The Outer Worlds

The Game

The Outer Worlds developed by Obsidian and published by Private Division is a game that may look quite familiar to the more observant amongst you. You would be right to point out the many similarities to Fallout but it’s also worth mentioning that this is the team behind Fallout: New Vegas (but not the newer ones). In a nutshell, The Outer Worlds is what the newer Fallout games should have been.

While it may have a similar retro-futuristic atmosphere to Fallout this game is actually based in the 24th century when humanity has left Earth on its mission to colonise the stars. Similarly to Borderlands you’ll find that corporations and companies are in charge of life on these planets and in a typical hyper-capitalist fashion they are focused on exploiting people until they die – all in the name of maximising their profits. Quite early on you will learn that The Board is in charge of the colony of Halcyon where you now find yourself after being woken up from a hibernation pod, where you’ve spent the last 70 years. However, the colony is in a dire state and it’s up to you to sort it (or not).

The game is heavily decision based, has brilliant dialogue options and gives you an unimaginable amount of freedom. You don’t like this quest giver because they looked at your strange – that’s fine, you can kill them and keep playing. Of course all such decisions will influence the world around you and you’ll quickly learn that every action has consequences and not everything is black and white. There are virtually infinite ways to play through the game, in fact after I finished my first play through I couldn’t just put the game down and instead started a new playthrough immediately, now trying to do the opposite of what I did on the first play through – easier said than done. Virtually every quest will give you at least one decision to make at some point, this will affect the outcome, your relationship with factions and in some cases even the ultimate fate of the colony.

The combat is essentially the established and familiar mechanics seen in the Fallout series. You can choose from a variety of weapon types, be it melee or range, different damage types and weapon mods. This will allow you to customise your weapons so that you can have the perfect gun (or hammer) for any occasion. During combat you can use the TTD (Tactical Time Dilation), which slows down time and allows you to hit enemies in their most vulnerable places.

Worth it?

While the game doesn’t necessarily do that much “new” stuff it cements its place in gaming history with some of the great titles of this genre like Skyrim or Fallout: New Vegas. The Outer Worlds takes an established and successful formula and turns it into an epic masterpiece. The visuals are stunning, the dialogue is extremely well written, the story is compelling, the characters and their backstories and off the cuff comments are brilliant. There are many side quests and regions to explore, each with its own unique challenges. An average play-through of the game will take about 20-25 hours (my first playthrough was 27hrs and I did a lot of side-quests), depending on how many side-quests and dialogue options you engage in, but as mentioned above that’s only going to be one version of the story. You can easily replay the game taking a different approach and be introduced to other stories and characters. The replay value and potential of this game is actually brilliant – while some key story points may remain, getting to them and their outcomes can differ immensely.

If I had to fault it (which is really difficult) I would say occasionally it sounds a bit empty – maybe some sort of radio or a bit more on the music front and there’s the occasional visual bug, but that’s being picky. At full price the game will set you back £49.99 – honestly I do think that’s a bit on the expensive side as its now a couple years old as well, but you can frequently find it on sale for a much more affordable £19.99 – check out the links below for some good deals on CD keys. If on sale, I highly recommend you give it a go (especially if you’re a Fallout fan, who’s been left wanting after recent games). Overall it’s a brilliant game, great visuals, aesthetics, dialogue, story and gameplay. An absolute must play.

Tips

  • If you are doing ok and not being particularly challenged, don’t spend your skill points as you may reach a point where you need a few extra points in a dialogue option or lockpicking and those spare skill points will come in handy.
  • You can actually make your character dumb at the start of the game, which will unlock some [Dumb] dialogue options (and even a dumb ending) – definitely doing a playthrough like that.
  • Persuade/Intimidate/Lie are useful skills to avoid doing leg-work. Being able to talk yourself out of a situation can save you time.
  • There’s always multiple ways to handle a situation. Sometimes you may see a door that’s locked and think it’s the only way through, but if you look around you’ll often find alternative options – maybe a key somewhere, some dialogue or a PC you can hack that will get you through.
  • Generally speaking there’s two main paths to take – you either help The Board or you help Phineas the scientist who saved you. Each option has a variety of main quests you’ll need to complete to progress with many important and impactful decisions along the way.
  • Adding things into your medicine slots means that you will ingest that when you restore your health.

