Sundays are for spending your first weekend back in the UK in a while, and feeling a bit disoriented. Before you settle back in, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).
It's out now and there's a demo
Shardpunk: Verminfall smooshes together a bunch of different ideas you'll have seen before. It's got turn-based tactical combat against rats with magic rifles in a steampunk world already in ruins. It's got the need to keep on moving, lest an approaching rat horde overwhelm you. It's got bunkers in which your party rests, de-stresses, and tools up before moving on.
Kind of a Fallouty, XCOMy, FTLy, Vermintidey mix, then - which together seems very cool. It's out now, and there's a demo.
Out in early access now
Occasionally I wonder if the market for wholesome town builders has reached saturation, but then a trailer pops up for another one and I'm never less than intrigued. The latest is Fabledom, which promises the pastoral fields and castle wall construction I adore, then adds a twist by being set within a fairytale kingdom. It's in early access now.
Alongside Second Extinction
With 13 new weapons
Part of the fun of Vampire Survirors lies in discovering new weapons and items, and knowing that there are still surprises to uncover as you construct your monster murder machine. That thrill fades as complete more runs and reach the game's edges, but its DLCs are so far doing a good job of creating new, uncharted territory. The latest, Tides Of The Foscari, is out now.
Also, a new update brings new content and, uh, Denuvo?
If you're starting playing Ghostwire: Tokyo after it came to Game Pass this week, I have a hot tip for you: prioritise upgrading movement abilities. The freedom to glide from rooftop to rooftop over haunted Tokyo will bring you so much more joy than any incremental damage upgrade. That's the most important thing I have to say, that it makes for good virtuatourism.
Oh, and I suppose a free content arrived this week too, adding new side-missions, handy new combat abilities, and a new "rogue-lite" mode. The update, uh, apparently also added Denuvo, over a year after the game launched? Cool, cool.
This week, for the first time in a long time, I stayed up way past my bedtime playing a video game. I had left weird abiogenesis idle clicker The Barnacle Goose Experiment running in the background for a few days, dithering a bit any time I stumbled back across the browser tab, until one day it hit me. I don't remember what it was, but one discovery was so strange and exciting that I then sat there for four hours, thinking "I'll go to bed when this result comes in", and then. Woof. I am now far too old to stay up past my bedtime playing video games, and am still tired. Anyway! What are you playing this weekend? Here's what we're clicking on!
How clean is your spouse?
I'd planned on starting with a line about how Loretta is an exception to how psychological horror games are about trudging around an abandoned mental hospital with the worst torch in the world until the girl from Ringu menaces you. It was already interesting and good enough pretty much right away to earn a recommendation, but after one of what will definitely be several playthroughs, leaving my praise that faint would do it a terrible injustice.
Loretta is goddamn excellent by any standard. Where other games use the mentally unwell narrator to explain everything away with "turns out you're secretly crazy", it's instead just one layer of a complex horror mystery with splashes of drama and noir, whose surprises I'm straining not to spoil.
They're Suspicious Stew flavoured
I'm always up for trying new and odd foods. I mean, I barbecued some womb in a restaurant in Japan recently, and I can confirm that it was like calamari but tougher, and, largely, a lot worse. So, that's why the idea of Pringles releasing a limited-edition Minecraft Suspicious Stew flavour intrigues me! I would like to give it a go and see if it's actually quite nice or makes me barf.
You also play as a llamaworm, there's that too
Japan's brutal working culture isn't exactly a secret. You've probably heard the horror stories, or at least, got the general gist that success in Japanese business often equates to time. You don't necessarily need to be doing work, you just need to be present as the clock hands shift. A hard worker is reduced to a statue that only springs to life again when their boss gets up to leave.
Mr. Saitou is a short pixel art RPG that offers a hilarious commentary on the absurdities of working culture in Japan, with occasional flashes of seriousness. Completable in one sitting, it's a game I'd recommend to anyone.
Beton Brutal is challenging yet chill
I spent my morning trying and failing to rise from the depths of a vast Brutalist tower in Beton Brutal, a new first-person platformer. It's a challenging climb yet a curiously chill vibe, perhaps because any time I fall all the way down, I'm delighted to be back surrounded by overgrown plants and sculptures rising from a pond. The developer says Beton Brutal "tries to replicate and build upon the parkour mechanics seen in Minecraft," and I think I have a lot to learn. I didn't even know Minecraft had parkour.
