Tag Archives: polygon

Copy of Dauntless guide: Weekly Hunt Pass challenge for July 26-Aug 2

Dauntless is a free-to-play monster hunting game from the team at Phoenix Labs. In a game all about hunters making suits out of monsters, the fashion can get a bit drab. Phoenix Labs’ solution is the Hunt Pass, which rewards players with cosmetic items to spice up their Slayer.

The best way to level up your Hunt Pass is to complete the weekly Hunt Pass challenges. These reset on Friday mornings and last through the week. Each challenge offers 150 Gleaming Pearls as a reward. With each Hunt Pass level only needing about 100 Gleaming Pearls, that’s six free Hunt Pass levels for completing a handful of missions.

Here are the four challenges that Gregario Flynt, the Hunt Pass master, is tasking you with this week:

  • Kill 10 Behemoths with Terra weapons
  • Kill 10 Behemoths with Repeaters or Axes
  • Kill 10 Behemoths with Shock weapons
  • Get 30 interrupts on any Behemoths

That’s all you’ve got to do this week. For bonus Gleaming Pearls, run around Ramsgate and look for the 10 glowing skulls on the sides of buildings. If you collect all 10, you’ll get bonus Gleaming Pearls. These skulls reset every day.

Source: Polygon.com

Slay the Spire and Squad offered in September’s Humble Bundle

On Friday, Humble announced the September additions to its Monthly Bundle: Slay the Spire and Squad. They are available to download now, replacing the August bundle, which included Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Surviving Mars.

Kickstarter-backed tactical shooter Squad is still in early access on Steam, where it has averaged “very positive” reviews. (A launch is planned for 2019, according to developer Offworld Industries.) The studio has released periodic updates since it launched in 2015. As recently as last week, the game received a new modding toolkit and the Canadian Armed Forces faction.

In addition to offering its titular bundles, Humble also publishes games from indie developers. Slay the Spire is one such game. The roguelite deck-building game was developed by indie studio Mega Crit Games, and launched in early access in 2017. When it was officially released earlier this year, we gave it our Polygon Recommends badge for its challenging but rewarding gameplay.

The Humble Monthly Bundle costs $12 per month and usually includes eight to 10 games. The early unlock games are available to download as soon as they’re announced on the first Friday of each month, with the rest of the bundle revealed after orders close a month later. Humble promises a bundle worth at least $100. And unlike similar game subscription services like Xbox Games With Gold and PlayStation Plus, the games are yours to keep even if you cancel your subscription.

Along with the bundled games, a Humble Monthly subscription includes 20% off orders at the Humble Store and access to a library of DRM-free games. Called the Humble Trove, the collection includes favorite indie titles like The Sexy Brutale, Gone Home, and Limbo.

In addition, 5% of each Humble purchase is donated to charity; September’s bundle supports St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Source: Polygon.com

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic season 9 trailer sees friendship saving Equestria one last time

After nearly 10 years on the air, beloved children’s cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is finally ending. The final trailer for the series sees Twilight Sparkle and her friends rallying in defense of Equestria for the last time.

The trailer tracks Twilight’s growth over the past eight seasons from her arrival in Ponyville to her coronation as the Princess of Friendship. With the Elements of Harmony destroyed, the group must figure out how to defend Equestria from a new threat without their greatest weapon. Now, alongside Spike, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie, it’s up to Twilight to protect her home one last time.

Since its premiere in 2010, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has been a cult favorite and an endless source of memes. The series famously brought “bronies” — adult, typically male fans of the series — into the mainstream. While the fandom has for the most part faded out of spotlight since the early 2010s, it’s still thriving: Polygon spoke with fans at BronyCon, a yearly My Little Pony convention, about their feelings regarding the ending of the series. For the most part, fans have come to terms with the finale: When the series ends, the fandom will still survive even if it dwindles in the aftermath.

The final half of season 9 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic will premiere on Discovery Family on Aug. 3.

