World of Warships: Blitz Review – The Grind is Worth it

World of Warships: Blitz Review - The Grind is Worth it

World of Warships: Blitz is an interesting title, as it’s a port of the widely successful PC game World of Warships, which came out in 2015. The original game sports top of the line graphics and prides itself on its crisp, lag-free presentation, that only runs on powerful computers. As a result, I was skeptical as to how the game would fair as a port and whether it would live up to the standards of its PC companion. 

Read moreWorld of Warships: Blitz Review – The Grind is Worth it

CGMagazine November 2017: Behind the Minds of the New Colossus

CGMagazine November 2017: Behind the Minds of the New Colossus

This month, CGMagazine takes a deep dive into the world of Wolfenstein II: The New Colosussus. B.J. Blazkowicz is back and he’s ready to fight back against the tyrannical Nazi regime in this latest instalment of the critically acclaimed Wolfenstein franchise.

The November issue features Brendan Quinn’s exclusive interviews with the team behind Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Machine games, as well as our full-coverage review of this latest foray into the world of Wolfenstein.

Brendan Frye talks with Monolith Productions about their latest release in the Middle Earth franchise, Middle Earth: Shadow of War. Lisa Mior talks with Wargaming‘ Arthur Plociennik about the past, present, and future of World of Warships.

Here’s what else you’ll find this month:

Features:

  • Crafting Galaxies Part II: Creating a Player Experience
  • How Overwatch’s Mercy Changes Help Break the Perception of Girl Gamers
  • Canada 150 at Gamescom: Canada at Center Stage

Interviews:

  • Machine Games
  • Monolith Games
  • Wargaming

Reviews:

You won’t want to miss a word! Get your copy today! Pre-Orders are available here.CGMagazine November 2017: Behind the Minds of the New Colossus


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Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Want more of some the topics in this month’s issue? Check out Jordan Biordi’s review of The Sims 4, and Derek Heembergen’s review of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood!

Pixels & Ink #264 – The Battle of the Cons

Pixels & Ink #264 - The Battle of the Cons

We’re back! After a crazy week of cons, your favourite team of podcasters are here with stories galore! Quinn regales us with stories from QuakeCon, including some first impressions of Doom VR, Wolfenstein 2: New Colossus, and The Evil Within 2.

Read morePixels & Ink #264 – The Battle of the Cons

Total War: Arena Preview – 10 Vs 10 Multiplayer Chaos

Total War: Arena Preview - 10 Vs 10 Multiplayer Chaos

While I adore the Total War games for their engaging campaigns and full-scale skirmishes, the multiplayer offerings have always come across as weak and poorly balanced. So to remedy this lack of a quality multiplayer experience, Creative Assembly and Wargaming.net collide to create the free-to-play strategy game, Total War: Arena. Set back in the times of the Roman Empire, massive teams consisting of 10 players each must put their wits and ingenious strategies to the test if they wish to become victorious.

Total War: Arena is currently at its closed Beta stage during the time of this piece, meaning that the game is playable, but everything I experienced is subject to change. What I like about this choice is that the community that is slowly building up for the game is communicating with the devs directly, offering critical feedback on balancing, unit viability and General effectiveness. This approach will hopefully ensure that at release, Total War: Arena becomes a game that any level of player can enjoy and learn to become competitive at.

Total War: Arena Preview- 10 Vs 10 Multiplayer Chaos 1

The first step to winning a game of Total War: Arena is by picking a general to lead your troops. Picking a general is more than just a simple click, however, they are the soul of your army and strategy so it’s wise to think about what you want to accomplish as a team member beforehand. By picking a general like Germinacus, the player is saying that they prefer a strong melee focused army and will probably field units with a variety of swords, spears and shields to keep in line with their specializations. Even after picking a general that fits the player’s key strategy, now they must pick out three abilities for that general from a hefty 10 layered skill tree. Obviously, Generals will only start out with a couple abilities at their lowest levels, but as the player continues to play and levels up that General they love to use, more powerful and diverse abilities will unlock.

