The Antlion Modmic (See it on Amazon) is a unique microphone in thatinstead of an all-in-one headset solution, or a stand-alone microphone you attach to a mount, it’s designed for you to attach it to a headset instead. It plugs into your computer (or anything really) via a 3.5mm analog plug. If you already have a set of headphones you’ve fallen in love with, this is a great way to add microphone functionality. But if you own any other gaming headset, even something as simple as the one included with your console, it’s a tough sell.
One of the first people you meet in Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a woman with midnight black hair and a dress torn in intentionally strategic locations. You’ll then learn that she’s a version of Shelob, a giant deadly spider creature. The game explains her mysterious human form in time, and while fans of Lord of the Rings lore might have trouble embracing this unique interpretation of Tolkien storytelling, it shows that Shadow of War is a game that’s willing to take risks with its source material. And, in a way, this example represents the full arc of the game: off-putting in the beginning, disappointing in the end, but seeing how they explain it all is an exciting ride.
Like its predecessor, Shadow of War is populated by powerful Orc Captains that have specific strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits defined by the game’s Nemesis system. The number of fears, special abilities, and beneficial powers are much more robust than the first game, making it important to find a strategic approach to taking down some of the game’s more powerful foes. The amount of information you get about each Orc once you’ve revealed its vulnerabilities can feel almost overwhelming, but you quickly adapt to the game’s shorthand and what traits to look out for.
Your primary goal is to raise an army against the forces of Mordor by recruiting every Orcish leader you meet. These characters strike the perfect balance of humor and absurdity against the dull seriousness of the human cast, and you’ll wish the quirkier denizens of Mordor could be constant companions instead of the brief vignettes that flash across the screen when you either kill or are killed by one. One especially colorful character I met was an Orc prophet who yelled at me about some serpent cult he was a part of; I ended up killing him, but it left a lot of questions in my mind about how Orc religions work.
Most of your time in Mordor is spent killing Orcs. Building off the first game, Shadow of War has a free-flowing combat system that lets you dominate creatures one-on-one but still stay in control when surrounded by a dozen or more adversaries. That momentum slows when too many things are happening on-screen at once, though. When an enemy captain is ready to be coerced over to your side an icon above his head turns green. Incoming attacks can be countered following a flashing prompt, and you have a slew of different abilities to take out legions of enemies. But the chaos of battle can make targeting opponents frustrating.
That’s a shame because Shadow of War’s most memorable moments revolve around its large-scale Siege battles, where you take over Orc-controlled fortresses using your own loyal followers. With an army of Orcs at your back, both pressing the offensive on a castle and protecting it are equally exciting, and the final entrance into the main hall of a fortress for the final fight feels as reverent and grand as walking into a towering cathedral in real life.
In the moment, these tense battles are the core of the Shadow of War experience, but the overarching narrative outside of the broad “tour Mordor, fight Sauron’s forces,” feels directionless. Part of that’s because you don’t spend enough time with any secondary characters (except for Gollum, whose brief appearance is somehow still too long). Characters you meet in the game have relatively short asides that range from the absolutely boring “save some Gondorians” to the furiously funny “learn how fight pits work with Bruz the Orc.” It’s hard to get invested in the stories of less interesting characters, and once you’ve completed a few of their quests, they disappear forever anyway. And, like most open-world games, after you’ve spent a couple hours running around collecting trinkets, it makes an NPC’s entreaty about an imminent enemy invasion feel less immediately pressing.
But, narrative problems aside, some of the setpieces are breathlessly fun. You ride a drake, team up with some ridiculous Orcs, fight an imposing, flame-winged Balrog, battle the Ringwraiths. It’s a greatest-hits compilation of the most bad-ass moments from The Lord of the Rings. After a slow-building introductory act, the game gains momentum as it crashes toward what seems like a final standoff against the forces of evil. And this fight addresses criticism of the previous game; it’s an epic multi-stage battle that does still have QTEs, but no more than the ones you find while playing through the game normally.
