Femme Fatale

Do you ever wake up and just marvel at how bloody amazing this world is? Take something as simple as the smartphone, most of us own one and as we wander around bumping into street furniture, many of us take for granted the power we wield in our hand. Even something like making a video call to someone on the other side of the planet is now just a common thing. This ability that is just commonplace would have seemed like alien technology or some secret government project a few decades ago, imagine where we will be fifty years from now.


So why am I wittering about mobile phones and first world privilege? Because I often get this same sense of unfettered awe for the games we play these days and their increasingly complex nature. The first games were merely blocks of colour with some simple collision code. We now have access to vast open worlds, rich in content, dripping realism that would have blown my 16-year-old self away. With games like Cyberpunk and Red Dead Redemption 2 now impelling other developers to cast routine aside and embrace true innovation, it is exciting to think what games will look like in the distant future.

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, I was part of the press pack for the latest EGX in Birmingham this year. It was also my first time at the event, despite trying to make it as a punter for the last few years. I was booked into the Premier Inn for two nights and so had a chance to have a really good noisy around all of the shows many hidden corners. There were some big studios on site, showing off their hard work, but the indie section was by far the highlight of the show for me. You can check out my EGX article here. I would especially encourage you to have a look at the indie games that show we are not our of cool gaming ideas just yet.



Two of my most recent reviews both hold some striking similarities, in that I’ve been gadding around murdering rum folk with my highly capable female protagonists. Of course, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the last in the rebooted series and overall it has really impressed critics. For me, however, this final chapter (which I don’t believe for a second) unfortunately finishes on a bit of an underwhelming thud. There are some redeeming features that will certainly make it worth picking up in a sale or if you are a hardened fan of the series so far. You can check out my thoughts here.

Then we have the gargantuan Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the next game in this newly invigorated series from Ubisoft. Odyssey has scored very well in the mainstream media sites but has still received some criticism for the inclusion of microtransactions and paid experience boosters. This is an unfortunate blemish on what otherwise could be considered the best Assassin’s Creed game so far. Even with my review topped and tailed, I am still running around this truly stunning game, mostly agog at the visuals and still finding interesting things to do. There is also a lot of post-launch content to come, you can check out the video below to get a summary of this as well as my review here.

My latest review is for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the annual offering from developers Treyarch and publishers Activision. While there is no single player campaign this time around, the three components that we do get are substantial and well refined. I think most people know roughly what to expect from the standard multiplayer maps but don’t write them off as a rehash: this is some of best competitive shooting available. The Zombie mode is both fantastic fun and packed with customisation that gives it surprising longevity. It is, however, the new Battle Royale mode that is the star of the show, offering what is by far the best game in this genre to date. Blackout runs so well it is hard to believe there are a hundred players running around the same map. Overall this a competent and refined Call of Duty that should keep you busy for months. You can find my full review here.

There is a reason that this month is becoming known as ‘Broke-vember’, on top of the already massive amount of games that have been releasing in the last few months; the flow now turns into a deluge. While not a PC game (yet) Red Dead Redemption 2 released on the 26th of October, to say this game has done well critically is an understatement. From what I’ve played so far the sheer amount of insane details and craftsmanship is beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Details like your horse's nutsack shrinking in cold water give you a hint at this. As you guys know, while I champion PC gaming here at Rigged for Epic, I also celebrate all gaming platforms. Red Dead Redemption 2 made me break my rule on day one purchases for the second time this year, (Spider-man was the first), I expect the world GDP dropped by a significant percentage on the 26th of October.


On the 13th of November Agent 47 will be setting out on his next murderous outing. Considering we very nearly didn't get this sequel to the 2016 reboot, Hitman 2 is looking extremely good. I got a chance to play it at EGX and it has certainly kept the insanely high calibre of level design we loved in the last title. This time around the game won’t be arriving in episodic form but will still be getting supported after launch with features like the elusive targets. These are missions in which you must use your intimate knowledge of a level to track and kill a specific mark. The best part is that these hits are a one-shot deal, if you fail they are gone forever. In a killer move by IO Interactive, Sean Bean has been advertised as the first potential victim in what I assume will be a long line of interesting targets.


Following in the wings of Hitman we have the highly anticipated (and increasingly controversial) Fallout 76. I think it is fair to say that Bethesda foray into the multiplayer scene has not gone down very well with some fans. Thanks to a friend who preordered the game I managed to get hold of a beta Code for Fallout 76, the last beta session that ran Thursday night. I will admit that on the back of all the reported problems, I booted up the beta with a healthy dose of scepticism. However, after playing numerous beta sessions with a few friends now I am becoming increasingly hooked on the game. That still doesn’t change the huge number of issues that still face the Bethesda’s flagship MMO-lite. Just this week, a gamer on Reddit laid out some pretty incredible claims about the way Fallout 76 runs. The post is here but basically, this game is wide open to hacks and exploits: there has already been a lockpicking mod created to prove this is a real thing. There are also some huge problems to overcome in both design and narrative implementation. I myself have seen a litany of visual bugs and gameplay issues, such as settings being reset every time I log out or enemies literally appearing out of thin air. All that said, I do love the look and feel of this Fallout map. There are just so many places to explore and each area has an air of mystery. Bethesda has also just addressed many of these issues saying they will add support for wide monitors, increase stash space and add push to talk options (maybe). I know, I know, these should all be in there as standard but it does feel like Bethesda are now coming around to the idea this game might need a lot more work than they’ve been letting on. If that translated to a price decrease I think it would help matters tremendously, but being realistic we all know that won’t happen. Please, for the love of Jobe, do not Pre-order Fallout 76. Wait until either myself or another reviewer has had a good look at how the game stands up on launch day, then you can make an informed purchase decision. You can check out some of my screenshots from the beta below.

Ok folks, I think that is about all for this month. Going forward I’ll be continuing to wander around in Red Dead Redemption 2 unwashed and sporting a beard that would put Brian Blessed to shame. Coming up I may see if I can shake the coffers and pick up Battlefield V, but my focus now will be Fallout 76 (if a code is forthcoming), Hitman 2 and then Just Cause 4 in December. How did Christmas sneak up on us so far again?! I hope you are all well and your gaming is awesome, whatever you are playing.

Monster Munch

Our gaming lives can often mirror our life in the wider sense. As most of us age, we (usually) gather responsibilities, like spawning our replacements or increased demand from a chosen career path. This can, unfortunately, leave less time for gaming. It’s an incredible realisation for me that young and sprightly gamers who were setting out in the first MMO’s are now knocking on the door of middle age. Hey, we all know how gaming works, no sooner has one 'must play' blockbuster come along, than the next is waiting in the wings. Yet, when an MMO we spent many years playing finally shuts its doors, there is a certain doelfulness that comes with it.

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This week we saw the sad news that Carbine Studios are being closed and with it, we will also finally say goodbye to Wildstar. This bold MMO was first announced in 2011 and was a front-runner for the game that would finally take on the ageing World of Warcraft. Its checklist of features had many MMO fans chomping at the bit: exciting combat, a new take on PVP, ultra customisable housing and hardcore raiding that would worry the hardest of tanks. It really did seem like Wildstar had everything and I remember attending the VIP Wildstar launch party at Gamescom feeling like this was the start of something big.


After a few months player numbers were tanking, servers were being merged and for reasons, I still don’t fully understand; Wildstar was on the ropes. Maybe those old raiding guilds really had been smothered by kids and careers? Was it possible that the MMO scene had moved on? Or could it be that gaming itself was now a changed beast and gamers were getting their fixes in other ways? It wasn’t long after player numbers bombed that the man in the chair, Jeremy Gaffney, jumped ship and soon after so did the face of Wildstar; Stephan Frost. Since those early days, the game went through something of a relaunch, this time adopting a free-to-play model: for a few months players numbers spiked but ultimately the numbers dwindled again. One guy who did stick around was the games creative writer, Chad Moore (Pappy), who now, it looks like, will be the one to take Wildstar through its final days. If I can find the time I will write a longer article regarding the rise and fall of Wildstar. As for now, I would like to thank the team at Carbine (both past and present) for Wildstar and I hope all the staff members affected find work as soon as possible.


So the big news this month is that Rigged for Epic will be attending the EGX gaming conference in Birmingham (UK) from Thursday the 20th of September until Sunday the 23rd. I have been given a full press pass and so will be able to (hopefully) get some great coverage and hands-on with games you guys want to know more about. As an Assassins Creed addict, you could say I'm a little bit excited about getting hands-on with Odyssey and seeing how its more beefy RPG elements work. I am also ridiculously excited to try Metro Exodus and Hitman 2. There are also literally hundreds of indie games at the show and I intend to try them all. I do have a fairly bad ingrown toenail which is being operated on next week, so if you see a big dude with a beard hobbling past you, that’s probably me.


In terms of gaming, I have just finished my review of Monster Hunter World, which took a few weeks due to the sheer size of this game. Even now with sixty plus hours I still feel like I have only scratched the surface. There is also plenty of post-launch content in the pipeline for PC gamers, you can check out my thoughts here.

