Diecast #164: Looking Ahead, Inside, Quadralateral Cowboy

By Shamus
on Aug 22, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

140 comments

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Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Campster.

Episode edited by Rachel.

Heads up: No Spoiler Warning this week. But! Josh and Chris are working on something fun that might hold us over.

Show notes:
0:00:40: Looking ahead to the end of 2016.

Looking back, it feels sort of like the Black Friday problem I’ve talked about in the past. You want to release your games close to Christmas so that it’s there for gift-buyers. But then someone else does the same thing and you end up sharing the sales instead of dominating them. So you move the release date up a little bit to hit the shelves before them. But they get the same idea, and pretty soon everyone is fighting for October sales.

0:03:10: VR

0:05:55: Battlefield VS. Titanfall

0:11:19: Gears of War 4

During the show I said I didn’t care about Gears of War. I’ve actually been curious about the series for a long time and now that it’s coming to PC I might actually check it out. Although, not at launch-day prices.

0:14:42: Civilization 6

I’m really looking forward to picking this up so I can be bad at it and play it wrong.

0:18:43: Dishonored 2

0:21:18: WATCH_DOGS 2

0:23:54: Final Fantasy 15

0:27:05: Star Trek Bridge Crew

I keep getting this confused with Star Trek Bridge Commander, which is a totally different game.

0:30:30: Pokemon Go

Here is the SuperBunnyHop video we mentioned, which talks about how Pokemon Go wasn’t something Nintendo planned.


Link (YouTube)

0:37:07: Inside


Link (YouTube)

0:46:50: Quadralateral Cowboy


Link (YouTube)

0:56:20: Human Revolution

I am NOT looking forward to this game. I found the whole AUGS LIVES MATTER controversy to be really off-puttingAND ALSO GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT. It should be “AUG LIVES MATTER”.. Not because the topic is too taboo (or whatever) to appear in a videogame, but because it was so clumsy, on-the-nose, and heavy-handed about it. Sure, you COULD use this topic as a great starting point for a story, but I have zero faith that it will be handled with the thoughtful nuance it deserves. I fully expect to be:

  1. Launched out of the game by on-the-nose, immersion-breaking references to Current Events.
  2. Irritated if the game casts my viewpoint as the Bad Guys.
  3. Embarrassed if they cast my side as the Good Guys.
  4. Frustrated if they use a topic as decoration but refuse to actually define it or integrate it with the world. (Like synths in Fallout 4.)

So I’m actually pretty ambivalent about this game so far. This is on top of the other problems we discussed in this episode, that this series has lost its way.

I SHOULDN’T NEED TO SAY THIS BUT I WILL: This is not the place to talk about Black Lives Matter. We can talk about hijacking existing controversy as a marketing ploy, or using current events as setting flavor, but let’s leave the particulars of BLM out of it. If you see someone go too far, please for my sake let it slide and let me handle it. I’ll do my best to keep this stress-free for all of us.

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Footnotes:

[1] AND ALSO GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT. It should be “AUG LIVES MATTER”.



A Hundred!2020We've got 140 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.

From the Archives:

  1. Nick-B says:

    I am interested in playing the new Dues Ex, but due to near constant let-downs in video games, I rarely buy anything on release and so I also don’t torture myself by reading up on the current state of games.

    Someone had mentioned the “Aug lives matter” as part of the game. At first, I chuckled at how clever it was, but I also agree that this by itself is already a controversial topic and should not have been included. Not that controversial subjects should be avoided but… this one seems just wrong.

    I’m not sure why I think it’s strange.

    • Tizzy says:

      The thing that annoys me about AUGS LIVE… and this is not a point I’ve really seen (tho TBH, I didn’t dig deep into the coverage of the controversy) is how plain lazy this all is. It’s pretending to draw deep parallels or give the game an allegorical quality, but it’s just clueless parroting of a real slogan.

      Let’s pity the augmented because they have really expensive hardware that gives them superpowers! What? How is that even remotely comparable?

      It’s really annoying, because I can’t see how this direction can do anything but completely miss the very real points linked to human enhancement. And maybe I’m doing their concepts a great injustice and it makes perfect sense in context. But guess what? I have to take things out of context! The game’s not out yet. Marketing campaigns are, by definition, seen mostly by people without proper context.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        Yes exactly. Look at the poor persecuted opt-in, exclusively wealthy , individually-threat-quantifiable demographic.

        Human Revolution had a bad habit of pretending it was talking about augmentations when really it was talking about generic capital-T Technology (seriously, you can do a find and replace on that script and it will scan better). Not only was it a transhumanist tease, but the conversation it did have about Technology was such a gradeschool affair: “Technology is Good because whee, tools! No, Technology is Bad because change is scary and bad people might get the tools!”. Knowing that tendency of the writers, I’m fully expecting Mankind Divided to once again not really be about augmentations.

        • IFS says:

          While I generally agree that augs are a poor metaphor for racism for pretty much the reasons already described I don’t think ‘exclusively wealthy’ and ‘opt in’ are necessarily applicable in this case. Jensen is a clear example of someone who did not opt in, and was augmented due to circumstances beyond his control, and HR does have a few NPCs who make comments to the effect of being pressured to get augments to compete, now this is still opt in but the line becomes blurrier when you have employers pushing their employees to get augments. That does still leave them as expensive, however if an employer is willing to pressure employees to get augs they might also pay for part of the cost, likely with some stipulation of continued employment not dissimilar from how some companies will help pay for their employees continued education. Combined with the drug treatments required by augmented individuals in HR this can make the augments a method of control over lower classes by the upper even without the brain chips from HR.

          Of course none of this ties well into the clumsy race metaphor they seem to be going for, and I have no idea if they’ll even explore these possibilities in MD, though indications seem to point towards no. There have been plenty of good games with bad advertising so I’m not going to dismiss it purely on those grounds (though I found the augs lives ad, and the marketers response to being asked about it, cringeworthy). I enjoyed HR quite a bit so I’ll likely enjoy MD as well but I’m not overly hopeful for the story.

          • Tektotherriggen says:

            From your post, it sounds like they could have made great parallels with drugs in sport; cognition-enhancement drugs for schoolchildren (such as greatly overstretching the diagnostics for ADHD so they can get Ritalin); long-hours workers (imaging what a game dev crunch would be like if there was a cheap, safe drug that made sleep completely optional. Now extend that to physical enhancements for manual labourers); prosthetics for people with disabilities (what happens when artificial legs are definitely better than natural legs, but they’re banned for able-bodied people. You could always chop your own leg off…); or even the addictive behaviour that affects a few people who get vast amounts of cosmetic surgery.

            • IFS says:

              Oh yeah there are a lot of good directions to take a story about aug discrimination, and the performance enhancing drugs metaphor is definitely one. In general such narratives fit more into discussing classism rather than racism though. In the case I described above it would be with the upper class using augments and such as a method of control over the lower class while likely indulging in less visible augments (cognition enhancers, cybereyes, stuff that’s not metal arms) to keep an edge themselves.

