Author Archives: Darren Henderson

Wargame: Red Dragon Launch Review – An RTS Done Right

By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)

 

Introduction

Wargame: Red Dragon is the latest installment in Eugen Systems Wargame series. This time around, Wargame is focusing on the period between the 80′s and 90′s. This means hundreds of new units have been added, along with a new naval portion of the game to add even more strategy. The Wargame series is known for its extreme detail which means a lot of planning and strategy goes into the battle, and no single battle will be the same thanks to the huge maps and massive variety of units. Wargame: Red Dragon has all it needs to be an amazing RTS experience.

 

Wargame Site Launch

Customization

Customization comes into play before you even begin a match. You can create your own “deck” of units to be used in battles. This means, before you even know who you’re playing against, you will need to set up your army to be able to handle whatever will be thrown at you, while still being able to carry out your own strategies. Choosing your deck nationality, specialization, units, etc… is about all the customization you’ll find in Wargame: Red Dragon. However, that’s as you would expect in an RTS game, so it’s more than enough.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Deck

 

Sorting out your deck can be a bit difficult without some help. Thankfully there’s a lot of out-of-game resources (such as deck-sharing threads) to help you get started. There’s also a built-in deck sharing method for the less patient player. Each unit has a ton of variables – from the weapons it has, to the types of ammo, to how stealthy the unit is, and more. You’re going to be hit with a lot of information and somehow you’re going to have to build a deck that can help you in any situation. It’s both mind-boggling and exhilarating having so many choices and possibilities available to you.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Unit Info

Graphics

The game looks superb. Both from the top-down “satellite view” and the close-up ground view. The world is greatly detailed, so you can zoom in on individual units and see how great they look. Everything is animated, too. Even the missiles you’ll be shooting at your enemies – if you wanted to, you could zoom in and see the actual missile itself flying across the terrain. The over-head view is great, especially when a decent sized battle is going on with bullets and explosions everywhere. All-in-all, I was extremely pleased with how great the game looked.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Graphics

Controls

The game uses a combination of keyboard hot-keys and the mouse. When you first start out, you’ll be using the mouse and the interface for the majority of your actions. Thanks to how smooth and easy-to-learn the UI is, that isn’t a problem. Later on, however, you’ll begin to use hotkeys more and more and eventually you’ll end up using the mouse for only a few things, such as telling a unit where to attack. I never noticed any problems with the controls, and it was all fairly simple to learn, with plenty of tricks for veteran players to master to up their game.

 

 

Community

The Wargame series has been around for a number of years now. In that time, it’s managed to amass a very dedicated following of (mostly) helpful players. This is no different in Wargame: Red Dragon, where a lot of the community has migrated. Every time I’ve logged on, there’s been at least two-thousand people also online and the general chat was full of helpful discussion. If you’re new to the game, you’ll easily find someone willing to show you the ropes, either in-game or on the forums (or perhaps the sub-reddit). In short, Wargame: Red Dragon has an outstanding community.

 

 

What’s New

Being the latest installment in a series, you may be wondering what has changed from previous games. There are two major changes, as far as I can tell. The addition of several hundred new units is the most obvious change, making for almost 1,500 available units in the game. However, a lot of these units are different variations of the same type – different vehicles, weaponry, etc… The other major addition is the new naval units. This brings in a whole new layer to the strategy of the game, and there’s a lot of naval units to choose from. Different naval units are useful for different types of water as well, from ocean vessels to river crawlers.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Naval Units

Gameplay

Everything about Wargame: Red Dragon is about strategy. Even before you get into a game, you’ll have to plan-out a great deck to take into battle. Once you’re in a battle, you’ll have to manage a lot of things at once – land units, tanks, supply trucks, helicopters and jets. At first, you’ll find yourself a bit over-whelmed, but at the same time you’ll be awed with all that’s going on. The game has just about everything you could want from a large-scale conflict RTS.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review OverHead

 

