Fortnite: Battle Royale is a Free-To-Play Battle Royale video game, developed by Epic Games and is currently in Early Access. Currently, the game consists of a 100-person PvP mode, pitting you in a fight against everyone else. Following last years equally successful title, PlayerUnknown’s BattleGround (PUBG), Fortnite was immediately a hit with streamers and gamers. The Battle Royale genre was completely new to me, but I wanted to give it a try. Although I didn’t know if I wanted to put my money into PUBG, I could finally try the genre with Fortnite – But what did I think of it?
Look, I told you that my opinion of Nex Machina might be slightly biased. There is no hiding the love I have of Housemarque products but at least you can say that I have been completely honest with you. Nex Machina is available on PC and PS4 and we will be using the PS4 version for our review.
Controversial is the word of the game, a game that promised so much, but yet caused so many to scream that they got so little. This is a game set out in a vast universe, one massive entity where we would be exploring aimlessly for centuries. People would get to see alien life forms wandering around, as well as barren and desolate planets. This is a game that has gotten so many people upset because they don’t have anything more than an exploration game. A game where you gather resources, explore and then we’re done with it. I remember I wrote about how excited I was for No Man’s Sky, because I love grind games. I love repetition and I love to explore. I love the nooks and cranny’s of games, I love Easter Eggs and glitches.
|Platforms||PC (Windows), PS4|
|Windows Release||August 2016|
|Price on Steam||£39.99|
Okay, this bit is a little bit disappointing – But basically the story of No Man’s Sky is just there to get you to really understand what the game is about. During the story, you will follow the Atlas, or you will try and proceed through the universe yourself. You will attempt to reach the centre of the universe, which has been met (with*) (a lot) (of criticism). Rightly or wrongly, the game is about getting to the centre of the universe and then continuing your exploration of the universe. That’s what the game’s story is all about – and that’s it. You can also follow one of a few paths to get to the centre of the universe: Either via the Atlas, the Vy’Keen or presumably by yourself completely.
When I was reading about this game, a long time ago, I remember being excited by the seemingly infinite planets. The numbers blew my mind and that’s what I wanted out of this – To explore, publish my findings in some central database and proceed. I didn’t care for a story and it seems like the story of the game is just there to get you to explore.
The game starts you off on a completely random planet. I found my first planet and started to look around, thinking “huh, is this Minecraft all over again? Procedurally generated world with no purpose?” That made me happy, as that was what I was looking for. I like exploring worlds that a computer has made up – It’s fun! It’s why I like rogue-likes so much! Once you get your bearings, you understand that you need to gather resources, submit your findings to The Atlas and off you go! You need to gather resources and learn how to improve your equipment, as well as fixing up your broken ship – and that’s basically it. You get resources, you fix stuff that’s breaking or refuel anything that is running out of whatever fuels it, then go between planets and rinse and repeat.
The game hasn’t promised to be much else, but of course, people do look into what is said quite seriously. If the developer states that there is to be factions, then of course everyone will want to see this. But then again, when you consider how a faction works… Wouldn’t that mean you would need to have met other people? Those who say that this is only a single player game are wrong, although some clarification as to how players really impact this universe should be made. The issue lies in that people are looking around really quickly and going between system to system. Some people are exploring every planet on their systems – but by the time you’ve bounced between systems, the person who was once there probably has already finished on the planet you’ve gone on. When I got this game, I was expecting to never encounter another person and I have no issues with this. But I know I’m not in a “typical” single player game, in that I’ve seen other peoples systems and other peoples planets.
This is where it gets a bit more interesting. The features that Hello Games promised are in there. The only thing I’m not so certain on is “can you name your ship“, but apparently if you’re the first person to find a kind of ship, then everyone in the game will see the name of the ships as whatever you named it. Effectively, if you found a specific kind of ship and called it a flippyflappy, then everyone would see that. This is true for planets, systems and more. Don’t forget, this is the universe and it’s your job to go and discover as much as you can! You will find a ridiculously large amount of procedurally generated creatures and procedurally generated flora. You can discover them, upload them and name them. You can even name the systems you’re in. I saw a ridiculous comment on YouTube, where the guy claims you cannot travel between Systems. That’s kind of one of the major things to do with hyperdrive, sir..? Yes, you can travel between systems.