Useful Links

Just Cause 4

The Game

Just Cause 4 developed by Avalanche Studios Group and published by Square Enix is the 4th iteration in a series of games that you can’t have missed. Often branded as the ultimate open world game, Just Cause 4 allows you wreak havoc on the world using your un-ending arsenal of crazy weapons and vehicles. If you’ve never played a Just Cause game, don’t worry about playing older ones first – the story will throw you straight in. The story doesn’t really have all that much substance to it, it’s just a series of increasingly crazier missions and stunts tied together through some cheesy dialogue and a familiar revenge arc.

In terms of mechanics the game continues to do what Just Cause has always done so well and that is to cause as much destruction using every tool in your arsenal. If you’ve never played any of the games, there really isn’t much to it. Destroy red/white/silver (aka chaos objects) objects for points, use your grapple and grapple mods to play around with game physics and parachute and wingsuit across the island. In addition to the main story missions there are also regions that need to be liberated by completing a mission in the main base – this is quite reminiscent of a Far Cry type of gameplay where you go around the map liberating outposts to improve your control of the region.

The main story will keep you occupied for around 15-20 hours, but there are hundreds of tasks and challenges to complete around the map. Personally, as with most games, I found it difficult to find the motivation to come back and complete challenges after completing the main story line, but if you’re ever after a good time waster you can always come back to attempt the challenges. Apart from the challenges, most side-quests feel a bit repetitive and apart from unlocking further mod upgrades they don’t give you all that much in return.

It’s worth mentioning the grapple hook and grapple mods – if you haven’t played a Just Cause game before this will be a bit of a weird one for you. Essentially Rico (the main character) has a grapple that he uses to get around the world, however that grapple can also be used to attach 2 objects together, or balloons and boosters to various objects. Through this the game becomes something almost like Gary’s World where you can mess with game physics, build crazy contraptions held together by your grapple and blow stuff up. Ultimately as the name of the game suggests Just Cause things in the world (mainly explosions).

Worth it?

You can easily find the main game for around £6-10 and the Complete Edition for around £12-15. Both of those prices feel pretty fair for what the game has to offer. It will definitely keep you busy for a while, but also provides a fun sandbox in which you can mess around and explode things – and let’s face it that sounds pretty fun. The Complete Edition includes the game expansions which will keep you busy beyond the main story mission. It’s probably worth going for the Complete Edition as it will give you more than just the main game.

Overall Just Cause 4 continues the series’ established track record. It’s a great open-world physics sandbox in which you can fly, fight and explode things to your hearts content. A great game to let off some steam and just cause (no pun intended) some chaos. While the story may be quite basic, the actual game map is absolutely immense, easily one of the biggest open world games out there and while certain patches of it can feel a bit dead there are also plenty of regions, cities and challenges dotted around the map to keep you going for a while.

Tips

  • Switch between different grappler mod loadouts, also the grapple is your BFF – master it
  • Don’t grow too attached to weapons – maybe a specific type, but you’ll find yourself changing weapons quite often
  • When on a mission, don’t kill all enemies unless instructed to, focus on completing the objectives instead as that’s what’s actually required to progress the mission
  • Use airdrops before invading a base so that you can properly equip yourself and prep
  • Switch between parachute and wingsuit and combine that with your grapple for the best way to get around the map
  • Hijack helicopters by grappling onto them
  • When falling, grapple onto the ground to avoid taking fall damage

Useful Links

Island War

The Game

Island War by Fastone Games HK is a mobile first take on the familiar mechanics popularised by games like Bad North. The game is built around collecting an army of various units, upgrading repeat versions and using that army to destroy other player’s bases. That’s essentially the core game play loop and it’s available in several different leagues and challenge modes, all designed to put your army to the test. You will also have to set up a base to defend your own island.

