The Weekender: Barbarian's Unite! Edition21 Jun 2019 2
Up till at least yesterday afternoon I was thinking this was going to be another fairly slow week in terms of new releases, and then everything seemed to happen all at once. It's been more of a place-holder week in terms of content although it was nice getting an official 'games like' Auto Chess guide out the door - I know a lot of people have been wary of accidentally jumping on a clone. Revisiting our BoardGameGeek mobile list was also fun.
Next week we should have a few more reviews, as well as guide content on some of our newly arrived 'Games of Interest', but I will try and maintain a balance of posts for those of you who aren't interested in AR or the latest fads.
Meanwhile, in the world of mobile gaming...
Launching last night, Valve’s official take on the unofficial Auto Chess Mod for DOTA 2 game is, officially, available on iOS and Android. I’ve taken it out for a spin – it’s… ok? There's a bit of a weirdness about it right now; because this is an official interpretation of the mod, and the official Auto Chess app is a whitewashed version of that mod to avoid IP conflicts. It means I feel like I’m in a strange dreamworld where I recognise everything, and yet nothing is actually the same.
It’s certainly a prettier looking app, although something about the pieces feels a bit lack-lustre in how they move and fight. It’s got some almost game-changing quality of life improvements over the main Auto Chess game, such as offline play, switching between PC and mobile, as well as some nice UI goodness that should really become the standard for games like this. I’m not a fan of you not being able to buy pieces and place them on the board – they have to go to your bench (which makes managing your bench numbers even more important). I’ve got someone looking into this over the weekend so we’ll have a deeper look at it next week.
Rome: Total War – Barbarian Invasion (iOS Universal & Android) (Review)
Rome: Total War’s first expansion, originally released on PC back in 2004, was released onto iPads in April 2017, followed by iPhone only this year in May. Now it’s finally come to Android, so all you freedom fighters out there can enjoy bringing down one or both halves of the Roman Empire with your unwashed hordes. Or try and save Rome and restore it to its past glory (which from what I remember is really, really hard). Feral Interactive have a released a list of all the ‘officially’ supported devices. All of the Google Pixel Phones, Samsung Galaxy S7 and up, the Nokia 8 etc… so make sure you check to see if your device is supported.
As my daughter grows older, I’m going to be more and more alert to what kinds of apps and games are out there that cater to children. And I’m just talking about ‘games’ – I do want to try and find some decent educational experiences as well. Me and my wife are basically in agreement about regulating screen-time, but I’m more optimistic about apps power to educate and entertain in the same way children’s books do.
Fox Factory caught me eye this week for exactly this reason – it’s a colourful puzzle game that’s designed to try and teach programming logic for kids aged 7 and upwards. It has parental controls, no IAPS or advertising, and doesn’t seem to be too geared towards making ‘success’ too important for the enjoyment of the app. I’ll get someone on this ASAP to do a full review and we’ll see if it lives up to its promises.
Launching ahead of time yesterday evening, Niantic’s latest foray into location-based AR gameplay is now available to anyone living in the UK and the US, with further roll-outs planned over the coming weeks. If you ever played Pokémon GO when it first came out, you’ll recognise the basic gameplay loop. By walking around your local area, you’ll find encounters where you can draw on your screen to cast spells, and then key locations in your area will have been turned into either Inns, Greenhouses or Fortresses for you to interact with.
Niantic have tried to provide a better grounding of stuff to do for Wizard’s Unites initial release – the spread of locations seems a lot better (Pokémon Go did not like the Medway towns), and there’s more activities to do at home such as potion brewing and making a wicked selfie. The story is a bit clumsy, if I’m honest, but it’s still got that magical pull of getting you outside to have a bit of fun in news ways. Fair warning – there are micro-transactions and an energy metre that limits what you can get done in a single session.
You can buy premium currency and cosmetic items, as well as in-game items that will help speed up some of the various processes in the game. This is purely co-operative for the moment, so it’s not ‘Pay-to-Win’ but players can buy themselves an advantage. We’ll be looking into this one more over the coming weeks.
And the rest…
Other games that caught our eye this week include Olimdal on iOS, a challenging based movement puzzle where everything in the room moves when you do, and Serial Cleaner!, which seems to be a stealth/puzzle-y based on you being a clean-up guy who needs to go find bodies and clean up rooms without getting caught. It's not as good as it could be though, by all accounts.
If you’re a fan of the ‘Farming & Village Life’ Simulator, you’ll have been treated to three smaller updates over the past week. V1.31 and V1.32 improved support for gamepads and did a round of bug fixes, where as V1.33 fixed a bug with gamepads and chests. Now you can control almost all of the game functions and menus with a controller instead of the touch interface, if that’s more your speed.
I should probably just create a template for this article that has a Star Traders entry permanently carved in stone or something. The Trese Brothers have updated Frontiers yet again, adding in new talents for the Doctor and the Zealot, as well as tweaking mission/contract generation and some rules around boarding talents.
Nothing actually worth shouting about this week, unless you’ve been eyeing up Noch mal!’s digital port. It’s a dollar cheaper than it usually is. Otherwise save your money and we’ll see what crops up next week.
Seen anything else you liked? Played any of the above? Let us know in the comments!