By the by, let’s talk about the universe for a bit. You fly from planet to planet, blowing up debris and ships. The Sentinels are a force to be reckoned with, but if you’re like me, you kinda like blowing up the baddies. We don’t really know if they are baddies, but they certainly seem to be against what we’re about. Perhaps a future update could give us more reason to want to go and blow up their space ships, but I’ve had enough of their crap when they eye me down just for blowing up a rock called Dwayne Johnson. I understand these are all giant wrestling fan robots, but c’mon guys.
The full OST was composed by 65daysofstatic. Go give them a like!
To be fair, this part of the review has nothing wrong with it at all. The music is atmospheric, before picking up whenever the game gets a bit more tense. If you decide to attack one of the drones flying around the place, the music quickens and gets a bit more serious. Other times, when you first enter a planet, you will enter to some relaxing music, allowing you to explore at your leisure. The music in the game is beautiful, but it’s nothing that will make you run to the shops to buy the OST. Still, linked above is a sample of the in-game music.
Meanwhile, the audio of the Vy’Keen just sounds like someone going “omnomnom” next to a microphone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I don’t expect to understand them… But it does sound a bit weird. Voices aren’t all bad though: The robotic voice who keeps telling you that your suit is in trouble is a proper robotic voice. As well as this, the sound effects in the game are on point. There’s not much to say about sound effects though… I mean they’re great for what they are, but they are just sound effects.
As always, here on GeekOut South-West, we believe that you should be the judge of the graphics for yourself. Since the version I’ve been playing is on the PS4, there’s a limited capability with the screenshots, in that they’ll be somewhat poorer on resolution. Nevertheless, you should be able to get a good idea of the graphics of the game with the following gallery. Personally, I think the game looks gorgeous and even when the procedurally generated lands mess up, it’s still an enjoyable journey through a planet. Here’s our gallery:
So yes, you are free to be as upset as you want with No Man’s Sky. But as you might have seen from the above Gameplay section, they delivered what they promised. If you feel like you’ve been misled, then unfortunately the onus might come back to you. The game never promised a building facility, nor it really promised much in the way of resource gathering. That was something I personally didn’t expect when I walked into it (having watched no gameplay trailers). I can completely sympathise with the anger and the frustration that people feel towards the game, but let’s not take away from the fact that this was made by a tiny team in a small amount of time.
I’m not fully defending this game, for it does indeed need more. I agree with the complaints, wanting to see more happening, but I’m disgusted by the people who demanded a refund even after 10+ hours of gameplay. That’s why this review has been full of links everywhere: I’m bringing all of the points together to explain that both sides are wrong here. Yes, Hello Games need to do more, but they’ve got the ability and the time now to do so. They can implement patches to bring massive gameplay changes in. I’m hoping they take the criticisms on board and actually release some more interesting features, but apparently this is what they’re working on. They have been actively working on fixing bugs, which were found within weeks of the game being released and I’m hopeful that this becomes a bigger game than it currently is… Even though when you consider the sheer number of planets, the game is plenty big enough as it is.
To summarise then, this isn’t the best game in the world (hah, get it..?), but I’ve enjoyed my time in space. There is an air of over-repetition in the game and I hope the developers address this. I also hope that the initial backlash from a very keen fanbase (and the journalist trigger fingers) will not cause too many problems for the developer down the line. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic and perhaps the game will go nowhere, but I want to believe Hello Games will expand their universe… Even if it’s in a bizarre fashion. I tell you, if they implement a building facility into the game (like they’re saying they will at the bottom of these update notes, ) I’m all for it! I’ll inhabit every world I can, build a little
castle base and raise my flag and say “come at me universe”, whilst the toxicity levels of the planet rises… But now it’s over to you. Am I right or wrong in calling out both sides to this story? Do you think I’m being unfair on the people who play the game, or am I defending both sides points fairly? What do you make of the overall game, now that you’ve read my thoughts? Have I made your opinion differ any? As always, thanks for reading and please remember to leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
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All hail the BunnyLord and his quest to be the mayor! Forget all other potential world leaders like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Teresa May and Kin Jong Un for they are all pretenders. Although worse than any Brexit back-pedaller, I will deny all knowledge. I’ll claim that I was used for political reasons when all the bullet cases finish hitting the floor and the corridors are filled with bloody corpses. Now before you think I have gone utterly mad I’m here to tell you about an awesome little side scrolling shooter entitled “Not A Hero”. Yep, another one of those pickups during a sale that I grabbed for £1.99, but it’s available at £9.99 RRP from Steam and HumbleBundle.
