Thoughts on Gladius: Relics of War

Warhammer 40,000 Gladius: Relics of War came out last month on July 12th, so this may seem a little late, but I have at this point, put quite a bit of time into the game and figured it was time to say a few things about it.

July was an incredibly busy month for me and I didn’t even pick up Gladius for a week after it came out, because I honestly didn’t even realize it was out. It came out with what I thought a fairly silent release, despite it being fairly well received. Once I did get it it was easy to dive into and sucked me in instantly. The game is well-crafted and reminiscent of the 4X games that it shares a category with.

What is 4X?

Well to get the easiest explanation I turned to Wikipedia (yes shame on me) and here it is; The term “4X” originates from a 1993 preview of Master of Orion in Computer Gaming World by Alan Emrich, in which he rated the game “XXXX” as a pun on the XXX rating for pornography. The four Xs were an abbreviation for “EXplore, EXpand, EXploit and EXterminate”. So there you have it, a game that has you exploring the environment, expanding your empire, exploiting the world, and exterminating your enemies. It plays out on what essentially looks like a board game looking like this:

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Factions

So for release we see only four factions for Gladius, them being Astra Militarum, Space Marines, Orks, and Necrons. This is a decent spread for sure, and is quite interesting that we see Necrons, and not something more common like Eldar. This is a good thing though, as I am sure fans of Necrons are rather happy to see their living metal buddies in this game. As is usually the case with 40K there are no good guys or bad guys really, all seek to accomplish their mission through their own violent ways. They also have their own research trees that allow for different ways to unlock units, unlock buildings, unlock abilities, to upgrade existing units, etc. This allows you to further differentiate yourself from your enemies showcasing your faction’s specific strengths. Also each faction has a really sweet opening video when you start a game with them.

 

Game-play – General

So the general game-play is very typical for a 4X title, build units, and expand your territory as you deal with native threats, as well as your rivals. To start off there are quests present for every faction that can range from you eliminating enemies, to doing research, that all net you sometimes very useful bonuses that give you an extra edge.

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There are both melee and ranged units in Gladius that have their own benefits, and true to the nature of 40K units will sometimes possess both types of weapons. This means there are scenarios that will let you shoot as you run in for melee damage, or shoot over-watch at enemies. That is right there is over-watch, so when a unit doesn’t act in their turn, and a hostile enemy goes into range of their ranged weapons, your unit will open fire upon them. This sometime allows you to set-up deadly ambushes that will devastate enemies, or unwittingly find yourself eating free damage from an enemy you didn’t know was in an unexplored area. As I mentioned there is research to be conducted that allows you to advance yourself in many different aspects, which again is a key element in this type of game. Then there is the lack of diplomacy, as to be expected in something based in 40K as There is Only War. This upset some people, but I think it is more than fine since the AI you have to do diplomacy with in the 4X games are more often than not, irritating jerks that do things that make zero sense, then blame you when it doesn’t go their way (I am talking about you, bloodthirsty Ghandi of the Civilization games). Different factions have different elements when it comes to expanding, that I will cover in greater detail for each faction, but regardless of who you play expanding territory is incredibly important. You must find land to exploit that gives you the resources you need, like ore, electricity, food, influence, loyalty, and research. Between these resources you will have to use some more than others, pending your faction, but all are important to gather. The more cities and higher population you got, the more loyalty issues you will have with your cities. Loyalty functions a lot like happiness from the Civilization games giving your cities penalties if you have a negative loyalty, so you have to build buildings, and do research to combat this issue. Territorial expansion isn’t just about building new cities, but about capturing outposts that give you faction-wide bonuses to your resource collection. These outposts give you added bonuses if they are in a city’s territory, making them useful to settle near.

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Which exploiting the correct kind of resources in incredibly important as it allows you to build more and better units enabling you to fight more effectively, as well as supporting the upkeep that buildings will also bring. Another thing that Gladius does differently is having certain buildings be able to build simultaneously instead of a city sharing all production.

