Once again we ventured into the depths of the Washington Convention Center to bring you the intel on the upcoming games housed within. But first, look at this awesome Dark Souls 3 fountain:
The Banner Saga 2
The follow-up to last year’s successful strategy game was on display in its full glory at PAX. When we arrived at our appointment, our press contact boasted about the upgrades to the art and graphics that were made to The Banner Saga 2. I was skeptical, not because I doubted that the game would be beautiful, but because the original is already a gorgeous game. I was wrong, The Banner Saga 2 looks even better than the original. The Art is sharper, more colorful, and better animated. Perhaps what is most impressive about it is the subtlety. Character’s expressions change during dialog depending on what’s going on and what the player says, and these changes in expression can be as light as raising their eyebrows or a twitch of the mouth. It is a nice change to many a dialogue screen where the subject just stares at you impassively, and something that could only be accomplished with this art style.
The story picks up where the last game left off. The game will read the save file from its predecessor, and incorporates your choices into the new game, resulting in a different experience depending on your past choices. There have also been updates to the game play, making it more objective focused than before. For example, there are more missions where you may be able to win the scenario by just killing a specific powerful enemy, or by fulfilling another condition. If there is anything that caused some concern about the game is that the gameplay may feel too similar to the orginal which wasn’t without its share of issues. However, the new look and art to the game have gotten my attention. I’ll definitely be looking out for this one!
From Shadowrun creator Jordan Weisman comes Harebrained Schemes next project: a game based on the strategy board game BattleTech. Set in the 31st Century, BattleTech will put you in control of a mercenary army caught in the struggle between different ruling noble houses. There was no playable demo, however, Mr. Weisman was kind enough to share what the plans for the game are.
Built on its own engine, BattleTech will focus more on the strategy of the encounters rather than in the plot and universe around it. That is not to say that it will just be about the strategy. BattleTech has a rich universe that Harebrained Schemes intends to take full advantage of. You will start small, taking minimal contracts for less critical players, and as you build your company, you ascend to the sphere of influence of the noble houses that control the universe.
What sets BattleTech appart is the approach to strategy. Simply put, you are in charge of a business, and so there are two metrics that should rule all of your decisions: profit, and reputation. Taking too much damage means that you could end up losing money in a mission. However, if you choose to withdraw and abandon the mission to protect your bottom line, your reputation will take a hit which will affect the jobs you can take in the future. This eliminates the binary nature of choices in these games, as you have to care for your business as well as the immediate concern of winning the battle. It seems like a great system to get the player to pay attention to the numbers that are represented in their hud, something that many recent strategy games have fallen short on.
Harebrained schemes has announced a Kickstarter for BattleTech that will go live late in September. Stay tuned!
Described as a diabolical dungeon delve, Necropolis is a roguelike take on the Dark Souls formula that has you take on the role of and adventurer exploring the titular Necropolis in search of the secrets of the archmage Abraxis. Guarding the Necropolis is the Brazen Head, a magical intelligence created by the archmage, and which has the power to change the layout of the Necropolis as it wishes. Every time you die, the map resets, and your character along with it. There is some persistence in the game in the form of stamina and health upgrades, however, the drop rate for those items is rare.
The demo featured at PAX was a very early alpha, which was impressive because it handled very well, and the minimalist cell-shaded style looked phenomenal. Combat is methodical, and rewards a strategic approach. Like the games from which Necropolis is based, there is a light and strong attack, a dodge button and a block button. Taking actions consumes stamina, so you must ration that stamina as a part of combat. You have smaller weapons that are faster and weaker, bigger ones are slower but more powerful. With two weapon slots, it is important to have a good mix of weapons for the different instances you’ll encounter in the game’s methodical, yet fast paced combat.
One of the interesting features shown during the demo was the ecosystem in the game. While most of the monsters will attack you on sight, some monster will attack each other when they are not following you. Clever players can figure out ways to use this to their advantage. This goes a long way towards making the environment that you are exploring interesting and persistent beyond your actions. If you’re getting worried that this all might be making the game too easy, do not fear, the denizens of the Necropolis are more than happy to set aside their differences and give you their undivided attention.
As this build was in alpha, a lot of the details of the game are still being worked on. However, this is a game I will keep an eye out for in the next few months, and if you are a fan of roguelikes and From Software games, I recommend you do the same!
And so, PAX has come to an end for me. Turns out that Florida is really far away from Washington. It was a great show, and there are a lot of interesting games that we will no doubt hear more about in the future. We will keep up with them and keep you posted here at Enemy Slime. In the meantime, I leave you with this picture of Michael, the Vault Boy, and myself.