XCOM: Enemy Within isn't just Us vs Them. Firaxis' massive expansion is set to introduce a brand new human enemy faction, Exalt, who wreak havoc around the globe unless you hunt them down and rip their shadowy organisation to pieces.
After successfully managing to defeat one of their cells in our hands-on preview, but taking two losses in the process, I sat down with lead designer Ananda Gupta for a lively chat about what Exalt bring to the XCOM storyline and gameplay experience.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): We've finally met The Enemy Within: Exalt, the new human enemy faction. Can you tell us about them? What's their deal? What's their objective?
Ananda Gupta (Firaxis): Exalt is a paramilitary secret society. Their goal is to subvert, infiltrate and overthrow the council and to seize control of alien technology; to seize this power. In this way, they're opposed completely to XCOM.
Visually, they look kinda dapper. They could be anyone, they could be walking down the street next to you, be at your job, but when they get the call, they go to their secret compartment and - whoosh! Ready to go. They prefer to wage their campaign against XCOM not in the open, but from the shadows. They place covert cells around the globe that XCOM can hunt down using intelligence scans. They'll prepare operations to launch against XCOM; things like propaganda to increase panic, sabotage to go after your credit reserves and research hacks to go after your research.
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Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
XCOM: Enemy Within is a clever title. It refers to the new dangerous cybernetic and genetic enhancements that augment yet corrupt your troops, and the invasive surgical operations you'll have to perform on your valuable soldiers to use the barely-tested shady technology.
However, it also refers to a brand new enemy faction, Exalt, a power-crazed secret society out to destroy XCOM from the shadows.
This new human threat strikes out against the Council through fear and manipulation, deploying cells throughout the world to spread panic and steal your funds. If left unchecked, they'll disrupt your research, raid your coffers and escalate panic ratings within your allied countries with vicious smear campaigns. They're a faceless, implacable and mysterious organisation who'll do anything to secure alien technology and see your fragile alliance crumble.
Will you stand for that, Commander? Of course you won't. There's only room for one faceless and implacable organisation on this planet. In between curtailing the extraterrestrial invasion, you'll hunt down Exalt cells, steal their intel and assault their base in a concerted effort to wipe out every last one of them. That said, these dapper operatives aren't going to make it easy for you, and fighting them is a completely new experience that will make XCOM: Enemy Within feel even more like a brand new game.Click here to read more...
We've been excited for Watch Dogs ever since Ubisoft stole the show at E3 last year. The systemic world of Big Brother-ridden Chicago set our minds racing at the potential for emergent gameplay and open-ended mechanics.
But exactly how are Ubisoft going about implementing all of these systems? Where did the idea for Watch Dogs come from in the first place? How distinct are the action and stealth elements of the game?Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS4 (tested)
Developers: Gaijin Entertainment
Publishers: Gaijin Entertainment
Gaijin Entertainment want a slice of Wargaming's enormous war chest. That's basically the reasoning behind War Thunder -- a free-to-play MMO that will see players take to the skies, leap into naval ships, and roll out across the land in hulking armoured tanks. Sound familiar?
The big difference is that Gaijin are looking to have that trifecta of WWII action happening simultaneously, whereas Wargaming have thus far kept their tanks, warplanes, and warships separate from one another. Mind you, Gaijin's vision won't be happening any time soon, as only planes will be available when War Thunder eventually emerges from its lengthy open beta to release fully this winter.
Wargaming have gone and nailed their flag to Microsoft's mast, with World of Tanks coming to Xbox 360 before the year is out. But Gaijin are looking towards the PS4 to complement the PC, with full cross-platform play being touted as one of the game's USPs.Click here to read more...
Forza Motorsport 5 might be one of the only launch titles across the board for next-gen that I'm actually excited about in a genuine, I WILL BUY THIS fashion. I've been a fan of the series since Microsoft started packaging the second game in with Viva Pinata and an Xbox 360 controller at the advent of that console's lifespan, and it's easy to see why. Turn 10 have never subscribed to the binary choice between arcade and simulation racing, instead preferring to see things as a spectrum and offering players the choice of defining (and then re-defining) the Forza experience that they want to have.