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With the general locked in, players must now pick three units to comprise their army. The roster of Total War: Arena is deep, comprised of a wealth of ground forces, range specialists and siege type weaponry. Now the unit count might sound alarming to some traditional Total War fans because half the spectacle is watching two massive armies of 10-12 types units collide with one another, but three units work well in this 10v10 scenario. By maxing the unit count to three, players don’t have a huge force to micromanage and they can dedicate their focus on getting the most potential out of their army as possible.

Heading into gameplay, Total War: Arena feels like a traditional Total War experience, but with an added boost of adrenaline so battles don’t take a large amount of time. The arena’s themselves are quite diverse and feel comfortable for these large scale, 10v10 engagements. There are towers to plant archers into, there are different height levels to maximize the use of catapults and there’s cover to shroud your army for a surprise flank attack on an unaware enemy. While the game demoed quite well there are some concerns I have for the game as it heads further into development which I discussed with some of the devs.

My first worry about Total War: Arena isn’t the large team sizes, but how the communication between teammates appears limited. The only examples of communication I saw were waypoints saying to attack the objective or defend the base, but the devs assured me that there was more to offer. While waypoints are one of the main pieces of overall team communication the team is actually split up into squads of 3-4 people with voice chat enabled. Squad setups like Battlefield are a great solution to make sure voice channels aren’t flooded with overlapping information and callouts. It also keeps the team focused in on one of the three key lanes of the battle.

Total War: Arena Preview- 10 Vs 10 Multiplayer Chaos 5

My last worry was how the team planned to handle microtransactions for Total War: Arena. Unfortunately, this question didn’t receive a clear answer due to the game’s current development state, but the devs were able to go through with me some of the details. As is the standard for free-to-play titles there will be two types of in-game currency, one free and one paid. The free currency will have no restrictions on it allowing players to purchase anything the game has to offer in its marketplace. The paid currency is akin to a progress fastener, allowing the player to outright buy units and more generals. There are definitely some ways the game could price gouge players like making them pay multiple times for units and upgrades if they die, but because this is the experienced team at Wargaming.net publishing Total War: Arena, I have faith that the microtransactions won’t be game breaking.

Wargaming’s Hybrid Wars Launches on Steam

Wargaming's Hybrid Wars Launches on Steam

Ever since the release of their widely popular franchise World of Tanks, Wargaming has built quite the momentum within the gaming industry. Earlier this month, the developers sat down with Sega to introduce Valkyria Chronicles content into World of Tanks Blitz, their World of Tanks franchise mobile offering. Now, Wargaming has released a brand new game available on Steam: a real-time strategy game called Hybrid Wars.

According to the game’s official website, Hybrid Wars is a “classic top-down shooter” in which players “command and upgrade own arsenal of futuristic mechs to take on wave after wave of enemy forces.” The game features over 50 different kinds of enemies, as well as co-op multiplayer. But most of all, the game has been praised for its simple and straightforward gameplay: stomp around as a mech and shoot everything that moves.

Wargaming is also featuring Hybrid Wars bundles for interested World of Tanks players. This includes a $36.99 bundle with 5,000 gold and a copy of Hybrid Wars Deluxe edition, and a $49.99 Futureproof bundle with the deluxe edition, a season pass, and 6,500 worth in gold. Which, all things considered, is not a bad deal: especially because Hybrid Wars has seen a fair amount of praise on its Steam store page for drawing inspiration from early ’90s and 2000s shooters. Suffice to say, it’s clear Wargaming wants to bring its World of Tanks fans into the mix by receiving gold for cheaper than they would on the Premium Shop.

Hybrid Wars officially went online Sept 29th. So if you’re interested in giving Wargaming’s brand new top-down strategy game a shot, it’s currently available for $17.99 USD on the Steam storefront, with the deluxe copy running $19.99 and the deluxe season pass bundle priced at $24.99. No word yet on DLC, but all things considered, the $7 increase is not that bad for a game clocking in under $20.

