Author: Thomas Ortsik

Founder and Kinda-Editor-In-Chief at Twinstiq.
Also known as Dr. Strangethumb

Helldivers Review: What the hell man!?

Helldivers is the epitome of what an online co-op experience should be. It didn’t matter if I played online by literally dropping into a stranger’s game or on my couch with a couple good friends. I had an absolute blast.

You're probably familiar with these controls...

Allow me to walk you through what exactly diving into hell entails. You have probably played a game like this before, it is a rather typical twin stick shooter. Move with the left, aim with the right stick. Pull one trigger to shoot and another to toss a grenade. If you have played any shooter in the last fifteen years, you’ll instinctively know how to play.

It is safe to say that Helldivers wears its influences like a badge of honor. The story is shades of Starship Troopers: You, fighting for Super Earth, freedom and liberty, against the endless hordes (including bugs). It all seems so derivative but that’s not to say that it's uninspired as a couple things set the game apart. 


See those turrets? Bad idea.

The first thing is how deadly your mistakes become. Everything in this game can potentially kill both you and your teammates. Friendly fire is always on, without an option to turn it off. Call in some ammo and risk crushing your team with the airdrop, aim a grenade poorly and you’ll be picking up the pieces (of both your team and your friendship), or get too excited with that fancy new shotgun and your partners end up crumpled up in a pile.

Your teammates may be deadly, but your enemies are even more so. Three varieties of bad guys can be found in Helldivers; we’ve got bugs, cyborgs, and super high tech aliens. Each of these races is comprised of multiple units. The most deadly will only rear their heads in higher difficulties however.  If that sounds like science fiction’s greatest hits to you, you wouldn’t be wrong.


Spawn killing taken to a whole new extreme.

From the onset you only have access to a basic assault rifle, hand grenades, and essential Stratagems, the game's title for ammo, turrets, and other pieces of equipment you can deploy. As you begin to earn XP, level up, and complete missions, you will obtain more interesting weapons and Stratagems. Weapon selection may seem underwhelming initially, but later weapons are more nuanced. The shotgun can easily eviscerate teammates and must be used with caution. A laser cannon can be used without limit or needing to reload; so long as you don’t make the weapon overheat.

The Stratagems system is the most standout aspect of your arsenal. To receive any type of support you must press the L1 button to pull out an 80’s style cell phone and basically input a 90’s era cheat code. All of your Stratagems are assigned a fixed d-pad button combo (which can be memorized for convenience). All take a specific length of time to activate once selected and most are beacons that are thrown much like grenades. Running out of ammo is a reality, and there is a surprising amount of strategy that emerges from proper Stratagem use.

The Stratagems become equally unique as well. Mech suits and 4-seater APCs can make traveling in snow or sand a breeze, but prove unwieldy in tight quarters. Massive airstrikes can decimate large groups of enemies or more massive monsters, but also run the risk of annihilating your entire team if poorly placed. Add in specialized items like anti-armor rockets, land mines, portable ammo boxes, and repair tools and you can build a highly effective killing machine. Beyond initially obtaining these weapons and stratagems, all can be upgraded using points found within missions. Needless to say, there is a cornucopia of carnage to be unlocked and mastered in repeat playthroughs.


Real Helldivers know when not to walk.

Playing frequently isn’t going to be an issue either, even if you don’t have friends available to play locally. The online functions in Helldivers are expertly integrated and uniquely clever in some ways. The basics are still covered though. The pause menu can set your game to private, public and friends only, which allows you control of who you play with. Beyond that you can literally drop into anyone’s (publicly) open game, and I do mean literally. Just like with respawns, joining a game can carry potentially disastrous results. Every combination of local and online play is supported. 4 local, 4 online and anywhere in-between. All games, local or online, also feature super smooth drop in and drop out functionally as well.

Especially impressive was when I dropped from a local game to make a sandwich. Three online players joined and ran a mission with my friend while I ate. One of the newcomers bailed on the game and I was right back in with a single button press. This may not seem impressive but no menus were involved and it all occurred seamlessly without loading. While voice communication is recommended, it isn’t completely necessary thanks to a very basic emote/command system. A simple “move” is generally understood as “don’t get hit by my incoming junk”.

