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THE MAKING OF
The story behind our favourite game of 2017
change history in Creative Assembly’s laser focused wargame
Returning to Oblivion Kingdom Come: Deliverance IN THE VALLEY OF GODS 25 PAGeS OF REVIEWS MORE!
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WELCOME #316 APRIL 2018
“Now, Creative Assembly is trying something new”
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This month Missed a trick by not wearing an actual crown to this year’s PC Gamer Weekender.
True to name, the 18-year-old Total War series has brought us a totality of war – spanning from 15th century Japan to a fantasy universe full of supercorrupted rats. Now, Creative Assembly is trying something new. Thrones of Britannia is the first Total War Saga: a new series that offers more focused, in-depth action around a specific area and time period. The first is Britain in the 9th century. Be nice to your pals at PC Gamer as your armies roll through Bath. Here in the mag, we’re also trying something different. We’ve refreshed the Monitor section with some new regular features. Get in touch and let us know if you like the new look.
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P hi l ipp a W a rr
F r a ser B r o w n
A n d y Ke l l y
Specialist in Strategy, disloyalty
Specialist in Indie, excavation
Specialist in RPG, fantasy
Specialist in RPG, history
This month Conquered Creative Assembly’s home turf to bring us this month’s cover feature.
This month Went exploring for upcoming indie games and uncovered In the Valley of Gods.
This month Summoned Swen Vinke from the depths to learn all about the making of Divinity: Original Sin II.
This month Toured medieval Europe looking for a bed. A lesser editor would make an ‘and in the game’ joke.
#316 APRIL 2018
Subscribe to Check out our digital bundle! See p50
08 THE TOP STORY
The PC Gamer Weekender was ace!
The month ahead in PC gaming.
12 THE SPY
Is a new Borderlands on the way?
14 SPECIAL REPORT Dear Esther’s stage adaptation.
16 IN FOCUS
The intricate details of Tacoma.
18 INSIDE DEV
Even a text box is hard to build.
22 Surviving Mars 26 Vampyr 30 The Gardens Between 32 Werewolf: The Apocalypse 34 Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game 36 Battalion 1944
38 Total War Saga
Forging the Thrones of Britannia.
44 In the Valley of Gods The follow-up to Firewatch.
54 Divinity: Original Sin II
The making of our 201 7 GOTY.
60 Larian Studios
The long road to Original Sin.
get your free gIFTS
Turn to page 66
Andy goes hands-on with the Martian city-builder, and comes away impressed.
Tom Senior marches on Creative Assembly and demands audience with Total War Saga’s creators.
Fraser Brown travels to Larian Studios to find out how our favourite game of 2017 was made.
THRONES OF BRITANNIA
DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN II
Reviews 70 Kingdom Come: Deliverance 74 Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age 76 Age of Empires: Definitive Edition 78 Lost Sphear 80 Civilization VI: Rise and Fall 82 Dragon Ball FighterZ 84 Railway Empire 86 Subnautica 90 Celeste 92 Rust Free GAMES 94 Doki Doki Literature Club 95 A Raven Monologue 95 untitled (the flower game) THEY’RE BACK 96 Titan Quest 97 Dungeons of Dredmor 97 Last Man Standing 97 The Culling 97 Infestation: The New Z
100 GROUP TEST 104 REVIEWS 106 TECH REPORT 108 BUYER’S GUIDE
114 NOW PLAYING
Astroneer as existential distraction.
A look at FFXIV’s latest patch.
120 MOD SPOTLIGHT Rediscovering Vvardenfell in Morrowind Rebirth.
122 HOW TO
Take perfect screenshots.
KINGDOM COME REVIEW
PREBUILt PCs RATED
Amid publisher woes and fierce competition, Larian’s road to Original Sin was long and hard.
Andy Kelly delves into a world of intrigue and bugs for his review of the ambitious Kingdom Come.
Don’t want to build your own? Ed Chester tracks down the best offthe-shelf PCs.
THE HISTORY OF LARIAN
Returning to TES IV: Oblivion.
128 MUST PLAY
John’s favourite PC games.
N e ws
Opi n ion
De v e l opm en t
News | Opinion | Dev elopment
Takeshi Aramaki and Kenichi Shida talk Final Fantasy XV.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the PC Gamer Weekender
aturday was my big chance to investigate the Weekender show floor. First up was Candleman: The Complete Journey. I’m a sucker for a pretty 3D platformer, so I spent a pleasing chunk of time igniting my little avatar sparingly to give bursts of visibility, looking for fellow candles to light and objects to interact with. Biomutant was also on the must-play list. I’ll admit that in retrospect this was because I’d conflated it with a different game, but I was surprised by my own competence with this curious action RPG. I set my furry 8
avatar to be a hench pink and green monstrosity, then set about using my sword and gun to rampage through the world, exploiting an intimidating array of combos. I also dropped by the Omen by HP Bootcamp section to see Marcus ‘Realzx’ Vining. I met him frequently
I set my furry avatar to be a hench pink and green monstrosity
when he was a professional Smite player. More recently he represented the UK at the Overwatch World Cup, hence offering words of wisdom to esports hopefuls as part of the Bootcamp. I found myself trying to strike that balance between learning useful things to help me play better and trying to remain ignorant of how bad my current playstyle is. Real Farm was another game that caught my eye. I’m not usually one for simulator games but apparently the appeal of hitching a big old plough to a vehicle was too strong to resist. You really do learn something new about yourself when you go to these events.
