Folk Tale: Where is it now? (March 2017)

Folk Tale LogoFolk Tale has been in development and in Steam Early Access for a long time already and this is where a lot of the negative reviews are coming from. The developer, GamesFoundry, has steadily been working on the game and there have been regular updates (game updates as well as communication!) in all that time (please note: I’m using the experimental build which gets updated even more often). So I personally never thought the game to be abandoned (but I do understand people getting impatient). However, this is not going to be the focus of my blog post. What has been or what will be one day isn’t important if you are now sitting here wondering: Should I buy this game? So I will instead focus on this: “What do you get for your money right now?”

For those of you who have never even heard of Folk Tale before: It’s a kind of city-builder / simulation game with some RPG features set in a medieval-fantasy world. Kind of like the Settlers or Cultures. It’s in real-time and apart from managing your city, you also need to defend it from beasts and enemies. So it is not like Cities: Skylines where you focus on building but never have to worry about getting attacked. The game is in its alpha stage on Steam Early access and costs $19.99€. If this is too much for you, you can also wait for a sale.

Folk Tale offers a tutorial, a campaign, a sandbox mode and the editor. The FAQ says that Act I of the campaign is already finished with Act II “nearing completion”. I will try to avoid spoilers here for the story campaign, of course! But let’s start with the bit that a new player would probably start with as well:

The Tutorial

Folk Tale has one, despite being in Early Access, and it’s even voiced already! The tutorial is quite long and detailed and as far as I can tell (as somebody who isn’t new to the genre), it explains everything you need to know.

It is basically a little campaign with some nice humour introducing you to the game and the setting. You start by slowly building the foundation of your village. It’s the typical way of doing things in such games: You have a build menu where you can choose certain buildings like the woodcutter hut or the fishing hut. You need free, peasants (unoccupied villagers) to build a building and you need a certain amount of resources (wood, stone etc. depending on what you want to build). The buildings need villagers who work there and you can choose which of them is the lucky one to get the job. You increase your population by building more huts. If your villagers are happy in general, then new villagers will come when you have the capacity (that is, when you’ve got enough huts). Villagers can also be dissatisfied (e. g., when they’re hungry) and I guess this means no new villagers are coming or they will come very slowly. Either way, your villagers can apparently also revolt and the crime increases. I read something about villagers burning down buildings when that happens… Speaking of burning: Make sure to build a well soon! I didn’t do that (though that wasn’t in the tutorial, but in a sandbox game) and then I could do nothing but watch three buildings burn down. If a fire breaks out, the building slowly burns down unless you have a well and a peasant to run to the well, grab water, run to the building and extinguish the fire. Fire can also travel to nearby buildings. In other words, if extinguishing doesn’t happen or takes too long, more houses will start to burn. That’s why I lost three buildings at once.

Back to the tutorial village: You’re asked to build a windmill, wheat fields and a bakery after the woodcutter hut. Once that is done, your village’s needs are basically covered as they won’t freeze or starve. That’s when Ser Gregory appears! Folk Tale isn’t the peaceful city-building game. It features mobs to kill and loot to gain! Ser Gregory is one of the heroes that you get who will fight for you against the various enemies on your map. More on these heroes later, though. For now, it’s time to leave the tutorial and take a look at the other parts of the game…

The Campaign

As I mentioned above, the campaign isn’t finished yet, but the first act is there already. In the campaign, you get quests that guide you through a story. This part reminds me a lot of the Cultures series. Regular readers are probably going to roll their eyes at me now, because I keep throwing in this game series whenever anything even remotely similar appears in the gaming world. :p But here it just fits! Cultures 2 also had heroes on top of the regular soldiers you could have. And I actually almost exclusively played the campaign in these games. It was engaging and fun and I liked following their stories. As I said, I will not give you any spoilers here, so I will keep it rather short. You get a story, you follow it and the heroes play an important role in there. Also, the characters are voiced and the voices are really well done!