While away with the family this weekend I was sent my Shadow of the Tomb Raider review code. This is obviously a little later than I had planned but I’m going to focus on getting this beat before Thursday and then work on the PC review in between demos and interviews at EGX. I should have my final review up on the site no later than Sunday so if you have been holding off for a second opinion on the PC version, maybe check that out. Last on my gaming rota has been the amazing (it really is) Spider-Man, which I am still chipping away at. There has been a lot of praise for the games traversal systems and combat (which are all top-notch) but the part I have enjoyed the most so far is the story. They have given us some genuinely three-dimensional characters, sure some of the villains over-egg the cliche factor but Aunt May and Peter really stand out. They have also worked very hard to give the games main villain (who I shall not name) a compelling backstory. It’s times like this I wish I reviewed console games.

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So that’s all for now folks. I will, of course, be reporting on what I find at EGX and if you want daily updates please follow my Twitter feed @riggedforepic This is where you can also catch all my content updates and reviews. If you do happen to see my ramblings on social media, a like and re-tweet are always appreciated.

Passing of a Titan

So as promised I am back on topic after my self-indulgent warble regaling you all about my knackered body. This year has been skipping along at a jolly pace which has caught me a little off guard if I’m honest. I had visions of me sinking into many open world games as the last efforts of winter kept us all huddling indoors. Alas, the bastard sun has been out for some fairly substantial periods this year, which has forced me (blinking like a mole) out into the sunshine. 

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While rooting (apparently this means sex in Australia) around my games library I clocked that all the planned DLC is now out for both Wolfenstein 2 and Assassins Creed Origins. It feels like it could be time to revisit at least one of these games before things get crazy next month but we will see what games I get sent in the next week. Another thought that also factors into this decision is that come August the plan is to be in full upgrade mode, with a new GPU at the centre of whatever nuclear-powered rig we bolt together. So any game that will look a bit special on a new system, is one I might want to hold off playing until then. Indeed upgrading is by far one of the best times for PC gamers because pretty much every game in your library runs and looks ten times better. It is also with some cautious relief that PC gamers have been watching GPU prices fall back down to relatively normal price brackets after the fuckery that has been the GPU drought.


We’re now just entering the parabola of E3 and the hype is growing with each day. As is always the case, some games are gathering speed towards their official unveiling and others have already dropped out of the race, by confirming they will be getting delayed and/or not showing up at all. Like Jerry Maguire once said, it’s like popcorn in the pan, some pop... some don't. In fact, rumours and leaks are flying out of the machine so fast I've had to put off publishing this blog post twice.

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I was actually considering doing a ‘my most anticipated games’ article for E3 but if I’m honest, it will be a better use of my time to focus on the event as it unfolds. Two games I was very much looking forward to seeing was Borderlands 3 and Metro Exodus, both have now been confirmed to be delayed until next year which is a disappointment. However, I would always rather see a delay than a game pulled out of the oven too early. 

Out of all the other rumours floating around, there are some that have me really excited. The prospect of a new Splinter Cell game is a welcome one, not least because Micheal Ironside is now back playing Sam Fisher in other games and it would be a complete own goal not to use him in the next full Splinter Cell outing. I did enjoy the newer games for sure, however, I get the feeling we will be seeing a return to where the series performs best, skulking around in the shadows with the latest Razor peripherals strapped to our back. Other rumours and leaks have all but guaranteed a new Just Cause game, which is fine by me as long as the PC version gets some love this time around. I was halfway through Just Cause 3 earlier this year and after a blue screen my entire save was nuked, a common problem apparently. It also was notorious for running like a crippled sloth so I really hope Avalanche Studios pull their finger out this time and do some real testing.

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Watchdogs 3 has also been whispered about and this could be bittersweet for me. If there is one thing Ubisoft has done right recently it is taking the Assassins Creed series back to the drawing board and giving the development team an extra year to make it sing. I worry that if we really do have a new Watchdogs set to be unveiled, it would not have been given the same treatment and would indicate that Ubisoft has still not learned their lesson. I will say that I loved Watchdogs 2 and so I hold off on judgement until we know more. One rumour I think we can all annotate as fact is that we will be getting some DLC for Prey and that it will involve the old cheese ball in the sky. Prey is currently sitting at a respectable 82% on Metacritic and yet I personally see this title as being woefully underrated: regardless, a new chapter in this tangled story would be fantastic. One last rumour for the pot is my hopes that we see whatever it is that Rocksteady has been working on since Arkaham Knight landed at our feet. I certainly have a love-hate relationship with this game because I could be one of the Arkham series biggest fans; so to see the way PC gamers were treated with the Arkham Knight port was galling. In case you don’t recall, it was one of the worst PC ports we have seen in recent years, so bad they had to take it off Steam and Warner Bros had to do a lot of grovelling. A shame really because once I got it running it was by far my favourite title out of the series and one that I thought brought the Arkham formula to its ultimate conclusion. With speculation that Superman might be involved with this new game, I am chomping at the bit to see how this might play out.

Over the next two weeks, I am planning on reviewing Vampyr which should keep me busy until E3 week. Vampyr is a stylish take on (shocker) the story of a newly turned vampire, who also happens to be a talented doctor. Set in 1918, I love the idea of this conflict between a vampires need to kill and a doctors oath to heal: it could be a corker. Despite having a quiet few months I have still been working and my most recent was on a game called FAR: Lone Sails. I highly recommend you take a look at this beautiful adventure game, of course, the review is spoiler free. Last but by no means least I’d like to mention a little game I’ve been meaning to dig into for months, Oxygen not Included from the amazing team over at Klei studios. You can expect to see my thoughts on this in ‘The Oven’ very soon.

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Just as I was editing this post I saw the heartbreaking news that John Blain aka Total Biscuit aka the Cynical Brit has passed away. After a brave fight with cancer, he eventually lost that battle and sadly left us. John didn’t change my life directly but he was a beacon of moral fibre in an industry that often needs someone to stand up and tell it how it is. There are also many content creators out there who did start reviewing games after being inspired by his work so for that I am also grateful. As is always the case, when you stick to a strong set of morals there will always be those you rub the wrong way but that is, in fact, one of the things I loved about him the most; he gave his opinion and you could take it or leave it. I will sorely miss hearing his voice, listening to him thunder away at many of the bad elements in the games industry and seeing him standing up for the little guy/gal. I wish all of his close friends and family my deepest sympathy for their loss. Rest in Peace John and thank you for everything you did for us.

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Origin Story

Everything has a start and an end, maybe. So far my blog posts have covered my personal thoughts and feelings, but I’ve been keeping it strictly business. Gaming is my main passion but when my rig powers down where do I go? Well in this blog post I’d like to share what is effectively the origin Story for Rigged for Epic. 

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Have you ever been in conversation with someone who you want to get away from? I’ll give you a guaranteed way out: start talking about your illness. ‘How are you?’ is a common conversation opener the world over and one which most people use without thinking about it. This question is easy enough to answer when everything is peaches and cream. However, if you start telling people all your ills and woes, you will most likely see a look I’ve grown to know all too well. Hey, I get it, everyone has their own problems and often only a limited capacity for other peoples suffering. So I’m just giving you a heads up, in this blog post I’m talking a little about my personal story and how it has landed me where I am today. This is a one-shot deal and you should expect a new blog post very soon in which I will be back on topic, talking about the games industry.

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Nine years ago I was found to have massive malformations within my circulation system, veins in the wrong place, valves missing and all this on the back of three deep vein thrombosis. I remember researching these and feeling quite proud of surviving so many. I have also been in constant pain for the last eight years, everything I have done, every place I’ve been, the sensation of intense pain has been pushing against my concentration. I often liken it to being in a storm that only I can see and feel. People you converse with can’t understand why you seem distracted, why you didn’t retain everything they said or why you don’t seem fully engaged with what they are saying. I don’t blame people for not understanding, it is a hard thing to imagine unless you have been there. 

 


Seven years ago I was retired from a career I loved and was put out to pasture, this felt strange considering I was only just in my thirties. Ironically my son was born on the official first day of my retirement, so my world tour would have to wait. In truth being a full-time dad is an incredible privilege, one which not enough men have a chance to experience in our culture and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t feel blessed in this way. 

 

After some very dark days, I now try and see the positive in any given situation but this isn't always so easy. When in recovery, time can really draw out which leaves you to dwell on things. It was at or around this time that I started writing reviews for the games I loved the most. Initially on a community website, just as a distraction and something to occupy my mind. After some good feedback, it was suggested that I set up my own website. It was after stumbling across Squarespace that I finally took the plunge and picked up the domain name for Rigged for Epic. Using a web platform like Squarespace allowed me to dive right in without hiring a web designer or having any previous knowledge. Starting your own website is a strange experience; it was for me at least because right at the moment you flip the switch and nobody knows you are there. For the longest time, this didn’t matter because the site was in effect a therapy tool, keeping my mind active and focused. However, today I will admit when I see how many people read my reviews I feel a little jolt of pride. I know that written content isn’t top of the pops in this YouTube-driven era and that none-scored reviews are the minority. However, that is ok because Rigged for Epic has already done the job it was designed to do, it saved me when I need something to get out of bed for. Now moving forward it will hopefully grow beyond its original designs and become a reliable tool for PC gamers everywhere.

