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Civilization VI: Gathering Storm introduces an active planet where geology and climatology present unique new challenges. The second expansion to Civilization VI adds new Environmental Effects, Engineering Projects, Power and Consumable Resources, as well as the World Congress and a new Diplomatic Victory. This new expansion also extends the Technology and Civics trees with a future era, and adds eight new civilizations, nine new leaders, a variety of new units, districts, wonders, buildings, and more.
AWAY: Journey to the Unexpected is Now Available on Steam and is 15% off!*
In a mood for a little journey to a colourful world full of unexpected events and crazy characters? Jump into a feel-good adventure with rogue-lite elements, where action meets cuteness and powers come with friendship. A love letter to anime and quirkiness from two indie developers.
There is something incredibly synergetic about prison and videogames. While in real life incarceration is a punishment most wish to avoid, its inherent nature and location in places meant to be inescapable goes in direct contrast to players’ instincts to solve a puzzle — you put a player in a prison facility in a game, and you can expect them to try to break free almost immediately. The genius of The Escapists is recognising that urge and building a whole game about it, providing players with all the tools, opportunities, and mechanics to crack the hardest joints.
From lax holding facilities to maximum security prisons, The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout includes five different levels, including the tutorial, two easy prisons, a medium and a hard. Each has a different layout and number of characters, providing a variety of situations to keep gameplay fresh, further compounded by the completely randomised rosters (that can also be customised by the player before the start of each scenario).
As a game, The Escapists 2 rotates around following a stringent set of rules to cover up the continuous rule-breaking. A daily routine consisting of roll calls, meal times, gym and shower breaks, and even work must be adhered to, lest the guards get suspicious and start keeping an eye on you more often. You don’t really need to do the things they expect you to do — being on the mess hall networking will fool them even if you don’t properly eat — but the balance between legal and illegal activities makes up the biggest part of the game’s loop.
The other facet of the game comes in the planning and execution of the actual breaking out of prison, which requires you to decide by yourself — with very little assistance — the who, the what, the why, the when, and the where. Digging under the wall, cutting fences, hiding in a shipping crate, and even disguising yourself as part of a video crew can be used to attain freedom, and you will need to not only mentally keep track of all the moving pieces, but also get them in place.
Besides straight up snatching the items from their relevant locations, the best way of gathering materials for your escape is from other prisoners. By doing favours to other inmates, players can get money with which to buy supplies from other fellows dabbling in contraband, presenting a wide array of items to create anything from makeshift tools to a dummy prisoner to fool the guards who look at your cell bed.
Performing those actions can be a bit of a chore at times, thanks to the game somewhat finicky system when it comes to targeting people and items for use. The context buttons sometimes feel arbitrary in their placement and prompting, leading to some puzzling moments of thrashing about something or someone to get it to do what you want to get done. That is further compounded by a save system that only saves when you are at bed or at the end of specific routines, meaning that The Escapists 2 can be slightly inconvenient at times, especially for a mobile game.
In terms of comparison to The Escapists 1, the sequel takes everything that worked on the first instalment and expands it. The game is virtually the same as the original but bigger, which coupled with the 8-bit graphics and great music and sound design should provide plenty of fun to fans of the franchise — and provide a great starting point to newcomers.
The most important thing for this edition, arguably, is how well The Escapist 2 performs on mobile. The game has been out on Steam since mid-2017, but Team 17 went all out on this port. Aside from graphics and audio quality equal to the PC version, Pocket Breakout enjoys wonderfully touch-responsive rolling menus and three different control systems: an on-screen dynamic or fixed joystick, a click and hold movement system, or a click-only method similar to RPGs of old like Diablo. All work equally well and have their strengths and weakness, meaning the only factor that dictates their use is a user’s personal preference.
Just because a game is premium doesn’t automatically make it good – there are plenty of titles out there that fall short in one way or another. The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout is not one of those games; featuring an interesting premise, a fun and versatile gameplay loop, and a number of mobile features that put several lesser ports to shame. Given its replayability and execution, The Escapists 2 is an easy recommendation if you feel at all attracted to its core premise.
Super Mario Maker 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening coming in 2019
In a new Nintendo Direct video presentation, Nintendo announced that Super Mario Maker 2, a sequel to the groundbreaking original game, and a stylish re-imagining of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening are both launching this year for the Nintendo Switch™ system. The video also revealed ASTRAL CHAIN, a new action game from PlatinumGames exclusive to Nintendo Switch.
