Playing Video Games Actually Have A Lot Of Benefits

Benefits of Playing Video Games

Video games may be thriving in recent weeks (or years) as a “booming” new industry, but that wasn’t always the case. Back then, people believed that video games were addicting sources of entertainment. That these video games were pointless and that they, uhm…rot your brain. Well, experts believe the contrary. A lot of researches had been conducted in order to prove otherwise and the scientists and researchers actually found a lot of benefits in playing video games. Here are the top benefits that video games might give you along with a few sample of games that might help you in that specific area.

Multitasking

Not Easy.
Yeah…the gist is, you will be controlling all of those at the SAME TIME. Easy, right? Nope.

Games: http://multitaskgames.com/

Try this: you’re watching the episodes of Game of Thrones because the new season is approaching really fast, while watching your kid, while writing this article, while doing another thing. Oh, look! You forgot your dinner on the stove. Handling this kind of scenario might be brain-wrecking for most people because they can’t handle multitasking. Well, worry not, my dear. Researchers found out that playing video games actually helps with doing (or at least paying attention to) multiple things at once.

But, it is important to note that this might be because the participants of the research were doing the same thing for thousands of times during the whole duration of the experiment which might be the reason why they were so good at it. It may be wonderful, fascinating even, to be able to do multiple things at once, but still you’ll be more efficient if you try to focus on just one task at a time.

Improved Attention

I know you've played something similar to this, right? Right?
I know you’ve played something similar to this, right? Right?

Games: Quake, Doom, Call of Duty, Overwatch, basically any action-packed games

Walking on a busy road, looking for a friend in a crowd or, following a ball during a game requires great effort and, sometimes, intense concentration; and these certain scenarios might be between life or death…ok, that may be taking it too far, nonetheless, it is a critical survival skill. In order to fully understand the relation between video games and Multiple Object Tracking (MOT), researchers from California designed, implemented, and evaluated TrackFX, a game that can be used by children as young as 30 months old.

The game is basically just like a hide-and-seek game where a ladybug and a spider are covered with leaves and were moved around. Then, after a few seconds, the movements stop and the player can then choose which leaf hides the ladybug. This way, the ladybug acts as the target and the spiders act as distractions. The results of the experiment were astonishing, the children still perform well despite the levels becoming more difficult.

Decision Making

Prof. Daphne Bavelier's test video game
Look at those dots! Oh, oh, oh!

Games: Tell-tale games, simulation games, and well…action games

One might look at gamers as if they are just ‘playing’ a game and not much is happening in their heads, but this is not the case. Each and every bit of a gaming session involves a lot of small and big decisions to be made; and some requires a reaction in a snap of a finger. This was further discussed by a team of researchers from New York. Oh and get this, the gender of a person doesn’t really matter.

What they did is that they assigned 14 people (half men, half women who haven’t played video games) to play two action games for no more than two hours a day up to a total of 50 hours. Then a second set of four men and seven women joined in but they played a Sims-like game where they direct the lives of the characters. Both of the groups improved greatly with the test game the researchers prepared but, action gamers responded faster. I can hear you cheering from here.

Do you think video games?

That’s all I got for now. There are still a lot of benefits that video games may offer us, but just like what my momma used to say, “Too much of everything is not good”. How about you? What are the benefits that video games have to offer us? And, have you experienced the benefits of games first-hand? Comment them down below and let’s have a chat.

10 Best Stellaris Mods That You Must Try Now!

If you’ve been following Vgamerz lately, you know that I have a complete Stellaris addiction and even though I’m still enjoying the base game as it is and I still discover new amazing things, I can’t ignore the fact that the modding community is insanely active and there are a ton of great mods launched already, with some major ones in progress (like the Star Trek total conversion). Until those get released, we still have a lot of ways to improve our Stellaris experience and in order to help you get started, I’ve decided to create this list of the 10 best Stellaris mods that you should install right now.

I am sure that mode mods will be launched in the future, so I will make sure to let you know about their availability when they are released. But until then, check out below the best Stellaris mods!

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Per Ardua Ad Astra

Stellaris is an extremely balanced game – and a complex one too – as it is, but some tweaks will never hurt. This mod updates the balance and brings some much needed changes, like new buildings, rebalanced robots and slaves, as well as balance changes for Buildings, Edicts, Ethics, Governments, Techs and Traits. Pretty interesting, I’d say – so click here to download this mod.

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Lilim – Rei Ayanami

This one will be particularly interesting if you’re a fan of the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion (and the movies related to it), but even if you’re not, it’s still a great play! Introducing a new species, the Lilim (angels in the anime), a new government type – the Divine Matriarchal Rule (which upgrades to Divine Matriarchal Star Empire). Give it a try here.

