Vampire the Masquerade: Blood Hunt

This game slipped under my radar but was released a couple of days ago and resurrects to the online gaming world, a beloved IP of mine, Vampire the Masquerade. Developer, Sharkmob are at the helm.

Taking on the role of a member of one of the Vampire clans, fighting it out on the streets and rooftops of Prague. It plays as other Blood Royale games made popular by games like H1Z1 and later Player Unknown Battlegrounds. The arena gets small and smaller as gas closes in, killing anything caught in its path, forcing players into a tight space until only one remains. There’s an interesting mechanic where your vampire can feed on civilians for different buffs or even get extra lives, in case you fall foul of a competitor. Of course, get caught and you break the Masquerade and a hunt begins! Feed at your peril

Different play styles come about through choosing different clans with different specializations or archetypes. The Clan gives a particular skill and the archetype gives another couple.

Clan Brujah has two archetypes – Brute and Vandal. Their clan skill allows them to perform a huge leap. The Brute’s passive skill heals up to 50% of their max health when they aren’t being damaged, while their class skill sends out an energy shockwave to block enemy attacks. The Vandal’s passive skill reduces the damage they take from close-ranged attacks from enemies, while their class skill allows them to punch the ground and create a shockwave that sends opponents flying.

Clan Nosferatu (my current personal favourite) has two archetypes – Prowler and Saboteur. This has class skills that allow them to turn invisible for a few seconds. The Prowler’s passive shows a red trail in the air that only they can see, which leads to other players that have been wounded. Their class skill creates bats that reveal the position of enemies nearby and shows their outline through walls. The Saboteur’s passive skill allows them to turn semi-invisible after crouching, while their class skill allows them to create a poison gas mine that damages over time.

Clan Toreador has two archetypes – Muse and Siren. Their clan skill allows them to project a fake image ahead of them, which they can perform a short-range teleport to, or use as a feint. The Muse’s passive skill refreshes their active cooldowns, allowing them to use their class abilities straight away, while their technical skill acts as a healing regeneration aura that restores themself and allies. The Siren’s passive skill allows them to charm mortals on the map, making it easier to feed on them. Their class skill can temporarily blind opponents, leaving them helpless.

My Nosferatu Prowler, ready for a snack

So far it looks pretty good. Bloody, as you’d expect, given the content but this really gives a fresh spin on the Battle Royale genre and represents the IP well.

Blaugust 2021 Day 8 – Back 4 Blood

OK, so time got away with me and I missed a number of days, but I’m going to keep my numbering so at least I can see how many times I posted.

Back in 2008 a game-changing game was released on the world, Left 4 Dead, a co-operative shooter where four survivors of a zombie apocalypse survive through scenarios filled with endless waves of zombie hordes. The game was followed a year later by the originally titled “Left 4 Dead 2”, same scenario, different episodes.

I was a big fan of both games, playing them on the Playstation 3. Similar games have launched in recent years, notably Big Shark’s “Warhammer: Vermintide” with a similar idea but set in the Fantasy world of Warhammer Fantasy and instead of zombies, you face the rat-men known as Skaven.

Now Turtle Rock studios, makers of the original Left 4 Dead (as Valve South) and Evolve have created what they describe as a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead, entitled Back 4 Blood. Thanks to Discord user, everwake, I got a key for the beta so jumped in over a few days to check it out.

I can definitely say that what little I saw did not disappoint. It has the same feel and general gameplay of the originals, running and gunning through hordes, searching for supplies, special mobs that can take down a disorganised team with ease. In addition, the game has a card system adding extra buffs and you can select from a deck which cards to use based on your play style. Graphics and sound are clearly improved for a modern version.

Obviously being Beta, the game is not completely bug-free yet, but I loved getting into the world and I look forward to its official release.

