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Gamescom

gamescom 2017: Astragon press conference

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For 17 years Astra­gon is pro­vi­ding us with all sorts of simu­la­ti­ons, edu­tain­ment and casu­al games. They pre­sen­ted to us their cur­rent line-up at games­com.

It’s Tues­day, August 21st 2017. We find our­sel­ves being at games­com, the big­gest con­su­mer expo for video games, and the first appoint­ment is upco­m­ing. The usual­ly easy to reach ent­ran­ce to Con­gress Cen­trum North is an obsta­cle par­cours sin­ce the Chan­cellor is joi­ning the ope­ning cere­mo­ny of the show and pre­pe­ra­ti­ons are ongo­ing. North of games­com is basi­cal­ly blo­cked off.

Arri­ving at Rhein­saal we’re faced with ten new pro­duc­ts being pre­sen­ted to us, one of which is a world pre­mie­re. Let’s start at the begin­ning.

Poli­ce Simu­la­tor 18 is deve­lo­ped by Por­tu­gue­se stu­dio Big Moon Enter­tain­ment. Pau­lo J. Gomes (fit­tin­g­ly named “Games” on his busi­ness card) is the enthu­si­astic head of the sym­pa­the­tic devs. He’s pre­sen­ting a who­le ran­ge of activi­ties like wri­ting par­king tickets, cha­sing bad guys and secu­ring a bank while a rob­be­ry is taking place in it, all of which sum up to the dai­ly rou­ti­ne of a patrol­man on the force. While the­se actions appe­ar to be varied, we’re not satis­fied with the tech­ni­cal sta­te of the game con­si­de­ring the stiff ani­ma­ti­ons and chop­py frame­ra­te. One of the core ele­ments is that it’s for you to deci­de how to rule over the city (which is an odd posi­ti­on to be in as a cop), whe­ther you frisk any civi­li­an and abu­se your posi­ti­on of power or you use your aut­ho­ri­ty care­ful­ly. That’s an aspect that piqued our inte­rest. The game is being released on Janu­a­ry 25th 2018 on PC.

While in Tran­sO­ce­an you con­trol­led a fleet of gigan­tic oce­an crui­sers over the world’s seas, Trans­Road: USA takes that idea and trans­po­ses it over to the roads. This PC simu­la­ti­on let’s you mana­ge a logistics com­pa­ny to full­fill the Ame­ri­can Dream to send your trucks over the who­le of the U.S. and parts of Mexi­co and Cana­da. There’s various licen­sed trucks e.g. from Peter­son which is remi­nis­cent to ano­t­her Astra­gon-published game, Ame­ri­can Truck Simu­la­tor, and a mul­ti­tu­de of trai­lers for cars, food and hazar­dous mate­ri­al. It’s impres­sing that you can zoom from the over­view of the ent­i­re game world to fol­lo­wing sin­gle trucks wit­hout any loa­ding inter­rupt­ing the expe­ri­ence. In the game you find three modes: Sto­ry, Quest and Sand­box. Let us find out if on Novem­ber 9th 25 Euro will let the Ame­ri­can Dream come true.

Fishing: Barents Sea is ano­t­her simu­la­ti­on game in Astragon’s port­fo­lio. The char­ming ope­ning let’s us con­trol one small boat, but soon we’re recrui­t­ing the first crew mem­bers to rise up to a giant fishing com­pa­ny. There’s licen­sed equip­ment in the indus­tri­al fishing game such as a who­le of six ships from manu­fac­tu­rers such as Her­mes. Wea­ther and day/night time are cycling dyna­mi­cal­ly in the game. Sea­fa­rers are able to explo­re a 32 squa­re kilo­me­tres big oce­an and they are able to argue with Nor­we­gi­an lead desi­gner Roland Mir­land if the Barents Sea belongs to Nor­way or to Rus­sia. An inte­res­ting part of the game which is in deve­lop­ment sin­ce 2013 is that you have to take care of fish stock or they will deple­te.

Stock­holm-based Avalan­ce Stu­di­os and their branch Expan­si­ve Worlds are popu­lar for their games Just Cau­se 1-3 and Mad Max which are published by Squa­re Enix. theH­un­ter: Call of the Wild is a who­le new affair even though it’s working with the same APEX engi­ne of the sta­ted games and the­re­fo­re is the only pro­duct in Astragon’s press con­fe­rence which isn’t based on Unre­al Engi­ne 4. It’s a hun­ting game set in an open world of the sit­ze of 50 squa­re kilo­me­tres in which you can find 12 dyna­mi­cal­ly pathed ani­mal spe­ci­es. You can hunt the­se ani­mals through uti­li­zing 14 wea­pons and play coope­ra­tively with up to three other hunts­men. The huge distan­ces can be over­co­me riding an ATV. The game was released on Febru­a­ry on PC and it’ll be avail­ab­le from Octo­ber 2nd at 40 Euro on Play­Sta­ti­on and Xbox One. On PS4 Pro theH­un­ter: Call of the Wild runs in Ultra-HD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels).