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Galaxies Unlimited

Did you ever feel the need of more stars in Stellaris? The current cap is set at 1,000, but with this mod you can create a galaxy with 25 to 5,000 stars. The maps all include adjusted number of empires, empire default, fallen empire/advance empire defaults, and number of nebulas. Just make sure that you have what it takes to rule these galaxies! You can download the mod here.

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48 Empire Colors

This mod adds 28 additional colors to the base game, and it also expands the space for color selection in the custom species creation screen. This is compatible with Ironman mode and unlocking the Ironman achievement, so give it a try! Download here.

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Honorverse: Star Kingdom of Manticore


Although playable and very cool, this is still a work in progress mod at the moment of writing – so expect it to get more and more epic. Until then, enjoy the mod based on David Weber’s book series about Honor Harrington, featuring the Star Kingdom of Manticore empire, new government, new star systems and more. Extremely high potential here, so check it out on Steam.

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Beautiful Battles Mod

This mod completely revamps the space battles (mostly aesthetically) and everything will look better and more spectacular. Battles will also last slightly longer, so sit back and enjoy the show! Download the mod here.

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Playable Robots

Do you want to play as Robots? You can do so with this well-made mod that brings Robots as a playable race in the galaxy, with 16 Playable Android Races and a lot of room for growing. Click here to download the mod.

best stellaris mods 08

The Blorg

This is a fun mod to try, especially if you watched the teasers Paradox had for Stellaris. This adds a new pre-scripted empire to the game, the loving (but not lovable) Blorg. Try them out just for fun and for some amazing roleplay. Click here to download.

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Better Sector Mod

Sectors are always frustrating and time consuming. Sometimes they make little sense and they manage to get the game a lot more complicated than they should, especially since they’re intended to simplify things. This mod fixes those problems and makes sectors work as I personally believe they should. Download it here.

best stellaris mods 10

National Emblem Pack

Another mod that makes things not just more familiar, but better for roleplaying: insignia from across history and around the world, including intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations, Union of South American States, NATO and individual nations from Albania to Wales. A really good mod that can be downloaded here.

Even though it’s been just a few days since the game was released, as you can see we already have a ton of great mods available for download (and an impressive 420 available on Steam at the moment of writing). This will get epic from now on, so expect another article with game changing mods really soon. Until then, enjoy these amazing mods too!

Stellaris Tips and Tricks for Starting Your Game Flawlessly

Stellaris is more than a grand strategy game: it’s game which, thanks to its customization options and massive scale, is absolutely unbelievable. If you add some roleplay to the mix as well, even when playing alone, you’ll get even more from it. But starting is always difficult and it’s easy to make some small, stupid mistakes, that will cost you in the long run. Therefore, I have decided to write this guide and share with you some Stellaris tips and tricks on how to start each game in order to prepare for interplanetary domination early on and in order to increase your chances of defeating all alien scum you’ll encounter.

There are tons of strategies that work and a ton that might make things difficult to you – and it all gets even more complicated based on the traits of the races you create and play as, so what suits my play style might not necessarily suit yours. However, I still think that this is worth reading, so do give it a chance if you want to get a head start early on and get the most out of Stellaris as soon as you start a new game. Read this and stay tuned with us as even more Stellaris content is coming! (UPDATE: Read our best tips & tricks article here – but make sure you do after reading this one, as these tips here are not covered again in the new article!)

1. Start surveying as fast as possible and explore as much as possible: send your first Science Ship to survey your solar system (this is the first thing that you should do), then make sure you keep it hopping from solar system to solar system surveying everything. Have in mind that if you meet anomalies that have a success rate lower than 30 percent, it’s best to leave it be for the time being as you run the risk of losing your Scientist.

A trick to make things faster and not risk losing your Science Ship to enemies waiting in a new solar system is to send your military ships explore the new galaxies as well. They can’t survey them, but they can explore them and see if there’s any threat waiting. Do so while your Science ship is surveying your starting system in order to win time and get an advantage in deciding what route to follow.

2. Activate Details Mapmode – even if you play on a Tiny map, things will start getting too complicated shortly. Activate this function by clicking the button at the bottom of the screen and you’ll have a detailed overview of resources in each galaxy and habitable planets. It will help you a lot in the long run so learn to play with this option on!

3. Go for energy and minerals first: these are the most important resources throughout the game, but especially early on: have your construction ship focus on Mineral and Energy-producing planets and build on your own planet buildings that improve one or the other (usually, it’ better to focus on energy since chances of finding resources in the galaxy are actually higher). Remember, though, that during early game stages, Minerals are vital and probably the most important type of resource. Don’t build any research-related buildings and even ignore research bonuses that you find on other planets and focus on getting all the minerals and energy first.

