Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Rust After Five Years


By Bixyl Shuftan

It's been over five years since my friend Nydia and I found the survival MMO "Rust." And over the years, the game has evolved and changed much as we've had our share of adventures and misadventures. Long gone are the game's first days when all the structures were on a circular road and you had to watch out for zombies and mutant animals. While much has changed, the objective remains much the same, starting with nothing but a rock and a torch in a place where so much wants to kill you from the animals to the weather to other players, you build tools, weapons, clothes to survive and a base to protect your stuff and yourself when not playing, and as the game goes on you improve what you have. In PvP areas, you also have to defend yourself from raiders. Timid players tend to miss out on opportunities. Aggressive but sensible players tend to do well. And reckless players tend to have a hard time keeping the loot they gathered before making it to a place of safety.

When we last looked at the game in Dec 2016, they had just introduced it's "component system" and introduced junkpiles which you find along the roads and at places such as the metal towers. It was about a year later in January 2018 that the development team announced they were leaving "early access," which basically stated they had determined the general course of the game and while they would continue to make updates there would be no more greatly radical changes such as the short-lived XP system. Still, a lot has changed.

Starting up is much like before. Upon appearing on the map, always on the beach as if having washed up on shore, the first thing to go is gauge your surroundings, and if there's nothing threatening nearby, look around nearby for some materials such as hemp to make some basic clothes, stone rocks for stone, and trees for wood. You'll need to make a stone hatchet, stone pickaxe, wood or stone spear, bow and arrow, floorplan, and hammer. Check the map with the "G" button to see where nearby roads, mountains, rivers, and permanent buildings are. As before, you'll need to make a base. But different locations have different advantages and disadvantages, especially in PvP servers. Ideally, you'll want a place not far away from places where you can get scrap, components, food and water, and mineable rocks. But in a PvP server, you'll generally want a somewhat out of the way location that won't be found too quickly, generally. Some players like the challenge of frustrating raiders (more on that later). And unless the server is modded, all builds are taken down at least once a month in what's become known as the "wipe."

Going back to the component system, going through the boxes and barrels, besides finding complete items, you'll also find scrap and components, such as empty propane tanks, gears, metal pipes, metal blades, springs, and more. Some items need just one of these components, such as salvaged hammers which need one metal pipe. A few need two or three kinds of components. Components can also be broken down at the recyclers at a number of locations, such as the mining outposts and supermarkets, into raw materials and scrap.

From the start you'll be able to make a number of items, such as sheet metal doors, code locks, small furnaces, primitive one-shot pistols, leather boots, and a few other things if you have the materials. When going through crates and barrels, you'll occasionally find blueprints for items such as water storage barrels, planters, and furniture. But for many items, the only way you'll be able to build them is to find the item and research it. This means finding the item to begin with, putting in in a research table, which you can either build or use the one at a few locations such as the Satelite Dish monument, and use the amount of scrap needed, which you find in small amounts going about smashing junkpiles and looting boxes. Some items need a small amount, such as leather gloves which require 20. Most will require more, such as the metal hatchets and pickaxes and the pistol bullets which need 75 scrap to learn how to build. Some items need a lot, such as armored doors, demolition charges and assault riles which take 500 scrap to research. Once an item is researched, it's used up whether it's in good condition or poor (I haven't tried researching a broken item). One can also use an amount of scrap to experiment to create a blueprint, though the results are random.

While many items you can just make anywhere if you have the materials and items handy, some need you to be next to a workbench. A level one workbench cost some wood, metal, and a little scrap, and are needed to make things such as metal hatchets and pickaxes, gunpowder, and pistol bullets. For some items such as basic rifle bullets and automatic pistols, you'll need a level two workbench which needs 500 metal, 20 high quality metal, and 500 scrap. Plus you need to be at a level one workbench. The most powerful items need a level three workbench, which needs 1000 metal, 100 high quality metal, and 1250 scrap, plus being near a level two workbench.

There's another reason to research items besides building them. With a few exceptions, unless you know how to build an item, you can't repair one in a repair bench, even if you have all the materials.