Source: Polygon.com

Hearthstone’s next expansion is set to remix a wild World of Warcraft zone

Part of the problem with World of Warcraft is the game has a lot of ground to cover — an entire world, in fact. Players also pick everything up and shuttle off to a new continent with every expansion. The main continents in World of Warcraft haven’t been updated since Cataclysm. It’s another team, in another Blizzard game, that returns to these playgrounds and spruces them up, turning them into little worlds of their own.

Now, Blizzard’s digital card game Hearthstone is bringing a long-running, over-the-top story campaign to the Cataclysm zone of Uldum.

Uldum is one of most fascinating zones in World of Warcraft, and in the MMO, we only scratched the surface. Now, we’re getting a proper deep dive.

Hearthstone house rules

Hearthstone isn’t quite proper canon, even though the game and World of Warcraft have a lot of overlap. Characters, scenarios, and locations cross back and forth between the two games, but the two maintain separate canons. For instance, in World of Warcraft, Gadgetzan is a small goblin city. In Hearthstone, it’s a thriving, bustling port. Battle for Azeroth’s Tortollans started in Hearthstone, then migrated over.

Oh, and in World of Warcraft, the flying city of Dalaran waits over the Broken Isles. In Hearthstone, a collection of criminals and villains strapped mega rockets to the city so they could steal everything in it, and also the city itself, and are using it as a mobile headquarters.

The League of EVIL is now heading to Uldum, where the Explorer’s League will have to stop digging and stop the whole thing from snowballing further.

“We always wanted to have a big, epic jaunt with all of our villains and heroes together,” said Dave Kosak, lead designer for missions on Hearthstone, in an interview with Polygon. “If you want to do a one-year story, you might as well make it big, epic, and sweeping and go all over the world. But a risk of doing a yearlong story is, what happens if people aren’t into the theme? Do they just not play Hearthstone for a full year? That seemed kind of bad.”

Hence, smaller themes: a criminal heist in Dalaran that naturally leads to an adventure in the Uldum deserts. Uldum makes for a great setting. First of all, the team wanted to bring out the League of Explorers, who have been established in previous Hearthstone expansions. Secondly, Uldum is packed full of potential: ancient Titan temples and old, forgotten ruins. There’s also a big, wide desert, which offered a fun ecology to experiment with. There’s an Indiana Jones-style whimsy to it all.

Hearthstone - The assembled League of Explorers - an elf with a magical tome, a murloc with a monocle, a dwarf on a dinosaur with a whip, and a man with a cannon shooting colorful crystals. Blizzard Entertainment

Exploring Uldum

A wide and varied cast of over-the-top archetypes also allows Hearthstone’s quest designers to come up with new hero powers, win conditions, and boss encounters. “[Uldum] gives us a lot of story to hang our hat on, but it also implies a lot of mechanics that we wanted to do, that artists and designers could have fun with.”

“Our team is always digging into games, movies, all of that. We’re already nerding out on other people’s techniques and how they pulled off a specific cool effect or something like that,” said Hadidjah Chamberlin, lead FX artist.

Because World of Warcraft mixes so many influences together, that means special effects and scenarios can go outside the realm of strict fantasy and into other genres. But when World of Warcraft moves on from a zone, players don’t return. Hearthstone is able to go back to these environments and dial the elements of them up to 11.

In World of Warcraft, Uldum is a buffet of unexplored, but cool, concepts. It juggles a political story between ancient races of feline guardians left to protect god-constructed technology, excavation groups from around the world coming to explore these new wonders, and powerful elementals staking a claim for their nefarious Old God masters. All of these concepts were only half-explored, largely linked together by pop culture references.

As Blizzard expands Hearthstone’s single-player campaigns and adds more boss fights, it’s able to dig deep into corners of the world that the MMO simply can’t go.

World of Warcraft - Elise Starseeker, a night elf in a white cape, escapes a giant Titan construct. Blizzard Entertainment

Honing the craft

The Hearthstone team has been paying increasing attention to its single-player campaigns, which are proving to be one of the best parts of modern Hearthstone.

“We learned a lot from our very first take on this mode [in Kobolds & Catacombs],” said Kosak. “What we discovered is that the boss doesn’t have to be too complicated, because the real fun is in building a deck. So we just started approaching a boss’ design as like, let’s just make sure this character is fun and they do something interesting to challenge you in a unique way.

