Although this blog is mainly aimed at my forays into tabletop gaming, I thought i’d digress into my other gaming love, namely PC games. I would happily rack up my miniatures several times a week but sadly real life gets in the way. However I can log on quite easily to the laptop and get in half an hours gaming. The only difference between now and 5 years ago is that I’m mainly in single player mode these days (and that is why I mainly use the laptop rather than a console). So with that being said, I thought I’d post something about my two current favourite games.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
This game came in for quite a bit of criticism but this was mainly around the limited options when you reached level 30 and the disappointments with the expansions released (especially as they are mainly aimed at multiplayer).
Putting that aside, I love this game. It is based on the island of Manhattan, after it has been quarantined when a deadly virus was released into the population. Your task is to take it back from the gangs that have taken over, find out what happened, help find a cure and get the infrastructure back up and running (just one or two tasks then). It combines an open world 3rd person shooter with elements of MMOs and RPGs.
Quite often when playing a game such as this there is a mad rush to reach the maximum level as soon as possible and this might be why there was so much disappointment. For once I held off doing this and leveled in a slow burn over 4 or so months (if not a bit longer). One of the reasons I was able to do this, was due to the amount of pure detail in the game. I believe they mapped out most of the actual city (at least the areas you can access in game) and you can run around a good chunk of it, exploring the streets and some of the rooftops and subways. Your main base of operations is the New York Postal Service building (I believe) and you will unlock safe houses as you explore the city. In one of your first missions you have to storm and retake Madison Square Gardens (opposite it). I like the interaction with these historical and/or famous buildings.
When wandering around, the amount of detail they have programmed into the game is astonishing, such as, coming across hundreds of coffins in a partly built underground tunnel, to lists of drinks written on the wall of a ‘generic’ coffee shop. And it looks stunning. It is this level of care in the surrounds that, to me, makes this game so special. And you can shoot stuff. Lets not forget that and it is why I rate this so much higher than Watchdogs. Other little touches such as the sub quests to find the missing division agents and listening to the telephone calls when you find them, all add to the story and experience.
As with all RPGs you can craft gear (weapons and anything else you wear) and you’ll also pick up items as loot from boxes you find or from the cold dead corpses you help to litter the city with. You augment this with skills. Anything from heat seeking grenades, to health/ammo packs for team mates and machine gun turrets. I will admit to have only slightly explored the multiplayer side so won’t comment on that here apart from to say, like all multiplayers, if you find a good group it can be great but if randomly grouping, you can also have terrible experiences.
This was quite rightly game of the year in 2016 and i’m now on my 2nd run through of it (screenshots are from that).
Total War – Warhammer
I first discovered the Total War (TW) series when TW-Rome was released back in 2004. Building up multiple armies in a grand campaign and then fighting epic battles with masses of units to expand your empire had massive appeal to me (I can’t think why. Perhaps everyone has a bit of a megalomaniac in them!). I pretty much bought every release that then followed but Rome was always my favourite of them (until Rome 2 was released). Anyone who has played the game has always said that it would marry perfectly with the warhammer world and around 2008 a chap going my the online sudonym of Jubal, created a mod for the original Rome game that allowed you to take control of many of the warhammer races and recreated the whole of the warhammer world. This kept me going during my tabletop hiatus but the mod did suffer from being on one of the oldest TW engines and the odd crash.
When they announced the release of an official version of the game, I nearly fell off my seat. At first I was hit by the excitement of it and then the irony kicked in. The release date was set for 2016. So it was set in the world they they had already destroyed. So they finally got on the band wagon and promoted a game and world that they had scrapped. You sometimes have to wonder about the thinking in Nottingham. That being said, I decided to take it as a finally hurrah of ‘the world that was’. Hell, I’m not going to complain that they finally released the amalgamation I had so wanted!
The game plays very similar to the other Total War games. You can capture and build up settlements, allowing different units to be recruited. The technology trees for each race unlock in different ways and are of variable sizes, giving them each a unique feel. The playable races at launch were: Empire, Greenskins, Dwarf, Vampire Counts and Chaos Warriors. They’ve already clicked on what a cash cow this game is and they’ve released a number of downloads already (some were even free!), from extra legendary heroes to two additional mini campaigns, complete with new races (Beastmen and Wood Elves). It’s worth mentioning that you do get to play Bretonnian but only in multiplayer. Quite why you don’t get the option to in campaign mode, only the designers know.
I have to give a special mention to the world map. The detail on it is incredible. Volcanoes have lava flows. There are huge skulls carved into mountains. The map can also change in appearance. For example, looking at the Dwarf hold of Zhufbar, each lake has a waterfall coming from it to the next one down, which also powers and turns the water wheels. If the hold is captured by Orcs, the hold will be transformed with crude Orc iconography and ‘improvements’ added to walls. (see the before and after shots above).
There are a couple of bugbears worth noting. Not all units have been included in the army lists. For instance, the Beastmen are missing Jabberslythes, Ghorgons and Harpies. It’s not game breaking but how hard would it have been to add in the additional couple of units. At present the map only covers the old world, from Norsca to the Badlands, so it is a limited part of the overall potential map.
Now having said all that, there is a site that apparently data-mined the game and has predicted the next main releases. They were spot on with DLC3 being Beastmen and DLC5 being Wood elves, so there is hope that the below may be accurate. At the game launch it was always stated there would be 2 expansions, so between all of these, the current map should also increase in size (perhaps the land of the dead for Tomb kings and the Darklands for Chaos Dwarves and Ogres). Based on the missing DLC items, I am still hopeful that Bretonnians will be made a playable race in the main campaign.
DLC5 – Wood Elves
DLC6 – Bretonnian + Isabelle Von Carstein
DLC8 – Tomb Kings
DLC10 – Skaven
DLC13 – Chaos Dwarfs
DLC15 – Ogre Kingdoms
Exp1 – Dark Elves, High Elves, Lizardmen
Exp2 – Chaos Nurgle, Chaos Tzeentch, Chaos Slaanesh, Chaos Khorne
Whether any of the above comes to pass or not, I am loving this game and have just finished my fourth playthrough (Wood Elves are easily my favourite so far). And that replayability is probably as good an accolade as you can give a game.