Crusader Kings II is utterly magnificent. It's still by far the best Grand Strategy game that Paradox have ever made, a brutal cutthroat game of thrones, bloodlines, fragile alliances and real people rather than numbers to crunch.
But don't take my word for it. It's free to play on Steam this weekend.
If you want to buy it, however, pick it up in the Paradox Grand Strategy Collection, which also includes three other games for £6.90! I assume there must be a misprice somewhere, because it's cheaper than the solus game itself!
I have a confession to make. Despite being Dealspwn's Grand Strategy Guy, the reviewer who always dives headfirst into the likes of Crusader Kings II, March Of The Eagles, Sengoku and loving every single beardy minute of them, I've never been able to get into Hearts Of Iron. There's just too much tedious micromanagement for me to handle in Paradox' World War-themed series, and I'm not alone.
Paradox Development Studio freely admit it, and they're trying to make the experience more engaging for us filthy fence sitters without killing the depth; cutting out the fiddly fluff to focus on the big bloody picture. While also addressing some of the fan feedback from Hearts Of Iron III. From what I saw at Gamescom 2014, as the lead designer showed me around the latest production build, it looks like they're on the right track... by turning boring micromanagement into awesome accessible historically-flavoured micromanagement.Click here to read more...
Magicka was an absolute blast on PC, but its sequel feels right at home on a big screen and a DualShock 4. Preferably accompanied by three pals and an irresponsibly large pizza.
In case you don't know, the original Magicka actively shattered every videogame wizard cliché in the book, apart from the floppy robes. As opposed to demure back-line damage dealers, its protagonists were incompetent yet fearsomely powerful screwups who could combine numerous elemental forces into ridiculous situational spells. Think Rincewind, only with Vivi's skillset and an appetite for uninhibited destruction. Loosed into combat against hordes of foes, we'd translate arcane death beams, fireballs, shields, water, life and ice directly into pain.
Often "accidentally" aimed at our comrades, because why not.
It was the perfect opportunity for a hectic, silly and surprisingly deep cooperative experience, and a tradition that Magicka 2 plans to continue. Having played a very early build at Gamescom 2014, I can attest that it's shaping up to be an utter riot that's going to be best enjoyed by a team of friends in the same room. Partly because Paradox have tweaked the experience to work brilliantly on a console, but also because you'll want to be within easy high five/punching distance once the griefing starts.
To put this in perspective: within three minutes I'd set the developer on fire and pushed a fellow correspondent off a cliff with a water jet. Before they teamed up and evaporated me. Friendly fire is best shared with friends, no?Click here to read more...
For this week's Game Night, the trio take their staff and sword in hand to jump into the Open Beta for Magicka: Wizard Wars from Paradox Interactive. Highlights include an absolutely catastrophic start, the team discovering the joys of fire, discussing the reasoning behind "Marlin", and all three of them doing the worst impressions ever performed.
Platform: PC (Steam Early Access, F2P)
Developer: Paradox North
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Every game and their mum seems hell-bent on becoming a MOBA these days, and I must admit to loosing an exasperated howl when I heard that Magicka was headed down the same road. "Oh not again," I said to no-one in particular, vaguely in the direction of my cat. "We've already got League Of Legends and DOTA 2. Why does it actually need to be a genre?!" My cat seemed even less interested than I was.
However, now I've played Magicka: Wizard Wars, I can report that it's shaping up to be surprisingly brilliant.
See, the original Magicka is actually quite a good fit for a team-based arena multiplayer game. Your robed warlock walks around the battlefield in traditional clicky fashion, capturing control points and slashing with their melee weapon at imps and opponents, but the radical spell combination system allows you to concoct ridiculous cocktails of devastating abilities out of numerous elements. Flaming death beams? Freezing rocks? Water blasts that soak then shock your foes? Defensive domes or reflective shields? You'll create your own abilities on the fly... then loose them at both friend and foe with hilarious results.
Or just gleefully run around setting your friends on fire - if some of the trolls are anything to go by. Either way, it's utterly ridiculous in a very promising way.Click here to read more...
Publisher: Paradox Entertainment
Considering the success of War of the Roses, we weren’t too surprise when we learned Fatshark were to create another multiplayer slaughter-fest. Its large scale battles, providing up-close sword slinging alongside raining arrows and mounted cavalry, were an impressive sight, mainly thanks to its high-performance netcode and unique hit detection. It may have been chaotic, but it was the closest any of us would get to a real battle. Well, unless you like LARPing. And foam weaponry, but that takes the danger out of combat, really.
But I digress – War of the Roses was a brutal but unique multiplayer experience, and its move to Free to Play last year meant everyone could get involved before deciding if they want to spend any cash. So, a spin-off exploring a different battlefield in history was inevitable, and a setting where Vikings battle Saxons over monasteries and/or mead seemed like the perfect place to set it. With the ground work already laid with the game engine, all Fatshark needed to do was make the weapons and characters fit the period, create some new maps, and perhaps throw in a new game mode that makes sense to the conflict. Not exactly a simple undertaking, but not as huge as designing an entire game from scratch.
