Obsidian Announces Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Yesterday Obsidian Entertainment, the Irvine-based developers of Fallout: New VegasStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, officially unveiled their crowdsource campaign for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.

Pitched as a nostalgic return to the revolutionary Infinity Engine powered RPGs of the 90s, Pillars of Eternity broke records on Kickstarter when its campaign launched in September, 2012, meeting its goal of $1.1 million less than 24 hours and eventually surpassing Double Fine’s Broken Age as the highest grossing Kickstarter campaign for a video game ever.

Pillars of Eternity launched in 2015 and was met with acclaim by critics and fans alike. The isometric RPG featured a variety of playable races and classes, gave players control of parties of up to six companions, and was later enhanced by two expansion packs.

Obsidian—who also utilized Pillars‘ Unity-based game engine for last year’s Tyranny—is promising that the sequel will boast enhanced visual effects and game mechanics, including a potential multi-class character development system, and some of the story companions from the first game are set to make a return, including fan-favorite Edér (voiced by Matthew “It’s High Noon” Mercer).

The crowdsource campaign has been moved from Kickstarter to Fig this time around, a move that makes sense given Obisidan’s Feargus Urquhart’s status on the crowdsource platform’s advisory board. Obsidian is seeking $1.1 million once again, and they’re also offering up to $2 million in equity by way of Fig’s unique but untested investment platform.

Source: https://eternity.obsidian.net/

One Last Look at 2016

   We’re nearly a full month into 2017, and we at The Gamer HUD are ready and excited to start looking towards what this year has in store for us. We announced our “Game of the Year” on the podcast last week (Spoiler Alert: it’s Overwatch), Cole’s posted about his most anticipated games due to come out this quarter, and our reactions to Nintendo’s Switch2017’s first major hardware releaseshould have rolled out to subscribers this past Monday afternoon. But 2016 was a terrific year for gaming, and before my own focus shifts entirely to what’s coming ahead, I felt I needed to take one final look back at some of the best games I played last year. 

Tyranny

I didn’t have nearly enough time to invest into Tyranny before the year ended, but it’s opening sequence, in which players make a whole series of meaningful moral choices rapid-fire and shape the game world they’ll be entering before even having actually seen it, was one of the most compelling innovations in RPG gaming that I saw all year long. Add to that a wonderfully developed world in which Evil has already won the day, and I think Obsidian really came up with something wonderful. 
   I can’t wait to return to this gem and to hopefully talk about it some more in 2017. If Obsidian fumbled with anything on Tyranny, it’s that they released it during one of the most quality-saturated holiday seasons in recent memory. 

Final Fantasy XV

   As with Tyranny, Final Fantasy XV launched too late in the year to allow me the opportunity to fully formulate my opinions about it prior to our Game of the Year podcast, but it’s been my go-to singleplayer game ever since it finally hit shelves after nearly a decade of development hell. Just this past weekend, I finished chapter 7, and while I haven’t finished the game, I really like what I’ve played so far. A lot.
   Even with its massive departures from the core series, FFXV still feels like the JPRG experience I had been longing for. Better yet, it feels like the Final Fantasy I had been craving ever since I finally shelved FFXII for the last time (I dropped FFXIII after trying to love it for too long and feeling disappointed at every turn). The visuals are hit and miss, varying between breathtaking and last-gen with every degree in between. The story’s crazy, difficult to follow, and over the top. Freakin’ Cindy looks like she was plucked from the brain of a horny fourteen-year-old boy. And yet I still can’t help but love this game.
   The combat system is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a JRPG, the music is wonderful, and the core cast of characters are surprisingly yet undeniably endearing. I love that the game feels like one big, fantasy road trip, because that’s exactly the kind of vacation I felt I needed as 2016 was nearing its end.

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

    On my first ever podcast with the HUD, Cole jokingly asked who among us could possibly find the time to sink 100 hours into The Witcher 3. I shied away from a response then, but the truth of the matter is that far more than I care to admit of my very limited game time in both 2015 and 2016 was sunk lovingly into CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece. I’ve been a fan of The Witcher game series since the early days, and I completed The Witcher 2 three times in full despite the fact that I was a working father, husband and full-time student at the time of its release.
   Last year, CDPR said goodbye to their world-conquering series with one last, exceptional expansion pack, “Blood and Wine.” Speaking from a strictly narrative perspective, B&W was maybe weaker than “Hearts of Stone” had been, but only ever so slightly. I’m a sucker for good vampire stories (get it! I’ll see myself out), and after seeing how scarce they were in the main campaign (especially after that memorable cinematic trailer that CDPR released last year), I was delighted to see that B&W had placed them center stage.
   Even if the narrative of Blood and Wine may not have been as tight as its predecessor, it more than made up for that with a wealth of content. The expansion’s new, fantastical city, Beauclaire, was a beautiful and wondrous change of pace from the dreary environments of the main campaign, and it was filled practically to the brim with new quests, new gear, new character build options, and even a new Gwent faction. I can’t think of a better send-off to such a wonderful series, and even with a backlog of games piling up, I’m eager to return to The Witcher 3.

