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Explore a featured selection of my writing work below.

Three Moves Ahead: Victoria 3

November 1, 2022 The long-awaited steel and steam macroeconomics simulator from Paradox has finally graced us with its presence, and we've assembled a League of Extraordinary Lady and Gentlemen to discuss it. Len and Jon are joined by Kotaku's Luke Plunkett, PCGamesN's Ian Boudreau, and our good friend from UNC Chapel Hill, Dr. Bret Devereaux to analyze this absolute behemoth of a game from every angle. Hold on tight and keep your arms and legs completely inside the podcast.

Victoria 3 review – A golden tomorrow

When the ‘Game Over’ screen arrived after my century in charge of the United States for our Victoria 3 review, I looked back over a very different hundred years from those familiar to me from history books. There had never been a Civil War – in the version of the story that unfolded in Paradox’s latest grand strategy game, slavery was abolished more or less without incident in the1840s, but we’d come close to a revolution over the abolition of child labour thirty years later. By 1936, we were no

No Man’s Sky 4.0 update: why Sean Murray feels your passion

In the six years since No Man’s Sky first launched, the ambitious space game‘s name has morphed from a synonym for hubris to the go-to example of redemption through hard work and dedication. In 2022, ‘pulling a No Man’s Sky’ means saving a troubled game after a botched launch. No Man’s Sky update 4.0 rolls out on October 7, and creator Sean Murray tells us that while there’s not much in the way of spectacle in this patch, it’s full of quality-of-life improvements that continue to make the spacef

Rise of the Triad returns, thanks to a boomer shooter super group

A remaster of the cult classic FPS game Rise of the Triad is in the works, slated for release in early 2023, and in one sense, it’s a reunion. The developers working on Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition include some of the leading lights of the recent ‘boomer shooter renaissance’ who first worked together on the 2013 Unreal Engine remake of Rise of the Triad. The developers creating the Rise of the Triad remaster are a classic FPS supergroup: there’s Apogee Entertainment, which created and p

Victoria 3 impressions: Building the future

Thinking back on the time I spent forming my Victoria 3 impressions with a preview build of Paradox’s forthcoming grand strategy game about the 19th century, there are some definite highlights: enacting some early voting rights legislation in Sweden, reforming the Brazilian tax code, and abolishing slavery in the United States without triggering a bloody civil war. You set out in Victoria 3 with grand ambitions, but what I found was that in the moment-to-moment play, what I spent most of my time

Ex Elder Scrolls, Fallout dev announces new historical RPG Wyrdsong

Former Fallout 76 project lead Jeff Gardiner, who left Bethesda a year ago telling fans to “stay tuned” for what’s next, has now revealed that he’s founded a new games studio and that it’s working on a historical-fantasy RPG game called Wyrdsong. The teaser trailer debuted at Opening Night Live at Gamescom. Gardiner’s new studio is called Something Wicked, and he’s brought together talent from Bethesda, BioWare, and Obsidian to shape its first game, Wyrdsong.

Total War Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires crowns a decade of development

When the Total War: Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires combined campaign is finally introduced to the series of fantasy strategy games, it’s not simply going to double the size of the Mortal Empires sandbox map. Instead, it’s combining everything that Creative Assembly has ever made for the three Warhammer games, a series that began a decade ago when the studio announced its long-term partnership with Warhammer publisher Games Workshop. For the developers who have been with the studio since that day,

Why Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition was a mess when it launched

June of this year saw the fortieth anniversary of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s genre-defining cyberpunk film. Nightdive Studios had targeted the anniversary for the launch of its remake of the Blade Runner adventure game, a beloved classic developed by Westwood Studios and originally released in 1997. Launch day arrived on June 23, Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition went up for sale, and the reviews began trickling in. They were not good. “I’ve only played for 15 minutes and immediate impressions a

No, Stray is not too short

Cyberpunk cat game Stray is out, and it’s delightful. As Nat Smith writes in our Stray review, it’s “a highly polished narrative-driven experience, with an emotional and thought-provoking core” whose “choice of protagonist feels earnest rather than gimmicky”. Like other titles published by Annapurna Interactive, Stray doesn’t stick around for long – it’s a game you can finish in around five hours, if you don’t spend a lot of time scratching up the carpets. That relatively brief playtime has mad

Warhammer 40K: Darktide adds to Vermintide’s meaty combat formula

One of the first things to learn about living in Warhammer 40k: Darktide’s dangerous hive undercity is that a chainsword works whether or not it’s switched on. Without powering it on, you can use it as a perfectly good cudgel that can also help with pushing back hordes of the Chaos-touched. At the press of a button, however, it’ll chew through armour and bone with an upsettingly satisfying ease. That’s the mode you’ll want for one-on-one encounters with Hive Tertium’s more dangerous elites. Dev