4. Colonize your first planet ASAP! As soon as you find a habitable planet, start the colonization process: the longer you wait, the further you’ll be left behind in the race to conquer the galaxy. Even if the energy will drop in the red for a while, you shouldn’t worry: it’s temporary and you shouldn’t be hoarding energy either way (I usually hit my maximum storage anyway in a few hours of play time – and you will do so most likely if you manage things properly). Then rush to get to five planets as fast as possible and build Starports everywhere in order to get the maximum fleet advantage. It’s also what most of the other species’ will do, so you have to keep up!

5. Start thinking about specialization: building awesome ships is exactly what you need in order to rule the galaxy. Always focus on researching better technology for your ships, and try to specialize them on just a couple of things as you won’t have the time to be an ace in every weapon type, for example. It would help if you knew what to prepare for (by analyzing what types of ships the other races have), but even if you don’t, just make your pick and stick to it. And it’s better to have 2-3 techs to focus on than playing all your cards on one in case you are extremely unlucky and you meet a race that is completely resistant to your tech advances.

6. Build Frontier Outposts only when needed
Frontier Outposts are extremely useful if you find a system that’s not within your borders, but you need the resources there. Ideally, you will place it in a solar system or nearby one that you will colonize later, in order to be able to bring that system within your race’s borders and get to decommission the outpost in order to use that energy elsewhere. However, make sure that the gains (in energy and minerals, mostly) are worth it because building the Frontier Outposts is extremely expensive and there’s also a maintenance fee.

(Note: In an early version of this guide, I claimed that you need to build FO’s to colonize planets – which is something I was certain you have to do until I received some comments here. It was either that this was changed by a later update – which is highly improbable – or I just got things wrong and therefore all my Stellaris games had an extra challenge as I only colonized planets after building an outpost. This might actually work nicely as a challenge for yourself if you need an extra one as it does make the game a lot more interesting.)

7. Declare rivals
Influence is extremely important in the game and there are not many ways to gain it. So it’s a good idea to declare rivals with other players or Fallen Empires if you meet them in order to get a boost in Influence which will come extremely handy later on (especially when your leaders start leaving this world)

These would by my tips and tricks for starting the game. There’s a lot depth to this game, but having these basic things in mind will ensure that you have a great start and a bright future ahead of you.

Other tips regarding what to do when starting a new Stellaris game? Let us know by commenting below and remember to check back soon for even more tips and tricks for this game!

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Announced

The next main entry in the long-running strategy series Sid Meier’s Civilization was announced today and the wait will not be long.  Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is scheduled to release on October 21st of this year and will be exclusive to PC.  The series saw some major changes with the release of Civilization V in 2010 with the removal of unit-stacking and a switch from a square grid to a hexagonal one.  The sixth game will be making plenty of innovations to change up the tactical gameplay.

Cities will no longer be based around a single tile and will instead have their functions spread across large amounts of land.  Buildings that previously crowded together into a single space will now be spread out as their own individual structures, such as the various World Wonders that offer unique benefits to your civilization.  Not only will individual tiles and their development matter now more than ever before, it will also make engaging in sieges far more complex.  Both attackers and defenders alike will have to divide their attention across multiple targets and make judgement calls on what’s the most valuable.

Scientific research will also be seeing a major change as it will no longer be a simple matter of climbing your way through the tech tree.  There will now be specific quests tied to many of your scientific breakthroughs that will uncover new technology more quickly if you complete them.  It will still be possible to unlock technologies without completing these quests, but they will make developing certain inventions easier for those who should logically have an advantage.

Finally, combat will feature a reserved return to the stacking mechanic.  It won’t be the same as the infinite legions of death that were seen in Civilization IV as only a few units can share a single tile and there are several restrictions on what specific units can stack together.  Support units can stack with combat units, such as an anti-tank team standing with infantry, allowing the support to carry out their dedicated role while the soldiers offer protection from direct combat.  It will also be possible to stack two similar units together to form an especially strong Corps unit.  This new system should allow for more synergy between your troops while preventing the Zerg-rush mentality of the past.

What are your thoughts on the big changes coming to Sid Meier’s Civilization VI?  Which civilizations do you want to see on the playable roster this time around?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Rogue State Review

So, you think that building a democracy – or being the ultimate jerk / dictator the world has ever seen is a breeze? Hahaha (that’s my evil laughter here). You know nothing! Not when your own brother is trying to sabotage you and install his behind on your chair and send you to meet your maker. And you can’t even assassinate the poor soul, because the people love him and you need the people to rule. Not to mention money, resources, great relations with your neighbors, the US, the EU, the fundamentalists, the liberals, the capitalists and those pesky journalists who have the guts to remember that you promised modernization of the education system – and remember that exactly when you have no money left to do it.

This is Rogue State. This is fun!