#Blaugust2019 – New Organised Play Campaign from Chaosium

Call of Cthulhu has been in my life for many years. Whether as fiction; the Cthulhu Mythos being classified a genre unto itself thanks to the work of HP Lovecraft and those that followed or in roleplaying form, the RPG Call of Cthulhu produced by Chaosium is currently in its 7th Edition and is currently having something of a renaissance thanks to its introduction of a one-shot on popular podcast show, Critical Role

I have been running Call of Cthulhu Campaigns in my play by post sites for many years and today I got some exciting news, a new “Organised Play” Campaign is coming later this year. These are designed for GM’s that play publicly to introduce players to the game, often at conventions, and are available to insiders, part of the “Cult of Chaos” – GM’s that apply for this honoured position. I have been playing their last campaign of this nature on Gamer’s Plane – A Time to Harvest and the introduction of another campaign is great news, especially if the quality of the stories are as excellent.

Entitled Flotsam and Jetsam, this campaign is a four-part serial, and introduces the journal, Strange But True! and presumably, the investigators will be employees of the newspaper.

STRANGE BUT TRUE! is a weekly newspaper publishing “true” accounts of the bizarre, the weird, and the frankly unbelievable. Elijah Cleaver, the chief editor and publisher, may have a taste for the outlandish, but he knows that the world is filled with darker secrets than most of his readers could care to imagine. When he can, he uses the resources of his newspaper and its loose network of investigators to uncover the truth and present it to an incredulous readership. Whether or not such investigations result in a publishable story, Cleaver hopes to, at least, make the world a safer place.

H1Z1 Just Survive Update


Although H1Z1 Just Survive, the survival portion of the game by Daybreak Games has been sunset, there may be some good news of the horizon. From an email today:

Dear Survivors,

As we announced back in August, we’ve made the difficult decision to sunset Just Survive on Wednesday, October 24 at 11 a.m. PT. All game servers will be coming offline at that time, and the game will no longer be available for play. For answers to some of your frequently asked questions regarding the Just Survive sunset, please read this article.

While this chapter for Just Survive has come to an end, we are discussing the possibility of allowing our partner and developer of Z1 Battle Royale, NantG Mobile, to bring Just Survive back online and take over development of the game sometime in the future. Should we have further information to share regarding that matter we’ll be sure to inform you accordingly.

Thank you again for the countless hours of fun across Pleasant Valley and Badwater Canyon – we appreciate your support and dedication to Just Survive.

If this happens, I’ll be very happy. Although I haven’t played regularly, I did like to jump in for hours at a time and the base building element was really beginning to grow. I was hoping for a time where servers weren’t continuously wiped and bases would stay put.

Here’s hoping NantG see the sense in bringing the game back to (un)life.

Durin’s Day in LOTRO

So this weekend is the time of Durin’s Day in Lord of the Rings Online and there’s a Deed available if you visit the monument in Erebor where the thrush tapped on the stone on Durin’s Day, when the light of the setting sun revealed the secret door (in The Hobbit) The deed is available until Monday 22nd October, 2018.

I visited on several characters before taking my Captain, Diaspora there and summoned a load of characters to claim the deed (while promoting the Charity LOTRO Twitch stream, currently raising money for Extra Life)

I got this lovely shot on Diaspora, showing the spot and the one place in LOTRO where you see the sun and the moon at the same time.


New World of Darkness game coming soon – Werewolf The Apocalypse

Paris-based video game publisher Focus Home Interactive is pleased to announce its partnership with White Wolf Publishing, license owner of the famous World of Darkness universe (Vampire The Masquerade, Werewolf, Mage Ascension).
The World of Darkness is a gritty vision of our own time. The world’s most devious conspiracies are true. The divide between the rich and the poor is huge and corruption is rife. In the shadows of our declining societies, humans fall victim to supernatural horrors, all struggling for control.
The partnership between Focus Home Interactive and White Wolf Publishing concerns the adaptation in a video game of one of the most acclaimed licenses from the World of Darkness – Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The game will be developed by studio Cyanide (Styx: Master of Shadows, Blood Bowl, Call of Cthulhu). Become a werewolf, known as Garou (from French “Loup-garou” meaning werewolf), immersed in the atmosphere of their shamanistic and tribal world. Garou are Werewolf warriors opposed to urban civilization and supernatural corruption, all heading towards inevitable apocalypse.
“The World of Darkness has always attracted creatives with a strong passion for telling dark and immersive stories. So to work closely with the great talent at Focus Home and Cyanide exploring the savage Werewolves of this universe is an absolutely fantastic experience for us at White Wolf and we are more than excited to see this great and highly relevant IP realized in a video game ,” says Tobias Sjögren, CEO of White Wolf.
“We are pleased to partner with White Wolf to bring Werewolf: The Apocalypse to life in a video game for consoles and PC. We are excited to work on the World of Darkness universe, as this is formidable playground to tell the players a great story. We are also happy to partner with Cyanide Studio in this adventure. They are behind the original wish to adapt this universe, and we are faithful in their ability to create a game that will please both fans of World of Darkness and newcomers,” says Cédric Lagarrigue, President of Focus Home Interactive
More info about this new adaptation of this brutal Werewolf mythology to come at this year’s event in Paris, What’s Next de Focus , on February 1st and 2nd.