              Now if you did want to tie augments into a story about racism you could set it up so that existing systemic racism affects minorities abilities to get augments, which a good writer could probably make a compelling story about. I think the direction of ‘augmented people as a race’ is not the right way to go.

              • ThirteenthLetter says:

                Or alternatively you could pitch your story about augs as an allegory about racism, something which has been done lots of times and is a perfectly valid storytelling technique with an excellent pedigree.

                (Not that we even know this game does that, since all this righteous outrage is based on a tiny sign in the corner of a random piece of old concept art. But, you know, if it does.)

                • IFS says:

                  I’m sorry if I’ve given you the impression that I’m angry about this, at worst I found the whole thing cringeworthy and a bit stupid and a lot of that just comes from the marketers denial that the slogan was related to BLM. I maintain that augmented discrimination makes for a poor metaphor (or allegory if you prefer) for racism due to a number of reasons. the Augs lives matters sign hasn’t been the first indicator that that’s what they’re going for either, there was also the ‘Mechanical Apartheid’ line a while back, and early reviews that I’ve seen mention that this seems to be what its going for.

                  Now of course I haven’t played the game, I do intend to get it and while I don’t have super high hopes for the storyline I’m always happy to be pleasantly surprised.

                • Syal says:

                  Allegory’s the one where you name the character after the idea they represent, right? I don’t think that’s going to make things less obnoxious. :)

                  If it’s a random piece of art that’s one thing; Black Lives Matter is a very straightforward slogan that I could see someone coming up with in a vacuum to put on a protest sign. But they’re still in the advertising phase here, you’ve got to assume they thought of this when they released it.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          That’s not true at all. Many augs are people who were forced to get cybernetic enhancements to be viably employed at all. They had to go way into debt to get them and then have to continue to go way into debt to afford anti-rejection drugs. I mean, yeah, cyborg arm, awesome, but maybe not so great when you’re in crippling debt and effectively a slave of your employer, and losing your job (and the ability to obtain the anti-rejection drugs) could be a death sentence.

      • Matt Downie says:

        X-Men had the idea of people being oppressed while also having awesome super-powers a long time before that.

        • Grudgeal says:

          At least X-men had some equivalents in that Mutants weren’t opt-in: You’re either born with superpowers or you’re not (and several mutant superpowers aren’t combat related), and Mutants were persecuted for being who they were and the potential dangers of a few being imposed on a much larger subset. Similar things have been done in, say, Dragon Age with the mages (who nicked that idea from Warhammer, but let’s keep it on a video games level here).

          Even if mechanical augmentations in Deus Ex were 90% handed out as emergency repairs ala what happened to Jensen, there’s still the fact that mechanically augmented humans would already belong to the privilegied (augmentations being expensive) and that they’d have the option of replacing the augmentations with something more low-key or remove them altogether if they were comfortable with living with a disability instead.

          Seriously, science fiction has been doing interesting Transhumanist stories about human augmentation for decades and the best writing we can get from an AAA video game in 2016 is being marketed by drawing comparisons to systemic racism?

          • The Rocketeer says:

            Your assumption that even non-elective augmentation would be limited to the well-off is flatly wrong; not only does it not comport with Human Revolution’s depiction, it doesn’t comport with real life. Do you think people of limited means don’t end up receiving emergency care, or critical procedures, the costs of which leave them financially insolvent? Do you think real-life paraplegics are cavalier in dispensing with expensive prosthetics “if they were comfortable with living with a disability instead?”

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Well, you don’t have to take things out of context. You could, you know, wait until it’s out and see what people make of it then.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      AUGS LIVE MATTER is a sign of someone who doesn’t understand the advantages of applicability over overt metaphor.

      Kind of like how Xmen teaches us that gay people are seriously pretty dangerous, and how about half of them are trying to wipe out the rest of the human race.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think the whole aug(s) lives matter thing is overblown.We had cia referenced in plenty of video games,usually in a bad way,and no one cared about that.What,those who work in a government agency are not people?(gov lives matter)

  3. Ninety-Three says:

    For my part, I’m expecting to be disappointed by Deus Ex mechanically. Human Revolution’s plot was lacklustre (it wasn’t terrible like a Fallout 3/4 or Mass Effect 2/3, it just completely failed to engage me) to the point that I have no narrative expectations of Mankind Divided.

    The thing about the trailers that’s put me off is the ridiculously overpowered abilities they seem to be handing the player. HR giving you invisibility on demand would be like Doom giving you god mode on demand. Mankind Divided started by increasing the player’s invis time, then it stole Dishonored’s Blink, and went so far as to give the player a button that will KO four enemies at once, at range, nonlethally.

    I’m still going to buy it at launch because there isn’t anything else to play this time of year, but much like Shamus said about the narrative, it seems to have lost its way.

  4. Hal says:

    Why does everyone get so worked up about Ryan Reynolds’ wife? I’m sure she matters to him, but I can’t see the fuss.

  5. Henson says:

    I have no idea how well FF15 is going to play mechanically, but I do rather like its general design aesthetic. From watching SquareEnix’s recent gameplay video, I got a good sense of just what kind of experience they’re trying to convey. Whether or not they stick the landing, I don’t know, but the desired goal seems pretty solid, and I’m interested to see how well it holds up.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You know what I find interesting about deus ex as a series:the first one dealth with the future events in such a prophetic way that many believe it actually predicted a bunch of specific stuff(the whole terrorism thing).Now the third one wants to deal with current events.Thats kind of backwards,isnt it?

  7. The Rocketeer says:

    I can appreciate the crew’s doubts regarding Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, but it is a bit odd to hear all of those misgivings compiled after more or less chirping a few warm hopes that Dishonored 2 will be great and moving on. Nevermind that my own doubts about Dishonored 2 are far greater; I find it strange that the crew seems so much more ready to put their apparent experience with the first title behind them.

    In contrast to Human Revolution, a game that Josh describes as better written than any BioWare game of the past decade (a low bar, given) and that Shamus recalls “warmed his heart,” Dishonored was a game that was all but demolished on Spoiler Warning, providing bad writing so often and from so many directions that it seemed almost to outpace the cast’s ability to lampoon it: botched or lazy characterization; bad or absent motivations; muddled and nonsensical themes; a weak, unengaging narrative; a setting alternately dull or revolting; and, the crown jewel of Dishonored’s ignominy, its absolute mishandling of Corvo as a player-character, and the game’s failure to use Corvo as the entry point into emotional engagement and investment with any of the game’s other characters, Emily most importantly. In the first episode of the Dishonored season, Rutskarn aptly described the game as “every game website’s favorite game to say, ‘This is important!’ and then a few weeks later to come around and say, ‘You know, it’s not that great.'” That’s the anticipation clogging my gut for Round 2.

