(Very) Last call for Humble Choice January 2020
Click for group version
Few hours and change left on the clock before Choice January 2020 waves and rides off in the sunset, so let’s get to business.
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
- Two Point Hospital
- Pick one from the following:
- Roguelite: Bad North: Jotunn Edition (note: this was a freebie on the Epic Game Store)
- Fighting: Street Fighter V or Them’s Fighting Herds
- Racing: DiRT Rally 2.0 (simcade) or GRIP: Combat Racing (Wipeout-like)
- Adventure: Whispers of a Machine
- Co-op: Unrailed
- Best game you’ve never heard of: Mages of Mystralia (ARPG) or Trailmakers (vehicle building sandbox)
Shadow of War and Two Point Hospital would have been the likely headliners, had Humble stuck with the Monthly format - but it’s worth noting that buying in exclusively for Shadow of War isn’t the best deal out there. Find out why in My personal Take at the bottom of the post.
Though I would never use historical lows as pick guidelines, let’s try and do some math here; the most valuable pieces of the bundle, besides the two just mentioned, are:
DiRT Rally 2.0; ~15 cu and it comes with no less than THREE pieces of DLC worth another 4 cu or whereabouts.
GRIP Combat Racing; ~12 (9 + 3) cu
Them’s Fightin’ Herds; ~10 cu.
The lows for most other games are around the 8-9 cu mark so, depending on how it is built, the expected value for Basic is realistically an extra 30-40% off, on top of the historical lows. Solid value.
Premium ($19.99) or Classic
With a pool 12 games strong, it’s pretty much about the two or three games you’re going to be able and live without, and that’s going to depend on what is owned already, as well as personal tastes.
These two are big factors that can drastically alter the face of the build a bundle, so the following are just some rough suggestions for last-minute decisions:
- Those who don’t care about Steam-specific features might want to skip Bad Jotunn, if owned already on the Epic Game Store.
- IMO the grindy, opaque Graveyard Keeper is a safe skip.
- DiRT Rally 2.0 is light on single-player content and heavy on DLC; the first game still holds very well and was a Humble Store freebie to boot.
Street Fighter V if you have no interest whatsoever in either the single-player content or competitive play.
Unrailed if local co-op isn’t a thing you do often.
Trailmakers if you’re not into sandbox builders.
My personal take, then!
This is only going to cover 6 games in detail, as most of the past month has seen me either too busy or too sleepy to do more.
Nonetheless, I’m including these notes as hopefully they retain some use for last-minute shopping.
Shadow of War
Perhaps in spite of their intriguing and elaborate systems, Monolith’s Middle Earth games remain essentially digital tickets for a trip to The Lord of the Rings Hollywood land.
Shadow of War can perhaps be described as halfway through an expandalone and a sequel of Shadow of Mordor: it’s a great entry point if you haven’t played the first game; and a great one, if you did already and wanted more. There’s hell of a lot of stuff to keep you busy, or you can ignore all the accessory stuff, and burn through the main questline relatively quickly.
Unlike last month’s AAA headliner, there’s no flexible Steam bundle available: flip-side, it can still be upgraded to Definitive, thanks to the Story Expansion Pass (not the most obvious name, WB?).
In the unlikely scenario you had absolutely no clue what to do with the rest of the bundle, i.e. buying the bundle for this game, and it alone - this deal is not going to save you money: both the base game and Definitive Edition have been cheaper than the bundle in sales, and for as small a difference, might as well consider going with Definitive.
Most likely, though, you will have an interest in some other games, so: is the Definitive Upgrade worth getting? It’s a big “depends”! Unlike for other games, I don’t think the DLC can, in fairness, be regarded as very essential, it’s mostly additions for those who wouldn’t mind spending more time in this world: Desolation of Mordor is the meatiest of the four DLC, adding a new, desertic, region, a campaign and side missions, among other thingies; Blade of Galadriel is also a story expansion, but the two Nemesis DLC seem a little fluffy to me.
At the risk of stating the obvious, play the base game first and only then decide.
Obligatory Denuvo Anti-Tamper notice, Shadow of War has a demo (saddled with DeNuvo, too), that can be downloaded in the Steam client.
Part of the moderately-sized avalanche of farming-and-life sims, set in motion by the massive hit that was Stardew Valley, Graveyard Keeper puts a black humor twist on the well-known formula.
