Ships in the Night : Battlefleet Gothic Armada

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Battlefleet Gothic : Armada
2016 RTS/RTT, Developed by Tindalos Interactive

 

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is an asymmetrical space combat wargame in which one builds a persistent fleet over the course of many battles, shaping the abilities and stats of those ships towards one’s personal recipe. It is based on a tabletop wargame of a similar stripe, set in the Warhammer 40k universe. I have played precisely one game of the tabletop version of Battlefleet Gothic. Me and a friend played a game in university, with about six cruisers between us (unpainted and recently purchased off ebay). I learned from this experience that while ships have two broadsides, placing them so that can both fire at enemies, generally means that both of those enemies can fire at you too. I was roundly and soundly beaten, finding my regal Imperial ships caught in a thorny chaos sandwich. We live and learn. The tabletop game is one of strategic planning playing out over a series of turns, each of which can take anywhere between ten minutes and an hour of real time. Tabletop gaming has always partly been an endurance sport. Battlefleet Gothic : Armada on the other hand is most certainly a sprint, as battles only take five to twenty minutes. Sound tactical nous is still mandatory, but it must operate at high speed in order to keep up with the ever evolving game in front of one’s eyes. All of this is by way of saying, I am going to do a little review of Battlefleet Gothic : Armada (henceforth BFG:A).

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Ships in the Night : Battlefleet Gothic Armada

Anyone’s Ghost : Deus Ex – Human Revolution

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Deus Ex : Human Revolution
2011 FPS Stealth Action Game, Developed by Eidos Montreal

 

Before we get on with the essay, a small note about future updates. As you might be able to tell this update is a little late, and that is partly because I have to work to sustain myself, and partly because stuff has been a bit weird over the last couple of weeks. Life is now returning to normal after a flight into the weird over the last couple of weeks, so I can go and get back on doing what I love most, spraffing about games on the internet. I was hoping that I would be able to get back to Sunday updates, but it looks like it will have to be Wednesday updates from here on in. There are only so many hours in the day to play all the games that one writes about. With the boring stuff behind us, let’s talk Deus Ex.I have been replaying Deus Ex: Human Revolution recently, and some things have occurred to me about the series on the third time through.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Deus Ex games are really stealth games. Yes, sure, they present the player with multiple possible paths of progression through the central narrative, including the possibility to go into every situation guns blazing. One can blast one’s way quite happily through all three of them, making as much noise and as many body bags as is possible.

However I think that we would all be kidding ourselves if we thought that this was the correct and most satisfying way to play these games. Exhibit A is the gunplay, which is universally terrible in all Deus Ex games (yes even the first one, which while brilliant, also features turgid and inelegant combat). Exhibit B is the fact that one can see immeasurably more of every game in the series by taking a stealthy approach—even if bosses occasionally get in the way. Now we have established as unquestionable fact that proposition that the Deus Ex games are stealth games, why does this matter?
It matters because it is only by being a stealth game that Dues Ex can really unfold its world to the player, and it is the world of Deus Ex—along with the people who live in it—which makes it more than a simple cyberpunk romp. Take Human Revolution (henceforth DE:HR) for instance; What DE:HR understands is that the player is only really the character half of the time. That is, it understands that a great deal of what one does in a Deus Ex game is not role-playing, but exploring a complex series of mazes. At the ends of those mazes lie information about the world in which one is playing. While one is in the midst of those mazes, one is not really playing JC Denton or Adam Jensen, one is a ghost filtering through air ducts, trying to make sense of the place in which it finds oneself. DE: HR understands that Deus Ex is an atmosphere of intrigue married to a world which it feels as though one could reach out and touch. What I would like to talk about today is the way in which the Deus Ex series, but DE:HR in particular, establishes character through mechanics and achieves deep and interesting world building by having the player step away from the character. I won’t be giving an in-depth review here (somewhat late for that anyway) or indeed whether the  original deserves the moniker “best game ever” these things have been covered in detail elsewhere.

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Anyone’s Ghost : Deus Ex – Human Revolution

A Short Pause.

Sometimes life gets in the way of videogames.

This week has been one of those weeks.

Sorry about that. However, next Sunday I hope to bring you a hot, fresh look at videogame mechanics (via the medium of a 3000~ word essay) as per usual.

Aside

Home on the Slime Ranch.

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Slime Rancher
Not yet released (on early access), First Person Management Game
Developed by Monomi Park

 

This week, let’s relax a little bit. Not all games are war games, and not every mechanic need be a simulacrum of industrialized death dealing. However, just because a game is not all staring into the abyss, and the abyss staring back, does not mean that it does not do interesting things with its mechanics. In this vein, one of the things I have always found personally difficult, is relaxation. I do not really know how it is undertaken as an activity; overthinking comes as second nature to me (human life would be easier if the brain came with a -temporary- power off button). Therefore videogames are not— in the main— an activity I go to for relaxation, so it was surprising to me when I found a game that left me feeling rested and fresh after a long gaming session: Slime Rancher. This game provides one of the most genuinely relaxing experiences I have ever enjoyed in gaming—and I would like to dissect that experience and ask how and why it does so.

Continue reading “Home on the Slime Ranch.”

Home on the Slime Ranch.