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This allows you to be building units and key structures at the same time, giving everything a nice pace. Lastly, there are relics all around that you can capture that provide a faction wide bonus to all your units or cities, that can make for some deadly combos when put together.

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These do not come without challenge however, as your rivals will gun for them and there are neutral enemies that defend them.

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Enemies like this guy will seek to deter you from relics, and from moving around in general, they can be quite the challenge to start, but act as good deterrents to your enemies as well. All in all Gladius has the typical things that a 4X game would, but makes these mechanics its own and excels at this.

Game-play – Necrons

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To start off I will say the Necrons retain their core trait of survivability being very sturdy (for the most part) and having an additional ability that allows them to heal themselves when you are in need.

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 They also can only build “cities” where there is access to a Necron Tomb.

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This makes it quite an exciting aspect to find these tombs and makes you ensure that you find them and secure the area before anyone else. The tombs also make it so where you can expand is limited, but since you don’t have to worry about food the most typically inhospitable places are typically more than fine. The standard array of Necron units is here from Warriors, to Monoliths, you will have access to your favorite Necron units to make your Dynasty the best.

Game-play – Space Marines

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What would a 40K game be without the stars of the show? The ever present Space Marines of the 40K franchise. Bringing their devotion, and sturdiness to Gladius, they feel quite at home, a big bonus is their bolter sound effects are actually on point. Their units are quite strong, and are hard to take down (early fights between them and Necrons sometimes feel like a wet noodle fight). What makes them unique is they can only have the one city, since it wouldn’t make sense for Space Marines to be building cities everywhere.

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The next key feature is them being able to build forts next to outposts that grant them bonuses as if said outpost was within a city’s territory.

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These are decently strong and can be used to hold the outskirts of territories that you might be worried about defending, or just to acquire more of a certain resource. These Fortresses of Redemption get progressively more expensive, and also have a cool-down between calling them down, so they just can’t be spammed. Space Marines also make use of requisition instead of ore or food, streamlining what they need. This makes it really easy to get a lot of units early, as long as you have good amounts of requisition coming in. The lack of being able to build more cities makes it quite necessary to have lots of units, as you have lots of ground to cover. Lastly, the Space Marines also have things called doctrines which function like Astra Militarum edicts (covered more later) allowing you to give units a boost to combat effectiveness.

Game-play – Astra Militarum

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You get what you would expect from the Astra Militarum, lots of Guardsmen to be sacrificed like they are cheap fodder, impressive tanks and armour, as well as daring heroes that stand a cut above those that serve under them. They rely on having food for their infantry, and ore for their vehicles, so you aren’t terribly starved for one resource or another allowing for a nice spread. You can also manage to get a lot of infantry out quickly, who when reaching critical mass, can put out a lot of fire power.

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See? Lots of guys and that isn’t even half of my force, a bunch of guys are off fighting Necrons elsewhere.

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The Imperial Guard also have the ability to issue edicts that have specifics effects on the city you use it on. These effects can vary from increasing production from certain buildings, to making a resource more abundant in that city.

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This allows you to really dedicate cities to producing a particular unit or resource, helping you in the grand scheme of things. The Astra Militarum are hard to get going, but once they get going they are hard to stop. They are also able to found cities wherever they please, but still have to worry about that loyalty rating.

Game-play – Orks

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Finally we come to the boys in Green, who bring their brand of humour, and deadly thuggish natures to Gladius. They particularly find themselves at home in melee combat, but have a good variety of ranged units to provide support to their melee brethren. Everyone knows a true Waaagh! is held together by the authority of those who lead them, so the influence resource is incredibly important to the Orks, giving them buffs (or debuffs) to their damage accordingly.

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Many Ork units use influence as part of their upkeep, but can also generate it when defeating enemy units, so there is a greater amount that you can pull in when compared to other factions. They can also make use of the Ork Fungus that grows around the planet to use that as means of healing their units, and they can also set them up, making these patches of ‘shrooms quite useful. Ork infantry also possess an ability that allows them to move a little more, this has a short cool-down, but can be quite handy when it comes to positioning.

