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Author Topic: [PC] Space Hulk Ascension (bloody fun turn-based squad combat)  (Read 587 times)
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Blackjack
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« on: January 05, 2015, 04:56:32 PM »

Stayed away from the initial, separate Space Hulk release, as I never played the boardgame and most complaints/bad reviews were people finding it too "board game-y." The devs apparently took note of all the feedback and released a separate line that focuses more on being a fun, turn-based squad combat game and less a board game translation.

Have had a great time last few days with the standalone Space Hulk Ascension edition release:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/317620/
http://www.spacehulk-ascension.com/about
Quote
Space Hulk: Ascension Edition is a 3D, digital, turn based, strategy game, which builds upon the classic board game experience, and adds new RPG style mechanics, additional weapons, enemy types, an all-new chapter and loads of other new features. Set in the isolated corridors and tomb-like chambers of ancient vessels lost in the graveyard of space, players lead a small force of fearless Space Marine Terminators in a ferocious fight for survival against hordes of predatory, alien Genestealers.

Quick overview of features in Space Hulk: Ascension Edition:

●     Huge Amounts of Content - 103 unique missions spread out across 3 campaign chapters
●     New Enemies - new Genestealer variations for you to face in the depths of the Space Hulk.
●     New Mechanics - a complete reworking of the board game rules and mechanics. Itís still the Space Hulk game you love, reimagined for a new experience.
●     Customisation - RPG-style skill progression and player squad management allow you to create your own tailor-made team of hardened veterans
●     New weapons, more complex maps, combi-weapons and flash missions.
●     10 times the amount of content of the original game, with a playtime of 50 - 100 hours.
I'm not gonna say it's XCOM quality because it's still basically flat, Pac-Man like corridor mazes. If you liked varied indoor/outdoor environments, Space Hulk isn't the way to go.  icon_smile

While weapons unlocks, new equipment, attribute and skill point stuff are all fun, there's no base building, research etc. Some players complain that essentially all the Chapter types are ranged-weapon focused.

But it is the most fun, visceral turn-based combat I've gotten to enjoy in quite some time.  icon_smile Missions are often very suspenseful. I really wish they could do an Aliens turn-based squad strategy game with this engine. Everything's in place for Aliens, including optional shoulder camera views, motion trackers and a quite wonderful flamethrower with 3 firing modes.  icon_smile

The campaigns now offer optional "flash" missions (yellow on the map), and I've noticed some branching where you do a flash mission and ensuing missions go one way. Do the other flash missions, and ensuing missions are on a different line in the map etc. So it's not all just a straight linear experience, which is nice.

They just added a $7.99 DLC with another chapter (race, I'd call it), Imperial Fists, with a fourth campaign.

While I think the game could be a blast in co-op (esp. missions with two 5-man squads), it doesn't seem to have any MP options yet.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2015, 04:57:50 PM »

Here's some interface screens.

Initial order when starting a new campaign is:

1) Choose Chapter (marine race/type)

*I don't believe you can mix these chapters for a campaign. I think mixing up the types could be pretty fun and introduce a lot more variety. I'm pretty sure as is, you simply pick one Chapter and that's what your pool of marines/terminators comes from for that campaign.

2) Campaign Map (choose set of missions to tackle)


3) Mission Map (move from completed mission to next available mission)


4) Loadout Screen (set up squads, customize marines, assign points/skills/equipment as available)

I admit to confusion over the Terminator reference. No, not James Cameron-style.  biggrin Basically, all your squaddies are considered Terminators afik.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2015, 04:59:18 PM »

I'm pretty sure I haven't had this much fun before using a flamethrower in a turn-based squad game.  smile The "shoulder cam view" in the upper right corner (ala Aliens movie) is new with Ascension. You can make the shoulder cam view bigger, switch to a thermal heat view, or just turn it off. Some people find it hurts frame rate, and you can turn these off completely in gameplay options.




You can fire the flamethrower in 3 modes, and the patterns and range options are interesting, and you can blast flames around corners. The flame lingers on the floor but not for an obnoxious duration (seems like one additional turn). Flamethrower can only be reloaded once during a mission, I think (4 action points).

They also added stuff like "combi flamer" and "combi plasma" (I don't have access to 'em yet), which combine bolter with lower-ammo iterations of heavy weapons, to help avoid the "one tricky pony" syndrome.