Civilization VI

   The sixth entry in the venerable 4X series is quite possibly my favorite, and I had the privilege to review the game last year for The Gamer HUD, which actually ended up being my only true review of the year. I’ve learned to my great joy that my review managed to convince our own Tina Marconi to pick up the game, and she echoed my recommendation for it on our “Game of the Year” podcast.
   It’d be redundant to recap my review here when it’s still available for you to look over, but the one thing about the game that I only really learned to appreciate in the months following its release was just how much fun it is to play with other people. Civ 6 easily grew to become one of my favorite multiplayer releases of the year, and I don’t foresee my replacing it any time soon in 2017.

Titanfall 2

Speaking of multiplayer titles, here’s one that managed to not only improve on practically everything that I loved about its multiplayer-only predecessor, but actually included one of the best singleplayer campaigns I’ve played in a shooter in a long while. Titanfall’s campaign is a relatively quick play, even on the game’s hardest difficult setting, but it’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish that feels perfectly paced and never really stops toying with its own game mechanics in new and interesting ways. The highest peak of the campaign sees players shifting between two different periods of time on the fly in order to wall-run, double jump, and gun their way through the mission, which ends with an adrenaline inducing plummet through spinning fans and raging infernos.
   On the multiplayer front, Titanfall 2 builds on everything that made the original so novel and enjoyable with greater Titan diversity, a grappling hook that enhances your ability to traverse the game’s humongous maps quickly, and a “kill and confirm” styled game mode that’s pure joy to play.
   As with Tyranny, the only major flaw with Titanfall 2 is that it launched in the holiday season when even dedicated gamers were already be spread thin, even going toe-to-toe with EA’s other premier shooter of the year, Battlefield One. I can’t say that Titanfall 2 is an underrated classic, because it’s been well received by critics and players alike, but it certainly wasn’t the financial hit that it deserved to be. EA promises that they’re not giving up on the series, and I hope for all of our sake that they stay true to their word on this one. I’m crossing my fingers for some quality DLC (which the devs have promised will be free to all players) to launch in the near future because I’m simply not done with this game yet.

Overwatch

   When our crew at the HUD began our discussions about what our collective choice for “Game of the Year” should be, the decision was made unanimously almost immediately and with little to no debate. What more can be said of this little shooter that managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of gamers around the world? It’s the first original IP Blizzard’s released in nearly two decades, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the late “Project Titan,” and it was 100% worth the wait. 
   I was enamored with the game from its initial cinematic unveiling, which I included above. The game’s world and the cast of heroes that inhabit it veritably ooze charm, and Blizzard’s obsessive attention to even the most minor of details make for an experienced that is better polished than any other shooter I can think of in action today.
   I’ve not been a serious multiplayer gamer since the Halo 3 days (unless you count my brief stint as a legendary hopeful in Hearthstone last year). Having been a singleplayer gamer first for nearly all my life, I simply don’t have the time to invest into honing and maintaining my skills at an even relatively competitive level.
   But I haven’t been able to keep myself away from Overwatch since it launched last May.
   It’s fun, pure and simple, whether you’re trying to cram in a few matches before bed on a work night or signing in for the long haul on a Saturday night. It strikes the perfect balance between accessible mechanics and difficult-to-master tactical nuances, and it makes for a multiplayer experience that always feels worth your time.
   And while the game’s community is already beginning to receive some criticism for toxicity, particularly at upper competitive play levels, it’s plainly apparent that Blizzard went out of their way to construct a positive and uplifting experience for gamers of all levels, eschewing built-in stats like K/D in favor of team-focused metrics, an innovative (if flawed) Play of the Game system, and a post-game report that encourages players to praise one another. These measures don’t always work as intended, but it’s refreshing to see a developer make such a concerted effort towards crafting a welcoming game space, and the result of their efforts was a game that’s worth so much more than the sum of all its parts and so vastly outclasses its own sources of inspiration on virtually every front that it’s already made a noticeable and lasting impact on the industry.
   I know I’m not alone when I say that I can’t wait to see what Blizz does with the game in 2017. Oh, and if you needed an excuse to start playing it again, the Year of the Rooster seasonal event kicked off this week and features a capture-the-flag game mode along with a slew of new skins, emotes, and other unlockables.