And if you've read anything I've written over the past year or so, you'll that my perspective on things is very simple: choice rocks!
But there's a lot riding on Forza 5. The next-gen race is set to be the closest one yet -- enormously similar PC architecture, near-parallel release windows, increased connectivity and openness -- and Forza 5 is leading the charge for Microsoft. It's looks big, bold, and beautiful, but what's actually changed? What does the new tech afford Turn 10 that hasn't been the case before? What the hell does Drivatar even mean?Click here to read more...
There are a lot of racing games on their way, perhaps too many for those of us planning to splash out on a next-gen console soon. So which of them are shaping up to be worthy of your attention? I endured the queues and hardware crashes of the Eurogamer Expo to tear around various racetracks to bring you my impressions of five of the most anticipated racers of the future on both existing and next generation platforms.
After passing the real-life McLaren P1 -Forza 5’s flagship car- numerous times over the course of the Eurogamer Expo, I eventually gave in an joined the queue to see how it handled in the game, as chance are I wasn’t getting my hands on the real thing anytime soon.
It was worth the wait. As a late convert to the Forza series after Forza 4 ended up beating Gran Turismo 5 to the checkered flag by a few cars’ lengths, I was always keen to see what lied ahead.Click here to see what else the future holds for racing games.
Platforms: PS3 | Xbox 360
Developer: Rockstar North
Here on Dealspwn, there has been some interesting discussion on the topic of Grand Theft Auto V over the last few weeks. While it certainly has its flaws, the overwhelming opinion is that Rockstar's virtual sandbox rises above the problems to be one of the most fun games of this year. You only have to look at my diary entries from the launch week to see how much I was enjoying it all (punching human statues being something of a highlight.) That said, up until this week we only had the escapades of Michael, Franklin and Trevor to judge Rockstar's efforts on, but the wait is now over - Grand Theft Auto Online is finally here, and we here at Dealspwn were eager to jump in and cause some havoc.
Erm. Yeah, about that...
You would have thought, with all the news of making all of their money back from pre-orders, and then going on to bring in ridiculous amounts of money in its launch week, that Rockstar would have been prepared for the bombardment of players trying to log onto Grand Theft Auto Online on Tuesday… but if every MMO launch ever has taught us anything, it’s that nobody can stop any online server from having a virtual breakdown when the On switch is flicked. Many owners of GTA V found it impossible to get past the first mission – a race with supporting character Lamarr – and that was when the Rockstar Cloud was deciding to behave. In summary, it hasn’t been the smoothest launch for the multiplayer component of Grand Theft Auto V. That said, yours truly has managed to make his way onto the online streets of Los Santos, and while it certainly hasn’t been for as long as I would have liked to have played for, it has given me a good indication of what we can expect from the multiplayer modes on offer and, more importantly, what we can expect moving forward.Click here to read more...
We got stuck into the Battlefield 4 exclusive beta earlier this week, and you can read the impressions that Jon and myself had of the beta here. We attempted to video several tandem sessions without much success (including, sadly, a match in which we both top scored for our team), but here's a 25 minute Conquest Large match for you to witness with a bunch of commentary from yours truly.
I like to call it, How Not To Play Battlefield 4. Apologies for all of the rubbishness. Thankfully, Battlefield has never been a series that places kill-death ratios at the very forefront of things. Which is handy, because I'm crap.
Give it a watch, then leap into the open beta when it goes live later today, and let us know what you make of it.Click here to read more...
Like any beta, Battlefield 4 currently has its fair share of problems. After having to disable Windows 8's fast boot option just to play it, for reasons completely beyond my comprehension, I've witnessed crashes and lag galore. I spent five minutes stuck in a flower bed. I've seen players spawn deep within the restricted level bounds and die before they could run onto the map. And a boat impossibly marooned in the middle of a Shanghai high street, mowing down waves of enemy infantry too busy laughing to return fire.
