Crusader Kings 2 ‘Holy Fury’ Expansion Released Today

At long last the latest expansion for the Strategic Medieval Life simulator Crusader Kings 2 is now available to the masses. What is undoubtedly the largest expansion to date, Holy Fury looks to integrate itself with nearly every culture, dynasty, timeline available in the game. Many of the previous expansions simply tack on their respective features, thus increasing the scope and breadth and flavor of the CK2 world. So, not owning all expansions could be considered ‘necessary’ to experience what the game can do under the hood. However, Holy Fury seeks to embed itself under all of this while also throwing in its own unique features.

Indeed. As seen from the outside looking in (I’m downloading the expansion and free base-game update as I type this), Holy Fury looks to bring Crusader Kings 2 around full circle, helping bolster what made the game unique and so dang fun to play since the very beginning. Religion now has more power and presence in the fabric of this medieval world. Dynasties and genetic traits are now more manageable and exploitable. More societies. More political motivations. More Africa. More. More. More!

With Holy Fury, nearly every culture and region now has MORE.

Back in April, Strategy Gamer posted the opinion that CK2 has lost its way; that, essentially, the expansions have watered down what made the game so special in the first place. It is a great read and wonderful food for thought. I hope to have a response post to this article, along with a review for Holy Fury within the coming days.

But until then, you’ll have to excuse me. I have a medieval eugenics program to develop.

Diablo Immortal…NotLikeThis…

The title for the next iteration of Diablo is such a contradiction, considering it might already be dead!

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed in what the next iteration of Diablo turned out to be. Seeing a title like, “Diablo: What’s Next?” on the schedule for BlizzCon opened up the hype gates like Tyrael parting the sky from heaven on his way down to Sanctuary to slay some demon spawn!

Blizzard even had to temper the enthusiasm from the Diablo fan base with a post because everyone was hoping for just a glimpse of Diablo 4. Just a peek would be all we needed but, alas, it was not meant to be. I’ll tell you what was next though, a big heaping pile of #notmydiablo!

If I’m being harsh it’s because I have been fan of Diablo from the beginning. I can remember playing the original Diablo over local co-op on the PlayStation with my brother, so many hours with Diablo 2 on the PC, and finally with Diablo 3 on the PC (over and over again – thank you seasons). I don’t think anyone was looking forward to a smartphone version of Diablo (if you can find someone that was clamoring for it, let me know in the comments – genuinely asking here folks).

This will be the first Diablo game that I won’t play… wow… that’s a hard one to type. I choose not to play it because it’s not the game I want and certainly not the Diablo I want. It feels like the powers that be at Blizzard (or maybe Activision) are not aware of what the fan base wants or they don’t care. Since we don’t know what the pricing is or what micro-transactions are going to be available in the game, we can’t say it was just a cash grab…yet. Whatever the model ends up being doesn’t really matter. What does matter, and I HOPE Blizzard is listening, is that they missed the mark. No amount of hype, or faux hype at the BlizzCon announcement can make a game desirable when it wasn’t wanted in the first place.

After perusing some of the Diablo 3 subreddit (I mean, where else would you go to get the pulse of a community?) I found a very concise summary to the whole thing from user j005e and to sum it up; I share it here:

Card

The phrase that I’ve seen used a lot in defense of Blizzard/Activision is, “You can’t please everyone.” and while that’s true, you could at least satisfy the Diablo fanbase. Sadly, I don’t know if any lessons will be learned or anything good will come from this whole thing. I do hope I’m wrong and Blizzard give us all a mea culpa but, what are the chances of that?

Thea 2: The Shattering Coming to Steam Early Access

MuHa Games announced that their newest offering Thea 2: The Shattering will be entering Steam’s Early Access later this month. Thea 2, the sequel to MuHa’s 4x/survival/card battle/uber-hybrid Thea: The Awakening, looks to expand and polish many of the aspects of its predecessor, which is welcome news.

Indeed. Thea: The Awakening performs quite the juggling act. And a beautiful, intricate act it is. Were one element out of place the entire game would collapse. The problem is that some of the ideas and systems seemed only half-baked: The night/day cycle could be even more influential; The UI could use a facelift; Greater variation in the narratives of playthroughs are needed. These examples are but slight hiccups in an otherwise wonderful and unique strategy game.

