Strategic gaming options: Shadowrun Chronicles

This blog and my gaming tastes encompass a variety of games. I play one or two main MMORPGs at a given time, currently TSW and FFXIV. But beyond such story-heavy MMORPG sessions I also like to have other games of a different nature to dip into. Last year was the year of action games – I played a lot of Neverwinter and a chunk of Tera too. Since I’ve been ‘maining’ TSW though I’m less inclined to have an action MMO on the side.

Random events have led me to two different strategic games of late, I’ll cover one in this post and the other in a post next week. I’m sure there are plenty of other strategic games I could be playing, but these two games fit my current desire for immersive and familiar settings.

Shadowrun Chronicles
This new coop strategy RPG came to my attention through articles on the old Massively website. I’d heard of the plans for the game (né Shadowrun Online) but that was back before it even beta’d and it was filed away on the “try eventually” list.

I’m currently playing through the game’s Boston Lockdown campaign with a friend as a duo, the game is based around four-player missions. You can recruit other players in the shared hub chatroom, but you can also go with fewer and fill slots from a variable roster of available NPC Shadowrunners. The NPC henchmen are numerous and characterful but they’re (deliberately I guess) weaker than player run characters, it remains to be seen how far into the campaign we can get without a full party of four PCs.

Party of four; here, two players and two NPC henchmen

Party of four; here, two players and two NPC henchmen

We play with voice chat via Skype, this makes the game’s turn-based combat even more strategic as we plot moves and even the specific order of character’s moves to get best benefit from the available selection of abilities and items. Little details like the timely application of Haste to allow a character to double move and still attack can make quite a difference. Honestly I don’t know how much I’d play the game solo, it’s just so much more fun playing it with a friend or three.

Cursor with shield bottom left; I can't reach this far but the shield shows that spot by the doorway would offer cover...

Cursor with shield bottom left; I can’t reach this far but the shield shows that spot by the doorway would offer cover…

The game lacks that true MMORPG immersive feeling of “lots of players” as all missions are instanced but the hub area is shared, in this sense it’s rather like Dungeons and Dragons Online or Vindictus. In a strategy focused game though I welcome this; I don’t miss competitively racing other players for mobs or the various item-reward nodes in missions areas!

Bear fight!

Root top bear fight!

There are a few MMO basics missing such as item trading between characters – I hope they’ll add this eventually as we’ve both received items we can’t use but that would be a good upgrade for the other’s character. Also the lack of a guide range for summons can be annoying. [Tip: I’ve found out since writing this that F12 takes screenshots and F11 hides/unhides the UI]

Regardless of my wishes for such system improvements, the game oozes plenty of Shadowrun-authentic flavour and story. That alone is enough to keep me wanting to play this for some time to come. It’s the perfect drop-in game since the load time is so fast, a fraction of even the fastest MMO clients, and taking a mission and jumping into it with friends is equally fast and painless. As we reach the end of The Secret World’s available content this game could also be an alternative for our trio gaming sessions as well. Although I love the depth and complexity of MMORPGs, sometimes something simpler and more accessible (time-wise) can scratch that same gaming itch.

A new trio of Shadowrunners

A new trio of Shadowrunners back near the campaign start

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