    Writing is both the hardest element of a video game developer’s skill base to improve, and the element they have the least incentive to improve. Barring a major personnel shakeup, it’s never wise to assume that any developer’s writing talent will improve from any given game to the next. The reception of a given title’s writing for better or worse is not necessarily material to quality of the next; developers, and the publishers who pay them, are often liable to learn the wrong lessons from both success and failure, and the many systemic problems that prevent good writing from developing and shining in AAA-game development will not have changed in the interim. For most games, the smart money is that the following game will not be written significantly better or worse- which is my own expectation for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, for what it’s worth.

    But that calculus changes if the same team, with its similar talents, transitions to a project with different demands; if a team of a given level of ability transitions to a simpler, less demanding writing project, it’s more reasonable to expect some level of improvement- just not a huge difference, if you’re the betting sort. And contrariwise, a team that moves to a more difficult project can be expected to struggle relative to their previous effort.

    During the Tomb Raider season, I expressed my doubts on the rebooted series’ future. It seemed to me at the time, and still seems to me, that the reboot of Tomb Raider was one of the most soft-ball projects a writing team could ask for: narrative carte blanche to establish a simple yet universally familiar adventurer. And this was a task that they stumbled on time and time again, with the reboot’s frequently clumsy interactions, unsettling tonal whiplash, and its reliance on sacrificing a cast of generally weak, stock characters to keep Lara’s own development smoldering after all but exhausting her arc at the end of the game’s first act. The game, and the new Lara, found their own acclaim regardless, though that enthusiasm struck me as largely premised on liking the idea of the new Lara they seemed to have established, and hopes for where this character could be taken. My doubts at the time were premised on my above expectations for writing talent: a writer that struggled this much with such an entry-level task should not be expected to excel at the more difficult duty of carrying Lara forward and breaking original ground.

    So, when can I expect Spoiler Warning: Rise of the Tomb Raider? Oh.

    You can see where I’m going with this. Arkane has, with Dishonored 2, set a much more difficult task for themselves. Although I’d expect a general agreement that Corvo should have been voiced in the first game, a voiced protagonist is a much greater challenge to write. Dishonored 2 has two voiced protagonists. On top of that, neither Corvo nor Emily were established characters prior to the first title. Dishonored 2 will have to cope with both their establishment in the first game and with the intervening years. Emily herself, not to mention the entire setting of the first game, could vary broadly by how the player chose to act. Writers typically try to split the difference when following up these road cones, and I’ve never seen it work satisfyingly. And, possibly because of the state of Dunwall after the first game, the sequel is set in a new, different location. So all the work done to flesh out Dunwall in the first game is out the window, and establishing a whole new setting is another item on the ever-growing list of challenges. That, and likely a whole new cast; most significant characters from the first title are either dead, or could be dead, and few sophomore appearances should be expected. So there needs to be a whole new cast characterized and integrated into the story, a task that was beyond the writers the first go-round. Speaking of, the Outsider is back, and he will need to be made interesting, a task so preposterously easy that Arkane’s rank failure to do so should poison anyone’s hopes for anything they ever set out to accomplish ever again. And finally, some of the enthusiasm for Dishonored 2 is garnered by the possibility of playing as Emily. I’m mystified where this enthusiasm springs from, given that she wasn’t a compelling character in the first title, and precious little inspires confidence she will suddenly become one as the player’s vessel. (Unless the very concept of playing a ninja girl is drawing people in. Fair enough.)

    The meager batters at Arkane have stepped in front of a very mean pitch this time. There are some in the far stands raising their gloves to catch a homer. But I’m somewhere behind 1st coiling to dodge the foul.

    • Shamus says:

      For the record, I’m not super-excited about Dishonored 2, and I was kind of lukewarm on the original.

      But I think the reason Mankind Divided is getting all the flack is because we’re responding to recent news: Everything shown about Dishonored 2 so far has looked like a change for the better, while Mankind Divided seems to be doubling down on the faults of the previous entry. It’s true that the people who wrote the Outsider probably aren’t equipped to introduce, establish, characterize, and build an arc for two protagonists, but we can’t be sure until the game arrives. Of course, in both cases this could be attributed more to marketing than to the content of the game itself, but that’s the risk we take when commenting on future releases.

      Also, Mankind Divided supposedly has a legacy to live up to (Deus Ex set a pretty high bar) and Dishonored is merely the second entry in a recent franchise.

      EDIT: Edited for clarity. I originally referred to Human Revolution as the “original” game. Derp.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Deus Ex: Original Homestyle would have been a bit before my time, even if I’d been a PC gamer, which wasn’t in my cards. To me, Mankind Divided is also the second entry in a recent franchise. But I can certainly see why it can’t really be taken that way by people who grew up with the landmark original, especially with Human Revolution’s (somewhat extraneous) overtures to continuity.

        And I should probably own up to not enjoying the first Dishonored mechanically, which is a pretty severe distinction between myself and a lot of its adherents. I always felt like my instincts about how I should be playing the game were grinding against how the game wanted me to play, and it made for pretty fast fatigue. Dishonored was right on the line for me; if either the mechanics or the writing had clicked for me, I wouldn’t have minded the remainder. But the success of neither left me to resent both. As 93 says below, those writing missteps don’t matter as much to the many who (like Chris, apparently) can lose themselves in the mechanics- and in the game’s stellar art direction, which I do applaud, and which seems to still be more than present in the sequel.

        I’m always happy to be proven wrong by success, though. You know what they say.

        • Gunther says:

          I think a lot of people went into Dishonored expecting its mechanics to be more Thief-like, where you creep about and occasionally knock someone out, and if you end up in a sword fight you’ve done something wrong. You CAN play it like that, but… you’ve got a pocketful of ridiculously OP superpowers that interact with each other in crazy ways and nobody else in the game can hold a candle to you; you’ll have a lot more fun if you revel in that and go for style points.

          There’s a reason that people are still making play-thru videos on Youtube years after release, and it’s not for the story. It’s for stuff like this.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      The meager batters at Arkane have stepped in front of a very mean pitch this time. There are some in the far stands raising their gloves to catch a homer. But I’m somewhere behind 1st coiling to dodge the foul.

      I feel like both of those metaphors are poor, because while Dishonored 1’s story was somewhere between mediocre and trash, the story was also pretty marginal. You could (and should) engage with it as a pure-mechanics stealth game, and if you did so it didn’t waste too much of your time with the story bits.

      Caring about Dishonored 2’s story feels like the people who got really invested in Cap vs Iron Man before Civil War came out: It’s foolish to consider even the possibility of narrative depth there, but there’s going to be some cool punching onscreen, so turn off your brain and engage with the real focus of the thing.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Two things:
      1)While dishonored was not good,the two expansions were good.So there is a trend of improvement.Then again,extrapolating from so few points is a bit messy.

      2)Im actually glad that so many people are preemptively bashing on mankind divided,because thats exactly the same reaction everyone had for human revolution,and it turned out well.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    Since you praised Human Revolution’s dialog, I have to complain about it. The moment-to-moment dialog, especially the social bossfights, turns to complete shit as soon as anyone talks about augmentions. It’s the problem I mentioned above where what the game is really talking about is Technology as a whole. It is infuriating on the scale of Mass Effect’s dialog wheel that HR puts you into arguments with people who are clearly not having a good faith debate, and then the game doesn’t let you call them on it.