World of Tanks Blitz And Valkyria Chronicles To Collaborate

World of Tanks Blitz And Valkyria Chronicles To Collaborate

World of Tanks and Valkyria Chronicles. It isn’t exactly the first pairing that comes to mind. But an announcement trailer hosted by Wargaming reveals the World of Tanks developer is teaming up with Sega for their hit mobile title, World of Tanks Blitz.

Read moreWorld of Tanks Blitz And Valkyria Chronicles To Collaborate

Wargaming wants to Create Player Union

Wargaming wants to Create Player Union

In a conversation with an eSports pro player at Wargaming.net’s League Grand Finals, head of European eSports, Nicolas Passemard, said Wargaming would like to create a union for pro players.

Wargaming Wants to Create Player Union 1

“We are thinking about creating a pro player union, so the players will be able receive assistance from us. We don’t want it to become a Wargaming organisation,” Passemard said. “We want the pro players to run it for the pro players, but we want to help them with things like legal advice and extra security so that they are better protected.”

A union for pro gamers has been widely discussed since the beginning of eSports, but Passemard says the necessity of a union is becoming more and more apparent.

“It comes from a need to do something. We faced a few issues and incidents, and of course we didn’t like that because these incidents were not in favour of the players. So at a point we have to make a decision, either we get more directly involved or we keep having issues. We still want the players and the teams to lead a life of their own, because if we help them too much or if we do things for them they kind of lose the warm feeling of doing it themselves or they lose motivation, but in the end we had to do something. So we looked at some options and the best one is to help the pro players create a union for themselves. We have to do it, there will be issues, maybe we aren’t ready but we will find a way.”

Passemard refused to give more specific details about the union, but more information will likely arise as the idea develops.

 

E3 Loses Disney, and WarGaming Among Others

E3 Loses Disney, and WarGaming Among Others

Two more gaming companies have apparently dropped out from 2016 E3 gaming expo.

Back in January EA announced that they would be hosting their own event called EA Play. An event which coincided directly with the time of E3, basically inadvertently announcing their drop from the E3 show floor. Activision announced earlier this week that they were also dropping out of E3. More companies seem to be dropping from the E3 show floor as VP of Production for Disney Infinity tweeted:

WarGaming, makers of World of Tanks, World of Warships and Master of Orion have also announced their dropping from E3. In a statement made by WarGaming, they said “From a company perspective we’re focusing a large majority of activities on events focused on our players and community. Whether it’s a small group of players or hundreds at one of our player gatherings, they’re our main priority.”

They also said, “E3 just doesn’t fit our current direction. It’s a show that is very centralized on retail product, and as a free to play digital download gaming company, we’ve realized that while the show may be a good fit for lots of other publishers and developers, it’s currently not a great fit for us. And, of course, we appreciate all that the ESA does in their legislative efforts and their work to raise and discuss issues surrounding video gaming as an industry, hobby and way of life.”

It’s troubling to see so many massive gaming companies dropping out of the biggest gaming event of the year. Like Nintendo proved last year, it’s a risky move to drop from E3, however it can payoff.

 

Master of Orion Voice Cast Announced

Master of Orion Voice Cast Announced

Originally released in 1993, Master of Orion garnered a loyal following. Now, over 20 years later, fans will be able to play the next installment of this classic franchise.

Today, Wargaming announced their “top tier” voice cast for Master of Orion. And man, is it star-studded.  They have brought in some of the most memorable voices from sci-fi’s past.

Troy Baker (The Last of Us) – Klackon Advisor and Psilon Emperor
JB Blanc (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy TV Series) – Bulrathi Advisor, Meklar Advisor, and additional voices
Sara Cravens (Halo 5: Guardians) – Additional voices
Kat Cressida (Fallout 4) – Mrrshan Empress
John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Human Emperor
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next Generation)- Narrator
Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street) – Terran Emperor
Nika Futterman (Star Craft II: Legacy of the Void) – Darlok Advisor and Mrrshan Advisor
Jean Gilpin (Halo 5: Guardians) – Klackon Empress
Mark Hamill (Star Wars saga) – Alkari Emperor
John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt) – Alkari Advisor and additional voices
Misty Lee (Star Wars: Battlefront) – Silicoid Advisor
Sumalee Montano (Fallout 4) – Terran Advisor
Nolan North (Uncharted Series) – Darlok Emperor and Sakkra Emperor
Dwight Shultz (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – GNN Anchor
Roger Craig Smith (Regular Show) – Sakkra Advisor
Fred Tatasciore (Family Guy) – Bulrathi Emperor and Silicoid Emperor
Alan Tudyk (Firefly) – Psilon Advisor
Kari Wahlgren (Rick and Morty) – Human Advisor and GNN Anchor