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I now know that going through chronic illness on your own is possibly the worst thing you can do. Last year I actually attended a course on meditation, designed for people with chronic pain. Just sitting in a room with other people who instantly understood where I was coming from was very therapeutic and I am thankful to them for that. If anyone out there is suffering from long-term illness and chronic pain, meditation is the first thing I would recommend they try. There’s actually a nifty app called Headspace which will get you started and the course I attended is called Breathworks. If anyone would like to ask me questions about my illness, coping  strategies I’ve found or just to talk: you can always email me at Riggedforepic@gmail.com


This is a gaming website and so if you have stuck with me so far thank you for indulging me this personal story. My current fight with my condition has been ongoing for the last three months, hence me being relatively quiet. I’m happy to report that I am now kicking its arse and should be fully healed soon... so the preparation for E3 begins!


Take care of yourselves and each other.

Eye of the Storm

The stages have been pulled down, the queues are finally gone and the dust has settled from Gamescom 2017. This is the first year I attended the yearly games show as an official member of the press and so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts. Living in Manchester it is neither cheap nor easy for me to get to the event and being partly disabled makes this a particularly grueling journey. All considered though, I still wouldn’t have missed this years Gamescom for the world. One major advantage of being allowed in a day early is that there is more space to breathe, look around and take in the spectacle of Gamescom. If you have never been before the Koelnmesse Centre is a gargantuan structure on the banks of the river Rhine, comprised of eleven aircraft hanger sized halls, connected with corridors and small open spaces. Considering the sheer scale of the event it is ridiculously well organised and I take my hat off to all those hard working folks that make it happen. 

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Even though I had a list of priority games I wanted to see, walking in with my press pass made me feel like a dog that hadn't been for a walk for twelve months: I wanted to piss on every metaphorical tree! First stop, Destiny 2 for a hands on with the PC version running in glorious 4K. The open/close PC beta has since happened so, for now, I’ll just say I was impressed how well it was running. A t-shirt and can of Monster was also much appreciated.


My next stop was the Microsoft stand which took some effort to get into due to it being cordoned off and guarded by some quite rude security. However being part ninja I was able to sneak my way in (via the free pastries) and finally got to play Cuphead. This little gem is a stylised action platformer with a 1930’s theme. What is also great is that under this unique aesthetic there is a very competent game that reminded me of the classic Gunstar Heroes. I’ll run the trailer below and let you soak up all that old school goodness: I’ll be reviewing Cuphead on release this autumn.


There are always game stands where you know what you’re going to get and so unless you have a queuing fetish your time will be better spent elsewhere. One gaming series that I have always followed is Assassins Creed, even the bad ones like Unity and AC3 have been a guilty pleasure of mine. There is no denying that things needed to evolve; despite Syndicate being amazingly well made. Assassins Creed Origins is Ubisoft answering their critics and according to them, changing a few fundamental aspects of the gameplay. The setting this time around is Ancient Egypt and initially, I had worries about the desert being too flat: however this is not the case with verticality everywhere. As always the art team has outdone themselves with sumptuous historical details and this is one of the main reasons I love AC games (even the bad ones). As for a jump forward in gameplay, while there are certainly some refined systems, like combat and navigation, I didn't see the revolution we've been told about. However, for now, I'm happy to report Origins looks stunning and if you are a fan of the series then you’ve got something to look forward to.

I’ve always loved the Farcry games, towers and all. I guess like Assassins Creed; folks are hoping the series would evolve a little. Unfortunately, we are currently going through a period in gaming where not many big studios/publishers are willing to take chances. At the end of the day, you know what you are getting with a Farcry game and I love the rural America setting this time around. I suspect it might be a bit close to home given what is going on in Murcia right now, but if art can imitate life then I’m all for gaming to be part of that.

 


I also got a chance to try out Shadow of War from within the impressive stand at Gamescom. I thought the first game was fabulous as it surprised a lot of people with its fast combat and unique Nemesis system. The sequel is also looking just as good, with slick visuals and a more refined combat system. When the first game was released it came to light that Warner Bros had been paying popular YouTubers to give Shadow of Mordor biased praise, which is ridiculously stupid considering it didn't need this help. Now once again Warner Bros seem intent on shooting their own toes off by infusing micro transactions in this single player game: something they’ve been heavily criticised for. I won't sugar coat my opinion, this is a greedy move and it’s clear these micro transactions have been baked into the gameplay loop. Now you can lose orcs lieutenants permanently but oh look; you can also buy new ones with real cash as well as other consumables. Not happy to stop with the self-sabotage there, they have also been accused of profiting from the death of one of their own developers. While working on the game Michael Forgey sadly died of cancer and as a result, Monolith decided to offer a piece of DLC in his memory. Not free (of course) but stating that profits would go to support his surviving family. It was this week that Total Biscuit exposed something troubling with a look at the small print, indicating that many of these game sales won't go to the family of this deceased developer. Warner Bros has since come out and stated that both they and Monolith won’t profit from these sales. So the question begs, where is the money going? You can check out Total Biscuits video here.

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In the last few years, it’s like all the big game companies got together and decided to have a ‘who’s the biggest dickhead’ competition: even YouTube got invited. Although EA and Activision were always favourites in this race, Bethesda seems to be now racing ahead of the pack. All these shenanigans deserve their own article but for now, I just wanted to touch on Bethesda latest scheme to make money. After their last ham fisted attempt at milking money from game mods, you would think they would have stayed clear and stuck to making good games. Unfortunately, the chance to nickel and dime their loyal fans was too tempting to pass up and so we have now been given the Creation Club. 

 

Modding is one of the most interesting parts PC gaming, creative folks who love to keep their favorite games going well beyond their vanilla borders by pouring their talent into creating free updates for us. This love of creating game content is night and day from the bean counters within the massive companies that have now set their sights on modding for another source of revenue. According to Bethesda, this was a new idea that would make sure talented mod makers would see some money for their toils. You’d think such a generous gesture would be based on the creators getting a cut of every mod sold from the store, funnily enough, it’s based on thresholds passed. If the Creation Club had launched with high-quality items, unique to the platform that would be something: but it seems not. Pretty much everything you can buy so far is available for free elsewhere and to make matters worse; reports now say there are tight limits on the size of mods. Bethesda, will you please stop trying to squeeze money out of gamers and get back to, you know, making games.


Last week I and my happy band of PC gaming chums got to try Destiny 2 in the closed/open beta. It was a short beta to be sure but from previous experience, this isn't a bad thing. I was looking at two main factors: how did it run and how did the multiplayer hold up. There is no denying that Destiny 2 looks amazing on PC, runs like greased-lightning and has a tonne of options you would expect on a good PC port. Playing with a mouse and keyboard is also a joy and allows for razor shaper controls. The multiplayer also felt surprisingly fast and responsive, the predicted problems related to no dedicated servers didn't appear for us but of course, a live game might change that. Out of the group of players who tried the beta from my gaming community, most loved it, some thought it was ok and a few didn't like it at all. Destiny was an MMO styled shooter for casual players with some degree of challenge but the hard work came in the form of repetitive grinding. I like many was hoping we would see a massive leap forward with the new game, alas we have not. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy what is here, as long as we go in with realistic expectations. Destiny 2 is now out on console and is getting mixed but overall good reactions, with some outcry over the micro transactions. I’m not really going to think about it now until we get near to October 24th. If you are planning on playing Destiny 2 on PC and you are short of a group to play in my gaming community Exterminatus still has places. 

 


It really does seem like our beloved games industry is going through something of phase, where the larger developers and publishers are making some very silly decisions. I must apologise for what is quite a negative blog post, I hope we see a shift soon where decent developers like CD Projekt Red take the lead and it once again becomes about making a great game (not a great profit). If you haven't already please check out my latest reviews of Darkwood and XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, both amazing games. You can also expect reviews for Life is Strange - Before the Storm and Divinity: Original Sin 2 this week. Thank you for reading my latest blog post and I will check back with you guys very soon, take care for now.

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Calm before the Storm

Like the calm before the storm, we are now in a vacuum before the autumn onslaught commences. In a very short space of time, we will have an insane amount of games landing on us. This lull in releases is common around the time of E3 because most sensible publishers don't want to go up against the drums of the popular LA convention.

 


E3 was an interesting show for sure and while most conferences came off without many problems there was also a sense of disappointment in the air. I have covered E3 in three articles: each one covering two of the shows. Out of all the company's vying for our attention, I would say Ubisoft came out the strongest, with some excellent games on show and real emotions (not that fake crap we saw from EA). If you would like to read about my thoughts (complete with trailers) on E3 you can find all three pieces in the article section starting here.


Of course, there's never a month where no worthy games arrive at our shores and June was no different. Dead Cells was an early access game I’d played that the PC Gamer ‘Weekender’ event and it's been great to dive in this week. As I sat down to play I pondered whether or not to do a full review or preview piece; then I had an idea. With so many developers going down the early access route these days, why not have a special section on the website I thought. So I’m very happy to unveil ‘In the Oven’ this month, which will be all about games that are in the making. As these games leave early access they will then get a final review and head off to the review section. As updates happen and new features land, I will update my impression accordingly. Obviously, there are hundreds of new games on PC every day, so I’ll be cherry picking those titles that I think you need to know about: such as Subnautica or Astroneer.