In addition to introducing other acclaimed titles coming to Nintendo Switch, like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the video also provided more details about upcoming Nintendo games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Yoshi’s Crafted World, DAEMON X MACHINA and MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black Order, among many others. Nintendo Switch will also be home to BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!, the next iteration in the charming puzzle-platformer series coming to Nintendo eShop.
Plus, starting today, Nintendo Switch owners will have access to surprise launches like the online 99-player puzzle-fest Tetris®99 and classic SQUARE ENIX role-playing game FINAL FANTASY IX, as well as new co-op DLC for Captain Toad™: Treasure Tracker and free demos for upcoming anticipated games.
“Every game covered in this Nintendo Direct is slated for launch for Nintendo Switch this year,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Whether you’re looking for new games in classic franchises, new content for existing hits or completely new experiences, Nintendo Switch has something for everyone over the next several months alone.”
To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit https://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct. Some of the highlights revealed in the video include:
- Super Mario Maker™ 2: In this new game, players can create the Super Mario courses of their dreams, with access to even more tools, items and features. Super Mario Maker 2 launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch this June.
- The Legend of Zelda™: Link’s Awakening: Originally released for the Game Boy™ system more than 25 years ago, one of the most beloved games in the Legend of Zelda series returns. In this modern re-imagining, players travel to the mysterious island of Koholint to guide Link on a perilous adventure. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening arrives exclusively on Nintendo Switch in 2019.
- ASTRAL CHAIN: ASTRAL CHAIN is a new action game from PlatinumGames, directed by Takahisa Taura, known for his work as the game designer on NieR:Automata, and supervised by Hideki Kamiya, creator of the Bayonetta™ series. As part of a police special forces unit in a multicultural futuristic city, players work together with a special living weapon, the Legion, in a synergetic action system of battle and exploration. More details about this Nintendo Switch exclusive will be revealed in the future. ASTRAL CHAIN launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on Aug. 30.
- Fire Emblem™: Three Houses: The Black Eagles. The Blue Lions. The Golden Deer. Three noble houses that are part of the Officer’s Academy, an elite facility that trains students in the ways of weapons, magic and special skills. As a professor, the player must choose one of these houses to lead its students in grid-based battles with life-or-death stakes. Each house is comprised of many different students to meet and train, each with her or his own personality and skills. These students can interact with each other at the academy, strengthening their bonds and supporting each other on the battlefield. The Fire Emblem: Three Houses standalone game and the Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Seasons of Warfare Edition both launch exclusively for Nintendo Switch on July 26.
- BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!™: Welcome back, BOXBOY! The fan-favorite puzzle series is back for the first time on Nintendo Switch with a brand-new game! In addition to 270 new levels, two players can work as a team to solve puzzles in a new co-op mode. As a bonus, players who complete the game can access a new adventure starring Qudy. BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! unboxes itself on Nintendo eShop on April 26.
- Tetris® 99: The iconic puzzle game Tetris®; arrives, but with an online experience like no other. In this next entry in the storied puzzle franchise, 99 players compete together until only one is left standing. Nintendo Switch Online members (membership sold separately) can battle for dominance in this free-to-download software. The Nintendo Switch exclusive will be available to download starting today, and players can look forward to battling it out in upcoming online events.
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: The side-scrolling action of yore rises once again in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Play as Miriam, host of the Alchemist’s Curse, as she steals the abilities of enemies, bends gravity to her will and darts around the game’s elaborate castle at lightning speed. Here, the laws of reality – and 2D side-scrollers – don’t apply. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night emerges from the shadows this summer for Nintendo Switch.
- Mortal Kombat 11: New and classic characters return for more over-the-top fighting action in Mortal Kombat 11, launching for Nintendo Switch on April 23.
- Yoshi’s Crafted World™: Before Yoshi’s Crafted World launches on March 29, Nintendo Switch owners can head to Nintendo eShop to download a free demo for the artfully handcrafted game starting today! In the Yoshi’s Crafted World game, players can explore the Front and Flip-Side of stages while rafting, racing solar cars, tearing through the sky on a plane and experiencing many other wild and surprising gameplay sequences. Using coins collected through the varied and secret-filled levels, players can unlock 180 different crafted costumes that Yoshi can wear.