While I love Warhammer, I can't help thinking a licensed Aliens: Colonial Space marines TBS game with this engine would be so awesome. I mean, even the motion detector equipment drop in Ascension sounds like the motion tracker in Aliens.  smile
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 09:33:37 PM »

I haven't gotten very far in the first game, but I did read all the complaints about it being too much like the board game. I enjoyed the time I spent with it (on the ipad) and intend on revisiting it soon. Initial feedback seems much more positive with the changes they have made this time around, especially among the more casual Warhammer fans.

I'd love to see a true RPG or SRPG set in the Warhammer universe. There is so much great lore to from which to draw inspiration.

I agree that an Aliens game with the same engine would be awesome, but after having just completed Aliens Isolation, I'm burnt out on acid drooling space creatures.  Tongue
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 10:20:24 PM »

The Rock, Paper, Shotgun review is what put me off. Sounds like the interface is more of a chore than it should be. The first one the complaints were also about a bad interface and very slow animations IIRC as well.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2015, 05:47:04 PM »

I'm happy to answer any Ascension questions anybody has about gameplay, campaign, etc.  icon_smile

I do think it's a shame they don't conjure up a one-level demo. Even just a couple tutorial sequences would help prospective players see if it runs OK and is something they'd like.

I'm still running my aging HP quad core circa 2008 thought I recently upgraded system RAM from 4GB to 8GB to help run Shadows of Mordor decently and it really seems to help in many games. And an aging but decent Radeon 5670 card. And this game is always playable for me if not a speed burner.

I suspect maybe what bogs things down for some is during the biomorph's turn when essentially everything happens simultaneously. It's not (at least doesn't seem to be?) one alien moves, stuff happens; then another alien moves; more stuff happens; a third alien moves, other stuff happens. imho, if the biomorphs did one unit at a time, it would also be easier to see what happens during their turn. The game view doesn't like auto-zoom to an alien unit moving etc. I usually find it best on their turn to pull the camera zoom out as far as possible. It's not as visceral, yet you have a better idea of what's happening.

I find the animations in general awesome. I think advanced video settings has some slider(s) to reduce it and turn down some "environmental flair" that might improve speeds for sluggish systems. I have tried playing without the shoulder cams and it didn't seem to give me any appreciable faster frame rate.
=============
As far as gameplay, it's extremely focused on Overwatch. If the indy TBS Halfway was the polar extreme (no Overwatch mode at all), then Ascension is maybe the most Overwatch-fixated game I've played.  icon_smile

Thought the fact units can fire while moving is fun/different. And the fact the your guys will attempt to fend off attacks even if you're not in overwatch and out of action points is cool. I love seeing the Sergeant with his power sword fending off multiple biomorphs (better melee weapons add substantial defense bonus %).

A lot of the missions I've played so far have boiled down to holding some units in place by "biomorph spigots" (getting in the circular radius range "blocks" the spigot). An interesting situation is when it's a "move at least X units to the exit" mission. In some cases you can essentially sacrifice a couple units to keep spigots blocked, and preventing the map from getting flooded with enemies. But I like to get everyone out if possible which can make for some frantic retreats  icon_smile

If you're retreating down a one-tile wide corridor then it becomes a choice of using a flamethrower to block off the escape route's tail, or the psychic marine dropping a "blocking" force field for a turn, using a regular bolter in overwatch or relying on a strong melee weapon to fight off attacks on the tail end.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2015, 05:52:41 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2015, 06:40:32 PM »

I picked up the original version for about $5 and still wasnít very impressed with it.  What works and is fun as a tabletop game doesnít work so well when translated directly to PC.  Spacehulk is a tabletop game that is largely luck based (dice rolls) and having the computer do that for you (and then hiding the actual mechanic that is taking place) takes away the excitement and just seems frustrating.

Has the luck element been toned down any with this release?  Or if not, is there at least an option to show a physical representation of dice?  How is multiplayer?  Have they tried to incorporate the story as anything more than just a long text log at the start of missions?

Quote from: Blackjack on January 06, 2015, 05:47:04 PM


I suspect maybe what bogs things down for some is during the biomorph's turn when essentially everything happens simultaneously. It's not (at least doesn't seem to be?) one alien moves, stuff happens; then another alien moves; more stuff happens; a third alien moves, other stuff happens. imho, if the biomorphs did one unit at a time, it would also be easier to see what happens during their turn. The game view doesn't like auto-zoom to an alien unit moving etc. I usually find it best on their turn to pull the camera zoom out as far as possible. It's not as visceral, yet you have a better idea of what's happening.
They are probably trying to still be somewhat faithful to the tabletop.  In that, the Space Marine player doesnít know how many Genestealers are in play until the models can actually see them.  Similarly, the Marine player has to make all his moves within the time limit of a sand timer while the Genestealer can take his time.  The idea being that the Genestealers are super-fast.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2015, 06:19:23 PM »

No dice rolls afik. If you mouse-hover over Genestealers, you can see stats but honestly I don't pay much attention to it and do fine.