The maps are generally very large, with a varying number of zones that can be captured. At the start of the match, you are given a certain number of resource points that can be used to build up your first wave. From the time the match starts, it’s a rush to try and claim as many territories as you can while at the same time preparing them for attack by an enemy. Each zone will give you a certain amount of capture points (usually +2 or +4, sometimes more on the bigger maps) per tick, which will go towards your victory. You can also get points for destroying your enemies units. It’s in your best interest to control as many zones as you can to accumulate points, while denying your enemy zones. Your end goal is to either have the most points at the end of the timer, or meet the point goal before your opponent.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Map

 

These matches can be played in a variety of ways from a simple 1v1 match against another player, to a full-scale 10v10 team match. There’s also a nice campaign mode available – four story-style campaigns that put you in certain points in military history. A skirmish mode exists as well that can be played to help hone your skills and test out new decks. Everything you could want in a modern(ish) warfare RTS.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Campaign Story

 

The game is mostly played on a macro scale, rather than a micro. That is, you’ll spend more time looking from above, rather than zoomed-in micro-managing a single squad of infantry. You’ll be controlling platoons of infantry, tanks, jets, helicopters, ships, etc… Trying to micro-manage all that would require a huge know-how of the game, along with very quick resources. Needless to say, early on you’re going to end up forgetting about some units or accidentally sending others to their destruction by clicking on the wrong place and not keeping tabs on them.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Units

 

Terrain, line-of-sight and other factors do play a huge role, though. Sending your vehicles through a dense forest may offer them more cover and make them less likely to be sighted, but it might result in a track coming loose or some other damage. You’ll have to pay close attention to how you position your units, as setting up your anti-aircraft guns close to a building may result in them not being able to actually “see” incoming helicopters or jets, which can be extremely dangerous. You have to balance the ability to see with protection via the terrain.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Line Of Sight

 

Being set in a more modern time period, Wargame relies a lot on air and heavy artillery. Finding yourself being hit with a massive barrage of artillery or missiles is not unlikely. Jets can swoop in and drop napalm on your infantry, obliterating them in an instant and severely damaging any vehicles you might have around. You’ll have to balance defensive equipment (such as anti-aircraft missile units), with infantry, tanks and anti-tank weaponry… And you’ll also have to make sure you have recon out and about to make sure you can actually see your enemy (never underestimate the importance of recon). The game causes you to think about war at a depth that you may not be familiar with, and it’s a truly eye-opening experience.

 

Wargame Red Dragon Review Jets

Conclusion

With it’s incredible attention to detail, massive selection of units, and huge maps, Wargame: Red Dragon is a top-tier RTS. There aren’t many games that can claim to be on par with the Wargame series. On the whole, I had nothing to complain about while playing the game. I had a blast building and fine-tuning my decks with the help of the community, and then trying them out against other players. In my opinion, Wargame: Red Dragon is definitely worth the money and I would suggest it to any RTS fan, be they casual or hardcore.

 

 

 

Features: 5/5 – Fantastic features for an RTS, and everything worked well.

Customization: 4/5 – The customization was great.

Graphics: 5/5 – That game looked great, from both far away and up-close.

Controls: 5/5 – Smooth, responsive, and easy-to-learn. All you could ask for.

Community: 5/5 – A great, mature and helpful community.

 

Overall: 5/5 – Definitely one of my all-time favorite RTS games, and I would suggest it to anyone who likes the genre.

 

League of Legends Braum Reveal Gets Seriously In-Depth

BraumLoLSplash

Over the past year Riot Games has chosen to adopt a more thorough, slow paced champion release schedule for their most popular MOBA in the world, League of Legends. Their efforts are finally coming together in the complete package with Braum, a new melee support that hits three fan requests dead center.

1) Epic Reveal Video: Check.

2) Archetype long requested by the community: Check.

3) In-depth analysis of where champion will fit into the current meta: Check.

