EA Sports NHL 15 owners will have the chance to join the EA Sports NHL 16 hockey league starting July 30th on Xbox One & PS4 for free which is around 6 weeks before the game is officially released on September 15th.
HOW TO GET ACCESS
"For players who own NHL 15 on either Xbox One or PlayStation 4 – Jump into NHL 15 starting July 30 and you’ll see a new panel in the main menu hub to download the NHL 16 EASHL Beta. NHL 15 is required to access the beta initially, but is not required after you have successfully downloaded as the beta will be accessibly directly from your console hard drive.Click here to read more...
You can pick up Galactic Civilizations for £1.74 and GalCiv 2 for £3.74, but for me the highlight has to be Early Access to Galactic Civilizations III for £14.99. In terms of raw value, this is the cheapest ever way to buy into the project, which has previously commanded insane prices.
However, I also have to urge caution: Early Access games carry inherent risks and the project may not turn out how you'd like - or even be finished. Stardock should stick this one out, though, and reviews are solid even if there's loads more ground to cover.
Here's another one of those tried-and-tested Early Access titles that isn't finished, but we reckon is already an enjoyable and worthwhile game in its own right. Constructing your own high security prison is as addictive as it is slightly grim, especially at a 75% discount.
Remember that Early Access has inherent risks and you might be better off waiting for v.1.0. Thanks and credit to FantasyDeals!
I love Early Access in the same way I love DLC, microtransactions and crowd-funding. They're all perfectly legitimate ways to make money -- the likes of Dungeon Of The Endless, Minerva's Den, Zen Pinball and FTL are all prime examples -- but they're also ripe for abuse. Whether from big publishers or tiny studios, willingly or even unwittingly.
We've certainly seen our fair share of Early Access disasters over the last year. From Spacebase DF-9 to The Stomping Land, Earth: Year 2066 and The War Z, developers often promise too much and deliver too little, turn their titles into vapourware, purposefully lie to consumers or just naively launch their game on the service with the best of intentions... only to discover that they can't actually follow through.
Steam recently updated their Early Access guidelines to better forewarn developers against the risks of launching an Early Access, but in this pundit's opinion, it's time they stopped talking tough and started flexing some muscle.Click here to read more...
"The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing 2 punches well above its weight and ends up as a markedly superior game. Seriously, even the optional tower defence sections are good enough to be a standalone game in their own right."
I'm not trying to take credit for Deathtrap -- even I'm not that egotistical -- but I certainly called it in our Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing II review. NeoCore are already masters at creating rock-solid action RPG gameplay with compelling progression and great combat, so having discovered a knack for tower defence too, they decided to build a brand new game mixing all three elements together.
The result is half Diablo-style dungeon crawler, half tower defender and all delightfully OTT gothic horror romp. With multiple classes, tricky mazes, hordes of enemies, addictive levelling, versatile upgrades, co-op, infinite user-generated content and more besides, Deathtrap expertly blends the strategy of tower defence with the insanely hectic combat of Diablo. It's an example of a tower defence RPG hybrid that actually tries to break the mold, and rise above the pack in an otherwise crowded sub-genre.
And because it's built on the dependable Van Helsing foundation, it's also an example of an Early Access game that actually works!Click here to read more...
The Red Solstice is a top-down, real-time, tactical, 8-player, co-op survival game. Man that was long. It feels a little like XCOM meets Commandos in some ways, though with faster pacing, dynamic events, and pop-up objectives.
It's also confusing as hell.
Set in the distant future, across a Martian landscape ravaged by war, you're greeted by the gravelliest of gravelly voices intoning some guff about a massive storm and alien beasties. It's fairly difficult to take him seriously. I jumped into a multiplayer game straight away, which was a terrible mistake as everyone apart from myself and another poor noobish soul ran off and immediately began hoarding all of the items, and we had absolutely no idea what the hell we were supposed to be doing.
We'll save the multiplayer stuff for a Game Night in the recent future.
Thankfully, The Red Solstice has a tutorial prologue level, which I quickly jumped into after a massive alien ate everyone on my team, to help players get to grips with the basics. It's a fairly complex game, not helped by a control system that can seem a little overly convoluted at times. It handles a little like a clunky MMO in some ways -- the plethora of instructions available can be a little overwhelming in real-time -- but a few replays on, and I began to get used to it.Click here to read more...
This week, Jon and I jumped into Black Forest Games' side-scrolling action-fest, Dieselstormers. As described by the devs themselves, it's "high-octane carnage for 1-4 players featuring customizable motorguns, gas-guzzling knight armour, generated levels and randomized loot", and we had ourselves a blast.