Bafflingly that battle isn’t the end of the game. Shadow of War continues on, but with its momentum drained completely. What should be an exciting climax instead descends into a tedious slog for a cutscene that doesn’t quite feel worth the time and effort. In the game’s actual final act, you cycle through the four fortresses you explored previously for a total of 20 more defending siege battles. If you haven’t upgraded the Orcs you met early in the game–and up until this point, there was no reason to–you have to replace and upgrade your entire retinue of Orcs to match this more powerful invading force.
It’s an entire section that should have been cut or severely truncated, and playing through the repetitious levels felt like padding meant only to make the game last longer.
The enemies you face level up with each encounter, so you’re also forced into upgrading each castle over and over again, either by building up your current Orc army or finding new fighters and replacing the old. This Sisyphean quest has no corresponding significant characters to keep you company or explain why it’s important to tackle the defense missions in the order you do. It’s not even clear, exactly, why you want to do them at all.
More than once I felt like giving up on this quest thinking I’d stumbled onto some optional side content that was clearly only made for obsessed completionists. But enduring on, I found that finishing every stage unlocks the final cutscene and credits. It did not feel worth it.
It’s an entire section that should have been cut or severely truncated, and playing through the repetitious levels felt like padding meant only to make the game last longer. But although the game’s final act is the most egregious, there are several other systems that Shadow of War fails to justify.
Almost every item and Orc has some type of associated rarity (which scales from Common to Rare to Epic to Legendary), and with higher rarity comes more abilities. For Orcs, this means that they have additional, more powerful attributes that aren’t available elsewhere. For weapons, it includes perks like “48% chance that a headshot lights enemies on fire.” The buffs are useful, but the effects aren’t so amazing that you’d keep a significantly underpowered weapon or Orc just for its benefits. It feels like a system tacked on purely to add another set of items to collect.
The menu systems for your Orcs and weapons is the part that feels most overburdened. It’s grating that there’s no way to sort or search through your own army if, say, you need an Orc with a cursed weapon and an immunity to beast attacks to take out an especially tricky opponent. But to find out what skills are active based on your current weapon loadout, you have to go to each item in your menu and read up on what you have equipped. There’s no overview screen that lists out what effects you currently have active.
Like so many of the other game’s systems, the storefront feels less predatory and more like a cluelessly unnecessary addition.
And buried within the weapon screens is yet another separate item menu, this one for gems. Gems are stat-boosters you find throughout the game that give each item yet another upgrade like increasing the chance that enemies killed with that weapon drop in-game currency or a 12.5% increase to the amount of experience you earn. They’re helpful, but managing the upgrades for yet another set of items that are nested as a menu within your own equipment amounts to busywork.
Even with the Russian nesting doll of item menus, the most initially intimidating and complex of Shadow of War’s systems is its skills menu. There are six primary skill tracks with points that have to be unlocked in order, and each skill has a separate unlockable set of 2-3 sub-skills (only one of which can be activated at any time). The ability grid is so dense and spread out that it’s a chore to read through and decide what to put your points into every time you level up. And reallocating in the middle of battle (say if you want an area of effect attack to shoot out flames instead of poison), involves too much work and slows down battle too much to be practical.
As an example of how overwrought with options the skill system is, there’s an upgrade that unlocks the ability to “collect items by walking over them.” In normal play, you actually have to manually push a button to pick up every item you come across. It’s an ability worth prioritizing when you’re looking to spend skill points, but it’s nonsensical that such a basic quality of life improvement isn’t just the default way item collection works.
Despite the bloated feel of its systems, you earn all of these skill points, weapons, and Orcs at such a frantic pace that the game doesn’t feel dragged down in the same way as it does by the final act.