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Scrappy, sturdy, and all-together hilarious, the Orks are a joy to play in Gladius.

Conclusion

For being below the standard price tag of games nowadays, Gladius: Relics of War is definitely worth the price tag. It manages to bring its own unique 40K flavour into the established 4X formula, that I believe any 40K fan could enjoy. I am excited to see what other factions they bring into this game, with a wide-array of possibilities Gladius is truly one of the better 40K games we have seen for awhile.

That is all for this post, until next time!

Vermintide 2: Electric Boogaloo the Review

So recently Vermintide 2 came out, and if you were wondering if it was any good I have your answer right here.

Yes it is good, very good. Why is it good though? Well for a number of reasons, but to start I will say if you like the Left 4 Dead style and like Warhammer then this is the experience for you. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

The Setting

To start I’ll set the mood, it is a time of desperation and destruction as the end of the old world nears. Now if you ask most people they will say they loved the End Times setting and book series both, as it took risks that were never before taken pushing Warhammer Fantasy to its brink (too bad Age of Sigmar can’t capture any of this.) So this is where Vermintide 1 and 2 are set as the inevitable end comes, but that doesn’t stop you from trying to prevent it as you parade through razed towns, sewers, chaos worshiper camps, etc. The desperation of the end times are visible in all the maps and they capture it beautifully. Despite usually having so many enemies and things going on at a time everything still manages to look really good, with some breath taking areas.

The Characters

So I found the five characters in the Vermintide games to be somewhat interesting and their banter is entertaining (save for the incredibly annoying elf Kerillian,) always having something to say to fit the situation. The spread of archetypes are sure to give you one that you fancy, and although it starts to feel somewhat cramped when you get a full group of people who want to play different things from time to time, all the characters bring enough variety to be enjoyable to play. They all have different weapons, three different sub-classes with their own talent trees and skills (passive and active both) that give a plentiful amount of options to play with. For example Markus Kruber the former Imperial sergeant has the three sub-classes; 1) Mercenary dedicated to chopping up groups of enemies while having a war cry that gives the whole team temporary health, 2) Huntsman with a focus on ranged weapons that has a stealth ability allowing for better positioning or just an easy way to save allies, and 3) the Foot Knight who has more durability, more blocking stamina, a damage reduction aura, and a charge ability that allows you to move through groups of enemies at a time. Then as I mentioned before those each have their own talent trees that unlock as you level up. So the characters are varied, have progression and have a variety of play-styles within the weapons/talents that almost guarantee you find something you enjoy. Also as a fun tidbit all the sub-classes have a bit of backstory that pending which you play reflects how the character changed after the first game, neat.

The Equipment

Now normally I wouldn’t call the equipment in a game a big selling point, but here I feel like it really is, because you are constantly trying to get that ideal equipment as you climb the difficulties and become stronger. To earn equipment you have the rewards system or the crafting system, the rewards system gives you chests at the end of missions and when you level up. The end of missions rewards which pending your accumulative level, what difficulty you earn them on, and fulfilling certain objectives. The crafting allows you to dismantle old equipment for scrap allowing to craft whatever you want out of blueprints that you unlock as you go along. Here we have a “power level” system which combines your level with the values of your equipment determining your  overall strength. I think it’s a good system that you don’t have to grind for the weapons that do the most damage (as your damage is determined by the power and the type of weapon,) but find the traits and qualities you want most in a weapon instead of the damage vs traits dance that often ends up happening in those scenarios.

As I mentioned before the weapons have lots of variety, and are different for each character. So for the Witch Hunter if you want something to cleave through lots of enemies you take a falchion, if you want some armour piercing go for the battle axe, or if you want something in-between you will take the rapier. The ranged weapons you take alongside the melee weapons adds more variety, want to snipe out enemies from a distance? Use a crossbow. Like the crossbow’s range but hate the reload? Take the repeater crossbow. This is just still using the Witch Hunter example, with still more weapon types and it being like this for all five characters. All in all there is lots of play-styles you can utilize with the weapons that fit all types of scenarios. There is also a risk reward system that has you collect tomes and grimoires throughout the maps that give you better items at the end of a successful game, but they will also hinder you, best example being the grimoires that reduce your maximum health making it harder to survive in the battles to come.