N e ws
R e m e dy R e t u rn
C a ct u s H a c k
Opi n ion
De v e l opm en t
E l it e B e at
Final Fantasy XV
Quantum Break was disappointing, but I’m looking forward to the next game from Remedy. Written by Sam Lake and codenamed P9, it’s a “cinematic third-person action game” set in a “Remedy-created universe” that it claims offers a “long-lasting experience”. It’s due out in 2019. AK
At last year’s Gamescom, director Hajime Tabata discussed how mods will change the scope of FFXV. At last month’s PC Gamer Weekender, Square Enix teased what we’re in for by way of civilian Cactuars. I can’t wait to see what its community comes up with. JD
Elite Dangerous’s third season, Beyond, will be free to players. The focus is on “community-requested enhancements”, including, in the first episode, changes to crime and punishment systems to make things fairer. I’m looking forward to seeing the game improve even further. PS
Highs & Lows
Highs Phoenix Point
Julian Gollop’s X-Com spiritual successor looks great, and was one of the highlights of this year’s PC Gamer Weekender.
Two Point Hospital
Also at the Weekender, this spiritual successor to Theme Hospital is looking like a fine evolution.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
The educational Discovery mode is a great way to explore Ubisoft’s world.
ABOVE, TOP: Automaton’s James Thompson reveals 400-player battle royale, Mavericks: Proving Ground. ABOVE, BOTTOM: Weekender visitors getting stuck in with the wealth of games on offer.
After a disastrous start where I couldn’t work out how to use the plough and then accidentally ploughed part of the road, I managed to furrow that field like a total boss. Sort of. Look, I made enough ridges that the tutorial was happy with me, okay?
Thermal Paste facts
Sunday morning had a more relaxed vibe as I wasn’t chugging game demos like they were red cups at a party (I have never been to a party), so I headed over to the PC Workshop to watch the basic PC building session. It was like watching a synchronised swimming display except with PC components (I have never been to a swimming pool). I particularly enjoyed the stern warnings about where thermal paste should and shouldn’t go. Then it was time for my panel hosting duties. I had Cobalt WASD (2D Counter-Strike with grappling hooks) and Minecraft (which attracted every child in a creeper hoodie from miles around), plus a visitor from an adjacent stage – Matt Syrett – who used our screen for a talk on being a game artist for hire. Capping it all off was a live PC Gamer UK podcast recording where we just chatted about nice things which had happened. And adding permadeath to Football Manager. See you next year! Philippa Warr
We’re on a break from this right now, although the roadmap hints that welcome tweaks are incoming.
“No Loot Boxes”
Some publishers now announce their games won’t have microtransactions for marketing points. But is your game good?
Red Dead Redemption 2
We still don’t know if it’s coming to PC. Will it? Won’t it? Tell us, Rockstar.
N e ws
Incoming TUE 13
Opi n ion
De v e l opm en t
Game jam Event Game release Esports PC Gamer
The month ahead in PC gaming
MON 12 (MAR)
3 – 1 1 M ar
8 – 1 7 M ar
1 5 M ar
No Shit Sherlock Jam
In the 7DRL Challenge, participants are given seven days (the ‘7D’) to make a roguelike (the ‘RL’). It’s an event that, each year, offers up a tweaks and subversions to the formula – past years have featured prototypes of Hoplite and Michael Brough’s 868-HACK. You can find this year’s submissions at www.bit.ly/7drlchallenge.
“Detective games are broken,” states the pitch for this game jam. It’s an event that hopes to fix them.
A city builder about creating a new home on the Red Planet – albeit with a more sci-fi bent than that one Matt Damon film. Surviving Mars is being created by Haemimont Games, the former developer of the Tropico series. You can find more information on it – along with Andy’s hands-on impressions – over on page 22. THU 22
1 9 – 2 3 M ar
2 3 M ar
Game Developers Conference
Ni no Kuni II
SUN 1 (APR)
Level-5’s JRPG series arrives on PC with Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, a twee adventure about a king called Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum.
Where E3 is all bright lights and CEOs hoping their blazer-and-T-shirt combo will make them seem relatable, GDC is a conference for developers. Expect few announcements, but plenty of interesting news around the latest trends and tech. You’ll find coverage at PCGamer.com. MON 26
2 7 M ar
3 – 7 A pr
Far Cry 5
Dota 2 Asia Championships
Despite them all being broadly good, the Far Cry series has stagnated a bit over recent years – and that’s despite there being one that had an owl as your binoculars. As one of the few big-budget releases of early 2018, here’s hoping that Ubisoft Montreal’s USA-set adventure does enough to change up the Far Cry formula.
