To start off, let me say that I already love this game. I was hyped for a very long time to get to play it, and have played it for over 50 hours since the steam early access release. I’m currently on week 116 and have 160k gold and about 500k gold worth in trinkets (yes I can be a digital hoarder.) All bosses were beaten by about week 50, and all classes leveled to 6 around week 110. I’ve done 50+ full-light runs, 50+ no-torch runs, and some in between. 7 heroes have given their lives for the cause – 2 when I didn’t know what I was doing in the first few weeks, and 5 since I switched over to doing no-torch runs. The atmosphere, art style, narration, and general game direction are all really, really awesome, and I’ve already recommended the game to my friends just based on the early access build.
Mechanically, the game plays very well, the 4 vs up to 4 enemy battles are alternatively fun and exciting, and/or tense and desperate. That being said, mechanics and balance are definitely the areas that could use the most polish, and having now played the game extensively using many many different early, middle, and late-game party compositions, I wanted to offer my feedback.
This post is in two parts – the first is a strategy guide style writeup of how the different hero classes currently perform in combat, where they’re strong/weak, and where they could use more work. Some of the power imbalances may well be intentional, and obviously opinions will differ from mine about the value of each hero, but nonetheless these are my takes on the classes after extensive play-testing and party variation.
The second part is a close look at a number of overall mechanical balance issues and quality of life improvements designed to keep the game fun and hard, but make the player feel like the different classes all have merit, and that getting brutalized in the game is a function of their decisions more than just random number generation and bad luck.
This is an in-depth guide to help people learn to master Darkest Dungeon. It started as a collection of basic tips and strategies, but at this point it’s a fairly complete guide to the early game (levels 1-3 or so), and should answer most of your questions, perhaps even ones you didn’t know you had. Read it and you’ll understand how to keep and build a viable group of adventurers, get past all the early pitfalls, and understand the basic game systems.
It won’t cover the late game (levels 4-6) because the game is still in Early Access and, while the level 1-3 content seems mostly finished, right now the level 4-6 content doesn’t, so anything I write could still get significantly changed, so there’s not much point in going into too much depth. Because this guide may need to change, I’m not going to include a lot of fancy videos — it’s a lot easier to edit text!
If this Darkest Dungeon guide seems too long, don’t freak out; there’s a lot to be said for just diving into this game, playing it blind, and letting the chaos happen. But if you run into a problem, read this over and it should help you figure it out.
EDIT: This guide is not updated for the Hound master or Cove patches, but only covers the game as it was during the first month or two of Early Access. I plan for a full update with the release of the final dungeon.
Free Running games is the sequel to our smash-hit parkour game, featuring stunning 3D graphics, new moves, more game modes and challenges. Perform the same feats of athleticism and courage as parkour superstars like Sébastien Foucan and David Belle without leaving your computer.
Free-run through a whole new set of challenging city environments and overcome all the obstacles in your way. Defy gravity and risk virtual life and limb in this fast-paced action game. Jump, grab and climb walls – and even do flips and somersaults, showing off for the camera to get a top score. Remember, you’re against the clock – so watch out for the time bonuses and do your best to get to the end of the parkour courses before time runs out!
THE GOODTemple Run 2 has better graphics, more path variation, new obstacles, and tons of power-ups to make it an excellent sequel to the most popular running game on mobile devices.
THE BAD In-app purchases allow for unlimited “continues,” skewing the leaderboards to those who are willing to spend the money.
THE BOTTOM LINEIf you like the original Temple Run or enjoy running games, Temple Run 2 is an excellent sequel with tons of new content, beautiful graphics, and more heart-pounding escape game action and its a free running games.
Temple Run 2 is the sequel to one of the most popular running games for mobile devices, and it has just enough new features to make it an excellent follow-up.