 

LeagueofLegendsBraumSkillKit

His kit is as follows:
Passive: Concussive Blows

Braum’s basic attacks apply Concussive Blows. Once the first stack is applied, all basic attacks from Braum and his allies apply further stacks. Targets that sustain four stacks are stunned and suffer bonus magic damage. After being stunned, Braum cannot apply Concussive Blows to his target again for a moderate duration.

Q: Winter’s Bite

Braum propels freezing ice from his shield in a straight line skillshot, dealing magic damage (based on Braum’s max health), slowing and applying a stack of Concussive Blows to the first target hit.

W: Stand Behind Me

Braum leaps to the aid of a nearby ally, positioning himself between his target and their nearest enemy champion, and granting both Braum and his target bonus armor and magic resist based on his total armor and magic resist.

E: Unbreakable

Braum raises his shield in a target direction, negating the damage from the first attack from the shield’s direction and reducing the damage of all subsequent attacks as long as the shield is raised. Braum intercepts projectiles with Unbreakable, causing them to hit him and then be destroyed. He also gains a minor speed boost until he lowers his shield.

R: Glacial Fissure

Braum slams his shield into the ground, sending out a huge long-range skillshot that knocks up and damages all enemies caught before leaving behind a strong slow field.

Catch the full overview at League of Legends’ official site.

SMITE Reveals Night Prowler Bastet Patch

SMITE Bastet_CatBurglar_Card

HiRez Studios offers up a surprise mini-patch this week for SMITE, their third person free to play MOBA focused on pantheon battles between gods! The big story this week? Long time goddess Artemis has received a visual overhaul to bring her model and animations on par with the recent quality standards of the game. Bastet, fresh off her rework, is also receiving an epic skin based off Cat Woman, complete with a compatible voice pack.

SMITE Artemis Rework

Various issue fixes along with a change to how CC immunity works are also a part of this patch. Those following the competitive scene will be interested in a new 6-ban conquest draft that is set to replace the 4 ban draft used in current tournaments. Catch the full patch on SMITE’s reddit now.

 

H1Z1 – What we know so far!

By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)

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With long delays and broken promises stretching the expansive of indie companies pushing into the DayZ zombie survival bandwagon, it’s no surprise that more established companies have had time to develop a competitive alternative. The first to market seems undoubtedly to be SOE, developers of one of the most successful online free shooters (Planetside 2), is set to convert their engine into a zombie simulation.  H1Z1 offers all the free open world goodness we expect from the genre, and promises to push the genre into new unexplored territory.

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Even though this game has only been public for a few weeks, information has been flowing as freely as a bloody wound. And even longtime supporters of the indie zombie titles are closely watching the development to see what SOE is bringing to the table. It’s not hard to compare a successful zombie game to any other zombie game. There are only so many minor tweaks that can be made after all before you’re reaching outside the narrow borders of this niche market. What is clear so far is Sony intends this to be a zombie apocalypse simulator, but that realism won’t be forced on the player so heavily that it costs potential fun factor. Just like Dean Hall from DayZ once said, the core game needs to be challenging enough to prevent an open world death match between players who have no concrete initiative to cooperate.

Last Thursday there was an hour long stream from the developers showing off their game. During this stream people were able to ask about the game and check out the progress already made in H1Z1. First of all I want to dive into the most important thing about H1Z1, the business model. SOE has dabbled plenty in subscription models in the past, but has taken a strong turn towards free to play in recent years. H1Z1 will follow suit by modeling itself after Planetside 2’s model. The game will be free to play, but will have some sort of a cash shop where you can spend your money on items that do not influence the game whatsoever.

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Now let’s talk about the gameplay. The game world will feature and resemble America, and the story takes place fifteen years after the zombie apocalypse began. The game will be hosted on official SOE servers rather than private player servers, meaning servers will be larger and always up to date with the latest patches compared to past zombie titles. This should also prevent repeated server restarts and lessen the likelihood of game crashes. Loot will also respawn normally when required and the whole game will act more as a MMORPG rather than a dedicated server shooter game. The game can be played in a first person or third person point of view with a day and night cycle that looks really amazing.

