In this week’s bulletin, we discuss Against the Gods Themselves, Fresh Articles on Gaming and the Past, Black Mesa ‘Xen Museum’, Hood: Outlaws & Legends, Total War: Rome Remastered, Expeditions: Rome, Europa Universalis IV Leviathan Mess, the Oregon Trail on Apple Arcade and Undaunted!

New Lovecraftian Cthulhu RPG Tabletop Against the Gods Themselves

The company behind the Fallout Tabletop and the Elder Scrolls tabletops, Modiphius, have announced the creation of another game set in the Lovecraftian Cthulhu world which was first used in the Achtung! Cthulhu game. The new game, called Against the Gods Themselves will expand on this world and not only focus on WWII (like Achtung! does), will also feature many miniatures, novels and of course a RPG ruleset. Read more on Wargamer.

Image: Modiphius / Wargamer

Some fresh articles on Gaming and the Past

Although this bulletin often features game-related stuff (or memes) we should also make space for an occasional academic intermezzo. This week, we’d like to highlight two recently published pieces. First of all, the research done by Eve Stirling and Jamie Wood published in the International Journal of Computer Game Research. Stirling and Wood investigated how university students’ perceptions on how playing historical video games has changed their understandings of the past. With the use of surveys (like our own VALUE Survey we did last year), Sirling and Wood approached how students did value historical accuracy in games, but were also aware of the constraints of games on the history they try to portray. Read the entire article on the website.

The second piece we want to point you towards is a chapter written by Felix Zimmermann for the edited volume Game | World | Architectonics. In a chapter called ‘Historical Digital Games as Experiences’, Zimmermann argues how games (like Assassin’s Creed) try to create an atmosphere of the past. Like comparable forms of heritage tourism, these games do not claim accuracy, but thrive on authenticity. Games create a, for the player, authentic world, despite their inabilty to present verifiable object to back up this authenticity. You can read the entire chapter here, in Open Access!

Black Mesa opens a ‘Xen Museum’

Those of you who have ever played some of the Half-Life games might have heard of the Black Mesa remake mod. Being worked on for over 15 years, the Black Mesa rework was completed a few month ago (PC Gamer). Now, the creators of the rework have made a museum mod, where the development of the rework is shown. The museum is divided into hubs representing Xen’s three chapters. Xen is the place where all interdimensional being come from. Read more on the museum on PC Gamer.
Image: Crowbar Collective / PC Gamer

Hood: Outlaws & Legends looks set to be cool

We’ve seen the succes of a game where you get to play with your friends in Valheim. However, with a new update not coming soon, players (like us) are looking for other experiences. Why not stay playing with your friends? Upcoming Hood: Outlaws & Legends looks like a game that could partly fill the void Valheim has left. Set in a medieval(-ish) world, you and your gang try to pull of amazing heists, whilst battling other players and the AI. You can go in the sneaky way, or just blast your way through your enemies (or a mix of both)! You get to choose from different classes, and with the rewards of your heists you get to upgrade yourself and your hideout. We don’t know about you, but we think it looks pretty dope (and it isn’t even that expensive)! Check out more on the website.

Video: Focus Home Entertainment

Total War: Rome Remastered

If you play strategy games you have probably already heard of the Remastered version of Total War: Rome which was released this week. Most remasters are just the same old game with some updated graphics, but Creative Assembly have actually made the remaster optimized for newer hardware, as the old Total War (from 2004) didn’t run very well on newer machines. However, a lot has happened since the game that really saw the series take off. Even tough the developers have updated some mechanics as well, it still lacks in what newer games do so good. As PC Gamer’s Jonathan Bolding concludes: ‘The result is a competent remaster and the best way to play this classic Total War, but it still can’t compete with its modern heirs.’ I’ve never played the original, so I don’t look back at that game with any nostalgia, but beware that some of that magic might have dissapeared in the 17 years from release to remaster. The Remaster can be bought for around €30, although many user reviews suggest you wait until some bugs have been smoothened out or the game is at a discount. If you want to know more, you can read the many reviews available online; for example on PC Gamer or on VICE!

Video: IGN

Expeditions: Rome

Staying with Rome, here’s a heads up for the upcoming CRPG Expeditions: Rome. Made by Logic Artists, it is the third installment of the Expeditions games, with Conquistadors and Vikings before it. Even though (especially) Conquistadors was a historical nightmare, Rome is supposed to be much more accurate. E:R is a CPRG, isometric character driven RPG like good old Baldur’s Gate. You play as a Legatus, the leader of a Legion during the Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. You go on a quest to find out who killed your father, meeting historical figures like Cicero on the way! Not gonna lie, it looks pretty cool! Read more on Rock Paper Shotgun.

Video: THQ Nordic

Europa Universalis IV Leviathan DLC & Update is a mess

Last week, Paradox launched the new Europa Universalis IV DLC called Leviathan. Also included was a free update for all players. In true Paradox fashion, it was more broken than intact. The new DLC has the highest rate of negative reviews (with only 10% positive reviews when PC Gamer released this article) of any game ever on Steam. Yeah, it’s that bad. I did some calculations myself, that 10% has now dropped to almost 8%. Knowing Paradox, they’ll also be hard at work trying to fix all the bugs. It must be said that eventually Paradox do often fix this kind of broken things, and try to listen to the imput of the audience. However, over the past years and months, the online community has become more and more toxic, as players started to direct hatred towards indiviual members of the development teams (not only of EUIV, but also other Paradox titles). PCGamesN reports that Paradox teams find it increasingly harder to communicate with the public, as individual hatred becomes more commonplace. This is of course absolutly unacceptable. Critisising Paradox for releasing yet another broken game or update is one thing (we do that as well), but directing hatred against individual team members shows you just don’t care about the game. Probably, the latest has not been said on this issue (unfortunately).

Video: TheSocialStreamers

The Oregon Trail on Apple Arcade

A few weeks ago, we reported on the mess that is This Land is My Land, a over-generalised game about Native Americans. The devs didn’t think it was necessary to consult with Native Americans for the creation of the game, resulting in not only an inaccurate portrayal of Native Culture, but also the creation of a racist community. Well, the Oregon Trail game for Apple Arcade shows how it should be done. Below you can see the opening screen, which reads how the developers have collaborated with Native Scholars to portray the complex history of the Native Americans. The game itself (part of a long running series since the very popular first game back in the 1980’s) is also the first to have Native Americans as playable characters, celebrating the history and cultures of the Peoples who have inhabited the American continent for a long time. See devs of This Land is My Land: this is how you should do it.

Image: The Oregon Trail, through Twitter @Raantuva

New ‘big’ sequel for Undaunted Board Game

The very popular Undaunted board game series, from game designers Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson with Osprey Games, is getting a sequel. The series combines deck building with a board, and is a big hit. With both Undaunted: Normandy and Undaunted: North Africa being successess, the developers have announced they’re working two new games in the series, aside from the Reinforcement update dropping this summer. They (of course) cannot talk about the theme, but most requested themes were either the Eastern Front (or Stalingrad) or the Pacific Theatre. Looking at the two themes already there, those are indeed to very good bets. Read more on Board Game Quest.

Image: Osprey Games

Omar ‘oomzer’ Bugter is a Cultural Historian from Utrecht. Since interning at VALUE, he’s stuck around, mainly working on the Interactive Pasts website and the weekly streams. He wrote a thesis on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI and mods, so knows this game very well. He likes many other games, including F1 2020, Hearts of Iron, Mount & Blade and Crusader Kings III., and is VALUE’s in house city builder connaisseur. Tweet to him at @oomzer if you want to know anything about Civ or city builders.