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It’s the RPS Horacetide lunch and beverage session today, which is why the entire site smells like eggnog and reheated turkey twizzlers. Here’s an early pressie in the form of a video showing the XCOM 2 [official site] character customisation suite in action. This is taken from my recent hands-on session – I’d made the rather fabulous lady above and she’d survived one outing. I decided to give her a new gun, and ended up giving her a new face and outfit as well.
Procedural maps, randomised weapons and chain-smoking soldiers. In XCOM 2 [official site], the rules have changed. One seemingly minor addition to the tactical combat might have the greatest impact of all though. In our recent hands-on, we had a chance to test out the new concealment mechanic. It removes one of XCOM’s few frustrations and creates an entirely new scouting phase as each mission begins.
With XCOM 2 [official site], Firaxis are not resting on their laurels. The studio’s reboot of the license had a great deal to prove primarily, it had to satisfactorily answer the question as to why the much-loved series needed to be revived at all.
That obstacle overcome, the sequel is on safer ground and it might have been enough to reskin and reshape ever so slightly. A new setting, a new gang of aliens, and a few new weapons and hairstyles for the defenders of the Earth. Instead, there’s a degree of role-reversal, with the player now attempting to take the planet back from an occupying force rather than protecting it from invaders. There’s a new approach to the strategic side of the game, the return of randomised maps and an in-depth suite of soldier customisation tools.
After a couple of hours with the sequel, I’m more excited about XCOM than I’ve been since the announcement of the reboot.>
An XCOM fan on Reddit has created a rather robust version of XCOM that is played using the spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel. Dubbed EXLCOM, this reimagining of the science fiction turn-based strategy game is far from complete, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sink a few hours enjoying the fact that the program you use to budget your weekly spending allowance can be used to build a fully functional video game. I spoke to its creator about the hows and whys.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>
Spec Ops: The Line [official site] is a pretty fun third-person cover shooter about shooting people in their faces, then sometimes feeling a bit bad or confused about killing them. I think BioShock made folks a bit excited about shooting games where shooting people was sometimes a bad thing, so reactions to Spec Ops were over-enthusiastic, but it’s still pretty decent as face-shooters go. Its sandstorm-swept Dubai is a heck of a sight too.
One day I’ll write a Desert Island Discs about the games I’d keep with me until the end of days, given a choice of ten. It’ll no doubt be a Desert Island Digital Downloads given the absence of physical media in my life. I live with the ghosts of entertainment.
Rather than compiling the list of games I’d take to the Vault with me though, today I’m aiming to put together a collection, one from each genre, that I’d use to introduce those genres to a PC gaming newcomer, or a lapsed gamer. A friend inspired this particular bundle of joy, someone who grew up with an Amiga but developed other interests and hasn’t touched a game for more than a few minutes at a time, either console or PC, for over fifteen years. A recent illness has left him unable to engage in his usual outdoor hobbies and games have filled the gap.>
Oh, Civilization: Beyond Earth [official site], how sad you make me. You work so very hard to make me love you but… well, maybe you’re fundamentally unlovable. The Rising Tide expansion, that was a good try. You became more alien, less like your dad trying to wear a spacesuit, but gosh, you made a pig’s ear of Diplomacy, didn’t you? Bugs and bonkers design decisions queered the pitch.
But maybe it’s not too late. I hear there’s a big new patch intended to address one of your biggest problems; what flowers are you bringing to my door this time?
Just a PSA, as we already mentioned this a few weeks before it happened: Chaos Reborn [official site], the successfully Kickstarted remake of/sequel to classic Spectrum wizard-bothering strategy/bluffing game Chaos, has left Early Access and gotten a full Steam release. Much as I can’t help but include “OMG made by the guy who invented X-COM” excitements in any coverage, I really should stress that Chaos Reborn is a clever and tense game of magical battles in its own right.
I’ve started to feel a degree of sadness when games leave early access and embrace a full release. It’s like watching your kids get older and go to college – there’s that point where, one day, their growing up is done. You know who they’re going to be. There’s pride, sure, but all the what-ifs are over and done with. Julian Gollop’s turn-based wizard-battler Chaos Reborn [official site] (currently on Steam Early Access), for instance, is no longer a great unknown – the X-COM co-creator’s latest (and first independent) game will be released on Steam at the end of the month. It’s not that its journey is over, but the guessing and hoping stage is. That great question which has floated around PC parts for years – what would it be like if Julian Gollop made a new game? – is answered. … [visit site to read more]