PC Gaming Show 2019 Notes

PC Gamer’s “The PC Gaming Show” is back again for 2019. This time it’s sponsored by Epic. Sean Plott and Frankie Ward hosted. Here’s everything they announced:

Rebellion’s Evil Genius 2: World Domination is the sequel to a well-regarded base-building game in line with your Theme Hospital or maybe a little closer to Dungeon Keeper. It’s a little goofy that this trailer shows no actual gameplay, but that is a common theme today, and then kind of shitty that Rebellion decided to frame beta access as something to win. Otherwise, they’re planning a 2020 release on Steam for Windows. Presumably Epic passed on giving buckets of money for this exclusive.

Coming to Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2020 it’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. The game that lets you stalk Seattle as a complete weirdo, out for blood. I’m not really into the vampire thing, but games that contain cities I love like Seattle are always on my radar.

Ward compared Starmancer to Dwarf Fortress in space and that sounds pretty compelling. The trailer reminds me of Spacebase DF-9 which is good. There’s no release date, but I can be hopeful that Starmancer won’t suffer the same fate. Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux. No release date given, but the website says they’re hoping for 2019.

Tripwire’s John Gibson & Torn Banner’s Steve Piggott appeared on stage to talk about their collaboration on Chivalry II, the sequel to the medieval slasher. Piggot said the new game would have twice as many players on a server at 64, increased the scale of the levels, and added more objectives. 2020, timed exclusive for the Epic Game Store.

Mosaic by Krillbite is coming later this year for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. Ward called it a “dark and atmospheric adventure game.”Mosaic reminds me of Inside. I really enjoy their parody of clicker games, Blip Blop. I’m playing Blip Blop right now.(

Midnight Ghost Hunt is a competitive 4v4 multiplayer game that looks like it takes the Prey (2017) aliens hiding as objects mechanic and replaces the aliens with ghosts. The Call of Duty prop hunt mode is maybe a more exact comparison with one team hunting the ghosts or props and the other team trying their best to survive to the time limit. Plott interviewed the game’s developer Samuel Malone on-stage, where Malone said the teams change places if the ghost team can make it through until the time limit, which revives their entire team. Steam for Windows. No release date yet, although they’re working on an early alpha for the public.

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is a roguelite that has a very nice look to it, unfortunately it’s in the process of raising money through the faux-investment service called Fig. Windows for Steam only, for now.

After Unexplored, the show was interrupted to tell us about a 240hz curved Samsung G-Sync gaming monitor. I hope it works better than mine, because it routinely gets an odd vertical tear until I power cycle the monitor and the manufacturer blames Nvidia for the issue.

Natascha Röösli from Funcom appeared to talk about Funcom’s 2019 lineup. Mutant Year Zero: Seed of Evil is a $15 MYZ expansion for the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and PlayStation 4. July 30th. It was already announced.

Conan Unconquered is Funcom’s Conan RTS that looks very traditional, and it’s been out for Windows on Steam since the end of May.

Moons of Madness is a cosmic horror game set on Mars due for the Xbox One, Steam for Windows, and PlayStation 4 on Halloween, it was announced a year ago.

Röösli introduced Philip Mayes from Mighty Kingdom, a game studio in Australia that is making Conan Chop Chop. A rogluelike with top-down Zelda-y graphics. There are a ton of those, but why not more? Chop Chop was introduced as an April Fools joke, but apparently they’re actually putting it out on September 3rd. Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch.

Last Oasis is a “nomadic survival MMO” that is going to early access for Steam for Windows on July 15th. The trailer reminds me of Air Buccaneers and Chivalry, with maybe not so hot MMO combat. The full game is out on September 3rd.

Age of Wonders Planetfall has 4X strategy, laser dinos, tech trees, and I think I saw some aggressive penguins in there. August 6th. Steam for Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4. Lennart Sas and Tom Bird showed up to talk about Planetfall and its brain-eating parasites.

