Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

There's hot news incoming for game fans with a penchant for the occasional tabletop experience: as revealed over the weekend at PDXCon in Stockholm, electronic entertainment development studio Paradox Interactive has licensed four of its different video game intellectual properties to turn into new board games.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, Paradox took to the convention floor to showcase physical board game versions of Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, and Cities: Skylines, the likes of which were all in various stages of the development process. Shams Jorjani, vice president of business development for Paradox, says the new games present an opportunity for experiences like Europa Universalis to go back to their tabletop roots.

"Europa Universalis started out as a board game, and [creative director Johan Andersson] took it into the digital space," Jorjani said. "Board games have always been very popular with everyone in the company. It's just that our business has always been focused on building our digital growth, and you don't plan on doing anything except for being that kind of company."

Jorjani went on to say that studio fans expressed a strong interest in the company creating different board games based on their digital games, which sparked a change in thinking about how Paradox might make the most out of its various IP.

"Paradox Interactive is about making digital games, and doing cool stuff with our IP in the digital space," he said. "It just got to the point where it became so abundantly clear that there [were] so many cool opportunities. People were coming to us in droves asking if we could make board games. We looked at that and said this is a a really cool way not necessarily to make tons and tons of money... But to expand what our IPs are and how people play them."

The GamesIndustry.biz report states the four different IP licenses will create four entirely different games from four different companies. Jorjani stated that each of the games will be extensively tested by the Paradox crew, making sure that they all align with the electronic version in specific ways — "you can still marry your horse in Crusader Kings" was one mentioned highlight. Free League has taken the Crusader Kings board game to Kickstarter, but as for the progress on the rest of the games and their related release dates, we'll have to wait and see.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

The original State of Decay was a rough, yet fun community-focused zombie survival game that dropped players into the thick of a post-apocalyptic town and allowed them to implement their ideas on how best to survive the shambling hordes. State of Decay 2 isn’t an attempt to break the mold, but merely a shot at enhancing a solid foundation while injecting online multiplayer. Despite a host of bugs, glitches, and poor design decisions, State of Decay 2 provides an addictive routine where you’re always just one more supply run away from the putting the controller down.

The foundation of the State of Decay 2 experience is community survival. I started off with a small crew in a small base and had the freedom to recruit new members, build structures within the home, or move to other bases. The ultimate goal is to clear the map of plague hearts and the journey through this main objective is an engaging and delicate dance between collecting resources, managing crew morale, building up the base, helping other crews on the map, and taking down the growingly difficult plague hearts.

The extent of my routine was apparent early and there's a lot of repetition, but the RPG progression of the individual survivors made the repetition compelling. Survivors are a resource like any other that you gather, but you can shape them to fit your playstyle and home base aspirations.

The zombies are expectedly grotesque, especially the variant plague zombies, with their pulsing and crawling skin. Assets, from run-down buildings to trailers to rusting vehicles, all have solid textures. Vehicles specifically showed most of the visual flair, deteriorating over time and gathering smears of blood as I ran over zombies. Speaking of vehicular zombie-slaughter, that’s a practice I learned to limit. Survivors can only carry so much and, in an effort to maximize the efficiency of each run for resources or to clear infestations, trunk space is priceless. The frustratingly limited inventory management, which prevents you from easily passing items from one survivor to another, makes trunk space even more important unless you want to burn time dropping items to pass along.

Light is a major key in State of Decay 2 as well and the design team knocked it out of the park in this regard. Night is exceptionally dangerous, especially when walking or driving through areas you’re not familiar with. The view distance is poor even with your vehicle’s lights on. Furthermore, the game’s different towns have no power for the most part so building interiors are harrowing as well, even during the day. My survivors all come equipped with a chest light, but the small circle of illumination still kept me on my toes.

If the plague zombie’s crawling skin was peak visual creep, the yell of the screamer variant serves that purpose aurally. Sound design was, overall, good. Sound cues serve many purposes, ranging from the call for help from a stranger to the distinct squeal of unique zombie variants

Regarding sound, the games mini-map gives off a circular pulse for every act. Whether I was rummaging through a fridge, starting the car, or a zombie is banging on one of the entrances to my base, there was an indication on the map to let it be known how far that sound is ringing out. Of course, every one of these noises can attract the attention of enemies and that either ruined a run while away from my base or was used to my advantage to distract.

There were rarely ever moments where I felt the sound effects or cues screwed up my experience, but graphical glitches and bugs regularly tossed my planning right down the drain. A careful drive could be ruined by some objects that rendered late or by sketchy collision detection. I was also attacked through closed doors and walls, much to my annoyance. Also, a couple design decisions were troublesome. Tall metal fences can’t be knocked down and neither can short metal fences, but the later can toss your vehicle many feet into the air or allow you halfway over them only to leave your vehicle spinning tires uselessly.

Driving around feels weighty and results in a satisfying thud when you run over the many zombie pedestrians. The various vehicles control differently from each other and that played a part in what type of run away from base I’d make. My faster police car, for example, could get me to objectives and survivors faster, but didn’t have the trunk space for efficient resource grabbing.

