Solasta: Crown of the Magister

Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a turn-based RPG in early access, available on Steam for 20% off until December 22nd. The team behind the game, Tactical Adventures, are longtime fans of traditional tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. It’s their goal to bring that traditional RPG feel to a PC in the smoothest way possible. Dice rolls and character creation are a huge part of the game, just like old pen-and-paper games. Despite the game being single player, you create an entire team of heroes.  Even though you play by yourself and the game is still being fleshed out, its community is already growing.

Bird's eye view of combat
Solasta features turn-based combat where damage and hit chance are based on dice rolls

Saving Solasta

Playing as a team of four, the player must embark on a journey to save the would of Solasta. The player will traverse through varied areas, from ruins and forts to deserts and forests. The game features a dynamic environment where much of the game can be interacted with. For example, bridges or walls can collapse and crush both your team and your enemies. Solasta: Crown of the Magister features a few other special mechanics that are callbacks to certain tabletop games. The management of light sources is an important mechanic. If you emanate a lot of light, you’ll become a target for enemies. But if there’s not enough light, you won’t be able to see your enemies. And just like D&D, every attack in the game has a dice roll behind it.

A ruin, crumbling
With dynamic environments, enemies can get wiped out if they’re standing in the wrong place. But the same can be said for your team.

A Perilous Journey

The player will find enemies in many forms. There will be an assortment of monsters in their way, including giant spiders, orcs, and the undead. Without being tied to a board on a table, the game is also in three dimensions. This gives players the ability to climb, crawl, fall, or fly around the game. Like any good mythical RPG, there are many options when it comes to creating your characters. You can customize their race, class, background, looks, and stats. Whether you want to be a sneaky archer, a loud warrior, or a behind-the-lines healer, Solasta gives you the chance to pursue whatever you like. If you’re a fan of traditional RPGs like D&D, keep following this game as development continues.

#Solasta #RPG #TurnBased #PCGaming #Fantasy

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Released on November 12th for PS4 and PS5, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the second installment from Insomniac Games in the Marvel’s Spider-Man series. A release title for the Playstation 5, the game takes full advantage of the new DualSense controller’s haptic feedback features. The core gameplay and setting of the new title remains the same as the first game, but there a few legitimate improvements. It’s a beat-em-up with all the classic Spider-Man abilities at the player’s disposal. The plot is vastly different from the previous game, there are excellent graphic improvements, and Miles has a few new tricks up his sleeve in the form of cloaking and venom abilities.

Spider-Man swinging from a web
Miles has his own flair and personality as Spider-Man.

With Great Power

While the controls are still the same, Miles has his own distinct feel compared to Peter Parker when swinging around New York City. Because he’s younger and inexperienced, he’s flashier and looks like he’s having more fun than Peter did in the original game. There are also plenty of new suits for Miles to try on. The plot of the story is also very different. Miles has his own unique issues and journey as Spider-Man. He has the power to fight his enemies with a bio-electric ability called “venom”. He uses it often and there are multiple ways that he builds up this power. Miles can also camouflage himself, although this ability doesn’t come into play as often. Of course, he still has all the web-slinging, web-shooting, wall crawling, super-strength, and spidey-senses that Peter does too. But Miles does give the role of Spider-Man his own personal flair.

A purple figure in armor
The game features a new gang for Spider-Man to clean up off the streets of New York.

Comes Great Responsibility

Despite the various improvements that are made with this new installment, most of the game remains the same as the original. Although the original Spider-Man game’s map of New York City is excellent, this game features the same map. It will also take you about half of the time to complete the main story in this game. There are new villains and a new gang to fight against, but the combat is identical except for a few additions. The original Spider-Man was an excellent game, but don’t expect Miles Morales to deviate much from what was already presented. This game serves as a stand-alone continuation of the last game. If you enjoyed the original, you can expect to enjoy this game.

