Wil Weekly #1

Game of the week – Tainted Grail Conquest

Tainted Grail Conquest is a Roguelite Deckbuilder, a personal favourite of mine, but also features strong RPG mechanics in a persistent story that is explored throughout the runs. The game has a bit of an interesting lineage, starting out as another mode for a RPG by the same developer, Awaken Realms Digital, all of which are based off of a board game by the developer. Originally a boss rush mode, Tainted Grail Conquest grew into something more and had to be separated and eventually focused on as ideas grew and grew. 

Stuck in a purgatory like state you must build up your village by saving people from the Wyrdness, the strange phenomena that has taken hold of the island of Avalon all while finding out more about how the island came to be cursed. The Dark fantasy setting is immediately gripping, thanks both to some excellent writing and voice acting, as well as an evocative soundtrack. 

Every character you meet reacts to the Wyrdness differently, some embracing the chaotic nature of the island and some driven mad by the island. Some you meet are sane enough to be offered a place in your village, unlocking another vendor to offer benefits in a run and an opportunity for persistent upgrades.  Each of the new villagers have a compelling backstory as to how they ended up wandering and surviving the Wyrdness and send you on quests to find out more. The Candlemaker, at first seeming to have dark secrets, seeks solace on the previous village he was exiled from due to a jealous mayor, and the quest for this news involves meeting unique conditions in the run and a gruelling bossfight against the mayor, twisted and corrupted by the Wyrdness. 

There are nine classes to the game, broken into 3 different archetypes meaning that these classes have access to shared cards. However, in spite of the shared cards the classes still have a strong identity and very different means to getting to the end of a run. Where the Wyrdhunter class focuses on dealing damage consistently, the Pathfinder seeks to block attacks, building up base damage to let loose fewer but stronger attacks to ensure victory. The classes also have unique ultimate abilities that you gain charges for by meeting certain criteria. The Wyrdhunter charges their ultimate of a devastating attack with the more attacks they land. The Pathfinder charges their ultimate for every stance (non-damage dealing card) they play, allowing them to draw more cards and gain more energy with their ultimate. 

The Passive Perks are also unique to each class, offering further identity and run variety. Each class starts with a Perk and their own deck but within each run new perks and cards can come by quickly as you level up. This allows for each run to feel unique and add in that variety needed in the genre. Runestones (Mods) offer further ways to tailor the run, offering small boosts to damage or armor, increased draw or health. Runestones come in rarities and collecting enough allows for you to level them up.

While I am still early into the game, it is safe to say my current obsession with it cements it as a game of the week. A few games of this genre often sneak their way into my Game of the Year list, and Tainted Grail Conquest is a strong contender for this year due to its thus far strong deck building, class design and engaging narrative and voice cast. I will also keep a close eye on how the RPG version of the game develops and no doubt arrive again on the cursed island of Avalon. 

Hot Topic – E3 Predictions 

It has happened everyone, we got back with our ex. After the break up last year we all told ourselves that we didn’t need E3 and we were better off without them. Well, after a year of publisher DIY here we are back in the arms of our ex to lead us through an exciting long weekend, before we are ultimately left next week thinking, hey wasn’t it actually better having some time between these conferences? This was exhausting!

So what’s going to happen this year at E3, the ‘official’ gaming holiday? 

With so many conferences coming up there has been leaks abound, and most prominent among these is the Switch Pro. Almost every day of the week some other notable leaker claiming that the Switch Pro will be announced that very day, all because someone said it would happen before E3, so that developers and publishers could tell us what they are planning for the Switch Pro. Days have gone by with Twitter abuzz at the apparently imminent announcement, quickly followed by backtracking from the leakers. It has been truly interesting to watch and the ticking countdown to E3 has made it all the more interesting. 

My prediction? The Switch pro will be announced at Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest as a kick off the whole event. 

Most anticipated game of the year or most common shared hallucination Elden Ring will be another game on everyone’s bingo sheets. 3 different places it could appear: will Geoff Keighley set the conference ablaze early, will Phil Spencer and Microsoft splash the cash for the big game or will Bandai Namco save it all for themselves? Personally I see Keighley getting the trailer and gameplay at Bamco. That is of course, if the game exists. 

Hype games will be what Microsoft is wanting to dish up one Elden Ring or zero Elden Ring. Though they have every opportunity to kill it with plenty of big games to show and with Bethesda under their wing, they could be early favourites to be King of E3. They have been strong with the release of the Xbox Series X and universal praise of GamePass, the actual games are the really only area you could criticise PhilBox Studios.

What will they show though? They will want to show the work they have done on Halo Infinite to put the bullies that sent Halo Infinite back a year in place. Strangely I think Bethesda games will be quiet, other than Starfield. With Deathloop and GhostWire Tokyo not committing to PhilBox Studios, surely they will be left for Sony to show off whenever they decide to grace us with their presence.

Personally I’m hopeful for updates on Hellblade, Avowed and Age of Empires IV, and more on Scorn would be cool, but release dates for Psychonauts and Halo Infinite are guaranteed. Though the power plays for Microsoft will be the announcements they have to make. 

Leaked a few weeks ago was the idea that Ed Boon and Netherealm Studios are working on a Marvel fighting game. It has been 2 years since the last Mortal Kombat, and judging by their 2 year schedule they should be ready to reveal and release. Ed Boon has done some trolling on twitter and mentioned in interviews that he has talked with Marvel in the past, something is adding up to something. 

