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Kingdom Bash – Hands-On Preview – Playcrafting NYC Spring Play 2018

A One Man Kingdom Bash!

The freezing winter weather that seemed to have lasted 6 months here in NYC has finally ceased. Flowers are in bloom and the cars are covered in a green film, a reminder that spring is finally here. With spring’s arrival comes Playcrafting NYC’s Sping Play event at Microsoft in Time Square. This was my first time at an event by Playcrafting, but seeing some hidden gems was worth it.

The room is full of developers right here from New York and New Jersey looking to get people excited about their projects. After speaking to quite a few developers, most of them solo, it was obvious that these projects were more than that to them. These were their babies. One said developers caught my eye and his name was Matthew Alan Estock.

A Crowd Gathers…

A small crowd was gathered around an LCD TV with four excited people with X-Box controllers in hand. On the screen was the frantic action of a game called Kingdom Bash. The laughing, oohs and ahhs, and the playful threats shouted across the half circle of seats were sucking me in like a tractor beam. Once my hands were on the controller it was no surprise why the crowd had gathered. Kingdom Bash is just plain fun.

Inspired by games like Towerfall: Ascension , Kingdom Bash takes the 1v1v1v1 format and sets it on an isometric playing field. You take control of eloquently balanced archetypes; the Warrior, Ranger, Enchantress, and the Javelin throwing Dragoon. Each class has its own benefits and weaknesses. I chose the Enchantress for her homing fireball, even with her dreadfully slow footwork. The Warrior runs circles around her, but he needs to get real close to hit you. The Dragoon has a nice mid ranged attack and the Ranger can take you out from across the map but his arrows fly slower than other projectiles. I took a strategy of using the trees on the left side of the map as cover. I would pop out from one end and shoot a fireball that would seek out anybody close. Luckily for me, this was enough to keep the other players at bay killing each other. This was a good strategy to stay alive, but not very good for getting points. When speed boosts would spawn I was able to grab them and be much more mobile. This allowed me to dart closer to the action and take out a couple players at a time.

A Delicate Balance in the Kingdom.

The cool thing about each match is that everybody is so close together that the action is immediate. Power-ups drop in and out to give you an advantage like a speed boost or a shield and sometimes you get the power of invisibility. I found that the speed boost and homing fireball was a deadly combination as I could shoot and move quite effectively. Another cool feature is the ability to have monsters spawn and chase players around the map as they frantically try to kill each other. While this mode was still being fleshed out, it was really funny to see a stalemate between two players who could not stave off the monsters long enough to actually win the match.

As I mentioned before, Matthew is a solo developer that is taking this project on alone on purpose. This is his baby and it shows. A lot of care is going into the look, feel and balance of this game. Kingdom Bash is simple, yet complex in the way that it has you thinking about the character you choose and how you use the environment to your advantage. Don’t just take my word for it, you can play the alpha build in its current state in a pay what you want model here. Trust me, this game is going to dominate couches in living rooms  around the world hopefully very soon.

Follow the game’s progress here and follow Matthew on twitter here.

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Bungie Releases Trailer Detailing Destiny 2’s EDZ

Today Bungie dropped a trailer for the European Dead Zone, Earth’s new playable area in Destiny 2.  According to Bungie, the new EDZ is also boasted as the “biggest playable area ever created by Bungie.”

The trailer gives the first look at Adventures and Lost Sectors, which look to take the place of those repetitive, boring patrol missions (of the original).  Adventures are fully voiced side quests that dig into the lore of the Destiny universe and Lost Sectors look to be small dungeons with some kind of mini-boss at the end. With the additions of Adventures and Lost Sectors, as well as new Public events and new sub-classes to try out, it sure looks like Bungie understand what players want from the sequel.  Thankfully, with it’s release right around the corner, we won’t have to wait long to find out.

Conventions PAX South 2016 Previews

PAX South Preview: Screencheat Brings Back the Good Ol’ Days

For Your Eyes Only

A large facet of current indie gaming is built around nostalgia aesthetic. 8 or 16 bit visuals and ramped up difficulty. Practically speaking, it makes sense. The side-scrolling era that many current devs grew up on is the easiest to replicate with a limited skillset while you grow as a creator. It also gives you the most room to max out out game potential without having to devote limited resources to visuals. Screencheat looks to capitalize on another aspect of gaming nostalgia that is currently ignored; couch multiplayer. More specifically, replicating how someone would play even if the others aren’t in the room.