My Most Anticipated Games of Q1 2017

First of all, I understand this is a different take on “Most Anticipated Games…” topic that so many like to do- but the truth is that by the end of March we will already have some serious potential Game of the Year candidates. When reviewing what we already know is set to release, unless I want to create a “Top 25” then I am going to miss something crucial. So instead I am going to follow up with this list at the beginning of each quarter to help keep things into perspective. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated games set to release by the end of March 2017.

1. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Release Date: January 24, 2017

I will be first to admit that it’s been nearly 8 years since I found myself excited to pick up a new entry in the Resident Evil franchise, but with Biohazard looking to take a big step back and re-evaluate what makes the name so special, I am once again ready to step back in the universe that haunted so much of my childhood. After the failure of titles like Umbrella Corp. or even the former Resident Evil 6, it appears that Capcom heard the outcry for less shoot em’ up action, and get back to their survival-horror roots. After having already completed the captivating demo that was originally released shortly after E3 2016, I have found myself spending more time booting up the new updates they have offered than I care to admit. Luckily, we don’t have much longer to wait in order to get our hands on the final product. The only thing left to question on this title, is if I want to try to play the game on the PSVR… *Yikes*

2. Horizon Zero Dawn

Release Date: February 28, 2017

After having spent some hands-on time with a demo build at PSX 2016, it is not difficult to see why Sony seems to be placing so much faith in the upcoming title. Horizon not only plays incredibly well, but with what looks like to be a captivating story from the mind that brought us Fallout: New Vegas, there is no doubt in my mind that we are looking at a new tentpole franchise for the PlayStation Exclusive lineup. While I only had about 10 minutes to spend with a vertical slice of the game, the skills, environment, animal AI, and Aloy herself were fleshed out and well polished. Every fight felt different depending on my approach and skill choice, which made running around looking for various elements a blast. For those of you with a PS4pro and 4k TV, this will be the game to show off to your friends- because every single moment in this world is gorgeous. 

3. Nier: Automata

Release Date: March 7, 2017

It’s definitely fair to say that there have been two different versions of Platinum Games; on one hand you have the fast paced bullet-hell style of the Bayonetta franchise that critically delivers, while on the other you have the dumpster fire that is The Legend of Korra. It’s almost incredible to think that both games came from the same studio. Needless to say, I was hesitant to test the waters with a demo for the upcoming Nier: Automata demo, however I had time to kill so I decided to see which rendition of Platinum showed up to the party. I am happy to report that not only does Nier deliver in the small portion that I have played, but I think this very well could be my favorite game to come from the studio yet. If you have not tried out the demo yet, I urge you to add it to your queue. The story looks unique, boss battles are epic, and the action is incredibly addictive when adding up your combos. Simply put: I cannot wait for this game. 

4. Mass Effect Andromeda

Release Date: March 21, 2017

What is there left to say about the greatness that is the Mass Effect franchise that has not yet already been said a hundred times over? With well more than 100 hours spent across 3 separate entries in the original trilogy, Andromeda has a lot to live up to. However, if there is one group that I have faith in to deliver, it is the folks with Bioware. From the small pieces that they have revealed and the promise of a clean slate for first timers to the series, everything looks like it’s in good hands. And let’s be honest, as long as there is a random dance club on some far off planet that you can show off your sweet moves, I will be happy. 

5. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Release Date: March 3, 2017

If you had told me a year ago that I would be more excited for any other game than a new Mass Effect entry, I probably would have fought you- true story. However, since the gameplay of Breath of the Wild had been show cased at E3 2016, and the incredible trailer released for the Switch conference, my need to set off through Hyrule once again has become a real problem. The gorgeous art style, captivating story, new voice overs, and furtherance into modern RPG elements– I can already see every aspect of my life about to be put on hold for a while once this title hits my system. Whether you play this on your new shiny Nintendo Switch, or you blow the dust off of your WiiU, there is no reason why you should not play this game. Now don’t mind me as I go practice my Goron Dance in my green tunic. *Turns on some drums*