Top Of The Table – Scythe

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Top Of The Table – Scythe

From time to time, my focus in Top of the Table shifts toward accessible titles that can help to introduce tabletop gaming to new players, through titles like Flick 'em Up or Codenames: Pictures. Those games are excellent, but this week's selection is squarely targeted at veteran gamers ready for their next big adventure. Designed by Jamey Stegmaier, Scythe is a sophisticated and inventive strategy board game of area control, resource management and development, and competition, for one to five players. An alternate history post-World War I setting is gorgeously illustrated by Jakub Rozalski, and realized through storytelling nuggets, card art, and overall presentation. However, it's Scythe's streamlined and fast-moving play (without ever simplifying) that earns it a place as one of my favorite new games of the last several years.

Netflix's Final Fantasy XIV: Dad Of Light Is Heartfelt And Better Than You'd Expect

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Netflix's Final Fantasy XIV: Dad Of Light Is Heartfelt And Better Than You'd Expect

Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light is a Japanese soap opera that recently hit Netflix. Despite its awkward name, Dad of Light is a touching look at the bond between father and son, and how video games can help strengthen those relationships. Despite the obvious commercial feel promoting Square Enix's long-running MMORPG and some amateurish acting, Dad of light does a lot of things right.

The premise is about a father and his young adult son who have drifted apart. Back in the day, the two shared a fondness towards the original Final Fantasy, but unfortunately, the bond didn't last. Now, in present day, protagonist Aiko Inaba (played by Yudai Chiba) sees an opportunity to reconnect with his newly retired father Hirotaro (Ren Osugi), by buying him a copy of Final Fantasy XIV and a PlayStation 4.

Terror Of The Nazgul – A Look At The Power And Might Of Shadow Of War's Ringwraiths

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Terror Of The Nazgul – A Look At The Power And Might Of Shadow Of War's Ringwraiths

While Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor garnered critical acclaim and captured a wide fan base that stretched beyond fans of Tolkien's works, one of its weakest areas was boss battles. With the follow-up, Shadow of War, developer Monolith hopes to rectify that by introducing ringwraiths. These Nazgûl are powerful servants of Dark Lord Sauron, and now they're Talion's problem to deal with.

The Nazgûl were once virtuous men who were tempted by Sauron and his Rings of Power. However, the power these Rings provide proved to be too much, and Sauron's influence eventually consumed them. Over the millennia, these men slowly became more corrupted by Sauron, and as their humanity dissipated, their power grew.

Each of the Nazgûl features their own backstory, as well as their own special abilities. Though there are nine ringwraiths, Monolith says you only battle a few of them in individual encounters. During our time with Shadow of War, I checked out three of the battles against three distinct Nazgûl bosses.

Deadly Premonition And Panzer Dragoon Creators Talk The Good Life

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Deadly Premonition And Panzer Dragoon Creators Talk The Good Life

Last month, Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die creator Hidetaka Suehiro (aka Swery65), announced that his recently founded studio, White Owls, was launching a crowdfunding campaign for a new project called The Good Life. The game has you taking control of Naomi, a New York City photographer, as you investigate a murder mystery in what is billed as the happiest town in the world. In addition to solving a mysterious death, you must dive into why the residents of Rainy Woods turn into cats at night. 

At PAX West 2017, Swery invited Grounding co-founder Yukio Futatsugi (known as the creator of the Panzer Dragoon series) on stage to announce a partnership for the game. The team then debuted a trailer, which you can see below.

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An In-Depth Look At Middle-earth: Shadow Of War's Skill Tree

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An In-Depth Look At Middle-earth: Shadow Of War's Skill Tree

As the hero of Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Talion becomes stronger over the course of the story. Each time you level up toward the level 60 cap, you unlock a skill point. In addition, you can earn skill points from side and challenge missions, as well as certain collectibles. In total, completionists can expect to collect around 120 skill points, meaning there are plenty of decisions to make when looking at the skill tree.

Each skill Talion has can be upgraded by choosing from two or three unique options. For example, on one skill, I can augment it so that draining an enemy gives me more health and wrath, or I can opt to regain elf-shot ammunition. You can only choose one upgrade per perk at a time, but this level of customization allows players to craft their version of Talion to complement their playstyle.

Check out the many skills you can choose from when upgrading Talion. A handful of skills are being kept locked away by Monolith for fear of spoilers, but the vast majority of Talion's skills are represented in the list below.

In The Name Of The Tsar Impressions – Battlefield 1 At Its Best

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In The Name Of The Tsar Impressions – Battlefield 1 At Its Best

Nearly a year removed from its release, Battlefield 1 is still going strong. This past July EA reported that more than 21 million players have enlisted in the World War I shooter, and a steady stream of new maps and game updates has kept fans on the frontlines. This week, the game received another wave of reinforcements in the form of the In The Name Of The Tsar expansion.