If my first paragraph made absolutely no sense, let me try to clear things out: you start the game as the revolutionary leader and new president of a fictional middle eastern country and it’s up for you to rebuild the great nation of Basenji, gain the love and trust of the people, build up the relationships with your neighbors through democracy and keep your brother, Farouk, from throwing you off your chair and install himself as president. Rebuild infrastructure, intelligence agencies, adopt and change policies and do everything you can to keep on playing. Because in the “democracy” you’re building, you will eventually fail. Eventually!

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This political simulation game with a big dose of humor (one of the neighbor states, for example, is ruled by a chicken!) proves to be extremely complex and offers so much depth that every new playthrough will feel like a brand new experience – and you’ll love to see that you’re getting better and better.

A turn based game with each turn offering you the chance to perform four actions, Rogue State surprises and amazes even though at first it might seem a bit too difficult and random. Your main role in the game is to find the perfect balance in the policies you adopt (and there’s quite a few of them) to try to keep your people happy. You have liberals and fundamentalists, capitalists and patriots as the four distinct categories in the countries: and you must keep them all happy otherwise they’ll start rioting and eventually overthrow you. This is done by adopting the right policies, but also by building special infrastructures for your great nation. Also, special events are triggered every time you end your turn and the way you decide to handle them will have different effects on your people, neighbors and nation’s partners. The fun part? You can’t really know what the effects will be until you’ve made your choice. And that’s fun!

On numerous occasions, I found myself comparing the game with Democracy 3 and it does have common points. However, I found Democracy way too random and boring, while Rogue State delivers better quality, seems to make more sense and adds a few visual elements that make everything a bit more enjoyable (even though the graphics are far from perfect). But there’s something about this game that really makes you care about it, challenges you, pushes you to try again to do better: things that make sense and events that can sometimes help, not just try to destroy you over and over again. It’s a lot of randomness here as well, but there are also so many beautiful cause-effect connections that increase the complexity, your strategic approach and offer so many gameplay options that you will never feel bored.

For example, raising the taxes quickly will have a major effect on the mood of all your groups, but the drop in morale will get lower and lower each turn – which makes sense, as more people will accept the new situation. The same goes with dropping the tax rates: people will get really happy for a short while, but then there will be no extra bonus from that, because it will feel normal. Will you raise the wages? The Capitalists won’t like that, but other people will. Will you ban religion in schools? Fundamentalists will hate you, but liberals will love you. Every thing you do in the game will have an effect (and the beautiful thing is that some only have an effect several turns after your actions) and your main goal is to find the perfect balance. You can’t keep everybody happy, you must align yourself with one or two particular groups, but you can’t ignore any of them if you want to be the ruler.

And as a ruler, you have a lot more options on hand: you can and should rebuild the nation by spending money on infrastructure. Each building comes with extra boosts and bonuses, and a good strategy here is required too. Your ministers will have requirements from you every now and then, and you should make them happen if you want to keep your relations in good standing. Your neighbors are always around and you can trade with them or even build a military and attack them. Hell, you can even go completely mad and start a nuclear war if that’s what you want to do!

Then, there’s the humor: sometimes crude, sometimes nuanced and barely visible. We have a country that’s being ruled by a chicken who can’t be understood, there’s the US to whom you don’t have direct access, but can be impressed if you have oil (and they bring you no “freedom” for it) and you have the newspaper that never runs out of puns and jokes. It’s brilliant!

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Rogue State does have its limitations: it’s an indie game with a lower budget and there are some things that get boring after a while, the most frustrating being the constant need to adjust policies based on the groups of people in your nation. The graphics won’t blow your mind either, but this game still manages to deliver so much fun in its small package that it’s almost unbelievable. And I certainly found it more fun than Democracy which has more polish, but not as much appeal and power of attraction.

So if you’re up for these kinds of games, head over to Steam and get yourself a copy of Rogue Nation. You’ll find out just how fun it is to constantly fail as a leader!

Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin Tips & Tricks

Dark Souls

If you frequent VgamerZ (which you should), you’ve probably seen me posting about Dark Souls or something relating to the franchise as a whole. Nearly half of my articles on this site relate to or reference the Souls series in some way or another and it is my favourite series of all time. I consider myself a Souls veteran, though most would call me a fanboy, and I’ve learned many things throughout my difficult times in Drangleic, Yharnam, Boletaria, and Lordran.

I am here today to provide you with twelve tips that will help newcomers and veterans alike. I hope that it might enable you to have an easier time in the difficult and unforgiving opening hours of one of the hardest games on the PS4. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin.

Dark souls 2 dragon heide

I – Melentia Is Your Friend

This decrepit woman carrying way too much on her brittle back might have you doing a double take to ensure that you didn’t just turn your back on a foe, and I get that. However, you should definitely keep your sword sheathed so that you may have a lovely and harmless conversation with a woman that is almost too eager to sell you her wares.

she provides extremely useful items like Life Gems, Pharros’ Lockstone, a key to unlock the blacksmith in Majula, and numerous others that will eventually become unlocked as you progress throughout your journey in Drangleic.