Blaugust 2016 Day 13 – Gaming goals for the rest of 2016 and beyond

So with four and a bit months left to go of the year, I have decided I want to make concerted effort to work through some of the games I have started or bought intending to throw myself into. As I don’t currently have an MMO sucking me in, this might be a good time, if I can drag myself away from No Man’s Sky and Diablo 3! I can’t say I’ll get through these by the end of the year, but I’d love to make a start.

Fallout 4 – My aim is to finish the story. I’ve been far too bogged down with base building and need to focus on it. Not too concerned about DLC

Dragon Age : Inquisition – On PS3 so doesn’t appear on my Steam list (and probably why I keep forgetting about it)

Shadows of Mordor – Another PS3 title. Really want to get through the storyline

Batman: Arkham City – PS3 again. Fully intend NOT to buy the more recent Arkham game until I get through this.

BioShock Infinite – I’m a fair way through this but find I only play in short bursts. Really need to get it finished.

Mass Effect 2 and 3 – I played through 1 on the XBox but has started again on the PC to go through the whole story. Currently on 2 but barely into it.

 The Witcher 3 – It’s there, installed and mocking me. Not even started yet but I really want to sit down and play this. That might take up most of 2017.

The Walking Dead Season 2 – I enjoyed season one but never got back to play through the second part

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Started and really like it

XCom Enemy Unknown – still haven’t finished part one and really want to try part 2

Any suggestions on where to start?

This post is part of Blaugust 2016, an initiative to Blog throughout August. For more information visit the Tales of the Aggronaut Blog

Blaugust 2016 Day 11 No Man’s Sky

It was late at night, several hours after the PC of launch of a game I have anticipated for years, No Man’s Sky. I had wanted to buy it at launch but started reading reviews to get a feel for any issues that may have occurred, something anyone buying on the first day is aware of. It didn’t look good. Steam reviews were mixed , with 51% being negative, lots of complaints of the game not launching or for those that did get in, terrible lag and stuttering even on high end systems. It didn’t look good for me and my two year old machine with a GTX 555 graphics card.

I checked Twitter and the feed showed the same picture. Huge amounts of people complaining, warning people against wasting their money. I’d had a similar experience with Total War :Warhammer that took ages to get fixed. To add to that, I noticed a friend was playing on Steam so I hit him up and asked him how it was going. Not good came the response, Had been following all the suggested fixes and despite having a fairly high end machine, couldn’t get it to run.

I wished him luck and went to play Diablo 3 as I’ve been doing the last couple of nights but it wouldn’t load. I tried out the Battlefront Star Wars Trial that Origin are offering (first four hours for free, highly recommend it) but after finishing the tutorial, I glanced at my Steam friends list. Now four people playing No Man’s Sky. So I buckled. I bought it, downloaded and started it up.

It loaded first time! And not only that, it ran incredibly smoothly. No lag, no hitching and damn, this game is beautiful! and the sound – just amazing. I was hooked and three hours later, at 2am I got my spaceship to fly to big black. I can’t wait to get back in tonight. Here’s a few screenshots from my first session.

My homeplanet, later renamed Knifesedge Alpha. Stranded with a broken spaceship

View across what is now known as the Knifesedge Badlands

We have liftoff!

A great feeling of achievement when you finally take off

Why does this Space Station AI remind me of Hal 9000?