Probably the biggest change to the game since our last review is the addition of NPCs, the scientists. Identifiable in their blue radiation suits, they're found patrolling near certain junkpiles, or a few certain places like the Military Tunnels, and will shoot any player who gets too close. This means even in Player vs Environment servers the most dangerous thing out there are no longer "ninja bears" and wolves. And armed with automatic weapons, they can make short work of a poorly-prepared player. Probably the best way to take them out is a bolt-action rifle with a scope, though quick players with meds and some armor can engage them closer up. But not every NPC is hostile, at least not always. There's a Bandit Camp and a Scientist Compound that will let you in, *BUT*, you need to keep your hands free of weapons or tools that can be used as one. So much as showing a hatchet for more than a few seconds near either location will get you shot at. The Bandit camp has a gambling area in which you can wager some scrap in a chance to get more (though possibly lose what you have). The scientist camp has a vending matching in which you can trade various amount of scrap for various items.

Besides the infamous chopper, there's also a Bradley Armored Personnel Carrier. But not everyone sees it as it supposedly stays close to the Rocket Launch area and possibly the new Excavator Pit. Like the chopper, it will attack anyone in sight, and besides it's rockets and machine gun has a cannon. But it has blind spots, and a sneaky (or lucky) player can take it out with two demo charges.

Also after our last review, a new aspect to the game was introduced: maintenance. No longer will bases decay only because you're not logging on every day. They will slowly start to degrade shortly after being set up. They way to stop this is to put a certain amount of wood, stone, metal, and hi-quality metal if there are any armored parts, in the tool cabinet. The amount used up every so often depends on how big the base is and how much wood, stone and metal were used in making the floors, walls, and doors. This means that a build-minded player can't just simply keep making the base bigger and taller, or keep adding "honeycombing" to discourage raiders, but has to keep in mind much raw materials he or she can keep getting. There are of course modded servers with no decay or low decay enabled. But for most, you're going to have to keep maintaining what you build. Otherwise the place will soon decay to the point people will be able to sneak in and get your stuff, and eventually it collapses, or "rusts," away. On the plus side, if you need to be gone for several days, you can just load your tool cabinet with the needed materials to keep it going.

There are some ways of getting around besides on foot. There are motorboats that can be found about on shore. They can be pushed into the water, and require low-grade fuel to operate. Once the fuel runs out, the boat stops. They can also be used to store a few items. Boats are not indestructible, and after taking some damage will be destroyed. There are also small one-man choppers that can be found in places. They also require low grade fuel to operate. I personally found them tricky to fly, and from what I've heard can only take a few hits before they explode and the player plummets to his death. But a skilled player can use them to get to places that would otherwise be difficult. It should be noted that unless used, small helicopters will gradually decline in hitpoints until they hit zero and explode. I've had one go off just behind me when going about. While I haven't heard of anyone being hurt by a small chopper exploding this way, what can happen in a PvP area with a number of armed and nervous players nearby is obvious.

Another option for air travel are the hot air balloons lying around. They take 15 fuel to fill, and more to keep going. They also have a limited storage capacity. Once the fuel is gone, they float down. But be careful where you land as coming down on a place full of razor wire or NPC scientists will end you. For those planning on using the latter two to raid bases, there are now Surface to Air Missile batteries that can fire at player-controlled aircraft. In unmoded public servers, it won't fire on the NPC chopper, though.

The more recent way to get around is on horseback. While horses have been in the game for years, only recently could they be ridden. As of the writing of this article, all horses are approachable and have saddles. Press "E" to mount up, and spacebar to dismount. You can speed them up for a gallop, but this drains their stamina bar. If they're low on health, you can feed them pumpkins and corn for them to regain it.  For the fun of it, you can press "control" for the steed to neigh and rear up. Like boats, horses despawn after a few hours of nonuse, but you can build a hitch to keep one around. Do not put a horse indoors as it will soon die. Don't expect things to stay things this way for too long as the developers are working on a way to capture wild horses, and presumably you'll need to craft the saddles.