Secrets Of Gloomrot is animating next week
Frakenstein is often cited as the first science fiction thing, and now it can add to its honours because it's the inspiration for the first major update to V Rising. The info on Secrets Of Gloomrot doesn't actually use the F word anywhere, but it's a new biome "twisted by the tortured ambitions of a scientific genius and his legions of followers", so I feel pretty confident in the citation. This new free addition to the early access vampiric survival game - which won a few hearts here at RPS - is arriving on May 17th. That's Monday, that is, and boy, it's a biggun alright.
I welcome this development
If you recognise the name PlayWay it is because PlayWay publishes most of the [Noun] Simulator games, often but not always involving being a mechanic of some kind. Today, though, I'm excited to tell you that with their next game, developed by PlayWay subsidiary Games Incubator, they're branching out into the long-neglected magical horsegirl genre with My Horse: Bonded Spirits.
50% off for a small, comfy mouse with bulletproof wireless connectivity.
The Logitech G305 Lightspeed, a top-tier wireless gaming mouse that normally retails for £60, has dropped to £30 at Amazon UK this morning. Here's why we rate it.
In short, the G305 offers a lightweight design, fast and reliable Lightspeed wireless, 300 hours of battery life and a comfortable shape, making it ideal for a wide range of use case for competitive gaming on a desktop PC to a light, comfy mouse for working on a laptop in a cafe.
Around 15-20% faster than RTX 4070 for $10 more.
As you may have noticed, the RTX 4070 was released earlier this week - indeed, the official RPS 4070 review went live yesterday. It's a good graphics card, fundamentally speaking, but like many recent releases it's a bit more pricey than it should be at $599 / £589.
Thankfully though, in the US you can actually pick up AMD's more powerful last-gen flagship card, the RX 6950 XT, for just $10 more thanks to a deal at Newegg.
A right piglin's ear
Surveying the sprawling piglin outpost before me, a plan forms. With a flourish of button presses from my controller, I spawn a sizeable army of zombies. They'll zomble their way up the main path, and with their high health pools they'll cut into the vast piglin forces and buy me time. With another flourish a contingent of friendly creepers scuttles along behind me. I lead them on a flanking attack around the outpost, targeting their spawners while the main piglin army is occupied with my frontal assault. A masterpiece of tactical engineering!
Or it would have been, if my minions weren't so bloody stupid. Half my zombies fell off the staircase they were climbing due to their terrible pathfinding, and burned up in the lava moat below. Meanwhile, I sent my creepers off to explode against the first spawner I found. Only one of them got there; the others relentlessly humped a wall they could easily have climbed, until Piglins surrounded and slaughtered them. I returned to my starting point with what remained of my army, a fair bit poorer in resources, and a great deal poorer in patience.
Welcome to Minecraft Legends, a strange mixture of real-time strategy and open-world adventure which frustrates and impresses in equal measure. There's half a great game lurking here, but it's marred by inadequacies that have nibbled away at me like piglins at my walls. This game could have been so much more.
3.0.0 brings two free modes and more
Today saw the release of the Chaos Dwarfs DLC for Total War: Warhammer 3, which is pretty cool if what you like is beards and spending money. If you only like beards, today also saw the release of the free update 3.0.0, Mirror Of Madness, which includes two new game modes, a new legendary hero, and more.
Back in February, Rocksteady released several trailers of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League that confirmed that it was a looter-shooter with a battle pass and an always online internet connection. The response was poor and anonymous sources cited in a report in March that the game was to be delayed.
It's now official. Suicide Squad will now release on February 2nd, 2024 rather than in spring 2023.
But it's not currently in development
The Steam Deck is powered by SteamOS, a custom Linux-based operating system developed specifically for running Steam and its games. It's possible to install Windows on your Steam Deck if you wish, but the drivers are rudimentary and there are a bunch of obstacles when it comes to controlling Windows via Steam Deck's controls or its touchscreen.
A leaked project from an internal Microsoft hackathon shows that staff at the operating system developer have noticed these issues - although it sounds like a version of Windows optimised for gaming handhelds is a long way off.