“We can break a lot of rules. You can be mean to the AI, and we don’t care. We just have to be careful that you break the rules in ways that are meaningful and fun, which is tricky, but it’s a lot of fun to explore.”

There’s rarely a major stumble for the developer when it comes to implementing these bosses, although sometimes the team overshoots.

“Sometimes we design a boss, and we’re like ‘holy cow, this boss is impossible, let’s tone him down’,” Kosak said.

Kosak couldn’t think of an instance where the team ever went too far in designing a core mechanic for a boss — tweaks are often just to numbers, not complete reworks. One change that was met with suspicion is the ability to enter non-combat encounters on the Hearthstone board to switch up a deck.

The goal with these encounters was to avoid UI-driven menus that pull players out of the game.

“We want you to have this feeling where you come into an environment, and there are these characters milling around and you can recruit them,” Kosak said.

Players are likely going to see Uldum expand, much like how Gadgetzan is now a thriving, noir-esque port town and Area 52 is home to Dr. Boom and his puzzle labs.

“When I found out we were doing Uldum, I was like… oh my god, it’s a giant freaking desert. It’s going to be nothing but sand everywhere. It’s going to be the best,” said Chamberlin. “The amount of variety there is cool, and that comes across in these different mechanics and in the art we use across the board. There’s such a trove of stuff there already, and it’s really fun. I work with that, and spin it out in wild directions.”

Source: Polygon.com

How to watch Apex Legends’ X Games tournament: streams and schedule

The X Games are normally the home of extreme sports like motocross and skateboarding, but this weekend Apex Legends is joining the competition. At X Games Minneapolis on Aug. 2-3, 20 teams of three will face off for the tournament’s prize pool of $150,000.

The teams competing in the tournament arrived through a combination of invitations, a system that it seems Respawn will continue to use for future tournaments, and an online qualifier. With the exception of a few of that made it through the online qualifier, most of the teams at the tournament are sponsored by professional esports organizations like Team Liquid, TSM, Cloud9, and Fnatic.

The competing teams will play 12 matches over the two-day tournament. Teams will earn points for how well they do in each match. Teams will be awarded points based on what place they finish each match in, as well as gaining one point for every elimination. Here’s a breakdown of the finishing points for the tournament:

  • 1st — 12 points
  • 2nd — 9 points
  • 3rd — 7 points
  • 4th — 5 points
  • 5th — 4 points
  • 6th – 10th — 2 points
  • 11th – 15th — 1 point
  • 16th – 20th — 0 points

Every match will be livestreamed. Viewers can watch on the ESPN app, as well as the ESPN Esports and EA Twitch channels. The games will also be live on ESPN Esports’ YouTube and Twitter, and on Caffeine, ESPN Play (Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean), ESPN Player (EMEA and select Asian territories), and WatchESPN (Pac Rim and Brazil).


Apex Legends X Games schedule

Friday, Aug. 2

  • Match 1 — 4:18 p.m. ET
  • Match 2 — 4:53 p.m. ET
  • Match 3 — 5:28 p.m. ET
  • Match 4 — 6:23 p.m. ET
  • Match 5 — 6:58 p.m. ET
  • Match 6 — 7:33 p.m. ET

Saturday, Aug. 3

  • Match 1 — 4:18 p.m. ET
  • Match 2 — 4:53 p.m. ET
  • Match 3 — 5:28 p.m. ET
  • Match 4 — 6:23 p.m. ET
  • Match 5 — 6:58 p.m. ET
  • Match 6 — 7:33 p.m. ET

Source: Polygon.com

Buried treasure: Unearthing the hidden indie gems from beneath the sea of games

Every single day, an avalanche of indie games are released onto Steam, Itch, the Epic Games Store, and more, meaning far too many interesting projects go completely unnoticed. We’re here to shine a light on the games that deserve to be brought out from the shadows, to give attention to the games that otherwise might have been entirely missed.

And this week, we’re going to start with a full-motion video release.

You’d be a fool to mess with a cop who can pull off this enormous sweater.