With Warner Bros having a conference to themselves and likely little else to announce other than Monolith’s Shadow of Gondor and hopefully a date for Lego Star Wars the Skywalker Saga. The prospects of these plus more Suicide Squad, Gotham Knights and Hogwarts Legacy has Warner Brothers as a quiet achiever. Though after I wrote this it has come to light that Warner Brothers are only showing Back for Blood? An interesting development in this space and potentially worrying signs that they do not want to talk about 3 announced games in big IPs.

The conference I am not really looking forward to is the Ubisoft conference, because I really don’t think they will have much to show. FarCry 6 is their big game of the year and they just had a big feature on it. They have said Rainbow Six and Riders Republic are a go, but sorry Ubi, not grabbing me. Happy to be surprised by any reveals they do come up with but at the moment, low on the totem pole.

News Speak

News has hit a bit of a lull, the calm before the storm of the above mentioned holiday, but some snippets still made it out into the world.

Chief among the news was Sony getting in their words before the rest of the Industry gets their go. Following their strong showing of Horizon Forbidden West they continued their Pre E3 news, starting with Mathijs de Jonge, Game Director for Horizon, coming out and stating “The development is on track” as well as that in these crazy times anything could happen to throw out their timeframes. This statement came following general surprise that there was no release date given at the Horizon specific State of Play.   

Saddest but least surprising among the Sony News was that God of War (Ragnorok?) has been delayed until 2021. Sony Santa Monica Creative Director Cory Barlog has come out on twitter stating that he was behind the decision to delay the game, as well as the other controversial news surrounding GoW this week that it would still be coming to Playstation 4. Controversial considering the ‘we believe in generations’ statements from Sony, but if the Creative Director is defending the decision it will likely make minimal impact to the final product and pitchforks can be put away. 

Nestled in among this news was that Gran Turismo 7 would also be cross generation, a just as surprising decision considering that racing games are fundamental graphics showcases. With the continued shortage of Playstation 5’s and this likely to continue, this is really a win win for players and developers, allowing for more to keep playing the latest games and developers accessing the huge pool of potential players on the Playstation 4. 

Days Gone developer Bend Studio also had a small press release this week. A recent report that the studio would not be going ahead with a sequel to their 2019 game was met with a surprising amount of fan disappointment considering most of the feedback about the game. The Bend Studio statement confirmed that they were not working on a follow up game and are instead focusing on some new IP. The director of the 2019 game, Jeff Ross, recently came out saying that a sequel was pitched to Sony, and it seems that this statement is confirmation that it was not given the go ahead. 

Sony’s final piece of E3 crashing display this week is the forthcoming release of Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart, a truly next generation experience. Reviews were published today and it seems that Sony have had another win for their first party games. The Opencritic Average is sitting at 89 which makes it the highest scoring game of 2021, not including re-released games. The critics have complemented the way the game has used the hardware of the Playstation experience, many calling it the first new generational essential. By all accounts a fast paced action packed experience with incredible visuals and charm seeping from Ratchet’s and Rivet’s fur. 

While news of a new console is something that would usually set the world alight, the long known Atari VCS console getting a release date of June 15 hasn’t seemed to crack the surface of gaming discourse. Launching as a versatile multimedia machine the VCS will allow you to play a hundred titles from the Atari 2600 as well as more than a dozen games from indie developers and Atari’s very own Missile Command: Recharged. The multimedia side of things aspects of the console are standard, access to popular streaming services and control via a companion app. Potentially the most exciting aspect of the Atari 2600 will be the ability to install Windows or Linux as an alternate operating system. With the capability to output at 4k 60 fps it will be interesting to see how the homebrewing of the console evolves. 

Staying on new consoles, Panic have revealed more information on their upcoming handheld console, the Playdate. This update was focused on games and revealed that the initial library would consist of 24 original games for the machine, with the collection titled ‘Season 1’ by Panic. Adopters of the system will receive 2 games per week over the course of 12 weeks. With a focus on indie games the console will also be accompanied by a free games creation tool called Pulp, which will be based in a web browser and will allow for your games to be uploaded to Playdate. A release date was not given for the portable console, but there were assurances given by Panic that Pre Orders would be announced with at least a week’s notice. 

CD Project Red found itself unintentionally in the news again this week after a video was leaked that showed an internal montage of bugs that were recorded prior to the launch of their most recent release, Cyberpunk 2077. This was taken by fans as another reason to put nails in the coffin of CDPR following their disastrous launch of the Cyberpunk, once thought to be the second coming of.. The Witcher 3? This video was circulated and probably blown out of proportion as further evidence of the depravity of the development cycle. Considering that Sony Santa Monica have shared their own videos of bugs in God of War 2018’s development, conclusions shouldn’t have been jumped too so quickly. However this does not excuse the release of Cyberpunk and the reaction to the video shows how far from grace they have fallen.

Another developer in hot water this week is Capcom, who are being sued by an artist seeking up to 12 million dollars in reparative damages for having her work stolen. Capcom have yet to make a comment, other than that they are aware of the lawsuit. The evidence in the lawsuit consists of visual comparisons between her work and the work used by Capcom across many of their big gaming franchises. This includes the surface backing the Resident Evil 4 logo, which seems to have just had the logo plastered on top of her copyrighted images. The 2020 data leak of Capcom’s information has also come into play, as the lawsuit insinuates that the files used by Capcom have not even had their names changed from the files found on the CD version of the book in question, Surfaces by Judy A. Juracek. 

Finally, in further evidence the world has gone mad this week is that a Chicken Nugget shaped like an Among Us bean has been sold at auction. Following an intense bidding war it finished at almost $100,000. The scariest thing about this story is that people with stupid amounts of money are into meme culture. The end times indeed.

Thank you for reading my first Wil Weekly! Obviously hoping to make this a weekly round of my week is games and this one came out a little longer than imagined. Please feel free to send me any feedback 🙂

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