Tag: gamescom 2015

Endless Space 2: A beautiful preview

Accents have this amazing ability to really bring out meaning. when Arnie says brutal, you know shit is really going down and when a francophone talks about beautiful, you know he means drop-dead gorgeous. Romain de Waubert de Genis, Creative Director and COO of Amplitude Studios: „We wanted to make a 4x that is beautiful“. And the „Endless“ series has definitely been that. No different the next entrant in the glorious line that is Endless Space, Dungeon of the Endless and Endless Legend: Endless Space 2.

As the name implies, it is a direct descendant of Endless Space, meaning: Some, if not most of it, will be familiar to players of the first installment. It is a turn-based space 4x, focusing on usability with no lack of depth. Players get to choose among a variety of different spacefaring races, each with unique characteristics that can be recombined module-wise according to one’s insane mind. The demo showcased two very well know races, the Sophons and the Cravers. We weren’t able to get any stats or details on how they will affect mechanics, but most probably the Sophons will be Science-focused and the Cravers warlike.

Endless Space 2 - Battle - Sophon vs Cravers

The tech tree in ES was always one of it’s beauties. Able to expand in four directions (science, exploration, trade and military) in near-to-seamless tiers, it’s not only beautiful but also useful. One can expect a return of race.specific traits unlock-able on the tech tree.

And: there’s all-new and shiny probes. Yes, probes! Small, cheap, probably unmanned or un-aliened. Able to traverse space in any direction, albeit slowly. Useful for getting to know the neighbors before they decide you’re lunch.

Endless Space 2 - Exploration - Probes

Otherwise, the UI promises a wholly new feature for stats-nerds out there. Holding Space, anywhere in the game, will give you additional info, stats and cool graphics to gawk at.  Endlessly pressing space is even conceivably possible. (As teased by the trailer )

In the system view, a few visual features got streamlined (population icons are now slabs), but the basics stay the same: Systems produce FIDS (Food, Industry, Dust and Science). Additionally, Influence will be required for some actions, reminiscent of EL.

Endless Space 2 - Exploration - Uncolonized System

As far as we could see, it will be possible to produce improvements on a specific planet - this might just be a variation of the well-known „exploitation“ option, but could perhaps also mean deeper strategic choices (if, for instance, an industry-enhancing building can only be produced once per system on a single planet, the choice might be a though one).

Endless Space 2 - Exploration - Sophon System

The races have gotten a complete visual revamp, as can be seen below.

Quoting Romain again, ES 2 basically takes many of the lessons learned from Endless Legend and ports them back to ES. For instance, we now have a real influence of population species on planetary production. Demo-wise, we were shown the Harushem, a peaceful farming people who like to produce food. The Harushems not only produce more food, the vote differently too. (Peaceful, you guessed it.)

Endless Space 2 - Population - Election Results

Speaking of voting: a whole mode of interaction with your population comes with the Senate. All actions and interactions now have an influence on your population’s political leanings, a war-like neighbor (like, say, the Cravers) making them more militaristic (as well as building ships. Guessing military tier buildings will count as well). And, depending on the result of your vote every 40 turns, you unlock Laws (Influence-based buffs, optional influence upkeep costs). For instance, the militarist faction, even as Sophons, has access to the very handy +100% damage buff. Yay, militaristic Sophons! Expensive influence-wise, but wholly worth it to get more bang for your space-buck.

A feature that will not be making its return to ES is the card battle system. (For the three of you not having played ES: Go play it. Now.) Instead, the players will be able to select different maneuvers for their fleet, depending on it’s composition. (Larger vs. smaller vessels, guessing speed factors in it as well).

Endless Space 2 - Battle - Plays

One feature that will still see a lot of polish is probably the combat animations. We were only graced with the intro, and left hungry for more. ES always excelled at portraying epic fights as they should be portrayed: in glorious 3d with bomber runs added in for laughs. Actually, ES might be the only 4x franchise to benefit from VR becoming the next screen to have.

All in all, the demo certainly left us wanting more. 2016, here we come!

Full disclosure: No "gifts" were given to us during the Gamescom preview event, besides a USB stick containing the pictures you see up there.
I might sound over-enthusiastic, but that is because I really like the Endless series, most of all Endless Space. I love the way how a 4x can become something beautiful, something excellent. Far too often, genre pieces get stuck in retro graphics and clunky UI. Not so ES: Smooth sailing all the way through, with a MP base that's still active.

Gamescom 2015: The History behind Mount & Blade, Part 2

After the release of the first entry in 2008, which we covered last time, TaleWorlds continued listening to feedback from the community and in 2010 it was time for Mount & Blade: Warband, a sort of semi-sequel.