I'm not particularly worried, though, because I've just strafed an enemy position from a helicopter minigun, parachuted onto a jetski, smashed a tank through a car park and pushed an objective with a well-organised squad as a towering skyscraper collapsed overhead. All in the space of five minutes.
The foundations for fun have been laid, that much is clear. BattleLog is better than it has ever been, allowing us to tweak everything from our server preferences to vehicular loadouts and friend IM from the convenience of our browser. Once in-game, you and your squad are thrown into a battle royale as tanks prowl the streets, helicopters rule the skies and throngs of infantry duke it out for capture points. Not to mention queue up for some lifts to ascend the monolithic central skyscraper, often running afoul of cheeky campers who'll bushwhack you at the top. There's a neat mix of engagement ranges and elevations, and intense firefights everywhere you look. It's pure chaos at face value, but close communication and teamwork allows you to carve out your own sense of order as just a small part of an enormous battle.Click here to read more...
I got hands-on with a few levels from Mike Bithell's new game Volume at Eurogamer Expo this year. It's an interesting title -- a top-down stealth-based puzzler that's all about misdirection and quick, decisive movements rather than patient, shadowy skulking -- and after I'd slipped my way past a number of gun-toting guards and gotten a feel for the game, I had a chat with the man himself about life after Thomas Was Alone.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS4 | PS Vita | PC (tested)
Developers: Mike Bithell Games
There's a moment in the first few seconds of the Volume tutorial level that kicks off my Eurogamer Expo Friday morning where some disembodied text praises you for working out that the game responds to WASD inputs as you might expect. It's written in such a gently teasing manner that I feel I can almost hear Danny Wallace's voice in my head (there's no voice, Volume does not as yet have voice acting), and it makes me smile, instantly reminding me of the dry, subtle humour that was to be found in Mike Bithell's previous game -- Thomas Was Alone.
But Volume is a very different game to the acclaimed platformer that made us care so very much about a red brick. It's a top-down, fast-paced stealth title with a strikingly clean visual aesthetic and mechanics based almost entirely upon sonic manipulation.
"Volume is a stealth game," Bithell tells me after my hands-on with the game. "It's a little bit retro-leaning, and it's based and inspired on the kind of games I loved when I was a kid. There's a little bit of Metal Gear Solid in there, I'll be honest with you. But it's an attempt to do an arcadey stealth game, hopefully in a cool way that's kind of fun, and then expand on that and do some of my own things with it."Click here to read more...
GoD Factory: Wingmen is dead-set on bringing Space Sim combat back to the masses. It's an arcade multiplayer dogfight, eight players screaming through the wild black yonder in customised fighters, battling to destroy enormous carriers in an airless Danger Zone. With over a thousand customisation and upgrade options, not to mention eyecatching art direction, extensive lore and Oculus Rift support, it's an ambitious project, and Nine Dots Studio have been working their fingers to the bone in order to deliver on their promises.
In our hands-on preview, I described GoD: Factory Wingmen as an "exciting new take on the genre."
However, Nine Dots Studio's first Kickstarter campaign failed to reach its target over the summer, and they've now returned to the crowd-funding arena with a beefy free prototype and new features. Keen to know more about GoD Factory: Wingmen and its Kickstarter plans -- and why they feel that it deserves your money -- I sat down for a chat with Nine Dots CEO Guillaume Boucher-Vidal for the scoop. Be sure to download the entirely free playable prototype!
Dealspwn: Thanks for talking to us! First things first: could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey there! My name is Guillaume Boucher-Vidal. I'm the founder and CEO of Nine Dots. When I'm not taking care of administrative duties and public relations, I do game design.
Dealspwn: As I understand it, GoD Factory: Wingmen is part of an expanded GoD Factory universe. Could you introduce us to the setting?
Boucher-Vidal: GoD Factory is a universe in which there are 6 known sentient species. They are the humans, the guantris, the Chorions, the Ar, the Cantruscan and the Magniscients. II always found that the alien species in science fiction were extremely unimaginative. They're always humans with scales, humans with blue skin, humans with pointy ears, humans with fur, etc. In our universe, all species are radically different, none but the humans are humanoid. It's not only physical either, as these differences affect them culturally.
