Warhammer: End Times Vermintide – First Look

Yesterday, we got access to the beta for Warhammer: End Times Vermintide, the co-op action adventure by Fatshark centred around the beseiged city of Ubersreik.  Beta sign-ups are open on the official website, and the game itself is out on Steam on October 23rd, a mere month away!

Vermintide - The Red Moon Inn


Rediscovering Old Games: Diablo II

We were talking about old games during our lan week, and ended up heading for the spare room and the piles of older games stored in boxes up there.  There was excitement as we found copies of Rollercoaster Tycoon, Theme Hospital, Homeworld 2 and others.. and more mockery from the guys as it turned out I had a copy of Supreme Commander, after saying no, I didn’t know the game.  In my defense, it was in a multipack which I had picked up for Titan Quest and its Immortal Throne expansion, and the Company of Heroes Anthology.. 😉

I also found my copy of Diablo II, plus the Lord of Destruction expansion, which I had thought lost when we moved house!  After a bit of messing around.. updates, copying files to allow the game to run without the CD, registration to Battlenet.. I rolled a Sorceress and went out into the world..



A friend bought us all HOARD this weekend, as a 4-pack on Steam.  Yay! 🙂

HOARD is a mix of action and strategy, developed by indie team Big Sandwich Games, where each player takes on the role of a dragon in a table-top style medieval kingdom with farms, towns, princesses and knights..

Every dragon needs treasure, and this is obtained through burning down farms or towns, intercepting wagons full of tithes, and capturing and ransoming princesses.

The game has a co-op mode, which allows friends to work together to gather as much treasure as possible in one shared hoard, but you can also play competitively.. this can mean racing them to the treasure, or actively trying to get in their way or kill them!  Killing another dragon forces them to drop their treasure and flee straight back to their hoard, where they are unable to move while they regenerate health.. a great opportunity to steal the dropped treasure 😉

At the beginning of each game, your dragon only has weak abilities, but as you gather more treasure you are able to spend points and upgrade your dragon’s speed, fire-breathing capability, carrying capacity and damage resistance.  I prefer to improve the speed of my dragon, as well as fire-breathing, but I think this could change depending on the map and game mode.

Upgrades cost more at each level, so you need to gather more and more gold to keep upgrading.  The kingdom also improves over time, with towns becoming larger and producing archers, who will fire on you.  If you do enough damage to a town you can scare them enough that they ‘belong’ to you, and send you tithes.. a nice way of gathering money automatically 🙂

During a competitive game, you will need to keep an eye on ‘your’ towns, as other dragons will want to take them over.. either by damaging the town enough to turn its loyalty to them, or by destroying the town centre and resetting the town’s loyalty.  Giants also appear in the kingdom.. they will attack towns they come across unless suitably distracted.. say with some fiery breath.. 😉

There are also small towers around the map, which spawn knights.  The knights will attack you if you pass by, and if you capture a princess, all the knights in the vicinity will come to try and rescue her!  I found the knights were best avoided until you had levelled up a little, as they are rather strong and can kill you easily if you stray too close.  As the kingdom grows, the towers become keeps, with more knights being spawned.. increasing the danger but also the reward, as the ransom value goes up with the level of the keep!

Another danger comes from the mage towers, which fire bolts at nearby dragons: destroying one of these reveals a large gem which is worth a lot of gold, but slows the dragon and makes you vulnerable to attack while carrying it.  I found the upgraded towers harder to destroy, as one mistake in avoiding the bolts means death.. and as the bolts can travel a long way, I sometimes got killed by a bolt set off by another dragon!

On all the maps, there are a variety of power-ups, which appear at regular intervals.  These can give you stronger firebreath, icy breath, or allow you to shoot fireballs.. another increases your speed, while the last is maybe a little evil, allowing a player to steal from another dragon’s hoard.. aside from the obvious exchange of gold, this has the added advantage of resetting the victim’s score multiplier!

As well as the Treasure game modes, there is “Princess Rush”, where you need to capture the most princesses to win, and a survival mode, which I’ve not tried yet.