Moving around on foot and the combat were largely solid. There’s a delay in your first attack that feels like it artificially makes things difficult when facing large groups, but the dodge button helps counter it.

Online multiplayer is something I felt was missing from the first State of Decay and the sequel delivers the goods. I teamed up with a friend by taking one of the survivors from my own community, going into the friend’s, and helping him gather resources and fight the zombie plague. Resource gathering is the foundation of State of Decay 2 and the developers balanced out the process for online multiplayer by setting claims on the search points for each player. For example, when entering a warehouse, roughly 30% of the points in the space can be searched by me, the guest. The rest is reserved for the host, but he was able to drop items that he wanted me to hold on to. Once the session was done, I was rewarded resources for my own community.

Overall, State of Decay 2 feels like a game that should have a home in the game preview section of the Xbox library. The community building is fun enough to engage my zombie survival fantasies but it’s held back by a consistent slew of bugs. Throughout my experience, my military truck constantly flickered, my player regularly fell halfway into the ground, companions would entirely disappear when I switched between them while away from base, and there was one bug I experienced twice that made my UI disappear and it seemed like any progress I made past that point was not recorded.

State of Decay 2 is repetitive, but fun when it works. When it doesn’t, you'd be forgiven for a few rage quits. In a game where any misstep can result in losing an important survivor for good, to have this happen not due to my own mistakes, but a bug or glitch, is frustrating. The RPG progression of survivors mixed in with the community building makes the repetitive structure work and rewards players that wish to continue cultivating new communities.  The game comes at half the price of most high-profile releases or as part of the Game Pass library and there's plenty bang for your buck. Hopefully, the developers will continue to iron out the game's fixable issues over time.


This review is based on a code provided by the publisher. State of Decay 2 is available digitally via individual purchase for $29.99 or as part of the Xbox Game Pass service on May 22. The game has been rated M by the ESRB.

Shacknews - Chris Jarrard

What is best in life? To crush your enemy streamers, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their subscribers!

Conan Exiles caused quite a stir went it entered Steam Early Access back in early 2017. Based on Robert E. Howard’s character from a 1930s series of stories published in Weird Tales magazine, the game puts the legendary Conan into an survival-RPG MMO. The character gained international fame thanks to a movie adaptation starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982. Predictably, the game caught the attention of the video game world for its aggressively accurate dong physics. To celebrate the game's official launch out of Early Access, Shacknews dong experts Chris Jarrard and Charles Singletary will sit down with Conan Exiles tonight on the official Shack Twitch channel (twitch.tv/shacknews) at 7 PM ET (4 PM PT).

For those wondering what the Shacknews Twitch channel could really be, tonight’s stream aims to answer that question. Join us for a chance to witness history as we see the gang try and survive in a land of pain and deadly creatures. For those that know us, you can probably guess how this will shake out (pun intended). WARNING: This stream is intended for mature audiences.

Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

Fans of developer Niantic's hit AR-based mobile title Pokemon Go will be excited to learn that a bunch of new pocket monsters are about to be added to the game. The studio has just announced that the Alolan forms of classic first generation series monsters are the next to arrive in-game, and they'll be here just in time for the summer hunting season.

Niantic is keeping the details pretty light on this latest update, as might be obvious through the game's silhouetted teaser image featured below. However, we do know that the variants from both Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon should be arriving "in the coming weeks," according to a post made to the official Pokemon Go website.

"Whether your forecast calls for rain or shine, we're celebrating all around the world by introducing some special Pokemon from the tropical Alola region to Pokemon Go," the post reads. "Get ready for some of the Pokemon originally discovered in the Kanto region to appear in their Alolan forms!"

There were a total of 18 different Gen 1 Alola-region variants featured in Pokemon Sun and Moon. These included variants of Raichu, Vulpix, Dugtrio, Meowth, Rattata, Sandslash, Grimmer, Golem, Muk, and others. That said, it's not clear whether or not just some or all of these creatures will be arriving in Pokemon Go. Still, we know they're coming, and they should be arriving soon. Until they're released, players can expand their knowledge by checking out some of the latest details surrounding the upcoming Pokemon Go Fest 2018.

Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

Sega enthusiasts and Sonic the Hedgehog fans are known as types who yearn for the heyday of 2D platformers and fighters, a time when arcades were still hot and buzz terms like "Blast Processing" fueled the fires of the schoolyard console wars. Sonic has made a name for himself by throwing back to that era, and now it seems shoe designer Puma is tuning in to the retro vibrations, as the company has revealed a new partnership with Sega to produce a set of Sonic the Hedgehog-inspired shoes created in the classic 1980s Running System style.

The new sneakers are designated RS-0 Sonic and Dr. Eggman, and they call back to the RS style of Puma sneakers popular in the late 80s. The Sonic sneakers reflect the colors and themes of Sonic the Hedgehog and the recognizable Green Hill Zone, with textured blue suede matched to a red outsole and accents of green grass and gold rings. The Dr. Eggman model follows suit, with black and yellow stripes set to a red footbed and leather upper.