Going beyond skills and menus, one of Shadow of War’s more controversial additions is its online storefront where you can pay real-world money to earn loot boxes that have guaranteed high-rarity Orcs and equipment. One early quest in the game gives you a small sum of the paid currency to purchase some loot boxes, but you can also buy them from the store using an earned in-game currency called Mirian.
In our experience with the game, loot boxes purchased with in-game currency only earned us Epic tier rewards, instead of the paid currency’s guaranteed Legendaries. [Editor’s Note 10/6 10:50 AM: It is possible to earn Legendary rewards from loot boxes bought with in-game currency, though they occur with less-frequency than Epic rewards.] However, the difference in quality between the Legendary and Epic Orc rewards, in practice, isn’t substantially different. And after finishing the game, even with buying a dozen or so 1,200 Mirian loot crates over the course of my adventure, I was still left with over 70,000 Mirian in reserve for buying plenty of more loot boxes. It’s also possible for Legendary items and Orcs to appear randomly in-game, so paying real money only serves as a guaranteed way to get one. Like so many of the other game’s systems, the paid storefront feels less predatory and more like an unnecessary addition.
And that addition sums up several of Shadow of War’s additions–things like the storefront and the menus and loot system don’t make the game terrible, it just would’ve been better without them. It tries to be larger than its predecessor, there are more abilities, more weapons, more Orcs, yet it leaves you wanting less. But at its core, it’s a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth. I just wish it had known when to stop.
Editor’s note: GameSpot has updated the penultimate paragraph in this review to provide further clarification on the types of drops available through paid loot boxes. – Oct. 5, 2017, 5:33 PM PST
After last week’s kidnapping it appeared that the conflict between the Leaf and the Mist was ready to come to a head, but this week’s episode decides to take things slow with a minor battle and a major story dump about Mist swordsman in training Kagura. These story revelations have big implications for the future of this field trip, but long-winded scenes result in a slow-moving episode that unfortunately leaves all the action for next week.
Having just learned of Denki’s kidnapping, we find our heroes staring at the ransom note scrawled in blood on their hotel window. Hoping to resolve the issue without adult assistance, the Leaf ninjas recruit Kagura to their cause and set off to rescue Denki. When they encounter the Mist ninjas at the docks, I was expecting an epic showdown, but the reality is a disappointing montage of the Leaf ninjas lazily dispatching the Mist punks. Even their leader Hachiya can’t do much, and spends more time goading Kagura about his past than he does fighting him, only to be sent packing in embarrassing fashion yet again.
Apologies for the day-after review, no advance screener was available.
Hey, so “They Who Hide Behind Masks” was a pretty good time at the Gotham multiplex. I mean, if you can overlook the silly Myrtle Jenkins storyline (which facilitated Edward’s freedom and revealed that he CAN’T RIDDLE NOW!) and the fact that Bruce knew who Barbara Kean was but seemed to have no memory of her being the one up on stage with him and Jerome, acting all Harley, when the Maniax attacked the charity ball and tried to kill him. Still, I forgive those two things because Detective Harper (who’s actually from the comics) transferred in from “the 3-5.”
FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch is a tough game to categorize. When compared to the likes of FIFA’s past PS Vita, 3DS, and other mobile versions, it’s easily the best portable FIFA ever made. But compared to its current console cousin–FIFA 18 on PS4 / Xbox One–it’s lacking features and much of the shine that makes that version so appealing.
On the pitch, it actually replicates the other editions’ gameplay pretty well. Dribbling feels responsive, crosses are accurate, and overall match speed is faster than on PS4 / Xbox One, a change that better suits the Switch’s immediate pick-up-and-play sensibilities. Commentary is also just as impressive, and animations look as smooth as they do on current-gen (though you’re better off not looking at the cardboard cut-out crowds). Shots don’t pop like they do on PS4 and Xbox One, and the omission of player instructions is a frustrating and bizarre one. But playing a match of FIFA 18 on Switch is an enjoyable experience.
