Welcome to This Week In Video Games Episode 16, my name is Tom Kershaw and this is a podcast all about the world of video games. This week I’ve been playing Dauntless and Dead Cells and I’ll be reviewing both games. In the news this week the Sonic Movie has been delayed, the new Call of Duty is named, Valve look to release a stand alone Dota 2 Auto-Chess and League of Legends mobile is in development. [END INTRO] Welcome to the show everyone. I hope you are well and having a good week. I’m good this week and have been on my travels again this time spending most of the week up in Glasgow for work. I had some good time this week to catch up with some gaming, so I’ll get into that in the what I’ve been playing section of the podcast.
This week Dauntless came out on all platforms – out of beta and released with full cross-play, so I dove into that. Having played and enjoyed Monster Hunter World last year I was keen to see what this was like. Also this week Dead Cells dropped their new DLC Rise Of The Giant content. I missed Dead Cells in 2018, but kept seeing it on everyone’s top game of the year list at the end of the year so always wanted to go back and play it. With the new DLC coming out this week it’s the perfect time to jump in so I did that and wasn’t disappointed. One of the reasons I started this podcast was to play a wider range of games. Before I played Destiny a fair amount and the new AAA games that were out. This podcast has given me the motivation to play many other types of games and Dead Cells is a great example of something I wanted to play for sometime, but didn’t get to it.
So, with that said, let’s jump into my review of Dauntless.
WHAT HAVE I BEEN PLAYING
Dauntless is a free-to-play action RPG developed by Phoenix Labs. It’s a game where you take on Behemoths, take them down with friends and collect the loot they drop to make better weapons and armour. Dauntless is set in a fantasy world where a cataclysmic event has taken place and torn the world apart releasing Behemoths across the world. These huge beasts prey on the surviving humans and it’s our job as Slayers to take down the Behemoths. Players can take on Behemoths solo or in teams of up to four players. When you first boot up the game you create a character and there’s a lot of options to choose from. The game has a cartoon aesthetic much like Fortnite, so if you like that style then you’re going to like this game. The aim of the game is to hunt and take down the Behemoths.
Battles can range from a few minutes to 30 minutes, so be prepared to chip away at their health and dodge and roll to eventually take them down. There’s a number of Behemoth classes including Blaze, Frost, Shock, Terra, Neutral, Umbral and Radiant. As you battle Behemoths they become damaged with parts falling off and they get weakened. When they take a significant amount of damage they can become enraged. This is indicated by a quick burst of aether in a sphere around the Behemoth as well as a glow from the body and eyes. When they’re enraged they deal more damage and attack faster or may change they attack patterns. When you take down Behemoths you collect their parts and can use them to make customised weapons and armour to decorate your Slayer – showing off trophies of your battles and also making your more effective in battles against similar Behemoths.
While you can personalise your Slayer’s look you can also master a certain type of weapon. In Dauntless you have the Sword, Axe, Repeater, War Pike, Chain Blades and the Hammer. Each weapon type can deal with different damage to Behemoths and their body parts. It’s always a good idea to balance your party of Slayers with different weapons and damage types. The Axe, Sword and Chain Blades sever and breaks Behemoth parts whereas the Hammer deals high stagger damage. In terms of damage types Slashing deals part damage to unbroken parts of the Behemoth and are the only attacks capable of cutting tails and breaking horns. Slashing includes Axe, Chain Blades, Ostian Repeaters and Swords. Blunt damage is used for knocking down Behemoths with high stagger damage and comes from Hammers. Finally, piercing damage comes from War Pikes. Weapons can take on elemental types too from collected elemental Behemoth parts. You can infuse Blaze, Shock, Frost, Umbral and Radiant elements into your weapons making them strong against a Behemoth of the opposing element.
Rather than traditional RPGs, the progression doesn’t come through XP, but it comes through upgrading armour and gear. You start out with a starter set of gear, farm Behemoths to collect their parts to craft better weapons and gear to take on tougher Behemoths – and so the cycle continues. You can party up with friends and guilds to take on Behemoths. This is probably the best way to play Dauntless as hanging out with friends and sharing the loot you gather is great fun. Phoenix Labs have been great at adding season events. During Christmas, there was Snow all over Ramsgate (your home base of operations) and in Spring there are cherry blossoms as part of the current Japanese themed season. The game is free-to-play although the Hunt Pass has been introduced at a small cost. There are 50 levels to climb. There are a base path and an Elite path which allows you to get more gear and weapons. Each season has a theme – with this season having a Japanese/Ninja theme. Outside the Hunt Pass, there’s a whole host of cosmetic items to make your Slayer look even better. It’s a similar model to the likes of Fortnite, Apex Legends etc where the base game is free-to-play but if you want to throw some money at the developers you can.