Temperature can be a complication as overheating means you'll dehydrate faster, being cold means you'll burn up more food, and really cold can start to lower your health. Being wet will make you even colder, and it cold areas wet clothes don't dry so quickly unless you make a campfire. Temperatures also drop at night, so if you're going through a cold area when it's sunset, you may need to stop soon and make camp. Oh, and if your swim out into deep water, temperatures will drop so you'll start to take cold damage if you're in there too long.

Speaking of water, there's now scuba gear available, facemasks, flippers, wetsuits, and the air tank. You'll need at least the air tank to go down deep without starting to drown while the masks help you see underwater, the flippers help you swim faster, and the suit helps you keep from getting too cold in the water. With the suit, you can dive down to wrecks and loosen up crates there to float to the surface and get the loot from them. There's also floating debris which you can go out either on a boat or swim out with the wetsuit, and get the loot from any boxes or barrels there.

Some of the changes are for Player versus Player aspects. In the past, the only way a raider could sneak on top was to be able to make a raid tower close enough a base, which couldn't always be done. Now there are ladders than a player without build permissions within a tool cabinet's zone can place and climb up to the top of a base and break in from the top down. No longer can builders just build high and assume their stuff stored above will be relatively safe.

Fortunately, defensive minded-players now have a defense against players: more and better traps. In the past the only traps available were wooded spikes, bear traps, and land mines that could be evaded by raiders and could end up activating on their builder. Now there are shotgun traps, flamethrower turrets, and auto turrets. The shotgun trap requires 125 scrap to learn the blueprint and 500 wood, 250 metal, two gears (less in some servers), and two ropes to make near a level one workbench. It uses the makeshift handmade shells that before were used for the simple waterpipe shotgun and eoka pistol. While it fires only directly forward, it can be placed on walls and over doorways. Flamethrower turrets use low grade fuel to spew fire within a short range, which means you can't place them in a wooden part of a base. They need 75 scrap to research and 10 hi quality metal, two pipes, two gears, and five empty propane tanks. They do make a noise when active, so a raider can hear them nearby.

Of the three shooting traps, the auto-turret is the hardest to make and research of the three, requiring 500 scrap to learn to make and needing a level three workbench to assemble the 40 hi quality metal, 1 tv camera and 1 targeting computer. But these are the deadliest and most versitile of the traps, with a long range and a 180 degree field of fire that players can use as outside defenses. They also have a "peacekeeper" mode that keeps them from firing on players without weapons showing, showing a green beam instead of a red one when this is so. While deadly, it does have some weaknesses. Close up, they also make a distinctive noise, potentially alerting raiders .With it's high rate of fire, it can run out of ammo quickly, and if a raider manages to get behind and up to it, they can just turn it off. With 1000 hit points, raiders may need rockets or explosive ammo to take them out.

Also to help slow down raiders is a new kind of door, the garage door. It takes twice as much metal to make than a sheet metal door plus two gears. But at 600 HP it has more than twice the hitpoints.

To help you get some raw materials faster, a couple tools have been added to the game. The chainsaw, when it works, will rapidly turn trees and fallen logs into wood for you.  And for anyone even remotely familiar with a few slasher movies, it's use in PvP combat is obvious. I imagine it could also be used to scare enemies away, especially if you're wearing a facemask. I say "when it works" as I have yet to get one of the darn things to work for me. What I have gotten to work is the jackhammer. This handy tool will rapidly chip away a mineable rock into ore or stone, and automatically finding the weak spots as if you were hitting the shinny spot. In places where there's a lot of rocks such as caves, a player can get a lot of material in a short time, which can come in handy in building up a base faster, or getting the material to maintain one. Players can't research jackhammers yet, but they can be repaired.

One of the more recent changes to the game is electricity, or rather electrical components such as switches, batteries, timers, pressure plates, etc. Players can keep their system powered with windmills or solar panels. While they can just be used to allow doors to automatically open, and in the future there may be sorting systems for storage. In PvP servers, a more obvious use of this is making elaborate traps. One example is a pressure plate that when stepped on opens a nearby door with a shotgun or flame trap behind it. I've seen videos made by players luring raiders to a trap base, watch as the raider realizes he's been tricked, then delivering the finishing blow. Sometimes the results are hilarious as it's pretty satisfying to see a "salty" or "toxic" player get his due. For more information on electricity in Rust, you can read this page: https://www.rustafied.com/electricity-in-rust .

