Sunday Bits

TODAY: Are you planning anything for Halloween this year? It’s less than two weeks away, so we’ve gathered all the gaming events we could find to help you have a scare on this special witching night – In this week’s Blast from the Past we explain why Sim City 4 is the best in the series, and how you can check it out today!

Celebrate Halloween

This Year’s Spookiest Gaming Halloween Events

Halloween is just around the corner (yes, it is – Christmas soon too! Or is that ‘too soon’?), so it’s time for all the big games out there to strike up their creepy, kooky, ooky, and spooky events for the witching season! We thought it’d be good to keep track of all the big Halloween gaming celebrations in one handy list, so you don’t get too scared. There’s some big new names this year, as well as some returning classics. Please, do have nightmares…

Rocket League – Haunted Hallows & Stranger Things tie-in

Rocket League is back with its traditional Haunted Hallows event, but for this year developer Psyonix is giving the car-soccer game a twist in the form of a tie-in with the Stranger Things TV show. The event kicks off pretty early – this Monday October 14th, in fact – as players battle to earn Candy Corn on the pitch, which they can exchange for goodies in the store. Everything will have a Stranger Things flavour – from the items earned to a sinister Upside Down remix of the Farmstead arena. It looks fun, if you like Stranger Things…

Team Fortress 2 – Scream Fortress XI

The 11th annual ‘Scream Fortress’ Halloween event for Valve’s online shooter has already begun. The event adds special Halloween-themed cosmetics, a special spooky menu, and even some special community maps. The traditional Soul Gargoyles are already in place, which allow you access to a special themed set of Halloween Contracts and Merasmissions. There’s plenty of Unusual Hats, too.

Borderlands 3 – Bloody Harvest

Borderlands 3 has only just arrived, but developer Gearbox has already revealed the special Halloween event coming soon – Bloody Harvest, which was originally a paid expansion to Borderlands 2, now a free event for the latest game. Players will encounter Haunted enemies which must be killed to gain Hecktoplasm, and if you collect enough of this you’ll gain access to the new area – and a special boss, Captain Haunt. There will be various rewards, including new skins and weapons. The only downside is, we don’t know when it’ll start.

Apex Legends – Fight or Fright & Shadowfall

It’s weird to think that Apex Legends only launched this year, so this is the first Halloween event for the game! The event is called ‘Fight or Fright’ and it’ll introduce a new game mode called Shadowfall. At the start of one of these matches, players drop into a night-time version of King’s Canyon – and getting killed turns players into zombies, as part of an undead ‘Shadow Squad’. Zombies can’t shoot but can move and jump fast, and the match continues until 10 players are left – who then have to survive until evac. The event starts this Tuesday October 15th.

Fortnite – Fortnitemares 2019

Fortnite will be back with its annual Fornitemares event this Halloween! Aaaaand that’s pretty much all we know officially right now. Season 11 is set to begin this weekend, however, and that’s the most likely starting point for the event – with just two weeks to go until Halloween. Expect a load of the funnest character skins in the game to make a reappearance, as well as plenty new ones – dataminers have uncovered skins such as Skull Trooper Neon, The Dark One, Ghoul Trooper, and our personal favourite: Slurp Creature. Should be fun!

Overwatch – Halloween Terror

The traditional Overwatch Halloween Terror event is coming back this year – and now you know as much as we do. Blizzard usually announces all the details of its Overwatch event a few days beforehand, but hasn’t done so yet – and we’ve already passed last year’s start date. However, Overwatch launches on Nintendo Switch on Tuesday October 15th, so we may hear more then. Expect spooky map makeovers, a new themed mode, and a load of great new skins!

Pokemon Go – Halloween Event 2019

Pokemon Go has held a Halloween event every year since it launched, and it’s finally teasing its 2019 event. It’s probably due to start around October 21st, so a bit later than most of the others on this list. If previous years are anything to go by, we can expect a load of Dark and Ghost-type Pokemon to appear, maybe even from Gen 5 this time around. We may even get a new Legendary too, perhaps even Darkrai? We’ll find out soon, hopefully.

Destiny 2 – Festival of the Lost

The annual Festival of the Lost Destiny 2 Halloween event will begin the latest of all the games here – October 29th, although it’ll run until November 19th. However, this is the first one to run with Bungie out from under Activision’s publishing banner, so the developer may change things up a little this year. Either way, expect new quests, items, and consumables.

Blast From The Past

SimCity 4 took you from Godhood to Mayor-hood like never before, or since

Maxis and Will Wright created the SimCity franchise, which defined the city-building simulation genre as a thing people didn’t realise they could get addicted to playing. 2003’s SimCity 4 is arguably the crowning achievement of the road-building, pipe-laying and disaster-enduring series.

In truth the game was given that extra something later in 2003 when its one and only expansion Rush Hour was released, adding in new ways for our Sims to feel the torture of gridlock traffic and overcrowded public transport. Combined they gave unparalleled tools for budding Mayors to build the cities of their dreams.

The game was actually built using a 3D engine but Maxis cleverly decided to keep things locked to a more traditional and fixed viewing angle, letting their artists create gorgeous 2D building models. It gave the impression you were peering down on an urban sprawl as the Sims went about their day, not noticing the hovering God-Mayor unleashing new roads, zoning and power lines — just another day in the life of a Sim.

Budget sliders are your new BFF – Best Frenemy Forever

Simulation. That’s what SimCity is all about once you get past all the tools at our disposal. We create the city and then let the simulation take over as it starts introducing more and more of its inter-locking systems. What makes SimCity so special is the zoning, which lets you designate if something should be residential, commercial, industrial or agriculture. It then develops on its own responding to what you have built around it and what services you offer city-wide.

Unlike most other city building series that require you to place down everything (‘ploppables’), SimCity relied on a mixture of the two but clearly favoured letting the game feel alive by reacting and randomising. A real city is a chaotic mess of different building styles that have emerged over the decades, and zoning is how the series managed to capture the more organic feel of urban life.

The music is also one of SimCity’s strong points as you’ll likely be sinking an ungodly amount of hours into any one of its instalments. I’d actually have to give SimCity 3000 the award for weirdest and quirkiest soundtrack, but SimCity 4 has some amazing pieces to really get those Mayoral juices flowing. Combine the audio gold pouring into your ears with the visual feast of all that undeveloped ripe land and you have a city builder’s dream sandbox to play in.

Many a city begins with a humble water tower, a wind turbine or two

SimCity 4 also introduced ‘region play’ which meant you actually had to build neighbouring cities yourself, or import other people’s hard work by sharing map data. Previously your neighbours were abstract and ‘just there’ to give you a feeling of life outside your own city. However now you can populate an entire region across small, medium and large maps that you could also transform with God Mode. You found new cities on flat plains, amid mountainous nightmares, across sunny shorelines or even lonely islands.

The community for SimCity 4 is still going strong despite having launched over 16 years ago. Thousands of new buildings models have been created and shared to inject a greater diversity amid your urban masterpiece. One community project is all but essential for any SimCity 4 experience — the Network Addon Mod (NAM). This radically tunes up the game’s simulation system for more accurate feedback and reactions from the city, and greatly expands your road building options. Don’t start your vision of civilization without it!

Where to get SimCity 4 today?

Thanks to its huge popularity as a flagship series for Electronic Arts and Maxis at the time, SimCity 4 and its entire franchise has always been readily available. You can buy SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition, which includes the Rush Hour expansion, directly from EA’s Origin store, or from others like Steam.

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