Of course, I really should have done the tutorial do nab myself some sweet upgrades first, but no matter. It's classic run-and-gun stuff, only with bouncy, electrified ninja ropes of awesomeness, and it has one of the best names out there.
Here's another one of those tried-and-tested Early Access titles that isn't finished, but we reckon is already an enjoyable and worthwhile game in its own right. Constructing your own high security prison is as addictive as it is slightly grim, especially at a 66% discount.
Hopefully Introversion aren't about to pull a DF-9, mind. As always, remember that Early Access has inherent risks and you might be better off waiting for v.1.0.
Survival sandbox titles have been popping up all over the place in recent years, so to stand out within the genre takes something a little special. Hinterland Studio reckons it has the right stuff with The Long Dark, and so I grabbed my nearest warm coat and along with testing out the game for the first time, attempted to see if I could survive the harsh Canadian wilderness.
My efforts were... erm... not great, but the game itself not only has a very charming aesthetic, it also manages to capture the feeling of loneliness and isolation perfectly. Especially when everything goes wrong. Which is did. A lot. See for yourself in our latest episode of First Contact!
You can learn more about The Long Dark, which is currently in early access, by visiting the official website.
This week, we ask if the Kickstarter bubble has finally burst, celebrate Star Citizen's latest benchmark, and ask just who is to blame for Destiny's awful voiceacting?
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.
The Masterplan is like a top-down Payday in many ways. The Early Access version of Shark Punch's hold 'em up is just a smattering of levels at this point, but already there's something glorious about the whole affair. Much like Starbreeze's criminal FPS, you're given a location, some intel, and it's your job to get and get out with the swag, hopefully before anyone calls the police.
Here's the official blurb:
Drawing inspiration from both legendary tactical turn-based games and classic heist movies alike, the goal of The Masterplan is to put together the right crew, get the right equipment, and finally plan and execute the biggest heist ever.
Set in the early 1970s, the game features beautiful hand-drawn 2D art and an authentic soundtrack recorded by a real band. The gameplay blends a physics-based world and a clever AI system with an easy to approach "real time with pause" user interface.
The user interface is lovely, keeping things simple and allowing players to better survey the area, identify obstacles and issues quickly, and try to plan out the perfect heist. Left-click to select, right-click to move and aim and interact, and there are a selection of useful hotkeys for brandishing weapons and (this is easy to forget at first) concealing them once more. Simple stuff, but when applied to an intricate tapestry of guard patrols, security cameras, a steady stream of potential witnesses, and obstinately locked doors, The Masterplan really comes alive. I have to talk about the music as well, because it's simply superb. The band recordings conducted for this game have brought an aural "crime caper" soundscape into the mix, with the dizzying horns rising and falling as the drama in the level unfolds and is dealt with. It's brilliant stuff.
It's early days indeed on the content side of things, but the core gameplay works very nicely indeed as it stands. I rather hope that the toolset of your goons expands as you progress, and I'm eager to see what other systems can be brought it to further deepen the options available to players. There's some serious potential here, but it hinges on building upon the solid foundation with some scope and ambition. One of the best things about Payday 2 was the manner in which you could specialise, and the persistent nature of progression. Borrowing those systems wholesale for this wouldn't work, but it'd be nice to see a simple continuity in your goons much like Cannon Fodder or XCOM -- improved efficiency in certain areas through use, perhaps, and (hopefully) the ability to name them ourselves. It's a simple device, but it fosters a surprisingly strong connection.Click here to read more...
Dieselstormers, formerly known as Project Ravensdale, is already shaping up to be a seriously hectic cooperative run & gunner. Four dieselpunk knights do battle with Orcs and Goblins using crazy upgradeable weapons, nifty energy grappling hooks and a whole lot of firepower. Plenty of features are yet to be implemented, including armour customisation, a better crafting interface and more mission variety, but what's here is rather fun if a little bare-bones. I'll drop a preview this week.
The Forest is a cracking survival-horror game that emerged onto Steam in Early Access a couple of months ago, and instead of playing it then, I decided to wait until July, which is traditionally a lovely quiet month, where AAA titles can be put to one side to allow for the sampling of exquisite indie treats and that backlog of games "that I've totally been meaning to play" can be trimmed down before silly season kicks off.
But then I (somehow!) convinced myself to play 50 hours of Watch Dogs. And then the Destiny beta turned up. And then The Crew beta turned up. AAAAARGH!
Even so, I'd wanted to check out The Forest for some time after having it recommended to me my several trusted colleagues and friends, and now I have. It's pretty damn good too.