With PvP servers pitting tactics of raiding versus strategies of defense, I've seen some designs of bases made to be good at resisting raiders, or at least make the cost of doing so much more effort than what's in the storage crates. Deception has also become a strategy. I've heard of players building over a hollow spot in the ground, storing stuff underneath, and making the top part look like an abandoned and decaying base. Another strategy is making a large and visible base that isn't difficult to find while making a tiny base in a more remote area hidden by trees or rocks to stash the more valuable items in. Not much is more frustrating to a raider than having spent dozens of rockets and/or demo charges and hundreds to thousands or rounds of ammo, possibly dying once or twice, only to find a loot room that's practically empty (and possibly with a note that says "Sucker!"). Raiders sometimes call these "troll bases," though more defensive players have a different idea who the trolls are.

For those wanting to know more about the game, there are plenty of youtubes about various aspects of gaming from how to build a better base to solo raiding a clan building to which server to choose (some PvP ones have somewhat less aggressive ones than others) to various details such as the monuments. You can also check out the blog at https://rust.facepunch.com/blog/ for both the latest updates as well as a glance at how the game has changed over time. You can also check out the Rust Wiki at https://rust.fandom.com/wiki/Rust_Wiki . While Rust isn't for everyone, over time it's emerged as one of the more popular and distinctive survival MMOs.

Some pictures by Spooked Dreamscape

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, June 3, 2019

Reader Submitted- Game Review: Super Animal Royale


By Aegis J. Hyena (Xymbers Slade)

Recently I saw a couple of my friends playing a game called Super Animal Royale and decided to try it out. It's a free game on Steam, in the genre of battle royale games. You take control of a little animal and wander about the map picking up weapons (a shotgun, machine gun, assault rifle, pistol, or magnum, with a desert eagle added in the most recent update) and go on to shoot the other 63 animals that are in the map along with you. Weapons are color coded for rarity, with higher rarities having faster reload times, rate of fire, and the like. There's three tiers of armor, which can be repaired by finding duct tape scattered about the map and in boxes, and you can even run over enemies in hamster balls although it has to be in a dead-on hit as far as I can see.

Matches are short and fast, so this game is excellent for killing some time with friends or just chilling out rather than being truly competitive (at least, as far as I can see). The "free" version is no different from the paid version (about $13) except you can actually equip clothes for a basic appearance -- there's no microtransactions to fast-track yourself to be better than someone else.

After each battle you gain "Animal DNA" that is used to unlock other appearances. You start with Fox, Bear, "Skullcat", Tiger, Cat, Dog and Songbird and there's more varieties every 5 levels (although I think you have to upgrade to the paid version to actually be able to use anything other than the beginning animals). No animal has advantages over another -- it's strictly an appearance choice.

Currently the matches are full of bots because the game is still getting off the ground. Lobbies before a match can hold 64 people, and if there are less than that in a lobby it populates with bots (I've seen as many as 26 people in one lobby before). You can play solo, or duo with another player; only the paid version can invite friends, if I remember right. The devs have said they'll unlock squads fully where four players can play together once more people start playing and the lobbies fill.

As of this writing, squads are open for the weekend in an attempt to drum up some interest.

If you upgrade from the free version to the paid version everything you've earned as drops for appearance editing carries over.

I like it for its cutesy style. It's a refreshing change from all the realistic gritty battle royales out there like Apex or PUBG, and I think it has the potential to be a real gem if the devs (who are active in their discord) approach it right. The community also isn't as toxic as most of the other battle royales I've seen (well, yet... this is the internet after all). I'm going to give it four dragon hoards out of five here, if only because I can't tell if it's a mobile game ported to Steam or not. It looks simplistic enough to be a mobile game, and I'm no fan of mobile games.

Addition: Aegis would later say,  "I've learned it's not a port, but I'm keeping it at four out of five to give 'room for improvement'." He would also say the four-person squad option was closing later today, so it'll be limited to solo play and two-man teams.

