Last year, French publisher Focus Home Interactive made its Xbox One debut with stealth fantasy game Styx: Master of Shadows and the investigative adventure Crime & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes. This year, the publisher returns to an even more diverse lineup of games for Xbox One, Windows, and other platforms.
Today we look at three of those upcoming games. Blood Bowl II is a fantasy sports game with a strategic twist. Farming Simulator 15 is just what the name says, an agriculture simulator/tractor driving game. And Space Hulk: Deathwing is a first-person shooter/horror game set in the Space Hulk/Warhammer 40K universe. Read on for detailed impressions and trailers for each game!
Blood Bowl II
Anyone who played games during the 16-bit era probably remembers a classic EA Sports title called Mutant League Football. That game was probably inspired by real life board game Blood Bowl, which depicts a very football-like sport played by human and orc athletes. Blood Bowl actually takes place in a cartoonish version of the Warhammer fantasy universe.
After successfully adapting Blood Bowl for PCs a few years back, developer Cyanide is preparing to launch the sequel Blood Bowl II on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. Are you ready for some extra rough football?
Unlike most sports titles on the market, Blood Bowl is a turn-based game! You give your players commands such as where to pass or throw the ball and then watch as they perform these actions. Players can learn or start innately with over 70 different RPG-like special abilities that give them an edge during the game.
When it comes time to rough up an opposing player, a die roll decides the outcome of the attack. The attacks can be brutal, injuring our even maiming the losing combatant. All told, it's deliciously different, and should appeal to players who don't enjoy traditional sports games.
Blood Bowl II features an extensive single-player campaign in which players must take control of a famous Blood Bowl team before they became famous. You'll lead the Reikland Reavers from their rookie stage all the way to stardom, and probably crush a pile of skulls along the way.
Cyanide hasn't forgotten the game's multiplayer roots either. Naturally two players can compete on the same console or computer, taking turns just like in the board game. Online gets exciting though. The online mode is persistent, with players and teams gaining experience and leveling up as they play. Players can age and retire, or worse – get killed permanently! Luckily, you can always hire new ones to take their place.
With a fun theme, great graphics and art, a clever mix of strategy and sports gameplay, and the unique, persistent online multiplayer mode, Blood Bowl II should be like no console sports game before it. We'll find out whether it scores the touchdown when it arrives on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows later this Spring. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Blood Bowl website for more gameplay details.
Farming Simulator 15
Swiss developer Giants Software's Farming Simulator series has long held a cult following on PCs. Last year's game made it to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and even Windows Phone and Windows 8 (YES!). The console and mobile versions certainly have their fans, but until now they have lacked one essential feature of the PC games: online multiplayer.
Thankfully the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Farming Simulator 15 will finally include cooperative online farming. Players can team up and drive factors, harvesters, and other agricultural machines to their hearts' content. Seeing as how Faming Simulator is a slow-paced game, the ability to socialize with a friend while working on tasks together should make for a fun and relaxing experience. Sort of like Minecraft but without the survival aspects.
Don't think Farmville when you think Farming Simulator – this game offers a much more comprehensive and interactive farming experience. The game's primary activity is crop production, and that means driving tractors. If you grew up fascinated by tractors and other huge agricultural vehicles, you'd be impressed by how realistically they've been recreated in Farming Simulator 15. They even acquire dirt and mud as you're driving around.
This year's game boasts a new activity: woodcutting. If the nearby forest encroaches too much on your farming real estate, just chop it down. Tree harvesters, chainsaws, chippers, and trailers will help you acquire wood that can then be sold at market. Other farming activities include raising livestock (cows, sheep, and chickens), economy management, and sales – the same stuff that real life farmers you sometimes hear about on NPR have to do.
Farming Simulator 15 includes several ways to play. You can farm within a new open world, building the biggest and best farm you can imagine. Or visit specific maps such as America and the Nordic map to see how farming conditions differ across the world. Missions will pop up as you play, challenging you to complete specific goals within a set time to earn rewards. You know, relaxing farm game-y stuff.
Historically, the Farming Simulator games have been fairly low budget compared to AAA titles. After all, the market for farming games isn't quite as large as shooting and military games. We can expect the Xbox One game to look and run a little better than last year's Xbox 360 entry, but don't think it will amaze anyone on a technical level.
Farming Simulator is all about the farming experience, the relaxing setting, and especially the tractors and machinery. I don't know about you guys, but I'm eager to hop online with a friend and drive some tractors.
Farming Simulator 15 will "plow its way" onto Xbox One and 360 and PlayStation 3 and 4 on Tuesday, May 19. The Windows version is already available.
Space Hulk: Deathwing
My first experience with Space Hulk, the Warhammer 40K spin-off, came from an ultra-hard first-person-shooter/strategy game for the 3DO console way back in the nineties. The series recently returned to life in a pair of top-down strategy titles on Steam. And later this year, developer Streum On and Focus Home Interactive will release a brand-new horror-themed FPS called Space Hulk: Deathwing.
The game stars a group of Deathwing Terminators, members of the illustrious Dark Angels. Players take on the role of a Librarian of the Deathwing. The group arrives on a Space Hulk, a massive and labyrinthine derelict ship adrift in space. These ships can contain technological riches, but also great dangers.
Together the Deathwing will explore the ship's cramped corridors and encounter the Death Angels' greatest foe: the Genestealers. These six-imbed aliens are incredibly deadly, capable of tearing through Terminator armor and flesh alike. Worse, they can convert other species into slaves that produce more Genestealers. If allowed to reach a civilized planet, they can bring it to ruin before it ultimately falls to the Genestealers' Tyranid masters.
Although Space Hulk: Deathwing is a first-person shooter, it still retains some role-playing elements from the original Space Hulk board game. Players will earn Fervor Points from battles. You'll be able to spend these on abilities from four different skill trees. The Deathwings can also find and equip new weapons and armor that will help them survive against the Genestealers.
Of the three games in this preview, Space Hulk: Deathwing is the farthest from completion. It should reach Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows later this year.
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