The Summer Steam Sale has just come to an end and with it, I would hope we all have squirrelled away some juicy morsels for the winter ahead. As always, when you’ve survived a few Steam Sales finding those hidden gems becomes more like gold digging. It is a shame that so many games get released on Steam these days because it has become just impossible for even the biggest sites to consider them all: most being shovelware at best. In actual fact this onslaught of ‘nothing’ games does give sites like mine a new purpose, in guiding gamers through the darkness to those hidden gems; yeah I’ve been playing too many RPGs recently.


With Gamescom less than two months away I’m now getting myself geared up with all the kit I need. I’ll be flying solo this time so it is going to be a busy few days, but I’m hoping next year I can afford to take an extra pair of hands. I am also going to be attending the EGX event in Birmingham but will not be attending as Press because I’m not sure how knackered my legs will be after Gamescom. However, I’m really excited to see EGX as I’ve not been to this particular show before and it's only a two-hour drive from Manchester.


Last of all, I’d like to point you in the direction of my latest retro-review: Crashlands. A heart warming and inspirational story lies in the foundations of this quirky indie title. Even if you never play the game, Crashlands has a story all gamers should hear. Ok, that’s all for now folks, sorry for the delay since my last Blog post; I should be back on track for the foreseeable future. Don't forget to keep an eye on the Shooting Gallery this week as I’ll be updating this section with the latest games I’ve played. If you spot a PC game I should be covering please let me know at riggedforepic@gmail.com or on Twitter @riggedforepic where you can get all my updates.

Bye for now.

Journalism 101

It has been a busy few months for the games industry with some absolutely stonking games landing at our feet. Since my last blog post I have reviewed quite a few titles but the stand-outs for me are Nier: Automata, Rain World and the just released Prey. If you are looking for a new game to sink your time into I can recommend all three of these games for different reasons: check the reviews section for more details.

 

Prey has actually arrived amidst some fairly controversial goings-on. The most notable of these was IGN giving the game a score of 4/10 (since changed to 8/10) due to a progression halting bug they encountered. As always with the internet, opinions will vary, but my own take on this 'review' is that it was not a review at all but a journalistic tantrum by a guy who should know better. I have never used game scores in my critiques and never will. I believe they devalue the review, become impossible to balance (due to endless comparisons) and, to be frank, are not worth the trouble. Obviously, other sites can do as they wish because that is their prerogative. However, when you are the biggest games media site on the planet you would be foolish not to at least understand that an unfair score will have far-reaching consequences for that games developer. People could (and will likely) lose their jobs, that particular series could be discontinued but the most annoying for me: a person could be put off playing a game they would have loved. All these things should not influence a critic's verdict but these potential consequences do mean that every critic has a duty to review each game fully and fairly. Six days after release and the bug has been completely fixed, yet that crushing score will now remain on the internet across various sites forever. I personally think this is a tragedy for a game that is this good, has taken some risks and has clearly been a labour of love for the team at Arkane.

 

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If I'm being fair, I also have to lay some blame for this situation at the feet of Bethesda due to their ridiculous policy regarding review copies. When the big B announced they would no longer be furnishing media sites with advanced copies for the purpose of review journalists were collectively flabbergasted. The problem now is that all sites get a game on launch day and must then scramble to get a review out before it loses its relevance. This means that gamers who want to play on release day must go into a purchase blind, not only in terms of game quality but also regarding bugs and performance issues (this is especially critical for PC Gamers). Now to be frank, I don't care about being first out as my reviews are a work of passion and I'm not in this for the clicks. In contrast, most big media sites live and die by the Internet traffic they generate. I believe it is this pressure that has already led to many reviews by mainstream sites being rushed out of the door. In the case of Prey, rather than wait for a fix (which we knew was coming) IGN slapped a big 'do not buy' on Prey and moved on. This is a very shitty thing to do considering how much weight IGN have in the world of gaming. The bottom line for me is this: if you haven't played the game you can't publish a review. Interestingly, Dan Stapleton (who reviewed Prey for IGN) suggested on Twitter that my very existence makes him angry and I make 'the rest of us' (I assume proper reviewers) look bad. I must admit I am surprised that IGN are happy for their editors to throw abuse around on social media unchecked: maybe Dan should watch Kingsmen for a lesson in manners.

 


Moving on, the future of two game series have sailed into murky water this week. With the mixed reception of Mass Effect Andromeda, it seems EA have been doing a bit of soul-searching. They have now confirmed the Mass Effect journey will be going on a 'hiatus'. I personally enjoyed elements of Andromeda but also recognise it was loaded with problems and repetitive gameplay loops. Let us hope they wipe the board clean (again) and this time focus on innovation, as well as what made the series great in the first place. Some Q&A would also be champion. Also this week Square Enix have announced a split with Hitman's creators IO Interactive. This decision comes in the wake of some massive financial losses for the publisher. All is not lost, however, as there seems to be plenty of interest from third parties in picking up the Danish developer. There are good indications that the game's second season is actually well into development, so hopefully Agent 47 will be back with us soon. Regardless, we wish the people over at IO Interactive the very best of luck during this uncertain period.


So what's next for gaming in 2017? Well, dare I say it, there are a quiet few weeks coming up as we start the final approach to E3. Obviously, there will be leaks and rumours galore, as always I'll be scanning the airwaves for all PC related game news. I am going to be spending the next few weeks working on the website and getting my recording studio finished off. I might also have a jaunt through all them early access games I keep buying and see what the current state of play is. 


Lastly, I am thrilled to announce that I have been granted a press pass for Gamescom 2017, which means I'll be covering the event from Cologne this year. Rigged for Epic started out as a small project but now seems to be growing bigger than I'd ever hoped and these last few months I've hit some important milestones. I think the question of whether to start producing video content is now a matter of when and not if. Thank you to everyone who reads my work and especially my friends in the Exterminatus Gaming community: if you are looking for a solid group to game with you could do a lot worse. 

Massively Epic

We all have gaming habits and these are often fashioned by the games we play. From the days of Ultima Online and onwards I would always have some kind of persistent online world on the back burner. Yes, I would break off to play single player games or more contained online titles: but then return to whatever digital landscape I was currently squatting in.


Looking back I would say I have played the majority of well know MMOs from WoW, Age of Conan, Guild Wars 2 and so on. Some of my best friends have been made while navigating these digital worlds in the search for... well I actually couldn't tell you right now. Maybe somewhere to put my mark or could it be the sheer act of achieving something together? I think as humans we do have this need within our roots and short of the internet being turned off I will always have at least one finger in the MMO pie. 


As we prepared for Wildstar the feeling that this was the MMO to succeed WoW was strong: it has every box checked. Yet for some reason, Wildstar did not cut the cheese and while not shut down the game now resides in MMO limbo. So what next I asked? While never unveiled officially the now infamous project Titan was a beacon of hope for 'MMO 2.0' and it was a huge blow to the genre when it was canned by Blizzard. Everquest Next was the only other light on the horizon which looked to be changing the MMO formula and unfortunately, this project was scuttled by Daybreak Game Company: a move that really pissed off a lot of gamers including myself. In actual fact, the Landmark servers were shut down last week which is very sad considering the amazing creations players had fashioned from its Voxel landscape. It really does seem like the old school MMO scene is ending and simultaneously being replaced by a swathe of free to play efforts that are ten a penny. While sad I also find this shift interesting and will be taking a look at the history of MMOs and how they have affected our gaming lives.


It is surprising then that the MMO I was searching for was sitting right under my nose. More on from that I had actually tried it nearly a year back but got pulled away due to some other commitments. For the last month a friend of mine has been playing one of the most complicated games I have ever seen: every day her status would read 'Black Desert Online' and this rarely changed. She eventually persuaded me to re-install BDO and give it another whirl. What is this game I've been missing out on? I mean really, Black Desert Online is the game that puts 'massively' in MMO. I am currently getting to grips with the finer points of tomato farming and beer brewing: watch this space for a full retro review and gallery.


So this weekend just gone I was able to make it down to the big smoke and attend the PC Gamer Weekender event. It included stage shows with the PC Gamer writers talking to developers as well as all the usual gaming event tomfoolery. Plenty of VR stands were in place this year as well as workshops for people to learn the tricks to building their own PC gaming Rig. I was impressed that some of the US staff had flown over to take part: that's a long flight for two days. I also got the chance to sight see in in London which is always a treat: there are few cities in the world this good for people watching. One game I did try that has me excited was Dawn of War 3, as you might expect the game has evolved a little from its last iteration (but not too far). It was also good to meet some of the Star Citizen developers and hear how progress is going.


Last but certainly not least you can now check out my review for Sniper Elite 4 here. This week a game called Oxygen not Included arrived for early access purchase on Steam and so I will be taking a look as soon as possible. If you don't already you can follow me on Twitter @riggedforepic for all my updates, ramblings and reviews. If you do get a chance please tell you friends about my site, the best place for honest PC content and not a single advert in sight.

