Top Of The Table – Dungeons & Dragons: Storm King’s Thunder

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Just like ongoing video games such as World of Warcraft or Destiny, tabletop role-playing games are in a constant state of evolution and change. For no project is that truer than Dungeons & Dragons, the game that single-handedly led to the role-playing revolution that occurred in both video and tabletop games over the last 40 years. While numerous revised versions have released over those four decades, the designers at Wizards of the Coast have been rolling out content for the new 5th edition of the game for a couple of years now. I chatted with two of the leaders of that development team about the game’s next big release – Storm King’s Thunder.

Between the two of them, Mike Mearls and Christopher Perkins determine a great deal about how D&D’s ongoing world and story are developing, as well as how the D&D brand reaches out beyond the core role-playing game and into video games, miniatures, board games, and more. Perkins is the principal story designer, focusing on the narrative and story bibles that guide ongoing development. Meanwhile, Mearls is the senior manager for design development, a role in which he works on the big picture of D&D, and how its stories and individual projects continue to develop the game and broader brand.

A Visual History Of Gaming Hardware Revisions

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A Visual History Of Gaming Hardware Revisions

In June, both PlayStation and Xbox announced new consoles. We know that the Xbox Scorpio is a new system meant to be less of a generational leap, and more like a revision to the Xbox One. While we don't know for sure what the PlayStation Neo is, it has been heavily implied that it is also a system that's intended to be more of a revision than a next-generation system. Not much has been revealed aside from the fact that they aren't releasing this year (though Xbox One is getting a slimmer, more powerful S model in the meantime), but we do know that the consoles focus on delivering a performance boost.

Consoles have recevied revisions and upgrades since the early days of the hobby. From the NES going top-loading and the Genesis becoming a Frankenstein monster-like creation with hardware add-ons to the more cosmetic revisions of last generation, here are the ways our favorite systems in history evolved over the course of their lifetimes.

Nintendo Entertainment System

How To Pick Pikachu As Your Starter In Pokémon Go

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How To Pick Pikachu As Your Starter In Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is in full swing, and although servers have been up and down over the past few days, people can't wait to get their hands on the lovable little creatures. What you may not know is that you can pick the adorable (and popular) Pikachu as your starting Pokémon instead of Charmander, Bulbasaur, or Squirtle!

While the process is easy, it's not something you can figure out intuitively - the method is sort of a secret. Join Dan Tack, Wade Wojcik, and Kyle "Pikachu I choose you!" Hilliard as they run down the details in the short video below.

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Pro Tacktics – How To Play Pokémon Go

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Pokémon Go is much different than other titles in the series, offering an experience that dictates lots of exploring, walking around, and interaction with allied teams, opposing teams, and gyms, both at non-social and social levels.

Niantic's game comes with a lot more questions for the beginning player as it's not quite as simple as grabbing your Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle and then walking out and battling other trainers. You're going to have to hit up Pokéstops for a loot trickle, wander around looking for rustling grass to catch hot Pokémon, and eventually tackle opposing gyms while reinforcing your own with powerful Pokémon to get rewards.

Learn all about Pokémon Go in this latest episode of Pro Tacktics with Dan Tack and Wade Wojcik!

Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (July 7, 2016)

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 Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (July 7, 2016)

It was a good holiday weekend for our American readers, but it's time to get back into the swing of things with this week's edition of Blog Herding!  

Community Blogs For June 30 – July 6:   

BJ Blazcowicz Ruins Your Family Cookout Prolific blogger Thomas Loughney had me at Wolfenstein. But to be honest, this blog about a hero in a Nazi-infested alternate universe is a fun one that puts the hero in the middle of what could be a normal July 4 cookout. Except one so sad that even the grilled brats and copious amounts of refreshments could not save you. But hey, at least you know BJ will fight 'till the bitter end for your freedom.  