As a side note there’s a small foot­ball-style teaser of Euro Truck Simu­la­tor 2‘s upco­m­ing map expan­si­on Ita­lia. At the same time Astra­gon announ­ces a new retail edi­ti­on of Pra­gue-based deve­lo­per SCS Software’s truck­ing simu­la­ti­on. Hea­vy Car­go Edi­ti­on laun­ches at the end of the year pri­ced at 30 Euro and con­sists of the main game aswell as every pie­ce of DLC con­cer­ning car­go. Owners of the base game can digi­tal­ly upgrade to the edi­ti­on for 10 Euro. If you enter a store, there’s the pro­ba­bi­li­ty of being con­fu­sed sin­ce there’s alrea­dy an Tita­ni­um Edi­ti­on which con­tains the second map expan­si­on Scan­di­na­via and the Legen­da­ry Edi­ti­on packing in next to Scan­di­na­via also the first map pack Going East! and both inclu­de the Hea­vy Car­go Pack which also makes up part of the new edi­ti­on. We’re exci­ted to find out how SCS mixes up the road design in Ita­lia and what cities are to be inclu­ded.

The pre­sen­ta­ti­on of Fire­figh­t­ing Simu­la­tor takes us three years back when Ghost­light Games show­ed us Fla­me Over‘s rea­listic genera­ti­on of smo­ke and spread of fire on dif­fe­rent mate­ri­als. This game is based on a vox­el sys­tem. The fire spreads squa­re-by-squa­re and so we can see how the fire spreads to top of a woo­den stair­ca­se befo­re ligh­t­ing up to the side. After the pil­lars are des­troy­ed the who­le con­struct col­lap­ses in tiny parts. You can check out the super detail­ed models of fire trucks on Steam right now in the Show­room which gets updated with new fire trucks by Rosen­bau­er & co. over the cour­se of the deve­lop­ment of the game until it gets released in the begin­ning of next year on PC.

Far­ming Simu­la­tor 2017 also gets a new retail edti­on. Hob­by far­mers will be able to grow sugar cane and use a who­le array of licen­sed far­ming machine­ry and equip­ment from South Ame­ri­ca on a fit­ting new map from Novem­ber 8th on PC, Play­Sta­ti­on 4, Xbox One and Mac. You can acqui­re this edi­ti­on eit­her as the full packa­ge or upgrade to it if you own the base game.

On Novem­ber 14th the fran­chise cele­bra­tes its pre­mie­re on Nin­ten­do con­so­les in the Far­ming Simu­la­tor: Nin­ten­do Switch Edi­ti­on. The game is based on the PC ver­si­on and is said to have the same amount of con­tent. It’s up to you to build a farm in North Ame­ri­can or Eas­tern European ter­rain, har­vest dif­fe­rent kinds of crops, move your goods via trucks, trai­lers and driv­a­ble trains and look after your live­stock such as chi­cken, cows, sheep and pigs. You can use 250 detail­ly mode­led vehi­cles and tools of 75 com­pa­nies.

Astra­gon is kee­ping the big sur­pri­se for the end. Bus Simu­la­tor 18 is com­ing. Com­pa­red to Bus Simu­la­tor 16 there’s a lot of impro­ve­ments on what play­ers dis­lik­ed. The con­den­sed map of the pre­de­ces­sor is get­ting expan­ded to 2.5x of its size and bus dri­ving enthu­si­asts can join with up to 3 fri­ends to dri­ve their rou­tes. In Bus Simu­la­tor 16 a lot of the rou­tes crossed each other becau­se of the limi­ted map size. Also the­re was only the pos­si­bi­li­ty to part­ner up eco­no­mi­c­al­ly with other online play­ers but not to actual­ly dri­ve with each other. Iveco is a new licen­sed part­ner which means more buses. The visu­al fide­li­ty gets impro­ved by a new ver­si­on of Unre­al Engi­ne 4 (what engi­ne would the be else). Modi­fy­ing buses was alrea­dy pre­vious­ly pos­si­ble. In Bus Simu­la­tor 18 you’ll have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mod street signs, lan­tern and so on. We’re loo­king for­ward to see­ing the crea­ti­ve work of the com­mu­ni­ty. Bus Simu­la­tor 18 has a release win­dow of 2018. The host just could’nt get the deve­lo­per to reveal any more about when we can actual­ly get our hands on the game..

Conclusion

Con­si­de­ring this line-up of simu­la­ti­ons we expec­ted a tired start into expo day one. Astra­gon mana­ged to give us an under­stan­ding of gen­res we haven’t been in touch with all while main­tai­ning a rela­xed atmo­s­phe­re. Per­so­nal anec­do­tes of deve­lo­pers and the wit­ty mode­ra­ti­on aded to that. The games are aimed a very spe­ci­fic group of cos­tu­mers, should the Mön­chen­glad­bach-based com­pa­ny open its­elf up to con­so­les, as with theH­un­ter, joy­pad enthu­si­asts will have the chan­ce to check out the­se games. Astra­gon is taking that liter­al­ly and pro­vi­des the means to smell a farm on their con­su­mer booth of Far­ming Simu­la­tor. Is that a 4D fea­ture we’re mis­sing in the age of vir­tu­al rea­li­ty? We’ll see next year.

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