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Category Archives for "RTS"
7

It’s not Warcraft 4, but I’ll take it!

Hands down the best thing to come out of Blizzcon was the Warcraft 3 Reforged announcement. I was absolutely giddy.

If you've followed us over the years, you know that each Blizzcon comes and goes with my same gripe: No Warcraft 4. It's still coming, don't worry, but in the meantime we will soon have a completely remastered version of the greatest RTS of all time (to be replaced by Warcraft 4 which will inevitably be announced at next Blizzcon). 

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8

Diablo 3 on Switch and Warcraft 3 Remastered?

The Blizzard rumor mill is running rampant over the past few days. While these rumors are pure speculation and in many ways hopeful wishing, I’m still liking everything I hear.

Diablo 3 on Switch

First we have a rumor that Diablo 3 will come to the Nintendo Switch. There’s also a rumor of a local co-op mode, which has me intrigued though admittedly I would be very disappointed if there wasn’t online play.

The Switch does need hack and slash action RPGs. Though I’m not sure whether or not I could find a place for D3 on the Switch, since I’ve played it just about as much as I’d like to on the PC, it makes for a good addition to the console and a reason to back up Nintendo’s statement about expecting a longer shelf life on the Switch.

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Iron Marines: Mobile RTS Game

We're starting to see a lot of really, really cool games coming out for mobile devices. I recently picked up Iron Marines which came out on September 14, 2017, and have had a blast. 

Overview

Iron Marines is a RTS/Strategy game with some minor 'defense' or 'tower defense' feel to it. It's made by the same people who made Kingdom Rush, which is another one of our favorite mobile games.

There's not a lot of story here. You're commanding the Iron Marines with one of 9 heroes trying to beat 14 Campaign Missions and 10 Special Operations. Each mission grows in complexity requiring more thought and strategy of how to overcome the challenges.

You'll command everything from simple marine-like infantry up through mechs and and all sorts of special weapons to get the job done. Defending your base is done with various towers, and will be necessary since the enemy seems to constantly bombard your base.

There's an obvious sense of Starcraft meets Starship Troopers vibe throughout the entire game.

The video above was taken when I was only an about an hour of gameplay in and on the 5th mission.

How It's Played on Mobile

Each unit/set of units can be moved by pressing your finger and dragging to where you want them to go. This works pretty well, though at times I do wish I could move multiple units together. There's also no attack-move (A-click), so you'll want to be careful not to send your units walking through a blockade of enemies. You can still tap your unit then tap an enemy to attack them directly.

Building units and buildings are pretty simple. You simple click the pad where a tower goes, or the base where you build a unit, and tap to build.

In general the game poses quite a challenge for me. I started losing and having to try again around mission #5. In fact, I think I spent over an hour trying to beat this mission because I would get to a point where the enemy just overwhelmed me.

You'll need to find a healthy balance of offense and defense, and use abilities and powerups to your advantage.

Upgrades & Skills

Each hero has a set of skills that can be upgraded as you level them up and play them more. Additional abilities can be purchased in a skill tree that offers choices for upgrades to make you feel more powerful as time goes on.

You can also buy what I consider power-ups which act as special bombs you can drop or mines you can lay -- things to help turn the tide in a bad situation.

Cash Shop

Despite being a paid game, there's still a cash shop. You can buy in-game currency and specific heroes. I haven't felt a need to buy anything yet, but the options are there. Currency seems easy enough to earn, especially if you're willing to go back and play some levels or take on the challenges in the Special Operations.

thumbs-o-up

Time played so far: 6 hours

Price: $4.99

Overall, I recommend Iron Marines for anyone who enjoys the RTS/defense type games. There are plenty of missions to justify the sticker price, and if you're look me you'll curse the game on more than one occasion because of the challenge some levels present.


Between the various units you can build, heroes you can play, and upgrades you can purchase, Iron Marines definitely scratches a RTS itch in a mobile kind of way.

Pros

  • check
    There's plenty of content to play through including missions and challenge mode.​​​​
  • check
    There's plenty of challenge here and you'll have to replay some missions more than once.
  • check
    Upgrades and skills provide at least some sense of progression, though only a little.

Cons

  • minus-circle
    I don't like having to pay to unlock more heroes after buying the game for $5.
  • minus-circle
    I wish there was a way for units to attack-move.
1

Age of Empires 4!

Wololo!

Wololo!