    I’d be willing to put up with the “every conversation is a metaphor” thing if they were at least making interesting metaphorical points, but I can’t recall a single moment that the game’s philosophizing rose above the level of “Technology is bad because I fear change!” versus “Technology is good because it lets us do more stuff!”

  9. Galad says:

    As someone who’s at least somewhat interested in cyberpunk gaming and discussion topics in general, and who has never played a Deus Ex game (and I don’t think I even watched closely its Spoiler Warning season), which Deus Ex game (or if you’re feeling cheeky, which game from any cyberpunk-themed series) should I play first?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ugggh,tough….Welll,first one is the best,but it is old,so you may have a problem with its graphics.Controlwise,its actually pretty smooth for such an old game,though there are some weird choices(using flashlight drains the same power as using super strength??).I would definitely recommend that one to everyone who doesnt mind playing old games.

      Human revolution is good,and it is more approachable,but definitely get the directors cut and not the vanilla version.

      Two you should play only in the end,and if you are REAAAAALLY curious as to what they did after the original.But its not a good game.

    • IFS says:

      I would play the original, its damn ugly by this point but that’s about the only bad thing I have to say about it. You can get it for pretty cheap on GOG or Steam and it still plays pretty well (shooting is a bit ass early on but gets better if you invest the points) and has more to say than HR.

      Once you’re done with that I would go watch a Deus Ex speedrun (the one from the recent SGDQ is great) because its hilarious. Clipping through doors by standing on grenades, exploding hostages because rescuing them is slower, throwing a pregnancy test at your brother to skip dialogue, good stuff.

      Then I would go play HR, its still a fun game with some good writing and solid gameplay. It is somewhat lacking in anything to say about its subject matter, and its writing has some serious missteps in places (the ending is a popular point of contention but there are issues elsewhere).

    • Chris says:

      Which Deus Ex?

      Depends on your tolerance for clunky gameplay. If you don’t mind playing a 16 year old game that was kinda rickety mechanics-wise and flabby pacing-wise in its own day, let alone now, the original Deus Ex is definitely the way to go. It’s the best written in terms of themes and ideas, and the most coherent in terms of universe building.

      It also has the widest possibility space – because content was so much cheaper to make back then, you really could solve problems by going through entirely different parts of a level that other people wouldn’t have seen. This wasn’t just “bribe the guard to get in the door or sneak in the vent into the bathroom right next to the door.”

      Like, the opening level is the Statue of Liberty. You can meet your contact at the docks for some tips and additional resources, or not. You can go in the front door (stealthy, hack-y, or any variety of violently) and then go save your captured partner in the base (or not). Or you can wrap around the back of the tower, get a few upgrade cannisters and sneak in undetected (or not). Each of those areas is huge and has different playstyles and challenges. Again, there’s a lot of Dishonored here, if you liked that.

      If the ancient engine and bad game feel kinda rub you the wrong way, though, Human Revolution is perfectly fine. It suffers from being a prequel in the way Shamus describes – it’s leading (maybe?) to the original game and drops all these references that will make no sense without knowing about Deus Ex, but they’re also not critical to the plot-at-hand.

      Nothing is really critical to the plot-at-hand, really, since the overall plot kinda falls apart at the end. But it feels really good to play, and while it’s scaled back substantially from DX1 you still do have a variety of options (often enough with unique parts of levels to support them, though far less so than in DX1). It’s less sprawling and more badly written, but manages to capture a lot of the same spirit despite increased development costs and modern game dev trends.

      Whatever you do, avoid Invisible War.

      Which Cyberpunk in General

      System Shock 2 for raw tone. Rogue AIs, genetic experiments, foregoing of the flesh for augmentations, space travel that isn’t the focus of the story. Lots of debates about identity of self vs. group. Good game.

      Uplink gives you the ultimate Keyboard Cowboy experience. If you like typing commands into a keyboard really fast in an effort to get in, download some files, delete the logs of your entry, and leave, this is your game. It’s cyberpunk in the 1990’s Crash Override And Zero Cool vein – less dystopic cyberpeople and more “lone hacker plying his trade for cash and ideology.”

      Anachronox is a great comedy option. Dead secretaries having their brains scanned so their ghost becomes your personal assistant. Going into computers to hack them open. Space travel. Robot arms. Razor girls. An aloof, vaguely noir inspired hero. Imagine if William Gibson tried to write Hitchhiker’s Guide and you’ll have a rough idea of what this game is like tonally. Then realize it’s an adventure game meets a JRPG, and if you can still stomach that idea, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s adorable and hilarious.

      Omikron, maybe? It’s weird, but the “splicing into people’s lives” thing is something that few games really try, and hacking into a brain is very cyberpunk. Plus, y’know, David Bowie.

      • JRT says:

        I still don’t understand the Invisible War hate. Sure, the limitations of consoles shrunk the floorplans, but other that that, it was really fun and a great ending.

        • Chris says:

          First, it undercut Deus Ex by doing the weird “All Endings Are True” thing. Which not only makes no sense as a continuation of the first game, but also kind of undercuts the titular role of the player character – to be the one to step in and say how things are going to be run. The sequel immediately says “It’s great that you had options, but they didn’t really matter because they all came true!”

          They also didn’t come true, which is its own problem. JC was supposed to become a benign god if he merged with Helios but then he just got buried in ice (I suppose so he doesn’t just solve the plot). The destruction of Echelon was supposed to destroy all modern communication and throw us into the dark ages, but instead we just sort of had a really crappy 2008 era recession? The illuminati continues to exist, and both Paul and JC are kind of a part? But also not because part of it are evil and they’re too busy being in antarctica.

          Honestly, some of its best ideas were retooled in Human Revolution – instead of Seattle having two tiers of upper and lower class members it’s Hengsha, and instead of a popstar hologram that’s illicitly collecting information on everyone it’s Eliza Cassan who distributes stories filtered by Illuminati algorithms.

          It also played terribly. The shrunken level designs didn’t just impact immersion or a sense of scale and place, but also meant that the emergent gameplay rules were confined to a small section of each level – you could trip an alarm at the entryway to a facility but as long as you walked through the door and triggered the load to the interior that didn’t matter. So why bother stealthing or spending resources to progress when you can just aggro-dash your way through a lot of the game?

          Worse, the confined level designs meant that all that interesting “How do you want to solve this problem?” got boiled down to the very boring “punch the guard or sneak through a vent” variety. Especially since they condensed lock picking and hacking down into one resource – it was “burn a multitool or punch a guy” over and over. That was pretty much the depth of choice in the game. Human Revolution stumbles over figuring out what its views on Transhumanism are or what they want it to be a metaphor for, but at least each objective is more than “You can fight these guys or pay 2 metatools to skip that.”

          The unified ammo design was supposed to enhance player choice by making every ammo reward a worthwhile reward, but instead it meant as soon as you sniped all of your ammo away you were just stuck with melee. This made ammo-intensive weapons like rocket launchers and snipers worthless.