Click here to read more...
Whatever you may have thought of it, September was only ever really going to be dominated by one game. The hype train for GTA V was a roaring locomotive that, as expected, has crushed all in its path. But there were some other games that emerged in September too. Sony Japan's striking platformer Puppeteer won us over emphatically, in turned out that Diablo III was better as a console game after all, indie gems such as MirrorMoon EP and Lone Survivor: Director's Cut proved that you don't need a massive budget to work wonders.
Honourable mentions also go out to The Creative Assembly, who crafted a gargantuan grand strategy experience that surely would have been in with a shout had it not been so terribly buggy; the re-emergence of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Soul Hackers as the 16-year cult classic hit the 3DS; Daedalic dropped probably their best adventure game yet in Memoria; and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs emerged to freak us out along with Outlast.
As per usual, we've got a couple of runners-up before we hit the big one...Click here to read more...
Formats: PS Vita (tested) | 3DS
Developer: Armature Studio
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Past industry form indicates that you'd be forgiven for dismissing the presence of a handheld game when it has a bigger and shinier counterpart on your main console. So often we’ve seen them stumble into our hands as shabby ports or overly simplistic, barely related tie-in fodder. Armature Studio is here to change things with their new Vita game. From what I've played, it truly deserves a place on your shopping list if you've enjoyed the last two Rocksteady games and are planning on picking up Origins on October 25th.
This game will follow on from the events of the console game Arkham Origins, rather than rehash the same story. The Blackgate in the title refers to the prison where the majority of the game will be set. Home to the non-insane criminals of Gotham -although a few are clearly borderline- various well-known villains ‘run’ different parts of the prison. So expect to take on some infamous faces to get the jail back in order. The story is delivered via motion comics, which I suppose is reasonable given the source material, but there’s no getting around they’ll always feel and look like the cheap option.
But there the grumbling ends, let’s talk gameplay. The action unfolds in 2.5D. The environments are designed to appear 3D, but your movements are essentially locked to a 2D plane, so left and right along with a bit of vertical exploration too. Occasional use of the grappling hook also propels you into the foreground or pulls you deeper into the screen. Sometimes you may appear to be on a 3D surface whilst being attacked by thugs from all angles, but you only have to aim your attacks to the left and the right.Click here to read more...
You can get a fat rundown of my initial impressions of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag here, but basically it would seem that things are looking up for the series. For a franchise that has always really only ever been as good as its time-travelling setting, taking the series deep into the Golden Age of Piracy and combining the core mechanics of Assassin's Creed with a vast, open, naval sandbox reminiscent of Sid Meier's Pirates!, looks to be a masterstroke.
Following on from my conversation with lead writer Darby McDevitt at Gamescom last month, we sat down with producer Martin Schelling at a recent preview event to have an all-encompassing chat about Black Flag. If you're interested in the nature of this piratical open world, if you're wondering why and how music came to be such an integral part of the experience, if you're itching to find out what's going on with the world outside of animus in this game, hit the jump and watch the video. It's a good one.Click here to read more...
I miss Carmageddon. I miss its ridiculousness. I miss the thrill of playing it as an adolescent. For every contentious game that would follow it, pretending towards some semblance of seriousness even in their controversial hypocrisy, Carmageddon remained a deceptively sophisticated title (the car physics, the destruction modelling, the sheer invention of some of the powerups) couched in utter anarchy and total catharsis.
Of course, now I have it on my iPhone, I don't miss it as much as I used to. But there's still room for more, I feel. And so did eighty thousand other backers. We have the rights, said Stainless. It's time to make a comeback (don't call it a comeback).
It's exciting times for Stainless, who've been wary of showing too much of Carmageddon Reincarnation thus far. "The minute we put something out there," said publishing director Jason Garber, "all eyes will be upon us. We don't want to put a single foot wrong here. We want to make sure that we do this right."
With the Kickstarter bubble bursting just a little and the realities of crowdfunding and potential pitfalls making themselves known by projects that have fallen by the wayside, Garber is keen that nothing gets lost in translation. He has a point; after all, you only have to look as far as the Xbox One to see how mismanaged communication can cost you in today's industry.