Thanks for reading and wherever you are: I hope your gaming is epic!

Stoke the fires

Happy new year to all you fine people out there, 2017 is well under way and the great machine is already roaring to life. We've got a cracking year ahead of us in terms of game releases: hell we might even see Star Citizen launch in some capacity (but probably not). While PC gaming is certainly a force to be reckoned with it would be foolish to think that the other players on the field don't affect us. 


Back in 1997, I spent weeks visiting my local game shop for hours at a time, why you might ask? A little game called Mario 64 running on a demo machine had totally captured my imagination. I hadn't been part of the Super Nintendo movement but it was clear this new system from Nintendo was going to be special. Games like Golden Eye and Ocarina of Time were instant classics and make the N64 one of my favourite consoles to this day.


A few days ago Nintendo unveiled their new box of tricks: the Switch. Looking at the bigger picture I think the Switch has some pretty big obstacles to overcome. Despite a friendly face, Nintendo is not a customer focused company, they very rarely listen (or at least respond to) fan requests and often make what are frankly idiotic choices: such as handling voice chat through a mobile app. I also think the way they chase YouTubers for 'copyright' infringements is insane, especially because most of these fans are promoting Nintendos product (for free). A system is only as good as they games available and the launch line up is abysmal, maybe the worst I've ever seen: but then I have to remind myself that the N64 only launched with three games. There are also plenty of extra costs that I suspect many gamers are not weighing up properly. The Joy-Con controllers are tiny and for blokes like me with big hands, they will be uncomfortable: so I would be left paying an additional £60 for the Pro (normal sized) controller. The online service will also now come with a subscription and yet offer very few benefits from what we've seen: there's even news that Netflix and other streaming services will not be coming to the Switch. The most worrying aspect of the new console is that apart from Skyrim (which isn't even the remastered version), the third party support looks very light which is one of the main factors which killed the WiiU. I would honestly love to see Nintendo succeed with the Switch but it seems they are still the same old Nintendo as they have always been, one step behind and stubborn to the last.


For the last week, I've been delving back into Arkham Knight, a game that landed on PC with much controversy. There were so many technical problems that Warner Bros has no choice but to removed it from sale until the issues had been addressed. Now many of these wrinkles have ironed out I decided to dive back into the fray: I've become a bit obsessed with the Batman as of late. I have actually finished Arkham Knight twice in seven days: one normal play through and then another to get every Riddler puzzle. I also picked up the season pass in the Christmas Steam sale and while not worth the initial ridiculous asking price there are some excellent additional stories here. I really like how Rocksteady has adapted the controls to fit new character styles such as Batgirl, Cat Woman and Harley Quinn. Some of the series long-standing villains also top and tail their story arcs and others such as Batgirl give some more layering to events which transpire in the main game. I have finally beaten the main game, finished all the DLC and can let the Dark Knight rest for a while. If plans come to fruition this year I will be taking a far closer look at Arkham games and weighing up how it has influenced other developers.

 

Last week Gabe Newell's AMA was about as informative as an IKEA manual written in ancient Latin, but there were a few nuggets of information to take away. Valve are still interested in developing games (really?) and are still, in fact, working on a single player title of some sort. In addition, they are also working on various VR titles, some of which I assume will use the 'knuckles' prototype that was shown off last year in Seattle. When asked about Half-life 3 Gabe continued to be aloof and so once again we know nothing: I get the feeling most people are past caring now.


Jon Peddie Research has just announced that the PC hardware sales have breached the $30 billion mark and so despite some ill-informed naysayers PC gaming is growing faster than many had predicted. This number includes pre-built and custom gaming rigs. The research company also stated that hardware is set to grow by six perfect through 2019. As PC gaming becomes a bigger player in the industry more and more gamers who previously would never have considered it are now recognising a very simple fact: that if you want a game to look it's very best PC is where you can get this.


Resident Evil 7 has just landed in my inbox so I will be delving into this new survival horror offering today. This time the developers have taken the brave (and necessary) move to step away from the guns blazing sequels and revisit real horror once again. I have also been poking some of the early access games I have on the slow burner as a few have had substantial updates. The first of these games is a space survival game called Osiris: New Dawn which came out last year and shows huge promise. The recent and fairly large update includes a new planet to explore so I have started from scratch and am currently building my way to space once more. 


Last but certainly not least, I have just posted a review for Oxenfree which released back in 2016 and which comes highly recommended by ACG. If you are looking for a new adventure game that has many secrets deep within its story then check out my review of Oxenfree here. It is spoiler free of course. That is all for now guys, take care and I hope your gaming is epic wherever you are.

Duck and Weave

I've been thinking about my own awards for over a month now, two weeks ago I drew up a list of all the possible games to consider and this week I locked it down to a final draft. This has been a checkered year and no mistake. Sure there have been some heartbreaking disappointments but then there have also been some amazing successes. So after much deliberation and confabulation you can now check out my list of awards for 2016 here. I hope you find it enjoyable and maybe see a game or two that you missed in the deluge of releases this year.

 


Two weeks ago Hello Games finally broke a month-long silence and released the 'foundation update' which (if I'm being fair) contains a decent amount of content including base building, various gameplay modes and even the ability to buy your own space freighters. While I'm not sure it works with the original theme of the game it is clear they have put a lot of work into it. In another interesting turn of events the ASA (advertising standards agency) based in the UK have ruled that Hello Games did not mislead customers... say what? Now the ASA have only looked at the Steam page and ignored the other countless examples of Sean Murray lying through his teeth: which kinda irks me. Surely if you want to look at how people had been misled you look at all the media, interviews and shameless promotions (IGN) that may have influenced hype. Even based on the trailer on the Steam page, Hello Games have misled gamers. After reading the report in full it's clear to me that the author simply does not know what they are talking about when it comes to the games industry: despite them clearly putting a lot of effort into explaining their investigative process. You can read the full report here.


I have also noticed a good amount of people online deciding to either buy No Mans Sky or dive back in and give it another shot: do people really need to believe so much? Now I have to give Hello Games props for not running for the hills and instead of putting in the effort to make it right. I could almost forgive them for the countless lies they told but the fact they have not even removed 'that trailer' from their Steam page feels like a slap in the face. At the end of the day everyone must make their own mind up but right now I still think Hello Games need to address the gaming world and set out exactly what when wrong (including a full and frank apology). 

 


Reports are in from the sales of Watchdogs 2 and unfortunately for Ubisoft it's looking like the original Watchdogs sold better: far better. This could be down to how burned many people felt after the bullshit trailers used for the original were exposed: especially for PC gamers. There is also the fact that many big games this season have done poorly on sales, I personally think this is just down to saturation. When so many full priced games land in the same period gamers struggle to keep up both in terms of affording them all but also the massive time requirements. Regardless the PC version is out now and you can find my review here. I have found Watchdogs 2 to be fantastic fun and far better than I had expected: even the performance has been surprisingly good on PC. My favourite aspect so far has to be the hybrid multiplayer and the way it lets you invade other players while they play the single player game. As you initiate a hack you then watch the other player frantically search the area and if you are like me you can play with them like a cat plays with a mouse. Just remember the same can be done to you.

 


It's easy to write something off as bad. Countless times this year I've uttered the mantra 'fuck this year', almost always in response to listening to the news. As a UK citizen we have had Brexit happen and not wanting to get into a political rant I'll just say this: I don't agree with Brexit and think ignorance prevailed over wisdom. We have also seen our friends in the States go through a similar turbulent time with the election which ultimately ended with Donald Trump set to pick up the keys to the White House. Then on top of the tectonic plates of our political landscape shifting we have seen what seems a never ending list of stars pass. We all die, even the great people but to lose so many legends like David Bowe, Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder in one year is tough to take. It was especially shocking to hear about Anton Yelchin who died in a freak accident at his home: already a star but someone who had so much more to give. My list below is not exhaustive but these are the people who we lost this year that meant the most to me. Thank you for everything you did for us and may you each rest in peace.


David Bowie 1947-2016
Alan Rickman 1946-2016
Terry Wogan 1938-2016
Ronnie Corbett 1930-2016
Victoria Wood 1953-2016
Gene Wilder 1933-2016
Anton Yelchin 1989-2016
Robert
Voughn 1932-2016
Mohamed Ali 1942-2016

 

 

This will be my last blog post before Christmas and the New Year, so I just want to say a huge thank you to all the people who help me with my site. Especially to my friend Daryl who gives me lots of sound advice, John who helps with tech support and my wife Debra for reading my work with her expert (elf) spellchecking eyes. I shall be publishing a roadmap right after the new year setting out our course through 2017 and a separate piece looking at the games we have coming over this next twelve months. It's going to be an awesome year and I cannot wait to get stuck in. 

 

Stay epic guys and I'll see you all next year!

Ivory Tower


What is the role of a publisher? I have been thinking about this question a lot this week. While developers often appear to have a human side, publishers usually project a far more 'this is a business' image. Hey, I get it, publishers are not here to be my friend, to get me a good deal or give me a cuddle when I'm having a shit day: publishers are there to make money. So it can often seem like the decisions they make are not in gamers interests when really it's just about keeping the lights on. 