#Marvel #SpiderMan #MilesMorales #PS5

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 logo

This long-awaited game out of CD Projekt Red finally arrived on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on December 10th. First announced all the way back in 2012 and delayed from the previously announced release date in November, this has been among the most highly anticipated video game releases of all time. The game sold over 8 million copies through digital pre-orders alone. This game features a wide array of game mechanics that inspired an incredible amount of hype for the game. All in the first person, Cyberpunk features drivable cars, gunplay, melee combat, stealth elements, expansive skill progression, choice over the story’s direction, character customization, and the list goes on. With so much to potentially accomplish, some of these mechanics might be hit or miss for certain gamers with high standards. But what most can agree with is that the rich and unique story is among the highest quality that you can find in a game.

Residents of Night City sit at a table with a drone on it
Residents of Night City often augment their body with cybernetic implants.

Night City

Taking place in an alternate future, the setting for Cyberpunk 2077 is beautifully crafted. The graphics are among the highest quality that you can find on these systems today. You’ll need a high-end PC if you want to see the real potential of this game. You play as a named character named V, but the player has a great deal of control over who V really is. The player controls everything from what they look like to where they came from. The game starts with three paths that will influence the direction that your character takes in the story throughout the game. With Keanu Reeves casted as one of the main characters, the game’s focus is largely geared towards its storytelling. There are multiple endings that will be shown based on your decisions throughout the game. There are also various side quests that will directly influence your character and sometimes the city as a whole. Cd Projekt Red really wanted the player to feel like they control V’s destiny.

A corporate executive stands in front of a luxury car
V can come from 3 different backgrounds: Nomad, Street Kid, or Corpo

Wake up Samurai

Cyberpunk 2077 has so many gameplay features that it’s hard to compare it to other games. It wouldn’t be fair to expect driving to be at the quality of a racing game or for gunplay to be at the quality of an FPS game. Cyberpunk is really about giving the player the opportunity to choose how they want their character to go about completing the game’s quests. There are currently a wide range of bugs and issues that players have been running into, but these are very likely to be patched out in the near future. It’s possible that some of the specific mechanics might also be adjusted to improve the game even more. CD Projekt Red worked on Witcher 3 after its release and made very real improvements to the game. You can nearly guarantee that they will do the same for Cyberpunk.

#Cyberpunk2077 #Cyberpunk #SciFi #CDProjektRed

Review: Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima logo

For Playstation fans that didn’t manage to secure a PS5 by now, it might not be until 2021 that we get another opportunity to pick up a next-gen console. If you’re like me and you’re going to be stuck with the PS4 for a few more months, then consider playing through Ghost of Tsushima. This game was one of the very few blessings of 2020. It’s an open-world adventure game that revolves around extensive stealth and combat gameplay.  It features an incredibly well-told story, gorgeous graphics, a complex combat system, rewarding progression, and so much more. The game goes back to the basics of the genre, while simultaneously pushing it to new heights that the genre has never seen.  The game feels like real passion was put into its development. It’s a must-play for PS4 owners.

Samurai on horseback
The bushido honor code of samurai is explored in depth through the story.

The Ghost

One of the most powerful elements of the game is its story. Set in 13th century Japan, you play as Jin Sakai.  You are a samurai on a mission to drive back the Mongolian invasion of his home island of Tsushima. You must hunt down the villainous Khotan Khan and restore peace to your home. But at what cost? The main story explores Jin’s incredible journey towards becoming the hero of his island. As the world changes around him, so does he. As he meets new people, his perspectives change. The game does an excellent job at motivating you to continue playing because you sympathize with him. You feel the same pressures and motivations that force this character to adapt and change so radically. Jin is one of the most well-written dynamic protagonists that I’ve ever seen in a video game. The game even weaves new skills and weapons into the game as Jin goes through character development. This is exactly how a game nails its story and keeps the audience enthralled. Many of the random side quests can be somewhat dull, but even some of these have an interesting plot to them. Still, the main story is a superb example of how a game can pair a developing character with a progression system.