As in the original Temple Run, you use swipe controls to run, turn, and jump as you explore a floating temple. But in Temple Run 2, you’re no longer limited to right-angle turns. The path you follow has dips and rises and jogs left and right to make the game more visually interesting than the original. You also get some new methods of transportation, with zip lines that you can speed down and a mine cart section that has you leaning from left to right as you ride fast and furious over rails underground.
The biggest difference from the original is the upgrade to the game’s graphics, with great-looking visuals you can’t help but notice, even as you frantically try to navigate your way through the twisting paths. Realistic-looking fire hazards keep you on your toes, and animated rotating grinders add more obstacles for you to slide under and jump over in your effort to stay alive.
After a year off, Need for Speed has the series coasting back over familiar turf, resurrecting the spirit of 2003 and 2004’s successful Underground games. It is, at least, a more clearly distinct game than the last few NFS instalments were from one another. It looks incredible, sounds fantastic, and while the handling is still standard arcade fare developer Ghost Games has added a welcome dose of nuance by letting us tune our cars for either grip or drift. However, the single-player component is over too soon, the multiplayer underdelivers, the cut-scene dialogue often had me wincing, and the game is stung by the side-effects of being online-only.
We Own the Night
It is immediately extremely pretty, though. There are dark and gritty instances where it feels a little like the whole thing has been shot on Michael Mann’s iPhone, but racing at speed through the soaked streets here (particularly in bumper cam) is really something else. The cars glisten with beaded water droplets and the streets gleam, a shiny tapestry of mirror-like asphalt reflecting artificial light from all angles. Need for Speed 2015 also sounds nearly as good as it looks; the throaty burble of performance-tuned engines is well-realised and the crackle of exhaust overrun and the ker-chunk of slamming gears is similarly respectable. However, the sudden, jarring transitions from the dead of night, to pre-dawn, and then back to night again are horribly ill-conceived. These transitions seem to be baked into parts of the environment so they can actually happen multiple times over the course of a single race.
The eclectic roster of cars is only a fraction of what’s on offer in, say, Forza Horizon 2, but it has a little something for most gearheads. Garage spots are limited to five but the focus here isn’t collecting; it’s perfecting. I completed most of Need for Speed in a single car, constantly cramming upgrades into it to keep it ahead of the competition.
Performance customisation is the basic kind (bolt in everything you’re eligible to purchase and your car will go faster) but there’s a little more to visual customisation. You can sweep around your car, swap external panels, add flair to fenders, install canards, adjust stance, and more. There’s also a freeform livery editor, which definitely beats having to make do with simple, pre-set designs and wraps. You can’t modify everything, though; after I completed the story mode I splurged on a classic Ferrari F40 but was disappointed to discover I could barely do anything to it. I couldn’t even change the rims. It seems at odds with the game’s philosophy.
It’s still good to have customisation of any sort back in Need for Speed, and with it comes several basic tuning options you can use to alter your car’s driving characteristics. The main slider adjusts all settings, nudging your car towards a drift setup or a grip setup, but you can dive deeper and massage certain steering, tyre pressure, and braking power settings individually to fine tune your ride. I much preferred the drift setup for all race types because I found it far easier to get around corners by poising my Focus in a slide via a bootful of throttle and liberal use of opposite lock, rather than navigate the bends with a grip tune. The latter feels too twitchy at low speeds and too prone to understeer at higher ones, and I found myself getting frustrated trying to find the balance. Odd is the fact that, while Need for Speed has brought back tuning in a big way, the option for a manual transmission hasn’t made an appearance.
First-person Fist Bumping
Need for Speed’s light narrative plays out in a series of short, live-action cut-scenes, brimming with slang I don’t understand, excessive energy drink consumption, overuse of the word “hashtag”, and a slightly comical amount of first-person fist-bumping.
There are five main characters who, when they aren’t speaking to each other like living, breathing internet memes, each represent a different one of Need for Speed’s five themed racing threads. All of these threads lead to an encounter with a real-life automotive icon; an idea which I genuinely like.