At one point, my hero was asked to enter a cave. After entering, I was inside that cave (well, duh!), with no easy access to my village anymore. At least, not on that map. I didn’t look whether I could switch back to the map at that point. Once I finished the quest (again, no spoilers), I had the option to leave again and then I was on the main map again which housed my village, too. But it’s a very nice feature as it feels a bit like a game within a game. Diablo-light maybe? And again, it lets you get closer to the heroes and get to know them better.

But that’s all I’m saying about the campaign now.

The Sandbox

You can play freely here with no quests telling you what to do. The heroes and villagers are still talking every once in a while which makes it more lively than if they’re all silent. You start with nothing but a handful of villagers, Ser Gregory and Willow. The latter are two heroes who can fight and protect your village. Before you can do anything, you have to set your supply wagon on the ground. I guess it’s best to have a look around the near area to check for a good place. Don’t ask me what a good place for it is, though. I don’t really know… I usually choose something that’s probably going to be the centre of my village, but I also try not to use the only open space as that’s probably better suited for the mill later which requires wheat fields nearby and thus, needs quite a bit of open space!

You can order your peasants (the unoccupied townsfolk) to go gather resources, e. g., wood or berries. But this isn’t as good as having professionals, of course. I often look for the river and see if there is fish in there. You can see them swim, but it’s easier to open the building menu, choose the fishing hut and just look for the fish icons at the river. As soon as you give the order to build the fishing hut, peasants will come build it. As is often the case with such games, you can only order them to build that fishing hut if you’ve got enough resources for it! So, you hopefully sent your other peasants collecting some wood in the meantime. Also, don’t forget to assign somebody to work as a fisherman / fisherwoman from now on. The next thing on your agenda should be the woodcutter hut. One of the tooltips said the foresters also plant new trees, so you shouldn’t worry about running out of resources. I am not sure what happens with stone or iron mines. They obviously can’t just be refilled. Also, as I noticed in the tutorial: Don’t wait too long to build a well! I also learned that wells should not be too far away from my buildings as the peasants need to run to that well, get some water and run to the burning building. As you can see, these peasants actually do serve a very important purpose!

In general, I like that there are so many different things to build. You have the usual resource gathering buildings, the food production ones, but also a herbalist den which produces medicine for sick villagers. Each building can get upgraded or you can choose to invest in some “research” to improve productivity, for example. Some buildings also have crafting options, but I have nothing to craft yet. The tooltip mentions finding recipes as loot. Speaking of loot: When your heroes defeated enemies (spiders, for example), you can loot them. Sometimes, the enemies even drop some upgraded armor for your heroes. And not only do these items come with stats, they also have skins that change the way your characters look! Willow is a healer type of hero and she reminds me a lot of the Sylvari in Guild Wars 2. Some forest-loving fae-thingy, I assume. But with my fighting Ser Gregory and Willow, I have a nice strong pair of military to fight against the nearby bears, wolves, spiders and… I think they were goblins. Unfortunately, when my village got attacked, my villagers always ran to fight instead of running away. In Cultures, when attacks happened, the regular villagers tried to get away or, if it was enemy tribes, I could even ring an alarm bell which made all villagers run into the main building to hide there. That’s the much smarter choice, after all! Especially since my villagers have no weapons to defend themselves. Thankfully, new villagers arrive fast enough when the general happiness isn’t too low.

The Editor

You can make your own maps if you like or you can load other people’s maps from the Steam workshop. I only loaded the editor, but did not feel like getting into the controls. I did play a lot with it back in the early days when the game wasn’t really there yet and the most you could do was create maps. It was fun, but in the long run, I lack the patience to really build like that. I just felt I should mention it if you happen to like making maps in games. And, of course, being able to load other people’s creations is always great because we can all benefit from others’ creativity that way!