Jin Sakai with fire behind him
Jin Sakai is a complicated man with a tragic past.

From Katana to Kunai

Ghost of Tsushima has tons of different ways for you to go about killing your enemies. But it all boils down to two approaches, direct combat or stealth. As you progress, you can build your character in such a way that prioritizes one or the other. For example, you can work on spending your materials on a heavy suit of armor and spending your experience points on new sword attacks. This would be a good way to go if you want to charge in and fight your opponents head on. If you want to take more of a stealthy approach, you can invest in a powerful bow and upgrade your stealth weapons. Then, you can try to silently pick off your opponents one by one. It’s really the player’s choice on how they want to handle most of their combat. But boss fights are where the real challenge comes in. Jin will find himself in plenty of duels against skilled enemies. Having finished the entire game on the hardest difficulty, this is where the game can get terribly frustrating. Some bosses are lightning fast and can kill you instantly. To beat them, you need to sustain perfect dodges and parries for an extended period of time. If you’re not looking for a serious challenge, then definitely avoid the hardest difficulty. But nothing feels sweeter than finally taking down a boss after a long fight.

Jin drawing his sword against a Mongol
As you get stronger, so do the Mongols. They’ll come at you with everything from fire and blades to poison and beasts.

The Blade of the Samurai

Most of the combat in the game revolves around Jin’s katana. As you progress through the game, you unlock different stances for holding the sword. Each stance’s attacks are different and each one specializes in fighting against a different type of enemy. Combat focuses on light attacks, heavy attacks, parrying, and dodging. But the game also features bows, blowguns, bombs, kunai knives, smoke grenades, and more. The island of Tsushima is split into three geographic sections and the enemies get tougher as you go further north. Just when you think you’ve mastered the combat and strengthened your character enough, you move onto a new level of difficulty. The game also features interesting side quests where you investigate a legend such as a “cursed” bow or an “immortal” samurai with a huge payoff of a special new item or special new skill. Thanks to the loads of player options and the diverse range of enemies, combat never gets old.

Jin on horseback in front of a shrine
The game features various points of interest in the form of mini-games or puzzles. You can write haiku, visit shrines, bathe in hot springs, and more.

The Beauty of Japan

When you aren’t liberating Japan from the Mongols, the island of Tsushima can be quite beautiful. As you progress through the game, the island’s geography will change as well. There’s a diverse range of environments that the player finds themself in. The games features multiple different forests that have their own type of tree, all of which are visually stunning. Tsushima has flower fields, mountains, and lakes. All of them are breathtaking. Even the swamps, tundras, and burned wastelands look incredible. Clearly, incredible attention to detail was put into making this game look beautiful. There isn’t even a minimap on the screen. You swipe the controller’s touchpad and wind will blow in the direction of your objective. Plus, the game is packed with customization options for your character. Unlike Assassin’s Creed, which much of the gameplay seems to be inspired by, this game is micro-transaction free. Other than one suit of armor available in the deluxe edition, every single item in the game can be acquired through the one-time purchase of the standard edition. It was refreshing to experience a well-crafted game in this genre without a currency system backed by real money. Ghost of Tsushima gives you a wide range of customization options for your character without constantly dangling micro-transactions in front of you.

Jin Sakai looking at the horizon
The war with the Mongols takes a toll on the island… and on Jin.

The Conclusion

Ghost of Tsushima is an open-world adventure game that goes back to the basics while simultaneously adding so much new content. The rich progression system, unlockable customization options, beautiful scenery, and thrilling story motivates you to keep on playing. Sucker Punch hit this game out of the park, ending the PS4’s exclusive list on a high note. Although many of the side quests are rather dull, the core gameplay is so invigorating that I found myself enjoying them just because it was an opportunity to show off the skills that I was picking up through my adventures. I’m truly excited to see what Sucker Punch has planned for the PS5.

