Complete Challenges with Victor Vran

At first glance Victor Vran looks like another entry in the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series of action RPGs, but in reality it’s a very different kind of animal. While there are similarities when it comes to the faux-Gothic seriousness of the story, the overall look of the game and the reliance on pop-culture references for humour, the way the two games play is very different. Victor Vran is about combat, not about character building. There are no classes, no skill trees or unlockable abilities. All skills are tied to equipment. What the eponymous character wears, wields and equips directly affects the way he functions.

Victor Vran is an itinerant demon hunter, visiting the town of Zagoravia to meet a friend. As luck would have it, not only does Vran’s friend not make an appearance, it transpires that not only is Zagoravia infested by demons, the undead and other assorted beasties, it’s actually something of a trap for demon hunters. Why? That’s something for you to find out. It’s all very serious to the point of being camp, but ultimately the story is redundant thanks to the way the levels are designed. It’s a game about completing challenges rather than a game about story. Each new map contains a number of achievements, each of which is rewarded with gold, XP or gear upon completion. Kill 50 monsters without taking damage, destroy 200 pieces of pottery, don’t use Demon powers, kill X number of monsters with Y weapon – you know the drill. It’s a very simple mechanic but it makes you want to play better and experiment with powers and weapons, something that is incredibly easy to do.

Rather than having specific skills, Victor Vran instead has access to the skills of the weapon he is currently wielding. A giant hammer might have splash damage for a normal attack and ajumping attack and a charge attack as special abilities, whereas a rapier has a fast combo base attack, and a dash and bleed for specials. After a few levels, Victor can equip two weapons that he can switch between, giving ample opportunity to experiment with attacks and combos. In addition to weapons, Vran can also equip Demon Powers, special abilities that must be charged by killing multiple enemies before use. These powers include damage shields huge magical attacks and the like and are dropped by powerful enemies.

Rather than skill points, Victor Vran instead features Destiny Cards, magical Tarot style cards that gift the demon hunter with passive bonuses and abilities, such as a small healing effect based on the amount of damage he does, or a bonus to critical strike chance. Each card has a point value ensuring that Victor has to equip an assortment of cards and not simply the best. Combat is fast, smooth and addictive and the challenge structure gives ample scope for replayability. Victor Vran might not be the deepest game out there and the action can get repetitive, but it is hugely polished and a great deal of fun. DANIEL WILKS

Rocket League Multiplayer

Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, can be a little daunting. Seeing a player being able to make accurate shots on goal, juggle the ball or balance the ball on the roof of the car and “dribble” it towards your goal really shows you your own relative skill level, but unlike many other competitive games Rocket League doesn’t seem to have the kind of ultra-competitive community that makes new players feel unwelcome. Part of this may have to do with the games rather absurd premise, but it also has to do with the fact that in any game other than 1v1, even the most inexperienced player can contribute in some way. In a team of three it’s perfectly acceptable to have a player roaming about like an idiot trying to simply get a touch on the ball.

While there are undoubtedly some strategies for how best to shoot a goal, Rocket League doesn’t have the kind of in game knowledge requirement that makes other competitive online games – mobas for example – so difficult for new players to pick up and play, not to mention be accepted by the community. For those who are ultra-competitive and want to play with a set team against the greatest competition available, there are ranked matches and a leaderboard letting you know who is at the top of the heap, but for everyone else there are a number of online and offline modes. Choose the number of players a side, from one to four and wait for the server to kick you into a game. Then it’s a matter of showing your skill, or lack thereof for five minutes, get your XP and find another game. The servers are nice and full (there were nearly 80k players online at the time of this writing) so there’s very little in terms of down time between games, but if the servers are down for some reason, or you’re having trouble with your internets there are also single player modes that pit you and up to three AI allies against an equal number of bots. The basic difficulty setting is pretty terrible, but the higher difficulty levels actually pose a decent challenge and are good for honing your skills.

A full seasonal mode is also available against AI bots, giving the game a definite soccer feel offline. A handy training mode also instructs you as to the basics when it comes to defending the goal, being a striker and pulling off aerial shots. With the exception of the 1v1 duels which prove to be uninspiring unless both players are equally good or bad at the game, Rocket League is a pure pleasure. It’s a perfect example of how a simple, if ludicrous idea well realized can make for a truly memorable experience. The lack of bells and whistles or extraneous rules outside of the main game modes indicate how strong the core experience is. It’s easy to pick up but has one of the longest, steadiest learning curves in modern gaming, with each subsequent match improving your ability a little (a very little in my case), teaching you new ways to touch the ball or stymie an opponent. For a game predicated on every match using the same rules and every player being on the same level when it comes to in game advantage the variation between individual matches is enormous.

No two play alike, and due to the fact that nobody has discovered any exploits or cheap tactics as yet, there is no foolproof strategy for play aside from having an experienced team. Instead what you get is five minute bouts of ridiculous fun.

Clash Royale: The New Mobile Hit

Supercell is known for creating very popular mobile games. A success story, the company has made tens of millions off titles such as Clash of Clans or Boom Beach. In these games, a player creates a base to defend, while attacking enemy bases using trained troops. Thus, the model has two sides: attacking and defending. However, these two roles cannot be played simultaneously – one can only attack or defend at a time. However, Supercell has just bridged this gap with the release of a new game: Clash Royale.
This title has an initial similarity to Clash of Clans, with the same artwork and characters. However, gameplay is completely different from its predecessor. Clash Royale has two players battling in real time, rather than one playing and one being offline. A battlefield exists between the two players, who each have three towers. One of these towers is the so-called “crown” tower, which is the central object of the game. If one player can destroy the other’s crown tower, they win the game. However, victory can also be attained if one has destroyed more towers than their opponent before the game ends. Attacking is done by placing troops on one’s own side of the arena, where they continue by crossing over the dividing line into the enemy’s territory. Troops can be placed for defense as well, to assist the towers in fending off rushes.