EscapeCraft 2

A friend of mine has been messing around with various fan-made adventure mods within Minecraft lately, one of which was EscapeCraft 2.

I have to admit that I wasn’t hugely interested in the mods, expecting them to be a series of jumping exercises which would frustrate me more than anything else, but after enough prodding I thought I should at least give it a go..

The game starts with a few instructions.. not to punch any blocks other than dirt, and to use Peaceful and Easy modes to prevent or allow mob spawning as puzzles require them.  Of course you could ignore these and punch straight through the walls, but that would defeat the purpose of playing a puzzle game 😉

After receiving your instructions, you drop into the starting room – the scenario is that you’ve just awoken and are in some kind of testing facility.

In the next room, I was reminded of Portal’s Companion Cube, as I was asked to pull a lever on the wall and kill ‘Subject 1089’..

Killing the hapless test subject opened the door to the next area.. once through, I found out that there was another way to solve the puzzle.. a hidden forge in this room contains a lever which you can use to open the door without harming any animals!

The next room involved two waterfalls and a lot of lava.. after a few burnings I made it through.  I should note that death results in the loss of items in your inventory.. this might not matter if it were random items of treasure, but if you lose an item needed to solve a puzzle, you’ll need to re-copy the world into your Minecraft folder and start over.

Following the waterfall and lava room came the obsidian and wool room.. and with the gift of gravel and iron I created fire!

The fire spread along the walls and to the roof; blocks then fell to create the stairs to the next area.  Very nicely done 🙂

After fire came water.. which had to be poured into the right place to not set off the TNT which lined the room.

Again, no mishaps.. though I was tempted to set the TNT off for the chained explosions that would have resulted 😉

Following these successful levels, some GlaDOS style notices warned me of what was to come.. other.. subjects?

Zombies joined me in the puzzle that was to follow, and I managed to get myself killed when one dropped down beside me and made me jump.. I blindly lashed out with the sword and smashed the glass floor of the maze.  Durrp.

After completing this level, I stopped the game on account of pub lunch 🙂

One conclusion though.. Minecraft mods are nowhere near the jumping-puzzle hell I expected, and the puzzles are actually quite clever..

Midsummer Fire Festival

It’s the first time I’ve seen a holiday event in WoW, and I have to say it was much more of a big thing than I’d have expected.

The first I knew of it, we had been hit with a buff seemingly out of nowhere, and at first I was looking around for a random other player who might have done it.

So we began visiting bonfires – including the Alliance’s bonfires, which we of course chose to desecrate.  This resulted in us being flagged for PvP, and in one instance, being chased by some guys who were a lot higher level.  I managed to get away, but they killed poor Vorlak 😉

There are tokens to be won for completing various quests, some more involved, and some rather more ‘fun’ tasks, such as torch tossing and torch catching!  I found throwing the torches onto the required targets fairly easy to do, but throwing and catching a torch was much more difficult, especially with other people’s thrown torches in the air too.

The tokens can be redeemed for various goodies, the most expensive of which is a small pet, the Captured Flame.
The festival is running for another two weeks, so I’m hoping I can get enough tokens together for this..

In the meantime, we’re on a mission to collect another pet, the Mechanical Chicken!  We’ve rescued two OOX homing robots so far, and have one more to go!

Tarithel and Erilas

So I had my trial of WoW, and enjoyed it enough that I went ahead and got the game.  I managed to pick up the game plus expansions (Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King) for just under £30, and for the play-time I’ve had so far, I figure it’s worth it.

Thanks to the Recruit A Friend bonus, I’ve been levelling with a friend at a rather breakneck speed, as well as the now obligatory sight-seeing.  I’m loving the damage I can do as a fire mage – well, it’s hard to go wrong with fire, really!
We’ve ventured into a few dungeons, and so far the randoms we’ve met haven’t included too many idiots, though there always will be a few.

Here are Tarithel, destructive fire mage, and Erilas, awesome priest healer, posing just a little bit 😉

As for the few concerns I’ve had about becoming addicted – we’re still finding time to play other games, and go out and see friends, so it can’t be quite that bad 😀