Set in the elaborate maze of back rooms and corridors of a skeezy Russian nightclub, She Sees Red is a full-motion video game in which you make choices for a young man, pursued by both Russian mobsters and a police detective. And pursued for good reason, because he’s done some murders.

What your character is doing, or why, is the core mystery of the experience. That the people he’s killed are extremely dodgy thugs, seemingly mixed up in drug dealing and perhaps worse, doesn’t appear to offer you any moral high ground. If there’s anyone here whose side you instinctively want to be on, it’s the cop’s, as her detective skills are immediately apparent, and her fearlessness (despite being followed and scrutinized by hooligans) makes her an appealing character. And yet you’re tasked with making choices for her quarry.

Player interaction is minimal, with just occasional binary choices to be made as the film plays out. But what makes it work is a combination of those choices feeling pretty darned significant, and the film you’re watching being compelling, well acted, and often extremely well shot. Especially the fight scenes, which is … rare for this genre.

This is a Russian project, with an excellent Russian cast, and nearly perfect subtitling. So I strongly suggest switching the audio from its default English dubbing back to the original.

Each decision I made further cemented a desire to play again. Just how differently would the scenario play out if I had opted to have the escapee abandon his plan and improvise, or had chosen to spare a victim? It takes about half an hour to reach an ending, after which the game reported that I had seen just 27 out of 62 possible scenes.

And gosh, it’s worth at least a second play. The second story I was shown was fundamentally different, giving me a new perspective on the tale being told. I had seen 44 out of 62 scenes after that, so of course I want a third go. The only real flaw here is that there’s no way to skip scenes you’ve already seen, while choices are on a very short timer, so it’s far too possible to be distracted and miss a chance to make a new decision.

FMV games are far more often miss than hit, but She Sees Red succeeds through its high quality of filmmaking, plus its combination of brevity and replayability. Gory, sweary, and even a tiny bit nude-y, this is a grown-up FMV title with strong execution.

She Sees Red is available on Mac and Windows PC via Steam for $7.99.

He’s really not as bad as you think! He gives you a coin each time you die.

Small shapes exist on a dark, black platform against a red backdrop Simon Fredholm

Break the Game begins by imploring you not to press anything. Its glitchy menus and half-finished platforms appear on a flickering, fuzzy screen, and the game strongly suggests from the start that you should just quit. The characters within the game, however, would rather you didn’t. They need help making good their escape. It seems the game’s creator is a malevolent coder, and everyone inside wants to get away from the world created for them.

Which is a splendid premise for a silly, lighthearted platform game that puts its emphasis on banter. Which could be a damning comment were it not for the fact that the game nonchalantly offers a very solid, if otherwise unoriginal, set of levels through which to bounce your blocky friends.

This is first and foremost about the jokes, however, so it’s a pleasure to report that Break the Game is often very funny, and always congenial and entertaining. Various voices frequently pop up, in written form, from the main character — a square called Kevin — to enemies, shopkeepers, and perhaps most significantly, the game’s creator, who is furious with you for not having hit the exit key already.

But as I say, it’s crucial that the movement feels good too, or no number of jokes could rescue the game. And this is where the game surprises me; the movement feels janky, but it’s janky with such a deft precision that I wonder if it was discovered due absolute genius or complete luck. Jumps don’t quite flow properly, and yet they’re a pleasure to control. Add in double-jumps and dashes and many more upgrade “chips”, and this confusion of glitch-and-glide only becomes more impressive and bemusing.

While it looks very simple in a screenshot, there’s actually a fair amount of cleverness going on with the visuals as well. Each level is glitchy or distorted in a different way, and, while the characters and enemies are mostly rectangles, they’re extremely well lit and animated. Everything has much more life than you’d expect from this description.

It is, in the end, undeniably a middling platform game. But it’s one that glides by on its charms as it delivers its ridiculous story, piles on the visual and written jokes, and exudes a cheerfully daft atmosphere.

Break the Game is available for Windows PC via Steam for $9.99.

Sure you can cope with reading a game! You’re reading this, right?