Aegis J. Hyena

Monday, May 27, 2019

Anthropomorphic Influences


By Nydia Tungsten

 If you look at the games of the past you will find very little in the way of anthropomorphic influence anywhere other than cartoons of the late 60's early 70's. But then it faded just a bit, then exploded, but again it was mostly confined to childrens' cartoons, you would have the rare commercial, but even there it picked up.

But in the last 15 years of gaming you can see the influence grow, I think the first mainstream MMO to introduce a character would be “World of Warcraft”with the “Dranei” also refered to a “Space Goat” by more than a few. Then they introduced the “Worgen” which were “furrier” anthros and drew some complaints about the lack of tails. They have a very angry werewolf appearance and a great back story. Then WOW added the cutesy “Pandariens” the panda race with the strong Asian influence.

  Each time they released one of these you could hear the anti furry rhetoric screamed from the rooftops! But.... the fanbase for them were there, and NOT just the furry fandom.

Then came more and more Fur based games “Amerillo” “Nekopara” “Elderscrolls Skyrim” just to name a few, and then we get into the mods available. Skyrim, one of the most popular single player games ever made, has the Khajeet right out of the gate. But with the right mods you can be a deer, a fox, a wolf, even a rabbit.

But not just Skyrim can be modded , “Left 4 Dead 2” “Minecraft” Even the game “Ark Survival Evolved” offered you a mod to be something OTHER than human. There are many many more game that are full Anthropomorphic or have partial anthro capabilities and of those that don't have available mods to suit your taste, there are more and more getting those abilities.

 And let's not forget “Second Life.” I myself belong to one of the largest furry communities, and the choice of avatars is staggering, and yes, each one has mods available. So people choice is almost limitless.

So keep an eye on future games, and see which ones you think may have got some inspiration from the furry fandom. If you know of more games not mentioned here please feel free to mention them in the comments for others to find and maybe enjoy, either way, Have fun with what ever you play and remember “I's only a game and meant to be fun so...

ENJOY!

Nydia Tungsten

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Subnautica Below Zero, Part Two


By Rita Mariner

To read the first review, click here (link).

Subnautica Below Zero has been out now since the end of January and is already causing quite a stir in the gaming community.  I have already logged over 200 hours in an Early Access game, with about 2 hours of prepared game play,  What I did, since I am running mine through STEAM, is log into the experimental option. 

In the experimental option, there are daily micro updates to the game.  Some are obvious, others are simple bug fixes.  Some of the things they have added are, without having to use Console Control 'cheats', as I call them. You have a battery charger!  I guess enough players yelled and screamed, they finally added it, along with the power cel charger.

You now have the Sea Truck, along with three out of the five planned modules for it.  Fabricator, Aquarium and Storage.  You still have to search for the fragments, for each item and it takes three fragments each, to acquire the needed blueprint. When I first saw the blueprint for the Sea Truck and what it would take to construct one, I thought the developers of the game had lost their collective minds.  After chatting with other players, I find I wasn't alone, in this opinion.  The Cab alone needs a Titanium Ingot (which you can now make) two glass, three lead and 'FIVE"  *repeat  "FIVE"  Advanced Wiring Kits! One Advanced Wiring Kit is a major investment in resources, They want "FIVE" for the Sea Truck Cab alone.  *faints* Plus the only place to get the needed Table Coral is in the Twisty Bridges area aka DEATH VALLEY!  So nicknamed by me for the abnormal number of Crashfish and Brutesharks there waiting for you.

They have finished the DEEP Twisty Bridges area.  There you can find the fragments for two of the Sea Truck modules, also some Sea Truck cab too. Plus if your extra special, you can meet the Squidshark, who will enjoy sucking a bunch of your health off you.  The other nasty down there isn't as obvious, the Spikey Plant.  I lies in wait to ambush you if get to close.  Shooting a tendril out to grab you and drag you inside to "EAT' you.  You do need to traverse the area too anyways.  Way too many valuable and needed resources down there to ignore.  I built a scanner setup down in the Twisty Bridges, just to help me find the stuff easier, plus most important QUICKER!