However, while all this is true, the recent move by Bethesda to end the practice of review copies going to independent review sites is a huge step over the line as far as I'm concerned. So after a year when gamers have already been misled so many times, I question how Bethesda can justify this move and still claim to care about the media or fans. I think this is an important issue and so I wrote an article on it: you can check it out here.

 


This last few months have been a shooting gallery of multiplayer FPS games and now with Call of Duty Infinite Warfare just landing, the deluge has reached its apex. I have reviewed all these games apart from COD as the game has no interest for me but also the coffers are empty after such a busy month. If you would like to read my opinions for Overwatch, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 you can find them in the reviews section. I love all three of these games and despite being roughly in the same genre each one offers very different gameplay experiences. Battlefield 1 does feel like the biggest of all these titles with a good collection of single player stories as well as stunning battlefields to rage war across. However this week Titanfall 2 has been keeping me up until the wee hours with its fast paced and addictive combat. Matches are over in minutes but there are so many exhilarating moments within these bouts you often feel breathless. 


While I don't usually pay much attention to the COD series but something did catch my eye this year and it may just secure Activision a place next to Bethesda in the dumb publisher awards. For some reason, Activision thought it would be an awesome idea to make the players with a Steam version of COD: Infinite Warfare unable to play against those who bought the game on the Windows store. I would love to know whose gem of an idea this was and what bizarre thought process ended up with this in the go box. As it stands early predictions show that COD isn't doing all that great in sales and I'm sorry to say the writing is on the wall: it may be time to innovate instead of releasing the same game year in year out.


Tonight at midnight I will finally get my hands on Dishonored 2 and given my love for the original I cannot wait. As I have already covered, Bethesda has now implemented their ridiculous review policy and so at least my review will have a little more relevance this week. I am aiming to keep the quality of my review high but at the same time let you know as soon as I do how the game is looking. If you want early impressions keep tabs on my Twitter feed @riggedforepic


So with the world waking up to the news that Donald Trump is the 45th president of the USA I am feeling a little bewildered this morning. Assuming Trump can do all the (good) things he's claimed: he's still a racist, bigot and bully who thinks he can use his position to sexually assault woman. Good job America, let us just hope Fallout 5 doesn't come sooner than we would like

Back of the Queue

It has been an awesome year for gaming but for every success, we have had our share of disappointments. I wouldn't say No Mans Sky was a disappointment for me personally because I was sceptical from the start but one game that has let me down is Mafia 3. As we well know, games that don't send review copies out usually (but not always) have something to hide and unfortunately Mafia 3 has plenty. 


Things didn't get off to a great start when the game launched with an FPS cap of thirty, obviously, the PC forums exploded and negative Steam reviews starting flooding in. With media outlets starting to review the game at launch this at least gave me a chance to furnish the world with a PC review that wasn't out a week after the big boys. The first thing I did was map the crouch key from 'X' to 'C' but when this essential skill stopped working entirely I ended up spending four hours and two fresh installs just to get the game working again. After the weekend patch, the FPS cap has been removed but only after all the skills have been remapped to completely different keys than before. To make matters worse the games performance is fairly poor and there are more bugs that the Bayou. Even with the repetitious gameplay loops Mafia 3 does have some very nice elements such as amazing cut scenes and compelling storytelling. If I'm honest while I'm annoyed PC gamers once again have been given a shitty port, I did have some fun with Mafia 3. You can check out my full review here.


These last three weeks I have actually been replaying one of my favourite gaming series of all time: Bioshock. Last month 2K released the Bioshock collection which allegedly remastered the first two games on PC and all of them on console. This port is shocking condition and instead of telling people about this legendary game I had to spend time picking through the mess of problems. Borked mouse acceleration, hard crashes, settings changing at random and the removal of all but the basic graphical options. It is interesting how the same company who worked on the Mafia 3 port also did the work on the Bioshock series (Blind Squirrel Entertainment), it seems these guys just don't think PC gamers deserve a game that works properly. I played through these problems and still had an absolute blast revisiting Rapture and Columbia once more: this time I also played through the two DLC story missions after Infinite. I now consider Burial at Sea (parts 1 & 2) as actually essential to the ending of Bioshock because so many mysteries and secrets are uncovered. You can find all three games in the review section as well as Burial at Sea which is also a final analysis of the whole series (so spoilers!).


As the Autumn nights grow darker many games pull on a Halloween themes coat and Overwatch has led the charge this year. There are now Halloween-esk skins etc for players to pick up in loot boxes and unlike the Olympic Games cosmetics: some of these can be bought with in-game currency. As I hoped it would, Overwatch has totally energised our community: myself and friends play it at least three times a week. Blizzard never seems to cease working on their new IP and it is really paying off for them.


So now I've polished off the Mafia 3 review what is next for this month? Well, games don't sneak up on me often these days, however, after seeing the review for Shadow Warrior 2 reviewed by ACG and Idiotech I decided to give it the review treatment which you can find here. I have also been chipping away at two early access games called Everspace and Osiris: New Dawn. The former is a space themed rogue like that so far is proving very enjoyable. Osiris is also a very interesting title but despite having some strong foundations still needs a lot of work. I am in fact still trying to decide what to do with early access titles as they don't really belong in reviews section: so some site formatting might be in order. Two games now firmly on the horizon are Battlefield 1 and Dishonored 2: so while many games have now landed the game of the year title is still very much for the taking.

Last of all I just wanted to touch on two unfortunate news stories that have come out this week, the first being that Watchdogs 2 will now be delayed from the 15th of November to the 29th of November on PC. Ubisoft released a statement yesterday stating that this extra time would allow them to "ensure that Watchdogs 2 runs smoothly across a broad range of hardware". As usual with these bullshit statements I translate this to mean they have now finished the all important console version and are now rushing to get the PC port in a playable state so they can then release it and start a system of patches over the next six months. In less surprising news while the gaming world celebrates the news that Red Dead Redemption is getting a sequel, PC gamers learn that once again we are being left out in the cold. I say it is not surprising because Rockstar who have never been big fans of PC (which is their prerogative) took two years to get the PC version of GTA 5 out and have never released the original Red Dead on PC despite a massive interest. I just think it's a real shame that we have a games platform that can make games look so good and for 'reasons' we're always last in the queue.


Those are my fortnightly ramblings for nowguys, if you do visit my site and like it please return soon and tell everyone you can about me. Every single like and retweet on Twitter is wholeheartedly appreciated and you can find me @riggedforepic

All Change

It has been an interesting few weeks in the world of technology and no mistake. Apple has apparently changed everything (again), VR has seen a huge drop off in sales and Sony have dropped a bollock with their new system. My theory is that console manufacturers are racing to release new hardware in an attempt to fill the ever growing gap between console and PC performance. So while not directly related to PC gaming it is still fascinating to watch these tectonic plates shifting under our feet. After this topic hit its third paragraph in my blog post I decided to make it into an article of its own so you can read my thoughts on the PlayStation 4 Pro here. Regardless of what happens with the new system, I cannot wait to check out the new Spiderman game.


This last week I have been getting stuck into the open beta of Battlefield One and for the most part, I absolutely love it. Out of all my friends who have tried it, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the latest offering from Dice. Set in the First World War this era of conflict is rarely used and so feels fresh. There is no mistaking this is a Battlefield game with many of the systems from Battlefield 4 being dragged and dropped into the new title. I haven't played BF4 a while now so maybe that has helped this new game feel neoteric, but I really think the weapons and vehicles that come with the new setting fit Battlefield like a glove. I have penned my impressions of the beta here and for those that don't care for reading I have strung together some of my finer moments in the beta. If you don't watch the entire video I urge to at least watch until the second clip where my trusty steed avenges me after being shot off my horse.


As the release for Dishonored 2 is getting ever closer I decided  it was high time I gave the original a little poke: as it turns out Dishonored is ageing very well indeed. One aspect of the game that really stood out in my play through was how well the visuals have held up. As I detail in my retro review, the art team used a wonderful painterly effect which is just shy of cell shading. Combining a stunning use of light and a rock solid engine makes Dishonored relevant way beyond its years. You can check out my retro review here.

 
I just wanted to mention that one of my favourite mainstream games Journalists has moved on from his job a Gamespot to pursue a new endeavour. Danny O'Dwyer has given up a job he loved to try his hand at freelance where he is hoping to create a unique space on the internet that will be home to many quality documentaries about gaming. I love the idea of someone making actual observations of the games industry and leaving a vault of information for future generations to see.  If like me you have ever enjoyed his work on the Point and other gaming content you know this guy will do us proud. His new venture is called NoClip and you can find him trail blazing across the tinterweb here: I wish him all the very best.


Looking forward to this next few weeks I have got plenty to keep me busy and my first port in the storm will be none other that by old friend Bioshock. Just this morning I've set both the first remastered games to download and as soon as I return from a family trip on Sunday I'll be descending into Rapture once more. As mentioned already I'll be doing a full run of all three games and their respective DLC: then writing three comprehensive retro reviews which will include how the remaster has changed things. For those that don't know Bioshock Infinite has not received an update on PC because it was still too sexy to bother. Bioshock aside I have also been blasting my way through Everspace since yesterday and so you can expect a full early access preview soon.