- Captain Toad™: Treasure Tracker Update and Special Episode DLC: Guess who is still ready for adventure? After downloading a free Nintendo Switch version update for the Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker game that is available starting today, all courses in the game will support a new two-player co-op mode featuring a second Toad to explore simultaneously with a friend. And on March 14, new paid DLC arrives that adds 18 new challenges to the game, including five new courses and new Shiny Crowns, which can be obtained in each course. New players can get the Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker game together with the updates and all the new Special Episode content in a digital bundle available for purchase on Nintendo eShop beginning Feb. 13. Players who purchase the bundle or the Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – Special Episode DLC will receive early access to one of the courses in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – Special Episode, with the remainder of the courses launching on March 14.
- Super Smash Bros.™ Ultimate Update: The fastest-selling console-exclusive game in Nintendo history is about to spring forward with a free Ver. 3.0 update coming to the game this spring. Before the end of April, Joker from Persona 5 will be available as a playable fighter. Announced in December, Joker is the first Fighters Pass DLC fighter to join the game’s expansive cast. Players who want to get access to five upcoming DLC fighters plus additional stages and music can purchase the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass by visiting https://smashbros.nintendo.com/buy/dlc/. Additional details about the 3.0 update and upcoming Fighters Pass content will be revealed in the future. Also, be on the lookout for new amiibo in 2019 like Snake, Simon, Squirtle, Pokémon Trainer and Ivysaur.
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice: Winner of multiple awards, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is coming to Nintendo Switch. Created in collaboration with neuroscientists and those with lived experience of psychosis, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice pulls players deep into the mind of a Celtic warrior on a haunting vision quest to fight for the soul of her dead lover. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice launches for Nintendo Switch this spring.
- DAEMON X MACHINA: Starting today, mech pilots in the making can get a free demo for DAEMON X MACHINA called “Prototype Missions,” available for a limited time to download from Nintendo eShop or Nintendo.com. In the demo, players can battle through four different missions while testing out the game’s controls and mech customization. After playing, select players will receive an email containing a link to an online survey where they can provide feedback about the game to Director Kenichiro Tsukuda and the development team. Currently in development, DAEMON X MACHINA is scheduled to launch for Nintendo Switch this summer.
- MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black Order: For the first time in 10 years, the MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE series returns with four-player action and an original story … all exclusive to Nintendo Switch! Assemble your dream team from a huge cast of Super Heroes, including Marvel’s ultimate cosmic protector, Captain Marvel. Players can save the world together with up to four players** in TV mode, with four separate systems locally or online. A dynamic zoomed-in Heroic Camera will give players the option to get closer to the action. As characters level up, they’ll learn new skills they can use on the fly, and also perform powerful Alliance Extreme attacks. MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black Order launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
- Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition: Ready for a grand adventure filled with memorable characters, an enchanting story and classic RPG gameplay that can be taken on the go? This enhanced version of the critically acclaimed game features the same sprawling content of the original, but with newly added character-specific stories, the option for increased battle speed, fully orchestrated field and battle music, and the ability to switch between HD and retro-inspired 16-bit visuals. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition launches for Nintendo Switch this fall.
- DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2: Combining both RPG and crafting gameplay together, players gather materials to create things like weapons, buildings and even entire towns. With the help of the mysterious Malroth and other villagers, players will explore large islands, find quests and battle monsters and bosses scattered around the world. Those who own the original DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS on their Nintendo Switch system can craft the Legendary Builder’s outfit and the Dragonlord’s Throne. DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 launches for Nintendo Switch on July 12.
- ONINAKI: To uphold the tenets of reincarnation, players must travel between the Living World and the Beyond to rescue lost souls from the terrible fate of becoming monsters. In battle, the souls you rescue manifest within you, granting you strength and new abilities. ONINAKI launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
- New Star Fox Missions in Starlink: Battle for Atlas : The Starlink: Battle for Atlas digital update coming in April will add new Star Fox missions to the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Play as Peppy, Falco and Slippy to help aid the fight to down Star Wolf’s lieutenants, Andrew, Pigma and Leon, in a series of challenging missions. Additional content released as part of the update includes new starship races, faction missions and more. The spring update of Starlink: Battle for Atlas launches this April on Nintendo Switch.
- Disney TSUM TSUM FESTIVAL: Disney’s adorable Tsum Tsum are coming to Nintendo Switch in a new game! In Disney TSUM TSUM FESTIVAL, players connect matching Tsum Tsum to clear them and set a high score. Up to four players can compete against each other in local or online modes. Disney TSUM TSUM FESTIVAL launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch in 2019.
- Rune Factory 4 Special and Rune Factory 5: Classic RPG Rune Factory 4 is being remastered for Nintendo Switch. Interact with townsfolk, grow vegetables and fruit on the farm, catch fish, raise monsters and wield weapons and spells in this new version of the game. Rune Factory 4 Special will be ripe for playing on Nintendo Switch later this year, with the newly announced Rune Factory 5 coming at a later date.
