Co-Op Adventures in Dying Light

Dying Light was unfortunately released at a time when the zombie genre was over-saturated. I have been into zombies as a device to move stories forward for a long time starting with cinema. For a couple of decades now, if a movie has a premise that involves post-apocalyptic zombie scenarios I’m in. From the classic George Romero movies to newer franchises like 28 Days Later, zombie movies are a hoot. In the 90’s, titles like Resident Evil moved the theme over to the video game platform, and though it took a while to gain steam, at this point there are hundreds of zombie themed games. From realistic, gritty horror set pieces to cute, cartoon brain-eaters ala Plants vs. Zombies — the genre has no shortage of variety but once you’ve played a zombie game you’ve played them all so to speak.

I remember hearing about the game when it released and it sounded like more of the same. It’s a first person shooter, survival horror style game, with a big open world to explore. The major gimmick that set this title apart from its competition was the fact that there are parkour movement mechanics that really open the world up and let you explore vertically. It sounds funny when you talk about it, but it does really help you get around and the more that you get adjusted to it, the better you’ll get an climbing and jumping from rooftop to rooftop. There are even multiplayer challenges peppered about that focus on this one aspect of the game:

The reason that I ended up getting this title three years post-release was for one main reason: Co-Op! My best friend and I haven’t been gaming together much in the past few months, mainly because the games that we were playing fairly regularly in the past were completed (or we just haven’t been playing them anymore). My girlfriend was asking me the other day why we didn’t play together anymore and I told her that we didn’t really have anything co-op to play and so when we visited him last weekend she decided that we’d all go to Gamestop and find something to play together. This one jumped out at me, as we are both Resident Evil fans and enjoyed playing 5 & 6 co-op so I thought this might fit the bill. It also helps that it was cheap and the bundle that we picked up included all of the DLC for the game as well.

One silly thing that happens when you play a co-op game of this nature together is that everyone is essentially playing the same main character despite being on a team. The game was designed with co-op in mind but they clearly didn’t add other characters to the fold so we both ended up being the same guy in the same clothes. You have to play through a tutorial section before you can host or join games, and then at that point the player stash in safe houses has additional costumes that can be worn so you can differentiate yourselves a bit. My friend ended up looking like a ninja, and I went with a secret agent suit. Many of these costumes were present as part of DLC bundles, but you’ll find drops throughout the game as well.

You play a character named Crane, who is dropped into this infected area to find survivors and infiltrate their group. It seems you are working for someone else, and you might not be a good guy, but the story hasn’t unfolded far enough yet for me to tell what you’re really up to. You do work your way into a group and meet their leader (above) who sends you on various missions to advance the story. The central hub is a location called “The Tower” and you’ll run into other NPCs who will give you side quests and there are even bounties on a bounty board. Standard open-world/RPG stuff here.

It’s hard to say where in the world this is taking place. The names of characters sound middle-eastern, but you’ll run into all nationalities. Some of the accents sound South African. I can’t really place the real world locale, but perhaps this is just supposed to be its own world?

You’ll run into a variety of interesting characters as well, including this shut-in who has gone crazy but apparently really loves his mother. Gameplay consists of running, jumping and climbing around this city and mainly using melee weapons that you find in the world to bash in the skulls of nearby zombies. There are the general slow movie zombies and then some that move faster, some that can climb onto rooftops, and “nightmares” that come out at night and remind me of Resident Evil monsters.

The crafting system is similar to most games, you’ll find various items in the world, can break down items into base parts, and can even pick up some plants to make into more useful items. More blueprints are found in the world, and depending on skill point choices you’ll open up new recipes. Speaking of skills, there are various trees that you’ll earn points in that will help you mold your character to fit your play style:

I’m not sure how to open up the Legend tree, but I assume that comes later in the game. The Survivor, Agility and Power trees are available from the start, and you’ll earn experience by doing different things. Survivor seems to be the main leveling tree and gains experience pretty quick, has skills to open up new recipes and extra backpack space. You’ll gain Agility XP for climbing, running and jumping, and the skills in the tree have to do with this. Power is your combat tree and goes up as you kill things, also opening up additional combat skills.

Each tree has its own theme but also has the standard “open up this skill to open up the next” style of unlocking, where some parts of the tree branch in separate directions and you’ll have to choose where to go. After a certain point threshold is met you’ll open up new parts of the tree that will have further branches to explore. I ended up using points to upgrade my backpack space and my health, along with new recipes for “boosts” and the ability to slide across the ground along with vaulting over zombies. My friend ended up going the drop kick route which can end in some hilarious physics during combat:

The game I’d most compare Dying Light to is Dead Island. The latter title lacked the parkour elements but had the same sort of large open area where you’d complete quests, a leveling system and a mostly melee based combat system. It does appear that there are guns in this game but they aren’t exactly growing on trees at this point. Similar to DI, you’ll have to watch your weapon’s durability, as they eventually break and have to be repaired. You could also compare this title to things like Fallout, but obviously there’s less shooting going on, and more zombies. I’d recommend this title to anyone who enjoys FPS titles, particularly the zombie kind. If you enjoyed the Dead Island series you’ll like this game as well. Or, if you just need some co-op action in your life, give it a whirl!