Both sets of sneakers include features like debossed Puma Formstrips, micro ventilation perforations, customized branding, and a translucent sole with the Sonic the Hedgehog logo featured within.

Sega fans and sneakerheads alike won't have to wait long before they can scoop up a pair of these retro-inspired kicks, as Puma will be releasing the Puma RS-0 Sonic and Dr. Eggman models to the general public on June 5. Both will retail for $130 per pair, and purchases can be made over at select retailers or on the official Puma website at Puma.com.

Shacknews - Chris Jarrard

Activision and Treyarch hosted a large gathering in Los Angeles last week to officially pull the wraps off of Black Ops 4. The popular shooter franchise will be evolving and improving in many areas, including adding all-new hero class-style Specialists, a revamped Zombies Mode, and switching from Steam to Battle.net for PC players. Black Ops 4 also marks the first time in franchise history that a Call of Duty game will be launching without a single player campaign mode. Treyarch is spending the extra time gained from dropping the single player to help make the multiplayer modes fun to play and loaded with content.

The Shacknews street team was on hand at the Black Ops 4 preview event and was able to capture footage of the various improvements and additions to the game, including the overview of equipments and Wildcards outline in the video above.

Call of Duty fans can expect Black Ops 4 to touch down on October 12 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. To get the rundown on all the changes and improvements the Black Ops 4 will bring to the franchise, check out our in-depth preview.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Tencent has investments all over the gaming industry and the Chinese holding conglomerate seems to be getting stronger every week. This week, the company has revealed a majority acquisition of Path of Exile developer Grinding Gear Games for an undisclosed amount.

Gamasutra reported the news, citing a Q & A that Grinding Gears held in the Path of Exile forums. The dev reassured its fans that it will remain independent despite the deal with Tencent, so expect them to maintain creative control of their huge free-to-play RPG. 

"We spoke to CEOs of other companies that Tencent has invested in, and have been assured that Tencent has never tried to interfere with game design or operations outside of China," the forum reads. "We retain full control of Path of Exile and will only make changes that we feel are best for the game."

Grinding Gears had been approached by other suitors, but decided against the previous entities because "they didn't understand Path of Exile" or "had other agendas." 

League of Legends, Clash of Clans, Arena of Valor, Epic Games, and now Path of Exiles are just a few of the major properties or companies Tencent has invested in. Bluehole, the team behind the massively popular PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, may join the family if Tencent goes through with plans to invest $470 million and become the dev team's second-largest shareholder. The company also recently invested in Skydance's virtual reality initiatives. Stay tuned to Shacknews for more updates.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

The Fortnite devs tested the esports waters with the latest limited Solo Showdown mode for Battle Royale and is diving in a big way. Today, Epic Games has announced that it will provide $100,000,000 for Fortnite Battle Royale esports tournament prize pools during the first official year of competitive play.

Not only will Epic get right into the mix with esports, the blog post on the official site suggests a plan to be "more inclusive" and focused on the "joy of playing and watching the game." Exactly what this means isn't known yet, but additional information should be rolled out as the 2018 - 2019 season gets underway.

The team plans to reveal competitive structures and eligible platforms in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

The Fortnite devs tested the esports waters with the latest limited Solo Showdown mode for Battle Royale and is diving in a big way. Today, Epic Games has announced that it will provide $100,000,000 for Fortnite Battle Royale esports tournament prize pools during the first official year of competitive play.

Not only will Epic get right into the mix with esports, the blog post on the official site suggests a plan to be "more inclusive" and focused on the "joy of playing and watching the game." Exactly what this means isn't known yet, but additional information should be rolled out as the 2018 - 2019 season gets underway.

The team plans to reveal competitive structures and eligible platforms in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Storage space is premium on the hybrid Nintendo Switch console and the upcoming Resident Evil 7 Switch release could serve as the long-term solution or just as a band-aid until that solution is found. When RE7 goes live on Nintendo Switch on May 24, 2018, it will do so as a cloud version that must be streamed to the device via wifi.

As revealed on the Japanese Capcom site for Resident Evil 7 which was spotted by Wario64, players will need to download the "BH7 cloud" application from the Nintendo eShop. BH7 stands for Biohazard 7 and will likely be called the "RE7 cloud" app when it eventually arrives in the US eShop. The game is then available for a trial run that lasts fifteen minutes. If the game streams well on your connection, you'll have to get a "purchase ticket" to continue playing. A 180-day ticket is mentioned on the website, but there could be additional options.

The 180-day ticket costs 2,000 yen which comes to $17.99 USD. The Switch is having incredible success with first-party titles which continues to attract more third-party opportunities. A streaming service like this, if it works well, will open up the platform to even more third-party titles and shorten the time that it takes for a developer to bring a game over to the Switch as well.

The full rollout of this new cloud service may coincide with the release of the Switch's online service this September. We'll update when more information is made available. Stay tuned to Shacknews!

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