The problems arise when you consider the game as a package. FIFA’s Switch port is missing Pro Clubs and The Journey, meaning the only options to play offline are the bog standard Kick Off and aging Career Mode. I say “aging” because the Career Mode here is not the one included in FIFA 18 on PS4 and Xbox One–it’s more like the Career Mode seen in FIFA 16. It does not include the latest additions of dynamic news clips or interactive transfer negotiations because–like The Journey–they are powered by the Frostbite engine, which FIFA 18 on Switch does not use. With such a faithful recreation seen on the pitch, it’s disappointing that attention to detail is not reflected off it.
This means that, despite feeling good when you’re in a match, FIFA 18 doesn’t really offer much to do when you’re not connected to the internet. The Journey in particular would’ve been a perfect fit for a portable FIFA–a match on the way to work, another on the way home–but its omission leaves the only proper mode, save for the aforementioned Career Mode, as Ultimate Team.
FUT is, again, replicated well–it looks and plays like the real deal, and contains much of the live content the other versions boast, like Team of the Week and SBCs. However, once again, the Switch edition is missing the mode’s big new feature for this season, FUT Squad Battles. Ironically, Squad Battles are the feature that would have fit this version of Ultimate Team best–as a single-player portion, it would’ve been perfect to play a couple of matches while on the bus and have the game sync when I get home. Unfortunately, they’re missing from this version, and you can’t even access FUT’s menus when you’re not connected to EA’s servers. Of course, you can play it when you get home, but you’ll be playing a version of Ultimate Team missing many of the PS4 / Xbox One versions’ innovations from the past couple of years.
One advantage the Switch version has over the home console edition is the ability to play with a friend while on the go. FIFA 18 supports single Joy-Con play, meaning I was able to play football on my Switch against my brother on the way to an actual football match this weekend. It works, but I always felt l was struggling against the controls–fewer buttons and only one stick means there’s no way to use finesse shots, threaded through balls, knuckle shots, manual defending, skill moves, or driven passes. EA has come up with a clever workaround to allow you to knock the ball ahead–double tap the right trigger rather than using the absent right stick–but it’s a shame similar solutions haven’t been found for the other missing moves. It remains a convenient way to play a quick match against friends while on the go, but you’ll be fighting to get both Joy-Cons back before long.
Unfortunately, the ability to play with friends is not reflected in FIFA 18’s online offering on Switch. While you can play online–in FUT or in the standard Seasons mode or a single match–there is no way to matchmake with friends unless they happen to be in the same room as you and have their Switch on them. It’s a glaring omission, and doesn’t do justice to the community EA has cultivated so well on Xbox and PlayStation.
FIFA 18 on Switch delivers some enjoyable soccer when on the pitch, but without Pro Clubs and The Journey, and in restricting all access to FUT when you’re not online, it shoots itself in the foot. Being able to play FIFA on the go or with a friend is gratifying, and if you’re happy to just play through Career Mode for the next year, then this port will satisfy your needs and is the best mobile FIFA you can buy, but compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, this port is inferior in every other way.
Blue is one of the most recognized companies in the USB microphone world, and the Yeti (See it on Amazon) is one of the most popular microphones for podcasters and streamers due to its excellent recording capability and affordable price tag of about $129. It’s a midrange model in the company’s lineup and is available in several colors, so it comes in silver, black, white, or “cool gray,” as the company puts it. If you’re just interested in recording vocals there’s also a Yeti Studio model which is $20 more and comes only in silver, but includes software from PreSonus and advanced studio vocal effects from iZotopean. Let’s get into the details:
With the launch of the SNES Classic, Star Fox 2 gets the official release that was originally planned for 1995-96. The game was finished but ultimately scrapped during this transitional period for game consoles, when both the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were on the brink of delivering richer 3D experiences. It’s a game that’s hard to evaluate in 2017 without contextualizing it in the time it was created. But out of its 22-year limbo, Star Fox 2 is both an expression of technical limitations of the SNES platform and laudable modern game design.