You should spend some time at the beginning of the game earning enough Souls that you can purchase the aforementioned items, as they will all help you greatly. better yet, run through her entire dialogue tree and she’ll appear in Majula when you’ve cleared out the first boss!

II – The Way Of Blue Is The Only Way

Once you’ve picked your jaw up from the floor after witnessing the beauty that is Majula, you’ll notice a few lively NPCs to converse with. The crestfallen (heh) man sitting at what appears to be some sort of obelisk near the ocean is Saulden, and he has a very important Covenant for you to join if you so desire.

The Way Of Blue is a covenant that essentially protects newcomers from invaders; hostile players that can jump into your world to slaughter you in a vicious and generally humiliating fashion. It functions by automatically summoning a friendly player from the Blue Sentinels Covenant to fight alongside you as you face off against the red bully on the other side of the screen.

III – The Best Effigy Is A Burnt Effigy

Another way to protect against invaders is by burning a Human Effigy. If you want to be left alone, simply visit the Bonfire that surrounds the area you’re in, and hit the ‘burn’ option. When you select your Effigy, it prevents any sort of co-operation.

Be warned. You are no longer able to summon either, so use this at your own discretion.

IV – Vandalism Has Its Perks

If you are a new player, you might not know that you can leave messages for other players to see in their worlds. Whenever you run across some orange symbol on the ground, it’s usually a player leaving a message to either guide you, or throw you off to be that guy. You can do this too by accessing it in your drop-down menu, and it has a nice benefit.

If someone likes the message you’ve written, they can leave it a good rating and you will instantly receive full health. While it’s certainly not useful all of the time, it can be a life safer when you are low on healing items.

You also get the added bonus of helping someone who might be more inexperienced than you that is already having a rough day, so be a nice guy and you’ll be rewarded for it.

V – Smooth, Or Silky? You Decide

If you go to Things Betwixt and visit that bird’s nest, you’ll hear voices talking about their desire for something smooth or silky. It’s a very cryptic message at first, but it all becomes clear as you play through the game. Smooth and Silky Stones are random items of no use, or so it seems. Drop one of them on the bird’s nest and suddenly you’re given an item.

The item you get is always random, and it comes from a pool of multiple potential items, so your chances of getting something good are slim. That said, it’s still highly recommended that you frequently return to drop the stones, as you could find yourself with a rare weapon or a nice ring. Just remember to drop one at time, as dropping multiple at once will not work.

VI – Something Petrified

When creating your character, you’re given the option to pick a starting gift. They all seem really random and some seem downright useless, but one amongst them stands as my ultimate favourite starting gift, and it’s probably the one you’d least expect.

Petrified Something is a seemingly pointless item, but like many things in Dark Souls II it has a hidden use that you’d probably skip. Drop that item on the bird’s nest that I previously mentioned and it gives you a random item from the aforementioned pool. The great thing about Petrified Something is that it is the best item you can drop for the birds, so your chances of getting something good are increased.

I’ve had many runs where I’ve received a nice ring or some upgrade materials that I could use immediately to raise my weapon’s stats, so it’s worthwhile to choose this gift over the others.

VII – Champions Are Overrated

When you first venture into Majula, you’ll be tempted to explore every single nook and cranny that won’t result in your demise. You’ll also be tempted to talk to every NPC and engage in as many dialogue options as possible for their potential rewards and quests. If you make your way to the highest point in Majula, you can find a stone tablet that allows you to join the Covenant of Champions.

While it sounds like an intriguing and fun covenant to align yourself with, be wary, as joining it results in the game becoming permanently harder. It’s the equivalent of being in New Game Plus on your first play-through, and it is definitely not a pushover.

Furthermore, joining this Covenant will prevent all types of jolly cooperation, so forget about ever taking part in an invasion or having a friend join you for a boss fight.

VIII – Jack And His Trades

Most players that will venture through the game will find that they adopt a weapon that feels most comfortable to them. It’s nice because regardless of play style, there will always be at least one weapon that feels perfect for you.

The problem is that with Dark Souls II, Fromsoftware took the idea of weapon durability to an entirely new level. Instead of it slowly wearing down over time, it now drops drastically as you fight. It’s made worse by the fact that the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game all have a durability bug that drops it even further, so this entire idea of favouring a weapon is no longer valid.

You will want to swap weapons consistently throughout each stretch. Find two or three weapons you like and level them evenly (or make one a dominant weapon, it’s your choice), as you will never have enough durability to successfully explore the entire map and take out the boss in one fell swoop.

IX – Backtracking? Maybe Just This Once…

While your natural instinct will be to push forth and seek the king, you would be wise to backtrack to a specific area for an item that could help immensely with invaders and enemies.