Arma Reforger – The rest is yet to come

It’s the middle of the night, and my squad is gathered at the end of a small airfield on the northern tip of Everon. There’s a nervous energy in the air as the distinctive army-issue right-angle flashlights flit back and forth in the darkness. None of us are sure what we have to do or where exactly we’re going, but we know it’s going to be exciting. Someone drives by in a jeep, ploughing through the barbed-wire fence and rolling it into a ditch. It’s just like the real army. This is Arma Reforg

Eve Online’s Excel partnership began in a CCP women’s group

‘Spreadsheets in space’ has been the running gag about Eve Online almost as long as the notoriously information-dense MMORPG has been around, which at this point is going on 20 years. But it was only recently that developer CCP Games and Microsoft made it official, announcing the forthcoming Eve Online-Microsoft Excel integration at this year’s Eve Fanfest in Reykjavik. And like so many lasting friendships, this one began at the pub. “A few of the CCP women went out for drinks, and one was our

Stellaris’ Overlord DLC lets you rule the galactic empire

The next expansion for Stellaris, Overlord, is going to give players the chance to outdo Emperor Palpatine and assume total control of the galaxy. Developer Paradox Interactive has announced that the release date for Overlord has been set for May 12, and we had a chance to talk with Stellaris’ new game director about what the expansion is adding to the 4X game’s impressive suite of interstellar empire management tools. “With Overlord, we started it with wanting to revamp subject-overlord intera

Ultima’s creator is making a new MMO, and it’s built on NFTs

The Ultima series of role-playing games has been foundational for videogames not once, but at least twice. The original series pioneered a path that western RPGs would follow for decades, and Ultima Online was the proving grounds for many of the best ideas and solutions in MMORPGs today. Now the series’ creator is going for the hat trick: Richard Garriott, known to Ultima fans as ‘Lord British,’ is making another MMO – but this time, it’s going to be built using blockchain technology. Garriott

MythForce blends Vermintide with ’80s action cartoons

MythForce makes its intentions clear right from the moment it’s launched: a shining owl sigil gleams as the opening of an upbeat, synth-driven pop theme song kicks in, and you’re transported to the intro sequence of an ’80s action cartoon you’ve never seen before. It’s a co-op game in the vein of Vermintide, but done in a family-friendly style that harkens back to the original runs of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power. It’s in the works from Beamdog, a studio

DXRacer Craft gaming chair review – daredevil’s in the details

When it comes to desk chairs, I’ve been a bit squeamish about anything that’s branded as being made specifically for gamers. To put it frankly: the automotive style reminds me too much of Kirk Van Houten’s race car bed in The Simpsons, and so I’ve always picked traditional-looking chairs, more along the lines of Flexispot’s BS10, for both work and gaming. However, after a few weeks of sitting in a DXRacer Craft bucket seat, consider me converted. DXRacer has been making racing-style gaming chai

Dark Souls diary: passing the midterms in Anor Londo

Arriving in Anor Londo is one of Dark Souls’ show-stopping moments. After beating the Iron Golem, I’m hoisted aloft by a trio of gangly, winged demons, who deposit me on a parapet with a spectacular sunset view of the city. Stretching out before me is a glittering hillside city, spires and flying buttresses of carved marble and gold piercing the skyline. After the squalor and grubbiness of the places I’ve travelled through – Undead Burg, the Depths, Blighttown, and Sen’s Fortress – it feels like

Crusader Kings 3’s new DLC is an essential strategy add-on

Greetings from Gowrie, where I, King Malcolm III of Scotland, have been reigning from atop the Stone of Scone for the past ten years. Sure, we’re frequently attacked by Norwegian raiders and I’m at war with Karaldr Gudrosson, the petty king who I’ve been trying to dislodge from the Hebrides for as long as I can remember, but we’ve got the fanciest accommodations and finest clothes on the entire island. Make yourself at home, admire the tattered war banners on the wall, and learn all about Royal

Dark Souls diary: fear and loathing in Sen’s Fortress

The first act of Dark Souls has seen me escape from the Undead Asylum, marvel at the vertical level design of Undead Burg, and seek help from NPCs and friends as I plunge into the increasing darkness of the Depths and Blighttown. Now, the imposing portcullis at the entrance to Sen’s Fortress has opened, and I’ve got to battle through it in order to reach the glittering city of Anor Londo, a place high above and protected by a ring of sheer cliffs. When I return to Firelink Shrine from Blighttow

God of War PC review – a god for all seasons

Since its PlayStation 4 launch in 2018, Santa Monica’s God of War has been included on countless ‘best of’ lists, often as an all-timer. It was indisputably a killer app for the PlayStation 4, and an impressive demonstration of just how far Sony’s console could be pushed. Now, nearly four years later, it’s arriving on PC – Kratos’ bearded glory has faded a little, but only just. God of War is not only a solid hack-and-slash romp through a refreshingly weird spin on Norse mythology, it’s also a g
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