The Thea community spoke out and MuHa Games listened. Thea 2: The Shattering has learned from the shortcomings of its predecessor and is ready to take action. Some of the new features include:

* Rich, randomly generated and diverse new environments and biomes to Explore

* Battle through the vast array of creature as you Exterminate your way to victory, or simply strive to survive till sunrise.

* Build towns, widen your territories or chose to remain a nomad, as you Expand your influence in the world.

* Discover new and vast resources, collect materials and craft them into your equipment as you Exploit the many wonders of the land.

* Free DLCs

As is evident, MuHa seeks to embrace more of the elements of the 4X genre than Thea: The Awakening did. The fact that the player can build more than one settlement is exciting to see (though we all have a special place in our hearts for our beloved hamlet of Ostoya). Perhaps this means that more of the map will be less of a grind to reach and exploit.

Despite Thea 2’s leanings toward a more 4x system, I hope it doesn’t fall into the usual, dull entrapments of a typical 4x game. In other words: If I have to paint the map I will be sorely bummed out. The light of hope burns bright, though, considering that MuHa plans to expand its Slavic-influenced storylines and other RPG elements. I would be more than happy to trade conquest for narrative.

Will this hope be realised? What tweaks will MuHa makes to the card battle system? How will the storylines and dialog trees influence the progression of exploration and party management? Will campaigns come to as abrupt and blood-splattered ending and in Thea 1? Come November 30th, the story of Thea 2: The Shattering will commence.

And for those interested parties, Thea: The Awakening is available for 50% off during Steam’s midweek madness sale. I give it my unsolicited recommendation, as I have jabbered and raved about it in the past.

Paradox Interactive Halloween Sale – Through Nov 1

Paradox Interactive is hosting a Halloween sale today through November 1st. The digital storefront displays a few of the ‘ghastly gems’ whose price tags are hack n’ slashed for the week. Most notably is the bevy of expansions for city sim Cities: Skylines, having recently released its latest addon ‘Cities: Skylines – Industries’. Also present are recent expansions for the other usual Paradox titles: Stellaris, Europa Universalis 4, and BATTLETECH.

Digging a little deeper into the sale we see the other usual titles ala Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron 4, Tyranny and all of their expansions and cosmetic DLCs. Mixed in with these are more, older expansions for Cities: Skylines and Stellaris, a handfull of portrait packs, a music pack for HoI4, and lesser-known, older titles like Knights of Pen & Paper and Majesty and Ancient Space and Warlock II, and I guess Paradox has the rights to the Shadowrun games, now?

Cool… I think?

Paradox games have largely shaped who I am as a gamer, and I am still of the opinion that Crusader Kings 2 is one of the best games conceptually and the most fun to play ever in the history of histories…

…But (did you sense a ‘but’ coming?), when I take a step back and look at this sale catalog, it simply doesn’t blow my skirt up like it used to; it’s just the usual base games drowning in a sea of DLC banners mingled with newer games that, as a publisher, Paradox is putting some weight behind but simply have not taken off.

When considered singly, I do not fully bemoan all these excessive DLC titles for their games, and am not complaining that their online storefront is no more organised than a clearance bin at Walmart. It all just looks washed out and it makes me feel just as jaded towards expanding my own Paradox library.

Click the banner, and you do you.

Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis Retires From Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses today issued the announcement that EG and esports veteran Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis is retiring from the player’s hot seat. He is, however, remaining with EG as an active coach for future EG Dota2 lineups.

His retirement is effective immediately, with Fear citing his personal health as a priority. In a brief statement on EG’s website, he recognizes his accomplishments and gushes about EG and Dota. “I still have a passion for Dota and for competing,” Fear begins, “but the long term health of my arm has to come first.”

clinton-fear-loomis-eg-dota2

The sudden removal of heavy-hitters like Fear is sure to make a splash. Teammates and many redditors who Bleed Blue are bummed yet supportive. Teammate PPD said this of Fear: “Fear helped me reach my potential, and I believe he will continue to do that for players in the years to come.” Of his prospective coaching abilities redditor /u/prolepatriot thinks, “considering how much ppd and others on EG have praised fear for being a calming presence as well as helping with the drafts…i expect fear to be one of the best coaches in the scene.”

With an empty chair now in the lineup EG plans to announce its new Dota2 roster tomorrow.