At the start of a playthrough, you choose two pilots to embark on the campaign. The original cast of anthropomorphic critters–Fox, Slippy, Falco, and Peppy–returns with two new female characters in Miyu and Fay. Each character has their own special item, shield strength, speed, and ship design. The overworld map is where you swap between your two pilots, in case one is low on shields and needs a break between battle sequences. This approach detracts from the feeling of camaraderie present in the squadron-style premise of past Star Fox games, especially since you engage in fights as a duo or on your own. It does, however, make you responsible for managing characters’ statuses.
Star Fox 2 breaks from tradition as it’s structured more as a game of base defense than a pure on-rails shooter. The overworld map operates in real time as you send your pilot duo off to defuse a multitude of interplanetary threats in the embattled Lylat system. And the core of the game is to take down Andross (again) before Corneria reaches 100% destruction at the hands of incoming forces. In order to get to Andross, you repel attacks in familiar locations like Macbeth, Titania, and Fortuna. His cronies and high-ranking pilots Star Wolf, Pigma, and Leon will intercept you at times; it’s in these instances where you engage in free-flowing 3D dogfights in space.
Free-roam planet missions differ slightly and offer Star Fox 2’s best moments. Your Arwing ship can transform into a land-based walker. Doing so causes the game to switch to manual acceleration and an alternate aiming system. It’s a showcase of rudimentary third-person shooting that feels surprisingly contemporary, especially with the 16-bit era as your frame of reference. The L and R shoulder buttons control your aim and the D-pad controls forward and backward movement and strafing. Swapping between air and land vehicles as you take down planetary bases is a highlight and peaks in the final level when the game opens up branching paths. But like the game itself, these moments come to a close very quickly.
Each run of the campaign is built around obtaining a high score, and making it to the final stage takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Since actual battles eat up real time, and the ultimate goal is to take down Andross before Corneria is destroyed, you’re encouraged to accomplish everything as soon as possible; plus, you get more points for faster mission completion. It’s a deliberate design decision, but it sacrifices the more intricate boss fights seen in the first Star Fox, which results in a game that feels too thin overall.
To the developers’ credit, the systems in place that make up the base-defense segments in Star Fox 2 instill a valuable sense of player agency. You decide where to go, what to defend, and how to juggle multiple threats; it’s in contrast to the distinct paths you choose in other Star Fox games. You’d be hard-pressed to repel every enemy, and you have to put a bit more foresight into your approach through the campaign, despite its brevity.
However, the biggest factor that holds back Star Fox 2 is its poor technical performance. While we can boil it down to the lack of system resources the original developers had to work with on the SNES, knowing this doesn’t negate the fact that the sluggish framerate and rudimentary visuals make dogfights laborious. You’ll find yourself mindlessly following target indicators since it’s nearly impossible to track enemy ships in the game. It’s hard to enjoy the pace of fights when Star Fox 2 runs almost like a slideshow.
Star Fox 2 can be praised for the ambitious structure that seemed to be ahead of its time, but the enjoyable moments are hamstrung by modern standards and expectations. Framerate issues and tech that wasn’t suited for this style of game prevent Star Fox 2’s vision from being fully realized, but it’s an important piece of gaming history kept alive with an official release. This game alone isn’t the driving force to seek out an SNES Classic, and you’ll want to consider the more time-tested games in the package.
My Hero Academia’s “Origin” episodes have proven to be some of its best. “Izuku Midoriya: Origin” was the title of the solid series premiere, and “Shoto Todoroki: Origin” stands head and shoulders above the rest as MHA’s greatest episode yet. As such, I went into “Katsuki Bakugo: Origin” with insurmountably high expectations. While it doesn’t quite reach the emotional heights of Season 2’s aforementioned Todoroki-focused episode, “Katsuki Bakugo: Origin” comes impressively close, delivering a beautifully animated and thrilling conclusion to the practical exams that propels Deku and Bakugo’s rivalry in an exciting new direction.