There is also a neat feature in which the entire community is working toward conquering the enemy’s home worlds. Upon starting back into the game, you are given an update as to the current state of the war. There are real-time feeds of how many allies have died, enemies have been killed and unfortunate team killings have occurred. To go along with this persistent war idea, there are occasional defense events in which players can participle, that are in a different settings than the usual missions.


This map updates daily to inform players of the status of the ongoing war.

All said and done, Helldivers is an excellent co-op game (both online and off). It is impressively detailed for a top-down shooter. There are a plethora of missions to complete, weapons and equipment to acquire, teammates to save (or accidentally murder), and strategies to employ. Given the nature of the persistent war that the game is presenting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant update with more content being added in the future. 

I found myself somewhat torn in the process of playing Helldivers and I feel the need to end my assessment of the game with this: I typically hate playing online with strangers. Helldivers is fun, hard, and chaotic. I recommend it immensely for local co-op games but the online functionality is exemplary (thus a suitable substitution for a room full of friends). I plan on revisiting Helldivers fairly frequently for quite a while longer.

The copy of Helldivers reviewed was purchased with personal funds for personal use.

Double Fine’s Broken Age Coming to PlayStation Platforms

Following the success of Grim Fandango Remastered on PlayStation 4 and Vita, Double Fine's Broken Age will be available on the 29th of April.
From the mind of Tim Schafer, voiced by Elijah Wood and Masasa Moyo, the highly regarded adventure title is making its way to consoles.  Play through the two intertwining stories of Vella and Shay, "a girl and boy from completely different worlds who seem to be leading strangely parallel lives…"

New Xbox Games Store Releases: 2 Fast 2 Forza

On this week's episode of Xbox Games Store Releases, Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious...for FREE! (Just until April 10th.) It's downloadable content and it's standalone. No previous purchase required. Get it while the asphalt is hot! Also, 2 Borderlands 2 Handsome. Check 'em all out after the break.
Xbox One

[Image: Microsoft]

Andrew J Amideo

Halo Online Launching PC Beta in Russia

Halo Online is a new way for gamers to experience Halo, and a closed beta will be launching in Russia later this spring.
Based on a heavily modified version of Halo 3, and being tailored specifically for Russian gamers, Halo Online might not be part of the renewed focus on PC gaming Microsoft promised a year ago. As of yet, there are no plans to bring Halo Online to the Xbox One or even to other countries, at least in its current form. 343 Industries states that region-specific changes would need to be applied before the game would see release elsewhere, as they feel player expectations would differ.

YouTube Trying to Lure Game Streamers

A relaunch of YouTube's live streaming services is focused on gamers and eSports, branded "YouTube Live."
Google clearly sees the potential of this space, as they tried to acquire Twitch last year. Already having dipped their toes in live streaming, and broadcasting the League of Legends Championships since 2013, the relaunch promises a much bigger push. At only four years old and having a near monopoly on game streaming, Twitch promises to be a force to reckon with.
Source: TheDailyDot

Dungeons 2 summons System Requirements Demon

Kalypso Media has announced that Dungeons 2 has gone gold. The dungeon manager game will launch on the 24th of April, with retail versions launching several days afterward. Dungeons 2 is a new spin on the Dungeon Manager genre, made famous by Dungeon Keeper. In this game you not only manage a dungeon and recruit minions, but you will also take direct control of those minions in an RTS style overworld to try and conquer the goodly lands as well. It's an interesting idea and I for one liked the first game, though it did have it's problems. Required specs after the break.
Dungeons 2 Minimum system requirements:

CPU: AMD or Intel, 3GHz Dual-Core or 2.6 GHz Quad-Core
OS: Windows Vista (SP2) 32bit
GPU: Intel HD4400, NVIDIA GeForce GT 440/GT 650M, AMD Radeon HD 7750/R5 255M
Sound: DirectX 9 compatible soundcard
ROM: 5 GB free space

Recommended system requirements:

CPU: AMD Quad-Core @ 3.8 GHz or Intel Quad-Core @ 3.2 GHz
GPU: AMD Radeon R7 265 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650
OS: Windows 7 x64 (SP1)
ROM: SSD hard drive, 5 GB free space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible soundcard
Author: Billy C
Source: Press Release

PS4 Firmware Update Tomorrow

PS4 Firmware update 2.50 will be available for installation tomorrow, with much anticipated Suspend/Resume mode, and a few other surprises.
The update will also allow you to back up your hard drive to an external drive, so you can finally swap out your hard disk without having to download everything all over again. Dailymotion support for video uploading, Trophy sharing, and enhanced friend searching will also be included. You'll also be able to delete games with no trophies earned from your list.

Metareview: Bloodborne

Seems like Sony finally found its killer exclusive. The first reviews for Bloodborne are in and from the looks of it, we got our first real GOTY contender. Jim Fucking Sterling Son gave it his first 10/10, Metacritic has it at an impressive 93 and even the user score is at 90.
Since we didn’t actually had a review copy (Jye is currently playing it. His opinion so far: “I'm not hating it, I'm not getting my ass kicked so far...  In the first 20 min anyway”), I take this opportunity to bring back something from the old Joystiq days: Metareviews!Let us all bath in the glory of scores from all over the web, without having to read those pesky reviews that they usually stick on them.

The Jimquisition (10/10): “Bloodborne is as glorious as it is grotesque, a harsh and unyielding exercise in getting battered mercilessly while feeling encouraged the whole painful way. While very much a Souls game through and through, the switch from methodical and slow progression to a faster, ultimately more savage environment provides just enough of a twist to give it a wholly unique feel, a more empowering journey, for both the player and the opposition. Bloodborne is something truly special – a barbaric horror RPG that will giveth and taketh away in perfect measure, wrapped up in a perverse world that will refuse to let you go.”

The Guardian (5/5): “Bloodborne like its predecessors, will spill its secrets slowly, over months rather than days. Part of the appeal of Miyazaki’s games is this slow-release effect, whereby riddles are unpicked and shared by the community, rather than plainly laid out on the first day of release. It brings players together, where the fiction itself keeps them somewhat apart. Bloodborne is, by any measure, an extraordinary game, one that runs forcefully against the commercial tide, subverting perceived wisdom that contemporary games have to hold their players’ hands, or make their shape and rules explicit from the get-go.”

The Escapist (4,5/5): “All things considered, Bloodborne is an absolute must-buy for fans of the Souls series and for fans of games that push a player's skill to the absolute limit. It's easily the best PS4 exclusive title yet, a game that's more than worthy to be considered a part of the fantastic Souls series, and it's one of the best games of 2015 thus far.”

Destructoid (9/10): “Bloodborne is an interesting mix of everything From Software has learned throughout its storied developmental career. Not everything will gel with fans old and new, but for the most part, the shift towards a combat-oriented game is a net positive. From Software is still one of the only developers left that makes you work for your satisfaction, and Bloodborne is damn satisfying.”

Gamespot (9/10): “The finest treasures are found within the city of Yharnam and the forests, lakes, and purgatories beyond it. Only Bloodborne would be so bold as to bury an entire factional player-versus-player mechanic within an optional region, which is in turn buried within a series of oblique steps you might miss if you aren't exploring every nook and cranny, or ignore the game's enigmatic hints. I finished Bloodborne in less time than I did Dark Souls II, yet I treasure it more in spite of its few missteps. In death there is life, and in blood, there is redemption. More hyperbole, yes, but for a game this theatrical, only hyperbole will do.”

Image: Sony

Games For Dads: Super Mario 3D World


This will be the first entry in what I am going to try to make a semi-regular column. Each one will focus on a current game that I feel is ideal for being played and enjoyed together by parents (dads, in my case) and their kids.

My four-year-old son began to take an interest in video games over the last year. I started playing when I was about the same age, so I was only too happy to encourage his interest. When I was a kid, most of the games that were available were quite a bit less violent than today. As such, the question of what is age-appropriate becomes pretty important. I decided to go out and buy a Wii U since Nintendo is pretty well-known for having family-friendly games. Most of the ones I owned didn't really fit the bill.

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