Weekend Gaming – Offworld Trading Company, DOOM

Mars is the Roman god of war. He is a representation of aggression and conflict. The Romans celebrated Mars for what he represents because war was a way of securing peace, even though peace was usually achieved by submission from the bloodied pulp of the empire’s foes. Meh. No matter, a means to an end. Roma Victrix, n00bs!

Mars is also a planet – Our neighbor, in fact. Howdy-ho neighborino! The planet earned its namesake because of its reddish hue as seen from Earth’s surface. Blood, being red, is also seen splattered all over Earth’s surface during the throes of war. Therefore, the Romans figured, let us name that red dot in the sky after our god of blood splatters and glory.

mars-orbital-photo-edit

Mars, it just so happens, is also the setting for two of the games I plan on playing this weekend – both of which share pretty much the same types of cutthroat, purposeful aggression as our Roman friends enacted while under the gaze of their reddish god.

Offworld Trading Company (Mohawk Games)

I was all over this game last week, hell-bent to git gud, or, at least, to understand. And I do understand. I really do. It’s a bloody good game, deserving of every shred of critical praise it receives. I haven’t even touched the campaign, focusing instead on skirmishes and working up the cajones to dabble in free-for-all multiplayer mode — perhaps this weekend.

In order to improve my gameplay I started off at a measured pace, pausing prodigiously during skirmishes and learning from my mistakes. I made a habit after every game to learn from one single error that I made. But my desire to improve quickly exceeded my ability and I hit a wall. I started repeating the same fatal mistakes such as overlooking my fuel consumption, not reacting to the market, trying too hard to influence the market, not building enough power generators, building too many power generators, etc. etc. etc. Matches would stretch on and on only to see my company ultimately bought up. And so, I tilted.

At the onset of this week I decided to side-step from OTC – to regroup, as it were. Still, watch some Zultar commentaries, and think about my own mistakes. But overall, to turn my attention to another completely different game that takes place, at least initially, upon the same martian surface as this cut-throat economic strategy game.

DOOM (id Software)

I cannot recall the last time I gamed from the couch. I didn’t even know that I missed it. I also didn’t even know how badly I needed DOOM in my life right now. The planets are aligned.

DOOM is just straight up fun. It is agreeable in so many ways. Everything the game does seems to flush you into another rumble with a swarm of demons. And the more you move, the better time you’ll have. It is so propuslive. The fighting is fluid. In fact, I would say the fighting almost has a tactical quality to it with how easy it is to toggle weapons and cater upgrades. And the glory kills! What a wonderful design decision to force close encounters as a primary source of replenishment. And the fact that you can target a specific glory kill animation is so completely pointless yet so necessary…

Indeed. The fighting is fun, yes. But I am also so impressed with how the entire experience is composed. I am reminded of Metalocalypse with its propensity towards ironic/hyperbolic use of violence and gore and heavy mothereffin metal… but it is still so completely, genuinely badass. DOOM walks that fine line. So much so that glory killing a demon by ripping out his heart and shoving it down his throat is equal parts hilarious and practical. Bravo.

So, yeah… I’ll be hanging out on Mars this weekend. I’ll be sure to send a postcard splattered with blood and minerals.

What are you playing this weekend?

I hope your weekend goes better than his. <3

I hope your weekend goes better than his.

Weekend Gaming – Offworld Trading Company

Offworld Trading Company is weird.

No. I take that back. Offworld Trading Company is in fact quite elegant. A description worthy of even more celebration when you consider what the game does: It completely redraws what a RTS can be. An approach this new, working so well the way that it does, takes a little bit of time to get onboarded – for me, at least.

No. OTC is not the weird one. I’m the weird one.

I’m still learning the ropes. I’m taking the task of learning this game in measured paces, and this process has generated an unusual matrix of emotions. Indeed. Never before has a game made me feel so self-powered and competent yet so dadgum blockheaded. Although, I trust that practice will help chisel my blockhead into something less grotesque and stupid looking…

Offworld Trading Company Screen Shot

Yes. The skill ceiling in the game seems to be so very high. N00b mistakes are common but so very valuable. Every game I learn something new, one golden nugget of truth that I can carry with me into the next skirmish. These nuggets can be little things like figuring out how to toggle auto-sell – all the way up to big things like overbuilding with complete and utter oversight to energy costs.

Little things. Big things. And everything inbetween. Learning how to play Offworld Trading Company has never been frustrating; it’s always been fun, enlightening, and with a healthy dose of DERP! mixed in. It is rarely about how to do something, but when…When, when, when! Freaking, WHEN!? This is a testament to how well-designed OTC is. I dig it.

What are you playing this weekend?

From the Ground Up: Four Recent, Upcoming PC Strategy DLCs

As unfavorable as the rest of the world has viewed Anno Domini 2016, fans of PC strategy games certainly have reason to rejoice. The bounty of quality new releases and DLC/expansions continues to be harvested – even now, well into the second half of the year and showing no signs of abatement.