Thoughts on Hex

Hex Card Clash is a Playstation 4 port of the same game that has been kicking around on PC for a while. When it comes down to it, this feels very much like other Collectible Card Games that are on the market, and in particular this title feels very much like a digital version of Magic: The Gathering. The gameplay mechanics, the way the cards are designed, even the phases of each turn are more similar to MTG than any of the other CCGs that I’ve played (and I’ve played quite a few of them).

If you’ve played the Duels of the Planeswalkers titles that stretch back to 2012 or thereabouts, this will feel like the same game. It’s not a stripped down and simple version that depends on too much RNG like Hearthstone. It doesn’t have the differing lane mechanics that Elder Scrolls Legends came up with. And it’s not really comparable to any of the other CCGs I’ve played. It really does feel like MTG in digital form, so if you are like me and are still waiting for WotC’s newest iteration (MTG Arena) to release then this might fill that niche for the time being.

As I said, the cards are designed in a similar fashion and the turn sequences are literally identical to MTG. Keywords on the cards are different than MTG, but the function is the same. For instance, enters the battlefield triggers are called “Deploy.” “Quick Action” is akin to Instants. There are many of these types of mechanics that are identical but called something different. I have yet to see that many cards outside of the tutorial, which kept things basic, so I’m sure there is something here that sets the game apart, but I can’t help but feel that it’s still a good fit for MTG players that are looking for something new. It’s not Magic, but it will do.

Despite knowing that this is a CCG available on PC, I saw that it released for PS4 sometime recently and thought I’d give it a try. I haven’t really found a digital CCG that I’ve wanted to put time into, but so far this game feels like a good fit. It looks nice and it plays well. Despite using a controller to play, the controls were intuitive enough and I enjoyed what I’ve seen. I will report back with further thoughts once I’ve put some more time into it, but if you’re looking for a CCG to play on the console then this might be a good option for you. If nothing else it won’t cost you anything to check it out.

The Enemy Within – Episode 2

The second episode of The Enemy Within kept up with the pace of the first. Bruce is trying to infiltrate “The Pact,” which is a super villain group consisting of John Doe (Joker), Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze and Bane. As Bruce, you’re playing both sides trying to act like the bad boy rich kid that’s finally following in his father’s footsteps while still working with Gordon (GCPD) and Waller (FBI). Waller has tasked you with trying to stop this group, while you have kind of left Gordon in the dark. Your relationships with the main characters seem to adjust to what you do in the game, and clearly I’ve adjusted them compared to the first episode:

Playing both sides is difficult, because you have to make the villains trust you, while still trying to stop them. This means communicating with Alfred and Waller via your tech while keeping that on the extreme down low when around the villains.

There were several key choices to make in this episode, and for the most part I went along with the majority of players. I had to sneak into Wayne tower to get the Phalanx key for Harley, but of course John and her had to accompany me. Thankfully Tiffany (Lucius’s Daughter) was able to give me the key and keep her mouth shut, but this means that the villains would get closer to their goal. The episode culminated with the police trying to stop the group, and there was a major choice to try and stop either Bane or Harley from killing cops, and I chose to go after Bane thinking it would help my relationship with Harley, but instead she gets left behind and is pissed. I’m sure I can smooth things over with her in the next episode.

Overall this series has kept me hooked. At this point there’s only a couple more to go before I have to wait for the last episode to release but I think it was a worthy purchase. If you have plus and didn’t play the first season I’d recommend doing so then do yourself a favor and play this one as well. I didn’t think Batman would be a fun series but it’s been great!

The War Report: Prossh Food Chain

Masters 25 releases this Friday, and with it, we’re seeing reprints of a couple old Legendary creatures that were originally released with Wizards’ yearly Commander sets. I mentioned in my article about the set that there was one of those reprints that I wouldn’t mind building around. Behold, Prossh:

Originally printed as part of the Commander 2013 set (same year as Oloro, Darevi and others), Prossh is getting reprinted in Masters 25, along with Animar who was from the original Commander product Wizards released. Animar isn’t a bad looking commander either, but Prossh interested me immediately. I set about doing some research on him, and it turns out that he’s not very expensive to buy right now, but he is a tier 1.5 general. It seems that there are differing ways to build him, usually focusing on the fact that he creates tokens on cast trigger, and abusing those tokens either with things like Doubling Season (to make more tokens) or sacrificing them to give him additional power and making a semi-voltron style build. He’s also been abused by combo players, and I feel like a mix of these themes should be present in the deck. Because he costs 6 mana to cast, we want to ramp fast and ramp hard — thankfully we’re in a good color combo to do so.