This post is part of Blaugust 2016, an initiative to Blog throughout August. For more information visit the Tales of the Aggronaut Blog

Blaugust 2016 Day 9 – The Last Leviathan First Impressions

The Last Leviathan is currently a fairly unique game, at least in my own experience, though I have heard it compared to a game called Besiege. The game is at it’s heart a ship building simulator allowing players to build anything from a small raft to a massive multi-gunned battleship. As easy as this may sound, the game very heavily incorporates physics, so overweight one side, the vessel will tip over as soon as it hits the water (as  I discovered on many building attempts)

In its current form, the game has Creative mode, where you play around with the tools to create your different vessels, Battle Seas where you get to take on ever increasingly more powerful NPC vessels, Versus mode where you can battle your own creations or those in the Steam Workshop and finally events that allow the Devs to pit players against special challenges.

There is another mode in the works, the one I’m most interested in, Voyage Mode, which potential will be more of an adventure style mode. This should also introduce sea monsters and the titular Last Leviathan.

Still in Early Access, The Last Leviathan has a way to go but even with what you can do now, it’s well worth £6.99 on Steam . Here’s the Official Trailer.

This post is part of Blaugust 2016, an initiative to Blog throughout August. For more information visit the Tales of the Aggronaut Blog

Blaugust 2016 Day 8 – Guest Post – Author Nick Cole – Hey! You got your Game in my Idea!

I’m both excited and incredibly humbled to host a post from one of my favourite writers of the moment, Nick Cole, author of Soda Pop Soldier and CtrlAltRevolt who when asked to write a short piece on gaming and writing came up with the following opus. If you haven’t already, go check out his work and thank me later. Take it away, Nick…

Hey!  You got your Game in my Idea!
Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.  We take ‘em for granted nowadays.  Like peanut butter and chocolate are some naturally occurring substance.  Imagine that farm!  But, back in the day, before all this, there was some genius who put those two together for the first time… and the world was forever changed.  Even early Reese’ Campaigns focused on the craziness of such a concept as combining peanut butter and chocolate… as though only some idiot savant or mad genius might dare violate the laws of time and space to get their flavor on.

Puttin’ stuff together…  Sometimes it’s crazy enough to work, and, other times it’s an awful disaster.

Nowhere is this more evident in the world of video gaming.  Some concepts work.  Some spiral downward and pancake in a glorious conflagration of internet rage and hot potato corporate blame.  Who would’ve ever thought a game likeMinecraft would storm the entire world.  And like most games it’s merely a conglomeration of concepts that fit together nicely.  Blocky eight bit nostalgia, farm sim, and lego.  Go kill a whole bunch of hours in your head.  My personal belief, and Minecraft proves this, is that gamers don’t need a lot of story, or background world-building.  I think they’re telling their own stories and sometimes the game gets in the way with how they’d like you to enjoy their opus.  But I digress.
It’s always an opus, y’know.  That’s what every developer wants you to think.  Including whoever made that SuperMan the Game.  Y’know with the rings.

I’m a writer.  And a gamer.  Writers are really good at putting peanut butter and chocolate together.  Our Pope, Shakespeare, basically ran around gluing history and black sheep family drama together.  And the rest of us have been doing it ever since for the occasional paycheck.  For instance, he would take histories and then mix in a lot of standard intrigue and family relationships, just like any of today’s Star Wars movies and voila, he had a show to stage at the Old Globe.  The Globe was essentially the Sixteenth Centuries XBOX One.  Except everything was multiplayer.  As in everyone watched the same show and even, often participated via insults or vegetables.  In fact, shows were written with scenes intent on breaking the fourth wall.  Scenes expecting the audience to get caught up in the action.

Neat, huh?

Fast forward to Now…

While Big Budget movies and Agenda-driven TV circle the ratings drain, gaming is becoming the next big arena for people to not only get involved in, but even watch via Youtube and Twitch.  And game developers are looking for that peanut butter and chocolate combo that will set the world aflame and earn them a cool sixty million in take home.  Sometimes they’ll do movie tie-ins in hopes of catching the zeitgeist of some nostalgia (Sorry Ghostbusters the Game but you folded a studio) or they’ll try to re-invent the wheel with a brand new Call of Duty or World of Warcraft (Which seem to be the two most popular things in gaming to re-invent.  Not because they’re awesome games, but because the Producer and Studio that’s going to pony up the front dough want those epic levels of fabled return.  So they’re taking a “chance.”)