General personal impressions

What I have seen so far is working very well. The game crashed only once so far and the loading time when I first start a game is really bad sometimes. As in really really bad. Up to a couple of minutes, actually. However, once it has loaded, everything reacts fast – and it’s not always that slow. And hey, the developers probably have to worry about other things like optimizing the game loading times. If Folk Tale was released already, I’d say this is a negative point that’s annoying. Until then, it doesn’t count. Other than that, I really enjoy the game! The graphics are cute (“good” graphics aren’t important to me as long as the style fits to the game and it certainly does here if you ask me). The buildings are really neat and I like looking at all the details. I assume it takes quite a while to unlock everything for your village (buildings that can be upgraded, having all buildings filled with workers, doing all the research associated with the buildings and so on). The campaign seems to be quite entertaining, too. The characters’ voices are amazing if you ask me! They add a lot of personality to the characters and it all fits together. So, if I hadn’t already bought the game, I would definitely buy it now.

My verdict

If you like what I’ve written here and you think this is worth 20 bucks, then go buy it! Or wait until it’s on sale… or check out YouTube videos (but make sure it’s more recent videos as the game is in development, after all) if you need more information or want to see the game in action. I think that right now, the game offers quite a lot already and it’s worth it – but I did buy the game at a cheaper price when it went into Early Access, so my “anchor” is lower than the current price.

However, do not buy it if you say “It will be worth it, once it has feature X or Y!” – If this is what you think, then wait until the game does have feature X or Y. And definitely don’t buy it if you only want to play a game that’s officially released. It is in its development stage, so bugs and everything related to it are to be expected.

Oh, and if you are now wondering whether you want to buy Folk Tale, but have unanswered questions about it: Feel free to ask them here. Maybe I can help you!

Quick First Impressions Review: Northgard

Northgard

I’ve promised to write down my impressions of Northgard on Twitter. The game released tonight, exactly two hours ago and since it is an early access game, you will not get my usual first impressions review, but a very quick first impressions review. :p I will – depending on the outcome of this first glance – report about significant changes and added features and write a more in-depth first impressions piece later on!

Now, for the most important part: What exactly is Northgard? – To answer this, let me first ask you: Did you play Settlers? Did you play Cultures (shown below)? If you did play Cultures, come here, sit down, take a cookie, say hello and be my best friend! Cultures is the game that got me into gaming in the “modern age” (after my C64-days). Cultures was – is, rather – a game about Vikings. It has single player campaigns and multiplayer coop and PvP maps. I liked it a lot more than Settlers, because you could name every single of your Vikings and you assigned each of them their job and determined which one got married and so on.

My main problem is: There is Cultures and it got so many things right in my opinion. And here is Northgard. A new game just freshly released into Early Access. Several features like multiplayer are not yet implemented. But even when all features are in the game, I need to remind myself that this isn’t Cultures! Comparing it directly will only disappoint me. But enough about these games. I merely mentioned them, because when I saw Northgard, I immediately had to think about Cultures and after Valhalla Hills being rather disappointing, my hope was that Northgard would be a worthy successor. However, it is probably better to keep that nostalgic feeling at the back of my mind and look at Northgard with fresh eyes. Shiro Games are different developers and apparently they (or one of them, at least) did not even know the Cultures series existed. Shiro Games are the developers of Evoland and Evoland 2, by the way. I never played these games, but I know the name. Northgard still very much reminds me of Settlers and Cultures. It’s a real-time strategy/simulation game where you build and grow a village of Vikings. You need to gather resources and food and defend against various enemies as well as attack others to gain more regions for your tribe!

So, let’s look at Northgard: You start with a tiny little piece of land and a few villagers. There are only men around which I am not a fan of. Yes, I know there is always a huge debate whether there were women fighting for the Vikings, but that’s not what I mean! It’s a village. It should have men and women. In Cultures, women tended to the house, brought home food (= carriers ^^) in Cultures 2, they also took care of bringing home dishes and stuff and they gave birth to the Viking children. It just made it more believable!