The area? Things Betwixt. The loot? The Stone Ring. The way? Start at the Bonfire and trek through the house. Once you reach the bridge, cross it and head through the little gap in the rocks on the right. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see footprints in the dirt. Swiftly end the life of that disgusting cyclops and the ring is yours.

The Stone Ring is a ring that buffs your poise, a stat the is centred around staggering your foes leaving them open for combos. It is a fantastic ring to equip early game, as it adds a considerable amount of poise to your character and practically ensures that any small enemy you encounter will face the wrath of a good stun-lock.

How early you go is up to you, but I generally go the moment I get done making my character.

X – Parry Is Gonna Get Back Stabbed

Dark Souls II, like the other Souls games, holds two unique attacks that you can utilize to exploit almost any foe the game throws at you for massive damage.

The first move, the back stab, is rather easy to pull off and rewards you with a combo that both destroys the enemy’s HP, and leaves him begging for mercy on the ground. Simply walk behind an enemy (as the name implies), and plant your sword in his back by means of the R1 button. You have to almost perfectly align yourself with the back, so practice it well.

The second move, and the more challenging to master, is the parry. To parry an enemy, you must hit L2 to smack the weapon of your opponent away with your shield as he is just about to land his blow. It is very tricky to get it down, but when you do, it gives you the opportunity to follow up with a crushing riposte. Just tap the R1 button directly in front of the enemy when he is stunned, and you will be watching his corpse fade away into the wind.

XI – Classes Aren’t For Schmucks

Picking a starting class is a unique experience in the Souls series. Most RPGs cement you into your class and force you to play by the rules of that specific class, but in Dark Souls II it’s different.

You can choose any class and come out of it using any weapon or spell, depending on how you decide to build your character. That said, it’s still vital that you choose a suitable class to start the game with.

I personally like to choose the Knight, as it offers me enough Strength to wield any early-game strength weapon, and enough dex that if I add a few points to it, I can also wield any dex weapon I find. It offers great vigor and enough vitality that you can wear most medium armour with the exception of the Drangleic set.

How you build your character is up to you, so consider what you want to be doing and choose accordingly.

XII – Team Playin’ Is The Best Kind Of Playin’

If you find that you’re struggling with a particularly frustrating area or boss, it might be wise that you summon help. Furthermore, if you require souls but hate the idea of grinding them, you can always place yourself in another player’s world to aid them in their time of desperation.

To summon a player, you must be in your human form. You can check this by looking at your health bar to see if it has it’s maximum health reduced, or by the colour of your character’s skin. If you aren’t human, defeat a boss, successfully help a player, or pop a human effigy. Once you’ve done this, you’ve met the only requirement to summoning for help.

Look for a white or yellow sign on the ground, as they are other players or NPCs that will join your world to fight alongside you. Simply walk up to it and hit X and you will be on your way to victory in no time.

If you value helping others, take a trip to Forest of Fallen Giants and find an NPC named Mild-Mannered Pate. He can be located after the Pursuer optional encounter, near the ballista room. Talk to him and follow his advice, but be warned, as he leads you into a difficult trap and you must successfully escape it to be rewarded. When you become victorious, talk to him again and he’ll award you the White Sign Soapstone. Place this item on the ground near a boss or Bonfire, and you’ll be summoned into the world of another player.

DarkSoulsII majula

Hopefully these tips will aid you in your struggle with the opening hours of Dark Souls II! If you’re looking for more tips to ease your pain, check out my Bloodborne Tips & Tricks guide. It is also a Souls game so you can apply several tips to Dark Souls II.

Good luck and praise the sun!

Meet the Cast of Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

S.T.E.A.M.

Code Name S.T.E.A.M., the new strategy game from the studio behind the Fire Emblem games, is set to release on March 13th with a cast of characters pulled from every corner of classic American fiction taking on an alien invasion.  As its release on the Nintendo 3DS draws near, let’s look at all of the announced characters that you can recruit for your squad and not only examine their roles in the game, but also the famous stories that they originate from.  The only ones I’m leaving out are Abraham Lincoln and the Fire Emblem characters as I’m fairly certain you’re already familiar with the great emancipator while Marth and friends are merely making cameo appearances.

Henry Fleming

The main character in the Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Henry Fleming acts as the field leader of the team and is the most prominent character in the game’s marketing.  A fictional soldier serving in the American Civil War, Henry fled in fear during his first battle, but gained the courage to return to the battlefield and stood his ground even when he was left without a weapon.  As a member of S.T.E.A.M., Henry is a balanced fighter with the assault fire of his Eagle Rifle.  Whatever the mission, Henry is sure to be a valuable addition to the team.