Everything kicks off it Lost-meets-BioShock fashion. There's a plane crash, you land in a lush forest, it seems like you're the lone survivor, and right at the start you're introduced to a seemingly indigenous chap who carries off the only other passenger with you on the plane -- a young boy. The lack of passengers is probably an alpha thing, and therefore the presence of the young lad (Son? Nephew? Kidnap victim?) is clearly important. You probably have to save him as some sort of endgame objective.
As you'll see in the video, much of the early game is all about foraging for supplies -- rocks, sticks, food, etc. -- and fashioning yourself shelter and a fire. You've got a very handy survival guide that tells you exactly what you need to build structures and furniture, making the level of entry fairly low. But then it starts raining and your fire goes out and you can't find any sticks and you begin to freeze and you eat the wrong berries and die of food poisoning.Click here to read more...
A decade ago I'd have laughed in your face if you suggested that thousands of gamers would willingly pay to play unfinished games, but here we are. Alpha funding is now a big deal and a very good thing too in the main, allowing small studios to get investment, community and publicity while letting us into the development cycle first-hand. Huge advantages for everyone involved, despite the increasingly hefty drawbacks of a system that enables unscrupulous liars to make bank and buries quality Steam software under a mountain of utter crap.
It's clear that Early Access (alpha funding by any other name) is still undergoing some growing pains on PC, but developers and hardware manufacturers are now calling for a similar system to be implemented on home consoles. To be perfectly honest, I'm not convinced they're entirely ready yet.Click here to read more...
Platform: PC (£6.99, Steam Early Access)
Henk used to be the fastest toy in the toybox, at least before the rigours of age and an astonishingly vast pie supply turned him into a flabby plastic shadow of his former self. The nineties now a distant memory, along with his toy line, our corpulent hero sets out to prove that he's still got what it takes in 2014 by sprinting and sliding through a collection of twisted tracks at breakneck speed.
Such is the premise of Action Henk, a new Early Access title from Dutch developer RageSquid, which throws players headlong into an increasingly ridiculous gauntlet of loops, jumps, platforms and hazards. Boosting over a chasm one moment and sliding on Henk's ample behind the next, you'll need nerves of steel and a sense of humour to shave a few precious seconds off your friend's best time.
In effect it's a lot like Trials, a little like classic Sonic and a whole load of speedrun fun. To the extent that I found it physically difficult to prise myself away from its stand at the Develop Conference despite a pending appointment and Project Morpheus demanding my attention on the other side of the room. Sometimes you just know that an early access project is on the right track, and Action Henk is definitely one of them.Click here to read more...
Half insane run & gun platformer, half homage to every bro-out action movie ever and all early access legend, Broforce is my tip for one of the very best games of 2014. Seriously, it's a hoot and a half, especially in 4-player cooperative action. The Humble Store will save you an extra £3 until 18:00 this evening.
Don't get mad, bro. Get Broforce.
Tango Fiesta promises to deliver an old school homage to classic top-down shooters and 80s action movies on Steam Early Access, but is the in-progress project on the right track? Should you spend £9.99 yet?
Probably not, and definitely not. At least, not YET.
To find out why, watch our brisk impressions video below, wherein I discuss specious BroForce comparisons and whether it's possible to release too early on Early Access. Or in other words, chatter over some footage I recorded.Click here to read more...
With so many gamers getting Early Access confused with pre-orders, Valve has amended the Steam Early Access FAQ to explain that developers aren't legally obliged to every finish their games and many never will.Click here to read more...
Platform: Steam Early Access (£7.99)
Developer: Wild Factor
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Humans are pretty great, right? Top of the food chain, master of all we survey. We reckon that we're the pinnacle of evolution, but I think I can do better.
Laser eyes would be a start, as would better productivity, improved strength and perhaps rocket launchers instead of arms. At least, that's the plan and premise of Freaking Meatbags, which tasks us as a robot janitor tasked with stripmining a solar system while keeping the squishy human settlers alive. Because our boss' wife thinks they're cute.
Those poor meatbags don't stand a chance against the hordes of wild robots that roam and pillage throughout the hostile planets, but might make for a loyal free workforce... after a little nightmarish DNA slicing and brain slug implantation for good measure.
Freaking Meatbags initially resembles a fast-paced and hectic fusion of RTS and tower defence gameplay. You'll start out on a relatively compact map with the bare-bones of a base and a handful of nearby humans, who're typically rather lazy yet curious and pleased to see you, following commands to the best of their limited abilities. Silly meatbags. You'll quickly put them to work mining resources -- both building materials and gold required to purchase persistent upgrades -- then erect some defences against an oncoming robotic onslaught.Click here to read more...
Just when we thought Planetary Annihilation couldn't get any bigger, seeing as it already lets you smash entire planets into each other, Uber Entertainment's ridiculous Kickstarted RTS has added a massive procedurally-generated singleplayer mode.Click here to read more...