That is all for now ladies and gents, would you kindly follow me on Twitter @riggedforepic and tell your friends about my site. Take care.

Tell me lies

The quandary of No Man's Sky has provided an interesting week for many gamers, for some they have been given the Sci-fi romp of their dreams and others, the hype train came crashing off the tracks in an explosion of disappointment.


No Man's Sky is possibly one of the most divisive games I've seen in years, I am very disappointed to report that my opinion of the game is overall not a good one. I had anticipated the game would have some shortcomings or quirks, but the sad fact is that this highly coveted title from indie developer Hello Games has fallen well short of the mark for me. The PC version has arrived in a fairly unoptimised state with many crash bugs and glitches: while this poor PC version is in itself not good enough the problems I have with the game are much deeper and can't be patched so easily. The first trailers for No Man's Sky set the gaming world alight with intrigue and hope, was this the game we'd all been waiting for? Every fibre of my being was telling me this was too good to be true and that the team wasn't nearly big enough to make this kind of game. Just taking a look at the previous titles from the studio, it's mind blowing how they went from a sideways scrolling game like Joe Danger to a game with the magnitude of No Man's Sky. For the most part, gamers ignored all these facts and jumped on the hype train with both feet: like our old friend Mulder - we wanted to believe.


There are some impressive elements to No Man's Sky, the sheer scale of its game-space has never been matched by any other game. The fact you can see a moon from a planet's surface and within seconds be hurtling toward that moon is astounding. This entire universe was obviously not hand crafted but instead generated by a 'superformula', a procedural algorithm that has allowed eighteen quintillion planets to be generated with only the 'rules' of creation set by the developers. As impressive as this is I do think that when you use procedural maths to make everything, gamers will very quickly become tired of seeing the same basic templates stretched over a slightly different world. Surely it would be better to handcraft chunks of the game world and then use procedural content to fill in the gaps between? The best of both worlds if you like. If you want to read my full review of No Man's Sky for PC, please check it out here.

There are a few other reviews lurking around my site this week so if you are stuck for something to play why not check out my thoughts on Helldivers and ABZU: both reviewed very well. Helldivers is one of the most polished and fun twin stick shooters I've played in recent times: just make sure you have a few friends ready to jump in with you. ABZU is an absolutely exquisite game that feels like the spiritual sequel to Journey, you can check out both these games in the reviews section.


As summer starts to fade and the Autumn makes itself known we enter a quiet month, which has been great to take a break and catch up with a few smaller games (and a cheeky visit to London). However this year still has some big games left to release, notably Deus Ex: mankind divided, Watchdogs 2, Mafia 3, Battlefield 1 and Dishonoured 2. This year has certainly left me a little more wary of having high expectations for games, The Division seems to have vanished from the world and now No Man's Sky has left many gamers feeling deceived/letdown. Out of remaining releases, I pray Dishonoured 2 will be good because the original is one of my favourite games of all time. I think we know what to expect with Battlefield 1, it will sell well, have some bugs to start with and eventually end up fairly polished. It is actually Watchdogs 2 that really has something to prove this year due to the first title falling very short of what was originally shown, this was the game that (for me) displayed in neon lights how dishonest game developers can we when showing off their wares in staged trailers. Come November I shall be taking a very close look at Watchdogs 2 with a full review but also comparing it to the usual hype videos.


This week the world's gaming press has descended upon Germany for Europe's biggest gaming event: Gamescom. Due to a combination of factors (money and health being the main two) I have had to once again miss this year's event but, of course, that won't stop me covering the games and announcements from HQ back in the UK. I shall be pouring over every trailer, interview and reveal looking for all the news and information that pertains to PC gaming. With the EA press event kicking off in a few hours (at the time of writing) I shall post this and head to the bunker: let's hope we see many awesome games.

Can't catch em all

Human curiosity is a force of nature, our ability to wonder and dream is perhaps one of our most fascinating qualities and has lead to some of greatest achievements. We see curiosity in other species but we are unique in that we combine this with all the gifts that come with being a sentient life form. This week most of the developed world has succumbed to yet another fad, nothing new there you might say but this particular one has caught my attention because it hints at how social gaming could look in the future: I am of course talking about Pokemon Go.

 This is what too much Sunny Delight did to kids in the 90's

This is what too much Sunny Delight did to kids in the 90's

If I ever needed proof that the gods are having a laugh at my expense it's that this social phenomenon has come when I'm housebound with a gammy leg. I've never had the urge to steal my elderly neighbour's mobility scooter before, hell I'm sure even he might be playing the damn thing. This Sunday I had my first trip out in weeks and while being driven to the pub for Sunday lunch with the in-laws I was frantically stabbing at my phone trying to catch enough to at least reach level five: in another cruel twist I made it to just shy of five before returning to my prison. It's intriguing watching people play this new augmented reality game, from my vantage point at the pub I could see people searching, some on their own, parents with excited groups of kids and gangs of teenagers all hunting, chatting or just watching others. Yes, it's a naff game, mostly fuelled by nostalgia but there is no denying the social aspects are fascinating. 

You may have noticed a lull in activity from me this last week or so and the primary reason for this is that I took on the hefty task of playing the Witcher 3 from start to finish (including both pieces of DLC). I rolled over the finish line a few days ago and thus you can now find my final review here. Just checking Steam I currently have three hundred and sixty-four hours associated with the Witcher 3: for a single player game that is immense. In my travels with Geralt I have also captured some pretty good images which you can find in the Shooting Gallery here, so please check them out.

My router packed up yesterday to I am now waiting for a bod from Virgin Media to come and replace it tomorrow. Once that is done I can download a few of the games I gathered in the Steam summer sale and get some honest to goodness reviews out of the door again: watch this space! I love Steam and with a fairly chunky internet connection I can download most games in minutes but when you do lose the net for a period of time, you lament the days when games lived on your shelf and not at Valve.

In terms of PC games, it seems to have been a fairly quiet few weeks, Overwatch has had a new character revealed and some other tweaks. No mans Sky has gone gold and will be arriving with us next month so expect a full review as soon as I have played it enough. Given the purported scale of the game, I will in all likelihood be doing a preview to get some general first impressions out. I guess the big event on the horizon is Gamescom which draws ever closer. While I am gutted not to be going this year I will at least be able to get coverage and content out faster than when in the eye of the storm so to speak.

 

If you don't already please follow me on Twitter @riggedforepic and if you wish to contact me you can do so at Riggedforepic@gmail.com I hope you guys are having a great summer and your gaming is epic wherever you are.

The Witching Hour

So there we have it ladies and gents, it is one year to this week that I launched Rigged for Epic and  it has been an amazing experience so far. My underlining drive to create Rigged was a personal one, a need to write my thoughts down about the games I play and thus it follows that I now wish to share my work. One thing I have found is that many online social hubs, (Reddit, forums etc) are very intolerant towards people like myself sharing my site, which I can understand. However as I speak to other gamers, journalists and content makers alike I feel like my site is now just starting to break through the wall. I am hoping to add new forms of content this coming year including a front page which will offer my readers an easy way to see what's on my site and where they can find it.

The big news of these last few weeks has of course been E3, the annual games event held in LA and it was a cracking show. As usual, the major players in the industry had their own shows to kick off the event and it is here we usually see most of the reveals and new information on games we already know are in development. I have pegged a few of the stand out PC games here complete with trailers. Please let me know if you think I have missed any important games that are coming to PC in the future.


I have finally made a break from playing Overwatch on a daily basis as other games are in need of my attention, although I suspect Blizzard's new shooter will be on my regular playlist for the foreseeable future. So what have I been doing wth my time? Well from Saturday I have delved back into the world of the Witcher and my goal of playing through the entire suite of Witcher 3 content is now well underway. Once again I'm being reminded of why this game sits on the throne of modern day RPGs and I will be letting you guys know my opinion of the two substantial pieces of additional content. As anyone who has played the Witcher 3 will attest to, the game is gargantuan in size and so for the next week, my site will be light on new content.

As most of you will be aware of the Steam summer sale kicked off last week and as many wallets brace for impact, gamers around the world scurry across the vast catalogue of deals on offer. As is always the case, when you have a good Steam sale and snag plenty of games, the next one will always bear less fruit. That said, I already have at least eight games in my cart and I am very much looking forward to bringing you the reviews for these interesting titles: watch this space.


I guess this is not directly relevant to a PC gaming blog but the world is reeling from the news that Britain is to leave the European Union. As someone who loved being part of something bigger I now find myself looking at my own country and not liking what I see. We all know the EU wasn't perfect but this shocking move goes against everything I wanted for my children and the place I call home. To all my friends and readers across the EU, I'm so sorry this has happened and am frankly gutted my nation voted for this course of action. I hope the British games industry does not suffer any ill effects and still continues to be a hotbed of talent and innovation.

 

That is all for now, guys, I hope whatever you are playing it is epic. If you don't already please follow me on Twitter @riggedforepic and if you have any feedback or comments you can send them to me at riggedforepic@gmail.com.

