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Editorial

PC Games for the Single Players in September

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September is an eventful month in the Northern Hemisphere. The weather changes as summer gives way to autumn, school is back in session, and sports fans gear up for the upcoming football and hockey seasons. Likewise, September is a big month for gaming, with a number of upcoming releases slated to drop in time to distract eager gamers from their studies.

OnlySP is highlighting three titles for PC gamers to check out this September, all of which are sequels to previous games.

DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN II

Divinity: Original Sin saw release in June of 2014, receiving critical acclaim and praise for what some called its ability to modernize the role-playing game genre. Following the tale of a condemned warrior released from bondage and a mystic heroine returned to life, the game was lauded for its beautiful world, exciting turn-based combat, and quality narrative.

In a review shortly after the game’s release, OnlySP’s Randy Fluharty called Original Sin a “hardcore RPG with engaging and deep combat that doesn’t treat you like you’re an idiot.” Many critics praised the freedom inherent in the gameplay as well as the respect given to player choices, an important aspect of immersive RPGs.

Now comes Divinity: Original Sin II, arriving three years later and striving to fill the very large footprints left by its older sibling.

Creating a follow-up to a smash hit is a daunting prospect for any game developer, but Larian Studios has the determination and devoted fan base to do so. A Kickstarter announcement for Original Sin II in 2015 reached its goal of $500,000 in less than 12 hours. Larian’s desire to gather community opinion endeared the company to gamers, earning the team over $2,000,000 to devote toward Original Sin II‘s development—an impressive war chest indeed.

Divinity: Original Sin II follows the path of its predecessor, revisiting the same setting with a larger scale, more in-depth gameplay, and higher quality narrative. Set 1000 years after the events of Original Sin, the game’s plot centers around war and the persecution of all Sourcerers—users of a dangerous type of magic named “the Source.” When Bishop Alexandar the Innocent declares all Sourcerers criminals, four magic-adepts must band together to defeat him.

Gamers are able to choose their character’s statistics, race, and origin story. Dynamic dialogue and quests change according to these choices, giving players freedom and influence over the game world. A skill crafting system allows players to alter the way skills work, combining them to create new, improved abilities. Up to three companions may be recruited to assist in adventuring, and a feature system called “Love & Hate” gives players the chance to foster relationships or rivalries with those followers.

Only time will tell whether the game can stand on its own, or if it is fated to wilt within its older sibling’s shadow. Players can find out for themselves in a few short weeks, as Divinity: Original Sin II hits Steam on September 14, with console versions slated to follow at a later date.

PROJECT CARS 2

Project CARS 2 continues this month’s theme of follow-up titles, roaring onto the scene two years after its predecessor and snatching up the “Best Simulation Game” award at this year’s Gamescom conference.

The first Project CARS (Community Assisted Racing Simulator) was released in 2015, with developer Slightly Mad Studios seeking to offer gamers a realistic driving simulation. To this end, the studio utilized community feedback and harnessed the expertise of professional race car drivers, including personalities from theTop Gear television series.

A sandbox approach attempted to set the first game apart from established industry leaders such as Gran Turismo, giving users the ability to choose which types of motorsports to focus on. The game was well-received upon release, with critics praising the racing sim’s aesthetics and weather effects, while making note of what some called a tiny vehicle roster” and “wonky weight transfer characteristics.”

With this notable success in mind, Slightly Mad began funding for Project CARS 2 on June 22, 2015, opening donations through the game’s official forum. Donors were granted access to development builds, and encouraged to express their thoughts and opinions as well as make suggestions, as the studio believes community feedback critical to progress. As with the first title in the series, Slightly Mad worked closely with auto manufacturers and race car drivers to deliver the most accurate simulation possible.

In addition to the manufacturers from the previous game, Project CARS 2 will feature vehicles from Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, KTM, Honda/Acura, and Nissan. A partnership with Indycar means the game also includes the entire 2016 season Indy lineup, as well as the official logo of Indycar and the Indy 500.

All of Project CARS 2’s 182 drivable vehicles have specific performance characteristics that accurately represent their real-life counterparts. Tire physics have been rebuilt from the ground up, offering more advanced movement and action than the previous title. More than 60 different tracks contain over 150 race layouts, and a new time and weather system brings realistic conditions and changing seasons. Players speed their way through sunshine, rain, sleet, and snow, pushing their cars to the limit while testing their abilities as drivers.

Look for Project CARS 2 on its worldwide release date of September 22, 2017 on PC, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER II

The Warhammer universe has captivated and entertained gamers for over thirty years. First conceived as the Warhammer Fantasy Battle tabletop miniature-based wargame, the fantasy world evolved into a pen-and-paper role-playing game, and then into the now-defunct MMORPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

Modern strategy games descended from tabletop miniature play, and so gamers may appreciate that Creative Assembly brought the franchise back to its roots with the release of 2016’s Total War: Warhammer. A beautifully-crafted tribute true to lore, the turn-based strategy title was well received by critics and fans of both the Warhammer and the Total War franchises alike. With four playable factions available at launch and more added later, the game saw praise for its unique and exciting units as well as its campaign elements.

From the beginning, the intention was to release three Total War: Warhammer games, with each title being one ‘episode’ of the overall story arc. The second of these, Total War: Warhammer II, launches in a few short weeks, bringing the Lizardmen, High Elves, Dark Elves, and Skaven into the gameworld. Players who own the first game will be granted access to all races previously unlocked, and a future patch is slated to feature a grand campaign map combining the old world with the new.

The mechanics of Total War: Warhammer II are largely unchanged from the first game, which is perhaps unsurprising given that barely a year has passed between releases. As before, gamers must gather resources and build their armies, deploying their forces in battle using real-time tactics. An array of unit types allows players to customize their armies in any way desired, offering different types of infantry, cavalry, artillery, monsters, and ranged units such as archers. Each unit type has unique strengths and weaknesses, encouraging players to employ intelligent strategy to triumph over their enemies.

OnlySP has kept a close eye on Total War: Warhammer II, with Dylan Warman taking the opportunity to preview the game earlier this year. Citing the game’s upgraded graphics, heavier emphasis on narrative, and smoother gameplay, Warman concluded that the game seems greatly improved from the first, and stays true to both the Total War franchise and the Warhammer universe.

Total War: Warhammer II arrives on PC on September 28, 2017.


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Also known as Twist, Jennifer is a gamer, author, and digital artist who spent the early days of her childhood beating her stepfather's friends at Space Invaders and Pole Position on a beat-up Atari console, after which they would promptly complain to her mother. Now a competitive Diablo 3 player, she splits her time between writing, loving her dog Emmie, and putting her monk through nephalem rifts in a quest for the top spot on the seasonal leaderboards.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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