Tooth and Tail is a bizarre cocktail of a dozen great ideas. It’s a minimalist RTS that tosses out complex tech trees in favor of action-packed but accessible play. It’s set vaguely in Eastern Europe in the 1910s, with both the Russian Revolution and World War I in full swing. Playing up the grim tumult of the era, Tooth and Tail also casts itself with all manner of cute–though ragged and crestfallen–critters. With so many disparate items, it’s a wonder that Tooth and Tail manages to work at all, but it excels with but a few minor blemishes.
Superficially, Tooth and Tail looks the part of a standard RTS, but familiarity with genre staples isn’t required. Yes, you still have resources and units, and a “base,” of sorts, but the similarities end there. Instead of using a cursor to drag and select groups of units, for example, you play a sole critter twirling your team’s battle standard. Tooth and Tail simplifies a notoriously complex genre into a few fundamental, direct rules.
You need a gristmill to build farms. Farms are used to grow food. Food is spent on units, making more farms, and claiming more mills to make more farms. Before each match, you pick up to six units you want to be able to use from a pool of 20. You can only build near a gristmill. Finally, you marshal units to destroy your enemies’ mills.
That simplicity is marvelous. Tooth and Tail distills strategy games to its essentials–building out armies, growing stronger, and the dynamic, puzzle-like nature of play–and gets rid of nearly everything else. That means ludicrous actions per minute no longer matter.Randomly-generated maps keep others from gaining an unfair advantage with terrain knowledge. The playing field is almost always as level as it can be, leaving commanders to compete on raw strategic/tactical prowess.
Instead of building out specialized scout units and sending them to collect telemetry on the map, your commander does it on their own. The cost, of course, is that if you’re scouting, you can’t build because you wouldn’t be near the mill. You can’t attack on your own, either. This keeps you from rushing or spawning tons of machine-gun-toting squirrels near your foes’ farms and claiming victory. You can, however, burrow back at any time to queue up more soldiers before heading out again. This guides a core pace to the game–rush out and study before retreating to build. It’s a simple pattern that’s welcoming to new players.
Strategy veterans may balk and think that this takes streamlining a step too far. After all, without unit upgrades and heavy micromanagement, it would seem that there’s not much else you can do, leaving skilled folks idle and bored. That issue doesn’t come up much in play, though. Because maps are random, and you never know which six units other players will bring, most start off with similar levels of knowledge. Advanced players will, of course, have a deeper understanding of which units can cover for what weaknesses, but they won’t be able to use that to counter pick either the roster or the map. Instead, their play becomes much more reactive. They have to scout like anyone else, and they have to adapt to whichever assortment of woodland animals hit the map.
All this does not make expertise meaningless. When the only thing under your control are which parts of the map you can see, what you’re building, and whether or not you’re advancing or retreating, each of those choices carries much more weight. Food also isn’t unlimited, and unless you were nabbing territory in the early game, you’ll run dry (and starve) in short order. This keeps the pace brisk, and, when combined with the limitations inherent in controlling one commander vs. having a nigh-omniscient view of the map means that the action almost always hits at the edge of what feels manageable. Tooth and Tail supports up to four players, and when everyone’s in, things get chaotic. With all four of you fielding armies of tiny, skittering squirrels and badgers or hawks and owls, things get messy fast. And, this is where Tooth and Tail begins to shine.
Short, mediocre campaign aside, there’s little here to muck with the essential beauty of this streamlined RTS.
As mentioned, at any point there could be 20 different units on the field. Unlike your StarCrafts or your Sins of a Solar Empires, though, your arrangement of units are unique each round. You pick your commander–who will hail from one of four factions–and then you select your roster. Neither option has any impact on the other, but which critters you pick will have a huge impact on strategy.