Heavy Bullets is not exactly a new game. Originally released in 2014, it was played by quite a few streamers at the time of launch. I remember buying it during yet another sale, after it had been sitting on my wish list for a while and I can honestly say that I still think it’s worth every penny of it’s retail price (£6.99 on Steam & £7.49 on Humble Bundle).
You play a security program that has been sent in to restore order to a mainframe that has gone haywire. To do so you are equipped with a gun that only contains 6 bullets in some sort of Dirty Harry style gun. You must hold onto these six bullets as well as aim to pick up coins throughout the ten levels in order to buy some upgrades.
Heavy Bullets does not push the boundaries in aesthetics, but I really like the way it looks. It has a very distinct neon colour palette and is visually lucid and bright; the game nips along which is no surprise but it feels right at home at this speed. You can spot one of the bank or shop ATM’s immediately and the maps even randomly generate secrets, which I think is a pretty cool touch. I really love the way the graphics flicker whenever you get hit, along with the intentional visual glitches when you are on your last life, making the whole thing feel more tense.
It’s essentially a stripped down 3D-first person shooter, but there is something distinctly ominous about it. The music and general sound design certainly adds a lot to the atmosphere. In game it goes awfully quiet but as you roam around you get some very distinctive audible clues. The imps make a cute little chirping sound which you soon learn to be afraid of, as they launch themselves at you with great intensity. The game is rogue-like and so the enemies and the levels are randomised, which means that you have no idea what is around the corner. You may remember that I said that One More Dungeon really suffered from this, but for some reason it works in Heavy Bullets. There’s something about the smoothness of the game, along with the way it flows. I hate to put it down to feel but when you have played a fair few 3D shooters you begin to get a feel for which one’s work and which ones don’t.
Having a limited amount of ammo really adds to the atmosphere. I’m not sure how other people play it, but I end up paranoid reloading at every opportunity that I can. The first few enemies you meet are fairly easy, some worm like beasties that hide in the bushes which can sometimes be difficult to see, followed by some imps that run at you when they see you, which for me cause an instant amount of panic and tension. Further on you meet up with sentry guns that can only be killed if you shoot their battery. There are even flying enemies in the game. You can improve your chances of survival in further rounds by saving money in the bank, so the next time you play through you can dip into your account to help you out.
The money is generous enough, you don’t have to play 1000 games in order to afford one of the items. The shops can provide you with more health or upgrades to increase the radius of coin and bullet pickup, a discount in the shop and so on. The Steam community have put together a great little item guide so go have a look at them so you know what to buy from the ATM’s. Also a little thing I didn’t know is that you can blow up the ATM which gets you some extra cash. In theory you could do this early on to get extra cash and save up the money to make a proper attempt at the 10 levels.
It all comes down to the bullets though, they look and feel heavy when you fire them. When they hit something they lay on the floor and bounce their plump little form on the floor enticing you to pick them back up. Even when you reload them they make a satisfying thunk when re-entering the chamber. Upon reaching the end of a level, apart from me letting out a small joyous ‘whoop’, you’re not rewarded just yet. After all, you have a job to do here and need to get on with it. If and when you finish all 10 levels you are rewarded with $5,000 of in-game cash ready to spend to make your next attempt a lot easier, no doubt.