At a quick look, it didn’t offer many new features: Slightly fancier graphics, a new faction, some UI improvements. Peek deeper though, and you’ll find a first step towards a tutorial. A scripted mission, guiding you into this new world you are about to explore (without pulling any punches along the way, at least for people new to the series). A bit deeper even, and you’ll find a still lacking, but at least now existing political system, allowing you to build relationships with one of the many lords, kings and queens. And then finally the option to start your very own faction.
All of these changes and additions in Warband were certainly needed and the singleplayer experience was a much better one for it, but wait a second… why did I just deliberately name drop singleplayer, you might wonder.

  • 2015-08-21_00006
  • 2015-08-21_00003
  • 2015-08-21_00004
  • 2015-08-21_00005
  • 2015-08-21_00007
  • 2015-08-21_00009
  • 2015-08-21_00010
  • 2015-08-21_00011
  • 2015-08-21_00012
  • 2015-08-21_00013
  • 2015-08-21_00014
  • 2015-08-21_00015
  • 2015-08-21_00016
  • 2015-08-21_00017
  • 2015-08-21_00018

Read more

Gamescom 2015: The History behind Mount & Blade, Part 1

When it comes to people who played any of the previous Mount & Blade versions, you can probably put most of them into one of two categories: Those that gave up on it after a couple of hours, maybe even multiple times, and those that completely lost themselves in it.

I was in the former one for many years, ever since discovering the beta for the very first entry.
The games, while somewhat deep and certainly complex in their nature, left too many gaps to fill in my mind. This is not a bad thing necessarily, but a couple of design decisions, like having traversable 3D cities & fiefdoms void of life and meaningful interaction, actively hampered my imagination to take lead. How can I role play, when all I see is a world that is as dynamic as glued together Lego bricks, filled with people whose only purpose in life is to stand in a corner or walk aimlessly around town?
Mount & Blade was a project full of passion. Passion that lead to ambition. Ambitions too large for ressourceless indie developers releasing their first game, especially in the year 2008. It was a project destined to fail ...but it never did.

  • 22100_2015-08-17_00001
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00002
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00003
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00005
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00008
  • vbcbvc
  • The character editor might not allow you to create real monsters, but tha
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00006

The reasons for this are manifold. Armağan Yavuz and his wife Ipek took things slow, but they were persistent in their pursuit. The first prototypes were available to the public as early as 2004, when the game was still called WarRider and featured undead and necromancers. The re-brand to Mount & Blade then removed the magic elements and went for a more realistic approach in its setting, which still was based in a fictional world however. This, in turn, helped them bring out one of their outstanding features: the combat.
Developing a somewhat realistic sword and arrow based combat system that is fun when you are in a one on one situation is hard, but making it also work when there are 50 enemies and as many allies, had to be the designers biggest achievement. Sure, there were still AI problems, mostly when it came to siege warfare, but no other developer ever even came close to what TaleWorlds accomplished.
So the thing that drew in the customer was there, but without a marketing budget and still so early in development, much of its early success can be attributed to the aforementioned public availability as shareware. Sharing sites, CD's included in gaming magazines, LAN parties. As a hardcore PC gamer, you were bound to stumble upon the game at some point during its development. And for the hardcore it was.

  • 22100_2015-08-17_00030
  • 26
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00034
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00037
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00020
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00024

Remember when I talked about glued together Lego Bricks? That wasn’t the only hurdle you had to jump on your way to enjoying Mount & Blade. While the basic combat principles were adequately explained, the game had much more to offer which wasn’t.
What’s up with all these stats? Where am I? Where should I go? How do I command my army? How do I get my own piece of land?
Internet message boards were “work” and with YouTube still very much in its infancy (remember: YouTube only started 2005 and it would take another two years until the phrase Let’s Play was even coined), there was no easy way to learn the ropes. Failing was something you would have to get used to. Failing was also something that had its consequences. There was no permadeath (unless you decided to mod it in), but getting knocked out in a fight and becoming a prisoner, especially in the early to early mid-game, could easily mean that you’ve just lost a huge chunk of progress. Armies aren’t cheap, so you are now probably stranded somewhere in enemy territory, without a soul by your side or a sack of gold to pay for company or goods to trade. You maybe even lost your horse, so prepare for a long and arduous journey back.

  • 22100_2015-08-17_00012
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00038
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00014
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00015
  • 22100_2015-08-17_00016

Read more

Gamescom 2015: Sneaking into the Mount & Blade 2 preview

I loved my first day at Gamescom.

People everywhere. Businessmen acting like Amazon drones, heading straight to where they are supposed to, with no regard for what happens beneath them. Developers, with huge smiles on their faces, maybe knowing that this is the last time for the next 3 days they are able to do so naturally. And then there were others, like me, completely overwhelmed, lost, and confused. Read more