Around here, we write about free-to-play games about as often as Uri Geller gets invited to antique silverware conventions — but our position shifted ever so slightly last year. Hearthstone and World of Tanks Blitz showed us that–while 99% of free-to-play games are still hot, smelly garbage–it is possible to have an F2P game experience that isn’t skeevy and condescending to the player.
World of Tanks makers Wargaming.net are bringing another of their unusually beguiling F2P games to mobile: World of Tanks Generals is rather a more abstract combat simulation than Blitz — it’s a head-to-head multiplayer card game. Like Hearthstone, it’s a collectible game where you unlock new cards customize your deck with. Wargaming say that there’s 200 cards in the game at the moment, with more coming. There’s three different factions (the US, USSR, and Germany, following the WWII and early post-war setting of WoT) and you can probably count on the British, French, and Japanese eventually showing up, too.
Generals just started a closed for desktop web browsers that you can sign up for here. The game will be available for iOS and Android “in the future”. Trailer (with dramatic voiceover!) below.
The thing I get the most emails about is beard-grooming advice, followed closely by mewling requests to stop holding the world for ransom from my sinister lair high atop Mount Hexmap. But number 3 is definitely PT readers wondering what the heck is up with Star Realms.
The sci-fi flavoured deck-building card game got a good write-up from us last year and it did even better over at Board Game Geek, where it pulled down a fistful of Golden Geek Awards. It’s a nifty little card game that had some UI wonkiness in its iOS and Android incarnations, and it had a strong tang of “pre-expansion” gameplay — there were a lot of obvious open sockets waiting to be hooked up to more elaborate gameplay mechanics.
The Gambit expansion for the Star Realms base set came out on cardboard back in 2013, and it’ll hit desktops and mobile versions of Star Realms this Thursday, White Wizard Games told me this morning. Gambit cards are randomly dealt to the players at the beginning of the game and allow the player that holds them to bend certain rules, encouraging players to pursue different gameplay styles. It’s a neat idea and the expansion is generally well-reviewed on tabletop. Perhaps even better: there’s two new chapters included in the much-admired single-player campaign. Gambit will be available as a single in-app purchase for $4.
Besides the new cards, there’s been some welcome tweaks and additional functionality to the Star Realms app, and everybody will get these improvements when the game updates this week, whether or not you buy the new card set. There’s a new update feed which will help you stay on top of your asynchronous games (a big pain in the engines in 1.0), an option for faster card animations, online leaderboards, and new tips and hints to smooth out the learning curve for new players.
Lots more images from the expansion after the jump.
Two new releases that are flaunting the usual Wednesday night release convention and just popped up on the app stores this morning. It’s anarchy, I tell you! Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria.
The first is Arnhem: Airborne Assault, a scrappy little wargame from Richard Berger. It’s not going to win any beauty contests unless all of the other contestants are members of AC/DC but it seems like a pretty good little hex-and-counter wargame. It’s a WWII affair that puts you in charge of the Allied paratroopers making the ill-fated airborne assault on Holland in 1944. The combat model is big on fog-of-war, so considerations like moving your troops through forests and maintaining contact with the enemy are a big deal. There’s a couple of genuinely tough scenarios in there, but I haven’t spent enough time with the game to decide if it’s Clever Tough™ or Throw Your iPad in the Canal Tough™. You can find out for yourself for two bucks: it’s available for iPad and for Android, too. This one’s got online multiplayer for up to four players, too.
A gameplay video of this, plus another new release below.
One of the great App Store injustices of the last couple of years is that Outwitters didn’t become a Star Wars-sized global phenomenon. Children should be walking around with plush dolls of the weird cycloptic elephant. Libertarian subreddits should be extolling the BitWit virtual currency. At least the game’s bipedal sharks made it big.
But even if this fantastic turn-based arena combat game didn’t get quite the success it deserved, there’s a big enough base of core Outwitters diehards that developers One Man Left are still putting time into it, almost three years post-launch.
How many Outwitters heads are we talking about? “We average around 12k-15k monthly active users,” One Man Left‘s Alex Okafor told me yesterday. “Not a huge playerbase, but quite the dedicated one for a somewhat niche game.”
It’s for those folks–and hopefully some new fans, too–that OML are rolling out Outwitters 2.0 in March.
Tokyo should add a “Kaiju Surcharge” to hotel rates to help pay for all that rebuilding.
Comrade Brad from 164has been skulking about the New York Toy Fair this week. With his usual menacing style, Brad interrogated the IELLO Games folks there until they spilled their guts about the state of King of Tokyo, which is currently being ported from cardboard to iOS. This is a multiplayer king-of-the-hill game where the players compete as giant monsters/robots/what-have-you to drive out their foes and dominate the city. This process is known as “gentrification”.
In his interview, Brad discovered that the game is currently due to ship next year. The long dev cycle is at least partly down to new content being developed for the game by designer Richard Garfield, whom you may recall from some minor hits like Magic: The Gathering, Android Netrunner, and Dream Quest. From the sound of things, IELLO aren’t making this a plain literal translation of the board game; they told Brad that there will be a lot of new art in addition to the new content.
Check out Brad’s interview after the jump (I’m warning you, it’s brutal — Brad is a loose cannon) and make sure you go over to 164 to see the other updates from the Toy Fair.
Gypsy is actually the one you have to watch out for.
French devs Studio Nyx got in touch over the weekend with the first trailer for Legions of Steel, the iOS-, Android- and PC-bound digital resurrection of the eponymous cult hit tabletop miniatures game of the early 1990s. We’ve been following this one for a good long while: from the studio’s ill-fated Kickstarter back in 2013 to their rescue by Slitherine, who funded the remainder of the development.
Legions is a turn-based tactical game that’s very faithful to the miniatures game it emulates: you lead a squad of human commandos fighting an insurgency against the machines that rule our solar system in turn-based combat. Developer Romain Soulie tells me that the online multiplayer is going to be hot, and I believe him. The hook with Legions is the order system, which is more complex and nuanced than many tactical games, giving you granular control over how your squad provides cover fire and overwatch. I messed with a development build last year and liked it a lot.
Legions was due out end of last year — that clearly didn’t happen but the devs tell me that it’s almost go time for this one. Check out the trailer after the jump and keep tabs on Studio Nyx via Facebook.
Last summer when French developer Paul Vauvrey showed me his memorably elegant abstract strategy game Kingdoms, I noted that his only mis-step was giving the game a title that no one would ever be able to Google. Nothing less than sensible, Vauvrey has renamed his product Kindo which is rather cute, I think. Bonus: the only current Google results for that name are for this jazz fusion band from Buffalo, who look like they won’t put up much of an SEO fight.
Kindo is very close to shipping now: online multiplayer and AI are up and running, and I can tell you from having played a pre-release build this week that the AI is an absolute bear. Have a watch of the trailer after the jump to see how the game plays, and you can sign up for one of the 900 iOS open beta slots right here.
Vauvrey tells me that Kindo should be out quite soon — you’ll need an iOS device running at least iOS 7 to play it.
The Machine Spirit of the collectible t-shirt beneath my power armor calls for vengeance.
“I love the Space Marines,” I shouted at the gods. “I love them, and I’ll buy all of their licensed merchandise. All of it.”
“Everything?” the gods said.
“Every damned thing. I’m their biggest fan,” I said. Smugly.
But the gods hate hubris and absolutes. So to test my resolve, they’ve sent Warhammer 40K: Regicide down to Earth. Regicide is chess, my friends. It is a 3D Space Marines-versus-Orks reincarnation of Battle Chess. I must admit, even my love of Games Workshop is being tested. Well done, gods.