Final Score: 9.1/10

#GhostOfTsushima #PS4 #PS5 #SuckerPunch #Sony

Marvel’s Avengers

Marvel's Avengers logo

Marvel’s Avengers is releasing a free update, Kate Bishop – Taking Aim, on December 8th 2020. The game was first released on September 4th The update is adding Hawkeye as a new playable super hero and Super Adaptoid as a new super villain. Taking Aim will show Kate Bishop donning the mantle of Hawkeye. She was first introduced as a new iteration of the character in comics in 2005. The next update to the game will bring in Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye. There’s still a great deal of content in the game that was available at release for players to experience as well, although the quality of this content is up for debate. The game is currently on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox series X/S, PC, and Stadia.

Avengers Assemble

Marvel’s Avengers shines when it’s telling a story through its campaign. It features a well-developed story where you get to play as some of the members of the Avengers. This lineup includes Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, and the lesser known young Ms. Marvel. Each character has plenty of unique moves and abilities that set their gameplay apart from the others. Iron Man flies around and shoots lasers while the Hulk smashes enemies with his fists. Every hero is different. Some of the missions in the campaign take a cinematic approach and slow down. It fleshes out the characters a bit more and provides a short break from the constant fighting that you do in the game. Kamala Khan, the little girl that takes on the role of Ms. Marvel, is presented as the protagonist for most of the story. Unfortunately, most of the actual gameplay consists of relatively simple combat for every hero.

Members of the Avengers standing together
One of the best parts of the game is the player’s ability to play as different members of the Avengers.

The Endgame

Once the campaign is over, the rest of the game tends not to be as engrossing. There are a variety of multiplayer missions. You can play with real-life other players or AI can be assigned to your partners. However, the objectives of the multiplayer missions tend to mostly be rehashed and simplified missions from the story. They might be longer or padded with more enemies, but the motivation to keep playing isn’t as strong as it is during the campaign. The game features a legitimate leveling system and it’s different for every playable character, but the upgrades that your heroes receive aren’t especially creative or interesting. The game also has a randomized loot system, but most of these upgrades only make minor aesthetic changes, if any, to the character. There are cosmetic skins that will really customize your look, but some of these are blocked behind a pay wall. If you’re looking to experience a new Marvel story and take control of some of the Avengers, you might really like this game. But, it might not be what you’re really looking for if you want a game that you can sink hundreds of ours into. Hopefully, Square Enix will continue to add free updates like Kate Bishop – Taking Aim. These additions can only serve to improve the experience and make the game better, bit by bit.

Kate Bishop swinging her weapon
Free updates might add plenty of content to the game in the future. We might see even more entirely new playable characters.

#Marvel #Avengers #SquareEnix

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed Valhalla logo

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the newest entry into the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It’s currently out on PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series X/S. It comes after 2018’s release of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, widely recognized as the best entry into the series in many years. Valhalla has added plenty of new mechanics, while also getting plenty of inspiration from numerous past titles. Taking place in ninth century Norway, the player takes control of Eivor, a Viking Assassin that must fight against the Templar Order that has infiltrated the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Eivor traveling through Norway
Like every Assassin’s Creed game, you can mix a combination of stealth and combat to eliminate your targets.

A New Breed of Assassin

Much of the gameplay in Valhalla will feel more like Odyssey than most other Assassin’s Creed titles. You can play as a male or female Eivor and explore many romance options with both sexes. There is a well-developed leveling system. Leveling up provides the player with a great deal of interesting benefits. There are also plenty of weapons in the game, with a brand new form of dual-wielding combat that will set this game apart from the others. The game is filled with major and minor decisions that can help shape the entire world of of the game, giving you plenty of control over how your character influences Northern Europe. This is much like Odyssey, where you could influence the tides of the Peloponnesian War, which would affect all of Greece. Also taking inspiration from older titles, Valhalla has reintroduced the ability to run settlements. Building them up and doings missions for them will provide various gameplay bonuses. The game does a great job at motivating you to keep on playing.