          The radial menu didn’t benefit consoles like it was supposed to and made the PC version insufferable when you had to deal with inventory.

          It was just a frustrating mess that played like poop, and its story ambitions exceeded its grasp. Ironically, unlike HR or MD, IW wanted to be about transcendence – what really is the “next step” of humanity? Deus Ex 1 ended with a meditation on how power is to be allotted by governments, but Invisible War wanted to think about how we move forward as a species. That would have been really cool! Unfortunately so much of the game is about clunky manshoots that it couldn’t possibly live up to that ambition.

          • MichaelGC says:

            The way this guy writes about his subject, it’s almost as if he once made a video about it.

            • Chris says:

              This video is so, so bad.

              • Eh, the point’s made clearly enough for the format. If anything’s wrong with it, it’s that the subject matter was clearly misaimed in one or two places. :P

              • MichaelGC says:

                Well, you say that, but it’s all relative, isn’t it? Here, let me link to you my awesome channel with all my wicked-cool vids with like eighty thousand views:

                .

                Exactly.

                But, worth bearing in mind, folks!: in about six weeks time that video’ll be five years old. It’s nearly ready for elementary school! Aaaah.

                So yes, it’s probably fair to say that you’ve come a long way, since then…

              • Shamus says:

                It’s not THAT bad. The low-res footage and low audio quality don’t help, and I’m sure you’d trim the script if you were to cover the topic today. But the points you make are rock solid. Since I played this game in my pre-journo days and never thought about it again, all the stuff about multiplatform releases and Christmas release dates was 100% informative.

          • JRT says:

            Eh, to each his own. I thought it executed better. I liked the fact that we had graphics that weren’t just blocky polygons, I loved things like the Omar, the coffee wars, the pop star AI, and how they tried to resolve the three conflicting plotlines. (Let’s also keep in mind that Deus Ex was really before a lot of folks could take saved games and make a decent branching narrative). And I loved the choice of endings.

            I never had the problem with the game some folks did. I thought it played okay. I just think it gets a lot of crap unfairly.

      • tmtvl says:

        Shadowrun: Hong Kong is amazing. I’d almost liken it to a cyberpunk Baldur’s Gate 2.

        There’s also Dex, if you prefer your 2D games side-scrolling instead of isometric.

        Besides those two and the ones Campster mentioned I can only think of Hacker’s Revolution (kinda like Uplink, but more keyboard based) and a number of old games (I mean old as in DOS-era: Neuromancer, BloodNet, Shadowrun,…).

        • MichaelGC says:

          Shadowrun: Dragonfall is also very good. (Just steer clear of Shadowrun Returns until such time as your appetite for Shadowruns begins to know no bounds. Returns was the first one and is thus a little rougher ’round the edges.)

      • Geebs says:

        IW wasn’t really avoid-at-all-costs bad. It’s got the Omar, after all.

      • Mark Sachs says:

        Oh my god Anachronox! It’s the best, and a criminal shame it never got the sequel that was needed to properly finish the story. (Anachronox dates back to the Ion Storm days and it basically went down with the ship.)

        Chris’s JRPG description is accurate. The designers were explicitly using Crono Trigger as an inspiration for the game’s battle system.

      • Captainbooshi says:

        I have never heard of Anachronox before, but your description makes me want to play it intensely.

      • Galad says:

        Holy cow, thanks a bunch for the recommendations, Chris! ^^

      • Gilfareth says:

        I really feel I should add that the original Deus Ex does have a couple options for people put off by the game feel and older look of it, namely Deus Ex: Revision (a mod available for the Steam GOTY version which, while not without its faults, does a hell of a lot to improve the look and feel of the game.

        It does mess with the design in ways I don’t necessarily agree with and I will hunt down whoever thought it was a good idea to ‘touch up’ the phenomenal original soundtrack Cave Story+-style, that took me a fair bit of effort to patch the original OST back in. >:(

        Revision is the only one I’ve personally tried, but there are alternatives including New Vision (found here: http://www.moddb.com/mods/new-vision ) for anyone who just wants to make it look nicer without fiddling with the mechanical or sound design.

    • Pinkhair says:

      Technobabylon is a really good one.

  10. Grudgeal says:

    Wait, “augs lives matter”? Seriously? Who the feck was responsible for that? I mean… I can’t… Guh.

    This is “anime fan on prom night”-levels of tone-deafness in marketing.

    • IFS says:

      The worst part about it was that when asked if it had anything to do with BLM the marketers denied that it did. Like the least they could do would be to own up to it.

      That said there are plenty of good games that had shit marketing, so its not necessarily an indicator of the games quality, though its not a good sign.

      • Christopher says:

        Speaking as a freelance artist, it’s easy to imagine slipping in a current reference that your supervisor doesn’t mind or notice, without being explicitly told to do it. “Aug lives matter” is only that one concept art, isn’t it? I can only imagine whoever drew it are kicking themselves, or if they are very unlucky, out of work. I suppose it was the same with the stupid Mighty No. 9 video? Not enough oversight from the actual public relations people, I mean. I don’t think that was in-house. “Like an anime fan on prom night”, from the people that wanted you to KICKSTART AN ANIME.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          In the game, there are two different lines to board the train: one for normal humans, and one for augs. “Aug lives matter” might not be in the game, but it’s in keeping with the clumsy racism metaphors (“Mechanical Apartheid”, seriously?) that definitely are.

          • Henson says:

            I’m not at all convinced that having separate lines for train boarding will necessarily be clumsy or awkward. If Eidos properly sets up a sort of XMen premise of people fearing augs because of the incredible things they can do (like arm swords) and wanting stricter security checks for them, then having separate lines is a natural story outgrowth of that.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      How is “This is the current discrimination thing,so lets reference it in our discrimination story” the same as “These guys are weirdos,lets make fun of them”?

  11. Matt Downie says:

    I want to write about Civ 5 (plus expansions) since I’ve been playing it a lot lately.

    I spent a long time being bad at it and playing it wrong. I was a bit better than the AI at combat strategy, but that was about all.

    The problem is, it has a pretty high skill ceiling. In classic civ you’re trying to balance research, production, growth and military. (There’s also money and happiness, but it’s enough to keep these things from going negative.) This is challenging enough. In Civ 5, you’re also dealing with Faith, Culture, city-state friendship, golden ages, trade routes… How am I supposed to know whether building a Stonehenge that gives me +5 faith per turn is better than building an ampitheatre that gives me +1 culture per turn and a caravan that gives me some money unless it gets destroyed by barbarians? I’m basically acting at random.