They have also redesigned the Cargo Rocket Island, which I approve of.  They also fixed a few annoying bugs there.  You can find a boatload of resources too around the waters of the island.  It is known as the Thermal Spires biome..  You can meet the Rock Puncher and the old favorite Mr. Bone Shark. As to the Cargo Rocket, the first one is on Alterra, but needs repair.  After that, you need to construct any new Exchanger Rockets (two titanium). You will also find a base up there, make sure to scan 'everything' inside that you can.  That is where you will get the bulk of your blueprints to build your base.

I found three other bases in the game so far just swimming around. Two have items you need to send to the Vesper.  The third one is under construction, but I did leave a beacon marking it's location, plus I got to see the new Snow Stalker beastie.  The little one is soooooo cute.   I also got a few plants I can plant once they give us something to grow them in.

The reason for so many hours is simple, the game breaks, so you sometimes have to start over to get stuff to load and or work right.  Welcome to early access.  Just make sure to pass along any problems, bugs or ideas to the developers, via Feedback.  Next major update is early April.  Can't wait.  Bwahahahahaha!

Rita Mariner

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Reader Submitted: Game Review - No Man's Sky


By Xymbers Slade/Aegis Hyena

It's been a long long time since I've written for the Newser (only reason I don't come back to Second Life is because "Why? I did what I wanted to do there" and I'm out of touch now anyway). I've been wanting to write this one for a long time for Bixyl, so here it is.

No Man's Sky has had its share of ups, downs, and zero-g moves that make the Titanic crashing about in a storm look like a mother rocking her baby to sleep. Pushed out far earlier than it should have, it met with fury from the fans, almost dropping to less than a 18% positive rating on Steam for quite some time. As I understand it, the investors knew it couldn't be done in time, pushed the company, took the money and ran (probably to another planet).

The game was marketed as being all procedural. With over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets, it marketed as everything being new and original. The problem is, is that it's a computer game. Computer games need assets. As I wrote in a steam review, "There's not enough assets on this planet (heh) to completely make it seem like the universe truly has random plants and animals on every planet."

On top of that (also copied word for word from my review), they took a concept and applied a synonym to it... while you might find an Abandoned Planet somewhere, you'll find the mostly the "same kind" of planet if you find one that is marked Airless, Dead, Desolate, Empty, Forsaken, Life-Incompatible, Lifeless, Low Atmosphere, or Terraforming Catastrophe -- one planet type, many descriptors to simulate depth even though it's the same bloody thing. Come on, devs, you can do better than that. Problem is it requires work time and money which most people don't have.

You start on a hostile world, having to find materials to power your Exosuit (Sodium, to be exact, as well as oxygen, dihydrogen, and carbon). You have a mining laser strapped to one arm, which can be upgraded over time if you find better models. You then proceed to find a crashed spaceship, repair it and take to the stars, exploring planets and warping from place to place, learning to manage inventory (the starter ship has very little room, as does your Exosuit and you need creative managing talents) while you piece together what's going on.

You start alone, and while there is a multiplayer function, I think it's more fun as singleplayer. Sometimes other players CAN warp into your system, and by default voice is activated, so you can communicate with the visitor for trade or PVP or whatever. I've only seen one visitor (because the universe is vast -- it's *that* rare that it happens) in my time playing and might soon jump into multiplayer and trade with whomever I randomly join.

The main storyline is something that revolves around something called Atlas, and the goal of the game seems to be to get to the center of the galaxy where you might be able to warp to a new one. As I selected "free explore" instead of going about on the main paths, I don't know a lot about it and have spent all 130 hours of my current game in my starting system, trading and shooting pirates.

There are three races in the universe: The Korvax (computer hivemind), the Gek (lizard-people) and the Vy'keen (reskinned Klingons). I haven't followed the lore enough to learn more about them.

