PC/Mac • Deemed the great moral challenge of our time and discussed at length during summits the world over; the lack of modern mech-based tactics games is reaching a tipping point. The last true Front Mission was released in the mid-Oughts. Do people even remember CyberStorm? I’d love to count the Super Robot Wars titles, but they’re niche and chibi and aesthetically repugnant. Don’t @ me, friends. I’m being cruel to be kind. There is an undeniable, intractable vacuum. Warborn, however, is stepping up.
PC/Mac/Linux, PS4, Xbox • XCOM2 might just be the most evergreen video game I’ll ever have the pleasure of playing. It never gets old and, honestly, I can see myself sitting down at a laptop ten years from now and blindly rushing into ambushes and getting all my best troops slaughtered. What I’m trying to say is, XCOM2 is really good and I kind of want to marry it. Imagine my shock when, yesterday, I noticed that there was new DLC for XCOM2. NEW DLC! Are you kidding me? I contemplated quitting my day job just to stay home and try it out today but, instead, went to work so I can write posts for Stately Play on the company dime. To quote Bugs Bunny, ain’t I a stinker?
PC (now), Xbox/PS4/Switch (soon) • Back when I first got into the Savage Worlds RPG system, one of the offshoots that attracted me was the Weird Wars setting. This posited that World War II wasn’t just Allies vs. Axis, but that there was a whole lot else going on such as demons, mages, etc. Players would join the Allied version of the 1940’s X-Files and root out the supernatural wherever Nazis were to be found. A few Gen Cons ago, I picked up another RPG source book for a game called Achtung! Cthulhu which was similar, but added Lovecraftian horror to the Nazi backstory instead of the generic supernatural hocus-pocus of Weird Wars. It’s kind of a strange genre considering that the Nazis don’t really need anything added to make them more evil, but, for some reason, I eat this stuff up. The Achtung! Cthulhu brand got big enough to spawn more than just an RPG and, today, Auroch Digital released a turn-based, squad-level game set in this universe, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics.
Mac/Linux (soon), PC (out now) • When the original Frozen Synapse appeared on the iPad it instantly became one of those “wow” games that you would show off to people who still didn’t grasp what a great game platform the iPad could be. Owen fell in love with its Tron-like graphics and tactical, WEGO turn-based strategy so hard that he finally admitted to sitting on a throne of lies. In other words, it was pretty great. That was 2013, however, and Frozen Synapse has long been relegated to the cloud rather than residing on my tablet. It’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future, but a new Frozen Synapse is going to be taking up space on my laptop’s hard drive and that’s nearly as good. If you haven’t guessed yet (or not read the headline), Mode 7 has finally released Frozen Synapse 2 for PC.
PC/Mac/Linux (today); iPad, Switch, Consoles (later) • While it’s one of the most polarizing titles available for the iPad, Darkest Dungeon on Steam is less divisive. The game still sports a “very positive” rating on Steam more than 2 years and many updates later. Today that will be put to the test when the latest major DLC, The Color of Madness, arrives. From what I can tell, the expansion is sure to be a hit. The test is going to come from the changes being made to the base game at the same time. Let’s just say the list of changes coming to DD is massive.
iPad, PC/Mac/Linux, Switch, Xbox, Playstation • When Darkest Dungeon came out for iPad last fall, I instantly became addicted and played it more than I had in the previous three years it had dwelled on my laptop. I know the love for DD wasn’t universal with many complaining about the wonky UI that could be both tiny and fidgety at the same time, while others saying the difficulty level went beyond their definition of fun. Both were valid points–it’s close, but not a perfect port–but I loved it and kept throwing my hapless adventurers right into the woodchipper with the hope that the Crimson Court and other expansion content would soon arrive on the platform. Today is that day.
PC • Huge insectoid monsters of doom and destruction burst forth from the earth and turn their monstrous eyes upon a futuristic human civilization for a snack. “We’re all screwed,” the people exclaim, but you know better. See, there are equally giant mechs in the future packed with explosive fly swatters (not literally) at the ready, all you need is a little time travel which also comes in handy if they fail. Just zip forward, grab some more mechs and try again.
iPad, PC/Mac/Linux • How good has 2017 been? I haven’t played Darkest Dungeon in a few weeks and it’s easily one of my favorite iPad titles released this year. With Through the Ages, Halcyon 6, and Warhammer Quest 2 all coming since Darkest Dungeon’s release back in August, becoming distracted wasn’t exactly a difficult thing to do. Any other year, however, and an app of Darkest Dungeon’s quality would already be waiting in the green room practicing it’s GOTY speech. Red Hook‘s not content to let DD slide into oblivion, however. We already know that The Crimson Court DLC should be coming to the iPad version later this year and today we learned that a new class, The Shieldbreaker, would be making their appearance in the PC/Mac/Linux version this week.
iOS Universal, PC/Mac/Linux • With everyone already hip-deep into Warhammer Quest 2, I’d like to remind you there is life outside of the dungeon. For example, I dropped the kids off at school this morning and then went home and fell asleep on the couch. Can’t do that in WHQ2! While meeting my wife for lunch, I ran over a couple traffic cones in a construction area and dragged them under my minivan for about 2.5 miles. Not only did it make my minivan-driving self look cool, but you can’t do that in WHQ2! I also downloaded a new game from the App Store, Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander. That’s something we can all do, but you can’t do it in WHQ2!
Switch • I like to imagine that Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was pitched by the most dependable, sober person at Ubisoft. You may have heard that it’s mostly XCOM, but with much less uncertainty and with some light puzzling elements replacing base management. Add a manic, child-friendly theme and remove permadeath, and that’s pretty accurate, which makes me think that pitch involved a virtuoso in the projection of normalcy. The characters are pre-made (so I can’t do what I’ve long done with XCOM and learn my kids’ classmates names by assigning them to my soldiers*) [I, on the other hand, change all my soldiers to British redheads named Amy Pond. It’s a bit weird. -ed.] but they have distinct skills trees which allow them to specialize in quite varied ways. Consequently, you have a lot of freedom to build the tools you want, but the game is correspondingly free to offer rather off-the-wall challenges.