The problem is, even after using Early Access to help develop the game for some time now, the end result is a smaller and frankly more restrictive experience for your money.Click here to read more...
In this week's episode of Game Night, Carl and Jon venture into the virtual battlefield of axes and mead to see how War of the Vikings is coming along.
Highlights include Carl murdering his own teammate, Jon being unceremoniously ripped apart, and a heroic push by the duo in an effort to run those Vikings down. Do they prove themselves to be true virtual warriors worthy of Valhalla? You'll have to watch this week's Game Night to find out.
When we look back at sequels that took a long, hard look at their predecessors and simply made everything better, that list of success might well include Warlock II: The Exiled. Ino-Co Plus have crafted a game that improves on Masters of the Arcane in almost every way possible, delivering a hex-based slice of deep, turn-based strategy that comes out firing on all cylinders.
Though the game's sandbox mode bears much resemblance to the original Warlock, and there are tweaks aplenty to the core gameplay that we'll get to in due course, the big addition to Warlock II, comes in the form of a new mode.
"The Exiled" refers to you, the player, along with a host of other mages who've all been cast out of the realm of Ardania by a super evil grand wizard calling himself The United One. Not only has The United One kicked out anyone who could pose a threat to him, but he's gone and shattered the realms surrounding Ardania, meaning that the worlds have splintered into shards, connected only by ethereal portals. As a super awesome mage yourself, it's up to you to consolidate your power, raise an army or two, navigate those pesky portals, and take back Ardania.Click here to read more...
By all accounts, Warlock: Master of the Arcane was a game that took a number of cues from Civilization V, setting out its turn-based strategy atop sprawling, hex-based maps. But it was a rather more light-hearted affair than most strategy games out there, freely combining the fantastical and the ridiculous with often hilarious effect, and just about managing to avoid a decent into wacky, random humour just for the sake of it.
Now, its sequel is almost here. The world has been torn asunder, ripped into shards connected only by magical portals and its your job to find your way back to the world of Ardania from the far-flung shard upon which you find yourself at the start of the game. The maps are all dynamically-generated, every playthrough is going to be different, and there's a new race in the form of the Planestriders, whom we take control of here.Click here to read more...
Crusader Kings II spawned an extraordinary library of post-launch DLC - 21 packs in all, ranging from little tweaks to massive content expansions. The complete collection therefore costs a weighty £69.99 at RRP, but Green Man Gaming are selling the lot for £13.12 - a saving of over £56. Be sure to use voucher code MG25-0YUM5-VKMVU at the checkout!
As I explain in the full review, though, you don't really need all the DLC to enjoy a sensational grand strategy game of epic scale.
Hex-based grand strategy game Warlock: Master Of The Arcane will receive a sequel next year, Paradox Interactive announced today. Warlock 2: The Exiled will "challenge strategic sorcerers and megalomaniacal mages to conquer Ardania in an all-out war of cunning, combat, diplomacy, and excessively enormous fireballs," - at least according to a reveal trailer that riffs on Fallout in all the right ways.
Check it out below, along with more details.Click here to read more...
War Of The Roses went F2P earlier this year, so you can get involved for absolutely nothing. However, the 'Kingmaker' content pack contains extensive arsenal and armour upgrades alongside extra maps and modes - usually costing £14.99.
Europa Universalis IV is out today on PC, offering another meaty slab of Paradox-designed grand strategy on a global scale. To celebrate, we've got a new trailer showing off the might of the Swedish empire. Moose is a dish best served cold.
Check it out after the break along with a feature list.Click here to read more...
War of the Roses was pretty damn good. A highly technical, Battlefield-esque, squad-based action title that had you fighting in Tudor times, Fatshark's opus grabbed our attention earlier and didn't let go.
Now, they're back...and it's all gotten mighty beardy!
Today Paradox announced War of the Vikings, an all-new multiplayer game built upon the technology that drove War of the Roses. Describing it as a new instalment in the "War franchise", Vikings will "pull players into the brutal and bloody Viking Age, challenging them to design a personalized warrior and sack England as a mighty Norseman – or defend it as a brave Saxon". Expect similarly detailed close-combat, authentic weaponry and balancing, and massive 64-way battles as standard.Click here to read more...
Pre-ordering blind is a mug's game, but Paradox Interactive are trying to sweeten the pot for upcoming grand strategy game Europa Universalis IV with another grand strategy game. Pre-order customers will receive the magnificent Crusader Kings II for free, along with a save file transfer tool that lets them move their save file into Europa Unviersalis IV.Click here to read more...
Magicka's 4v4 multiplayer spin-off has received its first gameplay trailer, which shows off a tiny portion of the hundreds of elemental spells on offer.
You'll have to sit through plenty of CGI before you get there, mind. Magicka: Wizard Wars is slated to release this "winter."Click here to read more...
Exploration and colonisation will play a key role in Europa Universalis IV as your burgeoning Empire seeks dominion beyond the waves. However, exploration comes with inherent risks, such as mass migration, mutinies, dissidents and bizarre notions of "independence." Will you be a fair ruler or iron-fisted despot?
Europa Universalis IV arrives on August 13th, presenting us with another astonishingly deep historical tableau for us to create our own history within.Click here to read more...