For every quality base game release, additional content is sure to follow. Such is the business model nowadays, of which I do not bemoan. Even for a few select games released prior to this year, developers are continuing to support and add content. And, when I say ‘content’ I do not refer to cosmetic packs or exclusive bonus maps.

Listed below are some of the current and more hefty DLCs, and details about their place within the greater fabric of its franchise.

Crusader Kings II: The Reaper’s Due (Paradox Development Studio)

Love them or hate them for it Paradox are unrepentant releasers of DLCs. Their DLCs even have DLCs.

Crusader Kings II, now well into its fourth year, has a staggering list of content to consider. Naysayers will spat at this, citing abuse of their gamer base. The gamer base who knows better sees each expansion as just that – one that expands the medieval playing field and adds relevant mechanics to that particular location. As a brief overview of which DLC does what check out this fantastic Crusader Kings II DLC infographic by @AsaTJ

A Plague Rages in Crusader Kings II

A Plague Rages in Crusader Kings II

The Reaper’s Due puts Eurasia at risk, infesting from the inside out. Plagues are already possible in provinces but this addon handles the sickness like a medieval epidemic rather than an isolated case of illness. To combat this outbreak a new courtier position is available; Physicians are hired in to aid in containment and eradication – should you, as ruler, choose such an approach for your population. And you too, as ruler, are not exempt from the reaper’s due. Indeed, you must decide what to do with yourself while the plague rages, of which alters your ability and methods of ruling.

Crusader Kings II: The Reaper’s Due is available now for $9.99 on Steam

Order of Battle: Winter War (The Aristocrats)

Order of Battle takes an almost episodic approach to playing WWII. The base game, free of cost and released in April of last year, and the bundle of paid expansions released throughout this year, each visit a specific simulation of a campaign of the great war. All are turn-based hexes and utilize specific units, weapons and stats particular to its respective DLC.

Winter is a whole different battlefield

Winter is a whole different battlefield

The most recent DLC is Order of Battle: Winter War. This one is thusfar unique in the lineup. A majority of the four other addons are focused on the pacific theater. Winter War moves its attention far inland and northward towards the Russian/Finnish borders. The primary draw here is to play as the Finns as they try to protect their lands from waves after waves of Russian military who seek nothing more than conquest and protection for their great western cities. International politics, landscape and ball-shriveling winter weather all play a role in how you design and implement your strategies.

Order of Battle: Winter War is available now for $14.99 on Steam.

Offworld Trading Company – The Ceres Initiative DLC (Mohawk Games)

Offworld Trading Company incubated in early access for a few years and was officially launched in late April of this year. It is unique amongst the lot of strategy games in that the focus is economic superiority instead of military – You buy your enemies out for chump change instead of stomping them into gore soup. What makes this premise even more interesting is that all this takes place during early Mars colonization efforts. You must set your sights to the heavens if you are to build yourself a true offworld trading company.

The Ceres Asteroid is your new home.

The Ceres Asteroid is your new home.

… And it just so happens that The Ceres Initiative DLC takes a step in that direction. Indeed. It moves your base of operations off of the martian surface over onto Ceres, the largest asteroid in the belt just beyond Mars. Here, the core concept remains except now the resources are more scant and will even deplete as you mine them. Luckily, as in the base game, there are questionably ethical work-arounds in overcoming the challenges at hand. It’ll be interesting to see how the co-op can work if one player is on Ceres while the other remains on Mars. Cool stuff.

Offworld Trading Company – The Ceres Initiative DLC is available for a very humble asking price of $4.99 on Steam.

Endless Legend: Tempest (AMPLITUDE Studios)

AMPLITUDE Studios is on a roll. They received a surge of media facetime recently when Sega added them to their publishing roster, joining the likes of other strategy game developers like Creative Assembly and Relic.

What this means for Endless Legend could mean divers things. Perhaps we shall see what Sega’s publishing power can accomplish for the newest DLC of the divisive strategy franchise. Endless Legend: Tempest will be entering closed beta on September 1. AMPLITUDE is holding a closed beta contest.

The seas will be yours to control.

The seas will be yours to control.

Tempest will develop EL’s homeworld of Auriga even more, promising to make the planet’s seas a more viable homebase instead of just an obstacle that must be overcome in order to reach more land. The Morgawr is a major faction that will be introduced in this DLC. This aquatic race will be able to alter the tides and weather of Auriga, thus making them another strong factional contender for the control of the planet.

I love how, with each expansion, Auriga, the mother planet, is becoming more a tool and less of a passive theater upon which EL’s factions faceoff. This fits in with the lores very nicely.

And that is what I love about quality DLC for strategy games: They offer a new vantage and new avenues to accomplish objectives within the same grand space. Obviously, the above four titles are not the summation of all expansions for 2016, but it is just enough to keep us busily digging deeper and deeper.