My last Gamescom 2013 round-up, phew. Suffice it to say, it is the perfect time to get into gaming if you have not done so already. Today I will be recounting my near motion sickness experience in Eve: Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift, with Hawken getting some Rifting action as well. On top of which, there’s a Firefall update while War Thunder attempts to take on the behemoth Wargaming in what I have now coined as an MMOMC (Massively Multiplayer Online Military Combat). There are some other gems as well to be had, such as the 150 Firefall Red Beans per account we are giving away to readers. Read on!
EVE: Valkyrie with Oculus Rift – CCP
Formally known as EVE-VR, the EVE universe takes to the skies for ship on ship action with this Battlestar Galactica meets Descent: Freespace virtual-em-up. If there is a single game that will make me buy an Oculus Rift, then this is surely it. It’s difficult to describe the level of immersion, but it is simply spectacular. I particularly loved the detail in the cockpit as I panned my head to take a gander. Glasses wearers will be pleased to know that the image is crystal clear and the Oculus Rift was comfortable while donning my spectacles. The ability to pan your head to have a near 360 degree view is strange at first, but you come to rely on it to see who is on your tail.
The two shoulder buttons on the joypad acts as the yaw for changing direction rapidly. As useful as this is, using this frequently caused some degree of motion sickness, especially when changing direction sharply. With gentle taps however, it was much less stomach turning and I was able to enjoy the combat fully. A handy lock-on function is used to launch ordnance against your target, along with the standard forward mounting cannons while leading your target in a dogfight. EVE: Valykrie is due on 2014, and if you get an Oculus Rift you must buy this.
Hawken with Oculus Rift – Meteor Entertainment
Before we get into the Oculus Rift side of things, Hawken is getting a big ole update. The UI has changed slightly and looks much easier to navigate, especially the mech customisation screens. A new levelling system is now incorporated with a new ‘Player Progression’ update. XP earned in the game will now not only go to the Pilot but also the Mech as well. This streamlines the award system, as before each Mech had to be upgraded individually for Pilot skill unlocks. A total of 30 pilot levels will be available, with every 10 levels acting as an increase to tiered Pilot progression which aids in matchmaking so that you pit against similarly tiered pilots. XP Overflow is another useful addition, which means any XP gained for an end of tier Mech goes to the overflow pool for use on other Mechs. Current Hawkenists will keep their progression and will automatically be transferred to the new system. Some added maps have been thrown it which adds more variety to the familiar urban areas… now we have more green! Jumping fanatics will be pleased to know that you can now dash and change the direction you are facing while in mid-air. The days of floating ducks for easy targets are over, and you can be sure that current tactics such as dashing underneath your target to shoot from behind will not be so easy.
Now the Oculus Rift. As an avid Hawken player myself, it felt strange at first being able to pan and see beyond your peripheral vision. The HUD in front of you is fully functional and I particularly liked the interior of the your mech as you panned around. It does add an extra level of immersion when playing; currently this is still work in progress and the additional textures that were added will not doubt be refined at a later date. I suggested that the interior of the mech takes visible damage, such as seeing a TOR rocket sticking out of your cockpit. And there’s always room to add a fluffy dice in there.
Firefall – Red 5 Studios
Firefall has a great premise; the world as we know it is warped 200 years into the future with the human race seeking a new energy source called Crystite. Unfortunately this has an adverse effect with the arrival of The Melding, an energy storm that engulfed Earth entirely killing all life… well not all. You play as one of the survivors of the Human race and together you force back the Melding via the control of several towers dotted across the world. There’s also an alien race to contend with called The Chosen, who are not too friendly.
Firefall enters Stage 2 of Open Beta and there are some new exciting features in store. The old map will now be replaced with a 3D globe of the world, which makes it easier to see which areas are covered by Melding and which are explorable. The idea is to band together to push back the Melding to reveal new areas via farming Crystite to build Melding Repulsors, this in turn means the developers can drop content in that particular zone as it is uncovered. This kind of development lifecycle means that content is not preordained in any specific part of the world, and it is based solely on player demand. Once the Melding is pushed back, fortresses belonging to The Chosen can be raided for Chosen tech and defeating them will reap huge player rewards.
