No Man’s Sky Trade & Fight trailers

PlayStation have released trailers two and three for upcoming space exploration game No Man’s Sky., titled Fight & Trade. The final trailer, which will be released in a few days, I’m guessing, is called Survive.

I posted the first trailer, Explore, on the site the other day but if you missed it, here it is:

No Man’s Sky is out on PlayStation 4 on August 10.

No Man’s Sky: How many zeroes are in quintillion?

I have to say when I first heard about No Man’s Sky, a game from British development studio Hello Games, I really didn’t know what to expect – and I wasn’t that excited about it.

All it seemed to be was visit a procedurally generated planet, scan lifeforms, get back in your ship then fly to the next planet. Rinse and repeat.

Well, the more I’ve seen of No Man’s Sky, though, the more intrigued I’m becoming and my thinking has changed about it. Sure, it’s still all about exploration and naming the lifeforms you find (I can guarantee there will be a few creatures named after body parts – and I’m not talking about arms and legs) – but it does look as if there’s a bit more to do than what we originally thought.

There’s clearly a lot of people who thought the same as me as PlayStation is releasing four game play trailers before the game comes out in August that showcase the four key things you can do in the game: Explore, trade, fight and survive. The first video, Explore, is up above.

Did you know No Man’s SKy has 18 quintillion planets? EIGHTEEN QUINTILLION PLANETS!!! How many zeroes is in a quintillion?

Look, I see No Man’s Sky going one of two ways: It’s either going crash and burn (into one of its procedurally generated planets) and people will be really confused or be amazing and we’ll all happily be exploring planets until the end of time.

We’ll know in August when it comes out.

 

Nightdive’s System Shock remake is teasing me to back it

I never played the original System Shock which came out in 1994.

I did, however, play System Shock 2, a 1999 game that scared the bejezus out of me. I don’t think I finished it. I was too scared to finish it.

Actually, I still have the CD Rom of it in a cupboard somewhere but I’m still too scared to play it. Besides, I’m not sure the disc-based version would work on Windows 10 and if there was a hack, I’m guessing it would involve mind-boggling hard things.

System Shock was something of a watershed moment in gaming and it put the players on Citadel Station where they had to fight against cyborgs and mutated crew members created by the diabolical AI Shodan.

56731be5492e09401420454944899d53_originalNightdive Studios, an American game developer probably known most for a remaster of Turok,  has a fondness for System Shock so a few weeks ago started its Kickstarter to fund a remake of the classic game. With 15 days still to go, Nightdive has reached its target of $US900,000.

I’ve been following the Kickstarter closely, each days “Umming” and “Ahhing” on whether I should back it (mainly whether I’d play it due to its scaryness) but as each day goes by, I’m seriously contemplating plonking down $US30  which will secure me a copy of the game on either PC or Xbox One (no PS4 as of yet) when it’s released (supposedly) in December, 2017. I also think I was a little hesitant to back it yet because I wanted to wait and see whether it actually reached its target first.

As part of a sweetener for potential backers to see how much work Nightdive had already done on the remake (it’s not a remaster: A remaster has already been done), the developer released a pre-Alpha demo through GOG.com, Humble Bundle and Steam  – a proof of concept, I suppose – of System Shock on PC which offered a short, vertical slice of what sort of things to expect. I was impressed, if I’m being honest, despite it only being about 10 minutes long and me realising that my now much-outdated nVidia GTX660Ti  wouldn’t handle the finished PC version.

Sure, the demo wasn’t perfect but it showed that Nightdive were serious about making a success with this campaign and indicated what direction the developer was likely to take. Honestly, I wish more Kickstarter campaigns for video games would offer a demo of what to expect with their campaigns.

WrenchSystemshockNightdive has a few more stretch goals if the campaign reaches certain milestones before the campaign period is up (ie $1.7m will bring enemy limb dismemberment, more puzzles, ammo types/weapon settings, vending machines, basic components/research, RPG progression, weapon upgrading, hardcore mode (No respawning), ironman mode (Only 1 savegame. If you die, the save is deleted). I highly doubt it’ll reach $1.7 million – now that it’s reached its goal funding seems to have slowed down quite a bit – but the core game has been funded. That’s an important milestone.

Although the core game has been funded, it’ll be interesting to see how much Nightdive gathers in the remaining 15 days of the campaign but it’s 15 days for me to convince myself I need to back it.

If I do, I’ve then got until December, 2017 to muster up the courage to play it.