Including Little Nightmares
A handful of Bandai Namco Europe games are headed to the GeForce Now cloud streaming service this week: Get Even, 11-11 Memories Retold, and Little Nightmares and its sequel. They're four of the seven games joining the service, and the full list also includes the multiplayer medieval melee, Mordhau.
Choose from a 27-in Dell or 28-in Innocn, both with warm reviews.
4K monitors are brilliant for watching movies, playing pretty games and getting work done, and you might be surprised how affordable 4K monitors are these days. Case in point are these two big reductions on 27-inch and 28-inch 4K monitors on Amazon, available from Dell for $249.99 or Innocn for $199.99.
Different or better, pick one
After two hours of XDefiant, I came away with a rather different thought in my mind than I expected. More than anything, I was impressed at just how good we have it in the multiplayer FPS genre at the moment. Apex Legends, Warzone 2, Overwatch 2, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege. That's some unbelievably tough competition. XDefiant has to either give players something completely different, or absolutely nail the basics. It's opted for the second path, and having played several matches against a medley of press people and content creators, I'm not convinced Ubisoft's new arena shooter is up to the challenge.
The Cooler Master MM720 looks odd but performs like a god.
The weirdest, wonderfullest ultralight gaming mouse, Cooler Master's MM720, is down to $16.99 at Amazon compared to a launch price of $52.99. This is an awesome pickup at almost any price, but at $17 you need to consider this - even if you've never tried an ultralight mouse before - or if you've already got a full collection.
Coming from Ascendant Studios, I forget who founded it
When Immortals Of Aveum was first revealed in December last year, there wasn't a lot to know. After a hands-off preview last week, I can tell you it's a singleplayer first-person shooter but with magic, which would sound a lot like Forspoken if I described it without context, and it actually looks pretty cool. Mainly, though, I can tell you that I'm never going to forget whose idea this game was.
Explore abiogenesis in The Barnacle Goose Experiment
I entered a sterile biodome with nothing but myself present and nothing to do but cry, spit, and piss. This is what science looks like. From these scant three verbs, you can create a whole world in The Barnacle Goose Experiment, combining substances to spontaneously generate whole other forms of matter, life, landscapes, and oddities. Made by Everest Pipkin, it's part idle game, part clicker, and wholly fascinating. Best of all, you can play for free in your browser.
Look! It's Ellie, Joel, and Abbey on Broadway
Dragon Age writer David Gaider’s new adventure game Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical will now hit the stage on August 3rd. It was formerly known as Chorus - and presumably changed its name to avoid sharing an RPS tag with Chorvs - but after reaching its crowdfunding goals and finding a publisher, Stray Gods is ready for the limelight.
One of the fastest gaming processors at a near-historic low.
After debuting at £320, the Core i5 13600K has remained resolutely at that price thanks to limited supply and high demand. Now, the 13600K has seen its first major discount, dipping to around the £300 mark at Amazon UK. Meanwhile, the same CPU without integrated graphics, the 13600KF, is down to £281.
These are solid deals for a great-performing 14-core, 20-thread CPUs that excel in gaming and content creation - especially given that you can pick up a motherboard that allows you to carry over the DDR4 memory in your existing build to keep costs down.
Last week it was revealed that after literal years of pushing, American McGee is officially not getting a third Alice game. We at the Electronic Wireless Show podcast take a look at the history of Alice: Asylum, the game that would never be, as well as the game design bible that was, it seems, the last great hope for the project. We also give American McGee friend of the show status, as consolation.
From the team behind CK2's AGOT mod
Many moon rotations ago, Crusader Kings 2’s sprawling grand strategy received A Game Of Thrones facelift thanks to a fan-made mod, replacing the political tensions of mediaeval Europe with the political tensions of Westeros. The AGOT mod was both huge and hugely popular, and now the team are back with a similar mod for Crusader Kings 3. It’ll be released in open beta tomorrow, April 14th.
I've tested it and it's a good 'un.
One of my favourite Steam Deck accessories is £10 off today, bringing it to an all-time low price and more than justifying the article you're reading right now. The item in question is Jsaux's excellent now-£30 Docking Station, which holds your Steam Deck at a comfy angle while charging it and providing a ton of extra ports.
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