Developer Samurai Punk wants to bring you back to the golden age of couch gaming. When Goldeneye reigned supreme, and the only thing worse than proximity mines was someone screen watching. The most underhanded but totally expected element of couch gaming. There was no real way to stop it, so a small truce would come into most game sessions. A gentlemen’s agreement of sorts. Screencheat spits in the face of that agreement, by not only encouraging you to watch your opponents screen, but making it the only way for you to find them.

In Screencheat, your opponents are completely invisible. The only visual cues you’ll receive from them are their bullet trails. Or fire trails….or electric bolts. It’s a veritable “if you’re reading this, it’s too late” situation. To effectively defend yourself, and take out the enemy, you have to watch their screens, using the vividly and distinctly colored sections of the map. Memorization is key, but so is limiting your hip fire. Shooting wildly does nothing but tip the others off to your location.

In my time with Screencheat at PAX South, the game played fluidly enough, and the vast array of weapons kept things interesting. I had to tap into an old bag of tricks that i’d left in the attic of my childhood in order to keep up with the other players. Eventually it just became a matter of mapping out my route and trying not to look at anything too distinct. Deception became the winning tactic. It brought back memories of gaming past, and tapped into a nostalgic corner of the mind that is ignored by newer indie games.

Screencheat is currently available on Steam, but is on its way to both PS4 and Xbox One. And don’t worry, there’s only multiplayer as well, so even if you can’t get your friends over, you can still cheat to your hearts content. Keep your eye out for it, and for more from PAX South, keep it here at The Structure Network.

Conventions PAX South 2016 Previews

PAX South Preview: Developer Psyop Hopes You Still Like Shooting Zombies with Moving Hazard

The Enemy of My Enemy

When I asked developer Psyop to give me a quick rundown of what i’d be getting into with their new shooter, Moving Hazard, they responded with a question; do you remember when The Governor stormed the prison in The Walking Dead? My short answer was, “hell yeah!” I may have had my fair share of issues with that zombie filled show, but that was one moment that delivered, and it reiterated that while man vs. man is the true drama of it all, zombies are an ever present danger, and that’s what their game is looking to explore. At first glance, Moving Hazard may look like another shooter looking to cash in on our waning obsession with the undead, but once you’re actually playing, it becomes a tactical war of attrition.

It’s impossible to ignore the direct comparisons to the highly popular zombie mode in Call of Duty. Once, the random addition at the tale end of World at War, zombie mode has become one of the more anticipated modes for the juggernaut franchise. So while the rest of the world may be growing tired of zombies, clearly there’s still an audience willing to pump boxes of bullets into reanimated corpses, but that’s where most of the similarities end. Zombies aren’t the focus of Moving Hazard. Instead, they represent a tool at your disposal, that if disrespected, will turn on you.

At PAX South, I was able to spend some time with Moving Hazard in a 2v2 competitive mode. There were 3 body types to choose from for my soldier; light, medium and heavy. Each with their own weapon sets, and each with their own sets of advantages. Light guys can move quickly, but their weapons do less damage for example. You can guess how the hierarchy works from there. The build I played was still pretty early, and I was told that the balancing was still being tweaked for other modes. One such tweak was that the lighter soldiers can attain perks that allow them to endlessly sprint, and at faster rates, essentially making them greased lightning with a blade, and almost unstoppable. Unless of course, your opponent sics a horde of zombies on you.

See, in Moving Hazard, the zombies are both your enemy and your weapon. While the map is littered with walkers, players are able to use various grenade types to distract, freeze, and enrage them. Bringing the tactical element into play. Depending on the game mode (ours was a king of the hill type), you can lure the zombies to a certain point of interest, and trap the enemy players. What makes this type of warfare interesting is that resources are limited. So spending all of your ammo shooting through an army of flesh eating freaks will leave your mags dry, and you without a viable way out. And since you only acquire points for killing human players, even if you do plow through, you’ll likely be more vulnerable by the end.

It’s still entirely too early to tell if Moving Hazard will be the indie darling of this year, but it presents enough of a fresh take on a tried and true formula that it’ll be worth checking out when it drops in March on Steam. The gameplay was tight, and fair for a game that’s still being tweaked, but that’s to be expected on the PAX South floor, where devs are trying to put their best foot forward. At this time, that shoe looked good. I left the booth wanting to play more, wanting to try different builds and strategies, which is what you want from any game; more. I’d keep an eye on this one.

What say you party people, are you sick of zombies, or does this look like just the right amount of undead action? Whatever your stance, for more from PAX South, keep it locked on Proven Gamer.