Evolve Goes Free To Play On PC With Significant Gameplay Changes

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Evolve Goes Free To Play On PC With Significant Gameplay Changes

When Evolve was first introduced to the gaming world, it made a huge impression at both E3 and Gamescom. Players were ready for a new kind of multiplayer that focused on cat-and-mouse chases, big boss fights, and the chance to be an overpowered monstrosity. 

Turtle Rock, which began working on the title under now-defunct publisher THQ, saw its aspirations start to crumble as Evolve neared release. A confusing set of purchase options and an overblown controversy over cosmetic DLC left gamers feeling lukewarm before they even got to try it for themselves.

Since its February 2015 release, Turtle Rock has continued to support Evolve. The game has eight more hunters than it did at launch, as well as two additional monsters. Still, many gamers saw a value mismatch, with a number suggesting Evolve would have been better suited as a free-to-play game.

Test Chamber – Exploring The Tall Grass With Pokémon Go

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Pokémon Go is not officially available in North America yet – but it has released in Australia and New Zealand, which means it is possible to start playing on Android devices.

Jeff Cork and I booted up the game and decided to leave the comfort of our air-conditioned office in order to explore the outdoors, catch a few Pokémon, visit a gym, and see how the game compares to what we experienced in the beta.

For more on Pokémon Go, you can check out our feedback from the beta. A release date for Pokémon Go in the United States has not yet yet been confirmed, but it can't be far off considering it is already available in other parts of the world.

Looking Back At The Most Dominant Sports Teams In Video Game History

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When Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, he didn't just strengthen one of the top two basketball teams in the world, he broke a video game in the process. Based on last year's player ratings, Durant slotting into the Dubs' starting five gives the team four players rated 89 or above, making them a grossly overpowered team in NBA 2K. Even if the recently crowned Cleveland Cavaliers add Dwyane Wade to their roster (as is currently rumored), LeBron and co. will have a tough time contending with the sharp-shooting/shutdown defense combo the Warriors wield.

Modern sports video games often strive to keep the competitive balance with their online modes – for every Real Madrid the opposing player could choose a Barcelona FC or Bayern Munich and stay competitive – but unless Visual Concepts severely nerfs the Warriors this just won't be possible in NBA 2K17. In real life, Golden State is absurdly overloaded with the kind of talent that could create a dynasty. Teams that dominant may be a rarity these days, but they have occasionally popped up throughout the history of sports games. Here are a handful of world-beating clubs that gave any player a run for their money. 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – R.B.I. BASEBALL (NES)

RPG Grind Time – The Underappreciated Art Of The Strategy/RPG

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It's weird, but I can't remember the first strategy/RPG I played. I'm guessing it had to be Final Fantasy Tactics since that's the earliest one that immediately comes to mind, but I didn't get hooked until the PS2 era, thanks to Disgaea and Growslanser. Later, handhelds became the premier destination for these experiences; it felt like they came out in droves for the DS and PSP. This really felt like the era where these titles were at their best, with gems like Jeanne D'Arc and Luminous Arc alongside awesome remakes, such as Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. Titles like these are near and dear to my heart, because strategy/RPGs make me think about my actions more than any other genre.

Nine Games Based On True Stories

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A lot of people struggle to stay awake during history class, but you don’t have to sit through a lecture to learn more about your world. Here are a few games that are actually based on real-world events.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30We could write a whole article about games based on World War II. Series like Call of Duty, Company of Heroes, and Medal of Honor all have games set around real WWII battles, but the Brothers in Arms series went to an extreme length to achieve historical accuracy. Road to Hill 30 was the first entry in the series and was based on the true story of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the famed 101st Airborne Division who dropped behind German lines on D-Day.


Velvet Assassin
This stealth action game from Replay Studios revolved around the life of Violette Summer, a British spy operating deep behind enemy lines during WWII who worked to undermine the Nazi war machine. The game was inspired by the life of an actual saboteur named Violette Szabo. Unfortunately, the real Violette was captured by the German army, tortured, and eventually deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp where she died.