The first thing you will probably build is a Scout camp. Scouts explore the surrounding areas. Your territory is very small and you are only allowed up to build 4 buildings in there. So you need to expand and claim more areas for yourself (and you can only build 4 buildings in each of them). Then you do what you usually do in this kind of game: You place a woodcutter lodge, a hunter’s lodge if your area has deer, maybe you can place a fishing hut if you have fish nearby. Of course, you also have things like a training camp for warriors or a defense tower. Houses will allow more villagers to come to your village. The user interface is pretty clean, intuitive and easy to navigate.

Something I did not understand at first: In order to survive winter, you should probably have a fishing hut. Where I got placed, there were no fish, though. I also had no fertile land despite claiming three areas out of which one was very green all over. The game did not tell me what counts as fertile land. I started a second game to see if I had more luck there (spoiler: I did! I found fish, but no fertile land).

Fighting is very straight-forward. Tell your warriors where to go, right-click the enemy. I had my two warriors die to wolves. After recruiting two new warriors, I was a bit surprised to see one of my warriors still alive. Maybe I’d just had tomatoes on my eyes? I told my two new warriors to join their buddy – by right-clicking on him. The next thing I knew was that a message informed me that the leader of the neighbouring clan was not happy about my hostile action. Now I know that a) the warriors aren’t too easy to distinguish (or I do indeed have tomatoes on my eyes – both equally possible and likely! ^^) and b) the other clans don’t immediately go to war just because you accidentally killed one of their warriors. Good neighbours, I would say. The kind of neighbours I like. Such a simple little unimportant mistake shouldn’t lead to resentful actions, right? But without fish or fertile land, I decided to start a new game and see where I would be placed here. Maybe I would be luckier…

The second game indeed went much better: I had fish! But I was at the maximum of 5 Vikings and I needed more to grow (and I had negative food production, that is, more food was consumed than produced). I wanted to hurry up with the wood production as I was lacking wood for another house and added my last free Viking to the woodcutter lodge. Then there was no Viking left to build that house. But no problem, I’ll just unassign… nope. It’s either not possible, not yet possible or I could not find the option*.

Thankfully, I had a warrior standing around that I decided to send into a kamikaze run to nearby enemies, so he’d die and I could have one more Viking which would come to my village with no assigned role! Other than assigning regular villagers to build buildings, they gather food in the area when they have nothing else to do. At least, when it’s not winter. I like this little touch of having the seasons affect the game!

There is also something like a tech tree in the game. I am gathering lore points a— HEY! While I was typing this, the game made a weird sound… it was the clear sound of an alarm! The minimap showed one of my areas flashing in bright red. Something attacked me! But no, not something. Somebody. The one clan I had found already which had been neutral to me. Apparently, as we are right next to each other, as it’s winter, and as I have fish, they thought they could just attack me! I had also just sacrificed my one warrior, so I was defenseless. I am happy to report, though, that you can assign every Viking to your training camp to convert them into a warrior. Two warriors later, my area was successfully defended but I am down to one warrior again. And only one woodcutter, but I had only wanted to have one in the first place. So no big deal. Except that I had no food anymore and still had a negative production, because there were no free villagers left to gather food. But one new villager arrived just in time! Phew. We’re safe!

Back to the lore tree: Once I am at the maximum amount shown (which is 100 lore in the beginning), I can unlock something. I decided my warriors should get fur coats, so their attack power isn’t reduced in foreign areas during winter. The next unlock costs 120 lore.

 

Just so we know that this is not everything to the game… look at that black cloud on the picture. It appeared together with a pop-up tooltip window informing me that portals opened and I would have to make sure my defenses are strong enough…

Northgard

And with this, I am going to end my very first impression piece.