Eivor talking to an ally
Assassin’s Creed games provide many hours of content through the story.

Nothing is real. Everything is permitted.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise is rich with lore. Since the first game’s launch in 2007, we’ve seen fantastic events unfold. We’ve learned about the mysterious Isu race that helped guide human civilization. Every game has given us more understanding over the Assassin’s Creed universe. Fans of the series will be excited to see how the story presses on. Yet, what works so well with the Assassin’s Creed series is that it’s always easy to be engrossed in an individual title’s universe, even if it’s the only one that you’ve ever played. Each title takes place in a distant land, hundreds of years earlier or later. This keeps the settings, characters, and stories so fresh. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, Valhalla will be an enjoyable game for most fans of open-world adventure games.

#assassinscreed #valhalla #ubisoft

A Total War Saga: Troy

Total Way Troy logo

A Total War Saga: Troy is SEGA and Creative Assembly’s newest entry in the Total War series. It’s currently out on the Epic Games store and will be coming to Steam in August 2021. The game takes place during the battle between the Greek kingdoms of Troy and Mycenae from the Bronze Age. This would make it the oldest era that Total War has ever centered a game around. This game takes a few pages out of the successful Total War: Three Kingdoms, where it is largely based off of historical events, but there are also many heroes that have legendary strength and participate in legendary battles. 

Fight for Greece

This game holds the central Total War experience in tact while taking us to the oldest time period we’ve seen yet. Fans of Total War: Rome 2 that purchased the Greek States culture pack might find themselves with a sense of déjà vu, as the entire map is now centered around Greece, with numerous hellenic units as the stars of the show in this game. The battles in the campaign will be focused on brutal combat that you’d expect from an ancient battle. Huge battalions comprised of swordsmen, spearmen, cavalry, archers, and various other warriors need to be used strategically in order to achieve victory. But battles only make up half the war. In order to grow your empire and repel foreign invaders, you must also effectively navigate your nation’s politics, your economy, your infrastructure, your food supply, your population, your diplomatic endeavors, and various other obstacles that might get in the way of your expansion towards total Greek domination. Like every modern Total War game, Troy has come out with their infamous “gore” DLC, where players can pay a small fee for a bloody version of the game.

The strategic view of the game's map
Like every Total War game, the player switches from a map of the entire conquerable world to individual battles.

The Blessing of the Gods

More like TW: Three Kingdoms than TW: Rome 2, TW: Troy introduces individual characters that are heroes and can have an enormous influence over certain battles. Total War has always had respect for historical figures such as Julias Caesar or Attila the Hun, but they were still treated as human beings that weren’t capable of battling hundreds of men at once. Three Kingdoms provided a “romance” version of the game, where players could choose to deviate a bit from historical accuracy and allow their generals to become far more powerful. Influential figures in historical China now had the ability to take out entire platoons of enemy forces all on their own. While this might not have been terribly historically accurate, it provided the player with a fun way to become even more personally invested in the life and growth of their top generals. The Total War series has been following a trend of deviating from history, as some of their most successful titles have ended up being the only games that have zero reference to historical events, Total War: Warhammer 1 & 2. In Troy, you can see legendary heroes like Achilles engage in an epic battle with the opposing general as the rest of the soldiers duke it out on the battlefield. Because this game is inspired by Homer’s Iliad, this ends up playing well into the overall campaign that the game presents to the player. If you’re interested in experiencing Total War in the Bronze Age, give the newest iteration of the series a try.

#SEGA #TotalWar #Troy #rts

A battle between warriors
Generals have the power to beat down waves upon waves of enemy soldiers.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon logoYakuza: Like a Dragon has just been released for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and PS4. It’s coming to PS5 on March 2, 2021. This is the newest entry into SEGA’s Yakuza series and it’s made a great deal of changes in story-telling and gameplay that make this game unique and sets itself apart from the older games in the series. The player takes control of a brand new character, in a brand new Japanese city, and the gameplay during combat is totally different, too.