The drive to get newer equipment is quite enticing and keeps you coming back.

Enemy varieties

In any game ever the enemies that are featured have to be interesting, satisfying to face, and varied enough that you don’t get bored halfway through, so in other words they have to be engaging enough for you to want to engage them. In the first game it was just Skaven with their array of enemy types, Clanrats/slaves that swarm, Gutter Runners that ambush you, Packmasters that rope you up and drag you off, Ratling Gunners that shoot a warp-stone mini gun at you, and more, so the Skaven alone had a lot of variety in themselves. Adding the followers of chaos into the mix adds even greater amounts of variety the compliment the Skaven; you got the Leech who isolates allies and leeches their health, the Blightstormer who creates plague tornadoes to toss you around, Berserkers who hit hard, Chaos Warriors who are mountains of metal that inflict great amounts of damage, and those are just a few examples. The most basic chaos follower enemies are tougher than the basic Skaven so them thrown into a horde changes things up, especially if they have those pesky shields. The enemies also never attack in the same places or same ways (save for some scripted events) making each run different from the last.

The Combat

The combat in this game is so utterly and viscerally satisfying that it is hard to have a bad time playing it (unless off course chopping the limbs off enemies isn’t something you enjoy.) The mechanics are pretty good too, with being able to dodge, block, push, and chop your way to victory. As I mentioned prior there are many types of equipment to use to get the job so you can address fights in many different ways that can all get the job done. Again it is REALLY SATISFYING to fight all these enemies and come out on top after a brutal battle.

Price Point

So $33 CAD is what it costs for people in Canada, which for a game that will last you a while is a pretty big selling point especially in an era where new games cost upwards 70-80$. To get a quality game for less than half the price of something like EAfront 2 or Destiny 2 or any other crap that a AAA developer puts out is well worth it.

So in Conclusion

If you like action RPGs or Warhammer, or Left 4 Dead horde survival style, with some visceral combat involved then this is the game for you. It is very fun, has lots of replay value and again for $30ish you cannot go wrong. It is also a great co-op game if you can manage to find enough friends to fill the ranks, so a big plus with that.

Also as a bonus have some of my personal game-play from the pre-order beta here:

And then some more recent stuff:

Dragon Ball FighterZ is Amazing

Well I finally got around to finishing the story for Dragon Ball FighterZ and oh my what a treat that game is. We were blessed last month to be given two fantastic releases in both Dragon Ball FighterZ and Monster Hunter World, which is rare to have such gems at once. Both of these two games have provided me with exactly the experience I sought after. As I have previously stated fighting games have long been a staple in my gaming life and I am always happy to find one as quality as DBFZ (as it will henceforth be referred to as.) Made by the company Arc System Works, who brought us the ever popular Guilty Gear franchise as well as other gems like Persona 4 Arena. This game brought the spirit of the 2D anime style fighter with it to be one of the best.

Arc System Works the best of the best.

The combat is fast paced surprisingly deep. I say it is surprising because it has the 3v3 style popularized by the Marvel vs Capcom series and those games (In my opinion) don’t have alot of character depth to them, like they feel really button-mashy more than skillful. This isn’t the case with DBFZ as each one of the characters is really good in their own right, but have distinct styles to bring to the table. You want someone with high mobility? Bam throw Trunks in there. Want to compliment that with a grappler? Android 16 is the one for you. Want someone who can mix-up and keep someone guessing? Android 18 suits the task. The thing is the variety and the usefulness of all the characters can make forming your ideal team tough as everyone is good. What I am trying to say is the combat is a great mix of fast pace and technical skill, with a great cast of characters. The art style is also incredible with an equally incredible soundtrack to match.