Published by tinyBuild, Graveyard Keeper is the work of Russian indie studio Lazy Bear, the same outfit behind Punch Club. Like that game, it suffers from an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to game-making, extremely grindy gameplay and obtuse mechanics.
Nevertheless, Graveyard Keeper boasts a Very Positive rating on Steam, indicating that it has found its audience. Are you going to be part of it, though? My impression is that the game is being rated up in spite of its flaws, owing much to its relatively gentle start and addictive nature. Here’s a couple user reviews I think are useful: Paivi uses a fun-to-read Stardew Valley simile, while Christopher Robin is a longer, more detailed affair, that will reward the reader with a revealing look at what may look like a weird case of Stockholm Syndrome.
Theme Hospital was one of those classics from the 90s that was sorely missed, until roughly 18 months ago, when Two Point Hospital finally filled that void. Two Point might be an unfamiliar name, but is ran by veterans who have worked at Bullfrog on Theme Hospital and others, as well as Lionhead, and also picked up manpower from Mucky Foot (Startopia).
This development pedigree was put to good use, as Theme Hospital was then welcomed as not just a worthy successor to the original, but a great management game in itself.
It’s a solid pick for those who are into city builders.
Currently, there’s 4 DLC available; three are meant to add variety, and as such are not necessary additions from the get-go. The fourth is a Retro Items Pack.
DiRT Rally 2
The first DiRT Rally was a widely acclaimed cars-going-fast-in-the-mud (or snow, or gravel, or…) simcade. The fond memories of the first game, however, were kind of soured by the direction taken by its sequel: despite claims of an improved simulation model, and clearly superior looks (which however come at a cost), DiRT Rally 2 was lambasted for having limited single-player content, in stark contrast to its predecessor, as well for coming with a freight liner of DLC.
Nonetheless, he Choice bundle is an attractive starter package, including four extra cars: the Opel Manta 400, the Fiat 131 and the Alpine 110 (part of the H2 RWD Pack), and the Porche 911 SC RS, the Rally Spec AWD Super Carrera based on the air-cooled classic 911 from the 70s.
DiRT Rally 2.0 was never this cheap thus far: whatever plan you’re on, it’s still a very generous discount.
Street Fighter V
Praised as possibly one of the best fighting games ever at release, SFV was also criticized for having little single-player content and modes, at an AAA price. Four years later, the game has received many content updates, rectifying the situation, but still suffers from an overabundance of costly DLC, though a significant part of the content can be unlocked with grind currency.
Another criticism revolved around poor netcode performance, although last month a modder came forth with a fix.
In a week or so, Capcom will grant existing owners a free upgrade to the Champion Edition. Meanwhile, it’s already possible to buy the Upgrade Package, and get all the 24 DLC characters (plus skins come next month). As the upgrade costs about 25 currency units, this is generally regarded as a pretty decent deal, especially so if you’re getting the base game in the bundle.
Bad North: Jotunn Edition
Bad North is a roguelite with RTS mechanics, suffused by a cool minimalistic ethos that extends to both the presentation and the mechanics. Influenced by FTL, no less, Bad North takes the navigation mechanic straight off that game, although adding a territory expansion twist that’s slightly different from the resource collection of Subset’s masterpiece.
Instead of FTL’s CYOA encounters, each stop, in Bad North, revolves around defending an island from waves of Viking invaders. Just like FTL, the action can be paused, making this a more relaxed affair than the typical RTS, and one that is more leaning towards careful consideration than APM. (Did I mention it can be played on a controller, too?) Battles are resolved through a rock, paper, scissors kind of system, where each unit is strong against certain types of invaders, and weak against others.
Last July, Bad North received a free upgrade to Jotunn edition, with a number of improvements that expanded the game, while making it more accessible. Be aware, then, that most reviews around still refer to its state around the original launch.
Despite what your specific feelings might be at the mention of the TLA “RTS”, I would recommend checking this out: the game comes with a short demo on Steam, and was a freebie on Epic; personally, with that client still being rather barebones, I consider that as an unlocked demo of the full game, while the Steam version is worth owning for the extra features.
Whispers of a Machine
An excellent Sci-Fi whodunnit adventure game made by the same devs as Kathy Rain (Clifftop), with the help of some super stars from the AGS scene.
Its reception suffered from one of the same problems Primordia ran into: one of its main selling points is how the game adapts to the choices of the player, however reviewers tend not to notice this.
Catch you later for the unveiling of Choice February 2020