Hi, everyone. I’ve been on a Middle-Earth kick, beginning with a rewatch of the Extended Edition LOTR movies, this time with the director’s/writers’ commentary on. For the first time, I’m watching the “making of” discs, and they are fascinating. I particularly love seeing the process of choosing locations, designing the visuals, and bringing them to life.
Since then, I’ve begun watching the new Rings of Power streaming series. No spoilers from me – so far, so good.
I’ve even finally started the Silmarillion (after several failed attempts — the trick was skipping the opening chapter). I like it! What strikes me is the unflattering view it paints of its characters. Much like the characters in real-world mythologies, the folk of Tolkien’s First Age might be immortal, but they are also petty and not very wise. The Valar bicker over turf; Feanor is rash and petulant; Morgoth and Ungoliant fall out over loot like a pair of common thieves. They’re a far cry from the wise elders we meet in LOTR.
In 4X gaming news, Amplitude has announced “Together We Rule”, the first expansion pack for Humankind. This is great news for me – I played Humankind last year and found it excellent. I’ve been waiting for an expansion before playing again.
Separately, Humankind will also come to console in November this year. The Xbox version will also be on Game Pass, which will be good – sometimes, I want to play on the big screen.
On the grand strategy front, Paradox announced Victoria 3 for October. I’ve always loved the idea of the series. In practice, my history with it is mixed — I had a lot of fun with Victoria 1 back in the day, but repeated failed attempts to enjoy Victoria 2 made me conclude it wasn’t for me. I hope Vicky 3 does work out, because there are a few countries I’d love to try in that period.
Meanwhile, I’m slowly playing two new releases (Two Point Campus, Regiments) as well as a release from earlier in the year, Expeditions: Rome, and a 2021 release, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One.
Two Point Campus looks and feels pretty similar to Two Point Hospital. It does seem easier, especially early on – I found the first few levels too easy. Now that I’ve hit the mid-game, it is more challenging to achieve 2-star and 3-star goals; but so far I haven’t had to scramble to stay afloat the way I did in some Two Point Hospital levels.
I was a big fan of 2014’s Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments. Chapter One feels a little clunky – especially when navigating menus on console – but its setting is a labour of love.
Regiments and Expeditions: Rome both deserve posts of their own. I like them for opposite reasons: Expeditions: Rome is big, sprawling, and could have done a better job of presenting information to the player; but what it gets right, it gets RIGHT. It’s atmospheric, its characters are engaging, and the tactical battles are very satisfying now that I understand the system.
By contrast, Regiments is a study in elegance. It’s an indie spiritual successor to Eugen’s Wargame series, trimmed down to focus on a tight single-player campaign. There’s less micro, fewer units, no multiplayer, and generally less “stuff” than Wargame, but it executes well, navigates the line between “fun” and “frustrating”, and overall delivers a strong experience. It even includes one feature that Wargame lacked, night battles (which generally favour NATO’s superior technology). Recommended to old Wargame hands.