The game world goes beyond New Eden, and includes other areas such as Antartica or the Blackwater Anomaly as the entire Earth is an open playground. Some areas however can only be reached via certain points; to get to Antartica you have to get through Blackwater which means not only pushing back the Melding in that area but also fighting off The Chosen as well. It’s a massive undertaking, indeed revealing an area can take several weeks if not months which in turn gives the developers time to create new content. Changes in the world as a whole are permanent, with story instances popping up when a warfront is unlocked as part of a five-year campaign. It’s big, really big. With the addition of VIP programs, you get some extra Red Beans (the in-game currency) and other added goodies such as all frames unlocked for PvP. There are various days, months and yearly packages to choose from as part of their pay-as-you-go pricing model. But if you don’t fancy spending the cash, then the game is free to play.
War Thunder – Gaijin Entertainment
This was an unexpected hit at Gamescom 2013, as War Thunder takes on Wargaming in their free-to play grand-scale military MMO. War Thunder takes the existing PC game and brings it across to the PS4, where it will support cross-platform play for both. Currently in open beta, it delivers naval, land and aerial combat into one cohesive playing field, stretching at a staggering 100,000 Km2 of game world in total. There will be concentrated map areas however, with a viewable distance of 50 Km2. Combat will involve 16 vs 16 players, including warplanes from the WWII era from nations such as Australia, Italy and France, alongside naval ships and tanks.
Historical battles are in store to relive those moments, or even change history itself with PVP and PVE content. Gaijin received the PS4 development kit 2 months ago and they aim to release it on the PS4 on day one; the PS4 version I saw at Gamescom is currently in beta phase so there is still time to hit that all important 60 FPS. Tanks and ships are pending implementation, but from what I saw it’s going to be pretty epic.
The Cave – Double Fine Productions
Ron Gilbert has been busy; what with his Monkey Island series forever remembered as one of the best adventure games of all time, he is back to repeat that success with The Cave. The game has been out for awhile on XBLA, PSN and Steam, but it will now be released on iOS as well. It plays great on a tablet, and the game as a whole is an addictive puzzler to boot. The characters are lovable and the good thing is that you cannot die in The Cave. You can however spend considerable time scratching your head trying to solve some of these brain teasers, and I was left there standing at the demo booth unable to tear myself away. It’s a great game to have on your tablet, with the controls consisting of swipes and taps for interaction and jumping. It also looks fantastic for a tablet game, for which I was pleasantly surprised. Each character has unique abilities, my favourite being the Twins. They are just so, wacky. You can expect a jolly old romp through the many platforming levels, and you will need to play through them multiple times with different characters for the obsessive completionist. If you love adventure games while testing the grey matter, then you can’t go wrong with this.
South Park: The Stick Of Truth – Ubisoft
What can I say about this game, it’s completely non politically correct as there are plenty of racial, sexual and animal abuse throughout. No animals were harmed in the making of this game, I think. South Park: The Stick Of Truth is played as some kind of sick RPG with ridiculous weapons and farting capabilities. Think The Lord Of The Rings but with cartoon cut-outs with toilet training problems. There’s a scene where you have to save Cartman from a bunch of Elves; why Elves would want to anal probe anybody is anyone’s guess. Anything goes in South Park, and it’s nice to see this game finally coming to light after the drama with Obsidian and the now defunct THQ. It’s due for release on 19th November for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme – Iceberg Interactive
I love the guys and gals at Iceberg Interactive, they produce some fine 4X strategy games. But this time around they have something different; for the first time they are publishing a racing game called Gas Guzzlers Extreme. To summarise, it’s absolutely mental. It’s a full on Destruction Derby racing game with guns, an adult version of Mario Kart if you will. There are over 200 miles of road across 40 tracks, 8 arenas and 7 various environments.
There’s a single-player campaign but the real fun is in the multiplayer. You can race around the track against other people with your gun mounted vehicle, or go for all out carnage in a battle arena. Destruction Derby was one of my all-time favourites, and it’s great to see this kind of gameplay make a comeback. All the vehicles are fully smashable and graphically it looks the business. You can even race in a tank against poor Minis. Did I tell you it looks crazy?
Battle Tankz – Iceberg Interactive
A ‘Swipe ‘n Shoot em-up’ Battle Tankz is a top down strategy game for iPhone and iPod Touch. Your shots against enemy tanks are placed solely on the accuracy of your fingers. By drawing a forceful semi-circle, you can drop a tactical nuclear strike on someone, nice. You can also control the path of strafing bombing runs by gently tilting your device. There’s single and multiplayer options for online play, but I particular like how you use your swiping prowess to dictate your skill in the game. More addictive mobile gaming? Yes please.
As I mentioned earlier, I have 10 codes in my possession that grants a Firefall account with 150 Red Beans worth $15 and some free Warpaint as well. To get a code for yourself, just give us your email address and a code will be winging its way to you. Only one code can be redeemed per account.