- DELTARUNE: The next game from the creator of Undertale is coming to Nintendo Switch. Download DELTARUNE Chapter 1 for free on Nintendo eShop beginning Feb. 28.
- FINAL FANTASY VII: Return to Midgar in one of the most iconic RPGs of all time, when FINAL FANTASY VII finds a new home on Nintendo Switch on March 26.
- FINAL FANTASY IX: First-time players have the chance to fall in love with Vivi like the rest of the world when the beloved RPG FINAL FANTASY IX comes to Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch later today.
- Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!: KWEH! On March 20, the latest game in the Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon series arrives on Nintendo Switch.
- Dead by Daylight: Dead by Daylight is an asymmetrical multiplayer horror game where one player takes on the role of the savage Killer, and the other four players play as Survivors, trying to escape and avoid being caught and killed. The Nintendo Switch version features loads of maps, characters and cosmetics, and a deep progression system to try out. Dead by Daylight creeps onto Nintendo Switch this fall.
- Assassin’s Creed III Remastered: For the first time on Nintendo Switch, experience Assassin’s Creed III with revamped gameplay and features tailored to the system like motion aiming and touch input. In addition to all the original game’s DLC, the standalone game Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered will also be included when Assassin’s Creed III Remastered launches for Nintendo Switch on May 21.
- Unravel Two: Take control of two adorable characters made out of yarn and solve challenges in Unravel Two. Play as both characters in single-player or team up with a friend in local co-op. Unravel Two launches for Nintendo Switch on March 22.
- GRID Autosport: GRID Autosport comes to Nintendo Switch fully loaded with a mix of high-speed thrills, realistic handling and a difficulty level that scales to players’ skills. Players will feel like pro racers as they master the world’s fastest cars to win motorsport’s most exhilarating races, from the prestigious Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps to the narrow city streets of Barcelona. All DLC is included in this version of the game, with 100 cars, 100 circuits and some welcome additions like tilt controls and custom controls. GRID Autosport launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
Remember that Nintendo Switch features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about other features, visit https://www.nintendo.com/switch/.
*Nintendo Switch Online membership (sold separately) and Nintendo Account required for online play. Not available in all countries. Internet access required for online features. Terms apply. nintendo.com/switch-online
**Additional accessories required for multiplayer mode; sold separately.
The 2019 Lunar New Year Sale has begun, bringing big savings on thousands of titles across Steam in celebration of the Year of the Pig!
During this year’s Lunar New Year Sale, players will receive a one-time automatic $5 (or equivalent currency) discount on qualifying purchases over $30 — this is limited to one cart purchase per account.
On top of that, buying games during the sale will earn you tokens that may be redeemed for Steam rewards at the Rewards Booth. You can exchange your tokens for a shiny profile page, emotes, badges, and more instant discount coupons! These tokens will expire once the Lunar New Year Sale ends.
For more information about how the Rewards Booth works, check out the FAQ: Rewards Booth FAQ
Throughout the 2018 Steam Winter Sale, millions of you cast your votes in the third-annual Steam Awards. The results are in, and on February 8th at 10am Pacific, the winners will be announced via broadcast at https://steam.tv/SteamAwards.
This is the first time we’ve announced the results of the Steam Awards via broadcast, and the show will include special messages from the winners. Don’t forget to tune in!
RIOT: Civil Unrest is Now Available on Steam and is 15% off!*
As civil crisis deepens and inequality tears the very fabric of society the discontentment of the masses manifests itself in violent public disturbances and civil disorder. Play as the police or the angry horde as RIOT – Civil Unrest places you in some of the world’s most fractious disputes.
Charles Darwin claimed, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Now you have the opportunity to put this theory to test in this adaptation of the popular board game, Evolution.
In Evolution, players adapt their species to compete against their opponents in a world where food is scarce and predators are on the hunt for a tasty snack. The board game has been featured in Nature magazines and used as a learning aid within universities. Don’t be too intimidated because you don’t need a PhD to understand the rules, and the tutorial does an excellent job of teaching you the game as you play. This is also a very excellent digital adaptation of a game.