Now I mentioned the story before and normally in the past the Dragon Ball games follow the story of the show more or less, sometimes with some side stories (looking at you Budokai.) DBFZ has it’s own story written by Akira Toriyama that makes it feel authentic and like it could have been an actual arc in the show. With the introduction of Android 21 who is cool, fun to play, and has a unique design is also a treat for the game. All of these qualities has made her really popular which tells you they must have been doing something right. The story also rewards you with opportunities to see conversations/dialogues that would never take place in the show. How would Vegeta and Nappa interact? What would Cell and Adult Gohan have to say? Just things like that indulge a fan of the series, which is just strengthened by the returning of the original voice cast for all these characters. Hilarious to see some cutscenes with Yamcha or the Ginyu Force, and it is a real treat. The story mode also has a neat leveling system that gives you a bit of extra drive to play your favorite characters as well as a harder difficulty I can’t wait to jump into.

Also inherent to fighting games there is the unmatched pleasure of crushing fools online and this is something that isn’t lose with DBFZ. So for instance here are some ranked matches I had recorded earlier today just to show off some of the game-play.

All in all this is an incredible game-play experience for fighting game and Dragon Ball Z fans alike, likely I am both those things so it is even sweeter, and I could go on and on about how great it is, but I will end with this; I highly, highly, highly recommend this game to anyone, doubly so for those who enjoy fighting games as this is for sure the best one for a long time.

 




Monster Hunter World (In progress)

So it is a new month and I am making some good headway in the new Monster Hunter game. All I can say is that it is incredibly awesome! If you haven’t gotten to play a Monster Hunter game before, now is the time to get on it!

There are many things that make the Monster Hunter games very good, but I will attempt to touch on a few here as I am not yet complete the game but have put a good 40ish hours into it.

1) The Controls

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A far cry from the cramped 3DS.

The game-play of Monster Hunter World (henceforth to be referred to as MHW) has very tight responsive controls that make all the difference in battle with different kinds of monster where every second counts. Every action and movement is important as you navigate battles and the environments they take place in. Anyone who had to play the MH games on a 3DS or handheld of any sort will know what I say when the PS4 controller is a god send.

2) The Environments

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Beautiful Coral Highlands

The various wild environments are all playgrounds that beg for exploration and reward players keen on finding everything that there is to find. Aside from being well-crafted and beautiful looking, there are many useful things to be found around them. Need to make potions? Find herbs. Need to make that special ammunition? Find all the right natural materials. You also have the opportunity to build more camps to start your missions from, and find the natural cat inhabitants called Grimalkyne to help you in your quests. With different environments come different monsters and it is what drives you to unlock the new locales.

3) The Monsters

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The Anjanath is quite the dick, but makes a cool armour set.

Would be a poorly name game if the monsters weren’t a massive feature in it, and the rightly take center stage. With all their own unique looks and styles of trying to fend off those who intend to slay them, they all offer unique experiences in their fights that leave impressions that are distinct from one another. Sometimes the big monsters will cross paths and even fight each other in a spectacle Godzilla type display that leaves a sense of awe. It is very exciting to see what each big monster has to offer in terms of battle, and more so to see what they have to offer for equipment you can make from the materials they provide once you have bested them.

4) The Equipment

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The set created from that dino up above.

Now it might seem strange to have the equipment as a separate section of why I find the game to be so mystifying, but if you have played one of these before then you will understand 100%. When I personally encounter a new monster all I can think is “what can I make out of you?” and that holds true throughout the game. As the monsters unlock different weapons and armour you find that they prepare you for different scenarios with different damage types or defenses. So I find myself preparing multiple sets of armour to deal with certain enemies, as when you start fighting harder enemies you require preparation. On the note of weapons the variety is great, with each weapon being surprisingly in-depth with their move-sets giving you much variety. Be it the slow, but strong great sword or the quick-striking dual swords every weapon can do the job of hunting monsters, so for every style of play there is a weapon to match.

So all in all Monster Hunter World is a great experience, and I love every moment of it. It is something I recommend that anyone try as it is the best boss fighting game series around.