John Henry

A famous American folk hero, John Henry is known as the man that fought the machine to prove the value of good old-fashion sweat and tears in the face of automated assembly.  As a member of S.T.E.A.M., John has embraced the machine for the greater good and takes on the alien menace as a powerful assault character.  Armed with a hammer and a supply of grenades, he can burst through crowds of enemies with ease.

Lion

One of Dorothy’s companions in L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the Lion is a fearsome beast with his share of self-esteem issues.  However, given that he’s dropped the ‘Cowardly’ part from his name, it looks like he’s already found his courage and will have no problem facing down the alien threat.  In fact, Lion will be able to tank damage and leap directly into the fray with his Lion Launcher ability.  Also, looks like he didn’t step out of Oz to aid S.T.E.A.M. on his own.

Scarecrow

Another hero from The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow provides area control with his supply of pumpkin-based landmines and health pick-ups.  The Scarecrow has been given a Halloween-style makeover and bears more of a resemblance to fellow Oz denizen Jack Pumpkinhead than his own classic depiction.  He’s never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was able to rule as the new king of Oz for a short time following the events of the first novel.  Given that both the Scarecrow and the Lion are in S.T.E.A.M.’s ranks, its a safe bet that the Tin Man will join in on the action as well.

Tom Sawyer

I’m not sure why S.T.E.A.M. would ever arm up a child and send him into battle with savage extraterrestrials, but I probably shouldn’t be surprised given how frequently kids are used to pilot giant robots in this exact situation.  The titular character from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he is street-smart trickster known for manipulating people into getting what he wants.  That cunning carries over into his appearance as a member of S.T.E.A.M. as he is fairly weak in direct combat, but he can stun enemies with his Punch Gun and can scatter mines across the battlefield.

Tiger Lily

Including a minor character from Peter Pan while no other characters from the story have been announced is a bit of an odd move.  Than again, S.T.E.A.M. has been built up as an all-American team while Peter Pan is a British tale and Tiger Lily is simply one of the most famous Native American characters in fiction.  On the other hand, the action of the game is primarily set in Britain and we haven’t seen all of the playable characters yet, so Tiger may have a few friends waiting just around the corner.  As a squadmate, Tiger is the team medic with abilities focused on healing teammates.

Queequeg

I bet you weren’t expecting a whale-hunting cannibal to show up on this list.  Well, Queequeg is exactly that.  One of the main characters in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Queequeg is the most fearsome member of a crew trained to slay giants of the deep.  Still, he does have a softer side to him as he quickly became good friends with main character Ishmael.  Apparently, Codename S.T.E.A.M. will represent this side of him by arming him with a supply of explosive, clockwork penguins.  That would certainly have given Moby Dick a different tone, but I can see Melville dedicating about ten pages to explain exactly how it works.

Randolph Carter

If you thought the cast couldn’t get any stranger than a cannibal wielding penguin-shaped explosives, how about someone straight out of Lovecraftian horror?  Randolph Carter is a recurring character in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and often considered an avatar for Lovecraft himself.  Given that the villainous aliens take a good deal of inspiration from Lovecraftian monsters, Randolph is certainly the kind of expert that S.T.E.A.M. would want.  He is a utility character with the ability to bait enemies with his Unspeakable Lure and protect teammates with his Eldrich Shield.  Just don’t ask where he got the meat for that lure; it’s unspeakable for a reason.

The Fox

The female sniper Fox is easily the most mysterious of the current cast with no clear literary inspiration.  As such, the following is purely speculation.  For one, there is an official screenshot of her standing in front of what appears to be a Mexican flag or at least an alternate universe version of it for the game’s stylized take on the world.  Now consider that the Spanish word for fox is ‘zorro’ and it’s a fairly safe bet that she is here to represent the famous swashbuckler Zorro, who was one of the major inspirations for comic book hero Batman.  The only problems with this idea is that she isn’t referred to as Zorro while every other character is directly named after their inspiration and the fact that she is a she while Zorro has always been male.  It’s probable that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are concerned about copyright disputes surrounding the character and opted to create the Fox as a tribute to Zorro rather than try to use the original.

Califia

The most recent character revealed in the official sing-along trailer (yes, that is a thing and this game is quite weird in case you haven’t already noticed), Califia is a pagan warrior queen of the fictional Island of California and the namesake of the actual state of California.  She joins S.T.E.A.M. armed with a powerful rocket launcher that can blaze down groups of enemies with massive damage.  Unfortunately, there’s currently no sign of the griffins that she and her exclusively female army were known to ride into battle.  We can still hope.

That’s all of the playable characters that have been announced so far.  Given the diversity that we have seen, there is almost no limit on the characters that we could see join the roster.  Who do you hope to see added to the line-up?  Personally, given the concept of figures of classic American fiction battling monstrous aliens, nobody seems more appropriate than pulp sci-fi original John Carter of Mars.  After the infamous Disney film, he could certainly use some good press.

