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Minecraft Dungeons has charm and potential, but needs lot more time in the furnace

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Minecraft is one of the most popular games on the planet, so it’s natural that Microsoft, after buying creator Mojang some years back, would attempt to apply the genre’s playful, blocky aesthetic to other genres. After modest success with the Story Mode adventure game and Pokémon GO-like Minecraft Earth, they’ve tried their hand at a light action-RPG à la Diablo — and unfortunately come up rather short. For now, that is.

Minecraft Dungeons is a sort of my-first-dungeon-crawler type game, a friendly, streamlined version of the genre Diablo created where players enter a procedurally created dungeon or region, kill some monsters, get some loot, make it out alive and do it all over again.

That’s the idea in this game as well, but of course the whole thing uses the block-based look and feel of Minecraft. As you travel through different biomes to free villagers, destroy ancient forges and so on, everything from the levels and monsters to equipment and potions looks like it came straight out of the original game. They nailed the look perfectly.

It’s refreshing, because games like this tend to court a rather grim aesthetic, and when it comes to gameplay they pile on features and mechanics until it feels more like you’re playing a spreadsheet than a game. It’s clear from the start Minecraft Dungeons was intended to provide the fun of fighting, upgrading and exploring without the overly complex and dark trappings of the genre.

For instance, instead of having a handful of character classes each with their own skill tree, everything your character can do depends on their equipment. Weapons, armor and accessories all have unique bonuses and abilities. So if you want to be a bow and arrow-type fighter, wear the Ranger armor that gives you extra-ranged damage and ammo, and use accessories that empower your arrows. Want to be a melee guy? There’s armor and swords for that too.

Customization of your play style, an important part of these games, is achieved by judicious choice of a set of random upgrades on each item. When you gain a level, you get a point that can be used to activate, say, a passive ability that deflects enemy projectiles 20% of the time. Then it costs two points to upgrade it again, so it deflects 30% of the time.

You get those points back when you trash the item and can reapply them to a new one, providing low-risk, low-commitment progress — in time you’ll have lots of points banked to upgrade and experiment with whatever new item you find.

This approach is really a breath of fresh air after the convoluted overlapping systems of the likes of Diablo, Grim Dawn and Path of Exile. There was just the right amount of “this new sword is tempting but do really I want to recycle my old one?” tension, and although you will collect trash loot, it’s easy to check and dispose of.

I didn’t get a chance to test multiplayer, but the game is definitely designed with co-adventuring in mind. Couch co-op lets you drop in a second player with a controller or connect online with others on the same platform (cross-play is coming soon). A cross-platform casual dungeon crawler is something I’ve been wanting for a long time.

It’s too bad, then, that this is where the game runs out of really positive qualities. I’m keeping in mind that this is a $20 game designed with players new to the genre in mind — not to say kids exactly — so there’s no sense comparing it directly to a major mainstream gaming franchise. But even so, Minecraft Dungeons has some serious issues.

For one thing, it really needs more variety. Part of the fun of these games is traveling from region to region and fighting new types of monsters with different tactics and abilities. That really just isn’t there in this game. The 10 different areas are visually distinct, yes, but they’re linear, similar from one run to another, and don’t differ all that much gameplay-wise. One aspect of Minecraft I’ve always loved, exploration, is nearly absent. Getting up on a hill or down in some little valley or cavern you can see usually isn’t possible — they’re just walls or bottomless pits. Side paths often run quite a distance, but I eventually learned to stopped taking them because they were frequently empty and it always took forever to backtrack afterwards.

You’ll run into the same zombies, spiders and soldiers over and over, and get the same weapons and accessories dropped over and over, often with very similar stats. Although there seems to be a good variety at first, the abilities and weapons don’t seem particularly well-balanced, with some obviously and objectively better than others. Some are basically useless: One ability gives you a speedup for a few seconds after you dodge — but the game also slows you down for a few seconds after you roll, so they kind of just cancel each other out. Another returns a third of one percent of your health for every 100 blocks you uncover in the game. What?

This wouldn’t be an issue if the game had better difficulty tuning. I found in my playthrough that there was no challenge whatsoever 99% of the time, and then suddenly a situation would arise where I would be nearly instantly killed. These weren’t lesson-teaching deaths like other games — just sudden confluences of bad luck and, it must be said, some poor design.

Ranged attacks from enemies will often come from off-screen, for instance. And not just a stray arrow, but many simultaneously. Enemy projectiles also go through all other enemies, unlike your own, and are very difficult to dodge, especially when there are a dozen coming from different angles. So sometimes after spending the whole level barely taking a hit, you’re reduced to an emergency situation in a fraction of a second, with very little warning, by enemies you haven’t had a chance to react to or perhaps even see. The close-zoom camera shows details well but limits your understanding of what’s happening around you.

These brutal difficulty spikes aren’t always accidental. One enemy kept popping up that repeatedly spawned huge numbers of bear traps under my character’s feet that closed before any but a really expert player could be expected to dodge. Bosses are cheap, swarming players with minions, storms of enormous projectiles, and instant, undodgeable melee attacks.