As with any game of this large a scope, there are an unfortunate amount of bugs. There are more bugs in this game than there are lies coming out of most politicians these days. One bug is a "crate" bug, where you can't remove stuff (I find shutting down the game and coming back 15 minutes later wakes it up). This bug is almost 3 years old, so either the devs won't fix it, can't, or don't know how without breaking the game. Another bug is that locations you loot can only be looted once. If the game later assigns the location as a quest, the terminal is already looted and the quest can't complete. A third bug has quest "return locations" go to empty spots where there is no questgiver present to give the reward, so the quest has to be abandoned.

The opening questlines are very linear. You can't "hire randomly" -- you need to go to specific spots for specific races to join your base, wherever you decide to build it. If the quest requires you to make antimatter, and you find some elsewhere first to use it to warp to another system before you follow the steps / get the recipe for it in order to make it, it'll bug out and possibly lead to problems later.

Finally, and this thing bugs me, is that you can only have nine crates. These crates are twice your size, but only have five slots (a starting exosuit has about 25). If later you get a freighter, the crates you put there mimic the ones you have on the ground, sharing their inventories. What genius was responsible for that idea? This is the 9999th century up in space here. There should be planets that sell warehouse space!

The game is *very* pretty to look at if you're a casual kind of gamer, but like I wrote above, you'll run into repeats (especially locations) very early and very often. The grind especially in the early game will wear you down from a six foot long spear point to six inches of blunt shaft of wood, so be prepared to put in long hours. I like playing hardcore (one life, deleted save if you die) but after a few deaths on this game? Not here. The grind overpowers that of Minecraft's grind for iron and diamonds by a factor of about sixteen.

Overall, the devs got pushed too hard too fast, paid for it, TRIED to rebound (18% positive to 80% positive as of two or so weeks ago, it's back down to about 50% now) and are at least TRYING to come through on their promises. It's still not worth the $60 asking price, so I say get it if it's on sale as an impulse buy. It gets three dragon hoards out of five from me, because at least they're trying and will continue to try.

Aegis

Editor's note: When I wrote about the problems of "No Man's Sky" in Sept 2016, it looked like the game's days were numbered. It seems it's been sticking around due to enough people continuing to buy, the developers determined to redeem themselves, or something of both.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Game Review - Subnautica Below Zero


By Rita Mariner

After becoming seriously hooked on the original game of Subnautica, Unknown Worlds, is in process of developing a follow up called, Subnautica Below Zero.  The game is now out in 'early access', which means you can play it, but it is incomplete, buggy, and some stuff doesn't work. But that just means they want you to give it a whirl and provide them feedback to fix the issues and ideas for the storyline.

The game takes place on the same planet, 4546B, but in the frozen north and at a time after the crash of the Aurora.  While they have kept much of the flavor of the original game, there are some different twists and turns to the new game.  Some of the recipes to build items have changed.  Some of the old nasties are still there and they have added some new critters to study, or eat, if you play in Survival or Hardcore mode.

There are also new a different area to explore with many new and different flora to see.  Unfortunately, this being early access, almost none of it can be scanned. The types of resources available to you has changed some too, during this early access.  I can only hope they will fix some of this, during one of the regular updates, or in full release.

As to vehicles, so far, all we get are the Seaglide and if you find the Dropbox, a Hoverpad Databox, which will allow you to build the Snow Fox, hover bike.  The one drawback for the Snow Fox, it only works on land, it doesn't work on water.  So you have to be careful where you construct the hover pad.

I hear that the Cyclops and Seamoth will not be in the new game.  The PRAWN SUIT will be however.  As for a replacement submarine, I hear they are kicking around the idea of a Sea Truck.  A modular type sub,  The Cab, with different modules you can attach to it, like a train, at reduced speed and performance, but with upgrades can fix some of that.

Some of the tools and base pieces that you use to build in the original game, you don't in this version.  They are Dropboxed to you, or they are not included yet. One piece that is missing, that is driving all of the players out of our freaking minds.  NO BATTERY CHARGER!  You burn thru so many batteries in Subnautica Below Zero, it isn't funny and without a charger, you have to keep making new ones, which gets to be a PITA! It looks like there will be some new base pieces for us to construct, but of this release, they are not available yet and will probably require Titanium Ingots, which we can't make yet..