What’s the verdict here? So far, the game runs smoothly on my PC. No technical issues, no bugs that I noticed – and just when I was wondering whether it could become a bit too boring, the neighbouring clan attacked me! So far, so good. Northgard is in Early Access, so the game is still being developed and more features will be added. I do not regret the purchase! Speaking of purchase: ‘What’s the price?’ you may ask. It’s currently on sale for $17.99€ on Steam Early Access until March 1, then the price will go up to $19.99€. Still a good price if this is the kind of game you enjoy playing!

However, as with every Early Access title: Choose wisely whether you want to invest now as the game does lack some features! Inform yourself first and make the judgment based on what is there now, not on what could maybe eventually end up in the game in the not-so-soon future. If you like what you see, then yes, go ahead and buy the game! It isn’t expensive, after all. If you’re uncertain, better wait and check YouTube or Twitch for Let’s Plays before making a decision.

*It’s the latter. I looked at the steam community hub for this game and found a thread about this where they mentioned how it works: You select the worker you want to convert back to villager and send him to the Town Hall (the main building you start with) or to one of the houses you’ve built and that puts them back to being a regular villager. It also helps spreading houses around the map as it means less travel time for this task.

Personal Top 9 of 2016

I have seen several people and gaming sites make their “top x games of 2016” and when wondering which games I would put on my list, I thought: “Oh well, why not publish it here?” Maybe you’re already sick of seeing these lists, but stay with me for a bit longer… my list is a very subjective one, so it’s certainly not what most of the other top 10 lists have. In fact, I did not choose “the best games” to put on this list, but instead chose the top 9 of games I enjoyed playing in the last year. Not all games were released even in 2016. There are just some games that I enjoyed playing so much that I decided they had to be put on this list, but all at least added something new in 2016!

I’ll start with my top 5 games that – some way or another – released in 2016.

Number 5: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter (Release Date: June 10, 2016)

Sherlock Holmes Devil's Daughter

This game could have gotten even higher on my list, but there were a few things I did not like, so it only ended up as my number 5. I bought “The Devil’s Daughter” on sale for 18 €. I finished the complete game within 16 hours according to Steam. I found all the clues for each case and usually spent quite some time considering how to put the clues together. 16 hours is an incredibly short game if you ask me, especially as it has no replay value. There are no clues left to find, so there is nothing else to explore. Playing the game again would not add anything new at all. There are only the story missions, no side-quests or anything else. At the same time, some of the puzzles annoyed me. One mission (no spoilers, don’t worry) was much too action-y considering it was all Sherlock imagining something and it seemed like one big sequence of action-puzzle after action-puzzle. I, however, prefer solving the cases! Taking both these things together: A too short game and parts focusing on things that had nothing to do with actually solving a case is the reason it does not get placed any higher. The game that is actually there, however, is good. So don’t get me wrong! I really enjoyed this game altogether which is why it is on my top 9 list. And for 18 €, it’s a good deal (not for its regular price, though, which is 45 €)!

Number 4: Project Highrise (Release Date: September 8, 2016)

Project Highrise focus on restaurants

Project Highrise is a game that I had not noticed at all until it got released. Their publisher is “Kasedo Games” which somehow belongs to Kalypso, one of the few publishers whose newsletter I subscribed to. I have been following Kalypso mostly for news about the upcoming title “Urban Empire” and simply could not memorize that game’s name properly. No idea why, but there you go. And for some reason my mind confused “Urban Empire” with “Project Highrise” – both titles have two words, you see? Anyway, I did notice the difference between these two games, as they both look completely different. ;) I am usually not the one to say this, but I do not like Project Highrise’s graphics too much. Other than that, it’s a fun “city”-builder – only that you have a skyscraper that you fill with apartments, supermarkets, offices, restaurants etc. The point of this game is not to create a pretty skyscraper, but one that works. You need to balance between offices, restaurants, stores and residents. The latter prefer a quiet environment, but they also want restaurants and stores nearby. Obviously, these aren’t quiet! So far, it has neither been too easy nor too difficult to play, but I have also not yet tried out the difficult scenarios. There is also the “free play” option where you just build as you wish without having to fulfill certain requirements.