I'm super excited about the announcement of Age of Empires 4! I grew up loving the AoE series and consider it a foundational element of the RTS genre.

There's really no info out there at all about Age of Empires other than it's being developed by Relic Entertainment instead of solely by Microsoft Studios.

For some, the announcement that Relic is participating is a kick in the stomach. Others think Relic is one of the last bastions of the RTS genre. Personally, I don't have an opinion yet. I'll reserve judgement. As long as they stick with the AoE formula and don't adapt it to the formula used by Relic games, I'll be okay.

It would be cynical to say, "Disappointment in 3...2...1..." but the risk is there for such a hypeable title.

I'm excited! Anyone else have good memories playing Age of Empires? Maybe you're even looking forward to the definitive editions of AoE 2 and 3.

7

StarCraft Remastered

Blizzard announced something interesting thing week: StarCraft Remastered.

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/5ypU9j4w3_w” width=”730″][/su_youtube]

Here’s what we know so far:

  • They’ve been working on it for about a year
  • Gameplay will be 4k UHD, cinematics 1080p
  • There will be multiplayer (and it’ll be crossplay between HD and non HD versions)
  • SC and BW originals are going to be free
  • No pricing is announced yet

I’m curious about price. Being Blizzard, I don’t doubt they will try to charge $39 for this. Personally, I won’t pay more than $19.99 and that’s pushing it. I’d rather pay $9.99 and would happily do so. Since the multiplayer is compatible between both versions, and SC/BW are both going free, it’s curious to charge much at all for the HD version.

I have long been expecting and requesting Blizzard to travel down this road of remastered games. They have a library just begging to be redone. I want to see the original Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Diablo, and Diablo 2 redone. I’d even love to see Warcraft 3 remastered. I’ll put on my speculation cap once again and look for any opportunity I can to predict Warcraft 4… I bet they’ll remaster one game every 6 months to a year and have the Warcraft series culminate to the announcement of WC4.

Thoughts on remastered games? I’m a fan, obviously. But the price has the be right. I loved Diablo 2, but I can’t imagine paying more than $20 for the experience again. And there’s also the desire to play these games with quality-of-life improvements. Remake vs. remaster is an entirely different conversation, but one I think all of us will have with ourselves after we purchase our first remaster and wonder, perhaps, how we were ever able to stand playing these games.

4

Civilization 6 Review

I want to start off this review by saying I’m not an expert at Civilization 6. In fact, quite the opposite. I haven’t “won” a game yet, and I’m still learning how to play Civ 6 having not played a Civ game since Civ 4. However, I can talk about whether or not I’m having fun or like the game.

Civilization 6 is a turn-based 4x strategy game – “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.” (Some people have different X’s, but you get the idea). The goal is to take your civilization from an early civilization up through a thriving world power. To win, you have to achieve one of the conditions centralized around military, culture, religion, science, or score based if no other victory conditions are met.

There’s a lot I could say about “how” one plays Civ, but for that I’ll leave you to read the in-depth guides or the videos. Suffice it to say, the game has subtle complexities that I have come to only learn by experiencing the game myself.

What I like most has to be that no two games of Civ 6 have been alike. I can play a game like Warcraft or Starcraft, and they generally all go the same way — I make the same units, use the same strategies, and generally play the same way on every map. In Civ 6 — albeit a completely different kind of strategy game — I’m rarely going to play the exact same way. The main reason for the diversity and dynamic play has to be the resources and tech tree.

Something I’m still trying to learn to be better at is planning my civilization around what I can access. For example, I thought I’d be super cool and tech fast to munitions only to find out that I had zero niter anywhere near me. Scouting better and actually thinking about requirements for making units would have made this a much easier mistake to avoid.

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/x_2CQxw4H20″ width=”700″]

Civ 6 brings a lot of new features, but the main one for me so far has been the unstacking of cities into districts. Instead of all upgrades going onto jut your main home tile, you now can place districts within your city’s influence. Placing districts on certain tiles yields better results based on that districts requirements — something I’m still trying to be better at. Districts are continually upgraded throughout the game as you unlock more technology and discover new things.

Adapting to random circumstances has also proven challenging. For example, I started my last game next to FOUR barbarian outposts. For the entire first 100 turns I was living by a thread as I was continually assaulted from all sides and surrounded by barbarians. I couldn’t even make a builder because they were captured instantaneously.