Set along the Eastern Front, the expansion focuses on battles between the monarchies of Austria, Germany, and Russia, as well as the Bolshevik revolt that pit Tsar loyalists against the rising tide of communism. Featuring five new maps, two new Operations, five new vehicles, thirteen new weapons, and one new game mode, In The Name Of The Tsar is the biggest Battlefield expansion ever.  

In The Name Of The Tsar launched alongside a Battlefield 1 balance update that dramatically improved general gunplay, making weapons more lethal across the board. The alteration is immediately noticeable, allowing you to take down multiple enemies with one clip more frequently during ambushes, making weapons like SMGs and LMGs more viable. The welcome change rewards patient movement and tactical approaches to hot zones and rightfully punishes the Leeroy Jenkins battalions prone to recklessly charging across no man’s land. Battlefield 1 has never played better.

See How Much Borderlands Changed By Reading Our Original 2007 Cover Story

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See How Much Borderlands Changed By Reading Our Original 2007 Cover Story

10 years ago to the day, Gearbox and G.I. teamed up to reveal the developer's RPG shooter hit, Borderlands. Join us for a look back at our original story, complete with an updated cover from 2K.

A lot about Borderlands changed between our initial 10-page cover story reveal and the final release, to the point where you might not even recognize the game from our 2007 cover. Borderlands' most obvious and oft-discussed transformation was the art style, but a lot of other elements that former G.I. editor Bryan Vore discussed in the original cover story changed as well, from A.I. characters that you could customize and command, to procedurally generated loot caves. Brick, the punch-happy melee character, hadn't even been planned yet, and Roland and Lilith went through some major design changes as well (interestingly enough, Mordecai remained almost exactly the same).

What didn't change, however, was the core concept of Borderlands: mashing up the intense, fast-paced action of the first-person-shooter genre with the endless loot and progression of RPGs. The story spends a lot of time spelling out what that experience would and wouldn't entail – a reminder that the now commonplace "shooter RPG" subgenre wasn't really a thing back then.

Five Reasons You Should Check Out Localhost

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Five Reasons You Should Check Out Localhost

Localhost, a bite-sized indie game where you try to persuade computers to destroy themselves. I enjoyed it for its grim atmosphere and the surprisingly complex themes it tackles in its brief playtime. Given that Localhost is a shortish indie title that you can find over at Itch.io as part of the platform's growing library of weird and interesting games, we decided to talk about why you should give it a go.

The Concept Is Well ExecutedLocalhost is strong from the get-go. You play a network administrator who's supposed to wipe some hard drives. The problem is that the hard drives talk back. The four drives all embody very different personalities. Some of them are angry, some are sick, and others are lonely. You have to convince them to unlock their drives so you can destroy them. You have conversations with each of them, trying to understand their motives and anxieties and what they want from life. For the most part, the writing is strong, making every conversation feel riddled with tension and despair, so it's never a boring experience even though you're essentially just navigating conversational trees.

The Soundtrack Is Aces
No, seriously. Localhost is a gloomy game and the music that plays in the background, with a tune for each A.I., perfectly fits the despairing tone. The little soundtrack is fantastic little, with steady beats drowning in a sea of synth.

Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (September 7, 2017)

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Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (September 7, 2017)

This week we get edited video game screenshots, a finished month of blogs, and a call back to an intense boss fight. Let's read!

Community Blogs For August 31 – September 6:

31/31 Day 31: What Comes Next Writing every day when it isn't your job can be tough, but that's exactly what Haley Shipley did throughout the month of August (well done!). But now what? Well, for Haley, it means putting down the pen and heading to graduate school, which is good. She wants to help people through writing and video games. And as for leaving for Denver, my cousin lives there and loves it – you will too! We can't wait to see your writing come back. Good luck!

PAX'S Co-Founder On The Game Industry's Best And Worst

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PAX'S Co-Founder On The Game Industry's Best And Worst

At PAX West 2017, I talked with Penny Arcade legend and PAX co-founder Jerry Holkins aka Tycho Brahe about his favorite games, the phenomenon of PAX, his favorite developers, and the gaming landscape of the last decade. Chatting with Holkins was a blast, and I hope you enjoy it too – read on for some surprises!

GI: Let’s start off hot, what’s your favorite Penny Arcade strip of all time?

JH: There’s so many. So many strips like thousands of strips now and it’s like I can’t claim to like all of them equally. So which is the one I want to leave all my wealth to? There’s one from a very long time ago about the Earth having been taken over by a space-faring race of malevolent dogs called the Caynid (sp?) and I have a soft spot for that one. But there are so many I could name…The dark truth is that generally speaking I forget a strip as soon as we’ve done it, I’m always thinking about the next comic.