Number 3: Gremlins, Inc. (Release Date: March 11, 2016)

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

I am a big fan of board games and card games! I really enjoy playing these games with friends when they come over for a visit. Several board games have also gotten a digital version (e. g., Talisman). In this case, Gremlins, Inc. is a digital board game with no “real world” counterpart (you can read about my first impressions here). The developers are even hosting online tournaments, though I have only played the game against AI so far. I think it’s more about luck than strategy, because whenever I try to follow a certain strategy, the dice rolls will make sure to ruin that for me! ;) The atmosphere of the game is great, though, and so is the soundtrack.

The developers even made a card game (non-digital, you know, the “real” kind :p) for Gremlins. I bought it because I really like the board game, but I’ve got to admit, the card game was even more fun to play! Probably because you get that direct interaction with the other player.

Number 2: Atlas Reactor (Release Date: October 4, 2016)

atlas reactor su ren shifting winds

I admit, it was difficult to only put it as my number 2 here! The reason it did not get number 1 is that I’m currently not actively playing it (of course, right after typing this paragraph, I hopped back into the game and played several matches!). I absolutely truly love this game! And I’m not even playing against others. Well, with and against AI, but not against other players. So my opinion is very subjective and narrowed down to that of a casual PvE player. I cannot tell you if the community is “toxic” or not, because I don’t know it. The lobby is usually full of friendly chat, though. At least, when I take notice of it. ;) But what I really like is that the PvE fights aren’t easy. Again, very subjective. I don’t know what experienced PvP players would say, but that’s not the point here. If you play once in a while and you enjoy PvE and you like this kind of game (MOBA, but with simultaneous turns), then this is truly a gem. It has also gone 100 % free to play recently. Before the switch, without buying the game, you couldn’t enter rated PvP matches and you always only had a limited option of freelancers that rotated regularly. Now, you can unlock all freelancers by playing the game if you want. And you can join these ranked PvP matches. You can find my – probably slightly outdated by now – first impressions review of Atlas Reactor here.

Number 1: Civilization VI (Release Date: October 21, 2016)

Civilization VI playing as France

My personal number 1 goes to Civilization VI. As I said about Atlas Reactor, it was a tough decision. When I first saw the announcement, I really wasn’t a fan of the new look of the game (when did I become a graphics snob, by the way?), most of all of the way the trees look. But after playing, I have to admit that I do not even notice the graphics anymore. Not like that, at least. I can clearly spot the important and special buildings and resources on the map, though. I like the changes they have made and even after playing the game for almost 60 hours, there are still things to explore and figure out (I did not read the manual or any wiki pages etc., so there is a lot for me to discover and figure out). Also, around Christmas, bookahnerk and I played a game together and I really love when a game lets us do that for hours while still leaving us enough brain capacity for chatter!

So these are my “top 5 of games released in 2016”. The following four games are more “honorable mentions” as they are games that I really enjoyed playing in 2016, but that weren’t actually released in 2016 – although all of them received at least some updates in 2016.

Number 4: Wildstar

Wildstar Arcterra

Wildstar just barely made this list for several reasons. For one, it actually released in June 2014 and went free to play in September 2015. Both are clearly not 2016. ;) However, with the game turning free to play, I started actually playing it a lot! So it dominated the beginning of 2016 gaming-wise. It’s quirky and it’s also got an amazing housing system which I only dipped my toes in so far. My enthusiasm for the game dropped lately which is actually not so much the game’s fault. I am just scared it will close in the near future, what with all the news about there not being a lot of players left. Still, I really like the game and hope they do have a future ahead of them. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2017… news for upcoming features have arrived, at least! :)