Wgile there is no official release date for Master of Orion yet, you can check out our preview here.

World of Warships (PC) Review

World of Warships (PC) Review

I never really got into Battleship. Mainly because I didn’t own it as a kid, but more so because as an adult, it was far too easy to hide your ships in every corner of the board and let your opponent blindly fire at an empty middle where “traditional” players might have put their ships.

World of Warships is basically virtual Battleship only with much more action and strategy involved. One of the three historically based, vehicular combat MMOs brought to you by Wargaming Public Co Ltd, (the cleverly named) World of Warships takes the slow, methodical combat of naval battles and turns them into a pretty intense experience, testing your tactical expertise.

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World of Warships plays like a third-person shooter with a few RTS elements mixed in for good measure. Players can choose from a variety of ships within four different classes: destroyers, cruisers, carriers and battleships. How you play is determined by what ship you use, and your strategies need to be tuned accordingly. Destroyers are some of the faster ships and are more suited to charging into battle firing shells and torpedoes, while battleships are slow, lumbering behemoths that can deal and take the most damage. Most interesting of all ships, and easily my favorite, are the carriers, that literally change the game into an RTS (seriously, even the viewpoint is changed from 3PS to overhead), as you manage a fleet of planes and help control the battle.

However it isn’t as simple as just choosing a ship and going to war. Each ship is host to a litany of fine touches. Players can choose from one of the six available nations’ fleet of ships, and each one offers differing varieties in the types of ships (Germany for example only offers Cruisers and a single Battleship). On top of that, through playing matches, players will earn in-game currency (while they can choose to purchase premium currency) to purchase upgrades for their artillery, add bonus “perk” upgrades to their ship as well as upgrade their captain for added special perks like “increased chance to ignite enemy ships” or “decreased chance of being flooded.” These upgrades add a nice RPG flavor to the game, and given WoW’s more methodical, tactical style of gameplay, this forces you to focus your efforts towards creating the most effective ship.

Matches are easily made and incredibly balanced. I never found myself waiting more than a minute or two to get into a match, and what I found quite interesting was how the game matches your opponent’s ships to that of your team. Often I thought I could be sneaky and overpower the other team with a deft aerial assault, only to be matched with another carrier of relative calibre. This is an excellent system and ensures that no team ever has the upper-hand over another.

The game is quite pretty and technically proficient. Battles are randomized quite nicely and the variety of battlefield offers interesting methods for strategy. From the harrowing battles in the wide-open Ocean, to the sunrise battles on New Dawn, each level is not only a treat to look at, but adds interesting elements to the tactical gameplay (the Ice Islands being my personal favorite.)

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On higher end computers you’ll get the full spectrum of details and fine touches, from the waves on the seas to the nuts and bolts on the ships. However, those on the lower end need not worry; World of Warships optimizes itself very well on almost any computer. I ran it from my Dell Inspirion 14-5447 laptop, and while it didn’t look as nice, it ran smooth as butter.

If I had to say one negative thing about the game, it’s the slow pace at which you unlock ships and bonuses. At the start, you’ll unlock the first few ships fairly quickly, but then it really feels like you hit the wall, and getting to the next upgrade becomes a serious grind. On top of that, the slow methodical gameplay just didn’t hold my attention for very long. Make no mistake, I enjoyed my time with World of Warships, I just felt like I had my fill after a few hours.