Most of the Space Hulk maps are so cramped I don't usually have the option to decide I won't fight something because I don't match up well with it, stats-wise. Everyone needs to fight.  icon_smile

I think what I'd like is some little window of combat actions. And then if stuff happens on the Genestealers' turn that I miss seeing, it'd be nice if I could click something on a list and see a quick replay of it. Apparently early builds had some sort of zoomed in "death animation"  cinematics, but they threw that out in favor of the shoulder cam views in the upper right corner of screen.

There's no time limit for you on turns afik, if that's what "hourglass" means?

Through perception and the motion sensors you can generally see pretty clearly how many aliens are on the map, if not the specific types.

To some extent, I don't understand the point of the motion sensor equipment drops. They don't seem to enable us to see more detail than Sergeants/Psychics can already see on a map through their perception passive (that is, blinking red circles indicating Genestealers). So other than giving you that perception in a map area where the Sergeants/Psychics perception radium can't reach -- and I rarely see areas like that -- they don't seem to do much. Maybe that's by design.

What I'm basically trying to tell folks is anyone who enjoys turn-based squad strategy titles on PC should enjoy this. No knowledge of the boardgame is necessary whatsoever. If $29.99 seems steep, no doubt it'll be on sale later in the year. I got it during a modest holiday sale (maybe $26.39 or something).  icon_smile
« Last Edit: January 07, 2015, 06:43:19 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 12:04:14 PM »

I do have one question- Is this a "remake" of the first game's scenarios with a new gameplay design, or are the maps entirely different?
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Blackjack
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2015, 04:41:34 PM »

Quote from: Dante Rising on January 08, 2015, 12:04:14 PM

I do have one question- Is this a "remake" of the first game's scenarios with a new gameplay design, or are the maps entirely different?
Since I didn't play the "other" Space Hulk, these pages at the official site maybe answer it better:
http://www.spacehulk-ascension.com/about
Quote
Quick overview of features in Space Hulk: Ascension Edition:

●     Huge Amounts of Content - 103 unique missions spread out across 3 campaign chapters
●     New Enemies - new Genestealer variations for you to face in the depths of the Space Hulk.
●     New Mechanics - a complete reworking of the board game rules and mechanics. Itís still the Space Hulk game you love, reimagined for a new experience.
●     Customisation - RPG-style skill progression and player squad management allow you to create your own tailor-made team of hardened veterans
●     New weapons, more complex maps, combi-weapons and flash missions.
●     10 times the amount of content of the original game, with a playtime of 50 - 100 hours.
Quote
New Ultramarines Chapter (i.e., face, I prefer to call it  icon_smile)
An all new Space Marine chapter, including a Terminator armed with Cyclone missile launcher.    [the first DLC adds another new race and a unique Tarantula turret equipment)

Terminator Progression and Customisation
Earn XP during missions and level up attributes and skills, and give your Terminators a personal touch by customising their names, weapon loadout and appearance.

Campaigns and Missions
100+ missions spread out over 3 complete campaigns, and all new flash missions. These are opportunistic mini-missions encountered as you explore the deep unknowns of the Space Hulk that can yield a tactical advantage or be a deadly trap.

Exploration and Discovery
Terminators reveal the layout of the Space Hulk as they venture deep into the darkness.

Additional Weapons, Tactical Options and Game Rules
Game mechanics have been reworked to make Space Hulk Ascension a true video game experience. .   

Genestealer Variations
Genestealers with Fleshhook, Feeder Tendril and Acid Maw biomorphs have been added to the game, each with their own special game mechanics.
You might also peruse the dev diary videos to see what's new:
http://www.spacehulk-ascension.com/media
My understanding is they'll continue to support the initial Space Hulk as a separate game line for folks who want a more boardgame-ish experience.

If you simply want a turn-based sci-fi squad combat strategy game that's mostly bloody good fun to play -- whether you know squat about Warhammer or not -- then imho Space Hulk Ascension is the way to go.  icon_smile
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2015, 08:21:46 PM »

Finally progressed my main Heavy enough to unlock the Cyclone Missile Launcher (new with Ascension afik):


You can only equip one Heavy Weapon at a time, so if you use the shoulder-mounted cyclone, you're limited to a non heavy weapon on the right arm, firearms-wise.