Number 3: Cities: Skylines

cities skylines destroyed city

My first city-building game was Sim City 2000. I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent in that game… So when I started playing Cities: Skylines, I was really happy to finally have a game that feels like Sim City 2000 again. But one thing was missing: Random events that could destroy your city! Cities: Skylines had no disasters at all and it ended up feeling a tiny bit boring at times. Of course, handling the traffic is more than enough to do, but still… when they finally announced that disasters were coming, I was so excited and started playing Cities: Skylines again the minute this DLC got released! Still, it’s number 3, because even though I really love the disasters, sometimes there are a few too many of them one after the other. It’s just no fun going bankrupt, because the tsunami was followed by an earthquake was followed by a meteor, was followed by a tsunami, was followed by another earthquake and so on (yes, one long disaster-chain – bookahnerk sat next to me and watched, being very amused at my growing despair when I saw my beautiful city get destroyed and flooded until hardly anything was left…). It did add that randomness in that I was missing, though!

Number 2: Prison Architect (2015)

Prison Architect

The last update in 2015 added women, so you could finally build a prison for women only. But 2016 was no less exciting if you ask me! They added temperature and the need to build heaters in your prison early in 2016. More exciting was the patch in December 2016, though: Guards have needs as well now! No longer do I look at the pretty little staff room regretting spending money on all the furniture in there when the guards don’t actually use any of it. Now they want food, toilets, sofas as well. And breaks! Those guards demand breaks, so they can consume said food and go to the toilet. Thankfully, in a recent patch they also fixed the issue of unhappy guards beating up prisoners. And here I was wondering why so many of my prisoners died… whoops.

Number 1: Rift (2011)

rift starfall prophecy broken head statue

The oldest game on this list is Rift with its release date in March 2011. However, they actually released their expansion “Starfall Prophecy” last year. Now this expansion is not without critical reception and for good reasons, too! Some features were not released on time, some are still not delivered (but being worked on). At the same time, I still prefer having “most of the expansion” as opposed to still having to wait for the whole expansion. Anyway, let’s focus on the positive side: I really love the new maps, the look of them and even the story is much more enjoyable for me than the one of the previous Nightmare Tide expansion. I am having a lot of fun playing the game again. They have also been adding new items for dimensions (the game’s housing system), so there is lots for me to do!

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Crypt of the NecroDancer

Last but not least, to even the numbers, bookahnerk asked me to add a 10th game to the list: Crypt of the NecroDancer! I can only tell you about this game from the outside as I have not played it myself. I know it would drive me crazy. But the soundtrack sure is catchy and once bookahnerk’s sister’s boyfriend bought the game as well, it turned out to be hilarious. There were those two guys, both playing the game, both bobbing their heads to the tune of the song in order to help with their movements. Too bad you couldn’t see that. Priceless. So the “honorary award” for our game of 2016 goes to Crypt of the NecroDancer!

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (September 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchFirst of all, we have Rift and some tiny news about its upcoming expansion “Starfall Prophecy”. We still do not have a date for the expansion’s launch, unfortunately. I speculated about the time range before, but other than that, it’s all guessing. Of course, us players are getting impatient as we would love to hop into the new content right away! But the latest post about it was a definite “no launch date yet”. However, we now know that there will be a beta (since Trion usually does these with Rift, it was to be expected, but confirmation is still nice!) and that news about beta will come “well before we announce a date”.

Thankfully, Guild Wars 2 will launch its next piece of content update “Rising Flames” next Tuesday, so I won’t have to starve for too long with nothing to do (totally ignoring the fact I also just got World of Warcraft’s Legion… :p). I am not hyped as with Guild Wars 2, I strongly prefer not having any expectations and then just enjoying what’s given to me. However, I like that there will be a new map again!

Atlas Reactor Charr Freelancer Rask

Last piece of news from me but most exciting: Atlas Reactor just got a launch date! The game will officially release on October 5. From everything I have seen and experienced, I can tell you that I am confident that this game is ready for release! But you do not need to trust my words here, as you can hop into the game for free already (note that there will be a wipe prior to release!). And from September 15 (wait – that’s today I just realized) until September 25 the game will be in open beta and you will get everything unlocked! The game will be free to play when it launches but certain things are locked until you pay a one-time fee (all heroes, called freelancers here, will be unlocked then, for example).