Unit types range from defensive artillery to flamethrowers and run the gamut of classic military roles. Medics, transports, gun nests, heavies, engineers, etc. get their due. But big decisions hinge on being able to read the lay of a battle in an instant. You only have a couple of buttons with which to command your troops. One order will have them pressing forward, another will pull them back. The ability to understand, at a glance, which armies have what units and who has the advantage is essential. Lacking the simple visual cues of a uniting theme or aesthetic as in other strategy games, Tooth and Tail has to make each of these figures clear and recognizable in the heat of battle. And, thanks to stellar art and crisp animations, that’s never an issue. Each unit has its own heft–or lack thereof–and they’re all recognizable by silhouette with the possible exception of a handful of the smaller scrappers. All you need do, then, is worry about a small band of critical choices.
Because of that purity, playing with a controller feels as tight if not better than a standard mouse and keyboard. The analogue stick is a touch more responsive than otherwise limiting WASD keys. This also makes it one of the few games to nail real-time strategy on the console. And, like with Pikmin, the relative straightforward approach to tactical challenges doesn’t come with any costs.
Tooth and Tail picks the right premise, with the right pacing, and the right amount of streamlining to keep every second of a match feeling heated. Games run their course in 10 minutes or less, and that brevity feels revolutionary. Matches in most other RTS games run half-an-hour or longer, limiting who can pick up and play a round here and there. That doesn’t need to be, though. Tooth and Tail shows that you can have a zippy, engaging strategy game that’s satisfying, nuanced, and accessible.
My only real complaint is that, while the game is deep, you’ll want to play with friends. A single-player campaign gives you a basic introduction to the world through a tongue-in-cheek presentation of different political factions. There’s a civil war on, and the throngs of fluffy animals are all fighting to be the one who doesn’t get chomped by the rest. Each loosely aligns to a real-world political philosophy, but they are all pushed so far into the realm of the ridiculous that none of them come as either mean-spirited or pointed critiques of anything tangible. These characters are fodder for the game’s morose sense of humor, and it works. It is not, however, as groundbreaking as the bulk of play, and it doesn’t amount to much beyond progressive, contextualized challenges.
Campaign maps are procedural, which keeps things from getting stale but, given the more specific mission objectives for the campaign, it also isn’t as balanced as its free-for-all multiplayer counterpart. You will, at some point, end up with a map that feels stacked against you. And, luck of the draw though it may have been, it still frustrates. Then again, all you need do is wait out the 5-8 minute match and you’ll get a new map to try again.
Short, mediocre campaign aside, there’s little here to muck with the essential beauty of this streamlined RTS. Nothing else in recent memory offers quite the same white-knuckle thrills. Scouting and modifying your unit composition with up-to-the-minute info on enemy forces, rallying them into battle, continuing to grab up new farmland to fuel your fluffy hordes, and switching between them every fifteen seconds is divine.
Rotating through the band of 20 fighters will offer plenty of depth on its own, too. There’s plenty of room to fake out foes by overbuilding one type and feinting a foe into countering that so you can sweep them with your own reserves. If you don’t have quite the squads you need to deal with enemies in the best way, you’ll have to adapt — and strong variety will give you the tools to come up with unique combinations and tactics on the fly.
When all of that comes together in a tight, four-player battle royale, it is a thing of beauty.
By the very nature of its roots in the amazing Dishonored 2, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider was already well on its way to being a great game. I was overjoyed to drop back into the city of Karnaca and try on a new set of supernatural assassin abilities, even if the things I did there weren’t quite as compelling this time around.
Death of the Outsider puts you in control of the charming but troubled Billie Lurk, who is helping her now old and dying mentor Daud get revenge on the black-eyed god behind all the magic happenings since the Dishonored series began: the Outsider. It aims to tie a neat little bow on the story arc that started with Jessamine Kaldwin’s murder in the first Dishonored, though it’s unusually light on story itself.