Greetings! Jon here, back again with the Circle Roundup.
If you haven’t heard, NASA confirmed that it’s discovered seven planets with Earth-like conditions just 40 light-years away from us! Why is that important? Well for one, cosmologists say that water is the foundation of all life, so a planet that has liquid water would be possible of hosting life. We could find actual aliens there!
The other is that these planets could potentially be future homes for the human race, possibly making the Firefly scenario a reality. One of my descendants could be racing towards their spaceship on horseback after a botched smuggling job, firing their laser revolver at the pursuing feds and cursing them off in Chinese. Hey, I can dig that.
And with that, the Roundup!
Christopher Byrd reviewed Horizon: Zero Dawn, the highly anticipated post-apocalypse open-world action role-playing game from Guerilla Games. Hooray for buzzwords! The game is a big departure for Guerilla Games, who up until now have been solely focused on their Killzone series since 2004. It’s a safe title but a very polished one, and holy crap, it has Lance Reddick in it! Reach Chris’ full review and the plot details here.
Russ Frushtick and Chelsea Stark unboxed the Nintendo Switch together! I’ve watched enough YouTube tutorial videos to know that the song in the beginning is totally public domain. So far, so good! The Switch feels great and it’s hardy, but for some reason, it doesn’t come with any games! Not even a demo disk! C’mon, Nintendo! The Switch can be played and configured all sorts of ways, so watch Russ and Chelsea’s full impressions regarding the features here.
Samit Sarkar reports that BioWare has teamed up with Cards Against Humanity to release a Mass Effect card pack. The whole pack is about banging aliens all across the Mass Effect universe. The cards are illustrated by Cara McGee, the flexible artist who can make really gorgeous art nouveau-inspired portraits and somehow manage to mai husbando Josuke and Okuyasu even further. A truly gifted draftswoman. And get the cards fast, because they won’t enter production again! Read Samit’s full report here.
Dan Ackerman reviewed the MSI VR One backpack, which will make you look just as ridiculous as it sounds. However, it’s a proposed solution to the future of VR. Right now, true VR is difficult because it requires the user to be connected to a desktop, limiting true mobility. Strapping it to your back seems to be a simple but uncool solution. But at $1,899 bucks, is it uncool and worth it? See Dan’s full review here.
Sara Clemens played Gone Home earlier this month, but she didn’t review it, nor did she write about it. Instead, she wrote about Dear Esther, a similar title which strips out mechanics to the bare minimum in order to tell a narrative purely through player agency and exploration. It wasn’t until after Sara played through Dear Esther multiple times that she saw the game in full. As the great science fiction writer Gene Wolfe said through his most famous character Severian, “Memory oppresses me.” Read Sara’s full article here.
And now for news outside of the Circle. . .
In Criminal Past, the latest DLC released for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Adam Jensen tells the tale of how he broke out of an ultra max security prison for augs. Jensen was sent undercover (A LIKELY STORY, JENSEN!) to extract information from a spy who got pinched and sent to the clink. Of course, this being Deus Ex, you can expect to see lots of conspiracy theories and secret societies. Read more about it here.
Hideo Kojima was recently interviewed about Death Stranding and working with Guerilla Games. Guerilla Games themselves just released Horizon Zero Dawn, which using the same Decima engine that Kojima Productions has borrowed for Death Stranding. Read more about it here.
Natalie Dormer is playing asari doctor Lexi T’Perro in the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. I have a very love-hate relationship with Mass Effect and this just made it more complicated. It’s my favorite RPG series of all time. But BioWare’s DLC model for the franchise is exploitative and terrible, and the ending of Mass Effect 3 (Damn you, Casey Hudson! Damn yooooouuu!) made me wonder why I bothered to agonize for 30 minutes over moral decisions that were promised to have major consequences and meticulously preserve all my save files from 2007 (this was before cloud storage was a thing). But Natalie Dormer. I’ve had a crush on her ever since she got that side shave for Hunger Games. Damn you, BioWare! You’re pulling me back in again! See Dormer’s interview here.
Titanfall 2 is a criminally underappreciated game that you should be playing, and today, Respawn Entertainment has just given you the incentive to. The Live Fire update rolled out today, introducing two new maps, featured playlists, new animations, balance changes, and double XP gain for the weekend. Don’t you want to join me in hardcore parkouring around maps and killing people with giant robots? Read more about it here.
In Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, you’re gonna be a pirate! Well, not really, but the term has become a useful shorthand in gaming to describe any mechanic where you use a boat as a mobile headquarters and sail around on adventures. After hitting a Kickstarter milestone, Obsidian has confirmed that players will be able to use Defiant, a sloop ship that can engage in scripted combat, board other vessels, and be upgraded to be faster, stronger, and deadlier. And a flag, of course. What would a ship be without flying your very own badass flag? Read more about it here.
And that does it for this week’s Roundup. See you next time!