TechnologyTell

The Technology Tell Apple Channel’s surprise finds of E3 2015

Sections: Conferences, E3, Features, Games, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Mac Software

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Okay, enough with the E3 2015 stuff. It’s behind us now, and it’s time to look ahead to the rest of 2015, right? Well, that’s what we’re going to do here. You already know what our favorite Mac game and favorite iOS game of the show are, but it’s also fun for us to point out surprise finds; those games that caught us off guard by their uniqueness, their quality, and they level of excitement they raised. They’re games we want to get on your radar, as they’ve definitely worked their way onto ours.

Surprise Find for Mac: Armello

Armello is a surprise find for numerous reasons, not the least of which is where we actually found it. The game was hidden in a corner of a private Sony PS4 meeting room, largely because it’s coming out for PS4 in September. Once we announced who we were and why we were there, however, we were shown an early build on a MacBook, and it was pretty excellent.

Armello

Developed by League of Geeks, Armello is a fantasy board game that combines tactical card play with tabletop strategy and RPG elements. Big deal, right? Yes, big deal, as Armello has the chops to stand above the competition.

The first thing you’ll notice are the visuals, which seamlessly combine 3D gameboard animations with 2D battle animations. I’ve seen this done numerous times and always found it to create a disjointed effect, but the transition here was smooth and the “fighters” retained their distinctive characteristics throughout. The impressive graphics carry over to newly introduced volumetric cloud and weather effects, overhauled lighting and shaders, and high detail character models. We didn’t see these on the Mac build, but were able to check them out on the PS4 version with the assurance they’d hit Mac, too.

Armello

As for the gameplay itself, the press release can sum it up better than I can:

Set in a vibrant magical world with a tinge of darkness, Armello thrusts players into a Game of Thrones-esque struggle for power in epic single or multiplayer action. Players take on the role of a ‘Hero’ from one of the four animal clans and navigate their character across the procedurally generated board as they quest, scheme, explore, vanquish monsters, perform the Mad King’s royal edicts and face off against other players, with one ultimate goal in mind – storming the palace and becoming King or Queen of Armello.

Players start in their clan grounds and traverse the board with a set number of action points for each turn to spend on moving their character from tile to tile. Each tile presents different consequences including exploring a dungeon, gaining or losing health, claiming a settlement for your own or granting stealth. With more than 100 beautifully animated and illustrated cards, players can cast spells, recruit followers, uncover ancient treasures and execute treacherous plots as they quest for the throne!

There will be eight playable characters at launch, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, of course. There will also be four ways to win, so having a character that isn’t very strong isn’t necessarily a detriment. You can win by combat (slay the King and survive the confrontation), prestige (have the most prestige when the King dies), Spirit Stone collection (collect four and assist the King in maintaining peace) and rot (defeat the King while having more Rot than him). The latter amuses me, as its kind of like winning The Game of Life by basically being evil and murdering your boss at the end instead of retiring.

What I find most intriguing about Armello, however, is its use of sidequests. You could storm the castle very quickly if you want to, but it won’t do you much good. Rather, you’ll need to go on sidequests to raise your levels and forge alliances, brining yet another level of strategy into the mix.

I could continue to talk about Armello, but considering the Early Access build is already available for Windows, Mac and Linux, why don’t you just head over to Steam and check it out.

Surprise Find for iOS: Relics of Gods

Relics of Gods came this close to being our favorite iOS game of the show. It was certainly our favorite iOS related booth of the show, harking back to a few years ago when spectacle mattered. And why not? If you’ve got a list of heroes like this game has, let’s see some L.A. actor/models up on stage dressed like them.

Relics of Gods

Relics of Gods is a turn-based MOBA, so the bulk of the action will, of course, center around multiplayer combat.

Relics of Gods

As described in the pre-show press release:

In Relics of Gods, players choose three heroes to lead into a massive PvP and PvE experience from a roster of over 50 gods and champions. The game sends players on an epic quest to recruit heroes to their cause of unlocking the enigma that can destroy Naborbell, a continent ripe with exploration, lore and side quests.

By teaming up and coordinating with their friends, players can form deadly combos and use a series of attacks, skills and divine blessings to defeat their foes. In Relics of Gods, teamwork and communication are essential skills to defeating your enemies.

That’s all well and good, but also somewhat expected from a MOBA. The turn-based battle system is a nice break, allowing combat to be more about strategy and less about twitch.

In our demo, however, we saw a couple very interesting (and very well animated) interactive cut scenes that seemed to tell a larger story than what you’d get from a MOBA. So, we asked how the developers how they’ll tie in, and were told, “The story and cinematics flesh out the background. It explains how we got to the current situation and provides some of the motivations behind the conflicts. The story is experienced through single player gameplay as to not distract from the speed and intensity of the PvP gameplay.”

Relics of Gods

And that’s exactly what I wanted to hear. MOBAs are fine, but those of us seeking a solitary experience will get a story mode and the ability to practice battles in single player offline mode. And although Relics of Gods will be a freemium release, we’re told the in-app purchases will be more about “… skins and other more robust content, like heroes, etc. Those larger items will be later with a lot of caution given to avoid creating a pay to win scenario.”

So, that’s an encouraging approach to a fantastic looking game. We’ll be watching Relics of Gods throughout its development, and look forward to spending more time with it when it releases for iOS, Android, Mac and PC later this year. In the meantime, you may want to bookmark www.seasungames.com.

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