An awesome feature of Dauntless is the cross-play functionality so players on PC, PS4 and Xbox One can all play together from the very start. Phoenix Labs stated they wanted a One-Dauntless platform and they’ve managed to get over the barriers other games haven’t managed to break down. This is going to be a huge advantage for the game and combined with the free-to-play features I predict Dauntless is going to be huge. The game’s been in beta for a year allowing for the developers to tweak and tune the game, this really shows and the game is in a really good state for new players.
Overall Dauntless is a fun action RPG hunting game with a lot of great content from the start. Seeing as the game is free then you can just jump in and try it out. If you don’t like it then you haven’t lost anything. There’s a depth to the weapons and mastery in the game that provides you with that satisfying gameplay loop. Playing with friends makes the game better and there’s a wide range of Behemoths at launch. The game is available on all platforms and they’ve made it super easy to get up and running fast. Developer: Phoenix LabsPublisher: Epic GamesPlatforms: PS4, Xbox One, PCRelease date: May 21st, 2019 Final Score 86
What do you think of Dauntless? Have you been playing since Beta? What do you think of the cross-play features? Send in your comments and stories to email@example.com and let me know what you think.
Next up, it’s Dead Cells and my long overdue review of the game.
Dead Cells Review
Dead Cells in a rouguelike-metroidvania game developed by Motion Twin. The game was in early access for about a year, leading to it’s release on August 7th 2018. It’s available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Dead Cells is also coming to mobile devices in 2019.
In the opening scene you see something drop from the ceiling, approach a dead body and suddenly a corpse comes back to life. You dust yourself down and set off trying to fight your way out of a prison that’s crawling with enemies. As you go you gain weapons, armour and upgrades. As you defeat enemies they drop ‘cells’ which you collect and turn in for more various unlockable items and bonuses.
Dead Cells uses a permadeath system, once you die you go back to the start losing all your cells and items. Dead Cells is described as a ‘roguevania’ that combines a procedurally-generated roguelike style with an action/exploration Metroidvania game. The main protagonist in the game is a collection of cells who takes control of a dead prisoner at the start of each turn. As you explore through a series of randomly generated dungeons fighting nasties you collect weapons, abilities, power-ups, food and money.
Levels are procedurally generated keeping the game feel fresh each time with random platforms, obstacles, enemies and items. Combat in the game feels so good too with a fluid and fast feel to the action. A key part of the game is how good the game feels. It’s a similar feeling to that of the gun-play in Destiny, polished over years and years of development at Bungie. It’s hard to describe, but it feels great. You are going to die a lot in Dead Cells and it’s a fundamental part of the game – learning enemy styles and tactics for beating the bosses (or Keepers).
A great part of the game is the Twitch integration allowing viewers to influence the game via chat, such as voting for upgrade paths. It’s a really neat feature and promotes the game with streamers and audiences because of that two way interaction model.
There’s not much of a story to Dead Cells, but due to the addictive gameplay, it doesn’t really matter. There’s a sense of dark humour in the game which comes across pretty well. The game takes place on an unnamed island and the main character is referred to as The Prisoner. According to the Guard, the Prisoner was executed for some reason, but that reason isn’t detailed. Each time the Prisoner dies the island reconfigures itself, which is the lore reason for the roguelike mechanics in the game. Apparently, the island is a living organism that evolves over time.
The game looks and feels fantastic. The pixel art is beautiful and fluid. As well as looking great the UI design is very good too allowing you to take in all the numbers required like damage & upgrades. Sound design is on point too with a great soundtrack and audio design allowing you to orientate in your surroundings and understand the differences between a regular and critical hit for example.
Dead Cells looks great and feels better. What really makes it a winning combination is the level of risk-reward and progression. I started off the game meekly going through levels slowly but surely. I finally reached the first Keeper and was swiftly dealt with and killed. I felt like throwing the Switch down. But then I went through again, this time faster and faster reaching the Keeper again. It feels great and I can see myself getting better at the game.
In terms of weapons in the game, you have space for two melee weapons, ranged weapons, spells or shields. You also have two types of grenades or deployable traps. All these are colour-coded purple, green or red. Throughout the level you can pick up random weapons and items that are dropped from enemies or you can buy new gear at the end of the level. As well as new gear at the in-between level vendor there’s also mutations where you can apply certain buffs and boosts to your skills. For example, you can add a temporary damage buff +50% to weapons post kills. As you progress through levels there are secret scrolls to find that you can boost your damage, tactical weapons and health allowing you to survive for longer and hit harder.