The issue here isn’t just that it’s hard, but that the game doesn’t give you the tools you need to deal with it. Dodging feels clumsy and enemies block your movement; there is little in the way of active defense like a shield or accessory you activate to repel arrows for 5 seconds; you only have one slowly recharging healing potion and health doesn’t trickle back, so little mistakes add up over time. Not that it matters, since punishment is usually swift and extreme.

What all this amounts to is a game that alternates between monotonous and frustratingly hard, even for a fan of the genre like myself. And considering you’ll run through all the areas in the game in a handful of hours — there are 10 areas, each of which takes perhaps 20 minutes to clear — it’s expected that you’ll repeat them over and over to reach the gear level required to beat the final boss. I got all the way to that point and was insta-killed twice in a row.

I repeated a few areas but found them nearly indistinguishable from their earlier iterations. Ultimately I just wasn’t motivated to grind away just so I could unlock another, likely even more unfair, difficulty level.

I wouldn’t complain so much if this wasn’t, ostensibly, a game for beginners. Minecraft Dungeons innovates and simplifies in some really laudable ways, but the moment-to-moment game design is too uneven and the variety on offer isn’t enough even for a $20 game.

But it must be said that Minecraft itself also started out rather bare-bones and was built up over time into something remarkable and almost infinite. There are two DLC packs in the works for Dungeons, one rather crassly visible from the very start — nothing like being asked to pay more for a game you just bought. The good news is these packs will grow the game to a size that feels more like an adventure and less like a demo. I also expect that patches over the coming weeks and months will considerably tweak the equipment and difficulty — it can be, and needs to be, fixed.

A year from now Minecraft Dungeons could very well be a no-brainer purchase, a cross-platform casual hack-and-slash that you can play with your kids or your friends and have a great time without thinking too hard about it (or opening Excel). But right now it’s mostly potential. I’d hold off on picking this one up until it has been made into the game it’s meant to be.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/22/minecraft-dungeons-has-charm-and-potential-but-needs-lot-more-time-in-the-furnace/

Gaming

Hyper Scape patch notes for July 6 nerfs weapons

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The July 6 update for Hyper Scape balances a few over-performing weapons and hacks.

Hyper Scape is gaining some traction in the competitive shooter sphere and the next update looks to balance some weapons. These patch notes highlight several weapons that have been performing outside of their expected parameters and so are being reined back in a bit. Please check out the Hyper Scape July 6 patch notes below!


Hyper Scape patch notes – July 6

These patch notes for Hyper Scape come courtesy of Ryan, a Community Developer for Hyper Scape. The original notes were first posted on the Hyper Scape subreddit and have garnered quite a lot of positive feedback.

hyper scape patch notes july 6

WEAPONS

HEXFIRE

The Hexfire (aka Mini-gun, aka brrrrr!) was behaving in a much more dominant/all-purpose role than we witnessed in our own internal tests. The Time-to-kill (TTK) of the weapon is too fast if you add the benefit of a large magazine and firing stability. We want gameplay to be diverse, and so the Hexfire needs to become a less obvious choice vs. other weapons.

We are reducing the overall damage output of the weapon, but without seriously changing its core behavior & comfort for now. We will continue to monitor it moving forward.

Detailed changes:

  • Damage across Fusion levels decreased to 3/3/3/3/4, down from 4/4/4/4/5
  • Contextual movement Spread in Hip-fire (run, sprint & in-air states) has been slightly increased to reinforce difference with Ripper in term of mobility. Aim Down Sight (ADS) accuracy is unchanged.

SKYBREAKER

The Skybreaker’s success has broken our expectations. In our tests the Skybreaker was used as a slower but powerful/contextually great weapon. We’re pleased to see it used in fast airborne combat, but we believe it’s currently doing a bit too much damage compared to other weapons.

Only damage will be lowered, for now the gun behavior & blast radius are unchanged.

Detailed changes:

  • Damage across Fusion levels decreased to 40/46/52/58/64, down from 50/57/65/72/80

SALVO

Salvo has been used a lot, and raised many comments about its brutal efficiency indoors. Although we like its accessibility, it’s become a bit too much of a short-range, fire-and-forget weapon. For now, the proximity detonation will not be modified but we will lower its damage a bit.

The small damage reduction will be enough to prevent a 4-hit kill at full Fusion.

Detailed changes:

  • Damage across Fusion levels decreased to 22/22/22/22/28, down from 25/25/25/25/31

KOMODO

Komodo has seen some use but we feel it needs a little buff to be more of an option vs. Salvo or Ripper. We will adjust its damage based on the new values of Salvo.

Detailed changes:

  • Damage across Fusion levels increased to 22/22/22/22/28, up from 20/20/20/20/25

D-TAP

The first days of Technical Test have seen little usage of the D-Tap. The weapon’s auto-lock system works. However, we believe its damage output is a bit too low to make it interesting enough, so we are increasing the Rate of Fire, both in Hip-fire & ADS.