I finally got to see how a Grav Trap works, so for those players in Hardcore, Survival mode, it makes collecting dinner or water, much easier..  Who knew?  (laughing out loud!) Just hope they fix the game about certain items, before you eat, drink or harvest yourself out of existence. 

I understand they will do major updates about every 6-8 weeks, maybe minor updates more often.  Full finished version isn't due for at least a year and everything we do now is probably subject to change, so no fear of the game getting old, or stale.  So for the two hours of fairly completed game, I think it's worth the $20, I put down, knowing it has just scratched the surface and you can still explore beyond what they have semi-officially completed.  Have fun getting your feet wet and seeing new and interesting areas and critters.

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Rita Mariner

Friday, December 21, 2018

Reader Submitted: Game Review - Farm Simulator 17


by Rita Mariner

Have you ever wanted to be a farmer?  Well in real life, I had several relatives who were, so playing this new addiction, was like coming home for me.  I saw a couple of my Second Life friends playing this on line video game and finally decided to check it out, on Steam.  Farm Simulator 17 ( it is up to 19 now).  I started to play and once you figure it out, can be quite addicting.

First off the game does have a bit of a learning curve and the game tutorials suck, so don't waste your time with them.  Go up on You Tube and watch actual videos done by actual players and see how they play the game.  It will save you a lot of screaming and pulling out of fur.  Trust me!

You can play the game, either as a single player, or in multi-player, your choice, You also get a choice of maps to pick from to play on.  I have only done Goldcrest, so I have no idea what the others have to offer.  You can grow crops of 10 different types, raise livestock or doing logging, depending on the farm you pick.

You start out with a basic set of farm equipment, I have three tractors, cultivator, sower, harvester, pickup truck, tipper, a house you can't use. a silo and some sheds and out buildings. You also start out in debt, $55,000.  Each day at midnight, you are hit with vehicle maintenance, land maintenance and debt maintenance, so you better start earning some money off your 3 fields right away.

Fortunately, crops grow fast and they start you off with your first set of seeds and fertilizer, as part of your setup.  You get to pick what crops you can grow, based on the equipment you have available.  You can't grow all the crops available, some require specialize and expensive equipment.

Now if you decide to start off on Goldcrest map, there is an interesting feature to that map.  100 Gold Nuggets!  If you find all 100 Gold Nuggets, the game will credits you with 1 Million in game dollars.  To help you out, you only have to find the first 10, once you stumble across them, which really isn't all that hard.  The first one is in your Chicken Coop.  The other 90 will pop up on the map and you just have to move to them to collect them.  Most are fairly easy to collect.  Others are more difficult, you will need one of your tractors, so you will have a means to climb up to get to the roofs of several of the buildings where the nuggets resided.

How you spend you Million Dollars, once you get is pretty much up to you.  I spent mine, paying off my debt and then buying all the Baling equipment I would need. Also picked up a 4th field and added a couple of upgrades to my land, to boost my income.  Like Bee houses and Solar panels.

You will find as you play,  you will have a lot of work to do, more than you would like, but the game has provided you with an assist, or Helpers.  Remember this though, the Helpers are dumber than a box of rocks.  So they can handle only the simplest of tasks.  Plowing, Cultivating, Sowing, Harvesting anything else and they look at you funny. Also they are easily blocked by anything and can't figure a way around it.  So you will have to do many tasks yet, yourself. As well as, bailing out helpers that get blocked.  The one advantage Helpers have over you.  They can work in the dark!

As you play, you will unlock achievements, I have completed about half of mine, going broke is one I doubt I will make, since I always have a positive bank balance.

Plus to make extra cash, in between harvesting your stuff, you can look at the map and see what other fields around you need work and hire yourself out to them for money..  Now these other job are time time sensitive, so you need to complete them within the required time, which usually isn't that hard.  I usually get them done ahead of time.  I not only get the regular payment, I get a time bonus.  Also the more you work a field around you, if and when you decide to buy it, the cheaper it is.

So if you looking for a game that is relatively slow paced, yet has some challenge to it, Farm Simulator 17 or 19 might fit your bill.  It's a nice way to spend a couple hours, racing around a field at 6mph!

Rita Mariner