There’s a wide range of weapons in the game, expanded even more by the recent DLC Rise Of The Giant. There are swords, spears, bows & arrows, whips, grenades, fire and ice attacks. The player can find combinations of weapons that add to the personalisation of your build. Random weapons and armour do play a factor here, but you can create awesome builds.
Dead Cells was initially launched on PC on May 10th 2017 in early access which led to some useful feedback from audiences before releasing the full version on August 7th 2019. The free DLC for Dead Cells Rise Of The Giant is planned for release on May 23rd. Since it’s initial release it’s won many awards including “Best Indie Game” at 2018 Golden Joystick Awards, “Best Action Game” at The Game Awards 2018 and was nominated for “Best Independent Game”.
Developer: Motion TwinPlatforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, MacRelease date: August 7th, 2018
Final Score 88
What about you – have you played Dead Cells? What do you think about the DLC Rise Of The Giant. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think.
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Next up, lets take a look at the news of the week.
Sonic The Hedgehog Movie Delayed
In a move that surprises no one, the Sonic movie has been delayed. The Sonic movie trailer was announced in April, however, the backlash over the character design was so bad that Director Jeff Fowler said the team were listening to feedback.
Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be…
The movie was originally slated for a November 2019 release date, however, that’s now being pushed back to February 2020.
Taking a little more time to make Sonic just right.#novfxartistswereharmedinthemakingofthismovie
When the original tweet from Jeff came out that Sonic would be redesigned, many assumed that the release date of the movie wasn’t going to change and the movie production would reflect the crunch that often happens in the games industry. This appears not to be the case as the movie’s been pushed back a few months to accommodate the changes.
New Call Of Duty To Be Named Modern Warfare
This year’s Call Of Duty will be named Called Of Duty: Modern Warfare. This may sound familiar as Call Of Duty 4 also went by the same name.
The game is being developed by Infinity Ward, one of the original developers of Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare back in 2007. The news was announced on Twitter with Jason Schreier confirming what LongSensation had previously tweeted earlier in the day.
We don’t know too much about this years entry, however with E3 coming up soon it’s likely we’re going to get some details on the game. There have been reports that this year’s game will include a campaign mode, which was missing from Call Of Duty Black Ops 4.
Call Of Duty isn’t the phenomenon it once was with the market now saturated with good shooters including Fortnite, Apex Legends, Ghost Recon, Destiny etc. It will be interesting to see what Activision do and if they plan to make any element free-to-play in this game.
Minecraft Sells 176 Million
Happy birthday to Minecraft. It’s ten years old today and one of the most successful games ever. Minecraft has sold 176 million copies to date in virtually every country in the world according to a blog post from Microsoft.
Part of the birthday celebrations includes the announcement of Minecraft Earth. This is a new free-to-play augmented reality game that “will bring the creative nature of Minecraft to the real world”.
Microsoft say “The game’s mechanics are simple: explore your neighborhood to find blocks and unique mobs for your builds. Once you have them, any flat surface is an opportunity to build. Team up with friends to create amazing builds on Build Plates, and then place them in the real world to explore at life-size. You can even put your survival skills to the test and battle mobs IRL! Craft new items, breed mobs, grow crops –it’s Minecraft as you know it in a way you’ve never seen before. There’s endless fun to be had and it’s even better with friends.”
More info will be released soon.
Rise Of The Giant DLC Coming To Switch
The big new DLC for Dead Cells is coming to Nintendo Switch on May 23. The new content update is called Rise Of The Giant.
The downloadable content has been available for PC players since March, however, Dead Cells fans on Nintendo Switch have been eagerly awaiting the update. Unfortunately, we don’t have news yet for Xbox and PlayStation fans. Rise Of The Giant includes two new areas, two new bosses, ten new enemies, three new skills, ten new weapons, and a skinning system. The skinning system allows players to change the look of the main protagonist by collecting blueprints.
Nintendo fans of Dead Cells can celebrate. The game is also coming to mobile devices later in the summer so even more fans will be able to play it on the move. Find out more on Dead Cells website.
Bungie Nerfs Whisper Of The Worm
Bungie has announced they are going to nerf some of the most popular exotics in the game in their latest update to fans, This Week At Bungie. On June 4th The Season Of Opulence begins and with it, a few changes are coming to popular weapons including Whisper Of The Worm.
