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E3: 'Life is Feudal' leads strong cast of coming PC exclusives

In “Life Is Feudal,” players start with next to nothing. With only a cloth sack for clothing and a few cookies for food, they need to quickly decide what aspects of life should take priority.

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By TIM BOWERS | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: June 29, 2015

Although PC games were not overly abundant at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, those in the spotlight were impressive.

Of course, the scarcity of PC exclusives in Los Angeles last month shouldn’t bother computer gamers. Most of the high-profile titles showcased on consoles will be available on PC as well. So PC-exclusive games are just icing on the cake.

Whether they’re battling alien races or building medieval villages from scratch, PC gamers will be presented with challenges and choices in combating and surviving each situation.

For example, in “Life is Feudal,” making clothes out of grass might mean the difference between survival or freezing to death.

“Life Is Feudal,” by Bitbox, is a free-roam sandbox game where players have to craft everything they need to survive. It takes place in a realistic medieval era, which means building castles, donning a knight’s suit of armor and fighting off wild beasts. Unfortunately, magic will not be an option since the goal is to create a realistic experience. However, the game has plenty of other amazing features.

Players spawn with next to nothing, starting with only a cloth sack for clothing and a few cookies for food. They need to quickly decide what aspects of life should take priority. They will need to look for trees for housing, hunt animals for food and/or clothing and collect resources to build a fire to cook meals.

Once gameplay gets underway, players will notice that items have a “quality” rating. This lets them know which items will yield the greatest damage, protection, durability, etc. So if a player wants to create a 90+ quality sword, he will need to find a 90+ quality iron vein, forge the parts in a 90+ quality forge composed of 90+ components. It’s an in-depth crafting system that will give gamers who are passionate about realism a chance to dive head-first into a very realistic world.

The skill system is extremely robust, allowing players to be as diverse or as focused as they would like. Some of the skills worth mentioning are forging, mining and alchemy.

But unlike some similar games, such as “DayZ,” these skills won’t transfer from server to server. Each server is player-run, which means players can set a level cap on skills, or even dictate how quickly they are built up. For example, it might take 15 attempts to level up a weapon-forging skill on one serve, but only four or five on another. As a result, some servers will be better suited to beginners, who need to learn how to best allocate and use their skills.

Also, easier servers will permit players to have a greater number of skill points — like 1,600 — which allows them to test many of the skill lines. More difficult and realistic servers might set the limit at 600, meaning that players will have to specialize. This gives players a sense of value in the world and means that guilds or other player parties will have designated blacksmiths, tailors and so forth, and a trading system will be vital.

 All items in the game will be strictly player-made, mostly due to the fact that there will be no nonplayer characters present. This, once again, adds to a player’s value.

There are tons of other cool features, such as a good- and bad-alignment system, the ability to loot fallen enemies and the ability to party up and raid other settlements.

“Life Is Feudal” is currently in early access. For more information, go to lifeisfeudal.com.

'Total War: Warhammer'

Following in the medieval theme, but less realistic, is “Total War: Warhammer,” created by Deep Silver.

This game brings fans of both game series into a gorgeously scenic environment that is populated by diverse races.

The biggest change that fans of the “Total War” computer games will experience is the presence of flying units, magic, monsters, and even gods in battles. Players will witness air-air combat, mages casting spells to decimate enemy ranks and beloved heroes fighting amongst the chaos.

Fans of the “Warhammer” tabletop games will be glad to know that the unit variety is very impressive. The E3 demo presented the battle of Black Fire Pass between the Empire and its longtime foes, the Greenskins. Some of the units were trolls, which can vomit on their targets; goblin spider riders; human siege tanks; and demi-griff knights, who ride into combat on wingless griffins.

This game should be anticipated by anyone who loves large-scale battles that leave carnage in their wake. It also offers a beautiful landscape that can be conquered with strategic methods.

'Rising Tide'

Stepping into the sci-fi universe is an expansion for “Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth,” from 2K Games.

This expansion, titled “Rising Tide,” allows players to colonize the ocean and build underwater infrastructure on distant planets. It presents players with a multitude of experiences and strategic opportunities that will help expand the already impressive gameplay that “Civilization” fans have come to know and love.

One of the new features is an artifact-based quest system that will give players benefits. Once players collect artifacts, they are able to decide whether to turn them in for a quick reward or save them up for an even larger boon later on. There will be three artifact types: alien, Old Earth, and relics from ancient aliens known as the progenitors.

This expansion will be mod-friendly and be available this fall.

Players do not always have to go to space to fight aliens.

'XCOM 2'

Firaxis’ “XCOM 2,” the sequel to “XCOM: Enemy Unknown,” brings gamers to an Earth that failed to stop alien invaders. As a result, humans have been subjugated by the Advent Government for the past 20 years. The XCOM fighters have been forced underground and now have to fight a war from the shadows as a resistance force.

The gameplay demo featured a squad of XCOM operatives on a mission to destroy a statue that symbolizes the takeover. The demo showcased the abilities of two new human classes: the ranger and the specialist. Rangers have a new melee function that allows them to hack Advent forces that are foolish enough to get close. The specialist has a drone, known as a Gremlin, which is able to hack turrets and use them to wreak havoc on their former owners. There will be three other classes for players to use, such as a sharpshooter who wields a sniper rifle and pistol; the grenadier, who is in charge of the big guns; and one other class that has not been announced.

Unfortunately for all the fans of the console version of the game’s predecessor, “XCOM 2” will be available only for the PC. Developers said that making it PC-only allows them to focus on creating a fantastic game without the distractions of multiplatform coding. It also means that modding will be highly accessible to PC gamers, giving them the freedom to create whatever their hearts desire.

“XCOM 2” is set to be released in November.

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