    Anyway, I’ve developed some basic rules for what’s important:
    Faith: Nice to have, but can be neglected. Starting your own religion doesn’t win wars.
    Culture: Build a monument in every city. Also, the bonus you get for adopting the Tradition social policy track is nice, even if you don’t pursue it after that and switch to Liberty. Beyond that, it’s not very important.
    Military: Ranged units are better than melee units. Melee units take damage every time they attack. Melee units are mainly there to capture cities once the city has been bombarded into submission.
    Conquest: Make sure you have some surplus happiness before starting a war, since capturing a city always reduces happiness. Try to pick off enemy units first since they’re a lot easier to kill than cities. Finish off injured units first, to stop them using the ‘instant healing’ level-up bonus. Plunder improvements to heal your units – you can still attack afterwards. If an enemy offers you cities in a peace treaty, it’s usually worth taking, since you get the city intact, you don’t get ‘warmongering’ penalties that way, and peace treaties only last ten turns. Create Puppet State is generally better than Annexe, unless you want to be able to buy units there. City-states should usually be Liberated.
    City-state friendship: This is pretty powerful, especially with the Patronage culture track. Befriend cities adjacent to your enemies and they’ll send half their military off to fight those cities, leaving you a much easier line of attack. Befriend all the city-states and you can usually get a Diplomatic victory.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Gaming suffers from a lack of good terminology, but I feel what you’re talking about in Civ (and most 4Xs) isn’t so much a skill ceiling as it is required knowledge/memorization. If you got really good at platforming in Mario, then went back in time to give your past self advice, it wouldn’t be very helpful because platforming is mostly about muscle memory, dexterity and intuition. By contrast, if you got really good at Civ then went back in time, you could impart yourself with 90% of your relevant knowledge in about thirty minutes, saving dozens of hours of learning.

      I’m not sure how I feel about these sorts of required knowledge games: on the one hand it can feel like unsatisfying “fake difficulty” until you get the hang of it, on the other hand Shadow of Cherynobyl is entirely about learning systems as opposed to mastering systems, and it’s one of my favorite games ever. I suppose the trick is to avoid “I understand nothing and might as well act at random” in the early stages.

      As an experienced player, here’s some more transferable knowledge for you:
      Faith: most useful for the “Found a belief system” bonus you get early, before forming a real religion. Can be good, but the AI also tries to grab up all the good founding bonuses, so it’s skippable.
      Culture: The most powerful thing you can do in any area of the entire game is find +20 culture in some ruins on turn 6, catapulting you into early Tradition, increasing your culture bonus to put you further into Tradition further increasing your culture bonus…
      Military: High level units are incredibly powerful, and the AI doesn’t seem to recognize or respect that your small army of level 8s can cut through them like a chainsaw. Melee units want to put three ranks into either open or rough terrain bonuses, which unlocks March (heal even on turns you attack), then you pick up Medic (adjacent units heal more, doesn’t stack) and suddenly your army has significant health regeneration in combat, making melee units finally good. March also means your units virtually get twice as many actions, because they’re not spending half their combat time resting. Ranged units want to go thee ranks of rough/open terrain which unlocks the ability to shoot twice in one round, which is as amazing as it sounds. You can grind XP by declaring war on a city state (do it before anyone else finds the state and you get no warmonger penalties), then just never capturing it, letting it bombard your units earns a minimum of 2 XP/turn. Because of the power of high-level units, you want to avoid investing too much in units that become technologically obsolete (pikemen, cavalry, weird niche units like horse archers), try to feed XP strictly to basic melee units, basic ranged, and siege weapons, since those always have an upgrade path.
      Happiness: A very all-or-nothing resource, you either want to keep it just above zero, or you want to max it out and invest in all the upgrades/wonders that boost your golden ages. Either is viable. Worth noting that happiness does nothing while in a golden age, so you can afford to let it slip from +30 to +10: if you have 30 turns of golden age queued up, feel free to sell your luxury resources during that time.
      Misc fiddly bullshit: AIs will always buy strategic resources (iron, horses, oil) that they don’t have access to, even if they have no need for them. This makes horse pastures great in the early-game because you can reliably sell off the horses for a lot of gold.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Skill does not mean only physical skill.Muscle memory may not be easily transferable to someone else like knowledge,but that doesnt make it more of a skill.Pattern recognition,threat assessment and insight are often as hard to learn as dexterity of fingers.

      • The terminology was my biggest problem with Beyond Earth + Rising Tide; the unit upgrades all had different names based on which path you took/which paths you combined, so by the time you had a couple of paths at around 8 or 9, all of the units you could make would have been upgraded once or twice, so you’d need to consult the upgrade page just to figure out “oh, THAT’S my melee unit that I want to send off to fight stuff so I can save the Energy cost-per-turn of keeping it” every single game unless you ALWAYS played the same way, which would be kind of pointless.

        Then again, I managed to finally play 5 with both expansions, and iirc I was the first person to found a religion on the map which let me get fun bonuses along with spreading it without murdering anyone else…not that I didn’t use the units designed to spread it around, though. :P

      • Philadelphus says:

        If you get enough bonus XP for new units it’s possible to get three free promotions on a newly-created unit, which, for air units, is enough to give it the aerial equivalent of March right off the bat. Have fun raining bombs on your enemies with only the occasional break to repair!

  12. Christopher says:

    It’s been a cool year for video games from where I’m standing. Granted, I’m not a PC player and don’t own either of Nintendo’s current consoles. I have played pretty much two of these games. It just looks like a cornucopia of games were released this year. From the top of my head, shooters got DOOM and Overwatch(and Battleborn). The Witness, The Division and No Man’s sky finally came out. Both Journey and Limbo got their spiritual sequels out the same year, as Inside and Abzu. Fire Watch came out. Telltale games games _keep_ coming out, as does Ratchet & Clank(the reboot) and Uncharted 4. Indie 3d hack ‘n slash/character action games have started to appear, like Heart & Slash and Furi. Stardew Valley captured the hearts of lots more people than I normally hear like Harvest Moon. Quadrilateral Cowboy is out, and so is Superhot, Hyperlight Drifter and XCOM 2. If you like soulsborne games, you’re in luck, there’s Dark Souls 3 and Salt & Sanctuary. Deus Ex 4 is coming out tomorrow, the same day as King of Fighters 14, if Street Fighter V from earlier in the year didn’t do it for you.

    Vanillaware rereleased their nine year old game Odin Sphere, but reworked the entire gameplay and made it FEEL good as well as look good this time. Twilight Princess also got the HD treatment, although not much was changed. Fire Emblem Fates and Oxenfree came out, while Hitman has been going incredibly strong with its episodic plan. That Fire Emblem/persona crossover JRPG Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE was released, and so was a new, doomed to be underappreciated Kirby platformer. Pokemon Go was this year. Headlander, too! You like anime? There was another Naruto Ninja Storm and a new One Piece behind the back-fighting game. There was even the last Witcher 3 DLC

    Soon Phoenix Wright 6 is gonna be out, along with Persona 5, Alone with you, Mafia 3, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, the new Call of Duty(I counted, it is number 15), Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, Dishonored 2 Final Fantasy 15, the new South Park game, the Hawaii Pokemon generation and Dead Rising 4. Even fucking Owlboy and The Last Guardian, after eight years or something in development, finally seem to be coming out.