Whisper of The Worm, a popular sniper rifle, has been changed so now the perk White Nail pulls ammo from reserves rather than thin air. Whisper Of The Worm has arguably the best DPS in the game and White Nail allowed players to pretty much fire infinitely as long as they got crit shots. The nerfing mirrors what happened in the original Destiny when Blackhammer was adjusted in a similar fashion. The reserve ammo has been increased to 18 to compensate.
Sleeper Simulant has also been nerfed to reduce bounce damage. Sleeper Simulant is an exotic linear fusion rifle that can burn down enemies pretty fast. Non-precision shots now cause less damage.
Lord of Wolves, an exotic shotgun, has also been nerfed by 20% in PVE and it’s Release The Wolves perk has been reduced. Ace of Spades, one of the most popular hand-cannon, will also be affected. This is one of the most popular guns in PVP.
Exotic amour will be tweaked too mainly focusing on armour that returns super energy for example Orpheus Rigs, Phoenix Protocol, Skull of Dire Ahamkara. Bungie feel that if someone on your team doesn’t have these equipped then your team is at a disadvantage.
The Destiny community is less than pleased with the changes and Reddit has been on fire recently. This is a shame as this comes only days after we got a great new secret mission for Outbreak Perfected.
The Division 2 Raid Finally Beaten On Console
The Division 2 raid was released last week to much fanfare, as players were excited to face some of the toughest endgame content. Fans perhaps weren’t ready for how hard this challenge would be in Operation Dark Hours.
PC players beat the raid in approx 5 hours however there were reports over the weekend that console players were struggling against the DPS heavy bosses. Console players finally beat the raid 3 days after release, leading to this Reddit post from players wanting to celebrate.
Ubisoft said in the Reddit post “The raid is very much designed to be the toughest challenge yet in the history of the franchise. It is built around the idea of a well-coordinated team with good communications. That said, raid difficulty is certainly feedback that we have been looking at since the release of Dark Hours, and it is not outside the realm of possibility that tweaks will be made moving forward.”
The Division 2 has done well with endgame content so far, however the difficulty balance may be too far this time for console players.
Valve To Release Dota Auto-Chess
A popular mod for Dota is getting its own dedicated release according to Valve. Dota Auto-Chess is a strategic spin-off of Dota that’s gained a huge fanbase unlike the official card game Artifact, which flopped hard.
Dota Auto-Chess isn’t like chess or Dota; it’s fast, strategic and focuses on automated battles between heroes from a shared pool. The goal is to create combos between selected hereos while avoiding counters. Dota Auto-Chess has 8 million subscribers in Dota 2’s Steam Workshop often having hundreds of thousands of concurrent players.
Valve updated their community via a blog post this week saying they’d flown the mod team from China to Valve HQ to discuss collaborating on an official Dota version of the game.
Valve said “If you’re like us, you’ve spent much of the last six months playing Dota Auto Chess. And if you’ve followed Valve closely over time, you know what usually comes next: we’ll play something we love or meet some people we’re inspired by and then figure out a way to work together. In fact, Dota 2 exists because a group of us here at Valve couldn’t stop playing the original mod. After we played the game, roughly 1 billion times, it was pretty clear that we should reach out to the creators, Drodo Studio, and start a conversation about working together.”
Dota Auto-Chess is one of the most popular games on Steam and it makes sense for Valve to work on this. Valve has said they’ll be talking more about their Auto-Chess release soon.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity Positive Review Bombing Confuses Valve
Valve have been left confused and unsure what to do recently when a surge in positive review bombing hit Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Under normal circumstances review bombs would be negative and Valve’s actions would be clear. Here, however, things are a little muddy.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity was recently given away for free by Ubisoft after the unfortunate fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This prompted players to leave a whole bunch of positive reviews on Steam.
Valve recently put in measures to prevent negative review bombing, for example when Metro Exodus was featured as an exclusive on the Epic Games Store many folks came along to Steam and left negative reviews.
Valve discussed the issue in a recent blog post.
“Data-wise, it doesn’t quite fit the pattern of negative review bombs: in the case of AC:Unity there was a significant increase in actual players alongside the increase in reviews. That isn’t necessarily the case with a typical off-topic review bomb (but, to be clear, we have seen some negative review bombs with that characteristic).”
“Without reading the actual reviews, the data here all looks very much like a game that’s gone on sale, or received an update. It’s seen a spike in players, and as many people have come to realize, there’s a fairly good correlation between player count and user reviews – if you get more players, you’re going to get more reviews.”