Zombie Army 4: Dead War is another sequel to Rebellion’s co-op Zombie Army first-person shooters. It must be impossible to run out of undead Nazi soldiers. Rebellion already has a separate gameplay trailer up:

Gunfire Games’ Remnant: From The Ashes is only the second Cthulhu-y game full of nightmare creatures I’ve seen today. It looks an awful lot like a third-person Left 4 Dead. August 20th, Steam for Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One. David Adams confirmed that it is a co-op action game. He also emphasized that the game is highly replayable, but then said all the loot is “legendary” which is an odd decision.

Griftlands is a Klei’s $15 deck building roguelike that has an early version out on July 11th for Windows via the Epic Game Store. Next year it’ll get to Steam, as well, and then in Fall 2020 it’ll be out for real.

Planet Zoo is Frontier’s next management sim. This video has a pooping hippo, so that’s good. November 5th for Steam on Windows.

Shenmue 3’s Yu Suzuki was on-stage to talk about Shenmue 3 and introduce the above trailer, and the news is that the game is now a timed exclusive to the Epic Games Store. Shenmue I and II were re-released in a package for Steam and other platforms last year. I didn’t see any mention of which store the WIndows version was to be sold on Shenmue 3’s Kickstarter page, but it does seem kind of odd to not give the game’s backers the option to choose Steam if that was what they picked in a survey.

Songs of Conquest is an updated, pixelated, Heroes of Might & Magic-esque turn-based fantasy strategy game. Carl Toftfelt spoke about the game in-person and it’s due for late 2020 on Windows and macOS.

The co-op fantasy combat game, Vermintide 2, is getting a player versus player versus mode. There’s a beta going on.

Tion Industries’ Per Aspera is about the challenge of terraforming Mars with human consciousnesses transferred to machines. 2020 on Windows.

Patrice Desilets from Panache Digital Games spoke about Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, a third-person open-world survival game about our ancestors set in ancient Africa that gets to Windows on August 27th.

The split between the different versions of Auto Chess, a game created by Dota 2 fans, is growing. Loring Lee appeared on stage to talk about the official Drodo standalone version of Auto Chess and announce that is headed for the Epic Game Store.

Cris Tales is a JRPG-style game from Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK that is due for next year. Until the 24th of June there is a free demo available on Steam for Windows. The art style for this game is pretty cool, I didn’t think I would like the flat look at first, but it is pretty compelling.

Valfaris looks like it could be a completely ridiculous and awesome metalvania. It’s due this year on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for Windows. There is a free demo available now on Steam for Windows. I am psyched, though I wonder how long you can keep up the metal adrenaline surge through what are often languid explorations of new environments and backtracking through old ones.

Oh, thank goodness, Gearbox got someone else to talk about Borderlands 3. It’s Paul Sage, the creative director. He spoke about the character Moze the Gunner, and her mech called Iron Bear that Moze pilots, different grenade types including one that launches other weapons when it explodes, and more. Game is out September 13th for PlayStation 4, Windows via the Epic Game Store, and Xbox One.

Maneater is apparently an open-world action SharkPG from Tripwire. I appreciate their use of Mississippi Queen in their trailer. Tripwire’s John Gibson said the game is like GTA but if you were a shark. There is no certain release date, but it’ll be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for a year.

At this point the show turned over into a bizarre sponsored ad made of B-Roll without narration for an “E-Win” gaming chair. I don’t know why anyone needs a special chair for gaming, but O.K.

Terraria’s final updates are coming in a final patch called Journey’s End. It’s due this year, no specific release date was given.

I loved Sam Barlow’s last game, Her Story, Telling Lies looks like it could be just as good and features a similar mechanic of searching the transcriptions of video clips for clues that lead to other clips. It’s a unique way of exploring a game I haven’t seen anywhere else. Telling Lies is to be out soon, but there isn’t a specific release date yet.

Warframe: Empyrean is the next expansion for Warframe, but this trailer was more of a teaser to watch an upcoming Twitch stream on the 6th of July.

Genesis Noir is an adventure game set during, after, and before the big bang, about stopping the big bang to save your love. Genesis Noir looks amazing, and different, and there’s a prologue available for free on this site. Feral Cat Den’s out-there adventure is expected to be for Windows and macOS, but there is no release date.