 

 

The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine DLC: Geralt goes out in style

Well, Geralt of Rivea, it’s been quite a ride.

Through three games on a variety of formats, the mutated monster hunter from developer CD Projekt Red has carved a name for himself as a hero and likeable character. Yes, a likeable character as well as a bit of a rogue.

CD Projekt Red have made no secret that this is the last adventure of Geralt of Rivea, and if this indeed the case, it’ll go down as one of the most satisfying and wonderful final appearances ever.

Pwooar, look at all those bright colours. And sunflowers. And Geralt. It's lovely!!

Pwooar, look at all those bright colours. And sunflowers. And Geralt. It’s lovely!!

Where The Witcher 3 was quite dark, both in colour and theme, Blood & Wine is bursting with colour, especially in the opening moments as Geralt rides into Toussaint, a region based on the south of France that is bursting with vibrant colour: Yellows, greens, blues – and that’s just in the armour worn by some of the region’s military. Geralt even gets his own vineyard to chill out in between slaying monsters and chasing beasts.

But make no mistake, this is a Witcher game as Geralt must use all his weapons skill and magic to defeat a foul beast that is terrorising Toussaint and leaving slaughtered corpses in its wake (essentially vampires). Here’s the trailer to give you an idea what to expect:

CD Projekt Red suggests players be at least level 34 to tackle Blood & Wine – and they’re right. It’s a challenge that will keep you on your toes but if you haven’t reached level 34, and you’re happy to discard the character you spent countless hours to craft and refine,  you can use a pre-created character that starts the game at level 34.

Like The Witcher 3, I opted to play Blood & Wine on PC using my ageing but still capable (it seems) nVidia Geforce GTX660Ti. It does an admirable job but I lock the frame rate at 30 and play at a resolution of 1080p. It seemed to be rock solid, with perhaps only the odd frame rate drop from time to time.

Blood & Wine opens, pretty much, with what is a fairly easy battle against an angry troll but it seems to wonderful taking place in a brightly coloured paddock, with blue sky ahead and sunflowers nearby. It almost seems un-Witcher like but things soon take a turn to familiar territory with all manner of foul creatures wanting to rip Geralt a new one.

As if was a while since I’d played The Witcher 3, it took a bit for me to get to grips with the controllers again but soon enough it all felt familiar. I liked that some of the boss fights were far removed from the original game, meaning things felt fresh.

Knights. With brightly coloured armour. And armoured horses. Huzzah!

Knights. With brightly coloured armour. And armoured horses. Huzzah!

There are new weapons, armour, equipment, mutations and even Gwent cards. There’s even the ability to dye pieces of armour to add a bit of individuality to Geralt’s armour (if it’s worn). If this is the final time we’ll see Geralt, I actually think I’m going to miss his dry wit and charm and with Blood & Wine then the developers have gone out all singing and all dancing, which is a great thing.

If you’re a fan of The Witcher and the deep world that CD Projekt Red have created, Blood & Wine is a no brainer. Really, it is. It’s a fitting send off to a magnificent world and a memorable character.  Hopefully, though, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Geralt of Rivea.

 

 

Dark Days is a VR game I will never play – and it’s not why you think

Dark Days is a new game from relatively new developer Parallel Studios, based in France, that released on Samsung’s GearVR headset earlier this week  – and I’ll never play it. It’s probably not for the reason you think, either.

DarkDays-gear-vr-1024x576Dark Days describes itself as a mix between the X-Files and Twin Peaks and has players in the shoes of Jade Lacroix, who checks into a Death Valley motel and suddenly finds things going all crazy when she learns that local residents are going missing.

It all sounds too creepy for me, but friend and fellow GearVR owner Ross McDougall, mentioned he’d downloaded the game so I messaged him, telling him to let me know how it was as I was thinking about picking it up. Depending on what Ross thought, I might download it and play it myself.

So, Ross DM’d me over Twitter on Friday night and his experience helped me make the decision that, yeah, I wasn’t going to entertain the thought of even playing Dark Days. It sounds just too freaken scary for me.

Here’s the conversation that Ross sent through in all its glory. Oh, there are some spoilers about the opening couple of minutes so if you plan to play Dark Days, perhaps stop reading from here.

“First section is you driving in a car.

“”You look at these things to interact with them.

“Horn, glovebox, radio etc

“The character narrating.

“Eventually.

“(And I’m not sure what triggers it).

“There’s a black shadow shaman looking guy with long fingers and a white mask standing on the passenger seat.

“Reaching out to you.