The best thread is ‘Outlaw’, which is really just a mix of all the game’s race types with the cops on your tail. The cop action is scaled back from Hot Pursuit and Rivals but I certainly appreciate how the police AI seems a lot more fair and bound by the in-game physics than it ever did in Ubisoft’s The Crew. Considering it was the standout mode in the old Underground games, the lack of any drag racing in Need for Speed seems like a misguided omission.
It’s not an especially long story, though. There are 79 main events, but I blasted through them in just two days. The often shameless rubber band AI screwed me out of a few wins here and there but, for the most part, there were only a handful of races I needed to repeat. This modest length might be less of a problem if the multiplayer was more robust, but it isn’t.
Watch official launch trailer
Like The Crew, Need for Speed requires a constant internet connection to play – even if you want to play solo. Unlike The Crew, you can’t just simply opt into multiplayer and rely on the game to take care of matchmaking and enlist you into a series of events. This really didn’t need to be an always online game, and because it is, you can’t even pause the game, which I found extraordinarily annoying. Plus, without decent PvP, the only thing left after the brief campaign is hunting down Need for Speed’s frankly boring collectables. Exactly why are we collecting photographs of plain, dimly-lit parking lots and anonymous warehouses?
Need for Speed looks the part, sounds the part, and is surprisingly reverent to real-world car culture. I like the direction Ghost has taken here, and I think it’s the right one, but beneath its flashy exterior it’s not quite firing on all cylinders.
If the Call of Duty franchise is a well-oiled machine, Black Ops III is the replacement part that keeps the wheels moving into yet another year. It introduces minor changes to an established formula, and in some aspects, this is developer Treyarch near its peak. But in other areas, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 lacks inspiration.
Treyarch has set a high bar with its contributions to the Call of Duty series. The first Black Opsintroduced a twisting, engaging campaign with vivid characters and historical conspiracies. Black Ops II revamped multiplayer customization, lending deeper player choice to a fine-tuned competitive experience. And now there’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III, a shooter reaching in several different directions with vastly different results.
The newest iteration of multiplayer begins on a promising note as Black Ops III’s specialists cover the screen. These are the soldiers of humanity’s future, clad in titanium alloy armor, brandishing multi-million dollar weapons. They’re also Black Ops III’s new layer of customization. You still have the traditional loadout system with 10 slots to spend on weapons, items, and equipment–but specialists add a little more nuance.
Each character carries a power weapon or special ability that charge several times over the course of a match. You’re forced to choose between the two, though, as only one can be equipped at a time. The Outrider, for instance, can enter fights with the Sparrow compound bow, launching exploding arrows into the enemy team’s ranks. On the other hand, she can equip the Vision Pulse ability. As a more cautious player, I preferred this option. It reveals enemy silhouettes through the walls, giving me and my team the drop on nearby attackers and a better sense of the overall situation. This is even more crucial in hardcore matches when motion sensors are absent.
The Outrider is a microcosm of how the specialist system excels. That dichotomy between power weapons and abilities–and the possibilities they reveal–leads to dynamic scenarios from one match to the next. Certain powers work better in specific game types, and shift momentum when used well. And for the first several hours in Black Ops III’s multiplayer, I explored as many possibilities as I could.
But that sense of discovery fades with time. Black Ops III grants you access to four specialists out of the gate, and subsequent options unlock at a trickle. By the time I earned Seraph and her one-shot Annihilator handgun at level 22, her two abilities didn’t offer enough variety to keep me excited for the next unlock. And when I’m not learning the intricacies of a new character, Black Ops III defaults to a more generic Call of Duty experience.
The proverbial carrot still dangles on a string in front of us–it’s just smaller than usual.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Black Ops III’s multiplayer offers some of the best map designs in the franchise. Each arena is a confluence of differing sightlines, hectic clash points, and diverse elevations. The new movement system also creates an action/reaction dynamic: you can wall run into capture points, ground slide out of firefights, and clamber over ledges otherwise out of reach. In short, Black Ops III is fluid. It just feels good.
