My Top Ten Games of 2018: #9

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Dead Cells

#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Developer: The Bearded Ladies
Publisher: Funcom
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO

I’m an easy target for any game that features tactical, XCOM-like turn-based combat. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden had the dubious potential to become a budget XCOM – which I probably still would have enjoyed. But by combining solid tactical gameplay with rewarding stealth mechanics and shockingly good voice acting Road to Eden carves its own space in the genre.

Road to Eden is based on the old Mutant Swedish tabletop RPG from the 80s, recently reborn as Mutant: Year Zero. Shameless plug alert: I wrote an article diving into the adaptation from tabletop RPG to tactical video game for PC Gamer earlier this month.

Unlike XCOM, Road to Eden features RPG-like characters with their own skill trees and personalities. They’re a bit one-dimensional but the banter and commentary is delightful, particularly the hilarious dialogue heard from enemy zone ghouls on the battlefield.

Stealth is a huge part of the gameplay. While XCOM 2 lets you enter a map in stealth mode to set up an advantageous opening salvo, Road to Eden lets you enter and exit turn-based combat mode as you please. The trick is to isolate and eliminate targets with silenced weapons, just as any stealth game, letting you drop back into stealth mode and continue to turn the tide in your favor.

The post-apocalyptic world is made up of smaller zones where you can find scrap for upgrades as well as new guns and armor. The zones are just big enough to allow some tactical wiggle room without getting lost in – and unlike XCOM the campaign won’t take you 40 or 50+ hours to finish.

It’s a bit rough around the edges and definitely feels like it left a lot on the cutting room floor but as a big fan of the tactics genre Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden provides a unique blend of real time stealth and turn-based tactics.

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The Tabletop Lore Behind Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden [PC Gamer]

Read the full article at PC Gamer

A pig, a duck, and a mutant walk into a bar. Pripp’s Bar, to be precise, located on The Ark, the last safe haven amid the crumbling ruins of a world ravaged by global nuclear warfare and a deadly pandemic. That’s a scene that’ll play out a few hours into Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, but it just as likely could’ve happened more than 30 years ago. The new game translates the Swedish tabletop RPG Mutant, originally published in 1984, into an XCOM-like tactical strategy game.

Much of the actual RPG gameplay from the tabletop game, most recently published as Mutant: Year Zero in 2014, was changed, streamlined, or abandoned in the genre shift. But the classic 80s post-irradiated setting and lore are much the same. Here’s the backstory you might not get if you just straight in, and how the new game differs from its origins.

Read the full article at PC Gamer

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – SteamWorld Heist

Does the turn-based tactical combat of XCOM work in a 2D game?

Adventuring through my backlog of games, one game at a time. 

Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Release Date: December 10, 2015
Available On: 3DS, PC, PS4, Vita, Wii U, iOS, Switch
Played On: 3DS

gaming backlog final thoughtsIt’s been far too long since I was able to properly start and finish an older game from my backlog. My workload as a freelance writer continues to increase (and part of my job is to play new games), and 2017 in particular had a bunch of long games that have taken up a big chunk of my personal play time, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Divinity: Original Sin 2 (consequently, the #1-3 games on my Top Ten list).

But thanks to waiting in line every day to pick my daughter up from school, I’ve been slowly plugging away on my Nintendo 3DS, finishing a lot of recently released games like Pokémon Moon, Metroid: Samus Returns, and Monster Hunter Stories.

After those I fired up an older game that had been sitting in my digital library for so long that I accidentally purchased it again during a Steam sale at some point: SteamWorld Heist.

SteamWorld Heist is a spin-off of the SteamWorld Dig series that takes place in the same steampunk-robots-in-space universe. But instead of another action-platformerer, it’s freakin’ 2D XCOM, and it works brilliantly. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – SteamWorld Heist”

My Top Ten Games of 2016: #3

 My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Pokémon GO
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
#8 Stellaris
#7 Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
#6 Fire Emblem Fates
#5 Overwatch
#4 Pokémon Sun and Moon

#3 XCOM 2

xcom 2

Despite being big into tactical strategy games I missed the original X-Com series back in the day. I was a kid/young teen and they always seemed so daunting. Fast-forward to decades of gaming and 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown reboot made me fall in love with the series and its unique emergent gameplay.

XCOM 2 is better in every way, and a great example of a direct sequel done right. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #3”

13 XCOM 2 Tips to Keep Your Soldiers Alive [Pixelkin]

Several crucial tips and guides to help you win the war against the alien menace.

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

xcom 2

Greetings, Commander. The aliens continue their stranglehold over our planet. You and the brave men and women fighting for XCOM are our secret weapon. Many soldiers died bringing you these invaluable tips, so that others may live. Keep fighting and we’ll win this war. Good luck, Commander.

Know the Timing on the Avatar Project

The only way you can really lose XCOM 2 is if the Avatar Project is completed. However even when the bar fills up, a 20-day countdown timer begins. You get a bit of a grace period to immediately launch an assault on the nearest enemy base. Make sure you’ve been making the right contacts and always have a base to infiltrate when the counter gets too high.

Base Management

XCOM 2 is pretty forgiving when it comes to building your facilities. Prioritizing which to build first is largely a matter of preference. Build that Guerrilla Tactics School ASAP, as it provides the upgrades needed to field additional soldiers. Stick it in one of the top corners. You’ll also want your Workshop somewhere in the middle. It’s the only building that cares about adjacency, and you can staff an engineer to then staff nearby buildings via remote gremlins.

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

XCOM 2 Review [Pixelkin]

I for one welcome our new alien overlords in this mini-review of fantastic sequel XCOM 2.

Read the full review on Pixelkin

xcom 2

Available on: PC, Mac, Linux
Reviewed on: PC

XCOM 2 is the sequel to the surprisingly awesome 2012 reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The sequel retains the same nail-biting tactical combat while adding new aliens, new soldiers, new maps, and a rejiggered strategy layer that paints XCOM as the resistance to our new alien overlords.

XCOM 2’s premise makes an incredibly bold choice – we lost the war. As a series XCOM has become famous for being brutally difficult. Developer Firaxis ran with this and declared that we lost the war in the first game. Thirty years later Earth is under control of the supposedly peace-bringing aliens. But like the old TV show “V” the aliens have sinister plans.

Read the full review on Pixelkin

2015: My Year In Gaming

I recap a full year’s worth of gaming in 2015, including new games and my backlog progress.

2015

I should really cut down on all these annual blog posts. The holidays are busy enough, and in 2015 I expanded my Top Ten list into ten separate posts, followed by my full Game of the Year awards and Most Anticipated Games of 2016 lists.

It’s all done in self-indulgent fun. My annual Year In Gaming post is probably the most navel-gazing thing I write on here. Part journal entries and part gaming calendar, I recap what I played on a month-to-month basis, and what really stood out.

2015 was the first full year of being a part-time freelance writer, and most of that was spent writing about video games. I maintained my blog both here and on Game Informer, appeared on podcasts, and can now say I’ve been published on Playboy. I also played lots of great games!

2015 backloggery

Though not as many as last year. I mentioned in my last recap of Rogue’s Adventures that I generally have less game time these days.

Since I enjoy recording my play times and my game library, it has helped me cut down on buying new games – which is painfully easy when you primarily play on PC thanks to rampant Steam sales. I played less games in 2015 but overall my “Progress Index” improved this year, so I’m pretty satisfied.

Progress Index is how Backloggery.com measures your finished-to-unfinished games ratio. Currently I maintain a Beaten ratio of about 63%, which has held fairly steady all year.

On to the monthly breakdown! Continue reading “2015: My Year In Gaming”