“You only see him once you’re looking the total opposite direction and moving your head back to that area.

I nearly f…… screamed hahaha”.

That’s probably how’d I’d react as well, to be fair. In fact, I’d probably be too scared to turn my head. As soon as I saw the shaman dude I’d probably lose the plot complete. Ross said his wife played the same section – and laughed at it!

Sceenshots_04-1200x630I’ve got no problem with mild horror films and I loved X-Files and Twin Peaks back in the day (I didn’t think much of the recent new X-Files episodes) and while I don’t  go out of my way to watch a horror film, if one’s playing in the background on TV I don’t get freaked.

I think my issue with VR horror games is that because with VR you’re actually inside what is going on, my mind just checks out and tells my body “Nah, mate. I’m outta here.” There’s no way I want to even entertain a  horror game in VR. I’ll stick to space sims or puzzle games, thanks.

Dark Days seems to be getting positive feedback from people who have played it and it’s probably a really good game with jump scares but sorry, Parallel Studios, I won’t be one of the people playing it as I don’t get on with jump scares.

Frankly, I’m just not going to give myself a heart attack in the name of an immersive VR experience.

Here’s the trailer. Who’s with me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VR has me hook, line & sinker

20160526_220240When I bought a Samsung GearVR headset, I didn’t really expect that I’d get sucked into the world of VR so much. How wrong I was.

If I’m being completely honest, I thought I’d play around with the VR for a little bit then get bored and move onto something else. Well, I haven’t. VR has me hook, line & sinker.  I don’t even care how silly I look sitting in my lounge room, on my computer desk chair, wearing the headset. I’m just really digging the VR experience.

I’ve got a handful of games for my GearVR: Minecraft (which makes me a little motion sick, to be honest, if I play it for too long), Eve Gunjack, Land’s End, Darket, Esper 2, and End Space, as well as the Netflix app, Samsung’s Internet app and Oculus Video.

I’ve done videos of Eve Gunjack, Land’s End and Esper 2 on this site already (sadly, without audio as the Galaxy S7’s in-built capture utility doesn’t capture audio: I hope this gets sorted soon. In the meanwhile, I’ll have to come up with a solution) and End Space is quickly becoming my favourite space sim. I’ll get footage of that up when I can. I’ve only had Darknet for a couple of days (it’s a hacking game where you have to infiltrate a computer network by hacking nodes with viruses) so I haven’t made up my mind on it yet but I’m liking what I’ve played so far.

I also bought a Bluetooth controller. A controller isn’t a necessity for a lot of  VR games (Land’s End for example) but for some games, Minecraft and End Space tell you a controller is required. It’s good advice. I wouldn’t even attempt to play either of those without a controller (in fact, I’m not even sure you can?).  You don’t have to spend a fortune on a Bluetooth controller, though: I bought a Nyko Cygnus controller based on a recommendation by an online friend for less than $40 from Amazon. It works like a charm and connects to my Samsung Galaxy S7 every time.

I never thought I’d like the VR experience as much as I do. I don’t think VR is a fad unlike 3D. My smart TV can do 3D and I’ve never used that feature once (the two pairs of 3D glasses that came with the TV are still actually in the box they came with). 3D was a fad whereas VR is actually something that I really think will gain more momentum as it becomes more mainstream. Sure, there’s that slight anti-social aspect to it and the weird aspect with you wearing a screen on your face, but as it becomes more mainstream, it’ll seem less weird and less anti-social.

I’ve found that my eyes don’t always play ball when I put on my VR headset: Sometimes things are blurry so I know it’s not the time to go VR but other nights, I can plonk on the headset, fire up Esper 2 or End Space and complete a mission or puzzle or two then be done for the night. I’m happy.

The thing I like about my GearVR is its portability. I can take it with me anywhere and the VR experience is amazing. It’s really hard to tell people what it’s like without them actually experiencing it. Videos give a far better impression but you really need to experience it for yourself to understand what I’m talking about.

Ultimately, though, I want to get a PlayStation VR but, as much as I’d like one Day One, it’s not imperative that I’m one of first adopters. I’m waiting to see if PlayStation announces any bundles for New Zealand that includes a PS Eye camera and a Move controller or two before I commit. [Oh, who am I kidding? Just myself, probably.  I’ll probably buckle in the next few weeks and pre-order a PS VR. Seriously] Hopefully, with its good showing at E3, PlayStation will announce some competitively priced PSVR bundles.