The game rewards you frequently in terms of giving you new units and coins. Premium currency is also fairly easy to obtain, although spending it doesn’t always guarantee a great reward. There are some gatcha elements like a battle pass for extra rewards, but the game is still ok without them.

Worth it?

If you’d like to play something similar to Bad North, but can’t afford to buy it, then Island War is a good option to check out. There’s plenty of cards to collect and upgrade. It also looks like the game is still being worked on with new updates and features ahead. The core gameplay loop does get a bit repetitive but the frequent awards, level ups and challenges keeps it quite varied. The gatcha elements are plenty, but generally you can get on quite nicely without having to use any of them. There are few ads and the challenge modes can be quite tough to crack.

Overall I’d say it’s worth a play, it will keep you busy from a few minutes to an hour a day, limited only by how many levels you unlock – if you exceed the level limit, once the new level limits are unlocked you will receive any backdated rewards. There are some lag issues with big armies on bigger islands, but other than that it’s a solid and simple take on a good game mechanic.

Tips

  • When attacking other player’s islands try and put your rafts down in such a way so as to hit the three core buildings fastest (Army Camp, Gold Mine, City Hall)
  • Use paratroopers to your advantage once you’ve lured away defending armies
  • Combine troops to upgrade as soon as you can – you can also look into specialising each raft for a specific purpose
  • Upgrade your City Hall and Army Camp asap to allow you more rafts and higher army upgrades

Useful Links

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores

The Game

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Islands by Xigma Games is a sequel to the quite compelling The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands. If you’ve played the original you will be familiar with the general concept of managing your settlers and expanding your settlement around the ever-burning bonfire. The first game showed a lot of potential and could get quite challenging, it was also presented as a 2D “side-scrolling” game. In this epic sequel the game developer has moved from a 2D world into a full 3D one for something of a paper-cut out aesthetic.

The game will challenge you to grow and expand your settlement while ensuring you manage your resources and workers in such a way so as to maintain optimal food and resource supplies. Where The Bonfire games differentiate from some other city builders is the nightly attacks. Every evening various beasts – ranging from wolves to spiders and other quite scary monsters will swarm your village and attack your settlers. You will need to ensure you’ve always got enough guards on patrol and that they are all well equipped. The sequel adds even more depth to what was already a quite deep mobile game. There are a good variety of buildings and production chains which will challenge you to expand your settlement even further than before. You also keep unlocking more buildings with practically every building you construct.

Be weary though – some of your settlers may decide to steal from you or leave you! All settlers have unique characteristics and special skills. The skills combined with suitable tools will allow you to specialise your people for the role they were born to do, be it farmer or guard. The settlers will share their thoughts with you regularly and won’t hesitate to let you know when they are unhappy – something you really want to avoid.

Worth it?

A free version of the game is available, but you are only limited to 10 nights. Personally I didn’t really like this method of getting me to buy the full version for £4.49 on mobile and £9.29 on PC. I would have preferred limiting the number or types of buildings that can be created in the free version, because 10 days are up quite quick and you are essentially forced into the full version.

Free version aside, the paid version is – generally-speaking – worth buying. There are some slight issues, like some performance issues with bigger settlements, not being able to remove trees, some minor visual bugs and it can be quite battery intensive. As a mobile game this is definitely a great choice as there are no gatcha elements and you will find yourself thinking – just one more night for quite a while until you realise you’ve spent the last 3 hours on the game. The expeditions allow you to discover new islands and continue scaling up your resource production. I am unsure if I can justify the full price for PC, although I would also expect less performance issues. The game is also still being worked on and developed further so there will hopefully be future updates with even more amazing things to do with your settlement.

Overall definitely worth checking out, you can always play the demo/free version and if you decide it’s something you like, you will have to purchase the full version to play any further.

Tips

  • You can’t remove or move trees/rocks – plan accordingly
  • Make sure you can equip your workers with carts and appropriate tools (especially builders) – this will greatly speed up their work
  • Match settlers to their jobs based on their special skills
  • Always ensure you have more guards than you think you need – sometimes waves of monsters may attack from different sides
  • Build homes to house your settlers – they are less vulnerable to attacking beasts than if they sleep by the bonfire
  • You need a trading dock to be able to send your ships on expeditions

Useful Links

Spider-Man (2018)

The Game

Spider-Man by Insomniac Games is a PS4 exclusive released in 2018. WARNING there may be some spoilers ahead. The game let’s you play as your favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man in a fresh take on the story. The game throws you straight into the action as your first task is to take on Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin, but fret not, putting him in prison is only the start of your adventure…

The story sees you take on various criminal organisations and both familiar and less familiar super-villains. However a large part of the game is based in the world outside of the story. Whereas normal games may have a few open world objectives, this game is actually packed with bases, challenges, collectibles and mini-side-quests. There are also a few side quests, but personally I think a few more could have been added, although with all the other open world objectives I understand why there aren’t that many. Completing quests will unlock Spidey costumes, each with their own unique abilities that you can mix and match across suits. The suits are a great element to the game and really keep you collecting the various tokens you need in order to unlock them. Each suit power is quite unique and it doesn’t feel like there’s necessarily a hierarchy but rather different powers for different play styles.

As the story progresses you will but heads with super-villains like Electro, Rhino and even Doc Ock (to name a few), while also learning about Norman Osborn and Otto Octavious’ past. At this point it’s probably worth mentioning Miles Morales – if you have watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, you will already know who this is although his story hasn’t quite begun yet in this story line. Some missions will let you play as Miles or MJ where you need to rely on your stealth to get past enemies (as you can’t match Spidey’s powers). These missions provide a nice break from fighting as Spider-Man and slow down the pace a little so that you can appreciate the tension of a given situation. There are also a couple mini games that recur in both main missions and side quests, these are generally pretty easy to solve, some of the more complex ones can be pretty fun to solve.

The combat is a fairly familiar combo-based type with access to nifty gadgets, badass finishers and aerial combat. Unlike other games with such combat (like Batman or Shadow of Mordor), you’re reliant on your Spidey sense to dodge incoming attacks as opposed to parrying or countering specific enemies. This takes some getting used to as combat is all about mobility, frequent dodging and the use of your gadgets. As you progress you will be able to upgrade your gadgets and unlock new and improve skills from the skill tree.

Worth it?

The Game of the Year edition was on sale for £26.99 when I purchased it recently, but generally speaking you shouldn’t be paying more than £30 for the game, DLC included. The DLC offers a lot of extra gameplay and open world objectives as well. The campaign takes about 20 hours to complete, depending on how much of the city you explore and complete. Swinging around the city is quite an experience and they have really managed to create an immensely packed world with constant activity and distractions for you to get stuck into as you swing around the city. You can never just go from A to B – there’s always something going on somewhere on route that needs your attention.

Overall I would definitely recommend the game to someone looking to keep busy over a long weekend or few days. The open world stuff eventually becomes a bit repetitive and you want to finish the story. Unlocking new suits is awesome, although I found myself sticking to one super power that I generally liked and one power-up configuration too. It didn’t feel like there was much benefit to unlocking other suits other than aesthetic purposes or collecting them. The story is good and fun, albeit fairly predictable for the most part. Generally speaking, a solid game.

Tips

  • Webbing enemies to walls is a way to instantly immobilise them, punching or throwing webbed enemies at walls will stick them to the wall permanently
  • Get the extended perch takedown skill – it increases the range of the perch takedown dramatically, so you don’t have to be directly above or near the enemy – this comes in handy for stealthier missions
  • The perfect dodge to takedown skill can also be very useful as it can allow you to play a bit more defensively if you are getting overwhelmed by dodging at the perfect time and using that to get your takedowns
  • If you feel that you are getting overwhelmed use your gadgets to get out of a bind
  • Experiment with different suit powers to find what works for you

Useful Links