“A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows the adventures of some fairies, some peasant actors attempting to put on a romantic play that’s a bit like a rubbish Romeo & Juliet, some star-crossed aristocrats who all drink love potions, and, for some reason, Theseus and Hippolyta. That makes it a hodge-podge of Greek myth, contemporary satire, romantic farce, and Middle High German epic poetry. In contemporary lingo, it’s Shakespeare laying intercontinuity crossover on with a trowel.”
Battlefleet Gothic gets so much right. The campaign’s story, script, voice acting and appearance is all spot-on for the 40K universe. The 2D battles are challenging and interesting, if still quite unbalanced. The RPG elements are horribly compelling. And its detailed, nebula-filled universe brings the tiny tabletop models to life—before they’re blown into thousands of pieces.
Dark Souls 3 returns the player to the series’ grim world, again tackling the endless problems of the undead peoples of Lothric. Your task this time, as an undead hero, is to defeat the corrupted Lords of Cinder and return them to the throne room that now sits inside the Firelink Shrine. It’s an unusually clear remit for a Dark Souls game, and it’s matched by the game’s revamped mechanics.
These early applications could be paralleled with the Lumières’ The Arrival of the Mail Train, utterly impressive when shown in the late 1800s (the audience reportedly panicked with the large train coming towards them on the screen), yet where the media creators are still testing the basics of their techniques for presentation and communication. Like all VR developers, The Assembly team are still working out how these machines work, step by mistep. One thing is certain; a VR simulation today is going to be unrecognisably primitive compared to one in half a decade’s time.
Microsoft knows it missed the boat with Windows 8. But the team also think they have a fair idea of what they did wrong, and they think this forwarding looking smorgasbord of integration, accessibility and standardization is their solution. They’re providing an OS designed for VR and AR; support for any major VR or AR device; and their own high-end, high-detail AR device.With that OS being supported across PCs, mobile phones and the Xbox One, and featuring a tied-down app store in a way that PC users are unused to, Microsoft has set a very alluring trap to snare the VR market.
Kickstarter isn’t what it was. Back in 2013, the pitch “Dungeon Keeper in space” garnered Maia £140,000. Skip ahead three years and another charming pitch – “Dwarf Fortress meets Elite” – barely scraped £10,000. That’s absolutely no reflection of the quality of the product. After all, despite being a one-man game, Sol Trader is well on course to hit its release window of June 2016 as a stable, intriguing game. It’s just a reflection on the changed times for indies; today, the determinant of success seems to be a tightening social web of ‘in’ indie developers and press, and its creator Chris Parsons isn’t part of that web.
Video games don’t often do subtle or literate. Games like Gears of War and Call of Duty succeed with no philosophical hinterland or characters worth talking about. Cutesy games are sickeningly so, shooting heroes speak in single syllables, and sincere indie games beat you over the head with how much everyone is suffering. Few seem to learn from the thousand years of fiction at our fingertips. And then there’s The Count Lucanor, which might be the purest distillation of the Gothic novel as a game.