Putting stuff together in gaming is fun.  And profitable. If it works.  If you nail Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

Like I said I’m a writer and I write video game fiction. Stories set in a world where gaming is huge.  Or a big part of the story.  Not stories set in a video game brand like Halo or Warcraft.  But stories where the hero is a gamer playing a game to solve a mystery, win a bunch of stuff, and hopefully not get killed.

In my book Soda Pop Soldier, my hero, a guy who goes by the tag PerfectQuestion fights in a massive MMO that’s a cross between Call of Duty and Battlefield (My Peanut Butter and Chocolate is a game made up of both.  See… putting things together J.) for a weekly paycheck from a soft drink company.  But he needs some extra dough so he games in this thing called The Black.  It’s illegal and its basically World of Warcraft meets the seedier side of Vegas.
(AAAaand… I’m putting more things together)

Truth is the public is turning away from movies
and their fantastic failures as of late.  They’re getting tired.  Whether it’s hacky re-treads of golden age nerdstalgia, or the fact that they, the audience only watch, something’s not working in the solely visual mediums.   Maybe they want to play?  Y’know, be a part of the story?  Get caught up in the action.  The gaming community is hot, huge and growing, and unlike Hollywood, which tries to shut down valid criticism by review sites so no dissent may be brooked regarding their latest re-invention of the same film they’ve shown you the past twenty years, gamers instead have always been passionately vocal about what they don’t like, and what they love.  And even though some people complain about that, well, that’s actually a strength for the industry.  Criticism weeds out the Suicide Squads and Ghostbusters of the video game world and challenges producers and developers to go deep and bring us the next big experience.  And we don’t like it stupid.  It’s got be smart. 

Games like No Man’s Sky are proof that game developers get this and they’re still trying to earn your buck with that WOW! Factor.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate can happen at any moment.  You just gotta try some weird stuff and see what works.  And if you do, throw your heart over the bar and make something you’d want to play.  I think that’s still possible in games.  I’m doing it in my writing.  I’m writing fiction about games I’d totally want to play.  In fact, next project’s looking like Twilight 2000 meets Civilization.  So… Game on.  See you in whatever that looks like.

Nick Cole is a former soldier and working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can be found writing books.

Soda Pop Soldier is Call of Duty meets Ready Player One in this fast-paced, action-packed novel from the author of The Wasteland Saga.  Gamer PerfectQuestion fights for ColaCorp in WarWorld, an online Modern Warfare combat sport arena where mega-corporations field entire armies in the battle for real world global advertising-space dominance. Within the immense virtual battlefield, players and bots are high-tech grunts, using drop-ships and state-of-the-art weaponry to wipe each other out.  But times are tough and the rent is due, and when players need extra dough, there’s always the Black, an illegal open source tournament where the sick and twisted desires of the future are given free rein in the Wastehavens, a gothic dungeon  fantasy world.  All too soon, the real and virtual worlds collide when PerfectQuestion refuses to become the tool of a mad man intent on hacking the global economy for himself.

Get it here… or here in the UK

“This smart combination of video-game action and stinging dystopian satire is meticulously assembled… [The narrator] manages to be a tough, snarky warrior battling his corrupt society’s worst excesses. This is a cheeky and enjoyable effort by an author to watch.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Gamers and action adventure fans will find something to like here. I devoured this book over the course of one day. I might have finished earlier, but work got in the way.” (SFRevu)

“With Soda Pop Soldier, Nick Cole twists realities and bends minds for a wild ride of an action thriller. Inventive and lots of strange fun.” (New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry)

“Without a doubt this book is going to be a classic gamer required reading. It is a science-fiction and first-person gamer’s nirvana. …This book is a five out of five stars.” (The Nameless Zine)

“Pumping action, and fantastic futuristic battle is matched with a take on modern advertising that I can’t help but love. I’m really impressed with how well Cole writes action, I did not want to put this down!”
Follow Nick Cole on Facebook over at

Or go to

This post is part of Blaugust 2016, an initiative to Blog throughout August. For more information visit the Tales of the Aggronaut Blog