So I took some time at Eurogamer Expo this year to sit down with Jason and have a chat about how Stainless have cracked on after gaining the rights to their most infamous IP, how the new technology has afforded the development team greater opportunities than ever before,how the industry has changed since the original game first launched back in 1997, and what it means to the studio to be working for themselves rather than a publisher.Click here to read more...
First things first. This hands-on report will be spoiler-free regarding the first game. I'm currently playing that one through (I know, I'm late) and several previews for the new game have blown the first game’s ending. I don't want to do the same if you're yet to play Lords of Shadow. So read this, then get on it, you don't want to get left behind again.
The word on the wire is that this concluding part of the Lords of Shadow saga is going to be a more open world affair. That's not on display here though as this is more of an introduction. Don’t worry; it’s much more exciting than it sounds. There's a massive, Holy Transformer thing for starters! But more on that later.
The original game is one of the best-looking games of the generation. Seriously, go borrow a copy and see. Packed with gorgeous scenery and pin-sharp images, it truly shames the genre’s competition with only the God of War games being able to stand up to it. Much of this was possible thanks to the fixed camera angle, as it allowed the developers to really focus on detail for set scenes rather than create fully-viewable environments accessible via a player-controlled camera.
This did make the odd fight awkward though as you could disappear behind large bits of scenery or more likely behind the massive troll beasts trying to squeeze the Holy Spirit from your guts. Not being able to move the camera also made exploration difficult, especially if a side-route was off-camera.Click here to read more...
I described the OUYA as a "punt" in our exhaustive launch review. It's an ugly and unsubtle word, but the slipper fits Boxer8's cubic console like a... glove? No, that doesn't work. A sock, perhaps. Regardless, the OUYA simply didn't justify its admittedly affordable expense at launch, instead learning on its potential for Android homebrew applications and the promise of incoming software as its sole selling point. Indeed, drawing on the great Eric Clapton, I suggested it was "running on faith" ever since those heady Kickstarter days.
Three months on, and I'm disappointed to report that this faith hasn't yet been justified. Indeed, what was hailed as an indie revolution is actually more difficult to recommend now.
That's not to say nothing has changed. Far from it, since some new software, more games and UI updates have made their way to the OUYA over the last few weeks. It's therefore time to take an in-depth look at some of the new features and stand-out applications... and why, sadly, you probably shouldn't buy one. At least, not yet.
Click here to read more...
We sat down (or rather stood up) with Codemasters Birmingham's Greg Pryjmachuk yesterday to have a chat about the upcoming F1 2013 and discuss how the development team are striving to balance out the simulation nature of the sport itself whilst still catering towards accessibility. We also had a natter about the Classic modes, new to this year's game; how Codemasters have improved the on-track action; and the delights that the new save game mechanism will bring to Grand Prix fans who want the full strategic racing experience, but don't always have two hours to spare.
Check it out after the jump.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 | PS4 | Xbox One (tested)
Developers: Infinity Ward
For all of the gentle ribbing, the dog jokes, the constant yearly laments of iteration rather than innovation, Call of Duty has a place of pride on my gaming shelf. It's never been my favourite FPS series, but it's so readily accessible, so easy to slip into. It's like a comfy pair of slippers or a pint of London Pride: it's a safe bet. You know where you are with Call of Duty.
But in a bid to ring the changes this year, Infinity Ward are bidding goodbye to the Modern Warfare sub-franchise for the time being and looking towards something a bit new. It'll be rigidly scripted, of course; there'll no doubt be plot holes galore and cheesy, overbearing statements of patriotic propaganda; but so too will there be enormously entertaining setpieces, reams of ridiculous explosions, and no small amount of high-drama and cinematic tension.
Call of Duty is a multiplayer leviathan, but we'll get to that in due course. Let's kick off with where Infinity Ward are taking the Michael Bay-esque, rollercoaster of bombast that is the campaign first of all. Let's go into space.Click here to read more...