I already said at the top of the review that I think Heavy Bullets is well worth the money. Its slick feel takes me back to early days of Quake which makes it pure simple 3D-shooter fun. In a recent sale I saw it on offer for a mere £2 which is a total bargain. The soundtrack is well worth the extra money although trying to use Steam to play it filled me with rage, but this is more of a problem I have with Steam rather than the game. Unlike some rogue based games, Heavy Bullet punishes you in the right places and the right way, making you, the player, determined to improve your skill and ability to defeat those damn worms. In my opinion… just buy it already!
Have you played Heavy Bullets? Do you also feel it’s a great example of a 3D shooter? Have you managed to finish it (I haven’t!). Give us all of your comments below or contact us in one of the many other forms of Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.
SUPERHOT has been on my radar for some time. I played the original demo probably two years ago and was very impressed so when they decided to Kickstarter the game I went ahead and backed it. I must admit I was really looking forward to play the final release, so I picked up my copy on it’s official release of 25th February 2016.
I have a bit of a soft spot for shoot-em-up style games more commonly known as SHMUP’s. Like any game I play there has to be a certain something that makes me want to keep playing. Almost anyone can design a game where you just shoot waves upon waves of enemies, it takes a keen sense of game design to make that game feel right. Of course the feeling is subjective and the only way I can demonstrate what I mean is by telling you about two of my all time favourites.
Not long ago I spoke about wanting to play some harder games and record them. One such game has appeared for me in the form of Steredenn, a space shooter bullet-hell. I have been playing the Early Access version of the game, but I’m pleased to tell you that it’s out of Early Access. Released on October 1st, this game is hectic and chaotic, whilst being smart and modern. It’s a great game, but enough about that, why not check out our video at the bottom of the page?
As is typical of a bullet-hell, there’s really not much of a story. It’s just that some pirate fleets have come to infiltrate your base. They’ve caused some serious damage, shredding through all of their opposition (you and your allies), leaving you to defeat them through the wreckage of your allies and the space rock. It’s not exactly a hard game to understand, you’re flying a ship with the premise of just blowing enemies up, which is A-OKAY in my eyes!
I believe not all games need to have some of the most incredibly intricate of stories – But this tells a typical bullet-hell story: You’re a single unit against vast seas of enemies… You, and you alone, must take these pirates down. We really don’t need anything more than that for the story.
The game plays really well. It works well on both keyboard and on the game pad, of which I used both to test the game. The video below is me on my game pad – The latency of which feels pretty good (very minimal, which is hugely important to this kind of game.
An interesting aspect is the fact you get just two weapons of which you choose what you want to keep and change over. If you see an available weapon, you tap the pick-up key to pick a weapon up to replace the one you are currently using. You always start off with a basic blaster but you can go on to get rocket launchers, lasers and even auto-firing robots. The many different weapons work in particular scenarios better than others.
It felt as if the game has a very steep difficulty curve once you get past the first boss. Typical of bullet hells, this is a game where you will not kill every enemy, often leaving them out so you can go and beat up the big baddies. On the plus side though, the game seems to be really high on using score as an indicator of success. I, however, will try to get as far as beating the big baddie of the final stage… Eventually! I don’t think I’ll be getting there any time soon.
The music is a simple arrangement of heavy guitar work and drum patterns. It’s basically a metal-inspired soundtrack which really helps to pump the adrenaline into you. It’s simple, it’s fast paced and it does the job effectively. Couple the heavy metal with the space-like and ambience inspired sound effects of the game, we’re onto a modern space shooter that anyone can get behind. The volume can be adjusted, depending on your interests in metal!
I’d highly recommend Steredenn, if for nothing more than the fact it has a great soundtrack, it is visually pleasing on the eye and it’s hard as nails. I know this won’t be a game for everyone, due to the very nature of bullet-hells, but hey, I personally loved every second of it. With this in mind, I’d like to leave you on the thought that Steredenn is a fast-paced bullet-hell, which is beautifully presented and is a genuine challenge. Check it out below and don’t forget to comment, like and if you liked the video to subscribe to our YouTube channel too. Also, leave us a comment on Twitter and Facebook.