In this Major championship event, 16 professional Dota 2 teams will battle over a $1 million prize pool, as well as qualifying points needed to secure an invitation to the biggest esports event of the year – The International. Expect plenty of intense competition as teams of wizards fight to kill a big fountain.
3 A pr
5 A pr
5 – 8 A pr
Pillars of Eternity II
Obsidian’s RPG sequel is soon upon us, likely meaning another 100 or so hours of exploration and adventure. This time, The Watcher is navigating the Deadfire Archipelago – captaining a ship in order to travel between islands. That means naval combat, crew management, piracy and even a bit of mutiny.
Issue 317 of PC Gamer hits the newsstands, bringing new info on Frontier’s upcoming theme park sim, Jurassic World Evolution.
Just one of a seemingly endless number of PAX events throughout the year. Check PCGamer.com for reports and hands-on verdicts.
Enjoy the magazine?
Listen to the (almost) weekly UK podcast! Listen now at PCGamer.com or download on iTunes.
N e ws
Opi n ion
De v e l opm en t
expect to deliver both record net bookings and record net cash provided by operating activities, in excess of $2.5 billion and $700 million, respectively, during fiscal year 2019, led by the launches of Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 and a highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises.’”
B U T W HO W A TCH E S TH E S P Y ?
istening in on an audio wiretap of the PC Gamer office, The Spy learns that the team has had enough of the latest discourse. At least, The Spy thinks that’s what they said. Maybe they’re annoyed about the latest ‘diss course’, which The Spy can only assume is an adult learning programme about coming up with snappy burns with which to lampoon a rival squad.
The Spy is not impressed by the solidity of your crew.
The Spy can’t tell you what the latest gaming discourse concerns because The Spy’s 1998 Packard Bell PC has been buried in concrete for a persistent leaking of thermal paste that the IT repairman described as “crying at the sheer pain of its continued existence”. Switching channels, The Spy tunes into the bowels of Take-Two, where the marketing department is arguing over the exact wording of a press release about its 2019 financial year. “No, Bellamy,” wails one. “We can’t say that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be the ‘dog’s nuts’ in a financial announcement. And how, pray tell, are we supposed to – what is it you’ve written here? – ‘drops mic’ in a press release?” “Leave it out gramps,” retorts Bellamy, “better that than writing,” and here Bellamy adopts the mocking tone of what he assumes a businessman sounds like, “‘Take-Two continues to
The Spy, only mildly paying attention while trying to craft a withering lyrical diss against a young MI5 foil named Grasspole, suddenly takes note. A highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises? The Spy, already missing the trusty Packard Bell, raced down to the library to Google ‘2K’s biggest franchises’. Having discounted Duke Nukem Forever, Battleborn and Dora’s Cooking Club, The Spy’s next best guess is the Borderlands series. It was during this Google binge that The Spy discovered some more information about Red Dead Redemption 2. It still hasn’t been announced on PC, but also hasn’t been not announced for PC, and thus remains of interest. According to Trusted Reviews, the new game, now slated for late-October on consoles, will include a GTA Online-style multiplayer, with modes titled ‘Battle Royale’, ‘Revive and Survive’ and ‘Money Grab’. The former is surely of interest to anyone who’s heard of PUBG, which, let’s be honest, is everyone. Is this what Bellamy was so excited about? Trusted Reviews’ report suggests RDR2 will offer a similar experience to GTA Online – which would make sense given how successful it’s been. A large number of activities will, they say, be available, including goldmining, fishing, herding and weapon challenges. Also, GTA Online’s apartments may return, albeit as tents. The Spy returns home, and flicks on the wiretap receiver to discover nothing but static. Damn it! The Spy was convinced PC Gamer would never discover the bug planted in the rim of staff writer Joe Donnelly’s hat. Ah well, back to hacking the PCG Slack channel it is. Just as soon as The Spy’s sourced a new Packard Bell. Spy out. The Spy
Red Dead Redemption 2 will offer a similar experience to GTA Online
This month in… 2009 ISSUE 197, February 2009
on the cover Dawn of War II
IN THE CHARTS Lady Gaga – Poker Face
In this issue of PC Gamer we chose the 50 best game developers, but cleverly avoided putting them in any kind of hierarchy. That would just be mean. We sang the praises of Introversion and Telltale in the indie developers section, and singled out the likes of Warren Spector, Dani Bunten Berry, and Tim Schafer for having a big impact on PC gaming. Still, ranking humans is a bit weird.
In reviews this month, writer Graham Smith describes Mirror’s Edge as “starkly gorgeous” and “refreshingly original”, but not as good as it could’ve been.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Jim Rossignol took an in-depth look at the Total War series, telling us how the series came to define wargaming on PC. Creative Assembly tells Jim that it was “blessed with a team of coding gods”, allowing the studio to present those iconic enormous battles. Time Commanders, a cult BBC technological TV series featuring the game, is also mentioned.
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Published on Feb 27, 2018