Dreadnought (PC)
Dreadnought (PC)

Dreadnought

The boring stuff: Dreadnought is an online-multiplayer starship arena game for PC, blah blah blah.

The interesting: The pacing for Dreadnought is much different than traditional online-multiplayer games. You have your fast-paced and hectic, aka Call of Duty; you’re always running and scoping out the next area while calling in for backup, aka Battlefield and Counter-Strike; or you’re always running from place to place to find the next person to force-feed bullets aka Halo. Dreadnought, however, fluctuates considerably while playing. Because you’re controlling such colossal ships, it’s not like you won’t be spotted from time to time, but the stages are massive enough that you aren’t constantly in a struggle against a constant barrage of laser fire.

The ebb and flow to combat in Dreadnought is more refreshing because it helps to represent the kind of tension you see in a real conflict. You aren’t always preparing yourself for a conflict, but you do keep your eye out for it. In Call of Duty multiplayer games, time-to-shoot is generally in a matter of seconds. Live Die Repeat (before the movie was released). But in Dreadnought, the player can actually build a tension to the scenario since they know the enemy is on the prowl, so the player’s paranoia and sense of caution spike dramatically until the conflict starts up.

Dreadnought does get hectic once the battles ensue, so don’t think it’s just an EVE Online 95% travel, 5% shooty kind of game. You’ll be managing your plenty to keep your ship in the sky while blasting other ships into the dirt.

Speedrunners

Speedrunners is an indie-multiplayer racer on early-access on Steam. Take the Flash, make him goofy (ie actually give him personality), create 4 of them and have them try to outrun one another. All of the players keep circling the track, pulling other players back,  until a player wins by leaving the person in last place off of the screen, until you’re the last person in 1st place. First to 3 wins.

Speedrunners was probably one of the more fun games to try in both the indie section as well as the other multiplayer-centric games on the floor. It doesn’t bring much new to the table. The mechanics are pretty simple: jump, boost (limited), grapple, slide, throw item; but the execution and the energy that the player’s have is rejuvinating compared to many other games at PAX this year.

Some of the levels are more balanced than others. There are many stages with pitfalls and hazards that are very unkind to people that are new to the game and when you’re in the lead but everyone is new to the level. The person in first becomes the Guinea Pig for many hazards, which is great for keeping the racing tension of “Shit, you’re in the lead” immediately proceeded with a “I’m catching up, you bastard.” That being said, it can lead to very one-sided victories if a player knows the stage particularly well and the others are still learning the ropes. Comparing this to a game like Towerfall, where skill shots matter plenty, but new players can still win due to the hectic nature of arrows flying all over the place and a simplicity in mechanics to learn. In Speedrunners, the mechanics are easy to learn, but the levels are not. You can memorize a level pretty quickly because they aren’t that large, but for the few laps that you’re still learning you have a distinct disadvantage to players that know the level.

With both Local Co-op and Online Co-op, Speedrunners can easily be a party favorite, or a quick pick-up-and-go timesink with friends. I’ll be picking it up when I get out of Seattle

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