Samuel Roberts: Valve time
This week’s highlight is an easy one for me. With the tenth anniversary of The Orange Box on Tuesday, we produced four new features around the games that made up this amazing bundle, including an interview with Valve about what its release meant. There are some great insights in there about the making of Portal, and why GLaDOS was created for the game.
Writing all this stuff was a great reminder of how crazy good 2007 was for games. On top of three new Valve games, we got BioShock, Supreme Commander, Stalker, Crysis and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I’m sure there’s a few others I’m missing, too. The choice of games has only gotten far wider since then, but in the triple-A space, it doesn’t feel quite as exciting.
Andy Kelly: Good crop
I know I’m a year late with this, but man, Stardew Valley is great, isn’t it? In the past I’ve lost hundreds of hours to Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon on Nintendo consoles, and this is like a glorious combination of the two. There are a lot of reasons why I love it, but mainly it’s how unbelievably chill it is. It has an easy, relaxed pace, and never demands anything from you. And the busywork of planting and harvesting crops is weirdly hypnotic.
My farm has become a place where I just hang out and idly experiment with the game’s systems. I’m not interested in making some incredibly complex, intricate farm that makes a pile of money. I just like messing around, seeing what I can do. I’m currently looking after chickens and making mayonnaise. But maybe I’ll move to something else. After reviewing the intense, bloated Middle-earth: Shadow of War, this is a perfect palate cleanser.
James Davenport: The hunt begins
It begins in Early Access, at least. Hunt: Showdown was our favorite game at E3 this year and for good reason. It looks incredible and takes the open world sandbox multiplayer hijinks of PUBG and makes them much more intimate and sinister. You can read all about Hunt and see the new trailer to get an idea for how it works, and once you do, you can join me in furious anticipation of a yet another multiplayer game (that I’ll probably quit after one or two painful defeats). Still, it’s the kind of game I would want to design: a tense, dark, consequential thing with The Good Graphics.
Tom Senior: Megamap
I’m looking forward to Total War: Warhammer’s upcoming free update that will glue the maps from the first and second games together into one massive campaign. The map will be populated by all of the factions from the first and second game, which means more meat for my ravenous Skaven hordes. I’ve had lots of fun bringing the High Elves low, but how will my rodents fare against the undead shamblers of a vampire count army? Would a hungry giant rat man baulk at a serving of zombie flesh? I can’t wait to find out.
Total War: Warhammer is one of the best uses of a license in games ever. The Total War format is a perfect fit for Warhammer fantasy battles, and as a fan of the old world, I’m happy to see it done properly by a team that obviously gets it. Bring on the third game.
Tuan Nguyen: Wireless Oculus
Oculus demoed its updated Santa Cruz VR headset this week, showing what the future of VR will be like for gamers, and it was glorious. I had the chance to try Santa Cruz last year, but this year Oculus refined its wireless prototype further. Room-scale play was much bigger, and at least matched that of the HTC Vive, if not beat it. I played a space-cowboy demo, with dueling pistols, running around the room, dodging, and moving freely. It was great not to have to worry about wires, and complicated setups. The future is indeed promising.
Tyler Wilde: Grown up
Overgrowth is finally releasing in full. It’s been bouncing around my mental list of ‘upcoming things I ought to check out, probably’ for eight years now, sinking to its depths for entire years at a time, then popping back up to the top after a GDC demo, or a new video. But I managed to forget I was looking forward to it altogether between two GDCs ago and now, so it feels surprisingly fresh—I don’t know what to expect anymore, outside of brawling rabbits, and I’m excited. It hasn’t been demystified by the wait at all.