Gandhi using missionaries to convert my civilization

Different world leaders also present some fun. Just when you think you caught a break by being neighbors with the peaceful Gandhi… he suddenly starts converting your people to his religion with dozens upon dozens of missionaries. And while you try and deal with stopping him without starting a holy war, Greece offers to send a peaceful “gift” and “delegation” to your capital — YEAH RIGHT.

Military gameplay has also been different. Units do not stack until much later, and even then stack less than normal. This has required a lot more thought into how I move my units across a map, and managing the units has become a lot more challenging. Military gameplay in general is something I’m also working on — especially when it comes to sieging cities with walls in the mid-late game.

Playing for a military victory feels really, really cumbersome and even a bit annoying. Perhaps it’s mean to mimic the complexities of supporting and maneuvering large forces, but it teeters on being obnoxious at times waiting for units to unintelligently move to open hexes if another becomes inadvertently filled.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer gameplay is pretty neat. Graev and I have a game going right now where we enabled simultaneous turns. The only real downside to multiplayer is that you may end up waiting a while before that player finishes their turn, and you both can start a new turn. I feel like it has almost doubled the length of the game, even with simultaneous turns enabled.

Teaming up together to strategically choke an enemy civilization or manipulate the map’s resources makes things a whole lot of fun… as long as you can trust your real life allies…

Conclusion

Overall, Civ 6 is a lot of fun, but you can’t go into this expecting a super high-velocity city conquering game. Civ 6, like its predecessors before it, is a methodical strategy game. You’ll need to plan ahead, take your time, and realize what type of victory is within your reach — and do it pretty early. On more than one occasion, I’ve realized (1-2 hours into a game) that I really can’t win. While that’s not a fun realization, I still had fun getting to to that loss.

10

Blizzcon is Upon Us: WoW Legion’s Launch Date, Predictions, et al

Blizzcon’s opening ceremony kicks off in exactly 4 hours from now, and I’m going to squeeze in here and drop a few predictions as well as what I hope to see announced.

World of Warcraft: Legion

First, I have to address the gorilla in the room: Legion’s launch date. Check out the marketing collateral below and pay attention to the fine print at the bottom (click to enlarge):

[su_lightbox type=”image” src=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/wow-legion-perks.jpg” class=”pointer”]wow-legion-perks[/su_lightbox]

Legion will release on or before September 21, 2016. There are a few ways to interpret this information.

  1. The people convinced this is the release date and are cancelling their subscriptions because they won’t do HFC for 10 more months.
  2. The “I knew there was a reason to hide subscription numbers!” group (who likely do not play)
  3. People who look at WoD coming out a month before its drop dead date who now think August is the date.
  4. The people who think this really doesn’t mean a whole lot / will happily play WoD / don’t care.

I personally think this is their drop dead date and that they will release sooner. I’m also pretty sure they’re going to giving Overwatch a very nice window. I’m predicting April 2016. I think that’s a nice 5-6 month window for them to hold a beta and finish up. I’m on the bleeding edge of extremes here, I know. The likely release date probably IS September 2016.

Overwatch

We’ll get a release date. They’ll talk about the cost of the game, some business model plans, etc. Lots, and lots, and lots of hype. The more I think about how badly they want to hype Overwatch, the more I think we’ll see Overwatch in April, and Legion in August-September.

Starcraft

I’m not expecting any announcements for Starcraft’s current projects. I think Legacy of the Void coming out is a big enough deal that they won’t overshadow it with anything else in the SC2 universe. However, I want to see announcements regarding a modernized version of the original Starcraft and Broodwar being brought to the SC2 engine — with multiplayer — by 2017.

Diablo

I’m actually expecting nothing for Diablo except for a similar announcement about Diablo and Diablo 2 (plus expansions, minus Hellfire) being modernized to the D3 engine and coming out as full games — with multiplayer — by 2017 as well.

Classic Games

I’ll continue in the same vein and say that I hope a nice part of the opening ceremony will hype their revival of the ‘classics’ and for them to official come out and state that they are working on these revitalization projects. The job listings are there for these projects already, it’s just time to make it official. I truly hope to see Warcrafts 1-3 being a big part of this project.

Hearthstone

Cards? (And probably a huge emphasis since this game prints money)

Heroes of the Storm

More heroes and stuff. I will be shocked if HotS gets much if any time in the opening ceremony.