But its lack of variety after about 10 hours erases much of the excitement present at the beginning. The normal experience-based progression is still here, and the variety of unlockable weapons and equipment may be enough to keep many players pushing forward. But it wasn’t for me. The proverbial carrot still dangles front of us–it’s just smaller than usual.
Any sense of continuation in the multiplayer, of maintaining a familiar franchise balance, evaporates completely in Black Ops III’s new Zombies map, Shadows of Evil. Imagine a fictional city in the 1940s populated by Cthulhu monsters and slipspace portals. The four characters–played by Jeff Goldblum, Ron Perlman, Heather Graham, and Neal McDonough–round out a hardboiled cast straight from the noir novels of Raymond Chandler. Picture them firing augmented weapons into a crowd of shambling corpses to the sound of a languid alto saxophone. Make no mistake: this new take on Zombies is bizarre. It’s also fantastic.
Experimentation pushes things forward as four friends claw their way through hordes of undead. There’s a looming sense of mystery as you decide which doors to unlock next, which weapons prove most effective, and what that glowing green plant does. The difficulty is high here: I seldom made it past round 4 in my first 10 attempts.
But Zombies, now more than ever, is a learning experience. And seeing the tangible results of your experience in the alleyways of this strange world is a reward in itself. By the time I began reaching wave 20 and higher, I felt like a veteran. There’s a sense of mastery that has always come with Zombies, and it’s stronger here than ever before.
The undead horde has also wandered its way into another game mode. It’s called Nightmares, and it unlocks once you’ve beaten the campaign. In essence, Treyarch has recycled Black Ops III campaign missions–level design, objectives, character animations, and all–but now with zombies, and a grim voiceover from an unnamed character. Believe it or not, this works. There’s a slower pace to the missions here. Treyarch takes its time to let things develop. And in reimagining the story to center around a zombie infection, Treyarch has created something magnitudes better than its vanilla campaign.
The traditional campaign mode, however, is a chore. It’s a boring crawl through routine shooter fare. After an early torture scene–which has become something of a staple in the Black Ops universe–you’re soon mowing through waves of enemies as you’re funneled through linear pathways on the way to your next objective. There are some deviations from this pattern: on-rail aerial dogfights, extensive turret sequences, and underwater escapes, to name a few. But I was on auto-pilot by the fifth mission, settled into a continual routine of “aim, shoot, reload, repeat.”
There are fleeting moments when Black Ops III’s cybernetic modifications change the way you play. These abilities let you control enemy drones, stun human opponents, or set fire to robots’ internal systems. The powers would be more impactful, though, if there wasn’t such a lack of enemy variety. Aside from flying drones and the occasional mech mini-boss, enemy variants just require differing numbers of bullets to take down. And when you’re using them on such a repetitive group of targets, who react the same way every time, the abilities lose their novelty.
By the fifth mission, I had settled into that continual routine of “aim, shoot, reload, repeat.”
Although Black Ops III offers the option to play the campaign cooperatively, its problems only multiply as a result. Instead of creating deeper scenarios involving teamwork and communication between up to four players, Black Ops III decides to just throw more hardened enemies at you. One Warlord–an enemy that requires several magazines to bring down–is bothersome enough. Four of them together is downright frustrating. They feel more like brick walls than sentient soldiers.
Black Ops III’s narrative doesn’t support the campaign in any meaningful way, either. It tells an incomprehensible story about AI ascendancy and the moral grays of a hyper-connected future, raising intriguing questions but never bothering to answer them. At the end of it all, after hours of soulless shooting and unremarkable storytelling, Black Ops III delivered its nebulous twist, and I didn’t dwell on it.
In its undead modes, and the first 10 hours of multiplayer, it excels. But in its campaign, it merely crawls forward. Black Ops III doesn’t offer anything remarkable to the series, but does just enough to maintain the Call of Duty status quo. The franchise, however slowly, continues its inexorable march.