Robocraft is a free to download and free to play shooter/creative game which is available on Steam or via their official website. The game gained a lot of attention for the game is exactly what many people would want from a game – Creative for those who like to craft their wildest creations, destructive for those who just want to see exploding robots and strategic for those who love to think.
Atmosphere in gaming is one of these hard to understand concepts that you simply “Just get” rather than plausibly put your finger on.
I mean, atmosphere in a game like… Well, Atmosfear… Is all in the suspense, the drama and the excitement of what’s going to happen next. That sense of “When is it going to happen next?” “What is going to happen next?” and my favourite “Can we skip forward?”
I draw more upon the 2004 version of Atmosfear here, as that game added in the element of surprise. See, the original Atmosfear was brilliant: On your first playthrough. This was due to a limitation in technology. In 2004 however, Atmosfear was redone on DVD, meaning events could (and did) happen at random.
This is a major boost to the atmosphere of Atmosfear, as no more did you know when the next quotes would be said. It truly felt like each game was now different from the last.
So how did Atmosfear make the atmosphere? They had a narrator who set the scene, told the stories and yes: He told you what to do. He made you feel uneasy, as if you had to do exactly as he said to continue with the game. Perfection in atmospheric execution, right there.
In video games however, there are other means to set the atmosphere of a game.
In video games, you rely on the visuals, the audio and the rules of the game. Let’s take a step back in time to 1994 for a moment and all the way back to that lovely console, the SNES. A “psychedelic” hippy-like RPG video game was released, where you play as a kid who fights using a baseball bat. He goes on a journey with a girl who has the power of prayer, a boy who’s incredibly smart and a prince of a foreign land.
Earthbound throughout the game is quite fun and you get the sense of fun throughout… But the whole game, you feel something is a little bit off with the game. But you just can’t quite place your finger on what. Not until you fight the final boss.
You see, as you get to the final part of the game, you realise you and your friends are alone against what is basically the ultimate evil of the game. He makes his presence felt to you as he morphs around your screen, in full screen too!
WARNING: Watching the above video is riddled with spoilers about the end boss of the game (Because it’s basically a play-through of that event). If you’re okay with that, go ahead and proceed.
You feel as if you’re trapped in this horrible realm, where you and your friends are fighting not just for your life but for humanity, too. You get the idea instilled in you by the words of Porky Minch, then the music which follows. When you’re fighting Porky and Giygas, it’s not so bad – You’ve not seen the true form of Giygas and Porky is making the event amusing. He then turns off the devils machine and bang. You get hit with a slap of video game reality.
Atmosphere isn’t stuck to just one aspect of a game. It can be audible, it can be narrative or it can even be visual.
I’ve given you the narrative and the musical, so now let’s look at how the visuals can display something atmospheric!
When Doom 3 came out, it was one of these games that you had no choice but to draw your jaw to. Hopefully, your jaw didn’t drop quite as much as our above zombie friend, but you get the point. Doom 3 looked amazing for its time and the whole scenario, the whole place, felt intimidating and threatening.
It felt cold and it felt like you truly were alone out there against the legions of hell itself. You were in charge of getting yourself to the next point and you were trying to help out by destroying the evils along the way. The lights turn off and hell breaks loose in the station. You see things raise in the dark, you physically see things go bump in the night. You know you’re in an imminent danger simply by the lighting alone.
From blood being splattered all over the walls to a broken crate that’s slightly out of place, you feel as if you’re in this damning hellish place on Mars. The metal grates makes Mars City feel cold and unforgiving, whereas the darkness gives the player a sense of hopelessness. The blood everywhere then instils dread into the player. Basically: You feel as if you’re doomed and you’ve got no choice but to fight for your life.
For this post, I’ve focused almost primarily on “scary” atmosphere, but atmosphere doesn’t lie with the scares in gaming. Join us again next week where Joel will be further discussing atmosphere in gaming.
What did you think of my scary sum-up of atmosphere in gaming? Can you list other scary games that really make you feel the atmosphere? As always, do drop us a comment as it means a lot to me and Joel.