Heroes of Myth is a game about a lie. A very big lie that your character told three years ago. As a magician of illusion, you were a co-conspirator in a masquerade to look as though you’d successfully defeated demons from another realm, saving countless people, and fulfilling a fictitious prophecy. You have since been heralded as a hero of the people. But now that lie is finally catching up with you.

Of course, it wasn’t as clear cut, or as malicious, as that. There were complications. There were noble intentions. Or perhaps there were none of those things at all, and you were simply showing off. Or it could be the case that you were swept along by more convincing people, and immediately regretted your involvement in the deceit.

Because in Heroes of Myth, you determine not just the flow of the story, but more importantly, how you feel about what has happened, and what might happen next. And this is all handled through the selection of responses via radio buttons in this gloriously well-written text-only interactive fiction.

Yes, I bounce off interactive fiction games as quickly as most, either overwhelmed by the complexity and jargon of the genre, or alienated by the overly purple prose and the threadbare-worn tropes. But stick with me here. This is published by Choice of Games, which I too have only just discovered, despite its having released 101 games onto Steam over the last five years.

The publisher’s games, by a huge array of authors, do not have a text parser, but are instead more Twine-like in their choices of responses. It’s an accessible system, and yet still capable of intricate, behind-the-scenes complexity as the game creates a persona for you via the decisions you make. The stats page for this game demonstrates how the simple interface belies some astonishingly detailed character creation.

Of course, that’d be for nought without a good story and great writing, and Abigail C. Trevor delivers both. This is a 560,000-word interactive tale, so I shall not pretend to have finished it. But gosh, I can’t wait to do so.

I always crave fantasy fiction, but rarely find any that doesn’t put me off with its florid prose or 17-book arc. This is the answer.

Heroes of Myth is available on Windows PC, Apple, and Android for $6.99.

All three of this week’s games were reviewed using final retail downloads, via a Steam press account.

Source: Polygon.com

Ninja will likely help Microsoft gear up for a new type of console launch

Yesterday’s news that Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is leaving Twitch, the livestreaming platform that made him famous during the height of Fortnite’s popularity, came as a shock to the gaming community. Twitch went out of its way to market the neon-haired star, once even angering other streamers because the platform decided to advertise Blevins on other people’s channels. And now the same guy Twitch championed above others has cut loose.

Blevins doesn’t owe anyone loyalty, of course, but the move is noteworthy in light of wider Twitch trends. High-profile creators such as PewDiePie are already experimenting with livestream platforms that aren’t Twitch. Interest in Fortnite, which is Blevins’ speciality, is starting to slow. And Blevins’ channel in particular has also started to falter — he’s no longer the top streamer on Twitch. Viewers say that Blevins’ numbers dip even more whenever he tries to play something that isn’t Fortnite. Why stick it out on a platform that’s losing steam for you when you can take a big check?

Both Mixer and Twitch declined to comment on how much money has been offered to Blevins, but it’s hard to imagine that something else could have been the motivating factor here. Blevins has been pretty upfront about his monetary concerns, with many high-profile interviews noting that the man can’t even have breakfast without worrying about how many subscribers — and therefore money — he’s losing during that time. In an interview with ESPN, he said that he told his wife that they’re not “going to have much quality time this year, or even next year” as he grinds his way through the livestreaming wave, all in the hopes of setting them and their family up “for the rest of our lives.”

While Blevins didn’t say much about why he’s moving on to Mixer, what little he did say paints a particular picture.

“I feel like this is a really good chance to get back in touch with my roots, and really remember why I fell in love with streaming in the first place,” he said in his announcement video. While most people may know Blevins from his Fortnite days, his history goes back further than that. Blevins actually used to be a Halo pro back in the day — his handle is a reference to a move in the series — and he met his wife through Halo. You could say Blevins owes his entire career to Halo. He wouldn’t have started livestreaming as a full-time job without it.

a shot of the Halo ring at night in Halo Infinite 343 Industries/Xbox Game Studios

Mixer is owned by Microsoft, which also owns Halo. And we know that Microsoft, alongside Sony, is gearing up for the new generation of consoles. Halo Infinite is going to be a launch game for the next Xbox, currently known by its codename, Project Scarlett. What better way to market the proceedings than to have Blevins by your side? I wouldn’t be surprised if Blevins ends up being the name and face of Xbox, and by extension Halo, this time next year.