Take care,
Genophix

Overwatch help group required

I'd taken a few hits but most had been absorbed by my front shield, the D.VA on the opposing team had been making considerable efforts to take me down: maybe a bit of robot rivalry? My team was now making its last push, to take the point and with only a minute remaining it was going to be tight. A dragon from Hanzo only managed to take out their Bastion so we would have to do this the hard way. Our tank class Reinhardt was making a valiant push up the centre with his shield providing cover, we rallied behind him and but they were just too many: a sterling effort with losses on both sides but one by one our team fell and it was over. But then a flash of light, my hands instinctively flew back onto mouse and keyboard: our Mercy had managed to cast her resurrect in the last second before going down. The opposing team were clearly as dumb-struck as us but we recovered faster: in a few seconds the combined firepower of Solider 76 and D.VA obliterated the remaining enemy players. Our Teamspeak channel erupted into joyous rapture and applause for our healer who had saved the day: moments like these are gold and they happen often when playing Overwatch. 

Blizzard's first foray into the FPS genre finally landed last week and the launch was nothing short of flawless: but did we expect anything less from a developer like Blizzard who wrote the book on quality control? I have been surprised how many of my friends have refused to wait for the cosmetic items to drop from loot boxes and instead paid real money to buy them: even then you are still not guaranteed the items you want. I personally am happy to just play the game and wait, maybe that is because I'm older and a little bit more patient. Since Tuesday, I've poured all my spare time into Overwatch and am still feeling fresh and ready for more. However with other games on the horizon, I will soon have to sate my hunger for this absolutely epic arena shooter and cast my attention onto something new. I have reviewed Overwatch and this includes my first video review so please check it out.


May has now come to a close and as we look towards June those hot summer months (or probably only days in the UK) will see a slight vacuum of games in the run up to E3, which is still one of the biggest gaming events of the year. To spite this lull in activity there is still plenty to do, Mirrors Edge Catalyst will arrive on the 7th of June, the original was a slow burning success and now stands as a cult classic for many gamers including myself: check my site for a review soon. We also heard this week that the eagerly awaited No Man's Sky is being put back until July or possibly even August, which is a ways from the June 21st date. To spite feeling like the massively ambitious project will disappoint many, I am really rooting for the small UK based team.

Gamescom is drawing ever closer and I am still assessing whether my health will allow me to visit Cologne this year, however with tickets almost sold out now it's do or die time. I did attend Gamescom a few years back and had an absolute blast meeting many of my digital friends (because they are not real according to my wife) and also attending the VIP Wildstar party: that seems like a long time ago now. Assuming funding and health are willing this will be the first year I attend with Rigged for Epic to consider: alas I will need to start thinking about an actual website logo and some promotional leaflets.

The last piece of DLC for the Witcher 3 is now here and as the old Warcraft saying goes: 'I am not prepared'. The plan was always to start playing the Witcher 3 base game a few weeks before the last DLC dropped but due to time constraints (Overwatch) it has not worked out that way. So starting this week I will be heading back into the world of the Witcher once more, this time with a few goals of my own: first and foremost to achieve a better ending than my last effort. Secondly to explore the world a little more with a view to take on more of the excellent side quests. Most of all, and I guess the most obvious, is to run right through into both of the substantial DLC packages that will extend the game by a whopping fifty or so hours.

So last but certainly not least I played through Uncharted 4 last week and while I won't be doing a review you can check out some of my screenshots here. Uncharted 4 is by far one of the prettiest games I've ever played and displays a level of polish that might even give Blizzard a run for their money.

That's all for now folks, as always you can follow me on Twitter @riggedforepic, subscribe to my YouTube channel under the same name and if you wish to contact me you can do so at riggedforepic@gmail.com. 

Take care for now,
Genophix

We're all DOOMED

Bethesda did not do themselves any favours with the awful marketing they did for DOOM, in fact, they very nearly put me off buying it all together. The multiplayer beta was a disaster, not for one all-consuming reason but just because it came across as generic and boring. Then in a surprising move, the big B decided not to send any review copies out to media outlets, which as we all know is a good sign something is amiss. The reasoning given was so that reviewers would not critique  the game's multiplayer aspects on empty servers: are you kidding me? Why not just embargo the multiplayer portion until a few days after launch thus allowing review sites chance to review the single player campaign?

 

Yet on launch day as I booted up the game with such legendary heritage something was not as it should be, this was good... actually, this was very good. It is always great when a game you assumed would be a flop actually turns out to be one of the better games you have played that year. I also think that the big media sites are going to show a disconnect with how they review DOOM and how the average gamer sees the remake of a classic. I have just finished reading IGNs review and I honestly think they just don't get it. Ok so if you come at this game with the mindset of comparing it to all the other modern FPS games out there then on paper DOOM will end up lacking in many aspects. However, I believe a remake of DOOM needed to be the old game but improved, not a new game that looked like the original: still with me? The game we have been given is fast, ferocious and leaves your palms sweating and heart thumping. If you would like to read my full review please check it out here.


So we finally got to play an elusive target mission, an aspect of the new Hitman game that has been living up to its name. In fact, near missed the damn thing and only caught it with four hours left due to a friend mentioning he'd just done it. So how was it? Well, it's interesting, on the face of things it was a fairly dull mission: find a famous artist and make sure he had painted his last masterpiece. However, the sheer fact that you get just one chance to play this mission made every move tense and I ended up second guessing everything I did. An impressive thing to accomplish when I know the Paris level like the back of my hand. I still need to check out the second setting for the new Hitman so expect an update on this soon.

 

Today marks the one-week countdown to Overwatch, a game that pretty much all much gaming friends are aching to play again: impressive considering how much we played the beta. There is a palpable sense of anticipation for this new arena shooter from Blizzard and while I held off as long as I could: I think I am on the hype zeppelin with the rest of the gaming world. From what we can see the launch version will be almost identical to the beta client so that should help me get a review out in good time.

After spending all week drooling at screenshots for Uncharted 4 I finally gave in yesterday and picked up a copy. Apart from work, my PC may be getting the longest rest it has had since I built it. I have only played a few hours so far but damn, Naughty Dog can make games like no one else. I might grab some screenshots for the Shooting Gallery because this might be one of the prettiest games I have ever played. 

 

That is all for now folks, as always please follow me @riggedforepic, find me on Youtube under the same name and if you wish to contact me you can get me at Riggedforepic@gmail.com.

There be pirates

So I finally got myself a proper mic stand to go with my proper mic: a shiny Blue Snowball had been sitting there for well over a month and after several attempts to balance it on my knees while playing I decided it was time to get a stand. My desk is a weird shape and almost folds around me and in addition, the depth of the wood around the edge is so deep the mic arm clamp can't fit on it. Nothing a bit of sawing and sanding couldn't sort out of course and now I'm finally able to record my dull set tones in all their glory. If you are familiar with the Snowball you will know it certainly lives up to its name. In fact, when the red recording light is on it almost looks like Glados is perched in front of me: let's hope she doesn't take over.

 

So this week I've gone from batting them indie reviews out and instead jumping head first into the deepest MMO I have ever played. Black Desert Online from the Korean developer Pearl Abyss recently arrived in the EU and North America after getting the localization treatment. With a fairly light few weeks ahead I decided to take the plunge and see what it has to offer. I am trying something slightly new with the review and in fact doing it in stages. The first section I am called a road trip which will effectively be a journal covering my findings and adventures: a final review will follow when I feel I've seen enough of the game. You can find my first chapter and video in the articles section so please check it out. Additionally, if you do have any questions or would like me to look at something specific in the game then email me at Riggedforepic@gmail.com


Hackers and cheats have become a permanent part of PC gaming and there are very few multiplayer games that go unscathed. The Division has been getting crucified in recent weeks by players exploiting glitches and unlimited damage hacks. Ubisoft has been slow to respond but under increasing pressure from the industry they have finally started banning players for unscrupulous behaviour. The problem is that even if they vanquished all the hackers tomorrow, the games content library is still woefully lacking. The latest piece of content was pitched as something very special but is effectively just a single room with fifteen waves of enemies. The base game and its free updates post launch had to sell the paid DLC further down the line (assuming you didn't already own a season pass) and they have fallen short of the mark. There is just too little here for me to consider paying for more broken promises, so given there are far more interesting games out there to review I will be focusing my limited time on them.

 

This week the PC version of Dark Souls 3 has also been getting hit by the hackers and so given this has been a bit of a theme recently I have decided to write an article on cheaters, hackers and them there pirate folks. Look out for it in the articles section this week.

 

The Overwatch open beta goes live today for anyone who pre-purchased or was given a friends key (I am one of the latter). My initial impressions are it is fast, fun and more polished that a teenager's johnson. I will be recording some footage and be typing up an impressions piece this week so watch out for that. With the second instalment of Hitman is waiting in the wings and an avalanche of new games on the horizon my quiet month with BDO is starting to become a little hectic but damn it aren't we so lucky for having all these games to play.

498d4646-5590-4bb0-87d4-8b6c032fa627.jpg


That's all for now guys, if you don't already please follow me @riggedforepic and pop back to the site for new content soon. You can also find me on YouTube under the Rigged for Epic name and we will be seeing far more video content henceforth. 

 

Take care,
Genophix.