We’re checking out a quartet of new releases today – some of them updates to current Early Access projects, another one a brand new EA release and a fresh port for the Nintendo Switch.
GTFO receives a major update
Developer 10 Chambers Collective may not be a household name yet, but the Swedish outfit was formed back in 2015 by people behind multiplayer hits like the first two Payday games. Their first game, GTFO, is currently in Early Access, and perhaps unsurprisingly it’s a 4-player co-op title. With a blend of sci-fi and horror, it’s one of the most promising games in the genre and one we couldn’t wait to test drive when it received its latest major update last week.
Updates for GTFO are called “rundowns”, with brand new environments, missions and enemies every time, getting rid of the previous batch rather than expanding on the game’s content in increments as they build towards a full release. Sure, you might feel like you miss that particular piece of content you had fun with before, but the upside is that you get a fresh new gameplay experience each time a new rundown is released.
The larger game world in GTFO is an underground facility entitled “the Complex”, and the latest update for the game, dubbed ‘Contact”, takes place within the walls of its data center. As with other rundowns it adds a new environment and new enemies, and it also explores the story in a bit more detail. More importantly, however, the update also includes improvements to make the game more welcoming to new players.
GTFO is an extremely challenging game, and it wasn’t kind to us when we headed in with a team of four players that had never played before. Some took to the learning curve quicker than others (based on experience with similar games), but GTFO now also has a matchmaking feature in place. This helps a LOT in getting a decent amount of practice in without the need to set up a session with three friends, and we could definitely tell that we had all learned and improved the next time we met up.
The challenge is invigorating, and if you’re up to the job you can even ramp things up by picking alternate routes that are supposed to be even harder. We’re not quite brave enough for that just yet, but it’s great to see that the game can scale up or down a bit now, rather than just presenting players with an insurmountable amount of challenge. For me personally, it’s one of the closest things I’ve played to James Cameron’s Aliens, and that alone is a great reason to keep following this one.
Zombie Army 4 kicks off its Second Season Pass with Halloween-themed goodies
We enjoyed Zombie 4 when it came out, and were happy to see more story content arrive when the season pass introduced us to another multi-part adventure. Now, Rebellion has not just released a second season pass, but have also announced a third one will follow in 2021! We dove right in, as Zombie Army 4 was one of last year’s most entertaining shooters.
So what can gamers expect from the second season pass? Over the course of four content drops, the next two of which are currently scheduled for the next three months, plenty of weapons, skins, characters and outfits are coming our way. The first part was released last week though, and it also includes a ton of Halloween-themed stuff, including a selection of charms and some cool looking headgear, including a glowing pumpkin you can wear on (or as?) your head.
The most exciting part of the last season pass were the new story campaign missions though, and those return for this new pass as well. Three new missions will be added, and the first one is called Damnation Valley – part of the new “Death from Above” campaign. The undead and occult are back in full force, amassing near a giant portal in the Alps. Expect snow-filled locations and a harrowing escape from a giant explosion as you jump aboard a train, and plenty of zombies to kill before you get there. Little was done to change the Zombie Army formula in this first part of the new campaign, but it was certainly fun to jump back in for an hour or two (the mission’s length) and I can’t wait for the next episode, due in December. And for those who are mainly interested in story content – you can purchase the missions without grabbing the full season pass as well!
Torchlight III now out on Nintendo Switch
The first two Torchlight games were beloved on the PC. They released in a time period where people had fallen in love with Diablo II and countless action RPG franchises emerged in the wake of Blizzard’s landmark title. Titan Quest, Dungeon Siege and Torchlight all evoke fond memories for me personally, so I was very happy to see Torchlight make a comeback – first as Torchlight Frontiers, which was later dubbed Torchlight III.
I missed out on the original PC release, but the Switch release that came two weeks after it was my prompt to dive into the PC experience and see how it had turned out. Ultimately, I’d say I understand why they went with the name change – Torchlight III is too similar to the previous games to justify a name change, even though “the frontier” is alive and well in the game. What that ultimately means is that the game has better online integration than the previous games did, with the ability to not just play together with others but also to leave your own personal mark on the world.
The latter is done through the forts dynamic in the game, which lets you build your own fort that you can later return to if you want to upgrade and/or expand it, perhaps with a large monument as a physical manifestation of your illusions of grandeur. The forts aren’t strictly cosmetic though, since you can also use them as a safe haven in which you can upgrade your gear.
Other mechanics are quite familiar, since you can select and customize a character from four classes at the start and equip them with gear over the course of your adventure. Further customization comes from a relic that you choose at the start of the game, which determines part of your upgrade path over time. This makes for a more simplified system of growing your character than the first games (with a more traditional upgrade tree), which I’ll assume is a change to make the game more accessible to new and/or console players.
Nevertheless, Torchlight III still felt like a Torchlight title to me and I enjoyed my adventures – which I once again was able to do alongside a pet! That was the best part of my fort as well…. it became the biggest doghouse one could ever imagine.
Hammerting released in Early Access
For some reason, dwarves are a hot commodity on Steam’s Early Access platform right now. We only just took a look at DwarfHeim last week, and now we’re got Hammerting launching into early access, a game by Warpzone Studios that’s being published by Team17. It’s quite different from DwarfHeim and games like The Dwarves though, because this one is a mining colony simulator first and foremost with a sprinkling of RPG on top.
Unlike other games that star dwarves, the focus here is firmly on their ability to thrive underground. There’s a war raging on the surface, but the entire dwarf ecosystem feels like it’s one giant NPC in that one – one that various stakeholders will come running to whenever they need something (very often, weapons). Your job is to get the most out of the soil beneath you, to constantly dig deeper for the most precious minerals, craft the most wonderful items from them, and to keep your dwarves safe while doing so.
Later in the game, as your base grows, you can start to automate processes, but for now this feels limited to things like putting in a conveyer belt and you can’t “train” your dwarves to automatically perform certain things – which Team17’s The Escapists does let you do with its monkeys. You can queue up assignments for a dwarf so there’s a bit of convenience there, but the dwarf AI sometimes feels like it doesn’t listen properly as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how this develops during early access.
What does already become clear is that the dwarves in Hammerting have their own distinct personalities, skills, equipment and even family background, which feels unique to the genre and definitely adds flavor to the gameplay. Hopefully we’ll also see this reflected in more narrative content as time goes on, perhaps through echoes in the details of the war that’s happening up above. The game will be in Early Access for six months to a year, so we’re curious to see what’s next for Hammerting!