Much has been said about gaming’s reliance on influencers to spread the word on new releases, but we haven’t truly started seeing these plans at a large, mainstream scale until recently. Apex Legends, for instance, had a surprise launch this year with some of the biggest names in streaming — and now it’s a huge game. We’ve yet to see this type of pinpointed strategy employed with a console launch, but if current trends continue, the next generation of video games will likely be defined by an influencer-driven approach.

The question is, can Blevins deliver? Can he bring more people to Mixer? Can he sell Xbox consoles and copies of Halo Infinite? Hardcore fans are sure to follow, but a decrease in viewership seems inevitable — some people won’t make the jump. Twitch isn’t just some site people load to watch someone; it’s a community. Mixer is an up-and-comer with some cool features, but it can’t tell you to come over because all your friends and favorite entertainers are there. It’s a hard sell. No wonder Microsoft is using the exclusivity route.

Blevins has become an advertising darling over the last year, with brands such as Samsung tapping him to help promote the Galaxy Note 9. The phone apparently sold well, although it’s hard to say how much of a part Blevins played. Yes, the man has huge reach. But the phone also came packaged with a coveted Fortnite skin that you can’t get anywhere else, and it was released when Fortnite was still taking the world by storm. Regardless, we’re already starting to see the effects of Ninja’s transition. Anecdotally, I saw a good number of people on social media either starting up Mixer accounts, or starting to check out the service, yesterday. Ninja says he’s attracted 100,000 subscribers thus far, which is probably helped by the fact that Mixer is giving away the first month of subscriptions. And as of this morning, Mixer is the most popular thing on the App Store.

Change is coming — and Blevins has sparked it.

Source: Polygon.com

The best thing about Destiny 2: Solstice of Heroes is this tiny Sparrow

Destiny 2’s summer holiday, the second annual Solstice of Heroes, is here. Players are devoting their time to leveling up their new Solstice armor, but not before stopping by Destiny’s cosmetic shop, the Eververse, to look at Tess’ summer stylings.

Bungie added some cute items for the summer: a Ghost wearing sunglasses, a Ghost in a life preserver, a Ghost inside a beach ball … you get the idea. But the immediate star of the show is a new Exotic Sparrow: the Micro Mini.

Bungie showed this fabulous new transport off in its reveal post for the event, but nobody was quite prepared for how hilarious it looks to ride in-game.

Warlock on a Sparrow in Destiny 2
The way Guardians normally look on a Sparrow
Bungie

Sparrows are Destiny’s space motorcycles. The grips are in the middle of the body, but the foot rests and brakes are at the tail. When Guardians ride a Sparrow, they’re almost laying prone on the bike.

The Micro Mini is a little different on both ends. The nose is much smaller, and the grips are closer to the Guardian’s body. But the back half is what sells the Mini. Instead of a long tail to house the jet, the entire Sparrow cuts off after the seat.

The foot rests for the Micro Mini are barely staggered from the handlebars, meaning the Guardian riding it has to shove their legs into their chest cavity just to sit on it — like a parent riding a child’s tricycle.

Players have already started doing ridiculous things with the Micro Mini, like taking it into the Scourge of the Past raid’s racing encounter as a fireteam of six. The result looks more like Diddy Kong Racing than Destiny.

The Micro Mini is a premium item in Destiny 2, meaning that players need to buy it with real money to pick it up. But for the first week of Solstice, Tess Everis is selling the Micro Mini for Bright Dust — a free currency that players can earn in game. The Sparrow isn’t cheap, and costs players 2,500 Bright Dust or about $8 worth (800) of Silver, the game’s premium currency.

So the question players must ask themselves is: Do you ride around the Solar System on your badass space motorcycle? Or do you choose to ride around on Scooty-Puff Jr. to intimidate your enemies?

Source: Polygon.com

No Man’s Sky’s Beyond update arrives Aug. 14

No Man’s Sky’s massive, game-changing Beyond update finally has a release date: Aug. 14. The date’s announcement was made in a blog post on developer Hello Games’ website, along with a very short teaser trailer.