    Granted, you could potentially hate all of these and have a shit year. Some genres just aren’t well represented, like big WRPGs or 3D platformers, and if you like character action games it’s all bargain bin indie stuff. Nintendo seems to be squarely focused on NX.

    But the year looks overall amazing from where I’m standing. And I’m only interested in 5-6 total.

    • Gilfareth says:

      I have to nitpick here, because Persona 5 is only this year if you live in Japan. I can’t imagine even a majority of readers here live there, so for the rest of us it’s a sad wait until February next year to finally get our hands on it.

  13. Willroar says:

    “Conversational boss fights that exist in no other game”

    I’m going to bring up an old, archaic reference so I’m not actually frustrated by that quote. Though, for history’s sake, WING COMMANDER IV: PRICE OF FREEDOM!

    They ended a goddamn wing commander flight sim with a UN-style debate trying to out talk and inspire Malcom McDowell to save the universe and the very concept of democracy! Is it as nuanced and complex as Human Revolution’s? No but it also predates it by almost two decades. And it’s my favorite Wing Commander game. And just about my favorite game. And I’m bias.

    But still! You want conversational boss fights? WING COMMANDER IV: PRICE OF FREEDOM!

    • Christopher says:

      I think this is the appeal of the Phoenix Wright games for me. As you interrogate a witness(A big, funnily-animated odd-looking anime person), object to their contradictory testimony and present evidence that they’re lying(and for the final one, that they are the real murderer), they gradually start losing their nerve and the music goes from tense to INTENSE. It’s completely linear, mind, but I love it.

    • IFS says:

      That should be a box quote.

      “Conversational boss fights! WING COMMANDER IV: PRICE OF FREEDOM!”

    • Humanoid says:

      And it’s my favorite Wing Commander game.

      Missiles. Goddamn missiles.

      EDIT: Personal favourite is Privateer, by some distance.

  14. “I found the whole AUGS LIVES MATTER controversy to be really off-putting[1]. Not because the topic is too taboo (or whatever) to appear in a videogame, but because it was so clumsy, on-the-nose, and heavy-handed about it.”

    But the entire Deus Ex series has always been like his.
    The original Deus Ex had the cyborg vs nano tech thing.

    As to the “AUGS Lives Matter” vs “Black Lives Matter”. While EIDOS did that art, it is in the context of the ingame worlds protesters. And considering how tasteless protesters can be in real life (what’s with the always breaking of store windows and stealing TVs? Comon, really?) I’m not surprised if protesters edit old slogans to suit their own purposes.

    • Tse says:

      Also, wasn’t the artwork made before BLM even existed?

      • Ninety-Three says:

        They claim they invented the phrase before BLM did. There’s no way to know if they’re being honest, but the phrase is so specific that Eidos’s claim seems improbable. Even accepting their excuse, Eidos has doubled down on “What we’re doing is perfectly fine” instead of saying “Maybe now was not the best time to release that specific content”, and that’s rubbing some people the wrong way.

        • Tse says:

          It may be rubbing some people the wrong way, but I think they are doing the right thing if they are telling the truth. Besides, if they admit to being wrong about one thing, they will be criticized even more fervently about everything else that rubs some people the wrong way(from the name of the game to the fact that the story is not black and white).
          Admitting defeat would not help them sell more copies to the people who were offended, but it would offend other people.

          • Ninety-Three says:

            Eidos admitting that they were insensitive would offend people? I don’t understand, please explain.

            • Tse says:

              In some circles, backing down to… certain critics is frowned upon while staying your ground gets you more support. It’s not a small segment of the market, either.
              On the other hand, most of the people the artwork offended are unlikely to buy the game even if Eidos apologized. Some of them are already bashing it for other things, such as the morally grey decisions and the choice of name.
              P.S. A lot of the people who are not offended, but have doubts because of the controversy will make their decision after the game comes out. If Eidos have made a strong product, they will not lose these people’s business.

        • Wide And Nerdy® says:

          Its kind of worse if they invented it. It means that whatever they’re doing with it will still be assumed to be linked to BLM by the public but people will be reading all kind of unintended commentary about BLM because Eidos wasn’t thinking about how BLM would react when they made this stuff.

          This is just asking for trouble.

  15. Retsam says:

    Haven’t listened to the show yet, just reading the liner notes: is “Final Fantasy 16” a typo?

  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTSjJjGfc24

    Interview with Elias Toufexis (voice and mocap actor for Adam Jensen).
    Apparently Eidos decided to redo the mocap and acting 2-3 times because hey weren’t happy with it. And they delayed the game by 6 months. And Elias would some days come in to find that Edios had added a whole new sidequest.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      “Alright, what are we mocapping now?”
      “Standing. Just stand there.”
      “Like this?”
      “N-no, not like that.”
      “Well, what then?”
      “Can you jitter like you have bugs under your clothes?”
      “Like… this?” *wiggles spastically in place*
      “Perfect!”

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWyXT9szDi8

      In the interview Elias says that there is a lot of large branching story/plots in the game.
      Near the beginning of the game there is a choice that will change what you experience, you may not see half the game, requiring another playthrough if you want to experience the other path. And apparently there is a lot of branching like that.

  17. Rayen says:

    Pokémon Go is going to be a seasonal thing. It’s really shallow which means it doesn’t have a when lot of longevity, but it’s way too hot to play in Texas right now. In October-January I think it’s gonna be too cold to play in Northland but will be big down south. Pokémon it’s going see a resurgence everytime there’s a big update. Most of things people are asking for (minus poke radar) are apparently coming…

    • TMC_Sherpa says:

      I thought there would be big money in sponsoring marathon runners and we would see them with backpacks full of phones.

      On a slightly serious note, I don’t think anyone can predict what the next touchstone will be, it feels like it’s more about dumb luck than planning. Heck, usually the harder someone tries to be the next big thing the worse it is. Minecraft, WoW, Star Wars even something like Flappy Bird or Tickle Me Elmo come out of nowhere and are monster hits for a variable amount of time.

    • JAB says:

      I live in Houston, near one of the big parks, with lots of pokestops. There are often dozens of people walking around, catching pokemon. I’m guessing it’ll continue more as a “convince people to walk around and exercise” kind of thing than a “come play this really cool game” kind of thing.

      • JAB says:

        Also, I’m curious to see what ends up coming out, in terms of “Like Pokemon Go, but…” You could do some interesting things combining, say, civilization plus real world scavenger hunt. Vampire LARP plus assassin. Zombie survival plus exercise plus…

        Don’t know, but you can bet people are thinking about it. And getting ready to bet a lot of money on.

  18. MichaelGC says:

    On Steam starting up: I’ve only got Fallout 4, Darkest Dungeon & Good Robot installed on a machine which prods buttock, and it still takes an aaaaaaaaaaaaaaage. (Oh, and 3DMark.)

    Even iTunes leaves it in the dust, and I’m not sure it can get more embarrassing than that.