The VGamerZ Monster Files: The Vampire (Dungeon Keeper)

Vampire

Why yes, vampires and zombies and all of those ghastly dead things are ten a penny in video games. Are they special enough to warrant inclusion in the VGamerZ Monster Files? Usually not.

We’ve previously taken a look at Plants Vs Zombies’ take on the undead, which at least lent a toontastic cutesy spin to the old cliche. After all, we’ve seen a lot of zombies, but how many of them were disco dancers (Michael Jackson’s Thriller video notwithstanding)? Or scuba zombies with rubber rings around their waists? That’s the difference, right there.

Now, vampires have never quite reached the video game fame level of their undead brothers. But they’ve been done, and never with quite as much style and flair as these guys. Let’s take a look.

Macabre/black humour-y strategy game Dungeon Keeper had some great creature designs. In this series, we’ve already seen the Bile Demon, whose name probably tells you all you need to know. But nothing in the game struck me more than its unique take on the vampire.

Yep, here's one now.
Yep, here’s one now.

For the uninitiated, the game has you constructing a series of dastardly lairs beneath the ground. From there, you’ll do battle with the goodly heroes who invade, which means you’ll need an army of your own. All kinds of hideous beasts will join your ranks, including the far-too-studly-for-you vampire.

This guy. This guy. He looks brilliant (design-wise, that is. Let’s not get into Dungeon Keeper’s blurtacular nineties visuals), he fires crazy spells at your enemies like a mad mofo, and he can resurrect himself on death. Yes indeed. When killed by a hero, your vampire will simply respawn unharmed; albeit at the cost of one experience level. This ensures he’ll be around to bring the pain for some time to come.

A nigh-immortal, very powerful unit which is proficient at both close combat and ranged fighting. Who also looks awesome. You can’t argue with that. Add in the fact that he stalks the halls of your dungeon sucking his own blood for some damn reason, and you can see the kind of badassery levels we’re reaching here.

Let’s also mention the unique manner of recruiting them: they spawn in your graveyard when enough bodies have decomposed there. Yep, it’s just as creepy as it sounds.

Best Civilization: Beyond Earth Pre-Order Deal: Get Free Map Pack, $5 Credit

Civilization

Civilization: Beyond Earth is one of my most anticipated games, and with its upcoming release in October, the pre-order offers have started to pop up all over the internet. We did some research on the best places to pre-order Civilization: Beyond Earth and found out that Amazon has a really nice offer, since they add something extra to the regular Pre-Order bonus.

Therefore, if you decide to splash the cash on the game early on, not only that you will have the chance to play it as soon as it launches on October 24th, but you will also get a free map pack: the Exoplanets Map Pack which includes six custom maps inspired by real-world exoplanets described below:

  • Kepler 186f: This lush forest planet is one of the oldest known Earth-like planets.
  • Rigil Khantoris Bb: Orbiting the closest star to the solar system, the historical records of this arid continental planet’s settlement are well-preserved.
  • Tau Ceti d: This planet of seas and archipelagos features a booming biodiversity and a wealth of resources.
  • Mu Arae f: Tidally locked in orbit around a weak star, the southern hemisphere of this planet is a blistering desert where the sun never sets, while the northern hemisphere is perpetually in frozen darkness.
  • 82 Eridani e: An alien world of scarce water and wracked by tectonic forces.
  • Eta Vulpeculae b: A mysterious new discovery with unknown terrain.

To keep things interesting, every new game will, in true Civilization fashion, randomize the geographic layouts each time you start a new game. So there’s a ton of replayabilty and extra goodness for a beautiful game.

Why choose this offer and not the offer of other stores who give you the same Civilization: Beyond Earth pre-order bonus? Well, simply because Amazon also throws in a $5 video game credit bonus, basically cutting the overall price even more. And I believe that this is a great deal for a game you’re probably going to purchase anyway! So click here to check out the offer while it still stands!

Tropico 5 Windowed Mode: Where to Find It

With Tropico 5 just released, I already became the crazy dictator that Tropico always turns me into. However, in this particular iteration of the game, I had a pretty tough time finding an option that makes your life a lot easier when playing and doing something else at the same time: the Tropico 5 windowed mode.

And after almost jumping off the chair when I finally found the option, I decided to share it with you too because there might be other players in my situation, not knowing how to find the T5 Windowed Mode (because, in my opinion, it’s in a really unexpected place).

So, here you have it: if you want to play Tropico 5 in Windowed Mode, you will have to go to the game’s resolution settings and scroll all the way up, where you will find the “Windowed Mode” resolution. Yeah, pretty crazy, but at least it’s there and we can enjoy dictatorship and island building alongside other useless things on the internet at the same time.