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GOG’s got GoTY

The Game of the Year Edition of The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is now on sale at GOG, apparently 75% off. Sadly the Web page for it seems to have been trampled by the eager Guar-herd, but here’s the Archive.org backup of the page. This all-time classic game and its expansions, which is what the GoTY version is, usually sells DRM-free for $15.

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theHunter: gone Wild

It seems there are now two versions of the excellent PC hunting game theHunter (now re-named theHunter: Classic). There’s now a new version called theHunter: Call of the Wild, which appeared in the spring of 2017 for retailers.

They appear to be identical, and it seems that theHunter: Call of the Wild just has a DVD box able to sit on a shelf in a mall and gets on Amazon at £18. According to a comment on Amazon theHunter: Call of the Wild apparently requires Steam, even though it ships on a DVD. And so far as I recall theHunter: Classic doesn’t require Steam but does need an Internet connection to prevent cheating.

Other than that, I just can’t work out how they’re different. I had a look at the theHunter forums and there’s no FAQ or thread there on the matter. At £18, does the DVD version ship with all sorts of pay-for addons for free? Exclusive items and areas? I would presume so. But the gaming magazines obviously have no interest in the game beyond a few puzzled reviews and print-the-press-release items. So it’s all very mysterious.

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Titan Quest: Ragnarok

A decade after the most-excellent game Titan Quest, all of a sudden comes a large expansion Titan Quest: Ragnarok. It’s out now on Steam and switches the Mediterranean setting for the Northern… “realms of the Celts, the Northmen and the Asgardian gods”. Sounds good, very good.

My review of Titan Quest Gold Edition is here. This has now been mildly superseded by the 10th anniversary edition.

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The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind – PC Gamer review

PC Gamer has a quite positive review of the MMO The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

“… one of the most encompassing and charming repositories for great stories I’ve played in a long time. Morrowind is an essential excursion for those of a certain gaming vintage, loaded as it is with reverence for that 15 year-old adventure.”

Sadly the review doesn’t mention that vital stat: how long it’s going to take a complete newbie to grind through the training levels, so they can get to the point where they step off the boat at Seyda Neen and not get nibbled to death by a small pack of Guars. Judging by my very limited past experience of MMOs (Ryzom, Lord of the Rings Online) all the potential joy of playing the game has evaporated by the time you’ve killed spider #276 or collected crystal #153 in your bid to level-up and thus actually get into the main game.

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After Nehrim, Enderal

The Nehrim guys have their huge Skyrim total-conversion out, and now have it pretty much nailed down. It’s called Enderal, is free, very well reviewed, and as pretty as you’d expect. Released last summer it’s now available in a full English version, which is currently patched to a 1.1.9 release — it’s now reported to be fairly stable. Which to me = it’s now playable.

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Skywind preview

Loving what I’m seeing of the Skywind world (a Morrowind total conversion mod for Skyrim) in this late-autumn 2016 preview. It appears that 2017 is the team’s “big push” year and the voice-acting appears to be well underway too. I’d love to think this might be “main quest playable” by early 2018, but that’s just my guess on the timing…

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“My god, it’s full of bugs…”

Oh dear, The Escapist review of the new Mass Effect: Andromeda game is in

“Unfortunately, Andromeda misses the mark”

The story… “quickly devolves into something that’s going to sound all too familiar to fans of the series”.

“… the game’s writing seems oddly out of sync, varying from quests that feel agonizing and meaningful to those that feel worth ignoring entirely. Worse, the moments that did feel important had little lasting impact.”

“… a ton of quests that feel like busywork”

“… the planetary scanning is just as tedious and annoying as it was in previous games. Even worse, the planets you do land on feel empty.”

“… poor animations detract from the enjoyment”

And predictably “… the PC version of Andromeda has got its share of technical issues. … Four times, the game crashed to a black screen.”

“My god, it’s full of bugs…”

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Titan Quest: 10th Anniversary Edition

One of my all-time favourite games Titan Quest (2006) (my review), recently had a 10th Anniversary release. This mega bufferooni of a release was slipped out in August when I wasn’t paying much attention to such things, and I’ve only just discovered it. The new edition is on GOG.com and apparently also on Steam (I followed a switch-bait link to the game on Steam, and was sent to their home page instead. I guess it’s in Steam somewhere, maybe…)

This Anniversary Edition combines Titan Quest + Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, but that’s not new — since the old Gold Edition did that. It allows Steam mods, but the original game shipped with a full Construction Set of the sort that allowed mods up to and including massive total conversions such as Lilith. It also rolls up and includes all the fan fixes to date, and removes GameSpy, both kind of useful. Apparently there are also stability fixes, but I found the Gold Edition game with the fan patch as solid as a rock anyway.

Changes which seems most relevant to single-player gamers:

* Scalable UI for larger screens.
* Dozens of new heroes and bosses.
* Improved enemy and pet AI.
* Shader & renderer improvements.
* Updated loading-screen art.
* Quick loot pick-up option.
* Player run speed increased by 10%.
* Higher stack limits inc. 25 health bottles, and a larger stash.

That’s enough to tempt me back to the game, and I also see there’s a handy anti-creepy-crawly mod for the new edition: Turn all spiders into turtles or centaurs.

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Skyrim Special Edition for PC

I just heard something about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (PC). But where is it? Erm, Amazon UK “knows nurthing…”, not even a release date. Durh. Steam may know something, but it slams me with an age verification check before it’ll show me anything about the game. And yet search engines show me that Special Edition PC game is apparently freely available from pirate sites. Seriously, if it’s easier to get from pirate channels than from the legitimate sources, is it any wonder that people pirate? However, it seems that PC players don’t need to bother. According to Rock, Paper, Shotgun the Special Edition is only meaningful for the konsole kiddies…

“[on the PC] you’ll be lucky to feel there’s been any meaningful change. If anything, you might find that it’s a step down from your modded original Skyrim with the Bethesda high-res texture pack, and a dark return to the infuriating official interface to boot. A brand new, truly 2016 Skyrim this is not. … I switched repeatedly between it and an unmodded Skyrim original install with Bethesda’s official high-res texture pack added in … Ultimately, I came damned closed to preferring the original. [and] the Special Edition does not yet support many mods”

Yuk. So basically it’s just a feeble excuse for some pre-Xmas marketing spam, at the cost of causing modders to have to work double-hard to support both versions.

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Life on the Mississippi as a videogame

The audiobook of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi provides, in its first half, a near-perfect template for a business tycoon / colonisation / steamboat piloting videogame. Admittedly, in the PC Windows market anything that comes within a league of being a sailing/pirates game falls overboard and gets eaten by sharks. And I guess the pre Civil War setting (1800-1860) could also be off-putting for many distributors. But I’d like to suggest that the book could also be easily translated into space sci-fi. It’s all there, and of course the famous book is now a free public-domain resource.