  19. ThirteenthLetter says:

    It’s a bad idea to let the news media and professional activists with a political agenda tell you what you should care about, and “Augs Lives Matter” is a great example of that. We’re all just being told how offensive and horrible some trivial throwaway detail in a piece of old concept art is simply because it refers (accidentally or not) to a present-day controversy that people have a lot of varying views about, and expected to dance to the state-approved tune. Yeah, no, not playing that, sorry.

    • Shamus says:

      The people who were offended by this didn’t do so because the “media” told them to. They were offended because they saw it as being trivial with something they are passionate about and take very seriously, and which – whether you agree or not – they see as a source of ongoing injustice and human suffering. Until you can see the connection between their beliefs and their behavior, they will continue to be an “other” to you.

      You’re basically saying “wake up sheeple”.

      Also, talking about the PEOPLE who hold various beliefs is basically the same as diving into politics. Let’s stick to games and marketing.

  20. Xedo says:

    It’s even worse, grammatically, than it appears.

    Look closely at the ‘Augs lives matter’ concept art. A robot arm obscures it, but it clearly says ‘Augs lives matters.’

    That is horrifyingly poorly written.

  21. Ranneko says:

    I have found Steam gets worse the larger your library, especially when adding a new game. Whenever I redeem a key or buy a game Steam freezes up for a few seconds and goes completely unresponsive.

    This problem is only going to get worse now because I am subbed to the Humble Monthly so I get 5-6 games a month pretty consistently now.

  22. Blake says:

    Something something BLM… something something racism…. something something nazis… something something grammar nazis… something something you used the wrong form of ‘too’ in your second last sentence: “If you see someone go to far” =D

  23. Brandon says:

    I am actually looking forward to it, at least in part due to the glowing review Ars Technica gave it. While Ars isn’t my go-to for games reviews, normally, they do go into detail and it sounds like it mostly sorts itself out. Certainly won’t be issue-free, but I haven’t found a game that is, sadly.

  24. Humanoid says:

    I got a marketing email from Squeenix saying “We Were All Created Equal” and I was going to make a gag about regional pricing, but it turns out there is no regional pricing for this game (Australia pays the standard US price), so um, well played Squeenix I guess.

    On the other hand, I was able to get it for about two-thirds of the price by buying from the UK. Thanks Brexit!

    • vrittis says:

      What is this sorcery? I am really tempted to buy the game now instead of waiting as usual for the cheapstake edition, but one-third off could be a nice discount to get. Do you need to configure your steam thing to think it’s in the UK?

      • Humanoid says:

        No, just third-party resellers. I used OzGameShop which had it for the equivalent of $40USD. Unfortunately it’s gone up to $60AUD=$45USD there now. (Yes, despite the name, OGS is UK-based: it’s run by 365games.co.uk and is their website for dealing with overseas customers) Buying from the UK tends to be cheapest because of two factors – the drop in the value of the Pound because of Brexit; and because prices are calibrated for their 20% sales tax. People buying from UK shops from outside the EU are not subject to the tax and so can get games from there for 5/6ths of the price that locals get.

        *Actually the weird thing about OGS/365games is that because they were originally a bricks and mortar store, all their stock is physical copies, and when you buy a CD key from them they’ll literally just open up a box, scan the CD key and email it to you, then discard the rest.

        Generally speaking I use IsThereAnyDeal.com to find the best deal when buying games, though OGS isn’t listed as it’s not a “real” digital reseller and more of a regular retail shop. Prices for Mankind Divided here, new releases tend to fluctuate.

        EDIT: For clarity, all of these sellers will just provide a Steam key. EU Steam keys aren’t region locked so they work worldwide. Only keys from Russia and a few other countries where games are extremely cheap are region locked by Steam.

  25. Primogenitor says:

    I’m not sure why you’re so worried about a crammed release schedule – many of those games won’t actually be playable for at least 6-12 months afterwards (critical bugs fixed, missing features from previous versions added via expansions / DLC) and by then most of the multiplayer-focused games will be dead. :-P

  26. Bloodsquirrel says:

    You guys really stepped over the line on this podcast. Your comments were really insensitive about something that I really care about.

    I’m talking, of course, about your reckless bashing of Prometheus. Yes, the movie unnecessarily became a dumb action flick during large parts of the third act, but the movie was probably one of the best Lovecraftian stories every told in film. They really nailed it thematically, David was a fascinating character, and the ending ultimately did do what it needed to do, even if the monster movie bits could have been cut out.

    Gears of 4: I’m willing to give the new studio a shot. Sure, it didn’t work for Halo, but Epic was out of ideas anyway (Gears 3 and Judgement were mediocre) and there just aren’t any other cover shooters coming out that have that same kind of meaty experience that Gears has.

    Another Divinity game will be nice, but I hope the game either makes its puzzles less obtuse or just goes ahead and packages the game with a guide.

    Pokemon Go has other major problems than just the radar. It gets really, really grindy once you hit level 20, and once you’re finished catching new pokemon there just isn’t much to do. The only thing you can actually do with your pokemon is fight them at gyms, but there’s no control in place to make sure that lower level players have lower level gyms to fight at, so if you’re not already high level with strong pokemon they’re just a brick wall to you.

    The game’s only progress is catching and evolving pidgies over and over and over again to level your character. The game is so broken that it hands you a starter pokemon that you can’t do anything with because you need to catch other pokemon of the same kind to level up, and if there are none of those around you you’re screwed. Even catching rare pokemon is undermined by them not really being useful because, again, you’ll never be able to level it up.

    The game had a really addictive early gameplay loop, but everything else about it is completely broken and fundamentally misconceived. I dropped the game and I can’t imagine picking it up again until it’s been given a complete overhaul.

  27. Taellosse says:

    I’m trying to decide if you incorrectly titled your commentary on the last section as “Human Revolution” instead of ‘Mankind Divided’ on purpose, to recapitulate the mistake you made in the podcast for humorous effect, or if you were simply repeating the error a second time, because it’s one of those things that happens, where your brain keeps telling your mouth (or fingers) to say the wrong thing even though you know what you really mean to be saying (happens to me all the time, so I can totally see it happening for you again here).

  28. SKD says:

    Staying clear of the Black Lives Matter controversy, I honestly don’t see a problem with using current event controversy as a marketing ploy. But marketers should realize that any time you co-opt a controversy they are going to affect potential sales and particularly hot-button topics are likely to affect them negatively. No matter which side the marketing takes, if it takes a side, they are alienating part of their audience. On the other hand, if you use it in your marketing it needs to be in the game in some way.

    Speaking for myself, I tend to be well behind the curve on keeping up with marketing. I don’t watch live TV or listen to live radio so I rarely see/hear commercials and I have an automatic filter for all internet advertising. I only see things like this when they are brought to my attention by others. So this is actually the first I’ve heard of the ALM or Mechanical Apartheid controversies. Personally I am more offended by developers who try to cram their opinions down my throat with their games. I play games to escape reality for a while not to be sermonized. I don’t mind games which present moral conundrums as long as they let me make my own choices and draw my own conclusions.

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