Warcraft 4’s Announcement

Yes, I look forward to Warcraft 4’s announcement every single year. I hold my breath, I get disappointed, and I come back next year to do it all again. I really do think they could build off the hype of Legion and a Warcraft 3 revival to announce Warcraft 4 coming in 2018 or something.

Console and Tablet Announcements

We know that Overwatch is coming to consoles. I think this is a big market for them. Now, as far as tablets go, I think we won’t hear a thing. They kept Hearthstone — their juggernaut F2P — completely nonchalant when it came to iOS releases. I doubt we see much pomp and circumstance over tablets.

A Big Year for Blizzard

Blizzard can go big this year in ways they haven’t been able or willing to in the past few years. With Overwatch, classic revivals, and a strong expansion on their list it’s entirely their game to lose right now. This Blizzcon can set the pace for the next three years without even breaking a sweat. Let’s see what happens!

8

Civilization Online: Conceptually Awesome? Let’s See It In Action.

civilization online

I’m in love with the idea of Civilizations Online. Just the idea of playing in a big open world where each civilization can be built up and ultimately vie for control of the world sounds neat. Players can take on the role of workers to help build up and gather resources, or become a soldier to attack and defend.

Daydreams start to kick in at this point and I can see myself as a worker going out into the world and chopping trees, gathering ore, building farms, etc., to grow my civilization’s resources. I imagine it feeling a little bit like Harvest Moon meets UO meets Savage meets RTS.

Playing a soldier I can imagine taking squads of friends out to go harass the enemy civilizations. Finding their workers in a mine and wiping them out to have our workers come in and steal resources, go on bombing runs with zeppelins, or defend my civ against enemy raids. I’m creating this Planetside-esque map in my head where we are fighting for control of territory and building towers, cities, etc., all in real-time.

civilization-online

The entire game playing out as a MMO RTS/Strategy game paints this wonderful picture. I can see civilizations growing and advancing through various ages and ultimately having there be this cool showdown between a civilization still in the Bronze Age and another which has reached some sort of Industrial Age.

Will it actually be that way? I’m worried. Civilization Online is being developed by XL Games. Yeah, the same studio who made ArcheAge. Ugh. I also watched a few of these videos. Check them out. Continue reading

24

Banished

This past weekend I picked up a really great city-building strategy game called Banished.  The concept is simple: You are a banished group of exiles who have to settle a new area to survive.  Will you die or start a new thriving civilization that will go on for hundreds of years?  If you’re me, you’ve probably died a dozen times already.

banished

Build bridges across water to access new areas and resources.

Banished looks and sounds simple on the outside.  You simply have to make buildings and keep your people healthy, happy, and their bellies full of food.  There’s so much more to it, though, when you realize each of those mechanics are fully developed and very close to reality.

It’s all about risk and resource management.  Want to plant crops?  In other games it’s only a matter or assigning land to be farmed and workers to tend the crops, but in Banished you have to worry about which crops can survive the temperatures when it gets cold or be harvested in time.  An early winter will ruin your crops.  Working in the snow will lower worker efficiency, cause them to become ill, and then the least of your concerns will be whether or not your pumpkins withered.  Oh, and I should probably mention that if you farm in the same place for too many seasons your soil will be ruined.

Banished Snowstorm

Build a tailor to stock warm clothes to keep villagers alive in the winter months

Every resource requires real thought.  You need firewood to stay warm in the winter.  Firewood comes from wood logs.  Chopping down trees is simple, but once you chop them down they take time to regrow and mature to the point of yielding good wood again.  Distance matters so it’s not like you can just run to another big section of forest.  Reducing your forests will reduce the deer population… and then you might starve.  See the trend?   Continue reading

5

XCOM: Enemy Within Review

xcom-enemy-within

I’m not sure how long it’s been since Enemy Unknown came out but I do remember it was one of my favorite games that year. It might have even been among our personal GotY back then. The new expansion just came out and 2K was generous enough to supply us with a review copy. Enemy Within does not disappoint and expands upon an already fantastic game.

Usually when I hear about an expansion pack I assume the content takes place after the original, but that’s not really the case with Enemy Within. It adds a bunch of stuff on top of the already existing game which I suppose makes sense. The original game’s story was already a minor aspect of the game which in the end was more about playing through multiple times, etc. Kind of like playing through a game of civilization where you’re really making your own story. So it does of course retread through the original game’s content but there are a lot of nice additions that make playing and replaying fun again.

I’m going to break down most of the new stuff here.  Read on! Continue reading

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