Hunt: Showdown is like a 1890s Monster Hunter International Game

I’ve been a fan of Crytek’s video game offerings every since they burst onto the scene in 2004 with the ambitious and impressive Far Cry, a game that boasted impressive AI and vast, colorful maps famous for giving the player a wealth of options and choices, as well as a graphical fidelity that pushed modern systems to their limit—both things that would become a staple of their games moving forward. Selling off the Far Cry license to another publisher, Crytek then went on to create 2007’s Crysis, a game that built upon the foundation of designs laid in Far Cry while simultaneously spawning the meme “But will it run Crysis?” due to the game’s incredibly demanding system requirements. But despite those astronomical requirements—so high that computing groups around the world, from NASA to China, began using the game as a benchmark for testing the newest and most powerful computers—Crysis was an impressive game at its core, boasting advanced AI, physics, a draw distance most games couldn’t even match a tenth of, and open gameplay brought about by player abilities that led to a wide range of playstyles and tactics.

Then it all went downhill. Emboldened by the sales of Crysis, Crytek got ahead of itself. Determined to bring their titles to console, the studio slimmed down the sequels to Crysis, creating games that didn’t so much push the envelope as they did constrict it. Dropping the linear maps, advanced AI, and most of the gameplay options led to games that could release on the vastly weaker hardware of consoles … but also that weren’t nearly as fun to play. Crytek, counting on the graphical fidelity of their engine to sell engine licenses as well as games, also woke the sleeping giant of Epic. As Epic’s Unreal Engine began making serious strides to both price itself competitively and catch up with Crytek’s own CryEngine, Crytek found that they’d overreached themselves, and faced cutbacks, closing of projects, and other issues. And, for a time, the studio became fairly silent.

Now, having spent the last few years relatively silent save for market deals and behind-the-scenes operations that really aren’t so exciting to the general public, Crytek is back, and they’re finally letting their new project see the light of day. The dismal, dark, moody light of day that steeps Hunt: Showdown from top to bottom.

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Op-Ed – Fixing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Sometimes those of you who peruse this site may find it easy to forget that I’m actually quite the gamer.

No no, it’s true. I’ve got a game list longer than my arm (and most other arms for that matter) and a backlog that would give an accountant fits. I like video games. Multiple genres, multiple titles, multiple systems. Right now? I’m playing through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and loving every minute (yes, it is every bit as fantastic a reinvention of an open-world game as the reviews claim).

Anyhow, being a gamer, I’ve got some favorite series I adore. And one of these is the titular Borderlands series.

Borderlands is an interesting one. Think Mad Max meets Diablo, in an FPS, in a distant Sci-Fi setting, and now throw in a bunch of kooky, dark humor, and you’ve kind of got the gist of it. Borderlands takes place on an abandoned mining world where (initially at least, since there are now four games in the series) crazed bandits (the descendants of prison convicts who were turned loose when a mining operation up and left) roam the desert landscape alongside monstrous alien life forms, as “Vault Hunters” battle both to try and track down a legendary alien cache of tech rumored to be somewhere.

It gets complicated fast, surprisingly. And there’s more to it, but that’s the gist of it. Anyway, the result is a fun universe I happen to enjoy with a lot of kooky humor, memorable characters … and plenty of shooting.

Anyway, what’s that got to do with today’s post? Well … today I want to talk about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Yes, you read that right. That kooky humor extends to the titles as well.

In any case, I want to talk about TPS—specifically one of the things it got tragically wrong, and how it could have been fixed.

Hey hey, don’t click away yet. This thing that I want to talk about? It’s a writing problem. After all, this is a writing site. That’s most often what I talk about here. So this is writing related. I’m going to discuss what went wrong … and how the developers of TPS could have avoided it.

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Advent Faces a New Foe: Jake, Anna, and Sweets Join X-Com!

This is not the Earth we remember …

 

Yes, that’s right! Fresh from exposing a few of the many mysteries of Pisces come Jake Tames, Annalyne Neres, and Ray “Sweets” Candy, ready to put their boots on the ground (albeit with a little shaking in Sweets’ case) and take on Advent as they try to make their way home.

If you own X-Com 2, the entire team can be downloaded and added to your character pack by downloading and importing the character pool found here. And you know you want them. Just look at those faces!

Instructions for how to import said character file can be found here.

Note that both packs may use armor skins or elements found in the following Mod packs, which are recommended for maximum enjoyment: Military Camoflague Patterns, Ink and Paint, Custom Face Paints, Destroyer’s Female Hair Pack, More Hair Colors, CapnBubs Accessories Pack, and the X-Com International Voices PackThese packs are recommended.

As far as sending them out to battle goes, I personally recommend making them the classes you see above for maximum parity with the source material: Jake being a sniper, Anna a Gunner (or SMG Ranger), and Sweets a Specialist. But it’s up to you. Enjoy!

And

Advent Faces a New Foe: Jacob Rocke and Hawke Decroux Join X-Com!

They’re here …

That’s right, they’re finally ready. Jacob Rocke, the unflappable NSAU Spook, and Hawke Decroux, the man who speaks with squirrels, have finished their training, strapped on their gear, and joined X-Com, ready to put their own unique skills to good use while they look for a way home!

If you’re a player of X-Com 2, these two new characters can be added to your character pool by downloading and importing the character pool file found here. And you know you want them. Just look at that duo!

Instructions for how to import said character file can be found here.

Note that both packs may use armor skins or elements found in the following Mod packs, which are recommended for maximum enjoyment: Military Camoflague Patterns, Ink and Paint, Custom Face Paints, Destroyer’s Female Hair Pack, More Hair Colors, CapnBubs Accessories Pack, and the X-Com International Voices PackThese packs are recommended.

