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We had a Battleborn treat and XCOM 2 tease with 2K and Megarom

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Yesterday we attended the 2K Games, South Africa event, which was hosted by Megarom Interactive. We got hands-on time with Battleborn and a cheeky tease of XCOM 2. The event was all the more special because ex-South African gaming legend "I am Devon" ran the presentation. Mr. Stanton is 2K's Export PR Manager, so join us for a tour of XCOM 2 and Battleborn.

XCOM 2 - The way fans wanted it

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If there's one thing I would change about the event, it would be to get hands on time with XCOM 2. The game looks absolutely fascinating. Let me start be putting probably the biggest fan concern to rest. Stop worrying about the graphics. Visually, XCOM 2 is exactly what we expect from a 2015 game. My photos don't do the graphics justice as the conditions were anything but perfect for my poor photography skills.

As a turn-based strategy game, XCOM 2 will be a must play for any strategy genre fan. The best way I can describe the game is that it looks and sounds like a many-layered, deep strategic masterpiece. If you're new to the XCOM universe, then don't worry that you'll struggle to understand the gameplay, story or strategy; XCOM 2 looks noob friendly enough.

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What I found particular gripping is the gameplay, no the story, no the look of the game... I can't pick, because as Devon boldly stated, "XCOM 2 is the game fans wanted." I honestly think it is that, and more.

XCOM 2's story comes with the rich background of its predecessors, and what a fascinating tale they tell! As you probably know, it's 20 years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, where earth is ruled by the Aliens. The player is of course tasked with saving the world. 

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What happens when Aliens inhabit earth? How has life on earth changed the Aliens? Take a look at the Beserker in the image above. According to Devon a merge between alien and human occurs, which somehow changes the aliens, you guessed it; making them even smarter and deadlier. That brings me to the strategy and gameplay of XCOM 2.

We saw a sabotage mission by the Avengers on the 20th Anniversary of the Advent Coalition. The resistance movement wants to blow up the big Alien Memorial. 

XCOM 2 is not going to be a mindless "rush in and stomp the enemy." As with XCOM: Enemy Within it's all about careful planning, proper execution and learning from your mistakes. The gameplay looked seamless and the strategy like a virtual chess match. And just as you think you've outplayed the aliens they'll throw you a curve ball that will knock you out of the park. The tension I felt during the critical moments of the battle reminded me of the high action I experience in first-person shooters.  

Mods? Yes XCOM 2 will allow PC gamers favourite hobby ;).

In conclusion: If you're an XCOM fan, then this is the game you've always wanted. If you're a strategy genre junkie, then XCOM 2 will be your fix of the year. If you're new to XCOM and strategy games, then XCOM 2 will make you a believer.

XCOM 2 is a PC exclusive and will release in November.

 

Battleborn - Ultimate Badass for Every Kind of Badass?

Battleborn is many things; first-person shooter, online battle arena, it has strategy game features and action role-playing game elements. It's like Borderlands slept around with different genres and gave birth to Battleborn. The question is if Gearbox Software's experiment resulted in the ultimate badass game.

I'll be able to give you an indication of that answer as we were first treated to a presentation and Q&A session, and then we got about 30 minutes of hands-on time.

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According to Mr. Stanton, Battleborn brings together everything gamers love about gaming into one glorious experience. There's really a bit of almost everything that makes different genres great in Battleborn.

The signature Borderlands humor, enough action for the shooter junkies, character upgrades and customization for the role-playing people, strategy thrown in to keep the team on their toes and so on. There will be a massive selection of 25 characters when the game launch. Each character has their leveling system with unique skills and abilities. Each character also has one ultimate ability that can turn the tide of battle, if used wisely.

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As you play, you gain experience points that can be used to upgrade your character abilities. An "upgrade" icon appears when you've reached enough points. Each character has different upgrade paths, each with several branches to develop your character in the direction you prefer for the specific play session. The Helix is where you tweak your leveling progress. It's quick and easy to upgrade on the go, and you'll not miss out on the battle.

Other important info: Battleborn includes a campaign mode and plays in first-person perspective. Everyone starts at the same level and upgrades as the session progress. Upgrading depends on player performance.

Let's play Battleborn.

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Mission: Infiltrate an old Peacekeeper base and attempt to close a portal that's allowing the evil Varellsi to enter the Solus system.

I had two playthroughs, in my first session I chose the dandy sniper, Marquis.

I say "dandy" because as Gearbox describes Marquis, his "relatively fragile chassis necessitates careful, strategic engagement." Playing as Marquis was a lot of fun. You can easily kill an enemy with a well-timed headshot, or significantly reduce their shield or health with a proper body shot. You have two special abilities: Predatory Strike and Temporal Disorientation.

Predatory Strike unleashes Marquis' owl, Hoodini. Hoodini saved my hide a couple of times when my DPS attracted unwanted attention. If your teamies bite off more than they can chew, you can save the day by sending Hoodini to join the fight.

Temporal Disorientation is an Area of Effect spell that slows down approaching enemies for six seconds. Six seconds is all you need to switch from scope to handgun, run backwards, call for help and take out the enemies stuck in the time warp. Our groups healer doesn't know it, but I saved our asses a couple of times with this handy ability.

Talking about healing. I enjoyed playing Marquis so much that I wanted to grab him for the second playthrough, but alas, I was left with playing as Miko, the healer.

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As it should be, playing healer is completely different than playing as ranged DPS. Just to be clear, I love playing as healer. In Team Fortress 2 I played Medic competitively and still enjoy playing it after almost seven years. However, I hated playing healer in Battleborn, and herein also lies the only critique I have about the game.

Battleborn doesn't require a healing class.

The attack classes is so overpowered that they can survive just about any confrontation. On top of that it felt like health packs were available around every corner. Players also pick up shards throughout the game that they can use to assemble turrets that automatically attack enemies. Turrets are positioned at pivotal stages of a mission. But again, the DPS is so overpowering that you don't really need the turrets. In our mission, we had to escort the Wolf Sentry, which you can also upgrade.

Perhaps our team structure was just very different the second time around because I felt the healer did an excellent job during the first session. In fact, I asked him after the session if he ever played healer in World of Warcraft, and as it turns out, he was a WoW Shaman.

After the two playthroughs, I asked the rest of the media representatives what they thought about the game. The guy that played tank class said his character was totally overpowered. Everyone agreed that Battleborn was a hell of fun ride, but needs better balance between the classes, fewer health packs and that the healing class should be crucial, which it was not.

However, Battleborn will give you plenty of fun times. The game looks good and has a lot of potential to be a badass hybrid ;).

Verdict: Gameplay was smooth and easy to grasp, with character diversity and leveling a real treat. Battleborn is a lot fun, but could become repetitive, so much depends on map and mission diversity. Gearbox definitely needs to work on game balance: between the classes as well as between the squad and enemies.

You only feel like a real badass if you defeat an enemy that's more badass than you.

Lastly and perhaps most important is the question of South African Battleborn servers as it's after all an online game. I had a chat with Dan Cook, 2K Export Marketing Manager about the issue. He'll put MWEB GameZone in contact with the relevant 2K parties, so we'll keep you updated.

Battleborn will release later this year (or early next year) on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox On. 

A big shoutout to our host, Graeme Selvan from Megarom. Thanks for a wonderful afternoon of great gaming.Check out our 2K SA event Facebook album for more photos.

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook


"XCOM 2 is the game fans wanted"

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