Japanese Crime Syndicate

Just like its predecessors, Yakuza: Like a Dragon puts the player in the shoes of man who must fight against a deadly and dangerous Yakuza clan. You primarily play as Ichiban Kasuga, but this new entry into the series has a huge difference from every other game. You actually play as a team of four players. Instead of being a beat-em-up style fighting game during combat, the combat is actually turn based. There are still a wide variety of traditional and wacky enemies that might require some skillful strategy to get through the game, and you’ll need to take advantage of the strengths of all your characters. Like the past Yakuza games, this game also has many minigames throughout the city. Traveling through the city of Yokohama, you can participate in everything from kart racing to batting cages to arcade game to karaoke.

Karaoke singing

They take karaoke very seriously in Yakuza.

A Fresh Take on Yakuza

Yakuza: Like a Dragon has also opted to make various other changes to the game. Every Yakuza game from 2006 until now has been exclusively voice acted in Japanese. You now have the option for the game to be played out with English voice actors. Voice acting legend, George Takei, plays Masumi Arakawa. He is Kasuga’s patriarch and father-figure from his yakuza past. The Yakuza series has always focused on telling a long story while providing plenty of side-quests, minigames, and memorable boss battles. Despite the vast differences in the way that Yakuza: Like a Dragon plays and tells its story, it still has the same core focus that past releases have had. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a brand new player, this game could provide many hours of entertainment. If you’re a fan of Japanese storytelling or turn-based games, give this game a try.

A Yakuza battle
Changing to a turn-based combat system will give the battles a very different feel.

#Yakuza #SEGA #Next-Gen

XCOM 2 Collection

XCOM 2 Collection was released for IOS on November 5th, 2020. Originally published by 2k in early 2016, XCOM 2 was the direct sequel to the turn-based XCOM: Enemy Within. The game’s plot revolved around the player as the “Commander” of an elite international team of soldiers that must fight off the aliens that are invading the Earth. This time around, the Commander is leading XCOM as a renegade group of freedom fighters that are trying to fight back against ADVENT, the army of genetically modified humans that are slowly dominating more and more of the planet. XCOM 2 Collection will also include the War of the Chosen DCL and the Reinforcement Pack’s 4 separate DLCs.

The War for Humanity

XCOM 2 has become an acclaimed leader in the turn-based combat industry. The game offers a wide variety of choices and options for how the player chooses to develop their individual soldiers and XCOM as a whole. In XCOM 2, your entire base is an alien supply barge that’s been commandeered by your team. You will meet various scripted characters that help you improve your base and your soldiers. Central Officer Bradford makes his return to the XCOM series as your chief middleman with managing XCOM. Dr. Richard Tygan, an ADVENT scientist that has defected to your team, guides you through your technological and scientific progression. Meanwhile, Lily Shen replaces her father from XCOM: Enemy Within as your guide through your engineering upgrades.

An XCOM soldier wields an enormous gun

This class, the grenadier, carries a huge gun and focuses on heavy firepower.

The Fight Rages On

XCOM 2 and its DLC have brought numerous additions to the XCOM series that make the game unique and different. The DLC alone add 4 new classes of soldiers, bringing the overall total of classes in the game to 9. All 9 play totally differently and will force you to completely change how you try to complete your objectives in each level. Beyond class selection, there are numerous weapons and special traits that you can give your characters, which will cause you to truly care about the well-being of your soldiers. If you’re playing on a hard difficulty and find yourself growing attached to your characters, you can expect to load to old saves pretty often if you can’t except the death of an important character. You can also choose nearly everything about the soldiers that you recruit, from their attire, to their gender, to their nationality. The game gives you a great deal of choice in progression and style, all while maintaining an excellent story with engaging strategic combat. This game is a must-have for lovers of turn-based  gameplay.

Chosen Warlock
The Chosen Warlock is one of the powerful aliens featured in the DLC.