Typically I don’t like ramp on legs. Cards like the above elves tend to be cheap and effective ways to ramp, mainly because they cost one or two mana and can provide mana by tapping, but these creatures are easy to pick off with small amounts of damage and they tend to be vulnerable to board wipes. For that reason I’ll typically utilize cards like Wood Elves or Rampant Growth, because you’ll get a land onto the battlefield regardless of if the creature survives, and ramp spells are reliable because no one is going to waste a counter spell on them. There is a reason I’ve chosen to include so many of them here though, mainly because there is a combo that we’re going for that I’ll get to in a bit. Still, the amount of ramp here is very redundant, so we’ll be able to guarantee we are ramping faster than anyone else at the table. To make sure that we can get to our combo fast, I’ve added a number of tutor effects as well:


Most tutors are pretty straight-forward: You pay the mana costs, find the card you want and either put it in your hand or on top of your library. We’ve got a couple of these here that can be used for a variety of cards, but then there are some that I added to fetch out a particular combo piece. Since the card we want to fetch out every single game costs 3 mana, I’ve added a couple transmute options that will allow us to sacrifice the card with the transmute ability to tutor up another card with that same CMC. Necropotence isn’t really a tutor, but it can help you get to the cards you need pretty quickly, but you’ll have to pay life to do so. So what’s the big win-con here? Let’s take a look at our options:

Win Conditions:

The big combo we want to work towards in this deck is a combination of Prossh and the enchantment Food Chain. Food Chain doesn’t look like that great of a card on the surface, but it works well with Prossh’s abilities. So when Prossh enters the battlefield, he creates X 0/1 Kobolds based on the amount of mana used to pay for Prossh. This is one of the few commanders that actually benefits from commander tax, as each time you cast him, you’ll have to pay two extra mana to do so, which in turn means two more Kobolds will be spawned. Food Chain is a sacrifice outlet, and gives you mana equal to the sacrificed creature’s CMC + 1. Since your Kobolds are tokens and have effectively 0 CMC, they still net 1 mana per sacrificed creature. This means if you cast Prossh and get 6 tokens, you can sacrifice two of them, then sacrifice Prossh to Food Chain netting you enough mana to recast him and start the process over, effectively giving you infinite mana and infinite tokens. That won’t win you the game by itself, but it’s the cornerstone for this deck. From there you can use additional cards like Purphoros to kill your opponents with the ETB damage triggers from Prossh’s tokens, use Ogre Battledriver, Beastmater Ascension or Craterhoof Behemoth to buff them up and swing for the kill. Alternatively, you can sac those creatures to buff up Prossh himself and apply something like Tainted Strike to kill someone off with infect. The possibilities are varied.


One drawback to Prossh and his token generation engine is the lack of haste. We have that covered with cards like Anger and Fires of Yavimaya. I’ve added some recursion in case Food Chain gets nuked, along with some cards that will benefit from the sacrificing you’ll be doing. You can draw cards and force your opponents to sacrifice their creatures if you have Fecundity, Dictate of Erebos and Grave Pact on the board.

If you ramp fast enough, you’ll be able to get the Food Chain combo going quickly and you should be able to tutor up an additional win-con by then too. Some of these other tools will help you control the board if you happen to have a slower game. Overall I think this deck will be a lot of fun, and will likely be one of my next builds after the Masters set releases. You can check out my full decklist here.

Batman: The Enemy Within

Despite not really caring about Telltale’s Batman series, I gave it a whirl because it was free on Playstation Plus. After playing through the first season though, it got its hooks into me. After completing the title I mentioned that I was thinking about picking up the second season, and I ended up doing just that. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and knowing that Telltale tends to continue on storylines using your choices I wanted to see how my version of Gotham was faring. I’m glad that I decided to get this game, because the story took no time at all getting going (despite the first season’s first episode being pretty boring) and the action was even tighter than the first go around.

For the most part, the game is a direct continuation and the mechanics are pretty much the same. You’ll still chat and fight as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, and you’ll have to be the great detective that you are during certain points in the game, having to link clues together to decipher crime scenes. What’s different is that this time around the game tracks your relationships with main characters, and then let’s you know how they feel about you at the end:

There are the usual major/difficult choices to make, but it seems even minor things can affect your relationships with these characters. As you can see, the range of emotions is varied – Alfred is vengeful and the Joker is ecstatic! Each of the pictures above will show the various choices I had made that left each character feeling a particular way. Spoiler alert, these feelings will change as the game goes on, so it’s good to know if you make someone angry you can still redeem yourself later!

The summary at the end of each episode shows four of the major choices, along with the feelings of each character towards you. For the most part it seems that I went with the majority of players, and it was interesting to see how the story continued on and my choices from the last season ended up affecting this one. I don’t want to get too spoilery so I’ll leave you with that.

As usual I have write-ups planned for each episode. At this point I’m need to finish up the fourth episode and then wait for the 5th to be released. This season started last August so I was able to binge through most of it, but have to wait for the last one which should be out within a month or so. I look forward to seeing another game to its conclusion this year!