Honig’s El Hijo is a different kind stealth game, where you’re a boy searching for your mom. I can’t think of a better game for a rainy day. The planned platforms are Steam for Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. There is no release date, yet.

Larian Studios is making Baldur’s Gate 3. Sven Vincke from Larian and Wizards of the Coast’s Mike Mearls spoke on-stage about the game and what their goals are. There will be a Baldur’s Gate prequel for table top players on September 17th. There is no release date for Baldur’s Gate 3.

Overall

I’m pretty pleased with this year’s show, obviously a huge undercurrent is the competition between Epic and Valve, and some folks on-stage couldn’t help but get a dig in about it. Valve’s dominance is a problem, but I’m not looking forward to having a more scattered library of games across platforms that will all shutter some day. It’s a particularly big problem for people playing games with Linux who are finding the limits of Valve’s support for their platform and the complete lack of support from Epic who seem to have no plans to bring their game store and launcher to the platform. Otherwise, I don’t think that anyone outside of Valve should be upset with temporary exclusivity deals in general. The specifics of crowd-funded games promising one thing and doing another when Epic shows up with that cash might be the only legitimate cause for alarm.

The long and short of it is that we don’t need another in versus out crowd like we had with early Nintendo and Sega platforms. There are bigger issues, and anyone talking about how Epic has Chinese money is a racist sack of shit. Investors everywhere are shitbags who would prefer that people fight over what launcher we use to play games instead of organizing to take their money through taxes and use it to pay for things we all need.

Telling Lies

Sam Barlow of the incredible Her Story FMV game is working on something new, it’s called Telling Lies. Todd Spangler has the exclusive over at Variety:

“Telling Lies” is a “spiritual follow-up” to “Her Story,” he said, but will have a completely new story with more characters and locations. Shooting will likely begin at the end of 2017 or early 2018.

Barlow is tight-lipped on what, exactly, “Telling Lies” is about but said it’s in the vein of a political thriller with 3-4 key characters. A movie he’s watched extensively for reference is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 mystery thriller “The Conversation,” starring Gene Hackman.

“Imagine Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’ mashed up with ‘The Conversation,’” Barlow said. For movies, he said, the 1970s “were such a golden age exploring the intersection of government, society and individuals.”

Her Story

Her Story's computer interface

The rare games that don’t follow traditional formulas we’ve come to expect are extremely interesting to me. It’s very difficult to make something that still fits into a video game while getting rid of the traditional systems.

Go here

Do this

Shoot them!

Get some points and a sticker!

Wow you did a good job, you’re so good at games!

I still love RPGs and FPS games, but those mechanics just feel insulting after a while. Can’t we do a little bit more than get a prescribed shot of dopamine every five-to-ten minutes?

Sam Barlow of the excellent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is here to throw most of that out of the window and take us to a more interactive-fiction style of play without so much reading. Though there are subtitles in his adventure called Her Story, so far the game feels more about listening skills than reading.

Her Story is about a fictional missing persons investigation in Britain from 1994. You’re to review the interview clips on a computer interface that to me is reminiscent of Windows 3.1 which is so realistic as to include a fictionally warezed Othello game, scanlines, and glare. The latter two can be toggled off if you get annoyed but I feel so much more in the game’s world when they’re on.

The interview clips are of a suspect, the missing husband’s wife, and the acting is (again, so far as I’ve seen having not yet completed the game) fantastic.

Once you’ve reviewed the first set of interview clips available to you, your only mechanism for getting more is to type in a search query into the database pictured above. It is a tiny amount of dopamine joy when you get some new nugget of information, but each clip gives me so many new keywords to try and there’s no failure or score unless you count the Steam achievements so I can sit there for a while writing down each keyword that I think of while watching the video clips and making up my mind only to find out every few times I get a keyword jackpot that there is some important fact I’ve been overlooked about the situation.

Typically I’d hold off on sharing my impressions of a game until I had completed it and turned my thoughts into a full review. This a rare case where I couldn’t wait to tell you to play Her Story, because you should.

Her Story is on Mac, Windows, iPhone and iPad. It’s a steal at $6 but it’s on sale for a little while longer at $5.