Another key design decision was revealed when the devs sped up the time progression to show a working day/night cycle. You do not want to wander around in the dark, because it will be pitch black and you will need some sort of a light source to navigate your way around. And the zombies will be a lot scarier in the dark as well, as sound will be your primary defense in preparation for a coming assault. The zombies on the other hand seem more capable of fast movement in the dark, making the danger twice as real.

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During the night they were running around with the torch to showcase how beautiful their engine is graphically with special lighting effects. Yet the real story was just how dangerous fire is in this game. Not only are you able to set zombies on fire, you can also set actual players on fire, making them freak out trying to put the fire out. Seeing this I imagine burning down settlements is also possible, since this is also one of the goals that they are aiming for. The zombies are scary, but the Player versus Player will be the core of the game. They want you to be able to take over towns, or start your own settlements somewhere in the middle of nowhere in preparation for an extended war with opposing groups. We haven’t seen a lot of crafting but it is definitely in there and I can already tell you that it looks a lot like the system Rust uses. You can gather resources like wood, and you will find useable assets everywhere. With the use of a menu that looks a lot similar to the one in Rust, you can carefully place buildings to your exact specifications. In the hour long stream they made a little shed and I think they really want to make you feel like you are a resident in that world, the zombie invaded America.

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While they were showing off the world, they also took a joyride in a vehicle. It resembled an old Jeep model, and there are more promised vehicles in the works. Possibly in the future there will also be an aircraft but they are still planning out all the possibilities and how each will impact balance. There will be no skills or levels that you can obtain. When you die you simply lose everything. You can always run back to your body, but the world is intended to be massive and you never know where you might respawn, so it’s an unlikely occurrence. They also think that there will be a larger playercount compared to Planetside 2 and that you will be roaming the map with thousands of players at the same time. Besides vehicles you can also get yourself a horse as a way of transportation. But since there is also a form of hunting in this game, I think it will be a challenge keeping your horse alive during your adventures. Non-mountable pets are also being considered; I will definitely not be getting one since I already hate to see a dog dying in the movies.

Now some technical details about the game itself. If you can run Planetside 2, then you will be able to run this game without a problem as well. The order of magnitude is larger than Planetside 2 and thus it seems quite promising to anyone that likes to travel. I myself cannot wait to get a vehicle and just drive around the world, surviving and hoping to come across a friendly group of survivors that I can live with until the end of my character’s life. With a built in voice chat, and absolutely amazing graphics, I am sure that H1Z1 will have a successful launch and development life.

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There is already a lot of information about H1Z1, I am really astonished as to how open Sony has been with the public over the past few weeks. This also shows me that they are trying to do what Dean Hall did, be as open as possible about the game and hope for the best. Since they have introduced a ton of features and promise us the scale of the world will be insanely huge compared to other zombie survival games, I personally cannot wait to get my hands on this game. Luckily they are planning to let everyone buy into the alpha of the game alongside the Steam launch. If all goes according to plan, this alpha is set to launch a little beyond a month from now, so buckle up people because this is going to be an amazing ride.

STO Season 9 Launches

Star Trek Online Season 9 Land

Star Trek Online‘s Season 9: A New Accord is now available! In this latest season, Captains will face off against the looming Undine threat. Players can join Tuvok (from Star Trek: Voyager) at the Jenolan Dyson sphere to help negotiate a coordinated response to the Undine.

In addition, Earth Spacedock has been remodeled, Borg and Undine missions have been revamped with art and gameplay improvements, new queued events are available, all PvP maps have been enabled for cross-faction play, and there is a new space battlezone in the Solanae Dyson Sphere. There is also a new 8472 Counter-Command Reputation, a new system for Kits, and Trait and Reputation powers have been updated. Other notable features include:

  • New Feature Episode – “Surface Tension” starring Tim Russ
  • Redesigned Undine Ground and Space art designs
  • Redesigned Kit System with all new customization options
  • New Heads and Complexions tailor options for increased player customization

Full details can be found at the official site.