According to Hello Games, the Beyond update is three major updates rolled into one. The first update will be No Man’s Sky’s new and expanded online multiplayer and social features. It isn’t exactly clear yet what this new online experience will look like, or how it will change the game.

The game’s managing director Sean Murray has previously told Polygon, “It includes a radical new social and multiplayer experience which empowers players everywhere in the universe to meet and play together. Whilst this brings people together like never before, and has many recognizable online elements, we don’t consider No Man’s Sky to be an MMO. It won’t require a subscription, won’t contain micro-transactions, and will be free for all existing players.”

The second major component of the Beyond update will be to add VR support to No Man’s Sky. The feature will be available in any part of the game, including multiplayer where players will be allowed to play in VR alongside their non-VR friends.

For now, these are the only parts of the Beyond update that Hello Games has revealed. But we’re sure to get more details in the coming weeks either before the patch or when the patch goes live on Aug. 14. Beyond will be a free update for all No Man’s Sky players.

Source: Polygon.com

Roll+Heart is an earnest LGBT tabletop visual novel

Some games promise to sweep you away to a faraway land of adventure and/or intrigue. Other games are much closer to home. Roll+Heart is a dating sim with a diverse cast of queer love interests, available on Steam and the Discord store for $19.99. It’s also centered around the concept of a D&D Encounters-style pick-up group.

That means there are two parallel games going on: a simple tabletop combat system, and then dating sim conversations outside of game night, carried out through chat clients and real-life meet-ups.

This is a really great premise, as someone who has played dozens of roleplaying campaigns over the last 15 years, including pick-up groups in gaming stores and through online clients like Roll 20. There’s also something comforting about the idea of having a weekly game — or the fantasy of a weekly game delivered via dating sim. A lot of people have full schedules, distance between friends, or other obligations that means they can’t show up to game night with the gang.

Roll+Heart - a character creation screen that includes both my real life character and my D&D character Owl Sanctuary Studios

This means Roll+Heart has immediate appeal. The cast of love interests are fun archetypes that I don’t always see in dating sims, like a mom of two who I escort to a soccer game, or a shy young man who’s taking care of an elderly dog. The game avoids some obvious writing tropes that lead to instant drama, and the end result is more satisfying.

I sleep with one girl on the first date, and then she doesn’t reply to my messages. Oh no, is this some CW-style drama? Nope, it turns out she’s just not online very often; she lives a different life than the rest of the gamer gang. The wrinkles in the relationship come later, and I appreciate that relationship dynamics dodged the easiest path to conflict and investment.

All of this means Roll+Heart is extremely cozy. It’s a soft, nice little game, like curling up with a hot mug of tea on a chilly fall day.

Roll+Heart - an emphasis screen showing an elderly dog with the caption “I love dogs!” Owl Sanctuary Studios

That doesn’t mean Roll+Heart knocked my socks off. The game has a host of small, weird issues. There are a few grammar and spelling mistakes, which is enough to take me out of the moment. There’s also some accessibility issues in that each love interest has their own color combination for chat windows. That means sometimes you see black text on a dark purple background, which is frustrating, because it means I have to strain to read what the character is saying.

The tabletop game is also a little wonky. The first couple of fights were extremely messy and lethal, which works for a first-time Dungeons & Dragons session with a bunch of new players. Owl Sanctuary Studios has stripped a lot of the details down in order to make a streamlined, accessible tabletop game in the middle of a dating sim. (You can also just automatically skip these sequences through a menu toggle.)

But despite taking inspiration from fourth edition, there is no tank/healer/damage trinity. No tank means that enemies just roll around and gank my party indiscriminately. The game also switches my character from an elven ranger into a human druid randomly before one encounter.

Roll+Heart isn’t perfect; there are a lot of weird technical and balance issues that make the tabletop game chaotic and unpredictable. The dating parts of the game lack a little polish, with accessibility and editing issues. It’s worth checking out Roll+Heart if a mixture of tabletop games and dating sims appeal to you — but go in with eyes wide open as to why the experience might fall short.

Source: Polygon.com