“But we also went and read a large chunk of the reviews. Some reference Notre Dame or the giveaway. But most just look like standard reviews of a new player, or a player that’s returning to a product they bought a while ago. Ubisoft has released significant updates to AC:Unity since launch, and it appears that some players who bounced off it at launch have returned, and found themselves enjoying the game more.”
“So it’s not clear it’s a review bomb. It certainly doesn’t fit our original definition in the “aimed at lowering the Review Score” section, but back in 2017 the community’s terminology around “review bombs” was also focused only on concerted negative efforts. It’d be nice to change that terminology to something that doesn’t imply positive or negative, but that’s really up to the community.”
It’s an interesting topic for Valve as they weigh up how to prevent review bombing in the foreseeable future.
Of Legends Mobile In Development
League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the world and according to Reuters a mobile version is in development with Riot Games and Chinese developers Tencent.
According to the article relations have been strained between the companies as discussions have been ongoing over the years. Apparently, Riot Games rejected Tencent years ago. Tencent then went onto developing their own game Honour Of Kings in 2015 which went onto be one of the biggest grossing games in the world. More recent DLC packs for Honour Of Kings haven’t caught the eye of Western audiences, so both companies have decided to come up with a new strategy.
League of Legends mobile is apparently in development however it’s unlikely to be released in 2019. League of Legends brought in $1.4 billion in 2018, although that was down 21% from 2017. A mobile version of League Of Legends would likely bring in more Asian players, who prefer mobile games. 57% of video game revenue came from mobile in 2018 in the East whereas this only accounts for 36% in US market.
Analysts have warned that LoL mobile could find it hard to find it’s place in a saturated market as Honour Of Kings had 140 million players in March 2019.
- Constructor Plus [PC] – May 27
- Cricket 19 – The Official Game of the Ashes [PS4, XBO, Switch] – May 28
- Layers of Fear 2 [PC, PS4, XBO] – May 28
- Little Friends: Dogs & Cats [Switch] – May 28
- Oxygen Not Included [PC] – May 28
- SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest [PC] – May 28
- Among The Sleep: Enhanced Edition [PS4, XBO, Switch] – May 29
- Blood & Truth [PSVR] – May 29
- Draugen [PC] – May 29
- TerraTech [Switch] – May 29
- Conan Unconquered [PC] – May 30
- Space Ops VR [PC VR] – May 30
- Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa (EU) [PC, PS4, Switch] – May 31
- Trover Saves The Universe [PS4, PSVR] – May 31
- Warhammer: Chaosbane: Magnus Edition [PC, PS4, XBO] – May 31
OUTSIDE OF GAMING
As I’ve been on the move I’ve been listening to a few good podcasts including Without Fail, Kevin Pietersen: Beast of Man and No Such Thing as a Fish. Without Fail is a podcast where Adam Bloomberg, owner of Gimlet Media and former producer from This American Life, interviews a guest who’s taken a big bet and either won or lost. He tends of speak to people from the world of business, but has also spoken to sports stars, agents and others too. In the latest episode he speaks to Jeff Ullrich who founded Earwolf, one of the first podcast networks. Jeff talks about his experience founding Earwolf during a period in his life when he was an active alcoholic and went on to create Midroll – a popular ad platform for podcasts. I always enjoy Gimlet’s podcasts, in particular where Adam is interviewing people – so if you like this kind of thing give it a go. Kevin Pietersen: Beast of Man is from BBC Sounds and follows Kevin Pietersen on life after cricket and his quest to irredicate Rhino hunting. The reporter goes out to South Africa and joins Kevin on trying to stop Rhino’s being hunted and killed. It’s not quite what you’d expect, but very entertaining. No Such Thing as a Fish is from the research team behind the quiz show QI, and comes up with all kinds of facts and stories.
I’ve also watched the For Honour Doc.
Try out those podcasts and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear what other podcasts you listen to – send me an email on email@example.com and let me know what your listening to
That’s it for this week’s episode. If you want to get involved in the show email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the latest on the website. Send in your questions, comments and video game stories – we’re always interested in hearing from you. We’re also available on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram – so search This Week In Video Games on your favourite platform and join in the conversation. If you’d like to support the show then I’ve opened up a Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/thisweekinvideogames where you can support the show. You get access to new community features, newsletters and for exclusive members bonus podcast episodes – so if you’d like to support the show please go and sign up there. Thanks once again for hanging out and chatting about video games. I hope you have a good week and I’ll talk to you next weekend. See you soon!