Gauntlet

I’m about to fire up Gauntlet, Arrowhead Game Studios’ 2014 version of the classic fantasy hack and slash of the same name!

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One Week of Diablo III!

Well.. I say a week.. heh.  Launch day was a no-go, with Blizzard having somehow been unaware of how many of their customers would actually want to play, and the servers being unable to cope with this demand.  These problems continued the following day, with connection problems, lag, and maintenance on the Battle.net servers.. and still they weren’t finished, as there was yet more surprise downtime and maintenance later on during the week.

The only positive thing that could be said for Blizzard in this was that they got on with the maintenance straight away.. but they should have had some indication of demand from pre-order and sales figures, and from the open beta weekend which was plagued with the same problems, and they should have ensured that their systems were ready to deal with it.

Anyway.. I went with the Demon Hunter, with plans to play the game through alone, at my own pace.. with exploration, reading all the journals, watching all the cutscenes and playing with the crafting system a bit too.  I had a friend drag me through Diablo II ages back, and didn’t get to explore or enjoy the story; that isn’t going to happen again.

The first part of the game was available during the open beta.. and available as a trial of the game via the Starter Edition or Guest Passes.  The first part of Act 1, up to the Skeleton King, seemed to play the same as during Beta, ignoring the random elements of course!

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Diablo III Beta

Although the Diablo III Beta was made available on Friday, we weren’t able to get in right away.  Unsurprisingly, there was rather a lot of interest in the game, and Blizzard had to limit the number of concurrent logins while dealing with various server and login issues.

The beta contained the first four chapters of Act 1: after defending the town against the rising dead, players go to the Cathedral to find out what happened to Deckard Cain, go in search of the mad King Leoric’s crown, and then put an end to the Skeleton King and free the land from his army of the dead!

All five classes were available to choose from, though you could only level each up to level 13 during the beta.

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Trine

I picked Frozenbyte‘s Trine up in the Humble Bundle a few days back, and although I’d seen the name before, I had no idea what the game really was beyond “puzzle action”.

So when the game launched, I wasn’t expecting something quite so pretty and well-polished..

The story is told by a Narrator with an awesome voice, with some rather nice graphics to illustrate the decline of a magical kingdom beset by evil, with the dead rising from their graves until it was abandoned..

This is where the Thief came in.. like all thieves she wants treasure, and having learned of an ancient object hidden within the Astral Academy.. here she is!  The Thief is an acrobatic, agile character, equipped with a bow for ranged combat, and a grapple hook to get around.  Finding the treasure itself served as the tutorial..

On entering the Shrine and touching the object within, she was frozen..

The next character introduced was the Wizard, who wanted to escape the armies of the Undead.. but he saw a light from within the Shrine, and entered..

The Wizard has the ability to move objects, using the right mouse button, as well as create boxes by drawing them using the left mouse button.  This allows him to create a way of climbing up onto high ledges, or interacting with puzzles to clear a path or gather experience bottles which appeared during this level.  He eventually made his way to where the Thief was trapped.. and ended up touching the object and being frozen too!

The third character was the Knight.. he had been training to fight the Undead so he could join the King’s Army.  He also noticed the light within the Shrine, and headed on in.  The Knight is a more offensive character, and on his run to the Shrine I met some Undead skeletons to try my sword out on 🙂

Eventually he made his way to the object, and touched it too..

This then caused the three characters’ souls to be joined together by the object.. the Trine!

From here, you make your way through the Academy, playing as one of the three characters at any time.  You can switch between the characters as you want or need them by pressing 1, 2 or 3 for Wizard, Thief or Knight.

For travelling around, I preferred the Thief.. the grappling hook allows for fast movement and getting over large gaps, and just feels rather nice to use..

Her bow is great for ranged attack, so long as you power up the shot, but for any real combat I preferred to switch to the Knight.. he has the added ability of being able block damage with his shield, whereas the Thief is just too vulnerable at close quarters.

The Wizard has no direct offensive capability, although he can conjure a box in just the right place to land on an enemy and squish him!  I’ve only done that on single enemies so far.. mainly to see if it would work! 🙂

The characters have their own health and energy bars, and it is possible for the active character to die if they take too much damage.  If this happens, you can carry on with your remaining characters till you get to a checkpoint, where they return to life and all characters receive a health and energy boost.  Health is also dropped by some enemies, but first you have to kill them 😉

It appears that you can manage for a short while without one of your characters, as most puzzles can be dealt with by jumping, grappling, or climbing on conjured boxes.. but I wouldn’t like to try taking on waves of Skeletons without the Knight, and the Thief is the only one who can grapple over long jumps, so there will be some places where you’d have to go back to the last checkpoint.

The first boss I met was a giant Skeleton!

I used the Knight almost exclusively here, as the Skeleton moved too quickly for ranged attacks, and hacked through conjured boxes too easily to use them as a barricade.

The three characters are constantly gathering experience, and when they level up you can improve an ability or purchase a new one.  The improvement for the Wizard’s conjure skill allows him to have two boxes at a time.. and later he’ll be able to conjure boards and bridges!  I also found some pieces of equipment such as the Necklace of Life, which improves maximum health points and therefore went to the Knight, and the Ring of Spellcaster, giving the Wizard an energy boost.. this character is the only one who I’ve managed to run out of energy so far.

I might not have completed the game, but I’ve already discovered that it has a local co-op mode allowing two or even three people to play, though apparently it requires game controllers and some configuring.  This allows each player to take control of a character, with all player-characters active at once.. easier in terms of combat, but more difficult as all need to be able to get through the puzzles.  When I’ve completed the game, I might just have to grab someone to try this! 🙂