The amount of troops each player can place is limited by the amount of elixir they hold, which regenerates naturally. The placement of a troop reduces the player’s elixir count, so one must to be watchful of their elixir, and conserve it appropriately. The types of troops one can use depends on their deck; one can field eight unique cards per game, while their “hand” only consists of four cards. Each card has its own specialty. Some are best at defeating tanks, while others produce splash damage to destroy large numbers of troops at once. This creates an abundance of strategy – players have to decide which troop is best for the current situation, while also watching their elixir level. If they are wasteful, their elixir will run out and they will watch helplessly as the enemy’s rush hacks away at their towers. Play smart, and one can gain the upper hand, edging towards victory. Cards can be upgraded, using a system similar to Clash of Clans; gold collected from winning games and opening chests can be used to increase the strength of troops. Thus, players get more powerful the longer they play.

Clash Royale Gems?

This can be sped up with the purchase of gems from the store or using a cheat, read about Clash royale cheats. In order to retain competition, there is a ranking system where wins lead to trophies, and players attempt to make their way to the highest arena (dictated by trophy count). As for peer-to-peer interaction, a clans system exists where allies can help each other by donating cards and giving advice. Overall, this new game fits the Supercell reputation of producing quality, highly re-playable titles. Although Clash Royale may be different in gameplay, it exceeds the prowess of its predecessors.

Rocket League

I am rubbish at Rocket League. Genuinely terrible. Most of my matches are something akin to watching an under six soccer team play. There’s a lot of running around in random patterns trying vainly to touch the ball with whatever flailing limb has the longest reach interspersed with moments of stillness and confusion. Of course, I’m playing a game of PC car football but you get the picture. I’m genuinely terrible at the game, so much so that I think with enough practice and time I could only progress to being really bad. But it doesn’t matter. There is a competitive spirit at the core of Rocket League but so far that doesn’t seem to boil over into the actual experience. It’s ridiculous, fast and most importantly fun, win or lose. It’s a sports game that boils down the appeal of sports without featuring any of that actual sporting crap.

The core concept of Rocket League is beautiful, simple nonsense. Rocket cars play football in an enclosed arena. All of the corners are rounded allowing the cars to climb walls if need be and a huge goal at either end of the field beckons the massive ball. No matter how skilled a gamer you are, your first few games are all but guaranteed to be a comedy of errors as you grapple with the surprising intricacies of the control scheme, the speed of boost, its effects on the ground and in the air, how to defensively and offensively flip the car, how to barrel roll to maintain momentum on a landing, how best to hit the ball to give it enough speed and momentum to make a shot on goal, how to defend, how to take out opposition cars.It can be a little overwhelming at first,prompting you to simply hoon around like an idiot in the hope that you can somehow bash the ball into the goal in much the same way as some people play pool – smashing the ball and hoping it finds a pocket before friction stops it rolling. If you do get the ball into the goal it explodes, because of course it does.

Even without the intricacies of control Rocket League is a blast, but when you start to get to grips with them it really comes into its own. Cars move as quickly backwards as they do forwards, so sometimes it’s more advisable to simply back up than turn, and when trying to outrace an opponent a forward flip can give you the speed boost you need to beat them to the ball. Directionality determines what the car does when jumping – flipping forwards, backwards in a vehicular approximation of a bicycle kick, spinning or performing a barrel roll. Physics are, let’s say lenient, for both the cars and the ball. Not only are all the objects rather floaty when they are in the air, players can also control the axis and angle of their movement, giving that extra level.

BioShock Infinite dev teases DLC reveal

The teaser came via Twitter, where no further information was shared, but BioShock Infinite players will be expecting the an announcement regarding a much anticipated campaign expansion for the title.

An Irrational Games rep recently revealed that the developer will unveil information on a new DLC offering for BioShock Infinite in ‘late July’.

Irrational has confirmed plans to release three BioShock Infinite DLC packs, adding “hours of additional gameplay and continue the player’s journey in the sky-city of Columbia with new stories, characters, abilities and weapons”.

Fans of the shooter have been clamoring for additional details ever since the promise of continuing “the player’s journey in the sky-city of Columbia with new stories, characters, abilities and weapons” was made.

Irrational Games boss Ken Levine said that development of the DLC was “going well”, and asked for the patience of fans since work on the DLC didn’t begin until after development of the game was complete.

Rumour: Self-publishing will also come to Xbox 360 as early as next month

This could be an exciting development. After the news earlier in the week about Xbox One allowing developers to self publish, it now appears a similar scheme is getting ready to launch for the existing Xbox 360, if one developer is to be believed.

The information -spotted by Polygon comes from FarSight Studios who were addressing fans of their pinball simulation via a post on their Steam forums.

Their game – The Pinball Arcade – was originally on XBLA, but was removed when their publisher filed for bankruptcy. Said publisher managed to eventually get out of their financial woes, but when FarSight went to them to update their game with additional content they had created during the interim, they discovered that Microsoft had removed the publisher’s license agreement.

However, according to the post, there was good news when Microsoft told them they would be able to self-publish on Xbox Live Arcade with a new program set to start in August which would allow them to re-submit and re-release the game themselves.

Microsoft remained tight lipped on the subject, only reiterating to Polygon in a statement that “We have not announced any changes to our publishing policy for Xbox 360. We look forward to sharing more about self-publishing on Xbox One at Gamescom.”

It’s likely we’ll have to wait until Microsoft’s pre-Gamescom conference for an official confirmation but if we hear anything before that we’ll let you know.


In the meantime here’s what Microsoft have said so far about self-publishing on the Xbox One.What’s your take on these developments?