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Overall, World of Warships is an excellent game, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re into this kind of thing. For a free MMO, it’s technically proficient, looks great, and will provide a fun experience.  Even though I couldn’t find myself getting into it, I definitely understand why it has the following it has.

Master of Orion is Back With Style

Master of Orion is Back With Style

Master of Orion is a title that holds a special place in my heart. I used to love building up the technology, colonizing planets, and ruling over the galaxy with an iron fist, so when Wargaming announced they would be making a new MOO game, I was skeptical. Here is a company best known for the free-to-play game World of Tanks. What would they do to the beloved franchise? Would it become free-to-play? These were the questions that were circling around my head as I went into my meeting at E3.

Sitting down for the game demo, I was brought up-to-speed on the story behind Wargaming acquiring the Master of Orion franchise. It was a tale of how CEO Victor Kislyi used to love Master of Orion, and how, when the chance came to purchase it arose, he jumped on it. Wargaming also went into great detail about how they started out making RTS style Strategy games before they found success with World of Tanks. All these facts painted a picture of a company and staff that wanted to do right by the MOO franchise, and who had a deep respect for the source material. The only question was if they as a studio could recapture what made the previous games so great.
masteroforioninsert2Jumping into the gameplay, I was pleased to be greeted by the familiar looking interface. The game looked much like you would hope an updated version of Master of Orion would look. The choices of races were all there; all ten that were playable in the previous games were present. Even the race animations have been spiced up by employing the 3D-rendered visual style seen in games such as Civilization, and characters demonstrate their unique attributes along with the overall relationship to you in a clear and visible way. They even managed to get top-level talent to voice everything. Although they are not yet disclosing who they have enlisted, if the E3 demo is anything to go on, there is no reason to worry.

As mentioned above, the first thing you will notice is how familiar the interface feels. Overall, it is reminiscent of Master of Orion II, but with the sheen and polish that only modern computers and budgets can provide. Already in the works for over a year, this is clearly a labour of love, and Wargaming have managed to not only recapture the elements seen in the previous games, but add the visual flair you would expect from a game launching for modern systems.

Beyond that, the core gameplay appears to be very similar to what you would expect; you take your ships and slowly expand out from your home planet, trying to match planets with your race’s unique needs. With every race being different, it’s up to you, the player, to maximise these attributes to fit your playstyle.

Now, as in previous MOO titles, you have numerous victory conditions, each outlined clearly on the overview screen. You have the standard method of conquest, where you lay waste to anyone who opposes you. There is the tech style victory, where you maximise your technology to ensure you are the most advanced race among all the stars. And, as always, there is the diplomatic victory, where you ensure that your faction is the most peaceful race that everyone wants to rally alongside. As with any 4X game, it is all about how you want to play. Will you crush your enemies, or be the bringer of peace? It’s up to you.

It feels as though the team behind the development are taking what was great about previous instalments and ensuring it all feels accessible. All of the complexity of previous MOO titles is still present, though much of it has been streamlined to keep from feeling overwhelming. All aspects, from resource management, to exploration, to technology, seem very intuitive by design. The team is using years of advancements in user-friendliness to ensure that the new Master of Orion is accessible and fun for new players, while remaining faithful for long-standing fans of the franchise.

The feeling of humour, I am happy to say, is also still present. The GNN (Galactic News Network) informs the player of random events, relations between races, along with other events taking place in the galaxy in a fun and interesting way. It feels as if the team behind the game are ensuring the player feels engaged in the overall world and does not feel dragged down by the complexity of the gameplay.
masteroforioninsert1Entering E3 2015, I was unsure what to expect from the reboot of MOO, but I am happy to say that if what Wargaming showed off at E3 was any indication, Master of Orion is in good hands. The visuals all look stunning and the gameplay seems intuitive and fluid. I am also happy to see it will be following a traditional release with no free-to-play elements that may detract from the overall experience. Launching on PC, this is a game that any fan of the series would be happy to play. We will have a full review of the final game upon release, until then, we will just have to wait patiently for a chance to dive head-first into Master of Orion once again