Welcome to Waypoint's End of Year celebration! This year, we're digging deep into our favorite games with dedicated podcasts, interviewing each other about our personal top 10 lists, and reflecting on the year with essays from the staff and some of our favorite freelance contributors. Check out the entire package right here!
I’ve always been the type of gamer who is… intimidated by the intellectual challenge of games. Like, digging into narrative themes and symbolism, that’s easy! But tactics and puzzles and stuff along those lines have always pretty much scared me off. But I’ve been following Waypoint for almost a year and a half now, and y’all love some goddamn tactics games. It’s great to hear coverage about these kind of games because genuinely a lot of other outlets don’t seem to cover them like you guys do and I appreciate it.
From this write up: Northgard is the RTS that people who don’t play RTS games often say they want, and it proves that you can make a deep and rewarding RTS that isn’t driven by actions-per-minute or perfectly rehearsed build-orders.
I took at chance and bought Into the Breach because y’all, and now I’m thinking about Northgard too. After the hustle of the end of the year articles, I would really, really dig an article on how to break into this genre for the people who aren’t wargamers and mecha devotees. If y’all got the time.
If you’re asking about breaking into the RTS genre, I think that Northgard might be a great intro. That quote does a good job summing it up. I’m pretty terrible at traditional RTS games (Age of Empires, Starcraft etc), however I loved Northgard and it’s a very different experience.
It’s much slower-paced and the design is clean and tight. You start with a few villagers and the strategy at first is just managing your consumption and production of food and wood. Later, you’re never juggling more than a couple dozen Vikings, and the tile based system feels almost like a board game. The campaign is also a decently paced introduction to all the mechanics without feeling too hand holdy or easy.
The skirmish modes are more challenging and free form, since you’re not being sent down a specific victory path but are setting your own goals. I haven’t sunk a lot of time in this mode but it feels pretty rich so I’ve been meaning to go back to it.
If you like Northgard, it might be a strange leap, but I think Company of Heroes could be a good next game. It’s also a bit slower paced than Starcraft (personally I just use “tactical pause” when playing CoH) but shares some mechanics with Northgard (sort of tile based area control). Obviously it’s a very different theme (WW2) so has a different vibe.
I’m very delighted that i’m not the only person here that read all the talk about into the breach these last few days and was like “Okay, i give up, i’ll try this”. Have you started? How do you like it? I just got my first win (On easy haha, normal has kicked my butt) and i think i kinda like it a lot.
I should really try some of these RTS games like Northgard. I tell people I like RTS but that mostly boils down to “I started playing Age of Empires and StarCraft at a young age and I never stopped playing those games”. I keep trying to branch out (I put some time into Company of Heroes, I have a whole bunch of others in my steam list) but every time I think about playing them, I just play StarCraft instead because it’s just familiar and comfortable.
I HAVE TRIED INTO THE BREACH and yes I would call it incredibly accessible. I will never be a genius at this game, as I am just… I do not have the patience for forethought like that. But, I think it was in the Besties podcasts (McElroy and Polygon ppl) who mentioned how ITB doesn’t demand you to think 10 moves ahead, just one or two, and that’s much more friendly than other tactical games.
Like, you start a skirmish, and no matter what happens, no matter how well you do or how poorly, it’s only going to last about 4-7 rounds. That’s it. I find it much less stressful. I would def grab it while it’s still on sale.
Just want to say “Tetris Effect can be extremely up it’s own ass in ways that can be off putting” is a delightful turn of phrase, almost perfect maybe if can weren’t used twice, also I seem to remember Obra Din being described as “an orgy of treachery and violence” which put a smile on my face.
Really appreciate Rob’s perspective here on Return of the Obra Dinn. Even though I ended up feeling stronger about it in the end, there’s still some good points made (both in this article and in the podcast with Patrick) that I had not wrestled with much.
Also really appreciated being introduced to Laura Hudson’s essay on how it’s really a story about endings and the mistakes made along the way. Just gave me even more to think about with that game.
I finally played Vampyr over the past couple weeks, and it’s an overall terrible game that succeeds in enough key areas to feel like a triumph. I swore at the tv more playing Vampyr than in any of my Souls playthroughs, and yet, the realization of the Vampire Doctor role play was enough to make this one of my favorite games of the year (and maybe even all time).
Expect a mess, but savor the usual Dontnod warmth and (pun intended) humanity.