Each player begins the game with a single species and a hand of cards. The cards have multiple uses and deciding how and when to use them is a key element to success. At the beginning of each round, all players will secretly place a card in the watering hole. Cards have different values and the total of all the cards played will determine how much plant-based food will be available. You are then free to use the rest of your cards as you wish. Cards can be discarded to increase the population or the physical size of an established species. You can also use a card to start developing a new creature. These will initially be weak but if it manages to survive then your diversity will increase, which means that in future turns you will be able to draw extra cards.
The real fun starts when you use cards to add traits to a species. Each species has the potential to evolve three of these and you can even replace traits with new ones. One of the key traits is carnivorous, which will turn a peace-loving herbivore into a slavering ball of fangs and teeth. To combat this there are traits that will help prevent your animals from becoming fast food. An animal with the altruistic warning call trait will protect those to its left and right unless the predator has the ambush trait. Adding a hard shell to an animal adds a bonus of four to its body size. This is a great form of protection since carnivores can only attack creatures with a smaller body size than their own. Other traits will enhance an animal’s ability to gather food; a species with the cooperation trait will share its food with a neighbour, foraging enables an animal to take extra food, whilst having a long neck allows them to grab food before any other species gets a chance. In total, there are seventeen different traits, which means that players can create over 25,000 different species. The interplay between the traits is balanced, thought-provoking and makes perfect thematic sense.
Once all of the players have finished using their cards then it’s time to ring the dinner gong. The food cards placed in the watering hole at the beginning of the turn are revealed; their total represents the amount of plant-based food available. Each animal’s food requirement depends upon its population size. Obviously, carnivores aren’t interested in waiting in line at the salad bar. Instead, they can attack any other unprotected species that are of a smaller size. Doing so will reduce the population size of the unwitting meal and may even completely decimate the species. Be careful though; if you have a hungry carnivore that is short of meat it is possible that it will chow down on your own animals.
The game ends when the deck of cards runs out. Points are scored for the amount of food gathered throughout the game. Extra points are awarded for the population size and remaining traits of each of your surviving species. The watercolour style graphics are nicely done. The card illustrations are distinctive and colourful and even the cartoon characters are likable. I love the way that the environment blooms into life whenever feeding time arrives. The primal backing music, complete with additional ambient sounds makes a fine accompaniment. My only real niggle is that there appears to be a lot of dead space on the screen. The watering hole takes up a large chunk of space, maybe at the expense of larger, easier to read cards.
The best feature of the digital version is the introduction of a terrific campaign mode. This pits you against a range of challenges like surviving in a harsh desert environment. This mode introduces new traits at a gradual rate and is the perfect place to refine your skills. With twenty-four challenges and two levels of difficulty, it should keep you entertained for quite some time. You can also set up a local game against AI opponents, but sadly there is no pass-and-play option at the moment. The asynchronous online mode is also still being worked on, but the simultaneous online mode works well, and with games only taking ten minutes it will not tie up too much of your time.
Evolution is all about the constant battle for food and competing for survival against the opposition. You need to not only focus on your own cards but also keep a constant eye on what your opponents are up to. It is no use developing a huge and fearsome killing machine if your perspective dinner has the ability to escape by climbing trees. Since some cards are played in secret whilst others are public knowledge, which results in the mind games growing in complexity. The current start player gets to visit the watering hole first so may not have to donate a high value food card. However, a player pursuing a carnivore strategy may not be interested in visiting the watering hole at all. They may even play a negative value food card, further increasing the food scarcity.
It may sound deceptively simple, but start playing and you will soon realise just how clever the design is. The multiuse cards lead to many tantalising decisions. Do I sacrifice a valuable trait to the watering hole in order to ensure a good supply of food? Shall I be greedy and rapidly increase the population size of a species in order to gobble-up more valuable food points? Or, should I play it safe and introduce traits that will enhance a creature’s chance of survival?
Evolution is a game in a state of constant flux. Some years there will be food aplenty, enabling your animals to develop and prosper. At other times, food will be in short supply and all but the best-adapted creatures will dwindle and die, becoming just another footnote in the fossil timeline. Fortunately, the game never feels too harsh. Players are never eliminated, when a player loses a species, they get to draw extra cards and if they have no species left then they will get a new one for free. Whatever the situation, Evolution invariably reaches a satisfying climax as the players add more species and the deck begins to thin at an alarming rate.
Let us finish with a final observation from Mr Darwin: “An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.”
A note on pricing: The game is free to download on both app stores, and after the tutorial players are free to play up to one multiplayer game a day, and then up to level 7 of the campaign. The full game is unlocked via an IAP that costs $10/£10 (currently running a launch discount). At the time of writing, there were some slight issues with the paywall that might be causing some confusion.