Look, I don’t know how long VR will remain fashionable or whether VR is going to turn us into the passengers on that cruise spaceship in the movie Wall E. You know, where they’re all fat and sitting in automated chairs and always looking at a screen in front of their face rather than looking at what’s around them. Or whether VR will eventually turn into our reality and we never leave the house to go to work or socialise and just live in VR set-ups (was that in the book Ready, Player One. I can’t remember)

Whatever the answers, and where VR will head in future I have no idea but for now, I’m just having fun with the experiences VR is giving me. Even if I do look slightly stupid wearing a VR headset.

 

 

 

E3: The big guns come out to play

Day two of the E3 press conferences before the show proper and Microsoft and PlayStation held their press events. I woke up at 4.25am to watch the Microsoft one and I liked some of the announcements, especially the Project Scorpio console (although I’m tossing up now whether to save for a Project Scorpio console or save for one of the soon-to-be released AMD RX480 graphics cards (and probably a new motherboard to put it in).

Microsoft’s biggest cheers definitely came for the two consoles that had been rumoured but no-one really knew much about. There’s the Xbox One S, which is 40 per cent smaller than the launch Xbox One, has an internal power supply and it supports 4K Ultra HD, there’s the new console called at the moment Project Scorpio which promises “6 Teraflops”of GPU power. There’s a new Elite controller and you can customise your own one-of a kind Xbox One wireless controller but as far as Microsoft’s games went: I thought they were OK but not outstanding. I do like the cross play feature where someone with a game on Xbox One can play someone who is playing the same game on a Windows 10 laptop/PC.

Microsoft had Halo Wars 2 (I loved the first game), Dead Rising 4, Gears of War 4, Rare’s Seas of Thieves (which looks great), Forza Horizon 3 (which is set in Australia!), Recore,  Final Fantasy XV, Minecraft Realms (it was good to see famed developer John Carmack wearing a Samsung GearVR headset for this demo) and The Division Underground. All solid games but nothing really earth-shattering, in my view. That said, indie title We Happy Few looks genuinely interesting as did PlayDead’s Inside (the same developers that created Limbo).

Update: Thinking about things overnight, Xbox has scored a major win in hardware side of things by announcing Project Scorpio.  Yes, it’s 18 months or so until the console will be released (I suspect it’ll be revealed middle of next year sometime) but I’d say announcing Scorpio will really put the heat on Sony and it’s PlayStation Neo console which, I think, is due for release late this year. Microsoft are really gunning to win the console wars and build the “most powerful console ever” and looking at its speaks, it is indeed a powerful machine. It’ll be interesting to see whether Microsoft’s announcement yesterday has PlayStation worried about its Neo.

As far as games go (and let’s face it, that’s why people buy consoles/play PCs), though, for me, Sony won the battle, if there is such a thing. I love both consoles but personally, I felt that PlayStation’s games seemed a little fresher, a little more exciting.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a much older (but a bit of a dick towards his son) Kratos in the God of War reboot, The Last Guardian which seems to have been in development for decades finally got a release date, Horizon Zero Dawn looks incredible, Hideo Kojima’s new game Death Stranding which featured a naked Norman Reedus (from Walking Dead fame) wondering why he’s on a beach,  there was a very Last of Us-esque game called Days Gone which features zombies in an apocalyptic setting, Detroit Become Human (the next game from David Cage) and then there was the PS VR stuff which, frankly, made my eyes pop. I was even enthralled with the Call of Duty VR stuff that I didn’t know was actually Call of Duty until near the end (oh, and I’d easily buy a copy of Infinite Warfare just for the remastered version of Modern Warfare which has, without a doubt, the best COD mission ever in All Ghillied Up). Oh, and there’s a Batman Arkham VR game [breathe, breathe]

PlayStation has a new PS4 coming out called the Neo but nothing was show at its press event. I wonder whether PlayStation will reveal more at the Tokyo Games Show?

Looks, there’s something for fans of both consoles but for me, if I had to pick a console which had the strongest line up of games coming out, I’d put my money on PlayStation. I also liked how most of PlayStation’s press event was game footage and trailers rather than people standing on stage talking.

This is not an exhaustive list of every game announced but just those that caught my attention. Anyway, enough words. Here’s some moving pictures. Enjoy.

 

God of War (PS4):

Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4):

Infinite Warfare (ship assault):

Days Gone (PS4):

Halo Wars 2 (Xbox One):

We Happy Few (Xbox One):

Gears of War 4 (Xbox One):

 

Thoughts on what PlayStation and Xbox showed today?