Figuring out what to carry is part of the fun. The flamethrower generally feels more useful as a tool, in terms of briefly blocking areas off. The Assault Cannon and Cyclone launcher can clear large groups quickly but so much of the campaign is in narrow tunnels and so I'm not clear how often they'll be more useful than a flamer type weapon.
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2015, 02:34:19 PM »

Devs posted an interesting "What's Next" thread for development of Space Hulk Ascension and to a lesser extent some plans for the initial Space Hulk release (including plans to port that release to PS3, PS Vita and the Wii U). It sounds like their main focus moving forward will be on Ascension, including some possible, promising new game modes. Multiplayer apparently isn't in the cards. Ascension is PC-only so they're saying that's the main reason they're unlikely to bring Ascension's terminator chapter types to the original Space Hulk release (which was multi-platform, or at least is heading that way).

What's next for Space Hulk and Space Hulk Ascension?
http://steamcommunity.com/app/317620/discussions/0/622954302100860573/
Quote
Space Hulk Ascension

Multiple full chapter + campaign expansions (for non Warhammer experts like me, I always say "Chapters" is basically "race," i.e., Ultramarines, Blood Angels, Space Wolves etc.)

We are working on multiple expansions similar to the recently released Imperial Fists, where we add a full chapter with additional special rules as well as a fully playable campaign, that you can play with any chapter that you own.

Which chapters are being added will be revealed as we get the models produced and can announce things properly.

The campaigns themselves are going to try to twist and bend the system a little into different directions to make them special.

For these future campaigns we want to give the story missions more love and complexity, and are then going to start reusing some of the existing flash missions.

The plan is to have around 150-200 hours of campaign gameplay during 2015 as we release the new expansions.

We have also hired one of the Black Library editors to work with us on the story side, which is super cool and gives another dimension to the narrative.

New game modes

Here is a place where we would love to have your input and feedback!

We plan to add some cool new game modes into the game, but we want to hear ideas from the community as well as feedback. The game modes should give you different ways of playing Space Hulk, but not be so big that they are games in themselves. A desert and not a main course if you know what I mean :-)

So please send us your feedback on the ideas (or even new ideas) on [email protected] or discuss in the Steam forums!

Modes we have on the table (and this is by no means a promise to make any of these)

Survival/Last Stand - wave based mission where you have to defeat wave after wave of enemies very similar to some tower defence games.

Advancement / Rogue like random missions - how far can you get into an endless and random generated Space Hulk with some kind of scoring mechanism to track your progress.

Challenge missions - some very hard single missions that have a certain objective to accomplish, where you will be pitted against some logic puzzles or just plain death traps full of Genestealers.

Ironman difficulty mode - start with a limited number of reinforcements and permadeath will make your squad smaller and smaller over time. You lose when you do not have enough Terminators to fulfill the minimum deployment number.

** Your idea here **

For Ascension the plan is still to stick with single player only, so unfortunately that rules out any coop or versus multiplayer modes.

More weapon options

Possibly chapter specific, but we really really want the plasma cannon to get into the game. Itís the last major weapon option that we are missing, and the overpowered feeling it would give can bring a smile on our face just thinking about it.

Also we will work on making variations of weapons to give more choices, where the 3d model is the same, but the weapon stats differ slightly. An example could be a heavy flamer with more fuel but that only has 1 fire pattern. Or a bolter with less heat generation but also less accuracy.

More customization options

We plan to get you some more unit customization options, primarily focussing on adding helmet variations. Right now the choices are enough for a squad, but not much more. So thats one of the things we will look into spending some time on.

Chapter texture packs

We are looking into adding skin packs to some of the chapters in the game, so that you can choose e.g. a Blood Angels successor skin. The individual chapters would not make sense in themselves to add as a full chapter with a campaign, but it can give some love to less played/known chapters.

Similar to above, we have some good ideas of what to do already, and they will be revealed as we have them produced and can make nice screenshots for you.

The plan naturally also includes taking in any bug reports and constantly looking at balancing the game for more enjoyment. It will never get perfect - especially melee being what it is in a Space Hulk game - but that doesn't mean we can't tweak things based on your input!
I'm about 90% on the Fall of Jotunheim, on Normal difficulty. I think that difficulty eventually becomes too cakewalky once your various marines are leveled up a bit.
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2015, 10:55:17 PM »

As mentioned in the Steals and Deals forum, this one is on sale for $10 off on the Humble Store

The original is also on sale: $2.50 for regular, $10 for Ultimate.
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