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (Mai 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWhen reading through the Steam community hub of Funatics’s game “Valhalla Hills“, I saw a post by a player saying that Funatics was recently acquired by InnoGames. The post is in German as well as most news postings I found about this happening. However, an English post that I found specifies that Funatics had to close as a company and the team was hired by InnoGames.

Either way, in case you don’t know or don’t remember, Funatics is the company who made the Cultures series. The Cultures games are still among my favourite games I ever played. They were also part of the developing teams around the Settlers games.

But let’s take a look at this acquisition. Funatics is a company that focussed mostly on building/simulation games. InnoGames is a company that makes browser-based and mobile games. I did take a look, but while those browser-based building games usually look nice and all that, but for me, at least those games are hardly ever appealing. Mostly because there is often a cash shop included which lets you speed up your game which is running in “real time” (“wait 15 minutes to harvest X” and so on). Maybe their mobile games are different and I am not doing them enough justice now, but I don’t play on mobile devices. When I am outside of the house, I am working or doing other real life-things and I made a decision at some point to not put a game on my mobile device, because I want to enjoy the outside world. :p

Cultures 8th Wonder of the World

So, while I am of course very happy for each and every team member who does not find themselves without a job, I am sad to know that the company that brought me the Cultures games and who were my “entry back into gaming”, so to say (after playing on the C64 as a kid and on the gameboy as a teenager), is no more. And that the kind of games they will be making from now on will probably be rather far away from what I like to play.

On a positive note: The publisher of Valhalla Hills said that they will try to finish the second DLC for the game, as the special edition you could buy included the first two DLCs free of charge and so far, they have only released one. I got Valhalla Hills and ended up not liking it at all, unfortunately. There’s just nothing of that Cultures charm left. So for me, at least, it doesn’t matter whether they will ever release another DLC or not, but I know I am not “everybody”, so I am still happy to see that they will try to get it out. :)

Something more positive: Civilization VI was announced! This certainly came as a surprise and everything I have read about the game so far sounds great. Especially the part about city districts and being able to see when somebody builds a world wonder. I don’t know yet if I will want the game for the fill price, as there will also be lots more DLCs and I am still not swimming in money. So I might wait for the price to drop a bit, at least.

Now on to the negative part about Civ VI – there always is something negative, right? The graphics. I have seen so many complaints about the graphics so far and to be honest, this was also my first reaction towards them. I guess enough people complained that the art director spoke up and explained why they changed the look of the game.

I think the graphics will grow on me. In fact, I don’t usually mind the graphics much at all, but this style just reminds me of “cheap browser/mobile” games which also makes me think of a “dumbed down” and easy game, so people can play it easily on a tablet etc. But that’s not what Civilization is! So seeing those graphics and having those associations in mind is a bad thing. On the other hand, from all that I have seen so far, it is exactly not what is going to happen to the franchise! There are many things coming that sound amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what else they will reveal. So yes, I am actually quite certain that once I am playing the game, I will not mind those graphics at all. In fact, it may even be easier to see what is going on on the map. Still, those trees… no. Just no. The rest I will get used to, but those trees are awful.

Atlas Reactor Solo game with Rask

Atlas Reactor recently switched from “free to play” to “buy to play”. The main concern people had was that the player base will be too small, as people will not want to blindly buy a game without trying it first. Now Trion Worlds announced their “recruit a friend” programme. If you get referred by somebody, you can try the game for free for three days. If the person you refer buys the game, you get some rewards. In case you do want to give it a try, here is my referral link. I don’t really care about the rewards, but hey, if you want to get three days of a free trial and end up liking the game, I also would not say “no” to those rewards. :p But please note: The game is free to try this weekend anyway! Additionally, the game is still in beta, so everything is subject to change as usual in betas.

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.