an incomplete set of records before a refund would be supplied. He did, with a hammer.
As well as being an evidently stupid request, this sort of incident displays a degree of stinginess that s especially graceless coming from a large company. Granted, if the customer gave the three spare records to someone else, that could potentially deny Bethesda 75% of a sale. It s probably worth sacrificing that for the sake of goodwill and general common sense.
Chris Livingston: This blowsI m sure I ve written my share of misleading headlines, but all of you websites out there advertising Complete puzzle solutions for The Witness that do not actually have a complete puzzle solutions for The Witness are making me want to break a puzzle panel over your heads and draw squiggly lines on your face in permanent marker. In related news: I occasionally cheat at The Witness.
I am sure these sites will someday will have a complete set of solutions, but last night I went to at least five different sites looking for help with a single puzzle. No one had it, despite all advertising that they did. I even watched a video on a site that advertised a complete guide, and long minutes into the video the player walked up to the very puzzle I was stumped on, looked at it, then turned around and left the area while—no lie—a text box popped up on the video saying We haven t solved this one yet. Arrrgh! The only thing more infuriating than the puzzles in The Witness is how hard a time I m having trying to avoid figuring out the infuriating puzzles in The Witness!
Angus Morrison: Is nothing sacred?I feel a bit awkward talking about Godus at this point—I want it to catch a break so I can say something positive instead of wincing when I go to write the news. Godus re-emerged this week after a few months silence and Peter Molyneux s retreat from the limelight in February last year. Godus Wars is a sort-of-but-not-really standalone RTS that appears as a separate game on the Steam store but is automatically unlocked for all Godus owners, just as Godus is unlocked for all Godus Wars owners. Bit weird, but okay.
What was truly exasperating is that after the relentless, pounding criticism of Godus resentful approach to player interaction and the inspiration it seems to take from free-to-play mobile games, the second region in the $15 Early Access game had a $5 paywall in front of it.
There was a backlash, naturally, and credit to 22cans for removing it faster than you can say Jesus Christ , but it is beyond me how anybody could have maintained the slightest belief that it would slip past unnoticed.
Phil Savage: Bug, not a featureAw, Angus took Godus Wars? In that case, let's revisit the best headline of the week: "Rogue Ant Simulator devs blow budget on 'liquor and strippers'." In the video that prompted the story, Ant Simulator lead developer Eric Tereshinski claimed that his business partners blew Kickstarter and investment cash on booze and strippers—an allegation that said business partners call "100% bullshit." The industry hasn't been quite so '90s since the '90s.
It seems as if the whole thing will devolve into lawyers, which is a pretty spectacular way to end a longterm friendship. There's no larger message here—no great lesson to be learned or commentary to be added—because everything I could say should go without saying. But just in case, independent of whether it did or didn't happen in this specific instance: are you a project lead who's planning to spend all that project's money on getting drunk and ogling women? Well, don't. Obviously.