Personally, I recommend making them Psionics, as then you can take advantage of their natural talents in that area, but once they’re in your game, it’s up to you, I suppose. Enjoy!

Advent Beware: X-Com Character Pack Preview!

Ever played X-Com? It’s a pretty classic series, hailing from the early 90s, that puts the player in the boots of the “Commander” of an anti-alien task force, tasked with countering an alien threat to life on Earth.

The original trilogy is well-known among PC aficionados as one of the golden series of the early 90s, offering steep, punishing gameplay, plenty of challenge, a brutal-but-rewarding sense of success as you learned to carefully juggle research, politics, and—most importantly of all—your soldiers to beat back the alien threat. Later sequels continued the trend of working with highly interconnected systems that gave players a vast array of freedom (though not success) to work with to counter the alien threat.

Of course, this series is now over two decades old, making replaying some of these older titles more than a bit difficult (not that it was ever easy in the first place). Thankfully, sometimes good things do get to come around again, and in our modern day and age, the series has been rebooted with X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and then the more simply named X-Com 2.

Like all good sequels, X-Com 2 built on the foundation before it, including one of X-Com‘s most popular ones: the ability to create and customize the soldiers under your command, right down to their names, looks, and their biography.

In other words, a determined player could create themselves and their friends in a game, then send them out against the alien threat to see how things shake out. Or create very creative likenesses of favorite characters from other sources.

X-Com 2 seized on this popularity both by giving players more customization options than ever (except when it came to faces, sadly), and by making incredibly easy to import and export character files. Meaning that anyone can invest a bit of time into the character creator and not only enjoy watching friends, family, or heroes try to save the earth in their game, but can share them with others as well so that those they know can do the same.

Right, that’s the background. Mostly for those of you who don’t play X-Com and would otherwise have no idea what this post was referring to.

You can create replications of anyone. Including characters from books. See where this is going, yet?

Yeah. Within hours of acquiring X-Com 2 for myself a few months ago, I’d spent less than three hours playing the game, and more than five hours sitting down and recreating a bunch of characters from my books and work in X-Com‘s character creator.

I’m pretty happy with the results. They’re not perfect, but I’m entirely accepting of that since I get to watch Colony‘s Anna tear through the Advent like there’s no tomorrow.

And you know what? You should be able to too.

Unfortunately, I’m still trying to figure out a way to host the Character Pools so that anyone who’s curious can download and import them (WordPress won’t let me do it without some technical trickery might not even work, and even then would have to be undone by anyone who downloaded said packs), so they’re not available just yet, but I figured I’d give you all a quick look at what you can expect when you add said packs to the game. So far I’ve got two ready for deployment, one for Colony and one for the Unusual Universe (One Drink, etc). I just need to figure out hosting, like I said. I may end up working them through the Steam Workshop. Anyway, let’s give you that look I promised. Some of it may not make sense if you’re not acquainted with X-Com, but a look at a visual rep of some favorite characters can still be fun, right?

And, for legalese, I don’t own X-Com or claim any of the rights to it. Duh.

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The Tragedy of DOOM 2016

I hold that DOOM 2016 is a tragedy.

I can already see many of you shaking your heads and moving to click away. No, no, don’t hit that back button yet. It’s not what you think! DOOM 2016 was a fantastic game. I loved every minute of it.

But it’s still a tragedy.

Right, quick addendum before I get into the meat of things here. First, I know I normally don’t talk about games on here, despite doing a lot of gaming in my limited spare time. Today is one of those “exception to the rule” days. Should be fun regardless.

Second, mandatory plug for Colony! It continues to rack up readers, and there’s a reason for it: The story is awesome! If you haven’t grabbed it yet, consider clicking the cover on the right there (or to the books page if you’re viewing this post some time from now and that cover isn’t Colony) and taking a quick look!

Those things aside, let’s get back to the topic at hand: The Tragedy of DOOM 2016. As I said earlier, DOOM 2016 is a fantastic game. It managed to not just perfectly catch the high-octane feel that the old, original Doom titles had when played by a pro, but translate them, not just into a modern era but to a modern audience as well.

The result is something incredible. Violent and insane (this is not a game to ignore the M-rating on; it earns it with showers of demon-blood), but incredible. You’d be hard-pressed to walk away from a session of play with DOOM without feeling your heart pound. The game is just that good.

But it’s also a tragedy.

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No, Aven Colony is Not the Next Outpost 2

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Yesterday morning, I received an unexpected burst of surprise. I was browsing r/games on Reddit when I came across a notification of a Science-Fiction colony-builder survival game titled Aven Colony … certainly enough to pique my interest. But the real shock came when I saw that the (then) top comment was “I’ve been waiting for something to fill the void that Outpost 2 left in my heart for so long.

Yeah, that snapped at my attention right away. I spent the rest of the day (I was busy doing other things) already planning to check to see if that commentator was correct. As you may recall, I’ve written about Outpost 2 before and why I’m waiting for a successor of some kind, and to my surprise that post continues to be one of the most regular reads on the site. Scarcely a day doesn’t pass that it doesn’t get one reader (other posts get many more readers, but in batches, this one is about as stable as my home page).

Now, I know I tend to talk more about writing than anything else one here (though again, I’m always open to branching out), but since gaming is one of my biggest hobbies (not surprising, as I did study at creating games and even founded a game studio that went nowhere), occasionally snippets of that might leak through.

Like right now, when I’m reporting back on Aven Colony. I had to know: Was it truly a successor to Outpost 2? Was it a game that filled a niche that has been empty for almost two decades? Was it what this obscure reddit commentator was hoping?

I did some digging. Watched a video. And now I have an answer.

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