Stepping into the hall at Olympia where PC Gamer (sponsored by Omen by HP) had set out their stall for the weekend was an education in organised chaos; teams were unboxing monitors, booting PCs, going through buckets of coffee and generally fortifying themselves for the deluge of gamers due in the days ahead. Ranks of high, white stands, housing the important bits of the demo machines and leaving the monitors on benches out front gave the area a high-tech maze feeling. Turn left at Vermintide 2, right at the Developer stage and straight on ’till Overwatch…
Once the doors opened to the general public things rapidly got exciting, loud, and lively, with the rows filling up with players and gamers waiting to play, and press with notepads itching to get their hands on the keyboards, purely for research or course… The more popular games filled fast, the aisles were pretty jammed up on the higher-profile games and getting down Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s stand after about half an hour required the use of an ability that I’m fairly sure Henry doesn’t get access to until a few hours into the game! Did I get to play everything? No. Did I get to play all I thought looked interesting? Yep, indeedy, and here they are! Starting with two of the biggest players.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
was the game I came to the Weekender intending to scope out, as I had heard about the (relatively) realistic swordplay, plus it’s a bit of an underdog; as Tobi Stolz-Zwilling from Warhorse Studios said in his presentation “this game started as two guys in a pub”. Kickstarted to the tune of just over £1million the game uses the CryEngine, giving it a solid base to work off. My hands-on experience was from pretty early in the game, where a miller demanded I engage in some petty larceny to pay off the medical bills he covered after the introductory death of my family, the spur to the rest of the plot. It looked nice, not ground-breaking but the character models were well detailed, and the performance capture seemed good. While all I accomplished was locating a few bath houses (don’t laugh, cleanliness is socially important in this game) I did rubberneck on some of the training circle sessions and can confirm that at least some of the moves will be familiar to those who’ve studied HEMA (historical European martial arts, not the Dutch discount store). Overall the historical setting lends an air of authenticity to this RPG and I look forward to checking out 15th Century Bohemia properly.
was totally new to me, though it has a pedigree to be proud of with the developers Frostkeep coming in with Blizzard/World of Warcraft in their CVs. It’s a Survival MMO, where your character is dropped all but naked and alone in a field and pretty much left to equip, forage, craft and kill their way through the landscape in a world that really doesn’t like you. After fleeing from insects, grabbing a stick from a bush and losing a fight against a wild boar-type thing I was thinking so far, so standard but it’s the social and factional play that raise it to a real contender.
Everyone who joins the server is assigned a faction with their own territory, and the expectation is that co-operation will enhance your life expectancy and those around you. Each faction has a shielded base area where you can take a hand in constructing buildings with facilities that allow for crafting and research, and that is impervious to enemies both player and bot… except for the scheduled periods where all the shields come down, the waves of monsters come, and the opposing faction can take their shot at raiding. And of course, they can and will destroy and loot if they overcome your forces. By making these scheduled events, Rend allows those who are more interested in crafting, exploring and building than PvP to contribute by building defensive weaponry, then simply not being around the bases during the big ruck. A nice touch, avoiding the all or nothing PvE/PvP alternatives offered by some survival games.
Unusually there’s a win condition inherent in Rend; it’s EXPECTED that a faction will be victorious and, far from ruining everyone’s fun, this will reset the server, allowing a servers with your own event timings that may run longer or shorter should you wish. A genuinely encouraging sign in the days of tech spec creep is a focus on performance and optimisation – Frostkeep were boasting that they’ve had a laptop running both a private server AND game client simultaneously. That, plus an enthusiastic approach to modding that has had them tweaking the base engine so the in-house programmers will be working in the same way as the modder community, speaks to a real wish to engage with the player base in a way that is rare these days.
new seed to build a brand-new world to conquer. It’s estimated that you’re looking at probably a month per iteration on the public servers, but you will be able to run private
With a faster pace than most survival games, multiple biomes to explore and a funky Viking vibe to the world, Rend looks like it’ll be a lot of fun.
I’m not neglecting the little guys and indies – they deserve their own spotlight so keep watching the skies! Er, or for part two…
Linda Evans – Twitch Affiliate and Blogger
Stay tuned for part two! (Coming soon!)
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Robin pretended to be a Strom Trooper at Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire.