PC Gaming & Tech News – April 9, 2016

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Hand of Fate 2 announced for early 2017, new Overwatch animated short, and DOOM is headed in the wrong direction…

Hand of Fate 2 Announced

The original Hand of Fate, by Defiant Development, was an interesting hybrid of a 3D brawler and a deckbuilding card game. A Kickstarter and Steam Early Access success story, the game spread to Linux/Mac/PS4/XBO, received a DLC and multiple free content additions, is claimed to have been downloaded nearly 2 million times (1.5 million of that by Microsoft in a “free Games with Gold” promotion). Because of the positive reception, Defiant have announced a full sequel.

While the announcement teaser tells us almost nothing, we have some extra information. The sequel is said to expand on combat/equipment with additional weapon handling options and companion characters that fight along side you, while the card side sees a new “map-based meta-game”. Said to take place 100 years after the events of the first game, you play as a female protagonist, with the original playable character now acting as the stories antagonist. It promises to challenge veteran players of the last game; mixing up the experience with new mechanics and additional win conditions beyond simply clearing the opponent’s deck. Release date slated for early 2017 on PC/Mac/Linux, with no confirmation on consoles yet.

Hand of Fate 2 01

Overwatch Animated Short – “Alive”

The next of Blizzard‘s top-quality shorts has been released; this time showcasing a lengthy chase/fight sequence between Widowmaker and Tracer. It does a fantastic job of showcasing the core abilities you get to use in the game, while gradually building up the world and character backstories. If by the end we haven’t gotten a full movie out of this I’ll be sorely disappointed, and that’s not something I would say about most other game franchises. The art direction, diverse cast of characters, and sheer talent behind it make it one of the best candidates I can recall for such a thing, and they’re gradually reaffirming the potential with each new animation. The game launches on May 24th, 2016, with a free open beta a few weeks earlier between May 5th – 9th.

DOOM Multiplayer Might Be Ruined by Greed and a Focus on Consoles

When most PC gamers/enthusiasts think about titles like DOOM or Quake, they think about the good old days of PC gaming, when games were pure, brutal, and didn’t hold your hand; when simply buying the game was really the only thing you needed to worry about. Apparently Bethesda doesn’t feel that way, and have recently made their plans for the game clear. The closed beta, available to those who pre-ordered Wolfenstein: TNO way back when (already off to a great start), hints at a wide variety of serious problems both with the port and core game design. For a quick overview of the game’s problems, take a look at Mack’s (aka Worth A Buy) impressions below. [ Warning – Strong Language ]

While the closed beta is largely locked down, we have some extra info from leaked screenshots of the Advanced section of the options menu. From a technical standpoint, likely problems are:

  • 60/90/120/144 FPS Caps – Actual behavior above 60 is untested as these options are unavailable, but it would be one of the first games in the modern Id Tech engine (5 previously, now v6) to allow for >60hz. 144FPS would be great, but as worded in the options menu, there doesn’t seem be an option to have no cap, which is obviously important for long-term potential of the game, as we already have 165-200hz panels on the market.
  • Potentially no server browser or custom servers
  • No FOV Adjustment – For a game in this genre, with this pedigree, in-game FOV adjustment is something that should have been in from minute one, and yet there’s no sign of it at all, with an excruciatingly low default. Players were able to use the game’s command console to change it up to 120, but not only was the console disabled, but traditionally when the console is needed for the adjustment (as in Source engine and certain past Bethesda titles), it may be that the change can be reset upon relaunch or during various animations during play, and/or may not remain active in certain sequences.
  • Options for adjusting Chromatic Aberration and Motion Blur may not include an off position.
  • Potentially forced mouse acceleration/smoothing

And then on the gameplay side, they seem to have taken what should have been a pure/hardcore competitive multiplayer experience, and have turned into something mirroring all of the worst problems popularized by games like Call of Duty.

  • Pre-selected weapon loadouts, no in-map weapon pickups (which previously rewarded map knowledge, skill, and kept play variety extremely high as you switched between numerous weapons on-the-fly)
  • Ability to play as extremely overpowered demons, with obtaining that power dictated heavily by RNG elements
  • External progression with unlocks of perks and weapons that have a direct effect on both effectiveness going into a match and core balance with limitations on what you can and cannot use based on how much you’ve grinded
  • The above are made even worse by a $40 Season Pass which will include multiple packs like the one described below, both segregating the playerbase and creating direct imbalances:
    • Three new maps
    • One new weapon
    • One new playable demon
    • One new armour set
    • One new piece of equipment
    • New hack modules and taunts
    • New customization colors and patterns

DOOM 2016 01

These decisions are blatantly against what the classic titles stood for, PC gaming(ers) in general, and even intelligent/competitive players who value fair play over the abusive Skinner box they seem to want to provide. It might just be the case that the only thing even worth playing is the single-player campaign, which could be fine considering how great Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Old Blood were. That said, I do question what kind of sacrifices they had to make to include and focus on all this multiplayer content… The game is slated for release on May 13th, 2016, with a free open Beta beginning next week on April 15th, through till the 17/18th. I’ll be testing the port, and will likely post my thoughts afterwards.

For full disclosure, I have no stake in any of the games or companies mentioned and the opinions shared are entirely my own.

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