(Please note that in ADS the D-TAP already has a +15% faster RoF & an increased lock range compared to Hip-fire)

Detailed changes:

  • Rate of Fire in Hip-fire +10%
  • Rate of Fire in ADS +10%

HACKS

ARMOR

The Armor Hack did not have a dominant presence in our internal tests so far, which proves how useful this Technical Test with all of you has been. Armor has been heavily used in the previous days and generated a lot of discussion. We have seen players learning how to time their attacks to exploit its inherent weaknesses (while in armor you can’t shoot, you can’t use a hack, you can’t even break a barricade with melee). However, even so, the Armor remains a strong hack that we are changing to be less powerful. The fact that players have learned to use the cooldown “Fusion-reset” to double stack it (or even triple stack it) while wearing the Crown is amazing but we can’t let players get up to 24s of Armor non-stop during Showdown. Thor 👀

We are not changing the behavior for now, but we are modifying cooldown and duration to create more windows of opportunity when facing an armored contender.

Detailed changes:

  • Hack duration lowered to 6s, down from 8s
  • Cooldown across fusion increased to 14/13/12/11/9s, up from 12/11/10/9/7s

MINE

Dark Haze mode has shown more Mine usage compared to Crown Rush but we think it is still underused compared to other hacks. The Mine is currently a bit slow to react and managing to hit players reliably with it is harder than we expected.

Mine’s overall reactivity will be improved: Its trigger time will be shortened so it activates and starts chasing players sooner, and the Mine Projectile acceleration will be increased.

Detailed changes:

  • Hack trigger timer duration lowered to 0.5s, down from 1s
  • Projectile acceleration time to reach full speed has been strongly increased

As you can see, the patch notes for Hyper Scape are curtailing some of the over-performing weapons and hacks. Players should find the Hyper Scape client needs an update, totalling 182Mb, so not too demanding. Be sure to check out the Shacknews Hyper Scape page for our ongoing coverage of the latest entry in the battle royale genre.

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler is relatively new to the industry, getting his start a few years ago as a writer-for-hire. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and finding his feet, he’s found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There’s nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler 

Source: https://www.shacknews.com/article/119052/hyper-scape-patch-notes-for-july-6-nerfs-weapons

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Gaming

Evening Reading – July 6, 2020

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Hey Shacknews, it’s time for Evening Reading. Let’s officially close out our day of posting. Please take a look.


In case you missed it at Shacknews:


And now… Other Stuff From The Internet!!!

Keanu makes good memes

This video sums up how I feel these days.


Dev Dump

It’s funny because it is true.


This could be us…

But you playin…


Solid Transformers costumes

More than meets the eye!


Oh deer…

They seemed polite.


NHL reopening plans

This video meme still makes me laugh.


Clown Goths Only

The mind sees what it wants to see.


Wear a mask

Koreans wear masks, and so should you!


Lastly, some cats

How about a silly cat picture before we go?

That’s the stuff.


There you have it, Shacknews. Your Evening Reading for July 6, 2020. Please consider subscribing to Shacknews Mercury to support our site for as little as $1/month. Here is a photo of Lola to brighten your night.

Lola is the best dog.
Lola is the best dog.

What are you up to tonight? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty comment thread below.

Asif Khan is the CEO and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Tendobox.com. Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary’s Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

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Source: https://www.shacknews.com/article/119051/evening-reading-july-6-2020

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‘Sky: Children of the Light’ 0.10.0 Adds Support for the Upcoming Season of Sanctuary, One Year Celebration Events, and More

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TouchArcade Rating:

Sky: Children of the Light (Free) from thatgamecompany was Apple’s iPhone Game of the Year for 2019 and recently an Apple Design Awards winner at WWDC 2020. Today, Sky: Children of the Light 0.10.0 went live on iOS and Android bringing in support for the new Season of Sanctuary where spirits are seeking an island retreat in the new Daylight Prairie island. The season goes live soon with pre-orders for the adventure pass now live. Pre-ordering the pass gets you 10 bonus seasonal candles. People you gift the pass to will not get the pre-order bonus. Sky’s First Anniversary event will begin soon as well with birthday-themed events. Watch the teaser for the Season of Sanctuary below:

The Season of Sanctuary begins on July 13 with new seasonal characters and a special visitor. Today’s update also includes quality of life improvements that fix readability, blocking friends, and more. When it comes to performance, the update has improvements for all devices. Sky: Children of the Light is now available for free on iOS and Android. Check it out on Android on Google Play here and on iOS on the App Store here. Check out our forum thread for more discussion around the game. We featured it as our Game of the Week when it launched as well. Have you been playing Sky: Children of the Light regularly?

Source: https://toucharcade.com/2020/07/07/sky-season-of-sanctuary-release-date-anniversary-event-update-0-10-0-patch-ios-android/

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